The Mushlug – A Random Advancement Class for the OSR

Aah, the Mushlug. The primordial fungus bugs of the lowly forest floors, developing in the dim, damp gloom found beneath towering, eternal trees. The Mushlug is neither quite slug nor quite shroom, and nobody is certain how the two came together in the first place. But they did, somehow, and the prolific little fellows live in quietude in the same marshes, caverns, and jungles they have called home for eons. Mushlugs are generally short little fungal beings with two arms and legs, two eyestalks, and a conical or round cap. They have a soft, spongy texture and dislike being touched. They range in color, from browns and oranges to shades of white or grey, and of course some are bright red. Their facial sensory tentacles are mostly vestigial and in some cases never appear at all. Most look quite individual from others, though tribes and familial lineages can be guessed by similarities. Mushlugs live in egalitarian societies with an emphasis on respect for the wisdom of elders, as they can live a very long time in the right conditions. Mushlugs are omnivorous, but tend to eat mostly plant matter as it requires almost no work in most of their habitats. Mushlugs feel a close kinship with nature and are very rarely capable of magic of the natural sort, in a very muted sort of way. Most Mushlugs who seek adventure do so with hopes of acquiring something for their group – maybe they need enough currency to fund hiring outsiders to build a specialized fortification, or maybe their elders saw a need for a lost item of legend to solve a problem. Those who do undertake such efforts will trend towards the traditional equipment of their people – slightly shortened polearms, shields, and short composite bows.

Basics in Brief

Requirement: Con 9
Prime Requisite: Con
HD: 1d6 HD
Equipment Proficiency: All weapons and shields
Armor Proficiency: No armor
Save As: Fighter
XP Advancement: Fighter
Alignment: Only Neutral or Good
Other: Height as Halfling
Your pliable, boneless body cannot support armor designed around normal humanoids, and couldn’t move about in it anyway. You can, however, wield a shield, and can use most polearms one-handed with this shield (subject to DM discretion).

Natural Abilities

Alarm Spore: 1/day at 1st level, increasing to 2/day at 6th level and 3/day at 12th level; 
Shudder violently, releasing a cloud of selective spores as a defense mechanism. Lasts 1d4 combat turns. Provides the following bonuses to all friendly Mushlugs within 50’:
+1 to-hit
+1 damage
+1 AC
Bonuses increment upwards by 1 at 6th level and again at 12th level.
Budding: 1/month at 5th level; 
When you are reduced to 0HP, a cutting may be made from your body and placed in a container of soil within one hour. You will regrow to full size in one month, but must be protected from attack and sunlight during this time. Doing so costs the equivalent of one full experience level plus any additional experience gained towards the next; e.g. you are at 6th level and 50% of the way to 7th level. You would wind up at 5th level – losing the complete 6th level and the excess 50% towards 7th that you had gained. If you are reduced in level below the level required to use this ability, it will naturally be unavailable to you until you regain the requisite level.
Self-Sealing: 1/day, 1/week secondary regrowth of your fleshy bits;
You may heal for HP equal to half your level (minimum of 1 HP) after a fight, once per day. You may also regrow lost eyestalks and extremities at a rate of one per week.
Squishy: At-will outside of combat, takes a minute or so;
Your lack of a skeleton lets you squish down to a very compact size to squeeze through gaps or possibly even evade some kinds of traps. Compress down into your cap, approximately 1.5’ cubed, and back again at will when not in combat. You can move, but it’s an extremely slow shuffle and you look ridiculous. 

Class Level Table

Base AC
As leather (BX7)
As leather (BX7)
As leather (BX7)
As leather (BX7)
As chain (BX5)
As chain (BX5)
As chain (BX5)
9D6 + 2 (No CON)
As chain (BX5)
Liberty Cap
9D6 + 3 (No CON)
As plate (BX3)
Laughing Jim
9D6 + 4 (No CON)
As plate (BX3)
9D6 + 5 (No CON)
As plate (BX3)
9D6 + 6 (No CON)
As plate (BX3)

