Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Dangerous Encounter: The Fungus Among Us

NOTE: This encounter is best run with either one PC or perhaps a few party members while the others are on another quest or unavailable. This encounter could perhaps be played as a side trek or if the party gets split or separated. WARNING: If you run your entire group through this encounter all at the same time, it could result in the deaths of all party members (which will become apparent as you read).

While travelling down a little-used path, the PCs will notice that various molds, slimes, and fungi grow rampant. Mushrooms and toadstools line the path, and every tree is spotted with fungus. There is a musty smell in the air. While taking this in, have the PCs roll versus surprise. If they make it, they'll see that two of the fungus-covered figures by the side of the road are reaching out to grab them!  (If they miss the roll, the two figures get a surprise attack on them.) These two creatures are fungus-covered Shroombies -- dead creatures animated through a nefarious fungus that takes root and replaces their vital organs.

Shroombies (2) (AL C, MV 90' (30'), AC 8, HD 5, #AT 2 (claw/bite or poisonous spores), DG 1d6/2d6, SV L4, ML 6, mutations: metaconcert, poisonous spores (hallucinogenic))

Eerily silent, the Shroombies press their attack, clawing and biting in an attempt to bring down their victims. At several points during the attack, the Shroombies will use their poisonous spore attack, breathing out a cloud of greenish-grey spores into the faces of the PCs. Have the PCs roll a save versus poison, but regardless of the outcome, tell them there was no effect. (More on this in a moment.) Have the combat last until the Shroombies are (hopefully) defeated.

Once the combat has ended, the PCs will hear a voice behind them. Turning, they'll see a small girl standing in the path. "'ve defeated them! Oh thank you! Thank you! You must come with me and tell the village of your victory!" She'll run off down the path and, in the distance, the PCs can now hear music and laughter. If they follow her, the PCs will come to a small glade in the center of the fungus-filled forest. Here, they find a small village filled with what appear to be pure humans. They are warmly greeted as heroes and made to feel utterly welcome. The Mutant Lord should play up on the PCs egos. Anything they may want is provided by the village ("As thanks for destroying the fungus menace!"). No matter how suspicious they may be or how wary they are, everything appears on the level. Have the PCs actually discovered a haven?

Of course not. It's all a lie. A fungus-fueled lie.

The Shroombies were lurking on the edge of a Fungal Grove, a dangerous gigantic fungal organism (MF rules, page 72). As the PCs approached the area, they were already becoming affected by the poisonous spores that float heavily in the air and cling to most surfaces. These poisonous spores have two effects: first, it triggers hallucinations in those affected, and second, it connects the minds of those affected in metaconcert. In other words, the PCs are now under a shared hallucination. While under the spell of the spores, they have in reality wandered into the heart of the Fungal Grove, where they have dropped off peacefully asleep, sharing their dreams of adventure with each other. They will eventually die here of dehydration and starvation while the Fungal Grove feeds on the corpses.

Fungal Grove (1) (AL None, MV None, AC N/A, HD N/A, #AT N/A, DG By mutation, ML None, mutations: prey scent, toxic weapon)

As far as the trapped PCs are aware, everything they see, hear, taste, touch, and feel is "real." The Mutant Lord is encouraged to flesh out the village and its citizens, keeping in mind that it is all a dream shared by the unconscious PCs. Until they are rescued by their teammates, the PCs should continue to think this is all "real." Perhaps the village chieftain will ask the PCs to take on a quest on his behalf. Perhaps they'll be tasked with turning away a Shroombie invasion. As long as they are here, give them something to do, someplace to go. None of it is real anyway, so it can be as straightforward or outlandish as desired.

At some point, the rest of the party will go off in search for their overdue friends. Have them meet a wandering merchant on the path who warns them of the danger of the hallucinogenic spores. (And he just happens to have some nose filters for sale that will keep the party safe.) When they take the same path as the original PCs, they'll encounter two new Shroombies, who will put up a bit of a fight while spraying their spores. With the filters in place, the party will be unaffected.

Shroombies (2) (AL C, MV 90' (30'), AC 8, HD 5, #AT 2 (claw/bite or poisonous spores), DG 1d6/2d6, SV L4, ML 6, mutations: metaconcert, poisonous spores (hallucinogenic))

When the PCs reach the center of the fungal grove, they'll see skeletons and withered cadavers laying everywhere. And, nearby, lay the two missing PCs who appear to be unconscious. They will remain unconscious until removed from the area of the Fungal Grove and the spores pass through their systems. So the now-awake players do not feel "cheated" by their hallucinogenic adventures, the Mutant Lord should let them keep all XP gained during any successful "mental combats" while they slept. However, any treasures and artifacts they retrieved while asleep will not be waiting for them in the "real world."

At the heart of the Fungal Grove are the following items dropped by its numerous victims over the years: a suit of advanced metal armor (AC 2), a suit of environmental armor (dead minifusion cell, so it's not working, AC 4), 5 doses of Truth serum, 3 doses of Stimshot B, a bottle with 4 Antitox pills, and 1,100 gold pieces in assorted coinage. If the PCs decide to destroy the Fungal Grove, they should be informed that it's nearly a mile in diameter, and it would take the better part of their lives burning, cutting, and destroying the foul region. (Perhaps they could just put up a sign or two...)

1 comment:

  1. Those shroombies remind me of the "welcoming committee" in A4 D&D module, which is one of my fovourites. The whole scene though reminds me of "Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind" for some reason, the best manga and anime I've ever seen.