Myconids are a race of mushroom-men native to the Underdark. Unlike most things that live down under the surface of the typical Dungeons & Dragons world, myconids don't want to kill. They don't want to enslave. They don't want to take your stuff. They just wish to be left alone to farm fungus, use hallucinogenic spores to engage in mass shared drug-dreams for fun, and rear the next generation of their people. That said, they are willing to defend themselves, and as much as they sound like a band of hippies, they can be quite dangerous. Particularly in 4th edition, they can breed really quickly, which prompts other races of the Underdark to be particularly hostile towards them.
Myconids also appear in Dark Souls, where they're not so friendly but instead really deadly.
Origins & Beginnings
Myconids made their debut in A4: In the Dungeons of the Slave Lords. In the foreword to the 2013 reprint collection A0-A4: Against the Slave Lords, author Lawrence Schick writes: "By far my favorite part of the module was creating the myconids and their amusing and alien society. D&D needed mushroom men, and I was proud to provide them. Erol Otus supplied the original concepts. "What I want," I told him, "is the dancing mushrooms from Walt Disney's Fantasia, only sinister." Being Erol, he knew exactly what I meant, and boy, did he deliver.
Indeed, the front cover of A4: In the Dungeons of the Slave Lords shows some fairly threatening myconids, especially the trio in the background. Given that the fungus men are generally a peaceful race, it is perhaps an unusual way to introduce them, but it is also true that most of the violence on the cover is being done to the myconids, rather than by them. Perhaps appropriately for fungi capable of causing violent hallucinations, their debut illustration is in vivid colours.
There is a lot of information on myconids packed into In the Dungeons of the Slave Lords, not only in their monster entry at the back, but also spanning three pages of the adventure itself. When the adventurers first reach the fungus colony, the creatures they initially encounter are not the myconids themselves, but creatures animated by the myconid king. These monstrosities are a rotting, slime-covered kobold with toadstools growing from its eye sockets; two giant worker ants with drooping antennae and sluggish movements; a fire beetle with no glow and equally sluggish motions; and a human corpse whose flesh has mostly been replaced by a bulbous purple fungus.
Past these animated guardians is the fungus forest where the myconids dwell. All of the myconids' chambers are quite damp, and between the many stalactites stand giant mushrooms and toadstools which occasionally rustle and sway as if touched by an invisible wind. Some of the larger glowing fungi are ambulant, and move slowly around while making grumbling sounds. The myconid village is lit by blue phosphorescent ceiling-mold. Myconid houses are huge, hollow puffball-shaped fungi scattered between other giant mushrooms. The residents enter their homes through self-sealing oval ooze-membranes.
Myconids have bloated, spongy flesh, and vary in colour from purple to grey. Contact with myconids is dangerous, since their skin oozes a substance which does 1-4 poison damage on contact. The only body parts free of the ooze are their stubby hands, each of which has two fingers, plus two opposing thumbs. The description of the fungus farm in the adventure seems to imply that the tiniest myconids begin life attached to the ground, only becoming mobile when they reach a minimum size.
A myconid's abilities vary depending on its Hit Dice. Each myconid community has a single 6 HD king, and the rest vary from 1 to 5 HD. The smallest myconids are two feet tall, and they gain two feet for each additional HD, so that their king towers a full twelve feet tall. The damage they do when clubbing opponents also gradually increases, with 1d4 damage done per HD. There is an even spread of myconid sizes in each community, with the exception of the king, who is always uniquely the largest member of the community. A colony is broken down into a number of "circles" each with (usually) twenty members. A colony might have as many as ten circles, but the group in A4: In the Dungeons of the Slave Lords has only three circles, for sixty myconids in total.
Myconids emit a variety of spores, gaining new types as they grow. All of them begin with the ability to release distress spores, which quickly alert all myconids within 120' of danger. At 2 HD, a myconid gains the ability to emit reproducer spores when new myconids need to be grown. A dying myconid also emits these spores automatically. Myconids cannot speak, so only when they reach 3 HD (and six feet in size) can they communicate with other creatures using their rapport spores. The target of these spores must fail a save against poison (possibly voluntarily) after which he or she can communicate telepathically with that myconid for ten minutes per HD of the myconid.
At eight feet tall, a 4 HD myconid already overshadows most adventurers, but it also has useful pacifier spores. Like the rapport spores, a myconid can only direct the pacifier spores at one target. If the target fails a save vs. poison, it becomes totally passive for as many rounds as the myconid has Hit Dice, unable to react even if attacked.
The fungus folk have a three part daily cycle. For one third of each day, the fungus folk rest (their equivalent of sleeping). For the next third, they farm crops and take care of other work. For the final third, they participate in a collective telepathically-connected hallucination which serves as entertainment, worship and social interaction combined. This activity is known as a meld, and is facilitated by both rapport and hallucinator spores. Once they are in a meld, only distress spores will cause myconids to end it prematurely, for they consider the meld to be the reason for their existence.
