Fungal missionary NPCs

So I had a really sinister idea regarding the Mycus and its tendency to infest humans: Fungal Missionaries.

Basically, they would be human NPCs dressed in religious garb (I’m imagining the clothing catholic priests wear, that little black outfit with white collar) with Mycus mutations traveling around trying to spread the “good news”. They wouldn’t spread fungal tiles everywhere, or be outwardly mutated or hostile, but they would subtly subvert and infest both the player and NPCs around them if they are allowed live and stick around.

They might show up at your camp or run across you during your travels, and offer medical assistance or “food” (Marloss berries & gel) in exchange for shelter and a chance to preach. Choosing to listen would raise morale. On the surface they would appear to be nothing more than harmless yet helpful lunatics. But in reality, their every action would be carefully choreographed and calculated to ingrain themselves with a group, and give the mycus a chance to get their mycelia into people’s brains. Every time someone listened to the Fungal Missionary’s sermon they are being bathed in spores, and a counter would tick upwards until eventually they start getting the initial mycus mutations.

You might also find them at various places where static NPCs are holding out, like apartment complexes.
You couldn’t kill the Fungal Missionary, or anyone he had managed to infest without reprisals from everyone unless you convinced the group’s leader of the Missionary’s true nature: an infested meat-puppet of the Mycus. This might be done several ways:

  1. Having lawful authority (US marshal for example) & passing a speech check
  2. Providing physical evidence, like a dissected corpse of a Mycus infested NPC
  3. Providing digital evidence, like a USB drive with Fungal Data obtained from a lab or the Old Guard Rep.



Or try to sneak some anti-fungal drugs into the food they eat, I can’t imagine a Mycus host gonna react well to that stuff.


Oooh, that’s sneaky, I like it.

“What poison did you put in my food!?”
“Oh it was just this here holds up anti-fungal drug. Game is up for you sneaky bastard, don’t you think?”

Honestly any person/NPC would realize that something is off if someone nearly vomits blood from just some anti-fungal drug and after that point (unmasking a Fungal Missionary) being distrusting towards such NPCs will be seen as warranted.

I like the idea in general, after all the mycus tries like hell to seduce the player as well.

I’m not a fan of pigeonholing them as adopting religious trappings. I do think that is AN option, and I think it would be neat to even come up with a rough outline of a religious doctrine for them that sincerely tries to set the stage for a conversion (adapting to change, taking things as they come, downplaying the aggressiveness of fungal incursions, etc), but committing to that leads to them being super obvious to spot for any player who has encountered them before, and will make players that aren’t aware of them fairly suspicious right off the bat due to the strange behaviour. I think some of them, probably most of them, should present themselves as ordinary survivors, at least at first, and only switch to proselytizing once they’ve gained some trust in the group they’re infiltrating.

Also I think a large number of them, likely the majority, wouldn’t even push the religious angle. They would just join a community, and either take leadership or make themselves indispensable. Then they would simply work to subvert key individuals by any means necessary, culminating in voluntary, forceful, or underhanded conversion of the entire settlement. If that goal is achieved, the whole community would be rebuilt around supporting and spreading the mycus, some of the individuals would go about their business of building a human-looking settlement (possibly with the explicit goal of acting as a trap for humans), some would depart to try and infect other communities, and some might even become members of a fungal/human army.

I think this kind of thing is a lot trickier than you’re even making it out to be. If you’re a stranger and the missionary is settled into the community and not under suspicion already, it would take a lot more than flashing around a badge and making a speech, or presenting a science report stating that they’re infested to get the community to turn on them.

If a community is xenophobic enough to kill one or more of their members on the basis of fungal infection, wouldn’t they also be xenophobic enough to kill mutants on sight?

“Get him! I need to find out what kind of poison that is!”
“But… it’s anti-fungal medicine…”
“You expect us to believe that? Get the bottle, shoot him if you have to!”

Now, you might just assassinate the missionary and move on, but just showing up and killing a community member is going to have a ton of backlash, and you’re going to have a really tough time proving you were acting in good faith unless fungal missionaries were already a really well-known thing.


