Myconica: The Fungal Reach

Overview

Many mistake the Wildsea for an endless sea of branches and leaves, but they’re wrong – it is an endless sea of forest, of all of the horrors and wonders of nature unbridled. Here, in the spore-laden Reach of Myconica, fungus rules the waves.

To many wildsailors the prospect of travelling the soft, spongy waves of Myconica is a daunting one. Chainsaw prows hitch and slip, teeth clogged by fast-growing fibres, every cut sending sprays of noxious liquid or clouds of spores up into the air. Soft patches are more difficult to identify, those yawning voids that can swallow a ship whole. And then, of course, there’s the mood of the sea itself – a mushroom-mind spanning the entire rotted wavescape, roused into unexpected tentacluar frenzies by the wrong pressure in the wrong place.

It’s a place few visit, and even fewer visit twice.

This Illustration

A gau shipwright tending to the internal structure of a wildsea ship, suspended above the fungal thrash.

The Tzelicrae

(Original post can be found on reddit, here… https://old.reddit.com/r/worldbuilding/comments/j0pwu5/the_wildsea_culture_and_history_of_the_tzelicrae/)

Perhaps the most curious of the core four bloodlines, the tzelicrae hail from within the leafy darkness of the sea itself. Beginning as self-organized colonies of spiders, a tzelicrae is truly ‘born’ when it develops a functioning hive-mind and becomes capable of acting as a single individual.

Biology

There are two important fronts to tzelicrae biology, those being their internal and external forms. Internally an individual tzelicrae is made up of thousands of spiders, constantly shifting and crawling over each other to puppeteer their external skin. Some tzelicrae reinforce their internal structure with a skeleton of driftwood and animal bones, but most prefer the fluidity that comes with a completely boneless structure.

Externally, tzelicrae create a ‘skin’ for themselves from silk, bandages and the general flotsam of the sea, often incorporating articles of clothing, gear or salvage into the whole. Masks and hoods are common, as the precision needed to accurately animate the likeness of a face takes many years to learn. It’s also commonly observed that old habits die hard, with many tzelicrae fashioning themselves additional limbs or warping their bodily dimensions to better suit their needs, unconstrained by traditional biology.

Some lucky tzelicrae win the lottery of skin, coming into possession of a donated, bartered or stolen covering taken from one of the other three major bloodlines, or from an animal or insect of the wild waves. These individuals can often pass for years as members of that bloodline, occassionally acting as spies or informers in hostile or developing settlements.

Culture

As the only one of the four common bloodlines to have been created as a direct result of the Verdancy, the Tzelicrae can trace their history back to its earliest moments with startling accuracy. Their oldest settlements are oftne built around a Huskpa, an immense living monument of silk containing spiders from all of the tzelicrae that have ever lived there. These huskpas are repositories of history and tradition, and are protected at all costs.

Due to being the best-equipped to reach the depths of the wildsea, the tzelicrae tend to adopt the cultural mannerisms and building styles of pre-verdant civilizations lost to the darkness of the roots. Scholars often have a particular reverence for their efforts, marvelling at the way they dredge and lift entire buildings from the depths to the surface.

The tzelicrae also have their own common language, Knock, created to be spoken in a variety of ways to suit the differing body shapes and capabilities of their kin. Some versions of knock are entirely oral, others signed with hands and fingers and yet others rapidly tapped out in something akin to morse code.

Tzelicrae A: A three-armed dredger of ancient and forgotten things, crawling below the surface to salvage from wrecks and ruins.

Tzelicrae B: A travelling bard with a beast-skull accordion, their clothing styled after a civilization long-lost to the roots.

Tzelicrae C: A char, a ship’s cook that has fashioned their body to better perform in the kitchen, with multiple limbs to handle food preparation and a headpiece that doubles as a makeshift table.

Art by Omercan Cirit for the Wildsea TRPG – Discord invites available on request.

The Mantid Colonies

Overview

First found within the shadowed groves of Rao Ze, the mantid colonies represent both a remarkable opportunity and a growing threat to trade and travel. Built below the waves to keep them hidden from casual travellers, the colonies have developed in both construction and complexity at a rapid pace (testament to the ingenuity of the mantids they house).