The hallucinator spores are produced only by the largest (5 HD, ten feet tall) myconids, and they can also be used as a weapon. Any non-myconid target failing a poison save will either cower whimpering (50%), stare into nothingness (25%), flee shrieking (15%), or attack the closest creature (10%). Myconids can release each of their spore types a number of times per day equal to their Hit Dice.
Towering over all others of his kind is the myconid king. At 6 HD and twelve feet tall, the king is a large, yet solitary figure. Unlike all of the other myconids, he does not participate in the melding process. Instead, the king plans myconid work schedules, deals with affairs external to the colony (such as visitors) and brews potions. The king tries to ensure that the other members of his colony do not have to commit violence, as doing so causes them to experience unpleasant hallucinations during their melds. The other myconids view the king's separation from the circle with horror, but if he dies, the largest remaining myconid will always dutifully accept the dreaded role.
One way the king can protect the colony is by animating guardians. Only the king produces animator spores, and these can be used to infect and animate a recently-deceased corpse. A purple fungus covers an infected body, takes over the internal systems, and animates it. The corpse rises 1-4 days after infection, and it stays active for 2-5 weeks before decaying too much to continue functioning. While it is active, the corpse can be given simple orders using rapport spores. Although it resembles a zombie, and has a similar lack of self-preservation, an animated creature is not undead, and cannot be turned. Animated creatures are slow, and always go last in a round.
The myconids in A4: In the Dungeons of the Slave Lords are hospitable enough, and provided that visitors are not rude or demanding, they will be allowed meet with the king. The king is interested in news from the labyrinth outside the myconids' home, and willing to provide assistance to the adventurers in return for them completing a side quest involving a giant crayfish. If things do not go well during the visit, the myconids will quickly raise the alarm using their distress spores. If the party attempts to flee, the myconids will likely permit them to do so, but if displeased, the king may have them incapacitated by pacifier and hallucinator spores, stripped of all their belongings, and dumped back outside the colony.
Myconids live exclusively underground, have a deathly fear of sunlight, and never venture outside. They are a peaceful race, but do have conflicts with humanoid races over resources. Unfortunately, humanoids and fungoids tend to view each other as disgusting threats. The correct pronunciation of myconid is "MY-ko-nid", according to Dragon #93.
The adventure A4: In the Dungeons of the Slave Lords was reprinted in the edited compilation A1-4: Scourge of the Slavelords, but without the myconid monster entry, since that had in turn been reprinted in the Monster Manual II along with a new black and white illustration. The more recent hardcover compilation A0-A4: Against the Slave Lords included the full text of the original adventure. It also contains an appendix filled with fan-submitted art from the Slave Lords series.
The AD&D hardcover Dungeoneer's Survival Guide is packed with mentions of myconids. They are identified as one of five distinct underground cultures that date back to ancient times, and along with jermlaine, the myconids are the most pervasive of the five, spreading into most of the deeper underground regions. In the section detailing the lands of Deepearth, the myconids dwell in the fungus forest area (obviously). This particular colony is focussed on irrigation, as their forests lack a natural water supply.
GDQ1-7: Queen of the Spiders has a short encounter with a myconid outpost in its "Futher Adventures in the Depths" section. These myconids farm slimes and fungi in a large, open vault also inhabited by formians. The fungus folk and the centaur-ants engage in a form of chemical warfare with each other using slimes, puddings, oozes, and molds. Given that there are 200 myconids and 130 formians resident in the area, this conflict has the potential to erupt into a large scale battle at any time.
The myconids featured quite prominently in 2nd Edition, starting with two full pages in the Monstrous Compendium Volume Two. The artwork shows a myconid whose eyes have migrated from its stalk to the dome on on the top of its head. This myconid also has only three fingers on each hand, although the text still specifies two fingers plus two thumbs. We also learn here that fungus folk have wide feet with vestigial toes.
The abilities of the myconids are largely unchanged from 1st Edition, but the ranges of most of the spore effects are capped at 40 feet. The description of the animator spores also gives stats for a typical animated corpse (it has 1 HD and 2 claw attacks for 1-3/1-3 damage). We learn that myconids have a typical lifespan of 24 years, growing 1 HD (and two feet) every four years.
Myconids don't feed directly off the fungi they farm, but off the soil nutrients left by decaying fungi. They are a peaceful race and conflict between myconids is unheard of. Myconids have no desire to conquer anyone and would prefer to be left alone. They view humanoids as violent, insane species out to conquer others. They have trouble trusting any humanoids, generally expecting them to become violent at any moment. Even when approached peacefully, they tend to be suspicious of outsiders.
Communal myconid space includes mounds of moss-covered stones that double up as seats and beds. The fungus folk also share a large garden area, where they eat and drink, and where the king grows potion ingredients. Dead myconid kings are buried beneath the mounds while other dead are buried near the gardens. The only myconids usually found outside of their community are work details looking for dead creatures they can bring back for their king to animate.
