[The World Below] Fungal Undead

It’s time for another blog for The World Below!

The World Below Ashcan Edition has reached Electrum Seller status on DriveThruRPG! To celebrate, why not augment your roleplaying experience from the Ashcan with a fresh(ish) antagonist who doesn’t appear in there: the Fungal Undead. You all loved The Last of Us, so let’s have some terrible fungi-riddled zombies pursue you through pitch-black tunnels deep below the surface.

Fungal Undead

I remember their arrival, announced in a haze of spores. A shambling wall of corpses, which the thing writhing in their dead bodies reanimated and gave new purpose to. We fled, leaving our houses and those too slow to keep up behind. We had no choice, or at least that’s what we told ourselves. When we returned the following season, the cave was changed. Sickly textures and boils covered its walls. A mound of fungus opened its mouth, wheezing toxic spores rather than words, and inside it I recognized what was left of my former companions.

“Fungal undead” is a blanket term for all the corpses brought back to a putrid semblance of life, animated into shambling masses by the fungi feasting upon their flesh. Their existence is to blame for the diffidence some communities have for Myceli, despite the Dialectic’s ubiquity throughout the underworld. If they can be said to have any purpose, an absolute imperative drives fungal undead to spread their plague to everyone, everywhere.

Although they don’t speak, fungal undead share a common mind of sorts, which facilitates their effort to root together in infective cathedrals of living tissue that breath out spores and burst in hordes of fungi-riddled corpses when threatened. Fungal undead have no desire to bite or chew the living, but their presence corrupts the air with spores, a hazard that risks making entire caves uninhabitable. The infection takes root even in Myceli, albeit slower, proving nobody is truly safe from the spores’ embrace.

Template: Pest/Blight

Drive: Spread spores.

Primary Pool: 6/8 (Persistence, Shambling)

Secondary Pool: 4/6 (Act in unison with other fungi)

Desperation Pool: 3/4

Enhancements: NA/+1 Endurance

Defense: 1/2

Health: 2/5

Initiative: 3/4

Qualities: Feral, Hive Mind, Immunity (Poisons, Diseases), Spread Infection (Close Combat), Unusual Anatomy, Weakness (Fire)

Antitheses: Explosive Demise, Miasma (Infection)

Special: At Storyguide’s discretion, characters without the need to breathe or those using protections against spores mitigate the Complications of Miasma.

But of course, if you’re using these lovely horrors, you’ll want to know how their Qualities and Antitheses work. Feral and Unusual Anatomy appear in the Ashcan, so enjoy Hive Mind, Immunity, Spread Infection, Weakness, Explosive Demise, and Miasma on us:

Hive Mind

The antagonist shares an instinctive connection with other creatures in its hive. Provided a great distance doesn’t separate it from its peers (something hive-minded creatures avoid unless stranded or captured), everything the creature sees or experiences also gets shared across other members of the hive.

While this complicates all attempts to avoid detection, the shared information begins and ends with a given creature’s perspective. If characters manage to flee or kill the creature who spotted them, the alerted reinforcements won’t demonstrate any prescient knowledge of their current position.


Choose a single source of damage or weapon tag, such as toxins, fire, electricity, and so on. The antagonist doesn’t suffer damage from this source.

Spread Infection

Choose a vector for the infection when picking this Quality. Whenever the antagonist attacks with that vector, it gains access to the following combat Trick:

Infect (2 hits): The target must succeed on a Survival + Stamina action or become infected (gaining the Infection Status Effect). The action’s difficulty amounts to 1, but circumstances such as Antitheses or environmental conditions can increase it.


When picking this Quality, choose a source of damage. The antagonist suffers 1 additional damage from all attacks or hazards related to that source.

Explosive Demise

Cooldown: N/A — once used, the creature dies

Even when defeated, the antagonist has one last surprise for its enemies. When reduced to 0 Health, the antagonist reflexively activates the Antithesis regardless of who has the spotlight, initiating the explosive process. Character can take a reflexive Intellect action to notice what’s going on, with Esoterica, Medicine, or Survival being fitting Skills depending on the circumstances. In the following round, the antagonist acts first and detonates while rolling its desperation pool for the attack. The explosion hits all characters within Close range and benefits from the Painful, Brutal and Piercing Tags.

An antagonist of Scourge or Horror rating can intentionally activate the power with a reflexive action, dropping to 0 Health when the explosion happens.


Cooldown: Scene

With a reflexive action, the antagonist releases a lingering cloud of dangerous substances. Common examples include toxic fumes, soporific gases, and spores, but stranger options such as radiations or flesh-eating mites are also valid. The Antithesis affects all characters within Long range until the end of the scene, forcing them to roll a Survival + Stamina reflexive action each round. On a failure, they gain a fitting combat Status Effect, like Agony, Fast-Acting Toxin, Petrification, and Warped (duration equal to the antagonist’s desperation pool) or Slow Acting Toxin, Exhausted, or Infection.

Characters whose Syntheses or equipment protect their respiratory system or remove their need to breathe gain Enhancements on the reflexive action or prove immune to this Antithesis, as appropriate.

Enjoy our Fungal Undead and let us know what you want to see next!

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5 thoughts on “[The World Below] Fungal Undead”

  1. I’d really like to see more unique creatures. I find the standard fantasy tropes severely dull. I don’t enjoy dragons or demons in fantasy at all. This is why I find the OPP owned games so enjoyable. My hopes for the World Below is to be more of thát spark op uniqueness – but that is just my opinion and based on purely selfish wants.

    What would I like to see more off – more World Below takes on ‘normal fantasy creatures’ that form part of the subterranean ecology – like a vampire that is not an undead but an invasive species? Again just my personal preferences.


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