|Environment||Any underground (Darklands)|
|Images of vegepygmies|
Source: Bestiary, pg(s). 273
The earliest vegepygmies were fey creatures of the First World,† with no connection to the russet mold. Rather, they were sustained by the vital nature of their plane, which resuscitates deceased creatures and thus maintained their numbers. Groups of these moldfolk eventually crossed into the Material Plane through portals in the Darklands, where they found themselves cut off from their home plane's restorative effects. These explorers formed small communities away from the warring dwarves and orcs, and eventually came into contact with the first elves to flee into the Darklands to escape Earthfall. These elven explorers were the first to use the term "vegepygmy" to refer to the moldfolk. The moldfolk coexisted peacefully with the elves, teaching them how to cultivate fungi for food, but otherwise remained secluded from the Darklands' other denizens.
This period came to an end as more species began to enter the Darklands to escape the devastation of Earthfall. The moldfolk's numbers quickly fell in wars against the newly emerged duergar and the degenerating descendants of the Azlanti humans, a problem compounded by the fact that the fey could not replenish their numbers away from the First World. The apocalypse had also altered the Darklands' geography, closing the remaining portals to the First World and cutting the moldfolk off from retreat to their homelands and from their kin still living there. Salvation for the moldfolk race came in the form of their old elven allies, who offered them shelter in their growing empire in Sekamina.
The moldfolk were housed in the gardens of House Udrinor, whose sporecrafters began work on a means to allow the fey to reproduce. The drow had already begun their descent into evil by this time, however, and performed twisted experiments on their subjects. The moldfolk subjected to the drow's research often perished, leaving behind fungus that infected and killed the slaves the drow sent to clean it up. To the sporecrafters' wonder, the bodies of the deceased slaves became incubators for the fungus that had killed them, brining forth twisted fungal creatures a day after their deaths.
The remaining moldfolk remained oblivious to their kin's fates, but soon encountered new members of their kind who bore facial features more reminiscent of the drow's than of their fey kin's. The drow continued to experiment on the original moldfolk, perfecting the art of creating russet mold. The surviving moldfolk eventually learned of their supposed saviors' actions, but by then were too few to act against them. The last fey moldfolk on Golarion were taken by the fleshwarpers, becoming the first halsoras.
Habitat and ecology
Isolated tribes of vegepygmies can be found throughout Nar-Voth, requiring only an isolated cavern with a ready supply of water. They are particularly populous near the large fungal colonies known as malhars, where they worship certain enormous mushrooms as demigods.
The size of a vegepygmy tribe can be highly variable, ranging from groups of six or so members to entire towns of vegepygmies, but most bands count several dozen members. The largest vegepygmy populations are often the result of russet mold overtaking an entire town, although such events are rare. Vegepygmies usually select an arbitrary number as their tribe's lowest acceptable head count, venturing out for victims to expose to the mold if they fall below this.
The largest known populations of vegepygmies can be found in the Darklands realm of Nar-Voth, particularly in an area known as the Midnight Jungle under central Cheliax. They have also been spotted in the Nursery Trench under the Varisian city of Kaer Maga, in the Tangle below the fabled city of Xin-Shalast, and even deeper underground, in the intellect devourer city of High Ilvarandin in the Vaults of Orv. A settlement known to the duergar as the the Canker exists on the site of a research outpost maintained by House Udrinor in Nar-Voth, which was overrun by the vegepygmies during their original rebellion. The Canker is home to 1,200 inhabitants in the present day, and the ruins of the sporecrafting labs in its center are home to numerous variants of russet mold. Some of these fungal masses have achieved a form of sapience, and are worshipped by the local moldfolk as lesser gods.
Some tribes can even be found living on the surface of Golarion. Known populations exist on the continent of Avistan in Cheliax's Scar Thicket (located directly above the Midnight Jungle), off the coast of Cheliax on the island of Nal-Kashel, and below the frigid Dragon's Rib island in the Lands of the Linnorm Kings. Larger numbers can be found on the warmer, and often wetter continent of Garund, particularly thriving throughout the dark Mwangi Expanse, in the Azlanti ruin of Saventh-Yhi, on Redbow Island in the Shackles, and off the coast of Sargava on the Silent Island.
While vegepygmies tend to avoid other races, they fight constantly among themselves and are not afraid of attacking isolated groups of beings. They always seek to capture rather than kill, bringing the captives back to their cultivated patches of russet mold for transformation. They view the gift of transformation and escape from the flesh as a high honor only they can bestow.
Vegepygmies typically worship the russet mold that creates them, and revere the deceased bodies from which they were birthed. Some have adapted a modified worship of Gozreh, focused on the deity's association with decay, growth, and nature. Gozreh-worshipping vegepygmies often craft tridents and holy symbols from the bones of their birth bodies. Vegepygmy shamans hold high standing within the tribes and lead them in veneration toward their fungus-themed interpretation of Gozreh, or less frequently Cyth-V'sug, the demon lord of fungi and parasites.
For additional resources, see the Meta page.
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