Year 6, Months, 1, 2, and 3 (Winter) continued
Hex #1306: Fungal Forest. The rust-colored mushrooms in the Red Meadow extended there from here, where their larger (or perhaps just older?) cousins have larger overtaken the cave-strewn hills. Viewed from high in the sky, the area resembles a semi-circular grove of giant mushrooms . . . with a fattened tendril snaking into Red Meadow. Based on this horrifying visual alone, the Grim Fist decides to explore.
Thanks to Shadagrunde’s foresight, each party member is equipped with a potion of cure poison, and enough clerics are brought along for additional possible issues, such as any need for cure disease.
Another aerial scouting turns up a few minor details visible from the sky:
- A tower-shaped mushroom of sufficient size to act as a fortress. A roc is visibly nesting in an upper crevice.
- A patch roughly two square miles in size appears to be a giant bee colony.
- The wreckage of a crashed cloud castle is just visible between the trees.
- A small temple is visible in the northwest-most corner.
(Vulfelind: “Five gold says we’ll be fighting a fungus before nightfall.” Everyone else: “No bet.”)
They decide to nibble at the edges first rather than tackle any of the visible-from-air horrors. Rumors say that some sort of large, wolf-like pack of creatures has been haunting the borders of Red Meadow, so they start with those rumors, establish a two-square mile zone where the wolves or dire wolves might be, and then grid and march into the bloom of tree-sized mushrooms.
What they don’t do is consult any sages about forests of giant rust-colored mushrooms …
So when a pack of fungus-encrusted dire wolves - their eyes glowing a faint, bioluminescent green - erupt from foam-like cysts in the ground, they have very little in the way of intel or planned responses.
The lead wolves use their surprise to breathe some sort of choking cloud which causes the majority of low- or no-level hirelings to drop to the ground choking, and causes several party members and henches to suffer (but fight through) a hacking fit as well. The remainder simply dive in and start attacking those who are already down.
Galswintha, seeing this (perhaps rightly) as do or die, and noting that almost every low-level NPC is already dead, drops a fireball at ground zero. Perhaps it is an issue of adrenaline or desperation, but the fireball that results is intense, and brings all but Chlodomer near death.
The three remaining monsters then tackle Galswintha to the ground, one of them tearing off her left arm before Chlodomer, Shadagrunde, and Vulfelind manage to kill them and drag them off the sorceress.
While Chlodomer and Shadagrunde guard the pile of ally corpses, Vulfelind sprints home to requisition soldiers to help carry them home, and by nightfall, everyone is holed up in one of Shadagrunde’s newly constructed temples.
Shadagrunde restores Galswintha and key henches, then cures disease on each “just in case.” Galswintha returns … somewhat changed.
The torn off arm has become the arm of a treant, looking exactly like her previous arm, but the color and hardness of stained oak.
The next day … those who were not cured of disease, even the corpses, come to life as fungal monstrosities. Who breathe clouds of choking infection and then attack to kill. The temple is evacuated as Chlodomer holds the door against the rising tide of horror until Galswintha can cast sufficient webs into place.
And then one fireball after another until the wooden temple burns down, taking the fungal creatures with it. Priests from all over the realm are gathered and brought in to cure disease on everything in the temple, the remaining corpses are given cremation rites …
Then they consult sages about forests of giant rust-colored mushrooms.
Fungal Breath (1/day): 10' x 10' cloud adjacent to fungal creature. Victims with less than 4 HD are incapacitated by choking for 1d6 rounds; higher-HD victims save vs. Poison or suffer a -2 on attack throws for the same time period. One day after breathing in the airborne spores, all victims must save vs. Disease or become a fungal creature. Corpses do not get a save - they are automatically transformed.
Fungal creatures have the base HD for the creature plus +2 HD (humans and demihuman fungal creatures have 3 HD as fungal creatures). They are immune to gas, poison, sleep, charm, and hold spells, and are unintelligent (they lose all class and supernatural abilities, but not natural attacks or movement). The lack of internal organs grants +2 AC, and unnatural strength improves weapon damage by +1 or increases natural weapon die size by a small amount. Fungal creatures can use fungal breath once per day.
They back off from the fungal forest … for about another two days, long enough to prepare a fungal forest bonfire. That fails to work, however: live mushroom just isn’t all that flammable.
Wordthief: “Pfffft. Dwarves used to destroy fungal forests all the time. That’s not epic.”
Wordthief: “They had a machine or something.”
Wyrmtooth: “Afraid not.”
Wordthief: “Yeah, like you’d know anything.”
Wyrmtooth: “I do know the dwarves hated the stuff. It ate iron veins or something.”
Which is how Vulfelind ended up talking the others into helping her capture a family of rust monsters. That took the better part of month 2, but once she had them firmly in hand (or rather, once Chlodomer stripped down to cloth armor and grappled them into submission), the party flew in to the center of the fungal forest at the beginning of month 3 … and dropped the rust monsters on a soft-looking bloom.
And when the mushroom began falling apart into blackened organics and oxidized rust powder, the Grim Fist cackled and fled. Behind them, in the rapidly increasing distance, rust monsters feasted as they had never feasted before.
Shadagrunde was briefly morose: “You know those things are going to breed.”