First off let us make a disclaimer: we LOVE Myconids! It seems that every Underdark adventure or campaign we’ve ever played in has them in it… of course! As far as Underdark creatures go they are as iconic to the setting as Drow or Duergar and they can be less likely to bash your head off! A setting as dire and dangerous as the Underdark needs some potential “allies” somewhere in it.
Mechanically Myconids hit pretty HARD for low CR critters! 2d4 bludgeoning PLUS 2d4 poison for a total of 4d4 a power packed punch! They’re basically fungal versions of Mike Tyson in his heyday. Top that off with their stun-spores: fail that save and you’re stunned for a MINUTE! When you’re in combat-time a minute is an eternity! (it’s true they get to repeat the save at the end of their turn, but a low CON wizard or bard could be in for a world of hurt…)
Here are four tips for running Myconids in your game:
1)Make them Alien:
Myconids are so foreign, so different from other humanoid creatures in DnD. So alien in fact that while they are shaped like humanoids they aren’t classified as such, but rather plants! They don’t have a spoken language but communicate via spores. They embrace rot and death as natural parts of life. They make other denizens of the Underdark their mindless zombie slaves, AND they aren’t even evil about it!
When we run Myconids we’ve adopted some techniques to make them feel different. We make them sexless, paying no heed to gender. They are fungus people after all. We describe their Rapport Spore communication as wordless, describing instead the feelings and concepts they want to share. We also have them pay no more heed to death and decay (rotting bodies for example) than “normal” creatures pay to chairs.
2)Use that super creepy Spore Servant
Spore Servant’s are a great way to convey just how creepy sentient fungi can be. They view their fallen enemies as resources, either they bring nutrients to the dark soil of the Underdark or they shamble about as tools to do the Myconid’s bidding. If you’re looking for something a little creepy don’t forget about these guys! Also, in combat we tend to use the Spore Servants as a sort of front-line for the Myconids. Like we would extend a shovel to ward off an attacking mountain lion the Myconids use their tools for their own safety as well.
3) Focus on their Neutral Alignment
Like the Druids of Old (earlier editions of D&D required druids to be neutral) Mycondis are in tune with the earth they live within. Life, death, decay… that is the cycle of the world. We like to really play up their neutral alignments. They are unlikely to be swayed to join a quest to stop the Drow in an attempt to stop the spread of evil in the world. They may be enticed to join the quest if the Drow are somehow upsetting the cycle of life, rot, and decay though. Myconids are as likely to trade with the Lawful Good Paladin from the world above as they are to trade with the MindFlayer colony nearby.
4) Use them as.. “PLOTed” Plants:
In Underdark settings sometimes friendly faces are hard to come by. When DMing sometimes you just need a tool to provide your players with a Plot-Dump. Since there are few friendly barmen in the land without sun we sometimes use encounters with Myconids as opportunities to give our players a big data-dump of what’s going on in the sunless world around them. You can even describe it as coming in a blinding rush of “knowingness” as the Rapport Spores pour that information into their minds.
Hopefully this helps you to bring these amazing fungal-folk to life in your game world!