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This chapter is pretty straightforward, the objective of going to Neverlight Grove is probably a priority for the party because most people will grow to love Stool. That is the main motivation to visit the Grove. But storywise, the objective of the chapter is to reveal that it isn’t just Demogorgon in the underdark. The revelation that Zuggtmoy is there should change the pace and vibe of the adventure. It opens the door to think that maybe there are more demon lords in the under dark (true fact btw). It should also encourage the PC’s to escape the underdark to alert their factions, allies, nobles and the like. Eldeth’s main objective if she’s still alive will be to get to Gauntlgrym to alert the king.
If Sarith Kzekarith is with the party when they travel to Neverlight Grove. Remember to roleplay that he is always in favor of visiting the place, he can give convincing or bad reasons just for show, the reality is that Zuggtmoy spores in his brain are making him want to go there. Also, he is getting sicker, the closer he gets to the Grove. My recommendation for roleplay is that every time he speaks, touch your head or forehead as if your’e having a sudden headache or migraine. Don’t do anything more, and Sarith shouldn’t explain that he is feeling bad. When the time comes for his ultimate demise, it will all be understood.
Myconids are a weird people, they are fungi and as such, they thrive on decay and death. They have people searching their territory for death bodies or carcasses which they move home to “plant” more fungi in them. They also have spore servants, this is a nice name for “fungi zombies”. They can revive a mostly complete dead body with spores. It’s worth to say that this is not evil. They do it to have extra hands for their harvests and extra guards or protection. Still, it can be unnerving to see a quaggoth spore servant or even the humanoid races turned into spore servants. Only myconid sovereigns can create spore servants, in Neverlight Grove it’s only Basidia and Phylo.
Myconids can’t communicate verbally, relying on their rapport spores to do so. In their society, they form groups of 20 or so members and get together to “meld”. They use their spores to enter a form of shared consciousness. Sovereigns use this melding to give instructions and in this shared state of mind, all of them can share their experiences and ideas. If the party rescued Rumpadump (page 72) in the Whorlstone Tunnels, after he melds with Stool, they can inform the PC’s about the strange spores that they suspect may have reached Neverlight Grove already. They are too infantile to give more info, for them it’s just strange.
Zuggtmoy arrived to Neverlight Grove only recently, she was weakened by the summoning portal and is just getting back in shape. She is halfway in the process of corrupting Neverlight Grove, Phylo and some of the circle leaders have already been seduced by the promises and spores of Zuggtmoy, meanwhile, sovereign Basidia and other circle leaders are still resisting the influence of the spores during the meldings. They will not last most longer, that is why Basidia is already considering to escape the grove.
Myconids are very simple-minded in matters of good and evil. The myconids who are already affected by Zuggtmoy spores, do not feel sick or sad. On the contrary, they welcome Zuggtmoy’s decay with joy and happiness. They are too simple to understand or feel her malignant presence. Only Basidia and the other circle leaders who are resisting can discern that there is something very wrong.
The plot in Neverlight is pretty straightforward, the PC’s probably came to drop Stool and to find a way back to the surface (there isn’t any here). Once they get here Sovereign Phylo welcomes them and thanks them for bringing Stool and Rumpadump (if any are still alive). He might offer a tour around the grove, to show them the different areas of the place and introduce them to some of the circle leaders. They can be given quarters to spend the night. He also invites them to visit the garden of welcome (page 90), he says it’s a very important honor.
Whenever possible, Sovereign Basidia will try to approach them to share her concerns about the sanity of Phylo and his followers. Basidia can also give details about the changes in the melding circles (page 86) and the disappearance of Yestabrod.. In this moment she can also tell them about the other side-quests in the grove like Loobamub’s hunt (page 87). She will ask them to go and see what is going on in the garden of welcome, she won’t go for fear of falling prey to the strange spores.
(Sarith Kzekarith.- If Sarith left with the myconid parade in the Whorlstone tunnels, they find him here, he is fine and glad to see the PC’s. He arrived a week ago and has enjoyed the hospitality of Basidia’s allies since then. He has been wondering about the garden of welcome and will join the party when they decide to go there.)
In the garden of welcome they will find the remains of a drow party that came here looking for them and were turned into food for the garden. After, when they fight Yestabrod, Sarith’s head bursts open, turning him into a spore servant. After that they come to see the garden of horrors that surrounds Yggmorgus (page 92). There is a foreshadowing of Zuggtmoy’s wedding in chapter 16. They see the rehearsal for the wedding and then have a vision of Zuggtmoy herself in the fungi tower. If they continue, the PC’s will see the worst of her decaying garden and encounter her inside Yggmorgus. This is a critical moment in the adventure, it’s the first time they encounter a demon lord after Demogorgon, and most probably, they will not know a lot about her in particular. They might feel brave enough after recent adventures to face a demon lord but they are doomed if they so choose. Fortunately for them Zuggtmoy is sleeping and preparing stuff for the wedding; at the moment her bridesmaids are working on her wedding veil. If the PC’s confront her she will react by using her mind control spores and send them away. If they resist them (very unlikely), she wakes up and cleans the floor with them. There is no chance for them right now, they will have to run for their lives.
After seeing the corruption and decay of Zuggtmoy’s garden and informing Basidia. She will gather her still loyal myconids and get away from the grove. Sovereign Phylo won’t stop them or condemn them, he is just left wondering why the rest of the community won’t join with joy to the will of the lady of decay. It is the DM’s choice whether Basidia accompanies the party to Blingdenstone or goes on her own to find a new grove for her decimated community. If runned successfully, the party will get out of there in a hurry like little girls; in hope that the next settlement (Blingdenstone) can provide a way out of the underdark.
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