Small in stature and peaceful in nature, myconids are the tiny brewers of Arethil. Specialising in rare medicines and liquors, most notably the psychotropic Pink Slipper liquor, they serve the Silent Court.
Since most mushrooms require a lot of water, so do myconids. Typically they absorb their water walking around on their feet, so damp soil is a must. If a myconid finds himself a bit wrinkly, it may burrow into the ground for a bit of wetness. A little splash from a helpful adventurer's water bottle is almost always rewarded with some sort of small gift.
Depending on their subtype, Myconids have a variety of needs and environments.
Saphotroph Myconids comprise several dozen species including the following:
They eat primarily rotting wood and animal/vegetable matter. These myconids sometimes trail behind armies, picking up rotten fruit, meat, and other bits of ration that are typically thrown out for being moldy. They can also be found around the outskirts of major cities, picking through trash piles or taking up residence in them. These myconids are critical to the operation of Arethil's natural ecosystem, as they excrete pure soil.
The mycorrhizal family comprises a smaller portion of species that are permanently attached to trees and other plants.
These myconids, being permanently affixed to things, have elegant skills with earth and plant magics. They are found on old trees, often toward the crown of the plant, and sap sugars away from the tree. In return, their magic protects it. Many a logger has found himself stymied by bark that simply wouldn't cut.
Unlike the other myconids, these are extremely dangerous to most life on Arethil. Thankfully, they are rare, and their strong virulence means they often kill their hosts.
There is a singular species of Parasitic Myconid remaining on Arethil: The Cordyceps.
The Cordyceps Myconid are species specific, meaning that the types of cordyceps only afflict a singular species apiece.
Dreadnaught Cordyceps - This fungus afflicts the orcs of Arethil. The mycorrhizae are inhaled or eaten, and quickly attach to the tissues of the body. The symptoms include dizziness, migraines, loss of short term memory, and ataxia. The fruiting body of the myconid emerges after a week, resulting in the death of the orc, and spreads its spores. This can have deathly consequences for the rest of the infected tribe.
Redleaf Cordyceps - This species afflicts humans, and results in several fleshy red myconids emerging from the eyes, nose, mouth, genitals, and anus of the infected human to spread their spores. This gives the strange appearance of vines after the fruiting bodies have walked away from their hapless victim, hence the name. Symptoms include hearing loss, nausea, ataxia, sudden liver failure, and incontinence.
Whitelip Cordyceps - This species afflicts elves of all types. The first symptom is white lips and eartips, swiftly descending into overproduction of tears and mucus. The victim sweats uncontrollably, and tiny, filament tendrils emerge from all areas of the body containing skin pores. The small, fluffy myconids burst forth from these filaments and rush about spreading their spores through their fur.
Grayscale Cordyceps - This species afflicts dragons. Itching, burning, grey masses appear under the scales of the dragon. The fully formed cordyceps emerges from under the scale and spreads a sticky spore mass around the rest of the beast. Oftentimes, the cordyceps will only make the dragon incredibly ill, with the goal of making the dragon too weak to move...and thus a better environment for the fungus.
These myconids often form lifelong bonds with sentient species across Arethil. Usually, the arrangement is simple; the host provides sugars, proteins, and trace elements to the myconid. The myconid in turn heals its host tissues. The most famous example seems to be the Cortosi Trolls of the southern coast. More research is needed as to the limits of these myconids, or whether this particular type is sentient.
The Pink Slipper Wine
Pink Slipper is a rare shelf fungus found along leylines in the Silent Court. It is difficult to cultivate and takes years to grow, so most populations are strictly managed by Princess Phlibbit of the Silent Court, a small Devil's Tooth fungus. This mushroom is coveted for its ability to lower inhibitions, but it is toxic in large amounts. When distilled down into a loudly colored pink liquor, it has a unique hibiscus and lemon flavor. The psychotropic effects are magnified in the liquor, and result in the following symptoms: enhanced colors, lowered inhibitions, magic sensitivity, sexual arousal, physical sensitivity, light sensitivity, enhanced hearing and taste.
A mitigator made of calcium powder can be taken or mixed in with the Pink Slipper to dull the effects. This is often offered to newbies, as taking too much Pink Slipper can result in the drinker sitting in a corner in a stupor, batting at colors in the air.
Myconids find the psychotropic effects of this drink highly amusing, and offer it to visitors out of sheer mischievousness.
The myconid tongue is incredibly hard to imitate. At such a large size, even the small races of Arethil such as dwarves and hatchlings have difficulty making out any actual words. The language sounds like loud chittering, squeaking, and occasional bouts of flatulence. With practice, these sounds can be imitated, but it takes patience to find out what the squeaks mean. Inflection seems to be quite important, as is speed.
It is important to note that when shrunk down to the size of a myconid, Arethilian races can hear them perfectly well. The language is flowing and musical, punctuated with sharp consonants.
Growing and Shrinking
If any protracted business must be done with the giants, myconids will provide a way to shrink largefolk down to their level. Small blue mushrooms, iridescent and gelatinous, will be offered to visitors. These are about the size of a human thumbnail, and seem to be a sort of slime mold. Once consumed, the largefolk are transformed down to 5-10% of their normal size...or about as big as a myconid. Plate-sized white mushrooms can be consumed to restore size.
Important note: While your body may shrink, your armor and weapons will not. It’s advisable to remove all weapons and armor, and secure mounts safely, to prevent a chaotic cascade of gigantic steel pieces after you shrink.
Humans: The myconids are truly neutral when it comes to humans but express caution. They’ve learned that humans enjoy a good mushroom bisque.
Elves: Given their general awareness of nature, myconids are friendlier to elves than humans, and more quick to offer aid. However, elves still eat mushrooms, so this aid will be offered with caution.
Dragons: The myconid word for dragon is “seesee’ah”, which roughly translates to “flying mountain” for obvious reasons. The general consensus is that dragons do not care for myconids, and myconids do not care for dragons.
Orcs: Avoid at all costs. From a short conversation with a myconish regent, several battles between orc tribes in the Spine have been witnessed by bands of myconids. Myconids view orcs as dangerous, chaotic beings, and will avoid them if at all possible.
Trolls: The word for troll is the same as “brother”, hinting to deeper connections between the Cortosi Trolls and myconid peoples. Sadly, this connection is depressingly under researched.
Undead: Friends! Myconids will go out of their way to offer aid to the undead and any member of the Silent Court. Sighting a zombie is the subject of much loud, enthusiastic squeaking. Expect liquor and invitations.