Random Advancement Table

Roll on this table one time with 1d100 or d%, one time for each level you gain. Follow all instructions listed in the results column and record it on your character sheet accordingly. For any issues or questions, discuss it with your referee and defer to their almighty wisdom.
You get nothing special this time around. This is an outrage.
What’s that smell? You exude a bit of a funk, like wet dog. Gain +2 reaction from beasts.
Your flexibility and single-mindedness prepare you for combat. Gain +1 bonus on to-hit rolls.
Your pliable body makes it very hard to pin you down. Enemies are greatly disadvantaged if they try to grapple you.
You secrete a paralytic fluid when under duress. Enemies of your HD or lower who come into contact with you in combat must save vs paralysis or be stunned for one full round.
Your squishy little feet make no sound. Gain 3-in-6 roll to sneak up on enemies.
Gain 1d8 HP (in addition to your regular hit die increase).
Once per day, your spores make people just a little bit friendlier. Use this to purchase an item for half-price, subject to DM discretion/sanity check.
Your hands are sticky little things. You cannot be disarmed by force, unless knocked unconscious first.
Your pileus feels a little tougher. Gain +3 to your Save vs Spells and Save vs Death.
You gain the ability to rapidly grow and deploy a veil once per day, which can be used as a single-use net. It deteriorates in 1d12 hours.
Your stalk strengthens. Grow 1d6 inches in height, gain +1 CON; if this provides a improved bonus to HD rolls, add it to this level’s roll as well.
You feel like a new mushroom. Or slug. Something. Either way, you can reroll any one stat (3d6) one time and keep the better of the two results.
Your natural mending is supercharged. Heal HP up to your level after a combat once per day.
Roll on a natural magic-themed spell table of the DM’s choosing to gain one spell, which can be cast 1x/day.
You’ve learned to protect your neck, just as Uncle Ason instructed. Gain +1 bonus to AC.
Your gills are coated with a thick inky liquid. Besides being good for writing, there’s about enough that it can be smeared on a door to function as a first-level Hold Portal spell once per day.
You secrete poisonous slime as a protective measure when in danger. Enemies of your HD or lower who come into contact with you in combat must save vs poison or be charmed for one round.
All that space to grow your brain in that big cap (not that it’s there, or even a single organ to begin with) has made you smarter. Gain +1 INT, +1 to Saves vs Wands.
Guarding with shields has become second nature to you. Shields now offer +2 to AC instead of +1.
Your feet become a little stickier. You cannot be knocked prone by attacks or abilities unless rendered unconscious first.
Your cap has sprouted dozens of colorful spots. Gain +2 on reaction rolls with lawful beings.
You are closely in tune with your ancestors’ literal roots, and can speak with trees once per day.
The gills on the underside of your cap become quite literal. Gain waterbreathing.
Hallucinate on your own spores to roll on a natural magic spell table of the DM’s choosing to learn one spell, which can be cast 1x/day
The weird twilight from which you hail is full of strange creatures. Pick a critter with your DM from a bestiary of some type, no better than half your HD – it is now your obedient companion.
Instead of spots, your cap sprouts eyes. Gain +1 WIS; enemies can only surprise on 1-in-6.
Your invertebrate form makes you better at moving with the flow of battle. Gain +1 bonus to AC.
You have learned all that can be learned about hiding by standing very still in the dim damp of the undergrowth. Gain the ability to hide in shadows on a 4-in-6 roll.
You immediately take 1HP of damage, but gain a third eyestalk. This one can see invisible at will.
You gain a bonus 1d8 HP and you can reroll on this chart.
I owe, of course, some debts to inspiring folks. First, James V West‘s Black Pudding has classes with innate abilities and bonuses which I love. Second, Jez Gordon named these little guys “Mushlugs” for me on Twitter the other day, and it was perfect. Third, of course, goes out to everyone who has made random advancement classes (except the obvious dude) because I don’t think any take on classes in OSR games has been as much fun as that for me and the continued enjoyment and tinkering with these is one of the cooler things out there in OSRland still as far as I am concerned.

Hopefully you enjoy this character class and use it in a future B/X (or B/X-derived OSR retroclone) campaign! I think they’re really a terrific amount of fun and I had a blast doodling the little dudes. I know I definitely plan to play as one as soon as I can. Please let me know if you use a mushlug in your game sometime – you can reach me just about any time of day on Twitter @dungeonspossums.  

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4 comments on “The Mushlug – A Random Advancement Class for the OSR

  1. Unknown

    A couple items on the table (paralytic slime and charm slime) limit themselves to opponents of the mushlug's HD or less. I would suggest that if something if greater HD successfully grapples or bites you, they are affected too. And if it eats you, well, you shouldn't eat strange mushrooms, right?

  2. Unknown

    That's not wrong, and I like where you're going with it! Certainly that's a one-way trip to a bad tummy ache.

    What I didn't want was for someone to think "haha, the dragon clawed me, now the dragon is asleep". The dragon is 24HD and you're a level 2 mushroom, dawg. He's got anti-poison glands you haven't even heard of. Your slime gives him a minor itchy rash he'll deal with later, because he has 24HD.

    But it's really up to you! Change the restrictions all you want. Make that 24HD dragon regret eating the mushroom! 😀

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