At first glance, the artwork on card #368 of the 1991 AD&D Trading Cards looks like someone has coloured in the black and white picture from the Monstrous Compendium, but it is actually a completely new picture, just of exactly the same myconid. It has a pale purple skin and yellow eyes.
In the Monstrous Manual hardcover collection, the text and statistics are reprinted exactly as they first appeared in the Monstrous Compendium, but there is a new colour picture and the myconid's eyes have returned to their normal place on its stem.
The article Familiar Faces in Dragon #200 suggests a 1 HD myconid as an alternative familiar for an Underdark mage, and PHBR11: The Complete Ranger's Handbook suggests that myconid could also be followers for rangers, but notes that such a follower has low trainability.
The Night Below includes an opportunity for adventurers to free a small group of myconids from an unusual persecutor. An insane, exiled male drow suffers from the delusion that he is a minor god of fungi, and he has acquired a wand of plant charming to assist him in his quest for followers. Together with his band of gas spores, ascomoids and, strangely, wererats, the drow is attempting to forcibly convert the confused myconids.
Shards of the Day in Dungeon #60 is an Underdark adventure where the resident myconids are being experimented on by illithids. The mind flayers are trying to perfect dust of contrariness, and have chosen the fungus folk as test subjects. This adventure is also notable as containing what seems to be the first myconid with a name. The king is called Reyseta.
Myconids feature in The Gates of Firestorm Peak as potential allies for the adventurers. In an area known as the Twisted Caverns, the myconids live in a state of constant warfare with the local population of troll mutates. This pressure has turned these fungus folk into far more aggressive specimens than most. They have set up a variety of traps in strategic areas of the caverns, including covered pits filled with dangerous molds and key entrances crossed by webs lined with hallucinogenic powders.
Their social structure is also slightly different with the king having bodyguards (5 HD) who, like him, remain apart from the circles and assist in the defence of the colony. The king keeps clubs coated with dangerous yellow mold next to the boulder which serves as his throne. Despite their more war-like countenance, the myconids remains peaceful creatures at heart, and are willing to communicate with the adventurers. If they agree to destroy the myconids' main enemy, the king will send one of his bodyguards to assist, as well as sharing healing potions.
In the encounter with the king it is noted that myconids do not bend easily, and spend most of their lives standing.
The adventure Uzaglu of the Underdark in Dungeon #67 features an undead myconid king, named Uzaglu. The leader of a myconid colony destroyed by derro, the king was raised by a derro necromantic spell and now serves the dwarves. Because he is undead, Uzaglu's spores do not simply animate corpses, but instead create dimly intelligent undead. The animation process causes them to become partially frozen by rigor mortis, so these creatures have limited flexibility and move around by hopping. This, combined with an abhorrent need to bite people, gives them the name hanuk arazuul or "hopping vampires". The touch of one of Uzaglu's minions has the same effect as mummy rot.
Uzaglu himself is bloated and his flesh is milky and decayed. He is perpetually surrounding by the equivalent of a 30' diameter stinking cloud, and can produce some unusual spores, including preserver spores which slow the rate of decay of his minions, a semi-paralytic spore and a death spore which fills the lungs causing suffocation.
During the 2nd Edition era, TSR (and later WotC) released a bewildering range of D&D starter sets. Some of these were intended as introductions to basic D&D, some as introductions to AD&D, some used their own not-quite-compatible-with-any-edition rules, and others (like Dungeons and Dragons Adventure Game: Diablo II Edition) were just strange licensing deals. Perhaps because a peaceful mushroom man is an appealing creature to include in a set potentially aimed at younger children, myconids featured in many of these sets, including the Introduction to Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Game, the Complete Starter Set and the Dungeons and Dragons Adventure Game. All three of these sets reuse the artwork from the Monstrous Manual, and have simplified abilities and only a brief description.
Also produced during the 2nd Edition era was the Spellfire collectable card game. The myconid featured on card #89 of The Underdark expansion, using the Monstrous Manual art.
The myconids made their 3rd Edition debut in the article Bad Seeds in Dragon #292. There's a preface to the article soliciting feedback and noting that some of the material is intended for an upcoming product, foreshadowing the Monster Manual II later the same year.
Most of the 1st/2nd Edition lore remans the same, but these myconids have more physical variation. Their hands have a random number of digits, and occasional individuals have extra arms or legs. A myconid's eyes are perfectly concealed when closed. The location of the eyes isn't specified in the text, but the illustration places them on the edge of the cap. These myconids no longer have the poisonous skin of the previous two editions, but they do gain the standard immunities of 3rd Edition plants (poison, sleep, paralysis, stunning, and mind-influencing magic).
Mechanically, these myconids share the same 1-6 HD variation as before, with each HD still equating to four years of age and two feet of height. Each of the six myconids has its own stats block and title. The junior workers (1 HD) are adolescents of 4-8 years. Although feeble, they are the circle's first line of defence when needed. Average workers (2 HD) are 8-12 years old, and form the backbone of the community. Elder workers (3 HD) serve as supervisors and shock troops. Guards (4 HD) are 16-20 years old, and are charged with overall defence of the circle; they tend to be more aggressive. Circle leaders (5 HD) are older than 20 years, and lead and administer the circle.