History

The first colony discovered was a re-purposed wreck, a relic of a bygone age gutted to make room for simple living and sleeping spaces. The inhabitants were hostile, unintelligible, but fiercely protective of their little kingdom. They were left alone, their location marked on maps and charts as a place to avoid. And in truth they were largely forgotten for a time, at least until the first mantid ship was sighted – a bizarre semi-sentient hybrid of wood and chitin dragging itself through the waves with oversized foreclaws, loaded with curious goods and heading for the nearest trading port.

The mantids, in their years of isolation, had been busy.

Culture

Mantid culture is an intriguing area of study for the braver sort of Wildsea scholar. Highly formal and densely ritualistic, visitors are rarely welcome in their now-grand homes. Those that are bring back reports of staccato poetry, wordless duels and impressive alchemical metal-working.

The true danger of the colonies is a familiar one – the desire for expansion. More and more often in recent years their ships have pulled themselves up to the surface on missions of pillage and war, setting up blockades and raiding settlements for their metal and stone.

And there are rumours, now, of something being built in the shadowed tangle of the lower waves. Something jade and white. Something that snaps its claws. Something that moves like a newborn god.

Art Showcase: The Canopized Mulcher

Another mass-produced vessel from the shipwrights of the Gatling Archipelago, the Canopized Mulcher is a far rarer sight on the rustling waves than the sales numbers would lead most to believe. It’s not that they aren’t out there – it’s more that they’re in places few ever care to look.

The Mulcher is one of the few ships designed to tackle not the surface of the upper canopy, but rather the tangle of branches and vines that supports it. As close to a true submersible as the New Chthonica shipyards have managed to design, the Mulcher boasts a fully enclosed section for engine, crew quarters and piloting linkages, as well as two exterior platforms for close observation and deep-leaf sampling.

Development

While earlier canopized designs focused on smaller engines and less effective cutting techniques to increase the ship’s ability to slip unnoticed through the waves, the designers of the Mulcher threw such concerns into the fire and went instead for the largest, noisiest and most dangerous cutting edge they could find. This approach has proven surprisingly effective, and the bank of toothen wheels at the prow can grind through even the thickest foliage with worrying ease. This, combined with the sleeker-than-average hull design, has created a ship able to slip beneath the waves at a moment’s notice. You’ll be able to hear it a mile away, as the ship-hawkers boast, but you won’t see it until it’s right on top of you.

Common Modifications

Though the New Chthonica would never be caught selling to piratical factions, and would vehemently deny such charges if they ever surfaced, the fact remains that many ships from the Muclher series have made their way into the hands of less desireable wildsea types. The exposed lower platform has proven a useful area for gun-mounting, especially broadside cannons and teslacation lances. It also provides a potential staging area for mass boarding, sometimes kitted out with grappling screws and winding chains to allow heavier-armoured raiders quick access to the undersides of targeted ships.

On the more placid side of modification there’s the potential to alter the canopized covering, creating a retractable nautilus-like shell. Several fungal-agrarian societies use the closed interiors of these mulchers to grow their crops deep within the darkness of the seas, heading to the surface when storms threaten to crank back the canopy and collect as much water as they can in the shortest possible time.

This particular model has also seen great uptake among leviathaneering crews, those hunters of the largest and most dangerous beasts of the lower waves. Not only does the Mulcher’s ability to dive after fleeing prey come in useful, the atrocious noise of the cutting prow tends to keep smaller creatures away, allowing crews to focus on their titanic quarries.

Art Showcase: Low Sour Script

A decorative script designed by the shipwrights at the New Chthonica Shipyards, Low Sour is now found printed across ship-hulls and shop signs in every reach of the Wildsea. Designed more to be functional than beautiful, the strong straight anchor line of Low Sour acts as a useful measure of hull integrity – if the script begins to warp and bend, your ship hull is in desperate need of re-sealing against the chemicals and parasites of the rustling waves.

The Low Sour script was created with the Longjaw in mind, each character with a slight back-swing to represent the teeth of a sawblade. It’s read left to right, and can be written without the anchoring line at the top of each character when used for a shop-sign or printed document. The flowing upswing on the far left of the example text represents the beginning of a sentence or fragment.

This may not quite be the final versio,n but it feels pretty close. Of course, it mangles the text on the previous Longjaw image, but hopefully I can keep it pretty consistent from here on.