Vega the Fleshcrafter was an ancient and powerful wizard. The eldritch mysteries of the universe were children's puzzle-boxes to him, and even living flesh leapt to obey his arcane touch.
He was also very evil. Like all evil wizards, Vega was continually inflicted with "do-gooders" and "heroes", the most durable and pernicious of which manifested as the paladin Hactor, who went on to become Vega's nemesis (and eventually his slayer).
In his last decade of life, Vega noticed that Hactor was destroying his strongholds faster than he could construct them. He needed to find a way to build many, many hideouts cheaply and quickly. He applied his magic to goblin and fungus, and was happy when he his efforts eventually bore the first Veglin—creatures with a complex and swift reproduction time, with a racial dream that commanded them to build strongholds suitable to an evil wizard of the highest caliber.
It begins like this. Vega would reach a remote location and plant what must have been the original spores. Those spores would germinate, and eventually grow to become a giant white mushroom, called a Veshroom by everyone who enjoys uninventive names. After about a year and a half, when the mushroom is not yet taller than a man, bulbous outswellings begin to form on the bottom of the mushroom. Eventually, these will drop to the ground and burst open. This is a baby Veglin enters the world--by being dropped on his head. They are born small and pallid, but they quickly grow to be the size of adventurer-fodder, complete with their distinctive skin, which is either neon green or neon yellow and covered with white spots.
As the Veshroom grows larger, it will produce more and more veglins, up to one a month. Veglins can easily colonize a mountainside in only a few years, and Vega himself was sure to give his products a foothold on every mountainside he could travel to. In this way, Veglins sprouted simultaneously all around the world.
The veglins themselves are all male, and so reproduction among them is impossible. The body of every veglin born is riddled with the fungus that birthed him. After about a year, this dormant fungus forms a bud on the back of the veglin's neck. That bud remains dormant until it senses that the veglin is dead, whereupon it activates and grows into a new veshroom, using the veglins body for nutrients.
There is one exception to the normal life cycle: what the veglins call it "cutting a ceiling". When an elder veglin is near death, the tribe will often intentionally damage the fungal bud, causing it to grow while the veglin is still alive and marking the veglin as a wise tribal sage. These are the tribes mystics and shamans. Having a giant mushroom growing out of one’s back is pretty much the only way to be treated with respect by a veglin.
When the elder veglin nears death he is planted in the ground up to his neck. While the veshroom grows to consume his body, the veglin remains alive inside. Even when his body is completely subsumed, the mind remains, as veglin druids can apparently communicate with these elder veshrooms, which they affectionally refer to as "ancestors".
The ancestor veshrooms grow as normal veshrooms until maturity, when they produce "arms" much like a saguaro cactus. It behaves like a large veshroom, until a veglin druid requests it to produce vegabears. Then, the elder veshroom grows larger swellings from its trunk, near the ground. These grow much larger than the ones that produce veglins, and eventually produce a vegabears. When a vegabear is born, it is already larger than many men, and stronger. It grows to around 9', and covered in musculature. It is much dumber than the veglins, although it obeys them and is fiercely loyal. Vegabears don't contain spores, and so they never become veshrooms after death. A vegabear can never becomes an "ancestor".
Veglins make their homes in caves and mountainous places, like their goblin ancestors (who they eventually totally supplanted).
Dead veglins are placed underground whenever possible, in rooms dedicated to the singular purpose. They often dump their garbage and leftovers at the base of these mushrooms as fertilizer. Since baby veglins are born into these rooms, they often function as nurseries AND graveyards AND compost heaps. Veglins call these places rot gardens, and often adorn them with skulls and other symbols of decay, which is of course synonymous with renewal.
Newborn veglins are instictively attached to the veshroom that birthed them, and will often cling to it. Veshrooms have a "skirt" near their base, and baby veglins will dig a clumsy burrow underneath for habitation. Baby veglins forage among the garbage and leavings for food, or scrambling around their older brothers begging for scraps. Veglins aren’t unkind to their young, merely unsympathetic.
Every sentient creature dreams. And veglins dream of only one thing: Vega. The wizard somehow managed to imprint himself in the subconcious of their entire race. Although each veglin will dream of only incomplete sections, but when the fragments are pieced together it becomes apparent that Vega "recorded" three separate sections, each between three and five hours long. These "sermons" contain instructions and threats, each of which has been repeated to countless generations of sleeping veglins. Many wizards have examined many veglins to discover the next few paragraphs.
