Society/ Organizations
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January 6, 2008, 12:16 pm

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Cheka Man

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Fungus Gardeners


The members of this obscure order specialize in growing funghi. Growing, researching and studying many kinds, they even try to create new ones.

(This post was inspired by the Herbmasters of Hibara. Now, for once the Captain created a completely noble people, and I felt obliged to show their dark mirror.,1940.msg27998.html#msg27998)

The members of this obscure order specialize in growing funghi. Growing, researching and studying many kinds, they even try to create new ones. Obsessed with their work, they hoard knowledge and share little of it with others. Their services can be costly but effective, healing and purifying products, poisons as well as cures can be found. Many addictive products are supplied by these men and women of dubious morals.

While their work is questionable, none can deny their competence; it is a matter of pride for a grower to sell quality goods only, and describe the effects in detail. Most live alone, distanced from civilization, that so often misunderstands them… and sometimes kills. Working usually through middlemen, they often end up working with criminal and/or secret organizations.


Tradition knows only one way of becoming a fungus gardener. Two apprentices are chosen and taught the basics. When the time comes, the students are sent on a journey, and depending on the master’s liking, one or both receive the pollen of the Kheliaa (see below), and knowledge of using it.

One returns as a master.

The Kheliaa Fungus

This rare plant is highly magical, and grows very slowly. Countless experiments and breeding slowly improve its potential; it may be the only reason why this loose ‘group’ stays in some contact.

If a living creature inhales the pollen of this fungus, it starts to live in her lungs. Slowly as it spreads, the person looses itself, growing weaker in body and mind, until at some point it cannot take care of itself anymore. There exist more funghi like this.

The exceptional feature is the magic of the plant itself, that spills over into its host’s blood. Extracted and concentrated, mixed with ingredients, boiled, or dried, drunk or otherwise applied, it is an excellent base for healing potions and other medicine. Regularly administered, it can prolong life significantly.

The problem is the effect is bound to the host’s race: it can lessen or vanish if the imbiber is of a different race; it could even do harm. If you have customers of a different race, you need a respective ‘source’. Due to the constant care the source body needs, few fungus gardeners maintain more than a few bodies. A body well taken care off can survive for decades, maybe even a century, provided the fungus’ growth is limited.

Of course, cultivating of this kind is best done in secret.


Accidental inhaling of the fungus is very rare, but happens. A few books on the topic of healing mention ways how to cure a funghal growth inside of a living body, unpleasant and risky ways. Someone would have discovered the magical nature of this plant sooner or later.

In the few written resources that are freely available within the Gardeners, there is an alchemist mentioned, that has done the feat. Curiously, there is no name attached to the person, though there are hints that he (or she) was at the start of all their knowledge. Rumours claim that he (or she?) was killed by students too thirsty for knowledge, and too eager to put their own name on everything; who have subsequently erased their mentor’s name from all records. It appears they were successful.

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Comments ( 14 )
Commenters gain extra XP from Author votes.

Voted KendraHeart
November 4, 2005, 12:19
People tend to forget that things need to be grown and does not just appear in the market.
Voted Michael Jotne Slayer
January 9, 2006, 9:10
Indeed kendraHeart. And this one shows us (in a nice way) just how they are grown.
It should be easy to use this as well, the possibilities are many.
Voted Ancient Gamer
January 9, 2006, 12:21
I like the idea. Like most of your submissions, this one is a basic template that can be expanded heavily upon. Mesa liksa thatsa!
Voted Cheka Man
February 2, 2006, 17:38
This Society can work for good or evil, or could be good with an evil branch within it.
Voted CaptainPenguin
February 2, 2006, 18:42
Glad to have been inspiration. Pretty short... Where did they come from and start? Are they are ritualistic order of mystics like the Herbmasters, or are they more scientific?

February 3, 2006, 9:05
Glad to have a reminder. Added link to your post, and also a bit on their history.

And: they are definitively the scientific types, serious and proud of their work.
Voted Ria Hawk
March 21, 2006, 18:14
I like this idea, and of course, one could have endless fun with the consequences of a grower's "garden" being discovered... especially if they were using sentient beings as bases. How do they pick bases? Do people actually volunteer for this, or do some of the growers kidnap people who happen to wander past at the right time? I would imagine this group would work well within a system with a significant slave trade of multiple sentient species, and there would probably be some amount of cooperation between the growers to get the right hosts. "I'll trade you two humans and a cow for a dwarf."
March 22, 2006, 10:33
I admit to have diffilcuty imagining people that would volunteer for this. :)

As was hinted in the post, a master has usually two students. Much depends on how much he likes each of them, or how prospective they seem. One or maybe both are separately approached and taught the great secret of the Kheliaa Fungus, and given the spores. Then are both sent on a trip to collect and discover interesting plants. Usually, one of them returns as a master, the other with a clouded mind becomes the base.

But you are right, slave trading, even kidnapping is possible; or what else would you do with meddlesome adventurers? If they are connected to a larger (presumably criminal) organisation, they could be sent 'unreliable' people for use.

It also has to be noted that a gardener won't have dozens of bases, most have only a few.


Now that I think of it, there is an important condition I have forgotten yet: the host body must be healthy. You can't imagine what consequences can have the magical fungus mixed with any random deformity, mutation or disease. Ohhh, the plot hooks...

"Suddenly, the thieves and mercenaries of the town start dying. All of them died in a bar, but not in a single one, and they did not have the same drink. It wasn't poison, as the rest of their drink was safe. But what is it then?" (Simple: The deadly combination of a healing potion and alcohol consumed afterwards.)
Voted Strolen
June 1, 2011, 15:23

ooooohhhh. This is a fun one. I see players stumbling upon the grounds where they have a half dozen different races layed out growing the fungus out of various openings.


Voted Silveressa
July 13, 2011, 13:29

An oldie, and still a goodie, after an adventure dealing with such cultivators  characters will likely view the wide array of potions for sale at the alchemists shop with a lot more wariness and caution.

Voted valadaar
May 8, 2013, 22:50
I really like this one. Human fungi gardens :)
Voted Kassy
June 1, 2013, 6:00

Really interesting sub, and I can now see a chain of inspiration (linked back from Elbin's specialist cultures, will have to check the Herbmasters sub next).
Voted Dossta
June 3, 2013, 12:23
The only suggestion I have for improvement is "expand on this!" I love the Kheliaa Fungus and its roll in apprenticeship and research, but I really would like a more expanded list (even just 2-3 more) of the various funghi these guys cultivate in secret. That would really kick it up to the next level for me.

Very glad that this was linked to recently, else I may have never found it.
June 3, 2013, 12:27
Nvm -- I tend to read base subs before derived subs, and found that Elbin is doing just that with his Specialized fungus cultures sub. Still, awesome see idea, manfred!

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