Mushrooms are the main means of subsistence for those living in the caves of Exile. The fast-growing mushrooms that thrive in Exile with a minimal amount of light were created by the archmage Erika Redmark. They are farmed similarly to crops like corn and wheat on the surface.
Avernites have developed a variety of mushroom dishes, included mushroom soup, mushroom bread, fried mushrooms, candied mushrooms, and many tantalizing combinations of mushrooms with lichen and giant lizard meat. Mushrooms are also ground into a meal which is used in place of flour. They are fermented to create mushroom ale. Mushroom wine is produced as well, using a special breed of mushrooms developed by the Tower of Magi and grown around Almaria.
Mushrooms have many nutritional benefits and provide essential vitamins and minerals. Avernites who have returned to the surface have been found to be less susceptible to common diseases as well. For that reason, mushroom farming has begun in earnest all over the Empire, although much of it is concentrated in Krizsan Province and Karnold Province in Valorim.
Mushrooms are also used in a variety of weapon and military poisons, and certain alchemical formulas. Although mushroom poisons are not particularly potent, poisonous mushrooms can be lethal. Poisonous mushrooms, including many toadstools, have been cleared from most populated areas of Avernum, but still exist in the darker recesses of the caves. Any citizens planning to grow their own mushrooms should check carefully with an expert to make sure that they are growing an edible variety, as the alternative can be extremely unpleasant and gruesome.
Several magical varieties of mushrooms also exist, though they are much rarer. Healing mushrooms (such as Aescal mushrooms) have a restorative effect, and are sometimes used in alchemy. Hallucinogenic mushrooms release spores that induce wild hallucinations and eventually sleep in anyone who comes near them. These mushrooms have only been sighted in the Za-Khazi Run. Rarest of all, euphoric mushrooms cause an extreme feeling of peace and happiness when they are ingested. Their victims often become so fixated on the mushrooms that they are unable to do anything but search for more mushrooms.