The first veglin sermon seems to be in a laboratory, with Vega wearing a plain green robe. He tells the veglins that they are his children, and that the world is his to give to them, which he does.
The second veglin sermon is in a different part of the same laboratory, with a balcony visible overlooking some mountains, probably the Starrocks. Vega wears a purple and white robe, and seems to be in excellent spirits. He spends five hours giving a rapid-fire course in excavation and architectural engineering. He is pacing the entire time, and at one point conjures an illusory dragon to make a point.
The third and last sermon takes place with Vega wearing a black and gold robe. He is standing on the Bastion of Medurak (an enormous, ancient dam) and seems to be drunk, or at least tired and angry. He throws a bag off the side of the Bastion, calling it the price of failure. The rest of the short sermon is a list of his demands. This sermon is rambling and unstructured, leading veglin-specialist wizards to believe that Vega did not plan the third sermon. Vega ends by telling the veglins that he will always be watching; he will always be waiting; and he will always find the failures and traitors.
Aside from his psuedo-religious impressions of grandeur, Vega presents a definite set of instructions for the veglins.
- Keep hidden at all times. Let no one discover you.
- Build a tower in a hidden place: two stories above ground, four beneath. This should be disguised as a natural rock.
- This tower should be large enough to fit 200 veglins inside without any two touching.
- They are to stock a alchemy lab with a full complement of reagents (many with forgotten uses, today).
- Supply the stronghold with a wine cellar.
- Supply the stronghold with a swift horse.
- Supply the stronghold with a beautiful maiden.
- Supply the stronghold with a half-dozen lambs (Vega was a lover of veal).
- Stock the stronghold with more gold than the strongest veglin can carry.
What the Veglins Actually Stock the Stronghold With
Results differ, but a typical example would be: a few bottles of vinegar, a sick donkey, a blind human widow, two dead goats, and a bag full of pennies and stained glass shards. Of course, larger and more successful veglin tribes actually do collect all the things that Vega demanded, although large tribes find it harder to keep the first rule. Once discovered, veglin colonies often find themselves at the business end of a determined extermination effort by whatever authority is close enough.
Although they tend to be smaller than Vega would have liked, the stoneworking skills of veglins are excellent--the strongholds are always well-built. Vega’s rushed sermon on groined vaults and flying buttresses (to name two examples) has been analyzed and retaught again and again until Veglins know them backwards and forwards. Veglins are expected to work to improve the master’s stronghold whenever they have time, and the tower is continually worked upon. Stocking an alchemy lab from the mountains requires luck and stealth, whereas hewing a stone into a block can be done before breakfast. Veglins could be excellent masons if they could overcome their prejudices, narrow field of expertise, and that funky goblin smell.
Seriously. Veglins are effectively born with a cursory knowledge of digging tunnels, reinforcing tunnels, flood-proofing tunnels, the manufacture of earthmoving equipment and explosives, different types of dirt and stone and the considerations of each. They also know of foundations, brickmaking, and several recipes for mortar. Veglins also know how to read and write the alphabet and a few words, although only in Old Tongue, as Common wouldn’t be invented for another few hundred.
Veglins in the World Today
As previously mentioned, they have completely displaced goblins, except for the colder and higher places where the veshrooms can’t grow. They are a nuisance in temperate lands where the mountains are unpatrolled. Veglins share their goblin ancestors’ habits of dying frequently and in random places, and new veshrooms often sprout up in the unlikeliest of places.
Every new tribe that sprouts up follows the same pattern, each one believing that they are the only veglins in the service of a wizard-god who is coming back any day now. Luckily, most authorities know to suspect veglin activity when sheep, wine, and a single woman go missing.
There is a permanent colony in Tau Solen called the Bogenshy Warrens, which is endured by the smallfolk (halflings) as a pitiable nuisance that they have turned into a social experiment. They proved to the veglins that Vega is a long dead murderer and a vile man who happily condemned his creations to a lifetime of servitude for all time. After a period of denial, anger, and soul-crushing introspection, the tribe is gradually coming to grips with reality. Schisms formed. Many of the enlightened veglins consider themselves cursed, no matter what the dark-haired man in the dreams says, no matter how many times he tells them that they are his forever, he is watching forever, and failures will be punished, forever.