As previously, each tribe has a single 6 HD king, whose spores animate guardians, and who is also able to make a number of potions for the community. The other five types of spores are also unchanged, with some rules clarifications to the pacification effect making it similar to the dazed condition. Spores can be released in a 120-foot spread or a 40-foot ray, depending on the type.
The text in the Monster Manual II is an edited version of the Dragon #292 article, with a new illustration and a new gender-neutral title for the myconid leader, who is now their "sovereign". The lore confirms that myconids are immobile until the age of four, and gives them an alternative name of "fungus ones". Such is their distrust of outsiders that they actively seek homes away from busy areas. Their extensive knowledge of fungus farming is emphasised, including optimum growing conditions, crop sizes, and how to use the different parts of each type. The organisation of circles within a tribe is said to favour distances between circles no greater than the range of the distress spores (120 feet).
The D&D v.3.5 Accessory Update booklet has some minor changes to all six sizes of myconid. These are limited to skills points and a few additional feats, but the chosen feats give the elder worker more hit points, and the guard slightly better attacks.
The Wizards Presents: Worlds and Monsters preview book introduces the myconids of 4th Edition as immigrants from the Feywild of long ago, who are now more numerous in the Underdark than anywhere else. They are described as "fiercely secretive". Despite this preview, myconids didn't make it into the Monster Manual, and had to wait until the Monster Manual 2.
Although they are still not evil creatures, the 4th Edition myconids are expansionist, constantly striving to expand their territory and numbers. This places them in frequent conflict with other residents of the dark places they dwell in. The myconids' insidious presence has spread from the Feywild to infect both the Underdark and the Shadowfell's equivalent (the Shadowdark). These myconids have a connection to fomorians, and are described as being "touched by the madness" of the twisted giants. Later, in Player's Option: Heroes of the Feywild, it is noted that fomorians fight skirmishes against legions of myconids in the Feydark.
In the Monster Manual 2, the traditional six-tier hierarchy is replaced with just three types of myconids. The largest myconid retains the 3rd Edition title of "sovereign". It has commanding spores which it uses to move other myconids into place in front of it, and a spore burst attack which it then uses to poison and daze enemies in combat with its allies. It also has a slam attack which does up to 15 points of damage. The sovereign is the only myconid able to communicate with non-myconids, using a form of telepathy. Unlike in previous editions, this isn't explicitly a spore-related ability, although communication between myconids remains spore-based.
Only slightly less powerful (but much smaller) than the sovereign are the myconid guards. They have the traditional pacification spores which stop enemies from acting, as well as causing poison damage. As shown in the illustration, the guards have spiked arms which they use as their standard form of melee attack.
The third type of myconid is a rotpriest. These have abilities not previously seen in myconids, including a spray which causes the target to decompose (taking necrotic damage), a life burst which it can use to heal other myconids, and the ability to absorb damage dealt to nearby kin. The guard and sovereign have a similar, but less powerful ability to share damage with their allies. A rotpriest typically wields a staff. It has the ability to regenerate itself unless harmed by radiant damage.
Underdark expands the fungus ones' family to include the myconid gas spore and colony swarm. The gas spore resembles the gas spore from the original AD&D Monster Manual, and has a similar spore burst attack. As a minion, it also has only one hit point. The colony swarm is a collective of smaller carnivorous fungal creatures. They rise up to defend myconid colonies using their poisonous devouring spores and rotting decay attacks.
The Great Cathedral of Psilofyr is also described in Underdark. This is an ancient petrified toadstool towering 600 feet high and spanning over 400 feet in diameter. The myconids believe that the stone fungus holds the slumbering essence of their creator, Psilofyr (see below). The cathedral is ruled by a powerful myconid lord called Amasutelob. He commands armies of otyughs, fey-grove chokers, shambling mounds and other plant creatures.
In the adventure Den of the Slavetakers in Dungeon #171, myconids are one of the factions vying for control of a meteor shard. At the climax of the adventure, the myconids raise a giant fungal tower they have "glued together with spittle and ooze" to get to the temple which houses the shard.
The idea that myconids spread implacably and continuously is emphasised again in Into the Unknown: The Dungeon Survival Handbook, one of the last 4th Edition supplements. Myconids spores are apparently capable of creating enormous fungal masses that crowd out other plants and animals. The fungus ones do not react well to adventurers who hack their way through these fungal constructs and consider such actions as an attack on their colony. Negotiation with the myconid sovereign is recommended as an alternative to facing an angry myconid community, who are said to pour from their lair like a colony of fire ants once attacked.
It is perhaps noteworthy that the 4th Edition myconids are both the only version of the myconids with aggressive, expansionist habits and the only edition which doesn't make any mention of the myconid meld. Could it be that the myconids of other editions are such peaceful creatures only because their meditative practices stem their expansionist tendencies?
