Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Summer of the Shrooms

So far, this Summer has alternated between being cold and wet and hot and humid. Consequently, I've noticed an inordinately large number of mushrooms springing up on everyone's lawns in my neighborhood. Mushrooms are funny things. They are indelibly linked in my mind with fantasy but they're weird in that they have a dual association. On the one hand, they can be whimsical things associated with fairies and pixies and, on the other, they can be the noisome evidence of rot and decay.

I also tend to associate mushrooms with classic artist Erol Otus, whose illustrations included more than their fair share of fungi, but he was far from the only D&D artist who made regular use of mushrooms in his work. My first -- and favorite -- D&D module was Mike Carr's In Search of the Unknown and it famously included a garden of giant mushrooms, an area that's become a fixture of my imagination when it comes to envisioning dungeons. Of course, D&D itself is filled with fungi and fungal monsters, from shriekers and violet fungi to myconids, ascomoids, and basidironds. It's a fascinating thing and one I've found myself considering many times this Summer.

12 comments:

  1. I agree about the fantasy appeal of fungi forests and 'shroom people; there's something wonderfully alien about them. Reaper had a very nice set of Mushroom Men figures. I'm particularly fond of the King: http://is.gd/d8M2e

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  2. And another Anthony comments! ;)

    I've always pictured Myconids as antagonists although they are LN. That's probably due to the fact that my first exposure to them was in A4, and we were pretty hack and slash back in middle school (negotiating never crossed our mind).

    Well, I recently started playing EQ2 and there are "shroomas" (essentially Myconids) as contacts near the (Good) fey city of Keletheran. They have inspired some ideas about using them in my AD&D (1e) game.

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  3. Shrooms have never let me down! And we have had some whimisical and nightmarish adventures together, shrooms and I.

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  4. Got to point out the Megadungeon.net's giant fungal forest, as well.

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  5. One of my favorite oddities from Hackmaster (the supreme incarnation of the game IMHO) was the humble Mushboom, lovingly detailed in D1-2, Descent into the NetherDeep.

    From its name I'm sure you can discern its special property :)

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  6. And don't forget that, if prepared properly, they are delicious :D

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  7. As soon as I read the title of the post I thought of In Search of the Unknown and was thrilled to see it included in the post when I scrolled down. It was the first module I ran as a DM. Fantastic that it was included in the introductory D&D boxed set (when was that? 1978? 1979?).

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  8. Completely unsurprised by Ancientvaults'comment! ;)

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  9. The giant and sentient mushrooms always remind me of the James Mason version of "Journey to the Center of the Earth" and also the very curious victorian novel "Etidorpha" by John Uri Lloyd which is well worth a read for any D&D or classic sci fi and fatasy maven.

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  10. More mushroom memories. In 4th grade I read The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet. A great sci-fi/fantasy book for kids.

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  11. Todd,

    B1 is the module on which I cut my teeth as a referee years ago and it still remains one of my favorites. I'll likely be talking more about it soon.

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  12. Every dungeon I draw up I have some sort of fungus garden or room with a pool it in as a homage to this module.

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