View Full Version : The Dwarven Mushroom Farmer (Craft)

2007-01-09, 06:18 PM
The dwarves are in a curious position, living almost permanently underground, so we will need to apply a little creative thinking regarding their food sources. For an underground race, large-scale cultivation of fungi is one of the best potential food sources, providing a very plentiful protein supply with comparatively little use of land. For those who thing large-scale fungal cultivation is a new thing (see Quorn), mushrooms were grown en masse in the catacombs of Paris well over 400 years ago (and probably before that).

Mushroom cultivation can become rather complex, so be prepared to make good Craft (mushroom farming) checks. The good mushroom farmer takes a piece of existing mushroom mycelium and prepares a medium for initial growth. This is usually a small amount of crushed grain, heated to high temperatures beforehand. The mycelium (mushrooms put out root-like strands through the soil known as 'hyphae', a mycelium is a collection of hyphae) is added to the grain medium with a bit of water and left to grow until it has covered the grain (it is now known as spawn). After this point, alchemy comes into play.

The spawn is spread over and into a substrate. The substrate is what the mushrooms will grow on, usually a log, piece of bark, soil or wood shavings. The dwarves pick up lots of fallen wood from the jungle outside the outpost to serve as substrate, also importing large amounts of prime sawdust from the human town. Different farmers use different substrates, some growing their mushrooms on logs, some on bark in trays, some on large pillars, some even in burlap bags filled with sawdust (the mushrooms poke through and grow on the outside). The mushroom farmer uses alchemical devices (a basic set costs 50gp and can be produced by Craft (alchemy), with a masterwork set at 550gp) to modify moisture, temperature and atmosphere within the growing chamber, first producing conditions that favour growth of the spawn, then conditions that produce fungal 'pinheads', then finally the conditions that favour growth of mushrooms.

After about 6 weeks of preparation and growth (skipping over a lot of details, this isn't a mushroom farming essay) mushrooms appear in 7-day cycles (4-5 days of growth, 2-3 days without) over a period of usually 6-8 weeks (sometimes 9, even up to 20) during which they can be harvested. The farmer maintains the conditions of the farming chamber and harvests mushrooms for as long as he can. The whole cycle usually takes about 15 weeks, making for three or more harvests in a year (regardless of weather conditions). This independence on natural conditions probably lends itself to a dwarven mindset of artifice, where their farming techniques are based more on scientific method than on the whims of the weather. It is also why mushroom farming is a Craft skill rather than a Profession.

The upshot of all that is that mushroom farming is suitable for either sex (reducing dependency issues), depends more on intelligent use of specific techniques than a broad range of knowledge and has a remarkably high surplus rate (on account of the regular harvests). A mushroom farmer with a 6m square chamber to work in (assuming he uses most of it for growth) can provide enough protein for himself, a dependent and a whole non-worker. That said, eating nothing but mushrooms all day can become immensely tiresome, even for dwarves. A whole culture based on ways to flavour their basic foodstuff (of which they have to eat a surprising amount, due to the water content of the things) and dress it with supplementary meat and vegetables will likely have arisen, probably making dwarves avid importers of spices. The more military-minded will have found ways of grinding mushrooms up, dehydrating them and compressing them into thick ration bars.
- Excerpt from the 'Population Density' thread.

Craft (mushroom farming): You can grow beds of mushrooms underground. A basic tool kit for monitoring and changing atmospheric and growing conditions costs 50gp and can be produced by alchemists. Without the kit, growers suffer a -2 circumstance penalty and cannot work at all without some sort of improvised tools. Masterwork growing tools cost 550gp and provide a +2 circumstance bonus. Proceed with mushroom farming by making Craft checks as you would to produce an item (DCs will vary for different breeds of fungi), performing a check each week. Note how many sp of mushroom you 'produce' each week; at the end of the cycle, collect the sum of all the weeks in gp's worth of mushrooms. Mushroom farming takes 15 weeks to complete. Normal failure of a check means that part of the crop will be lost in the final harvest (sp for that week counts as 0). Failure by 5 or more means that the whole crop is lost and you will need to start again.