It is perhaps fitting that the myconids were reintroduced to the latest version of the D&D rules once again via In the Dungeons of the Slave Lords. During the long playtest period between 4th and 5th edition, WotC reprinted some older edition material, and this included the hardcover compilation A0-A4: Against the Slave Lords. Although the reprint remained faithful to the original AD&D rules, that month's playtest packet included a new document titled D&D Next Monster Statistics for Against the Slave Lords (A0-A5). The myconid adult, juvenile and sovereign are all detailed inside.
The juvenile is the smallest myconid. It has just 7 hit points and a single slam attack which does 1d4 bludgeoning and 1d4 poison damage. A juvenile has both rapport spores to allow it to communicate telepathically with other creatures, and distress spores which can broadcast an alarm to other myconids within a 50 feet range. The medium-sized adult has 22 hit points, and does three times as much bludgeoning damage with its slam attack. The range of its distress spores doubles, and an adult can also release pacifying spores which stun a target for up to a minute.
A large creature with 33 hit points and a slam attack which does 5d4 bludgeoning damage, the myconid sovereign has the same abilities as other adults, but two additional spore attacks. It has hallucination spores which cause a creature to react randomly for up to a minute, and animating spores which can animate the corpse of a humanoid or a beast of up to large size for between two and five weeks. The playtest document includes statistics for an animated human commoner. All three types of myconid are averse to sunlight; it kills them after an hour of exposure. They also have a poisonous skin which does damage relative to the myconid's size to anyone who touches them. Plants are immune to this effect.
The Monster Manual makes a few changes to the playtest version. Myconids no longer have poisonous skin and their aversion to the sun is now called sun sickness. The juvenile is known as a "sprout" and its distress spores have a much greater range (240 feet). Its rapport spores, on the other hand, now last only one hour instead of six. Both the sprout and the adult have reduced movement speeds. The sprout's fist attack does one point less damage. An adult myconid's melee attack does 1d4 less bludgeoning damage but 1d4 more poison damage.
Both the adult and the sovereign have an improved armor class from the playtest versions. Like the adult myconid, the sovereign now does less bludgeoning damage but more poison damage. The sovereign has nearly twice as many hit points (60 hp), and has gained the multiattack ability which lets it use either hallucination spores or pacifying spores and then still hit with its fist. In the playtest rules, the hallucination and pacifying spores had a limited number of uses per day, but in the final version they are unlimited. The effect of the hallucinations is now to incapacitate the target, instead of being determined randomly.
The D&D Next version of animating spores has the creature rise almost immediately, but in 5th Edition the process take a full 24 hours to work, closer to the 1-4 days of AD&D. The animated corpse still lasts 1d4+1 weeks. The Monster Manual includes a more interesting sample spore servant (a quaggoth) but also helpfully provides a whole template for converting other creatures into servants.
The Monster Manual is quite light on myconid lore, but it is clear from the paragraph describing their spore-based reproduction that their 4th Edition expansionist tendencies are no more. Instead they carefully control the release of their reproductive spores to avoid overpopulation.
Circles of twenty or more myconid are still the basic social structure, and once again they use their rapport spores to meld into a group consciousness. As in earlier editions, they consider the meld to be the reason for their existence. If approached by travellers, myconids will gladly provide shelter and safe passage.
Given that (spoiler!) the 2015 adventure Out of the Abyss culminates in the wedding of Zuggtmoy, Demon Queen of Fungi, it is not surprising that the fungus folk feature quite prominently in the adventure. This is their most significant presence since A4: In the Dungeons of the Slave Lords, and there are more named myconids here than in the rest of D&D history combined.
Quite early on in the adventure, the heroes meet Stool, an inquisitive young myconid who has been taken prisoner, and who may become an important ally. A little later on, there is another potential encounter with a group of myconids who have fallen under the sway of "the Lady", and who are behaving erratically, dancing to tunes that only they can hear. One of their group is a friend of Stool's, named Rumpadump. An introverted myconid by nature, Rumpadump is the only unaffected member of the group. He is able to lead the adventurers on to Neverlight Grove, a myconid refuge where much of the adventure is set.
Unusually, two sovereigns share control over Neverlight Grove. Sovereign Phylo has unfortunately fallen under the sway of Zuggtmoy's influence, and he has established new rules governing which myconids meld with each other, allowing some of the circles to focus entirely on supporting the Demon Queen. Sovereign Basidia has not yet been infected with Zuggtmoy's spores, and will try to warn visiting adventurers away, lest the corrupted myconids sacrifice them to her. It is an integral plot point in the adventure that Basidia is later able to reach out to the heroes using rapport spores over a much greater distance than would normally be possible.
The Grove's community consists of seven circles of myconids, most of which serve a specific function. The Circle of Builders is responsible for maintaining the group's dwellings and structures. The Circle of Growers are the community's farmers. Responsible for the sporing and tending of new myconids is the Circle of Sporers (also refered to once as the Circle of Sowers), while the Circle of Explorers consists of the those restless myconids willing to act as scouts and pathfinders. The Circle of Hunters tracks dying creatures and retrieves their carcasses for reanimation. The remaining two circles -- the Inner Circle and the Circle of Masters are unique to this community and a result of Zuggtmoy's growing influence over Phylo.
