Lore Spotlight: Tohol Sporespawn
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To say Sporespawn are a mystery to the other species of Dema would be a disservice to mysteries. Few understand the fungus-like beings who first showed themselves on the surface in the Heroic Era. With chitin for flesh and a dizzying variety in their appearances, the non-gendered, Earth-based Sporespawn are viewed as the most otherworldly of peoples. Grown instead of born, masters of biological technology, the fate of their rich cultures is linked to the fate of Dema itself.
The greatest settlement of Sporespawn by numbers is Tohol, a marvel of underground three-dimensional engineering grown along the walls and ceilings of a vast rock edifice north of Mundi. Tohol is also the name for a faction forged in stone and shadow, all that remains of a greater whole striving to rebuild itself.
As the histories record, the emissaries of the first Sporespawn to communicate with the surface species claimed that all Sporespawn were parts of this greater whole: The Overmind. In the cavernous Hive Halls beneath the Nightlands, their species worked in unity as a single superorganism, each individual drone the cell of a body. Each form was capable of being adapted thousands of ways to further tunnel vast networks of underground roads and teeming settlements of living biomaterial, all in service to the Overmind’s pondering of the secrets of reality. If the Hive Hall Ikhish was its hands, and Unrul its eyes, then Hive Hall Tohol was its beating heart.
Then, after centuries of molding the rock in diligent obedience, the Sporespawn cut off all contact with the rest of Dema. No longer were emissaries sent to the surface. Tunnel entrances that had formed the beginnings of trade routes were suddenly sealed from the inside.
For Tohol Sporespawn, the true nightmare began when their species ‘awoke’ in a deafening silence. What caused The Sundering is unknown to even the Sporespawn themselves. The Overmind fragmented, tearing its hundreds of thousands of drones into consciousness and individuality. The supreme coordination between the three great Hive Halls of Tohol, Ikhish, and Unrul was severed, with nothing but new thoughts and fears echoing in the dark of the caverns. Untold Sporespawn perished from the psychological trauma. Even more starved or fell prey to Cave Horrors as the organization of their cities collapsed. The new sentients’ collective memory failed, forgetting the origins of The Overmind, or the great goal they had once labored towards.
In the Uprising Era, the hive mind attempted to reform around Tohol once more, this time led by a series of queens known as Everborn, successors of The Overmind.
Seated on ‘her’ Throne of Thorns, each Everborn spends every hour of her diminished lifespan maintaining the renewed hive mind connections among her folk. Her instructions are carried out through the Miasma, a light grey haze that can be found flowing through any area under Tohol control. Released by nodes, the pheromone reaction that occurs between Tohol Sporespawn allow them to coordinate and share consciousness on par with the original hive mind.
Smaller halls lost for decades were re-colonized over the Uprising and Exodus Eras. Massive beetle-riding drones hundreds strong worked in perfect unison clearing rubble for the rebirth of Tohol’s neighborhoods. In their warrens, pods of warrior drones with weapons grafted on to their limbs trained to rebuild Tohol’s might and face a three-front war of unification.
They would need every advantage possible. The Sporespawn of Ikhish and Unrul had formed rival factions of their own – the drones there turning to mind-melding democracy or brutal dictatorship respectively to protect their new individuality from being consumed by Tohol. The Everborn cared not for the stunning art, music, and biological and Eldertech science of Ikhish, or the oppressed sentients of Unrul laboring beneath The Allspawn. To the Everborn, they were wayward parts of the whole, and each limb must return to the collective body. Battles between the three Hive Halls echoed across the Thalkast tunnels, armored Sporespawn divisions maneuvering in the dark for years, each node the Tohol military planted spreading the Miasma further.
The Everborn knew time was of the essence. A greater threat was growing beneath her fractured children.
From the deepest, forgotten tunnels came a tide of mechanical beasts that swarmed over all who stood in their way. Whether mindless automatons or minions of some unknown entity, these arachnid-like metal golems were the enemy of all Sporespawn. Only a unified Sporespawn faction could possibly hope to stem the tide. Yet, the the struggle between the three Hive Halls would last to the bitter end. While Ikhish and Unrul bore the brunt of the golem swarm for almost a century, by the Redsky Era, even the Everborn and Tohol’s surviving drones were forced to flee to the surface to escape tearing hacksaw claws. There, the remnant of Tohol living as refugees in Mundi hopes to find some means to keep the swarm from overrunning the world.
A Tohol Sporespawn has many roles to play in the destiny of Dema. Will your characters be emissaries from the Overmind itself in the Heroic Era, leading a new path to trade and understanding with the surface peoples? The diverse wealth of underground resources is coveted by the other five folks of the world. Or is it up to your drone to rally a unit of warriors against the shock troops of Unrul as a battle rages over a critical chokepoint in the tunnels? Special Tohol Sporespawn agents find themselves on the surface waging a cold war against the Ikhish, who seek to gain allies against Tohol's hive mind. Stop their plans in the name of the Everborn, or gain sentience as you defect to another Sporespawn faction.
With their very bodies reshaped to be perfect warriors, infiltrators, or Eldertech wielders, the Sporespawn of Tohol have many heroes in the making. One never knows where the plans of the hive might take a drone, or what company they may keep as they adventure across Dema's regions. Will you ignite or prevent the day when the many become one once more?
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This is one entry of multiple lore posts covering some of the cultures and locations of Dema. Even more lore on each featured topic will be in the 5E Conversion Book. Check out our previous spotlights on the Fire-aligned Wakewalkers of Clan Hiremai, or the Aether-aligned humans of the Solar Hegemony.
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