At a glance: The Merfolk (Known by MANY other names: Mer People, Mermaids, Mermen, Ocean Nymphs <they have no relation to Nymphs> The Sea Fae <they have no relation to the Fae or Fairies> and the list goes on) are a water dwelling people living in great numbers on many worlds across the multiverse.
Appearance: The Merfolk are generally a beautiful people. (+1 to Charisma) They appear as Human from the waist up and fish from the waist down. The fish part can be of any fish type, including shark, eel, dolphin, and almost anything else from the sea. There are even those with octopus, squid, and even lobster like tails. The men and women both tend to grow their hair long. Likewise, both sexes tend to be quite fit and muscular. However, they do come in all colors, shapes, and sizes like most of the races.
Mer People do not wear clothing, in general, while in the water, but they do have a love of fashion when they are out of the water and will wear anything that pleases them. There is a tradition among the Merfolk to wear large jewelry, especially necklaces. Most of these necklaces are enchanted to instantly dry a Mer person when they leave the water and place a suitable outfit upon them. This magical gimmick was invented by the Merfolk, and the necklaces (and bracelets), often called “Quick Change Jewelry”, that can perform this trick are much sought after as gifts, and by those simply looking to have another instant outfit available for whatever reason. Delegates of the Merfolk who travel to the land often usually wear more than one.
We should address a huge misnomer here that Mer People are unable to travel out from the water, being stranded upon reaching the shore unable to move. This is simply not true. Mer People have 3 main forms of locomotion on land. The majority (60%) are able to “slither” on their long tales in much the same way a Naga would. Mer People have very long tails, much longer than conveyed in many of the legends that depict them. So, when they come up on land they simply “Stand Up” and slither on the back half of their tail. This takes some coordination and has a learning curve. Mer Parents can often be found on the shores in the early mornings teaching their children this technique. This type of locomotion can be used indefinitely but of course can be painful if they must travel long distances especially across rough terrain. To remedy this many Merfolk with frequent alternative transportation as much as possible, such as cars, rickshaws, and even horseback. They also have their own forms of Magi-Wax and Psi Polish they use that can allow them to slither around for a full day with little to no discomfort. Mer People who travel by this means are sometimes called “Tail-Hoppers” for their tendency to “hop” a little when standing up and adjusting themselves to “walk”
The next group making up about 30% of Merfolk are “The Soaring.” These Merfolk possess the ability to fly at will! They can at no magical cost emerge from the water and begin flying to their destination. This ability is quite amazing allowing the Mer person to fly (10’ high per level, 10 mph per level) to great heights and great speeds.
Finally, we come to “The Land Lovers” which make up about 10% of the Merfolk, and they are called such because they can literally sprout legs when they come on land! With in moments (a single action) The Mer person’s tale splits and in its place will be human legs. (and genitals) These Merpeople can easily pass as human and often do. One of the greatest secrets of the Mer people is they make some of the most amazing spies in the multiverse!
Merfolk on land must consume a lot of water and salt. They are always “sipping” on water and nibbling salty snacks. They consider potato chips and pretzels to be the pentacle of Human culinary achievement. Decanters, thermoses, and bottles that hold vastly more than their volume are popular and almost always on a Mer person’s side. These “Deep Thermoses” are also very popular with other races, as they make it easy to carry about 10 gallons of water or more. This being said most Merfolk prefer moist environments and abhor deserts. On average a Mer person is most comfortable if they can drink at least a glass of water every hour, with several salty snacks throughout the day. Want to make friends with a Mer Person? Bring them an ice-cold water and a salt coated pretzel. Friends for life. 😊
One last note on appearance is some Mer people do have secondary oceanic like traits. Commonly fins, either on the forearms or as a dorsal fin, pointy ears, claws, shark like teeth, even fisheyes. These Merfolk are often self-conscious about their secondary traits. Some embrace them.
Powers and Abilities: Beside what is listed above the Merfolk possess a wide range of other skills, powers, and abilities. They can breathe underwater and on land. They can dive to incredible depths with no ill effects. They possess incredible speed and dexterity underwater (base for most is 30mph, + 10mph per level, and +2 Dex while underwater) They have magical voices that move thru the water with the clarity air and possess incredible hearing in both range and distance. Some even possess sonar.
They surprisingly are not barred from any form of elemental magic but receive the greatest bonuses in the use of water elemental magic. They have also invented several forms of their own Water, Siren, and Weather Magic.
All Merfolk have a natural empathy with creatures of the sea, and most will treat them as one of their own kind. Hungry sharks will pass them by with only a glance. Some take this ability to a much higher level being able to actively speak to creatures of the sea and compel them to do what they want. These Merfolk are called “The Trident Speakers” because of the Trident like mark that appears on their tongues when their powers emerge.
There are a VERY small portion of the Mer people that live in fresh water. They are kind of the “backwoods step-cousin” the Merfolk don’t like to talk about. They are often called, “The River Kin” though they live in any freshwater area including lakes, ponds, swamps, rivers and more. They don’t have the charisma of their ocean dwelling relatives (-1 to charisma) and almost all of them have multiple secondary “fish” characteristics. They are usually angry and territorial, but not always. Those who live near the ocean are often the most kind and helpful. The further into land you go the surlier and more aggressive they tend to become. They are unusually strong (+1 to strength) and delight in contests of strength and endurance. If they challenge you be wary, they are known to eat the losers of such contests, and many groups are rumored to be cannibalistic.
