There is a market in slaves and a fungal-underground railroad leading who-knows-where.
Slavehunting is valued and expected work. Helping them escape is dangerous, weird and poorly paid. But there rumours of strange irregular fungal gifts.
These are some you might bump into.
1. Hunched, dead-leaf-brown. Five feet high. Talks in a low towel-muffled semi-inaudible voice. Shuffles on invisible feet like a peasant woman carrying sticks. Mushroom frills reach a ragged hem down to to the ground. The frills rise up and fold away into the topknot of a fat low-level monster. An orc, goblin, something simple, stupid and common. A different one each time the frills fold. A shapechanger. A visionary. Sees the future in palsied raptures. Cunning.
2. Like a knotted oaken trunk, as high as a man. Waving white pencil thin tendrils. Piercing captivating eyes hidden in the oaky folds. Highly charismatic (18) A Propagandist, raconteur and stirrer of the mob. More CHA than CON, more CON than WIS.
3. Pale and multiply crooked like a twig stripped of bark by a child and broken and re-broken in the hand. Wet, white unclothed flesh (none of them have clothes but this one seems naked). Eyes like sputtering blue-halo coals in a failing gas fire. Ruthless. Murderous. Freedom-obsessed. No strategic vision. Will kill when necessary and when not.
4. White like paper on a rainy day. Sagging in the same way, like wet clothes. Always seems on the verge of falling over. A trim, round black crown, horizontally held and neatly rimmed like a black hat. Shakes and quivers always. Non-violent but utterly utterly morally certain. Right to the dark end of all things. Will not break.
5. Faded orange like fallen fruit. Strange prominent eyes, buggy and glass-like. Tightly drawn skin. A conical beaver-brown mushroom crown with a flattened top lends it vertical length. Heroic, intelligent and perceptive. Will die to protect it's fellows. Is days away from a nervous breakdown. Talks educated like a person, piping voice.
6. Murder-turned hard labour shroom. Wiry and waxy with oddly-fleshed muscle-analogues. Strong, capable, violent and armed. Ready to attack. A self-starter in that regard.
7. A dusty-black crooked stem. A pale white cap, fizzy and lightly frizzed. Grows fruit from its body. Not like anything you've seen but edible and non-poisonous. Weird wild rainbow coloured fruit. No psychedelic effects. Clever, inventive and a passive-aggressive bully.
8. Plump and ridiculous like a Toby Jug. Big, mad smiling trunk-face. Rolls and eases around. A wit that never wounds, endless patience for the stupid and the slow, empathic and forgiving. Lacks any real will to make a difficult decision.
9. Bright red with flecks of metallic gold. It's not blood but it may as well be. Ramrod-straight 90 degree stem. Aggressive, deceptive, charming. Totally untrustworthy. Focused like a laser on one particular goal. Will kill, lie and betray to reach it. A sociopath
10. Blue-black in waves like paint in old ink. Beautiful in a way. Up-turned crown like a parasol in the wind. Wise, myopic. Full of good advice, more full of criticism. Of you. Will offer intelligent and perceptive suggestions one third of the time. The other two thirds will be taken up with a forensic, accurate and cutting criticism of everything you say, do and are.
11. Small low and corrugated black with multiple red gasping mouths. Round like an irregular rock. Nothing like a mushroom shape. Can only whistle. Really amazing first aid skills. Mouths can heal wounds really well. Incredibly brave. Will offer healing in extreme personal danger.
12. Slender and blue-white. Always seems leaning forwards. Shroom-frill one one side only, ragged and bare on the other. Bare side has a photo-lumescent cyst. Highly intelligent, an expert healer of disease, not wounds. Seems like it has severe aspergers but how do you judge that in a mushroom?
13. Heavy, lead, colour and mass. Four feet high. Slumps and bumps along on a tangle of blood red mycellium limbs like tumbleweed stalks. Has total faith in the authorities. Is sure everything will be worked out very soon. Can emit terrifying chlorine gas that kills everything around. Valued highly by everyone as it can also fix nitrogen in soil using its red tentacles. Agricultural value beyond compare. Seriously.
14. Civilised, cultured, well-read and sympathetic. Wants to eat your nervous system and pilot your body around for laughs. Unlike everything else here, will usually be encountered riding the body of some low-level goon it infected. Skull is swollen, white puffs of fungus flesh poking out where they eyes should be and out of the gaping mouth. (25% chance is a very obvious slave-hunting double agent.)
15. A heaving grey pipe-organ thing with almost-golden threads rioting from its crown. The shroom-pipes make amazing sound. Can create arrangements of totally bizarre but utterly wonderful underground music. (Genius level) Like dark prog music if prog wasn't a bit shit and if attractive people danced to it. Very very very racist against everything.
16. Violent pink spore mother carrying living young. Scraps of stolen armour wired around her bulging sacs. Aggressive, apparently in defence of her young but, in reality will sacrifice all of them to save herself if necessary.
17. Wise, shrivelled teacher of fungal ways. Patient, motionless most of the time. Flesh wrinkled up like old people in the bat. Little bright black button eyes. Will teach you fungal kung-fu. Utterly useless chemical skill unless you can emit your own spores.
18. Chippy, cheeky flat-topped mushroom. Can infect you and change your gender, but only if you're into that. Can't really do anything else. Can't change you back without killing you. Massively illegal in Drow lands because YOU DO NOT FUCK WITH THE SYSTEM.
19. Friendly wood-grained alcho-shroom. Ferments its own booze inside. Like a walking chemical factory. Sloshes and staggers like a barrel being manoeuvred down an uneven slope. Always seems late. Likes making friends.
20. Pale thin shroom with a head like a q-tip. Just a vague hazing of stubbly hair-thin growths up there. Wanders around feeling diffident and isolated. Sorrowful and bent over like something sagging in the wind. Brightens up in company. Licking its head sends you into a coma and gives you the ability to write poetry. Bad poetry.
* Or ARE they?! Maybe a very special episode of Veins of the Earth about TOLERANCE* and how we are ALL THE SAME under the skin????
*But then again maybe not. They are fucking mushrooms after all. Depends how you run the game.