To determine raw materials, multiply the DC by the minimum check result needed to pass the check (e.g. 15 x 15) and divide by three. That is the cost in raw materials for that week of work (regardless of the result).

e.g. A mushroom farmer makes his check on the first week against DC 15 and gets 15. He produces 22.5gp of mushrooms that week. Next week, his check result is 17, so he adds 25.5gp to the total harvest (48gp). The third week, his result is 14, so he produces no mushrooms that week (harvest stays at 48gp). If he gets 15s for the next 12 weeks, his total will be 318gp in mushrooms (22.5 + 25.5 + 0 + 270). He harvests these at the end of the 15 week cycle.

...part of me really wants to make a 'Dwarven Mushroom Farmer' prestige class, available to Commoners and Experts.

2007-01-09, 11:08 PM
Hmm... I did mushroom growing rules for my Mario D20 thing (which I never have gotten back around to)...

Profession (Mycologist)
Mycology is the care and raising of specific mushrooms in less than ideal conditions. Mycology may be used in a manner similar to a Craft subskill to grow mushrooms. The base craft DC for any mushroom is 20 + 3 * spell level (21 for cantrips). The mycologist only needs to spend one hour a day tending to each patch of mushrooms he is growing. Mushrooms require the proper tools for the job and a 20'-by-20' patch of dark, damp, and cool dirt to grow them. Growing specific mushrooms in a patch requires special chemical cocktails and spores to treat the soil with, which cost twice the market price of a single mushroom of the expected species. A successful patch yields 2d4+1 mushrooms, or an average of 6. Once picked, mushrooms wilt in one week.So does that mean that dwarven spirits actually have strong flavors to match the high alcohol content?

2007-01-09, 11:50 PM
So will there be any growing of magical mushrooms or magical mushrooms?

Some could be cultivated for use as poison as well (amanita Death Caps, Destroying Angel).

2007-01-10, 04:21 AM
I'd say almost certainly. In the case of advanced mushrooms with special properties, it would probably require higher DCs (a level 20 Commoner can manage up to a DC of about 40 comfortably) and be worth more per mushroom - If your dwarven mushroom farmer grew little green mushrooms that healed 1d8+1 damage on consumption, they'd probably be worth 50gp each (and with a DC of 22 to produce, you'd get a minimum of 14.5 decent growths by the end of the season, if you succeeded every week).

As a napkin-rule judgement, I'd say DCs for spell-effect-like mushrooms should probably be 20 + (spell level x 2).

2007-01-10, 05:07 AM
Hmm... shouldn't farming be a Profession skill? Craft is better used when you are creating stuff, like if you get said mushrooms to make potions or the likes. Though cooking is also a Profession skill...

2007-01-10, 07:28 PM
I originally had it as a Profession, but it occurred to me that mycology is a bit more scientific in its approach than wheat farming. With regard to wheat farming, you need to know an awful lot of things in moderate detail (a Profession), but with mushroom farming you only need to know a relatively small number of things in very great detail. The reliance in intellect more than wisdom gives it the status of a craft, fitting with the feel of secret techniques and alchemical methods of farming.

2007-01-10, 08:34 PM
I think you have to separate the craft that produces lots of happy mushrooms from the profession that creates a successful farm business. Both are interrelated but I'd almost think that it could be mushroom craft and farmer profession.


2007-01-10, 08:55 PM
Would this qualify as a class skill for a Dwarven Commoner?

2007-01-11, 09:14 AM
Well, all Craft skills are class skills for commoners. That said, we'll give dwarves a +2 racial bonus to it out of cultural familiarity. Possibly give drow the racial bonus too, because I'm damned if I know what the hell else they're eating down there most of the time (fried mind flayer with a side of grimlock?).

2007-01-11, 12:18 PM
And a dash of Myconid for spice.

Yeah, racial bonus was what I meant.