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Phantom Fungus

Monte At Home

First Post
Other than in the initial playtests, I can't remember ever seeing a phantom fungus in play. I can't remember ever seeing it in a product. I know as a designer and as a DM, I have never used it.

It's not that it's a bad monster. The illustration doesn't thrill me, but that's just personal taste--it's a fine illo. But something about it just says "don't use me, keep on looking..." whenever I'm looking through the MM for a monster to use. I don't know why for sure.

Do you feel this way too? Or have you used the monster? If so, how did you use it and did it work well?

I can tell you why the monster exists. We felt the game needed certain monsters in certain roles and niches. Specifically, we wanted a low-power monster that was invisible in its standard state, so that low level characters would get used to fighting invisible things now and again, and new players would see the value (and shortcomings) of invisibility early on. It also serves a role as a low-CR plant monster so druids have something to use their plant spells against.

I'm just curious, because that and the ethereal filcher may be the only two monsters (not counting animals) in the 3E Monster Manual that I've never used outside the initial 3E playtests.

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Hand and Eye of Piratecat [Moderator]

(Almost) to the day, three years ago, a wise man wrote an article about making minor changes to monsters to get more use out of them:




Demon Lord
I'm with ya....I have never used the phantom fungus at all, and never really had the desire to do so. Same with the ethereal filcher (and marauder too).

Something about 'em just doesn't strike me as "Hey! I gotta use that in my next session."


Eternal Optimist
G'day, Monte!

I've used a couple in dungeons I've randomly stocked.

It's never really been that memorable, though. It could well be my style of DMing, but it feels more like a "nuisance" monster rather than an actual threat.

CR 3 implies more than what the Phantom Fungus actually delivers. It dies in one or two hits - once you hit it - and 1d6+3 damage isn't really that much. Add to that the fact that it has an intelligence of 2, and you've got a creature that won't be smart enough to "attack the wizard", which is about the only character it can threaten.

Oh, and it's solitary. Hmm.



Hand and Eye of Piratecat [Moderator]

To directly address the point at hand, I must say I don't even know what a phantom fungus looks like, what its approximate stats and CR are, and so on, without looking it up. That is to say, I can't recall ever really reading its writeup in detail, much less using one.

I know the ethereal marauder illustration and like it quite a bit. Nonetheless, I don't think I've ever used on in my game and am not likely to do so in the future either.


I used a Phantom Fungus, but not in its original state.

For a Dragonstarbased (homebrew setting called Space Experiences) game I used it twice.
Once I used in an old bunker that was used by an evil druid for some experiments to create a dangerous virus attack inhabitants of space installations, and two Phantom Fungus (and also a Shrieker) was part of the security in an more or less abandoned part of the old bunker.

In a later game, I used an awakened Phantom Fungus as an ally/animal companion for a Druid Circle.
It was awakened and had some barbarian levels and used Spring Attack and Boots of Striding and Springing (or an equivalent item suitable for a plant), so it was specifically designed to use its invisiblity. (it needed more speed to be able to get out of the see-invisiblity spells). The concept worked, though once the player characters were able to hit it, it didn`t last very long.

Mustrum Ridcully


First Post
I've actually used it. The party found an abandoned dwarven mine complex. One of the levels was the dwarves' farming area. I can recall trying to figure out a way to make the area more interesting, then I stumbled upon the Phantom Fungus - mutant food!

In contrast to their listed organization, I placed two of them in the area. That actually seemed to help add to the confusion when both of them attacked. Kind of neat seeing the party members running around trying to figure out what was going on! They definitely need to keep moving, though.

I allowed listen checks whenever the fungus moved. The players eventually developed a strategy of trying to surround the space when one of them heard it move - it was cool watching them develop their teamwork. The party was at 3rd level. No, the monsters weren't terrible threats, but their invisibility was really annoying. The players were really relieved when the last one finally dropped.


First Post
I actually made good use of a Phantom Fungus quite recently, as a player (druid).

We were under siege from a fairly sizable army backed up by a some ballistae and trebuchets, which were manned by 'normal' people (ie not armoured warriors - experts perhaps).

I used SNAIV to put a phantom fungus behind the enemy ranks, in order to quietly take out the siege operators.

It worked out pretty well, even up to the point where an enemy mage (I guess he was having a bad day or something) decided to deal with the problem using a fireball, which of course took the nearby trebuchet out in the blast..


First Post
A phantom fungus appears in the Dungeon #84 adventure, "Dungeon of the Fire Opal," by Jonathan Tweet. It's by the underground stream and effectively "guards" the remains of the abbot and the key that grants easy access to the treasury.

That's the only adventure of which I'm aware that features a phantom fungus.


First Post
I never used it , and many monsters with it , but I'm trying to use more variety .

P.S. It's a honor for me to answer a question by the great Monte Cook . Your books are great .


Never used it. But there are heaps of monsters that I've never used; I like to mostly use humanoids and outsiders.

Li Shenron

Hello Monty!