A easy solution to people being after your ass because of “poisoning” that fungal guy would be simply by eating one anti-fungal drug yourself and get some other NPCs to test it. Ofc if the “infiltration” has proceeded too far they still may be after your ass (if too many are already mycus carriers).
I was mainly talking about when such a fungal missionary would appear to a camp/settlement/community that you run/are the leader of.

Another solution would be that if you put (strong) enough anti-fungal drugs into their food they get so weakend that they die and you could offer to dissect em to find out what happend…
Could be a option to take anti-fungal drugs every X days to prevent such a thing in the first place in any community if you tell em that mycus tries to infect and covertly convert people/NPCs to do its bidding, or just simply as a precaution against any stray fungal infection.
“Ya see those strange Zeds over there, and those ants? Those are infected by a fungus, so if we don’t wanna end up like em we better take some anti-fungal drugs from time to time”

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I would definitely agree the fungus would use lots of different approaches.

The religion approach just seemed like a particularly sinister tactic that would take maximum advantage of the fear and hopelessness many survivors would feel after the cataclysm. Having the missionaries wear familiar religious garb is also just another tactic, designed to give its meatpuppets trappings of familiarity and legitimacy, all the better infiltrate groups and spread the infestation.

I also agree it would not be easy to convince people to turn on their neighbors. At least not as a lone survivor. But if you are pretty well known member or leader of a faction with an excellent reputation bringing them evidence, it might be enough.

There will of course be some who ignore your warnings and physical evidence right before their own eyes. For them, a quick death is the best you would be able to offer before tossing their corpses on the pyre.

I can definitely see some missions to burn settlements that were foolish enough to succumb to the lies of the mycus. Maybe with help from other settlements already aware of the danger. Or to quietly (or at least invisibly) assasinate a fungal infiltrator before he can begin spreading the infestation.

Also, what if there were a way to test if someone was infested. That would make convincing people easier. Tell them to take anti-fungal medication, and if they have a bad reaction, they are infested. You could offer to supply it and take some yourself if they have none or are skeptical.

And now on the other hand: How about spreading the love of the Mycus yourself to those poor souls? Infiltrate communities/settlements…

We’ve got another one!

Inb4 those Fungal Missionaries aren’t from the Mycus out of the portals but from the Mycus that was already here and just woke up due to the portals opening…
(inb4 those religious/christian garments aren’t just for show but the mycus had control over em all the time)

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You’re still thinking like a soap opera. If you get caught poisoning someone, of course you have some kind of plan for “proving” your innocence, at least long enough to escape. Maybe they believe you enough to throw you in a locked room stripped of your gear instead of lynching you, but even then, you better hope the NPC doing the analysis is on your side.

You’re also not addressing the fundamental issue that not everyone is going to be on the same page about fungal infection being punishable by immediate death. Or even if it is, you might find yourself being punished as a vigilante.

That’s a bit different since you presumably have a lot more social currency than the interloper, but going immediately on the attack against someone on the basis of them being “tainted” is still pretty sketchy. At best it means your character is a super-aggressive xenophobe, at worst it means you’re metagaming about fungus in a situation where it makes no sense.

Please don’t mix roleplaying and design discussions, it’s really irritating and makes it really hard to take your proposal seriously.

Not roleplaying here, I’m talking about proactive self defense, more commonly known as a pre-emptive strike. Though I will admit to being a bit dramatic. If you failed to convince a group of survivors of the danger they were in and just left them to their own devices, they would quickly succumb and become pawns of the Mycus. That settlement could turn into one of the “traps” for humans, or something even worse. Letting that settlement continue to exist would be about as smart as leaving a fungal tower growing two map tiles from your base. Better to eliminate them all immediately before they can become an active threat.

Assuming you couldn’t quietly and deniably assassinate the infested of course.