One of the appendices in Out of the Abyss provides three new types of spores available to adult myconids under Zuggtmoy's influence. Caustic spores cause acid damage, Euphoria spores cause poison damage to non-myconids and leave the creature exhausted as an after effect. Infestation spores infect flesh and blood creatures with disease and madness that gets gradually worse until the victim is cured or dies, likely to be reanimated as a spore servant.
Although the myconid is mentioned as an example of the plant monster type, the creature itself doesn't form part of the Basic Rules or the Systems Reference Document for 5th Edition.
The myconid god Psilofyr was introduced in DMGR4: Monster Mythology. He is often depicted as a fungal world-tree, with mycelia reaching through the planes into the homes of the myconid kings. Psilofyr is a benevolent and protective deity dedicated to the myconid race and the pursuit of perfection through meditation. He keeps the myconids safe, teaches them the secrets of potion-making, and, when a king dies, guides the senior myconids in their selection of the next king. He constantly shares his thoughts with his kings. One king in twenty is selected by Psilofyr to become a priest-king.
In avatar form, Psilofyr looks like a gigantic myconid with a vast mycelium complex drifting behind him. He levitates just above the ground and changes colour, depending on mood and environment. A blue-gray colour is common. He can cast wizard and priest spells, as well as using a variety of spore-based powers. These include cause disease, cloudkill, sleep, pacification, weakness, radiance, and an effect equivalent to dust of sneezing and choking. Psilofyr's avatar takes only half damage from blunt weapons, water and cold attacks, and communicates telepathically. He only rarely sends an avatar to commune with a myconid king, if that community faces a great threat.
Planes of Law notes that Psilofyr's proxy is a short myconid named Cybin Decayer, who speakers in a whisper and tries to avoid drawing attention to itself. Psilofyr's realm of Mycelia is described in the Planescape section below.
In the Forgotten Realms, Psilofyr is an ally of the elven god Shevarash (according to Demihuman Deities). Drizzt Do'Urden's Guide to the Underdark suggests that Araumycos, a great fungus and possibly both the largest and longest-lived organism of Faerï¿½n is actually a manifestation of Psilofyr. Araumycos is also involved in Zuggtmoy's plans in the 5th Edition adventure Out of the Abyss, and the possibility that Araumycos is Psilofyr adds an extra layer of intrigue to that story.
Not all myconids are loyal to Psilofyr. Demonomicon of Iggwilv: Zuggtmoy in Dragon #337 notes that there are evil myconids among the Queen of Fungi's favourite minions. In Zuggtmoy's abyssal realm of Shedaklah, the Slime Pits, there are half-fiend fungus creatures like basidironds, phantom fungi, phycomids and myconids. Fiendish Codex I notes that there are myconids loyal to Zuggtmoy living in the realm's settlement of Xhubhullosk. These fungus ones are insane, and their caps are covered in tumours and parasitic growths.
In 4th Edition, it is unclear if Psilofyr is still alive. Underdark notes that it has been an age since any myconid has heard Psilofyr's meditative instructions, and the myconids are increasingly oblivious of their creator.
Although he is not actually a deity, Dragon #420 introduces a Feywild ruler known as the Carrion King. Little is known about this fungal lord, but he is the master of the 4th Edition myconids and one of the most powerful residents of the Feydark. Like the myconids, the Carrion King is given to madness and he desires only to see his legions spread across the world. He does not occupy a single body, but is a distributed consciousness dwelling in a single, wide-spread root system. He grows new mushroom-like bodies whenever he needs to interact with others.
As part of his schemes to ensure the spread of the myconids, the Carrion King has cultivated a new species of myconid symbionts, which can bond with humanoid plant monsters. The resulting host and symbiont combinations serve the Carrion King and act as his emissaries. The Carrion King counts both Lolth and Zuggtmoy as his enemies, as well as a number of incarnations of himself; these are giant mushrooms spawned by his consciousness that have subsequently gone rogue.
Although myconids could probably claim to be distant cousins of any of D&D's variety of fungal creatures, there are two species for which the relationship is explicit. Both are smaller and sillier versions of the myconid. The first, the campestris, feature in the comic relief adventure Old Man Katan and the Incredible, Edible, Dancing Mushroom Band in Dungeon #41.
Campestris are much smaller than myconids and have no limbs. Usually happy-go-lucky creatures not given to worries, in this adventure they have been displaced from their swamp by giant mosquitoes, and have sought out Old Man Katan to help them. Each individual campestri is only a little smarter than a domestic cat, so they have not been very successful in their efforts. They have noticed that when they sing loudly and badly, it drives away the fish, and causes Katan to stop fishing and instead light up a foul-smelling home-made cigar. This helps the campestris by keeping the dangerous giant mosquitoes away.
