This vast and strange realm exists only on a single, alternate version of Malkat.
In all but one of the parallel versions of Malkat, the Demon Prince Ganislay laid waste to the Azerbon Dynasty, the thirty-third dynasty descended from the First Men, as punishment for the people’s refusal to worship him as a god. The people of the Azerbon had for generations given worship to the mushroom god Xanthander, who appeared in the form of humanoid mushroom. Ganislay murdered Xanthander and appeared to the people in the form of a mushroom-devouring creature with porcine head and hindquarters, but with the body of a man between. When the Azerbon realized they would not be rid of Ganislay, they appealed to the dark powers to save them, striking a bargain with the Triarch, a trio of fallen spirits who had been brothers in the mortal realm. Together the brothers – Sendenna, Sondenna, and Sundenna – attempted the assassination of Ganislay, and failed. The demon prince, enraged at the attempt, summoned the Toltorgim to destroy the Azerbon Dynasty, turning the Stone Lands into a volcanic waste. Only the Plateau of the Endless, protected by the magic of the Old Ones, escaped devestation.
In this reality, known to World-Walkers as Malkat 26-998-7039, the Mushroom Kingdom flourished on the ruins of the Old Ones’ civilization, secure from the rest of the world in the cradle of Thousandpeaks.
Both the Plateau of the Endless and the surrounding countryside were heavily developed by the Old Ones, and later by the First Men, so that the current Mushroom Kingdom is built upon the foundation stones of the latter cultures. Many of the ancient structures exist, or at least fragments of them, including the curious levitating platforms of alien metals and native stone, the GreenShafts, many containing the original Warp Portals created by the ancient cultures, and the curious CacheStones, which contain many of the magical treasures of the Old Ones. Here grow the immense TowaShrooms, which exceed even the greatest trees in height and girth, and here wander monsters seen nowhere else on the world – or any other. In the center of the Mushroom Kingdom, inaccessible for ages, rises the Plateau of the Endless.
A Few Features of the Landscape
Millenia ago, an ancient spacefaring race of emerald-skinned giants known only as The Old Ones came to Malkat, landing their star-sailing craft on what is now called The Plateau of the Endless, far out in the wilderness beyond the modern Mushroom Kingdom. There the Old Ones created several slave races that they set to the task of constructing vast cities. These cities covered all of the Plateau and the surrounding lands, not only on the surface, but above it as well, for the Old Ones possessed the secret of causing stone, steel, and crystal to hover in place, which allowed them to construct their odd ziggurats and labyrinths even into the clouds. For millennia, the Old Ones ruled the North; a time now termed The Emerald Dynasty. When the slave races finally rebelled against their masters, they stole many of the Old Ones’ secrets and built their own structures, many belowground in the endless labyrinth of the Underworld, from which they waged their guerilla war. The slave races succeeded in defeating the Old Ones, and became the First Men, from whom all races of modern men are descended. Today the Mushroom Kingdom stands where the Emerald Dynasty once ruled, among the shattered remains of both ancient cultures. Platforms of FloatStone, as it is now termed, are to be found everywhere throughout the Mushroom Kingdom, the Cloud Kingdom above, and the Underworld below. FloatStone is much stronger than any common stone, and can only be shattered with the aid of magic. Some types, metallic or crystalline relics of the Emerald Dynasty, cannot be shattered by any means known.
The Old Ones of the Emerald Dynasty left many treasures behind, in addition to the ruins of their FloatStone cities. Many of these treasures are concealed in the CacheStones, solitary blocks of StarSteel-impregnated FloatStone (see StarSteel below) which contain a small inner chamber. The CacheStones can only be opened if they are struck with an instrument crafted from pure StarSteel, which creates a specific resonance in the CacheStone, opening the inner chamber. It is common to find disks of pure StarSteel in the CacheStones, but other artifacts can be found as well, including Star Crystals, potions, weapons and tools, and even PowaShrooms and Fire Flowers, the latter being perfectly preserved by the magic of the inner chamber. Each CacheStone is marked with a rune of the Old Ones, which has come to symbolize the unknown to later generations. When the CacheStone is opened, the rune fades and the inner chamber closes. There is a technique for reopening a closed CacheStone, but it is known to only a handful of wizards and artificers.