The overly dramatic presentation is part of the problem, but we’re talking about a game feature here, not what YOU should do in response to something happening in-game. If you can’t separate discussion of the feature from how your character is going to feel or act when they interact with the feature, it interferes with your ability to communicate about it.

You still haven’t addressed what makes you think neutral parties are going to be ok with players executing people they claim (with or without proof, it almost doesn’t matter) are tainted with fungus. By default that’s going to be treated as murder, and that way lies getting exiled, imprisoned or executed for your trouble.

I know it’s fashionable on the forums to be rabidly pro- or anti-fungus, but in-game most characters aren’t actually going to know that much about them or how they work, and that needs to be incorporated into the design of a fungus-related feature.

To me this is one of the most interesting parts of the scenario, because at least at first they would have an additional protection of not having acted overtly against human interests, and they could even plan on being attacked in order to discredit people who do try to root them out. Converted settlements are of course super happy and would probably even maintain trade and communication more or less as if nothing had happened, so it would be difficult to convince people of the threat until the fungus starts to move overtly.

I’m actually tinkering with a mission for the old guard rep, where they would send you to investigate a fungus infested lab to retrieve research data, save scientists, and kill all the fungus that broke out of containment. At the end of the lab you would meet a fungus infested NPC, and it would be made abundantly clear from interacting with them that they were no longer human. Word could spread after its succesful completion.

I’m with Kevin on this. Most people don’t actually understand the fungus. And if some guy comes in, isn’t aggressive, and gives everyone free food, they’ll seem more trustworthy than the homeless drifter lunatic trying to lynch them.

This gameplay wise making it a struggle to convince the other NPCs of more nefarious intentions is more engaging as a player. Sometimes firing a double barreled shotgun into the nearest weird thing shouldn’t be the ideal solution. Speech needs some love as is.


But I’m not thinking of just some random survivor player. Once you have your own faction (especially if its big and successful), or are a respected member of a major faction, and are getting to be well known locally from doing missions, interacting, trading, helping people, etc, people will take you more seriously than if you were a random murderous hobo. And if you happen to have horrifying photographic evidence of mycus atrocities or their effects on humans, a dissected corpse, lab data, etc, you will be even more credible.

Unless ofc some of the NPCs you are trying to protect/save WANT to be part of the Mycus. Afterall it would offer em quiet the amount of safety and food (and maybe even wanting to be part of “collective”/“Hivemind” for whatever reason. [not wanting to be alone anymore/have someTHING that understands em etc])

Yep, you won’t be able to save everyone. Some people would not be convinced until the fungus discarded any pretense of being benign and started acting overtly. Others wouldn’t change their minds even after it had shown its true colors.

You need to think of how those players will interact with the scenario though, because not all of them are going to fall into the “honored savior of the wasteland” image you seem to be basing your statements on.

By default, a typical player is a lot closer to the “murder hobo” than the “respected faction leader”, so that’s how the situation is most likely to play out.


If they are just a murderhobo they won’t give two shits about anybody else. They wouldn’t bother going further than maybe giving some settlement a brief warning if they knew something about the fungus. If even that.

Unless of course they were being paid by someone to do so.
If somebody was paying the player to spread word about or to actively combat the fungus they probably have money and influence, and are someone whose word MIGHT matter to other survivors. It might be someone powerful, or a nearby settlement leader who has learned the horrible truth the hard way, and are sending the player out on a paul revere ride to warn everyone they can before its too late.

The way I see it there are two options: paul revere ride as a representative of someone, or having your own credibility by way of being well known and respected. Honestly I see room for having both being possible.

In fact, the paul revere ride might be how you start to gain notability and respect, so that later you WILL have personal influence over situations.

Also, I suspect part of the reason for the vast majority of players murder-hoboing playstyle is that there isn’t really much incentive for them to care about NPC factions or missions at the moment. They don’t really do enough for the player to want help them, or give very good incentives to work with them. If interacting with other survivors was more lucrative or beneficial, people might have more reason to care about their fates. To build bases, complete missions, etc. Once faction camps and NPCs are improved, I suspect the current attitude will change.

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