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Monday, June 29, 2009

Grim Monday: Carnifungus

Inspired by what may be the world's largest living organism, Armillaria ostoyae, Carnifungus is a form of fungus that lives beneath the surface. It inhabits forested regions, favoring damp or marshy areas. It extends long rhizomorphs in all directions from each central colony in search of food sources. A single specimen consists of several central colonies hidden away six to eight feet beneath the surface, all connected via massive networks of rhizomorphs, the whole mass covering an area of four or five acres.

The fungus's rhizomorphs spread just beneath the surface and can sense warmth within five feet (body heat is sufficient to attract the organism). Rhizomorphs will immediately begin to grow toward the heat source. Once they encounter flesh (living or dead), they will inject the victim with toxic spores that act as an anesthetic and a soporific, then begin to grow into the anesthetized flesh of their victim, injecting additional toxins that slowly dissolve flesh into a nutritious soupy substance easily absorbed by the Carnifungus. The process of locating prey, growing to it and injecting toxins sufficient to pacify it takes about two hours. Conscious victims must make a Fair test of observation to notice the invading rhizomorphs and their toxic sting. Unconscious / sleeping victims must make a Great observation test to awaken. Neutralizing the toxins once injected is a Great test of healing skill.

Areas inhabited by Carnifungus usually have no ground dwelling creatures, though tree dwellers may abound. Hoofed animals are generally safe from the creature's effects. Sleeping on rocky ledges or other hard surfaces generally provides protection from the Carnifungus.

Carnifungus rhizomorphs are delicate, any damage will destroy them. Similarly the colonies, if they can be reached, are easily destroyed. The massive area covered by these creatures makes them difficult to destroy completely however.
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