About the GazeEdit
The Gaze. Though the concept of ‘natural’ psionics are something of a hot-button topic in the scientific community these days, multiple creatures in the Forest exhibit the ability to manipulate their surroundings (or other nearby minds) through the power of their own minds or consciousness. The Gaze is one such creature.
This fungus prominently features a large, soft, mucous-colored, lightly pitted bulb held aloft by a rough bark-like stalk, overall resembling a large, mutated eyestalk. Numerous smaller orange bulbs, irregular in shape and size, cover both the stalk and the fungal flesh around the bulb – these function, peculiarly, as ‘seeds’, or glassy hollow bulbs filled with sporelings.
The Gaze’s modus operandi is by infiltrating the minds of those that gaze into its psionic bulb and sifting through their memories, gaining nourishment by feeding off the ‘positive’ ones. ’Positive’ memories can be anything from an excellent birthday party to just having an okay sandwich for lunch. During feeding, the Gaze maintains ‘eye’ contact with the subject; to facilitate this, its psionic powers alter the target mind in such a way that they can no longer fight or move away from the fungus. The end result is a passive subject that lacks muscle control and the higher brain power to move away from the thing feeding off its memories. After a short while, the Gaze releases its prey from its psionic influence, and all faculties return to normal within ten minutes.
Most of this has been observed through watching smaller Rot-critters fall under the watchful ‘eye’ of the Gaze (I can only imagine that eating slime or insects or whatnot make Rotbeasts happy). To discover the memory reading aspect, one brave Rotdelver had to take the plunge and risk their very mind to find out just what the prey of the Gaze experience. That brave Rotdelver? My wonderful research assistant, of course. She’s fine as of today, but every now and then she gets intense cravings for mushrooms.
Luckily for her, the Gaze’s psionic bulb is exceptionally tangy, and has the peculiar texture of spongecake – you just need to ignore the psionic echoing of screams it emits when you cook it. There’s more than just a few reasons Gaze aren’t that popular as a food, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t delicious. On the subject of reproduction, one thing that sticks out about the Gaze is that beings of higher intelligence, such as (most) Mothponies, seem to accelerate the ‘seed’-pod growing process. When a Moth is under the influence of a Gaze, one can visibly see the ‘seeds’ expanding and growing until they pop right out of the stalk. Immediately upon hitting the ground, these ‘seeds’ break open and a handful of young Gaze take root and start to grow. This can be exploited to harvest Gaze sporepods without having to pull out the tough, inedible stalks from what remains of the sporepod casing.
Isolating a Gaze plant is critical to farming one effectively, as multiple Gaze in one location will eventually starve and wither by attempting to feed off of each other; this is complicated by the fact that multiple Gaze spores are contained in a single seed pod, and detangling all of the tough roots can be a multiple-day endeavor, and less experienced mycologists can damage their sporelings beyond repair. As a result of this and the general unpopularity of hypnotic eyestalk mushrooms that scream when cooked there are very few domesticated Gaze fungi, though the more experienced greenhouses around the Valley often have one stowed away in a secluded room for the occasional harvest. Consumption of a cooked ‘seed’ results in light hallucinogenic affects (such as hearing running water, the sound of popcorn popping, and the soft drizzling of rain) as well as reports of profound nostalgia, particularly in those that have participated in a Gaze harvest.
I believe this concludes all the relevant information I have documented regarding the Gaze. At least this Rot strain lets you keep your bladder muscles, for the most part.