Dwelling in temperate deciduous forests around the world, the Groveguard, sometimes known as Nanoarmillar, are a sweet but deceptively dangerous lot. Entities of awakened fungus fused with nanotechnology, they are colonizers of the forest with little interest in lands outside their native environment. But woe awaits those who enter their woods unprepared!
All Groveguard share a unique split mind; half of their minds are devoted to their individual identities and memories, while the remainder forms a part of the overall Groveguard mind.
Nanoarm warriors are known to ride into battle astride rhino beetles they cultivate as steeds and companions. Their fungal nature gives them potentially devastating spore attacks they can use at a distance, while they draw on their nanotechnology to fashion a variety of blades and whips that serve them well in closer quarters.
The Groveguard live their lives as part of a collective mind, a remnant of days gone when they were simple mushrooms existing in a mycelial network. When the global crisis known as the Cylophene came and the mushrooms of old were infused with nanotechnology, their awareness broadened, grew, and connected with other colonies around the globe. They learned, and they transformed. This collective consciousness extends to all of the various tribes and mycels, but none are as deeply enmeshed within it as the Groveguard are.
The old network, strengthened and greatly expanded, still persists and guides all of the mushroom folk on a subconscious level, the . But consciously they have gained individuality, personality, and individual memory.
The Groveguard do not generally practice any form of organized religion as humans think of it. Rather, they recognize an interconnectedness of energy throughout the world, and they respect and honor (or sometimes fear) the spirits manifested from those energies. Their spirituality therefore closely resembles Shinto or the beliefs of indigenous Americans.
That the Groveguards’ very nature is deeply interconnected with technology extends their spiritual beliefs into that realm, as well. Geographically spread out colonies are connected one to another by the mycelial network, and so they recognize the traditional spirits of the woods, the fields, the waters, and the spirits of that network.
Given the Groveguard’s dual natures, their interactions with other factions are complex. The collective self of the mycelium network is utterly unconcerned with entities that either don’t pose a direct threat to it or represent a clear benefit to it. Individually, however, each Groveguard has its own distinct opinions and preferences, a full personality that often leads them to befriend or antagonize others. Every now and then this gives rise to a leader within Groveguard society. Other tribes tend to view such leaders among the Groveguard as somewhat fickle, easy to weather if they prove to be hostile, but also hard to count on if they’re friendly.
Where most tribes of the mushroom folk have some sort of governing body or at least a process for governing themselves, the Groveguard require no such governance thanks to their networked group mind. They have a director instead, functioning almost like the queen of an insect hive. The director isn’t the decision maker; however; rather they operate almost as a network hub, orchestrating the collective will of the tribe. The director wields enough influence over others to aid in overcoming significant discord within their society but otherwise typically remains aloof from the decision making process.
All that said, however, the Groveguard do also have distinct individual personalities, and while they don’t truly need leaders, every now and then one particularly charismatic individual may accumulate some influence and followers. These leaders behave as leaders anywhere do, directing their people to love those folk there, while hating those others over that way. Maybe a nation is cutting too many of the trees in a Groveguard forest; that would certainly earn their ire.
Such leaders don’t tend to last too long, though. The calming influence of the group mind and the director draws these groups back to something close to the status quo before too long.
Nanette, a warrior noted among the Groveguard, is of a height common to her folk, maybe knee-high to a human. She has long honey-blonde tendrils that appear very hair-like, deep brown “skin,” and darker brown, almost black eyes in which faint electric blue traces can sometimes be seen.
To humans and those of other species, Nanette would appear to wear velvety robes of a dark reddish purple. Groveguard and others of the mushroom folk would immediately recognize them as an extruded extension of her body itself, rapidly grown on demand from fungal tissues generated from excess spores with the aid of nanotechnology using molecular matter from the air and surrounding environment.
The Groveguard population is made up mostly of chanterelle, giant puffball, and enoki mushroom folk. Nobody knows why the mycelial connections that link them to the Groveguard hive mind grow more strongly in these particular types of mushroom folk, but it is typically true. Periodically though, such connections will form among other mushroom folk types in other tribes; such connected individuals usually find themselves drawn back to the lands of the Groveguard in time.
The mental connection to the group can be stronger or weaker in individuals as well. Those who find themselves becoming a Groveguard leader are most often individuals with weaker connections to the network.
The entwining of fungal life with nanotechnology has had a dramatic impact upon Earth’s landscape, encouraging the rapid growth of augmented fungal species of all sorts. Many augmented fungal forms of life are found in temperate deciduous woods, not just the mushroom folk. Of these, only the mushroom folk were uplifted to sentience by the Cylophene. They’ve been able to take advantage of the flourishing technologically enhanced fungus in a bewildering number of ways, though, reshaping their domain while carefully not disrupting the rest of the ecosystem they thrive in.
The Groveguard live in sun-dappled clearings within strange-looking forests. Leafy canopies now darken the skies over blossoming fungal cities where molds carpet the ground, carefully clearing space for other plants to continue thriving. Vast mushroom skyscrapers (by the mushroom folks’ reckoning) stand fifteen to twenty feet tall. Staircases made of shelf fungus encircle trees, leading to webs of fungal fibers higher up where more light and better sight lines are to be had. To a human of the early twenty-first century, these woods would look both familiar and strangely alien all at once.
The other mushroom folk tribes view the Groveguard with respect and trepidation. The Groveguard are usually easy enough to get along with, and trade is as common with them as with any tribe, but their duality of identity and nature makes them a bit alien to most other tribes, except maybe for those who live very close to Groveguard neighbors.
The scholars find the Groveguard fascinating, and wish to study the unique strength of their networked minds. The beneath are all but terrified of the Groveguard, viewing the rare Groveguard individuals born in their midst as potential threats to the closely guarded secrets the tribe guards.
The Groveguard group-mind itself likes all of the other tribes, recognizing their weaker connection to the mycelial network as akin to itself. Each individual Groveguard will have its own preferences with regards to the other tribes.