History: When the Merfolk finally came forward in the Elysium one of the most astounding things the other races learned about them was the sheer size of their population. The Merfolk seem to exist everywhere. In nearly every universe, in nearly every ocean. The numbers the Merfolk reported for their multiverse population startled many other races.
This is largely because Merfolk were some of the first to begin traveling the multiverse. Their water magic allows some of them to create Water Portals that can cover immense distance instantly simply be swimming thru. This magic was adapted very early on to travel to other worlds, and then eventually other universes.
With seemingly limitless resources and no real competition they advanced quickly as a society and built fabulous underwater mega cities. They created amazing art, music, theater and more. They love singing more than anything else. They developed powerful magics that could control the waves, the tides, and even the weather. They often lived lives of ease and comfort.
They would sometimes go to land. But in the early times there was no one there but them. Sometimes the animals in the woodlands by the beaches would come and frolic with them but the land was a place of little interest to them. Then man came. If there is one race that can challenge the Mer people in population it may be the Humans, who also seem to be everywhere.
When the Merfolk first met man they must have seemed like gods to them. The humans were primitive and often barely inventing fire and the Merfolk already had thriving populations and large cities under the waves. When the Merfolk first found man living on various worlds they approached them cautiously. But over time this changed slightly. The Merfolk could not help but be fascinated by these curious people. Some secretly began meeting with the humans on the shore. They would teach them, or usually sing to them. The Merfolk LOVE to sing for an audience. But as the humans grew bolder they would often attempt to attack, capture, and kill Merfolk. Humans grew to be fearful of them because they were different. Stories rose up that their voices were enchanting men and women away from villages, and many a Mer person had their throats slit for it. Soon the Merfolk themselves grew fearful and withdrew themselves back to the oceans. But the Humans would soon some to them.
The Merfolk soon saw the Humans building boats and then massive ships to travel across their seas. At first, they were just cautiously amused by this but then the Humans brought war to their seas. The Humans would fight each other in sweeping navel battles that erupted the sea into a cacophony of noise and lights and pollution that sank down to their cities. The Merfolk began to grow angry. Some of the more aggressive of their kind began attacking ships on their own. Or setting fire to ships docked in sea cities near them. But the Human wave was unstoppable.
The ships continued to come and with them more pollution, more noise. The Merfolk withdrew further into their shell, and on most worlds contact with the humans was forbidden. This of course didn’t stop some Merfolk from interacting with humans in various ways creating even more legends of their people.
Eventually though the Merfolk saw they could wait no more. The Humans were polluting the waters at a startling rate and more than that they had their own cities now. It was time for the Merfolk to try to get to know these people. The Merfolk had always been very strongly connected to the elemental plane of water but over time they began giving part of that connection up to allow them to have a better connection to the land. Their tails lengthened allowing them to stand upright and move on land, and they began gaining the ability to fly, and in some cases to grow their own legs and walk about as the humans did! These “Land Lover” Merfolk were the first sent by the Mer Kingdoms to walk among the humans. Their great beauty allowed them to seduce many humans and learn much about them. At this time the Mer people’s technology and magic still far outclassed the humans own, so they found hiding themselves and moving among them in secret easy. And what they found surprised them. A lively industrious people much like their own. The Merpeople who loved art, fashion, theater, and above all music and singing, found the human’s culture to be beautiful and bright. They could not get enough.
From here the “history” of the Merfolk varies wildly. Whereas all Merfolk share a very common early history their latter history depended very much on what kind of humans they lived with on their home worlds. On some worlds the Mer people and the Humans built strong bonds and lived together peacefully and shared art, music, technology and magic. On other worlds they had war with the humans. Often wars so intense one completely would kill off the other. These were the 2 extremes nearly every other imaginable outcome existing in between. And of course, their existed Mer Kingdoms on many worlds without humans. The Elves, Sliders, Dark Dwarves, Swafts, and almost every other race all have some legends of Merfolk living in their oceans. It should be noted however that for whatever reason MOST Mer Kingdoms tended to develop on worlds also populated by humans. Its another one of those “quirks” of the multiverse that seems to have no explanation.
In their more present history the Mer people have become their own space faring, multiverse spanning race. They build beautiful crystalline, almost glasslike ships, with entire decks that always remain flooded . They have come forward as one of the major races in the multiverse and are ready to do their part in the fight against the Oblivion. They have proven themselves to be a kind and generous people with a love for pop culture and entertainment in all forms. Some of them, especially the Land Lovers and Soaring have taken to adventuring throughout the universe with other adventurers. They are stalwart companions and loyal friends both in and out of the water.
About the illustration: Here we have another random sketch page but at the bottom left we have a young Mer girl learning to stand up on her tail. The Tail-Hoppers must practice most of their young lives in order to be able to eventually one day “walk” on land.
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