Updated: Mar 22, 2022
The Story of Harod Maethros, The Mushroom Paladin
Harod Maethros was a paladin in service to the King of Northtide, serving as part of a diplomatic team acting as ambassadors to the spring elves of Ther’Liell. His role was that of a defensive detail however, he was also markedly known for his interest in the philosophy of spirituality, and was a friend to many different peoples. He and the druidic elders of the elves would speak for hours on druidic history and beliefs, and the reverence for nature that elves hold above other races. He would answer questions about the tenants of good, which as a paladin he had sworn an oath to uphold. Never straying from the tenants of good, Harod incorporated alternative spirituality into his life. He was well-liked, and so interested in other cultures and spirituality that the King sent him on many diplomatic missions such as this one.
This time, the races of the world gathered to discuss the Orc threat growing in the Sunhide Badlands to the Northwest of Ther’Liell, and the potential for threats in other areas of the mountain ranges to the East. After a few days of deliberations and discussions, the committee had devised a plan, and Maethros and the ambassadors from Northtide were set to begin the long journey back to Northtide, far to the West. As part of the discussions, Maethros had volunteered to take an alternative route back home, off the known roads, to travel through and investigate some of the areas that no one had explored for some time.
The range most near to Ther’ Liell was to the Southwest and was called “The Leg”. Due east from the great elf capital, but farther than The Leg, was The Tail, a strange pair of ranges that ran mostly parallel to each other and created a dark, thick, forest within, that was seldom explored. It wouldn’t be uncommon for a man to take a hunting trip, but few venture too deep within. The Karrock Clan Dwarves lived and mined within The Leg, but The Tail was a curiosity for both the druids and for Maethros.
The elves provided rangers to escort the diplomats as far as Dalhurst, but Maethros left Ther’Liell heading due West, through the country, to Greenflower. Harod loved this part of the world. Large, sunny, relaxed elven woodlands, large open fields, elvish villages, and fair living people. He often wondered to himself why he had not become a knight for an elven court instead of a paladin for Northtide, but the root was all the same to him, do good. However, he felt much more able to do good in a part of a world as peaceful as this, opposed to the bustle and chaotic nature of the city.
Harod’s journey from Ther’ Liell to The Tail would take one day through the forest, two or three days to the village of Greenflower, one or two days to the Maple-Mithril Wall and Alliance Tower, one or two days South along the wall to the Stoutmithril Tower where he would leave his horse in the care of the dwarves. A total of five to eight days of riding depending on how much he lingered here and there, and he was in no great haste to return to Northtide.
From Stoutmithril Tower he would travel on foot, six or seven days to the Southern edge of the Tail, and he estimated two to three days to the center of the range, plus however much time he spent investigating. Harod did not expect to find great evil here, as there had been little to none here for many many years. He volunteered to explore for the elves who likely would have sent a team of rangers had he not volunteered, adding that once he completed his report to the King, that he would then distribute it to allied leaders, benefiting all parties. Maethros was indeed, well-liked.
“At least eighteen days…” he thought to himself, beaming as he left Ther’Liell the morning of the first day, a smile that was no longer on his face on the afternoon of the seventeenth day. He was hiking deep within the dense woodlands of The Tail, when he noticed that the trees that were dead yet standing, had an abundant amount of fungi growing upon them, almost as if some of the trees had been taken over and converted into large stalks of various fungi. Maethros was intrigued, yet prudently curious. He had only studied a small amount of herbalism from his time with the elves, and did not understand the nature of this anomaly. As he trod gently ever deeper into the wood, the wood was no longer wood. He found himself looking slightly downwards, into a forest of mushrooms the size of trees. Soft, damp earth squished beneath his feet, and a cool mist settled at the base of the massive toadstools.
Maethros was enthralled. He sensed that there was no evil in this place, and excitedly explored the towering fungi. He intended to make camp within the fungal forest, but was uncertain of the mist and the dampness of the ground, thus he wandered, seeking a suitable campsite, when he found what he affectionately named Harod’s Hollow. Upon a small bit of raised earth, there was a massive toadstool, at least 8 feet in diameter and at least 30 feet tall. When he pressed his hand to the stalk, it was sturdy, but not impenetrable. Harod worked for a few hours to hollow out the ground floor of this large mushroom, and built a door from the flesh of the stalk he cut. He had constructed, a mushroom home for himself, and he was thrilled to be able to stay here and research the newly discovered Harod’s Hollow.
