Heroes of Terra: The Mushroom War
Peoples of Terra
Terra is a world of many intelligent peoples, known as “clades.” The vast majority can be divided into two broad groups: floral clades and saurian clades. The most prominent clade in Lemuria has long been the mandragora, a people descended from flowering plants, but their star is sinking as that of the kappa, a powerfully built saurian clade, begins to rise.
The inhabitants of the semi-mythical world of Earth are called “humans.” These warm-blooded mammals are apparently descendants of the primate survivors of a Great Extinction that never occurred on Terra.
That asteroid impact apparently also deadened Earth to its innate mystical energies, leaving humans incapable of wielding magic on their home world. When they cross the Warp into Terra, however, eons of dormant ability suddenly flares into unique innate magical abilities. What these talents will be is unpredictable, but such powers are rarely subtle.
Humans stand between five and six feet tall, shorter than the dominant mandragora and kappa but taller than the diminutive myconites or pudica. They tend to be heavier than any of the blossom peoples, however, weighing in at around 150 to 200 pounds. Their females are smaller and lighter than their males on average, also a reversal from the usual pattern on Terra. Human skin tones range from ebon-dark through a range of browns and bronzes, and all the way to pale peach and near-white. Their hair is usually shades of black, brown, red, or blonde, significantly more diverse than the mandragora, but their eyes are less varied, appearing only in green, brown, grey, and blue.
At one time, the mandragora were the dominant species on Terra, having long since spread their blossom markers across the face of the supercontinent and driven most of the animal clades out of their territory.
A terrible darkness festered in the hearts of their greatest enemies, however, and that darkness has recently made the mandragora a besieged people. The kappa have struck back against their ancient foes, and now the Mandragoran Kingdom of Agaric is in shambles. It is a dark time for the proud blossom children.
A mandragoran looks surprisingly like a human, with the exception being their very smooth skin, which lacks both pores and body hair, and their garishly colored eyes. The mandragora tend to stand somewhat taller than the average human as well, with their heights somewhere between six and seven feet, though they are proportionally thinner and thus weigh about the same. Female mandragora tend to be slightly taller than males.
Most mandragora have blonde or red hair, though a rare few with brown or black hair are known, and their eyes are luminous and brightly colored, virtually every shade of the rainbow. Mandragora “hair” is actually a fibrous extension of their body, though like human hair it has no pain receptors. Young mandragora have pale skin, shading toward brown as they grow older.
Soldiers of the Dragon Emperor and descendants of the ancient tyrant lizards, the kappa are a reptilian people bound for glory and conquest. A generation ago, a charismatic and powerful kappa seized control of one tribe after another, finally declaring himself Dragon Emperor of all kappa and making war against the Mandragoran Kingdom. His control of the myconites was an incredible aid in the war effort, and he has since proven able to command the loyalty of all manner of fell beasts and tribes.
Many kappa believe that total victory in the war is near, but a tiny number of kappa have turned against their own, however, calling the despotic rule of the emperor an affront to their traditional tribal way of life.
Kappa stand roughly eight feet tall and weigh over 500 pounds, massive and powerfully built saurians with a tough but flexible hide. Many kappa have small crops of horns rising from their head or back, and their mouths are filled with razor-sharp fangs. Most kappa are either a dark or light green in color, though a rare few have exhibited other shades, and yellow or brown highlights are not uncommon.
Despite their size and bulk, kappa have surprisingly good manual dexterity. Their most unnerving habit to outsiders is their tendency to use the bodies of their honored dead as raw materials for weapons and armor—bone spears, rigid leather armor designed to look like turtle shells, clubs studded with teeth, and so on. Kappa commonly speak of “carrying my grandmother into battle” with pride.
The fungal berserkers of the kappa king and the front line in any kappa war march, the myconites are distant cousins of the noble mandragora.
A generation ago, the myconites suddenly united under a common banner—that of the Dragon Emperor. No one in the Mandragoran Kingdom knows how this coup was achieved, but it has proved an incredible boon for the kappa armies.
Myconites are smaller than even the pudica, but they fight with a tenacity and vigor that makes even the hardiest warrior nervous. While they are best known for their fungal berserkers, not every myconite is a raving savage. Even the most erudite of them, however, is still a member of a society that eats their own dead, has nothing resembling a family unit, and views other life as little more than compost waiting to happen. Their alien mindset rarely makes for good company. A few myconites have broken free of the mysterious control of the Dragon Emperor, and these are often surprisingly friendly and cheerful.
The average myconite is a squat, humanoid shape around four feet tall. Their heads are slightly too large for their bodies, they lack noses, and their fang-filled mouths are extremely wide; most myconites have a significant underbite, with fangs jutting up from their lower jaws. What hair they have is greasy and knotted, growing in a wild mane from their heads down their backs, and their eyes are an unnerving black. A myconite lopes rather than runs, sometimes using their hands to aid in running.
A myconite’s feet have poorly-differentiated toes, almost seeming to be webbed, and have short black claws instead of toenails. Myconites have no gender differentiation; they are neither male nor female, and they reproduce asexually by budding off large spores. Their overall appearance is one of half-formed savagery.
A distant cousin of the kappa, quetzals are tree-dwelling saurians that have adapted to their lofty homes by evolving to something partway between a dinosaur and a bird. Quetzals are smaller than kappa, about the size of humans, and have long avoided conflict with other peoples due to their own natural skittishness. With the march of the kappa army, however, the quetzals have finally begun to come down from the forests to fight on the side of the mandragora. No love is lost between the predatory kappa and the omnivorous quetzals.
Quetzal society is mostly peaceful. Because of their unusual body shape and wing-structures, quetzals largely eschew clothing and armor, though they are willing to don them in time of need. Quetzals are keen and quick, clever and incisive, though their lack of materialism has stunted their cultural development.
To the human eye, quetzals are quite strange-looking. These saurians have a somewhat hunched shape, seeming to lean forward, their long tails jutting out behind them and their arms held slightly in front. Their feet are large and clawed, and their heads large but narrow.
Their most striking feature is their combination of scales and feathers, both in bright colors and patterns. These feathers cover their arms and tails most thickly, creating a sort of wing-fringe, and some quetzals also have large “manes” of colored feathers.
Quetzals cannot speak any non-saurian language because of their vocal structure, but they can understand others easily enough, and those that interact with outsiders usually find ways to communicate.
Another distant cousin of the mandragora, the pudica are a humanoid plant species more closely related to Earthly trees than to flowers or fungi.
Few people are really sure of what the pudica look like, since their cultural tradition demands that they cover their bodies completely when in the company of other clades. This extends to the wearing of complicated ceremonial masks, which are said to be individually crafted for each pudican and as much an indicator of identity as a human’s fingerprints. These habits have led the mandragora to call them “the shy folk.”
What little is known of shy folk culture indicates that it is deeply intellectual, with an economy based on ideas and deep thoughts.
Without their covering garments, pudica are thought to be humanoid in shape, and the few glimpses gained of them in this state have revealed them as having bark-like skin, brown or ebony in color, and liquid, sap-colored eyes. In public, they wear concealing robes, gloves and boots, as well as ornate wooden masks.