The Spore Minds are sentient beings, emerging from the complex interactions of energy both mundane and magical across the vast fungal networks beneath the Ferment and similar ecologies across the Twilight Lands of Shadowfire. The sentience is an emergent property of the interconnections through the fungal connections, and the spores and pheremones that the air of the Ferment is thick with. An single Spore Mind may cover huge geographic areas, with some of the largest within Glimmertown spreading across kilometres and hundreds of metres deep. Their sense of self, consciousness and identity is highly fluid, and is of the collective. It is extremely difficult for individuals across other species, such as the Kin or bloodforged races to truly comprehend the way they think and perceive.
A Spore mind is a fungal network, highly distributed and interlaced across sometimes large volumes. The consciousness arises from the interplay of nutrients and energy across the network, akin to the brain of a single kin, but so much vaster. They do not move as such, but can grow their tendrils into new spaces - sometimes quite fast if the energy they consume allows, and the competition for the space is weak. They also form links with other, more mobile creatures and plants within the spaces they control. While these individuals usually retain their own sense self, they also contribute to the greater emergent mind. This relationship is poorly understood, but the links that it formed with other bloodforged species, and those visitors from further afield, are suspected to be the secret behind the success of the Overmind and Undermind of Glimmertown.
Genetics and Reproduction
The Spore Minds are asexual, and reproduce through a number of methods:
- Growth: Growing the reach and complexity of the core fungal network. This will increase its mental strength as well as the domain under its control
- Subsumption: Drawing in, linking to or consuming other consciousnesses of individuals, plants and creatures that live within its network. This will potentially change the nature and scope of its awareness and the ways in which it interacts with the world around it.
- Colonisation: By sending its spores vast distances to colonise new areas.
- Divergence: In very rare circumstances, a sporemind may be split where parts of the whole are isolated from the parent. If both halves survive, they will retain separate, albeit lesser, consciousnesses. In many cases, the division may be quickly healed and the parts rejoined, but in some cases this can result in permanent divergence.
Growth Rate & Stages
A newly colonised Spore Mind will only cover the space of a few feet, and is barely more conscious that a common plant. Many are consumed by other creatures as food, or subsumed into already established Spore Minds as they spread their territory. Young Spore minds that have become established usually range from 5 to 100 metres across. These become smart enough to control other plants and small animals in their vicinity, and can communicate with each other and other sentient beings. The truly ancient sporeminds, such as the Overmind and Undermind of Glimmertown, cover many kilometres and have been around for hundreds, if. not thousands of years.
Perception and Sensory Capabilities
The Spore Minds get their names from their primary method of communicating with others - sending out clouds of spores and pheromones. This allows incredibly complex communication which is often felt subconsciously by lesser minds. Rudimentary communication with unlinked minds can be achieved through the use of Sporespray. Through their network a Spore mind can listen, communicate and command the creatures that live amongst its body. This can range from emotional or physical feelings, implanted imagery direct into lesser consciousnesses, or full control over individuals. Network communication, especially through the Abscula layers of the Ferment can travel across the kilometres of the Spore Mind's network within seconds.
Civilization and Culture
Spore Minds are asexual and have no concept of gender, although they recognise it in what they see as lesser species.
The most famous of the Spore Minds are the Overmind and Undermind of Glimmertown
Interspecies Relations and Assumptions
Other species of all types, both animal and plant-based can become a part of a Spore Mind network. They may not be aware of it, but the Spore Mind consciousness can focus its awareness on their constituent parts. The relationship is akin to a person being aware of the nerves at the end of their finger tips, but the nerve endings having little concept of the extent of the awareness around them, nor the full intent of the forces that compel them.