As the days passed, Harod continued to improve his home, adding a second story like a loft, and took note of routes to take to get to a spring outside of the fungal forest, and where he could hunt, what mushrooms he knew were safe to eat. He constructed a small homestead, and found himself so very strangely satisfied and fulfilled. He also found himself confused quite often. He pondered the tenants of good that he lived by, and wondered if his staying here would be considered abandoning his role. He wrestled with these quandaries for what felt like weeks, and he found himself seeing strange colors and lights in the fungal forest.
He found himself wondering what day it was, what time it was, sometimes forgetting who he was. He had really been there for three days, when he woke up from passing out, to a great revelation. He sat quickly upright, his brow drenched with sweat, sitting at the foot of one of the great mushrooms. He had dreamt that he was speaking to the good in the world. A massive blinding white light descended to the dark hollow where he now lived, and it blinked and flashed, and almost in response the very ground seemed to swell and glow with a greenish hue itself. Every strand of mycelium in the earth glowing vibrant green, pulsating, and reaching through every living thing to intertwine with the great white star. Harod did not have a physical form in his dream, yet he was there, as a presence, meant to observe and to learn. He heard words in his mind. Great ancient words, in a language he didn’t know but understood completely, echoed throughout his consciousness. He sat stunned for a moment upon waking unable to remember the words, but swelling with a newfound sense of purpose.
Harod Maethros removed the holy symbol he wore as a medallion around his neck, and placed it on a hook in this home. He removed what clothing he had that bore insignia or symbolism, and placed them away. He was no longer a paladin of good, for he could not be, knowing what he now knew. There is good in all natural things that can be grown through the exploration of what is good, and what is evil – what is natural, and what is unnatural. Maethros cast his metal chain mail down to the soggy earth, where after some time the fungus that fed around and grew into the steel blossomed upon his armor, adorning it with solid fungi, and transforming it into natural armor. He let his mace rot to be regrown, and sought out his holy symbol which too had transformed alongside him.
The old Harod Maethros, paladin of Northtide, died in the spores of that dank, dark, place. Harod Maethros, Mushroom Paladin, grew from the rotten pieces of himself that he cast aside after his epiphany. He resides in Harod’s Hollow, seeking a way to bring his revelations and truth of our total interconnectedness to the world of Ados.
Harod was nearing 40 before he discovered the hollow. He resided there for 11 years before anyone else found him, so I'd estimate his age to be at least 51; not elderly but certainly well-worn for a human living on his own in a fungal forest. His eyes are a pale blue that can appear slightly greenish in shadow. His hair used to be neatly trimmed with a reddish color, but is now shoulder length and strewn with small twigs, and bits of living fungi of various color, size, and texture; what hair remains appears to be mossy green or pale lilac in shadow, and gets light blonde and pale in the sunlight (as the fungi spread or retract). He has a short or medium beard, the appearance of which matches his hair, but is slightly cleaner. Despite the lack of sun in the hollow, he has an almost ashen tan skin tone and complexion.
His metal armor and arms have been transformed through a blessing of divine and nature magic, and though they vaguely resemble their original forms, they are veined with mycelium and fungi, and what once appeared shiny and metallic now appears deep green and mossy, or pale lilac and like a fungal stalk.
He was once a follower of a lawful good deity, and a paladin who had sworn an oath of devotion to serve the forces of good in the world. He had served his liege and land for nearly a decade before venturing into the grove now known as Harod's Hollow.
Harod believes that nature is the highest law, and that changing, adapting, and growing are the essence of life. He holds nature in high regard, recognizing it as the host to all the good and evil in the world, and knowing one must foster the good. He also values open-mindedness, having been granted a new perspective on his oaths and values, he knows that sometimes ones path must change. He is still a protector, though no longer for diplomats. The grand scheme, and the natural order and law are the highest forces, and that the laws of men often create false goods. True good exists when one does not need to be told a set of rules for how to be good.
Below are a list of selections made at key levels in the event you wish you modify the character to better suit your whimsy.
Paladin Level 2 - Fighting Style: Protection
Paladin Level 3 - Oath: Devotion
Paladin Level 4 - ASI: +2 CHA (16->18)
Druid Level 1 - Cantrips: Druidcraft, Mending
Druid Level 2 - Circle: Spores
Harod's primary weapon is a homebrew item called a Heavy Mace. This weapon is effectively a bludgeoning flavored longsword.
Harod has a set of cobbler's tools and the skill as part of his background, due to the fact that he was constantly traveling cross-country, he invested in the training and gear needed to maintain his well worn boots.