With only one hit dice and a single attack that does only one point of damage, the campestris are unlikely to be part of a combat encounter. Their habits of playing silly practical jokes, singing (usually badly) and dancing make them more useful as a role-playing encounter or a distraction. They have two means of defence. The first is a cloud of spores that acts as a slow spell on nearby creatures. Each campestri can release these spores once per day, and they serve mainly to distract opponents. Their second defence is a diet high in salt, which makes them unpalatable to all except bullywugs.
The campestris get a full page Monstrous Compendium-style entry at the end of the adventure. This was reprinted in the Monstrous Compendium Annual Volume One along with a new, colour picture.
Another creature related to both myconids and campestris is the friendly fungus, described in 3 Wizards Too Many in Dragon #196. They are small, mobile mushrooms no taller than a foot. They have a cap-like head and a stalk-like body, but they do not have discreet limbs and can instead grow tentacles or pseudopods as needed from their amorphous lower ends. Each fungus attaches itself to a single larger creature that is willing to look after it by feeding, scratching and stroking it. In return, they can carry small items, and fetch small items, much like some pets. They make a variety of sounds to indicate a range of emotions from contentment to disgust, and are capable of remembering and passing on a mental image. They see -- the equivalent of infravision -- through countless pores on their bodies, and typically have only 4 hit points.
Myconid kings animate all kinds of dead creatures, including humanoids (derro, duergar, gibberlings, gnomes, goblins, hobgoblins, humans, jermlaine, kobolds, orcs), mammals (mobats), insects (fire beetles, giant ants) and monsters (trolls).
Naturally, myconids co-operate with giant fungi, including shriekers (A4: In the Dungeons of the Slave Lords). Mold men have been known to associate with myconids, but view them as having rather limited interests (Dragon #265). Myconids view mold men, on the other hand, as rustic cousins (Monstrous Manual). They seem to have neutral relationships with derro (Dungeon #20).
Nightshades -- the elemental spirits of poisonous plants -- are said to be on good terms with "evil" myconids (FRQ3: Doom of Daggerdale, Monstrous Compendium Annual Volume One), perhaps those who are loyal to Zuggtmoy?
The reptilian humanoids known as laerti or asabis (Monstrous Compendium Annual Volume Two) are known to eat myconids, although they prefer the internal organs of humans or camels. The troll mutates on the other hand, will eat myconids with gusto (Monstrous Compendium Annual Volume Four). In turn, myconids favour ground-up troll mutates as fertilizer for their farms (The Gates of Firestorm Peak).
In the Forgotten Realms, in Fluvenilstra, the Garden City of the Lowerdark, the slyth residents employ myconids to control the various plant creatures they use to defend their city.
In the 4th Edition Monster Manual 2, myconids are said to be used as cheap labor or slaves by drow, fomorians and shadar-kai. They can be encountered together with geonids, rust monsters, green slimes, homunculi and deathjump spiders. In the adventure Stormcrow Tor, in Dungeon #169, a tiny colony of four myconids have a fungal bloodthorn as an ally. This aggressive vine strikes and grapples opponents using its impaling thorns. These same myconids are in conflict with nearby kenku. Dungeon #187 notes that myconid slaves manage vast underground fungal forests for the duergar. Underdark notes that they can be encountered with dark creepers, gravehounds and troglodytes.
According to The Ecology of the Vegepygmy in Dungeon #201, Vegepygmies and myconids sometimes form alliances. These are usually short lived, as the myconids find the vegepygmies' outlook to be less enlightened than theirs. In Undermountain: The Lost Level the vegepygmies have driven out the myconids who previously lived in the Champignon Caverns, so clearly the two species don't always get on. Volo's Guide to Monsters confirms that in 5th Edition, vegepygmies and myconids coexist well together, along with shriekers and violet fungi.
Although they are not usually known as slavers, in the Living Greyhawk adventure SHE8-01: Severance, a small group of myconids has captured a gnome whom they keep in chains. At least on Oerth, kobolds occasionally cook and eat myconids; in the Living Greyhawk adventure URDi3-01: No Holds Bard, the kobold cook and her assistants are preparing to chop up a captive myconid for a stew.
Myconids and magic
In A4: In the Dungeons of the Slave Lords, the king has a collection of potions stored in bottles made from the heads of giant ants. They are extra-healing, growth, healing, invisibility, speed, and water-breathing. The myconids in Dungeon #20 have made potions of clairaudience, clairvoyance, delusion, diminution, growth, poison, speed and vitality. In The Gates of Firestorm Peak, the myconids make their potions of extra healing from the distilled essence of their hope for peace, and store them in stoppered plant pods.
