Little is known about the resen spores other than that they can infest many types of creatures - humans included - with a condition often simply known as infestation. Lesser cases can be as simple as the parasitic fungus using the host as a means of transport and spreading of spores, while more severe cases can have more serious results such as large patches of the fungus covering and deforming the body and, most horrifyingly, the parasite taking control of its host's body.
Cases of resen infestation have been reported all over the continent of Arad throughout history, though due to the efforts of several organizations they are mostly contained - indeed, many in the more sheltered areas of the world believe the reports to be exaggerated or completely fabricated. Unfortunately, a massive outbreak has been reported to be spreading largely unchecked in the Lost Lands of western Arad, being part of the reason the Quarantine continues to be maintained.
Little is known regarding the ultimate motives of the resen spores. The most commonly-perceived goal of the spores is to take control of their hosts for some purpose. Infested creatures will often band together in "nests", likely in efforts to concentrate fungal growth as the spores feed off their hosts. Some infested creatures will go immobile and continue to produce fungal growth until they are completely enveloped, others will stay mobile and perform various tasks - digging and tunneling are commonly observed. Yet others seem to still have a tenuous grasp of their old life, and will stumble about in a pale imitation of who they once were. Nearly all infested creatures are hostile to those perceived to be beyond the influence of the resen, and will attack intruders via any means available to them.
- Patches of fungus growing on the skin
- Inability to focus or think straight
- Constant indescribable dreams
- Feeling compelled by foreign urges
The factors determining a host's susceptibility to resen infestation are not yet understood. One member of a species could become infested while another - even from the same parent as the former - might appear to be immune, either partially or fully. Severity of exposure is likely to play a significant part, however. One might be safe simply being in the presence of a single infested creature or spore-producing fungal structure, but if said individual were to venture into a nest with a higher concentration of spores in the air, they may well risk infestation. Of course, there may be more to it than simple concentration of spores in the area - researchers simply have not been able to conclusively determine any other factors.
Very early stages of resen infestation can be treatable, thanks to medicines and surgical techniques developed by healers in Tatlhuecatn. However, once the infestation takes root - usually a matter of hours or days - there is no known cure.
One commonly-held belief is that emberberries may have some properties that can strengthen one's resistance to the effect of the spores. Several communities will, in times of worry over threat of resen influence, distribute various foods, drinks, and elixirs containing emberberries and emberberry extracts to the population. Experts remain skeptical, but see no reason to discourage the practices.
Social Status of the Afflicted
Those known to be infested by resen spores are swiftly exiled from their communities (if not put to death first), as it is widely believed that all infested hosts emit spores that threaten to infest the rest of the community. Infested corpses tend to be thoroughly burned in an attempt to prevent further spread of spores, and any remains taken far away from population centers. Such disposal duties are often given to criminals or others who are deemed more or less worthy of exile, as they are usually not allowed to return after handling the infested individual or corpse.