Why Myconids Are Awesome in D&D
Myconids are one of the lesser known races in the D&D world, even though they have been around for a fair while. Introduced in 1981, in the supplement In The Dungeons of the Slave Lords, Myconids were initially a series of mushroom men (or really…fun guys…) who served to fight the adventurers. To this day they are rarely used, and remain one of the most mysterious races in D&D history.
So, what are Myconids? Well, Myconids are essential living, breathing, bipedal (in most cases), intelligent mushroom people made out of a living and sentient fungus. They live in collective “circles” that comprises a family of Myconids (usually a medium to large group) who live, work, and even dream together. They are usually a lawful neutral race, and as such are probably one of the friendliest races in the Underdark.
The Question is: Why are Myconids Awesome?
The question as to why Myconids are awesome is both easy and difficult to explain. On one side they are semi-mystical and fantastic sentient beings who have a collective mental state induced by spores, relishing in art and a meditation-esque practice – and on the other hand they are quite literally mushroom men. They are literally made out of spores.
That being said, there are several factors about Myconids and Myconid society that makes them really interesting. They are the ultimate collective society, with individuals being both individual and part of a unit, and are highly intelligent, rational beings. Hence lawful neutral.
That being said, they are not defenceless. There are several methods the Myconids have for ensuring their enemies think twice. Over the course of this article we’ll look at a few highlights as to why the Myconids are one of the truly awesome species of the Forgotten Realms.
The first thing about Myconids that is so amazing is their ideology and search for a higher state of consciousness. They can share collective states of consciousness, including having shared hallucinations or social interactions.
Okay, so this may not be the best or most exciting ability, and it may sound a bit naff as a racial ability; however when we scratch beneath the surface it is actually really interesting.
Think about it, dear reader and D&D player – how many races can you name in Dungeons and Dragons where a higher state of consciousness is the ultimate goal? Okay, so the Myconids may do it in a Borg style connective spore induced hive mind dream state, but that doesn’t stop the point of the query. I’m prepared to bet that you can count the species on one hand. To continue the Borg analogy – they are after the fantasy version of the Borg seeking out the Omega particle. It is their perfection, in a D&D setting.
Coincidentally, the joining of the collective consciousness is called a meld. Some might even call it…a mind meld…
Whole reams can be written about what this implies about Myconid society and mentality. What makes it even quirkier though is that they can’t communicate that innate search for higher consciousness with any other beings except through spores, and this kind of leads us (crashing like a subtle rhinoceros) onto point number two.
Spores are the primary way Myconids communicate, making it difficult, but not impossible for them to communicate with other species. They used spores to create the collective consciousness, as well as to share simple messages. This makes the Myconids an essentially silent race and perfectly adapted for a life in the Underdark.
All Myconids are gender neutral, and they actually reproduce by sporing – a trait they take from fungus rather than from bipedal creatures.
What is really amazing though is a secondary ability of those spores, and one that really makes them stand out as a race. There is a passing line in the Monster Manual that is easy to miss. That line says –
A spore servant is any large or smaller creature brought back to life by the animating spores of a Myconid sovereign.
Again, the implications of that line are huge. Myconids can literally raise the dead using their spores and keep them as servants of their own. The resulting spore servants aren’t the toughest creatures in the world (so there is mush room for improvement…*baddum dum tish*…) but a Quaggoth Spore Servant (as an example) is tougher than a zombie or skeleton. In fact, comparing the Quaggoth Spore Servant with the real Quaggoth, it is possible to see that the Spore Servant is about half the challenge. It has a much lower Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma.
In the middle of battle, all Myconids have a distress spore function where other Myconids can sense its pain within 240 feet. This makes the first Myconid you decide to sneak up on potentially easy to take out. It ensures the second is really hard. The second the first is taken out, the quicker reinforcements arrive.
Sprouts and Sovereign
The Myconid society is broken down into the circles as mentioned before, and each of those circles is ruled over by the Sovereign. Sovereign are interesting creatures because, although not necessarily the hardest to take down (challenge rating of 2 and around 60hp) they have a whole host of different spore attacks that make them curious creatures to come across in the midst of battle.
Those spores can force the target to hallucinate, poison the target, stun the target, or even create spores for creatures who are non Myconids to communicate telepathically for an hour. What is more, the Myconid Sovereign has the ability to, three times a day (yes, a whole 3x daily) raise the dead using spores. The resulting body then stays animated for 1D4 +1 weeks, or until destroyed.
Sprouts are the small version of Myconids and don’t release the spores when hurt. They are the Kobolds of the Myconid world.
The Neutral Species
There are, within the realms of D&D, a lot of species who are designated to be either good or evil; however, there are few societies that straddle the middle ground in between. Myconids are one such race who have managed to maintain a neutral perspective. What is more, they’ve managed to remain neutral and incredibly interesting at the same time. Here is a species that is so easy to misunderstand and yet, deep down, they have this awesome complexity that makes them stand out as a cultural force in the Underdark.
I have to admit that, in case you hadn’t already guessed by the nature of this article, I have a real soft spot for Myconids. They seem to represent a kind of order within the Dungeons and Dragons universe that you have to admire. They aren’t hugely used within the D&D world, but I hope that, as more people realise the potential they hold as blank canvases of sheer awesomeness, more and more Dungeon Masters will start to use them.
So, what are your thoughts? Do you like Myconids? Do you use them or have you come across them in your own campaign? Let me know in the comments below.