Another relic of the Old Ones, the GreenShafts are constructed of the characteristic emerald green metal-crystal alloy that gave the Emerald Dynasty its name. The GreenShafts served a number of purposes in the massive architecture of the Old Ones – drainage pipes, connecting tunnels, storage, and even long-range transportation, thanks to the Warp Portals. Throughout the millennia since the collapse of the Emerald Dynasty and the succeeding rule of the First Men, countless races, armies, and individual creatures have occupied portions of the ruins, and nearly all have put the abandoned GreenShafts to some kind of use.
Most of the GreenShafts throughout the Mushroom Kingdom are simple tunnels; the vertical ones often containing ladders built into the interior of the shaft, and are open at both ends. Some are capped at one end with massive threaded caps that rest just inside the opening of the shaft. Generally, it requires enormous strength to remove the caps, as they are quite heavy. Nest-loving creatures, particularly the huge and carnivorous Piranha Plant, Giant Spiders, and Giant Centipedes, often occupy capped GreenShafts. Capped GreenShafts can also be used for storage, particularly if two caps are present and the user has the strength to manipulate them, and they have also been used by the more mechanically inclined to house machinery of various types.
The final category of GreenShafts, those that contain Warp Portals, are among the most coveted and feared. The Warp Portals appear as opaque, translucent, or in a few instances, transparent disks of colored energy suspended inside the shaft, generally just below the outward flare at the end of the shaft. Each Warp Portal is connected to another, and simply touching the surface of the Portal is generally sufficient to activate it, causing the traveler to be whisked away to the connecting point. The target point of a Warp Portal may be as near as the next room or as distant as half a world or ten worlds away, for the Old Ones were a well-traveled race and had much commerce among the distant stars.
Not all of the Warp Portals are so readily active, however. Some require a special password or that the user possesses a special token in order to activate the portal. A few are simply dormant or dead. The Portals are created, maintained, and programmed by machinery concealed within the GreenShaft, and many parties earnestly seek after the secret of accessing this machinery and reprogramming it to control the operation of the Warp Portals.
The TowaShrooms are the symbol of the Mushroom Kingdom, and the source of its name. Although they do grow elsewhere on Malkat, in nowhere but the Mushroom Kingdom do they grow in such profusion, or to such terrific size. The TowaShroom Forest at the heart of the Mushroom Kingdom is the largest such anywhere; hundreds of miles of enormous mushrooms, many taller than any tree, carpet the landscape, concealing several large cities’ worth of Emerald Dynasty ruins, numerous castles and towns, lakes and rivers, and the dens of countless animals and magical beasts. Dragons lair upon the highest mushroom caps, and walking plants hunt among the stalks. It is rumored that a few of the largest TowaShrooms even support the castles of Cloud Giants upon their lofty caps.
Another example of giant flora found in the Mushroom Kingdom is the Beanstalk. These huge vines erupt from the earth upon germination and grow at a tremendous pace, often attaining full size in a matter of minutes or hours, depending on the vigor of the seed. Where other Beanstalks, TowaShrooms, or structures are present, they will latch on with thick tendrils for support, but often the stout leathery trunk is sufficiently tough to keep the plant aloft. The leaves are generally wide enough for a man-sized creature to stand upon, and spaced in a spiral pattern around the trunk that allows them to be easily climbed like a stairwell. The Beanstalks flower but once in a century, after which they set their bean pods and die. Magic Beans are a highly coveted item, particularly among explorers of the Cloud Kingdom and hunters of Dragons and Giants, both of whom favor the dizzy heights.