Sporen are mammals, reptiles, and avians who have been infected with a virulent fungal infection generically called “The Spore.”
The Spore is typically inhaled into the lungs when there are heavy winds blowing from the direction of the fungal forests. It attaches in the lungs, and grows there, creating long, fluted colonies that pierce the walls of the lungs and get carried away in the blood. When the fungus reaches the brain, the fungus begins excreting chemicals that make the host creature extremely violent, immune to pain, and incapable of logic or reason. It also plays havoc with the central nervous system, causing creatures in the advanced stages of infection to lurch and careen erratically when they move.
In advanced stages, the spore takes over the body’s functioning completely. The creature itself has died, having suffocated as the lungs fill with the colonies, and the body has essentially become a puppet for the fungus, which continues moving the body about through mimicry of the brain’s messages to the muscles. In this stage, the mushroom-like fungal colonies are visible emerging out of the flesh, a telltale sign of a Sporen. When a host creature reaches this stage, Sporen become very dangerous, because they are singlemindedly searching for new creatures to infect. They attack by belching out a cloud of spore motes, and try to grab and hold down victims in order to most reliably deliver the blast.
Typically, the host body loses integrity and collapses soon after reaching this advanced stage. However, there have been reports of extremely advanced stages of infection where the fungus has managed to replace bodily functions with fungal counterparts. In these cases, the fungus itself seems to have its own locomotion, with attacks beyond the capabilities of the host creature. Worse, at this stage, multiple creatures can be consumed by a single, overriding colony, leading to a nightmarish amalgam of plant and animal life.
Effects on Everyday Life
Because of this infection, the civilized races have adopted some means of securing protection from the spore winds. From birth, when the winds start to blow, they all put on small filter masks over their faces to keep the spore from entering their lungs. Food and water are boiled before eating, and outer garments are dusted off in antechambers and left there before entering residences.
There is a commonly-available ritual for killing spore infections in creatures, but it does require for the creature to lie still, and is somewhat painful, so the communities tend to try to avoid infections rather than curing them after the fact.