I am not the best person to ask an opinion about this monster, because I am usually very idiosyncratic versus weirdos creatures. I have never used phantom/violet/shrieker fungi, neither the mentioned ethereal filcher/marauders, gibbering/tall mouthers or similar monstruosities :p
The reason is that not me and neither any of my players enjoy non-evocative monsters, we like something that the players can recongize and be thrilled or scared from, such as dragons, undead, devils, demons or good-old orcs :) .
An invisible walking mushroom (although mechanically it's nothing bad) sounds to me possibly one of the least cool thing you may encounter, something potentially on par with vampiric double-headed snails or flying-teleporting patches of rot... Strange to explain, but other weirdos have attracted us more (tendriculous or shambling mound for example have been used more than once), in some cases I believe that a simply better illustration can change the tide in a monster's favor. ;)


First Post
I have used it. Seemed like just perfect for this damp cavern system located under waterfalls. I had other types of fungi there too, and decided to use the Phantom Fungus to make the encounter a little more special or challenging. PCs hadn't encountered invisible creatures before, so it was a nice introduction.


Writing Fantasy Gumshoe!
Never used it. I'd probably be subjected to "What's wrong? Isn't he a fun guy?" puns, and I never wanted to take the risk. More importantly, I mentally lumped it in with the flumph and the tirapheg: monsters that just weren't scary enough to make the cut.


First Post
At least in my gaming circle, the phantom fungus (along with the etheral filcher and digester) fell prey immediately to the "that's the stupidest looking/sounding monster ever" attack. The art for all three entries presents a creature that inspires laughter rather than fear or awe, and that detracts a lot from the DM's ability to effectively use the creatures.

I have, however, used a phantom fungus once. I modifed the lowest level of the Sunless Citadel module, building on the theme that the BBEG was a druid experimenting on creating sentient underground plant life. I then re-populated the whole level with plant creatures to match the theme, including an assasine vine, a yellow musk creeper (which made all the "zombie" goblin and kobold workers for the druid, violet fungi, shriekers, and a phantom fungus. The last three were a security system of sorts. When the shriekers went off, the violet fungi moved to attack whatever set them off. The phatom fungus was a roaming security guard that also responded to the shriekers, coming in a few rounds through combat (when the party thought they had the situation under control). It worked pretty well, providing a nice opening encounter for the party to prepare them for the yellow musk creeper and twig blights later on. I also gave the druid that "greenfire" FR spell that does acid damage without hurting plants (laying a big surprise on the party), but that digresses to another topic...

Back on topic, the encounter worked, but only because the party had no idea what they were facing. Once they saw the picture (after killing the thing and examining the body) the laughs started all around.

So my assessment--decent concept, bad art.


P.S. Monte, what was the artist (or designer) for the ethereal filcher thinking! Again, a cool concept for a creature, but that has to be one of the most ridiculous looking monster I've ever seen in D&D--ranks right up there with the disenchanter and flumph. I mean, it has a "prehensile foot" and I guess that big protrusion on top is its nose?


I used a phantom fungus the very first room of the Endless Dungeon, a trans-dimensional dungeon periodically stocked with monsters & treasure by the wizard that built it. The phantom fungus hung out in the old stables, a dark damp area with plenty of fertilizer and access to the outside for hunting (most monsters further in were more intelligent and could manipulate the dungeon layout to exit or enter).

I don't recall the exact details, but it was a pretty easy fight, and at one point I was forced to describe the fungus as "an invisible walking table".



I put a phantom fungus in the first adventure in my adventure path for Dire Kobold. The characters in my playtest group had a bit of trouble with them (there are two in an area), but I thought they were a really fun change of pace for low-level play.

Raven Crowking

First Post
Monte At Home said:
I'm just curious, because that and the ethereal filcher may be the only two monsters (not counting animals) in the 3E Monster Manual that I've never used outside the initial 3E playtests.

I agree with you about the phantom fungus -- never used it, doubt I ever will -- but the ethereal filcher is another matter. This is a monster that I actually like . :) Not because I like stealing things from my PCs, but because I can see the monster working in my fantasy world. In fact, they are relatively common, compared to (say) hippogriffs or giants.

Filling out an ethereal filcher's lair is fun. First off, the ethereal filcher explains where all those missing pens and socks went, so there is a lot of junk in the lair. I mean a lot . :p You can sift through it to find the good stuff, though. Secondly, the filcher can get into its lair without requiring easy access, so it'll try to block the doorway with some of the heavier things its acquired. One of my filchers has used a stolen mill wheel for this purpose, for example. Finally, the odds are that the filcher isn't in its lair anyway, so the creature rewards characters who think to look in the odd corners and hard-to-reach crevices that these creatures like.

Of course, this is all extra detail the I've created to use the monster in my world, but the same really applies to any monster, doesn't it?

Final note: My campaign makes use of the Elder Gods/Far Realm type scenario. Abberations are linked to the Elder Gods, or are their spawn. The ethereal filcher gives me a "soft" abberation less in tune with its creators and more in tune with the world it lives in. The creature looks like an abberation, but it acts almost like a fey. :confused:

As far as the ethereal marauder goes, though...blech. :( Does nothing for me.

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