The myconid entry in Monstrous Compendium Volume Two details five new, unique potions that can be brewed by a myconid king. These include a potion of fungus growth which causes a single myconid to grow rapidly, gaining a Hit Dice and size, and a potion of fungus healing which is a healing potion that only works on fungoids. The rarely brewed potion of decay infects someone with the purple fungus the king uses to animate bodies; a cure disease spell is needed to prevent the imbiber from dying. Powders of hallucination are a back-up form of the myconids' hallucinatory spores, and are sometimes combined with spider silk to form a trap. Each myconid community keeps one potion of anointment ready. This is used on the largest myconid in the event that the king dies, and triggers immediate and painful growth. It is poisonous to non-myconids.
The undead myconid king in Dungeon #67 creates potions of decay, oils of timelessness and paralytic goo, in addition to powders of hallucination and potions of enhanced fungal growth.
In 3rd edition, the list of potions brewed by the myconid sovereign is a little more vanilla: bull's strength, cure light/moderate/serious wounds, delay poison, endurance, endure elements, greater magic fang, invisibility to animals, lesser restoration, magic fang, negative energy protection, neutralize poison, protection from/resist elements, remove blindness/deafness/disease/paralysis, and resist elements.
Myconids as components
In Better Living Through Alchemy in Dragon #130 the typical ingredients for incense of meditation are given as 1 oz. of hallucinogenic spores from a myconid, and one holy/unholy symbol". Dragon #137 sets the going rate for collecting and selling one-pint jar's worth of myconid spores as 100 gp, but in the adventure The Dark Forest in Dungeon #22, Randal the Alchemist is prepared to pay 300 gp for "each handful" of spores they bring back. He also clarifies that the spores must be given voluntarily by the myconids, because they disintegrate if the myconids carrying them are killed.
There is obviously quite a retail mark-up, since the price of spores as an alternative spell component is given as 1,000 gp in Dragon #147. The article Variety, the Spice of Magic notes that myconid spores can be used for the illusionist's dream spell, and must be inhaled prior to sleep. It doesn't specify how much must be inhaled (just a handful or a whole pint jar's worth?), but doing so reduces the time the spell takes to function by half. There is a risk though, since 10% of the time a twisted nightmare results instead.
According to Secrets of the Magister, a remnant of myconid (fresh or dry, spores or body part) is one of the components for the 7th-level wizard spell obliviasphere. One of the spell's possible effects is to turn someone into a myconid. Monstrous Compendium Volume Two confirms that myconid spores are useful in poisons and in potions of delusion.
In the Living Greyhawk adventure PAL4-05: Possessions in the Dust, there is a vial of myconid spores, which, when inhaled, grants the ability to communicate telepathically within 30 feet. The effect lasts for one hour. Another adventure, URC3-01: Brotherhood of the Oath mentions powdered myconid jelly. This is a moderate narcotic which allows its imbiber to resist pain.
It is possible to animate creatures using an alchemical powder with similar properties to those of the myconid king's animator spores. In the the adventure Ex Libris in Dungeon #29, there are gnoll zombies created in this fashion. It isn't clear if the animating powder uses myconid spores as a component, or if it just works in the same way.
A magic location known as a garden of resplendent hues can sometimes grow where a myconid king and his entire tribe are killed (Drow of the Underdark). When this happens, the spores the dying myconids release settle on the rocks and grown into a forest of colourful but immobile mushrooms, puffballs and molds. These gardens may harbour a desire for vengeance. If a ranger or druid champion willing to avenge the tribe's destruction visits the garden, it has the power to transform him or her into a myconid-like plant creature for a period of a month.
The 4th Edition supplement Into the Unknown: The Dungeon Survival Handbook describes pacification dust which svirfneblin create using spores harvested from nearby myconids. Dragon #429 describes myconid essence as an oily substance with an earthly tang. It is harvested from the core of a dead myconid sovereign and saps strength from those who consume it. Drow use it on dangerous slaves and have been known to keep living myconids from whom they painfully extract the essence.
Magic items to use against myconids
The cloak of symbiotic protection from FR4: The Magister and Dragon #112 provides special protections against molds and fungi, including a +4 bonus to saves against myconid spores. This is because the cloak is made, in part, from a living substance which feeds upon spores and microscopic airborne life.
The Bazaar of the Bizarre column in Dragon #224 details the bane toadstool. This toadstool gives its wielder a number of powers including the ability to pacify fungoid creatures, a poison touch which also putrefies food, and detect poison. However, secretly, each time a character handles the toadstool, there is a chance of contracting a progressive disease. The disease initially causes only aversion to sunlight, but progresses to hair loss, the appearance of thread-like mold over the skin, and eventually complete transformation into a fungoid entity.
Spells and rituals
Since D&D mostly treats fungi as plants, spells like Protection from Plants, 10' Radius will work on myconids. According to the Wizard's Spell Compendium, Volume III, the spell needs to be cast at 7th-level or higher, in order to affect them.
In Out of the Abyss, the appendix notes that a myconid sovereign can create an awakened zurkhwood mushroom by performing a lengthy ritual. Zurkhwood are enormous fungi growing thirty to forty feet in height.
- http://www.enworld.org/forum/content.php?3744-Monster-ENCyclopedia-Myconid: An enormous compilation of myconic lore, images and references.