Quick in the water and very curious. Merfolk are very devout servants of their goddess, Melora and will protect every aspect of the watery home she has provided them from those who wish to destroy or take it.
Average Height: 4'' 10'-5'' 6'
Average Weight: 140-170 lbs.
Ability Scores: +1 to intelligence or wisdom, +1 to strength, +2 to dexterity or charisma
Languages: Common, Elven
Skill Bonuses: +2 Athletics, +3 Nature
Fey Origin: Your ancestors were natives to the Feywild, so you are considered a fey creature for the purpose of effects that relate to creature origin.
Water Breathing: You can breath underwater.
Change Form: You can use Change Shape as an at-will power.
Change Form Merfolk Racial Power
As you enter the water, your legs are instantly replaced by a strong fish tail.
Immediate Interrupt Personal
Trigger: You enter/exit a square with water or you become wet/dry.
Effect: Your swim speed changes to 8. The effect ends when you're on land tiles.
Merfolk are descended from a race of people who were fanatic worshipers of the Goddess of the wilderness and the sea, Melora. One day they were invaded by the Order of Dagon, which were trying to gain converts by force after their offers of plentiful fishing and gold were turned down. Before the attack, Melora heard the people's plea for help and changed their forms to escape to the sea. They were still met with opposition but they were able to leave with their lives intact. Melora led her people to a well defended reef where they would make their new home. This would become the ancient kingdom of Maestranda.
Over the generations, they have become isolationists, hiding from the watching eyes of the Order of Dagon and keeping their existence a secret from the rest of the world. That ended when some adventurous merfolk decided to leave the confines of their city and explore the outside. They were eventually discovered by some fishermen by accident and the whole world knew of their existence including the Order. The demon lord, with blood-lust and a desire for revenge, sent his army, the Deep Ones, on a rampage to ravage the city and slaughter every single mermaid and merman they could find. Everyone that could escape fled their home and scattered in different directions towards different oceans. Maestranda had fallen and nothing remains but ruins. At least that is what the historians and sages said what happened in the legends.
No one really knows if Dagon had anything to do with it or it was the work of a schism within the walls. Whatever the reason, the merfolk where divided into different tribes after their home was destroyed. Some have made deals with the sea hags to allow them to freely go onto land with new shape changing abilities. Others remained secluded in their own stretch of ocean, keeping intruders away as they believe the Deep Ones are still hunting them.
In most cases, merfolk tend to appear slender and athletic like the elves. Though, there are some cases where they have become musclebound after living in deeper waters with increased water pressure. Due to their amphibious lifestyles, they have an ability to change their forms to move over land or through water. In their land forms, they can stand to be about the same height as humans or a bit taller than the tallest halfling. Their forms in the water just have their legs replaced by a tail that is fish-like in appearance with smooth scales which vary in a wide spectrum of colors. Their complexion seems about the same as humans but seem more fair (tan in more tropical areas). Their hair color usually ranges from a deep raven through a multitude of other colors to a dirty blonde. Like elves, they have very little body hair and some of them have a habit of just letting it grow out. Their ears are outlined with fin-like extensions.
The males and females are given the terms mermaids and mermen. The mermaids have a more slender build than the mermen. Mermen have more muscular bodies and they have an extra pair of fins outlining the jowls of their chins.
Merfolk age at about the same rate as humans but live much longer than them. After reaching adulthood, they show little to no effects of age. They keep their mature youth throughout the rest of their long lives but seem to tire a bit nearing the end of it. After the second century, they begin to slow down and seem to relax more than usual and will progressively sleep longer through the days.
Attitudes and Beliefs
Almost without exception, merfolk believe Melora to be their provider and mother. They will be defensive and fanatic about it if they perceive a threat to her work. Many practice their worship of her by building shrines and temples inside undersea caves and it is popular for them to become clerics or bards to sing and give praise to their goddess. Some of them even go as far to believe that love is also a creation of Melora as it is a natural emotion among most of the races. This causes some of them to act a little bit like hopeless romantics and may act a little flirty at times. Others believe that all the natural world is provided by the goddess to be their home after the loss of their old one and they want to explore every inch of it to learn about it, making them very curious about the cultures of other races (if they're willing to talk with them) and the wilderness that surrounds them.
Since they developed a culture of isolationism, there are a lot of them that try to avoid conversation with other races. The majority show this as a form of being shy, trying to avoid eye contact and seeming to be very nervous. However, there are some that would instead show slight aggression. Only other merfolk or those who have gained their trust over time will have the pleasure of talking to one. On the other hand, there are also a lot of them who actually enjoy conversations and tend to ask a lot of questions.
If they see anyone wearing the symbol of Dagon, they will not hesitate to kill them where they stand. They have developed and extreme hatred of the Order and they all want them to pay for what they did to them. Though, every time they do kill at least one member, they move on to another town to avoid more of the ones that may come to find them. Anyone without the symbol is seen as an eventual friend to them.
Merfolk tend to form most of their societies around or within the seas and oceans of the world and the Feywild. Underwater, they form their villages within massive coral reefs and use the local flora and fauna to build their homes. There's a rumor that the homes they build are temporary as they actually grow their permanent homes from cultured corals that are later carved with chambers inside. On the shoreline, they don't have the same accommodations and are at a disadvantage without their corals. Their culture didn't make proper tools for using trees to provide housing so, they get their wood from parts of sunken ships.
The societies who live in the oceans tend to be very strict to their "no visitors" policy. They will attempt to imprison anyone who enters their borders or send a dragon turtle after those who seem to pose more of a threat. Dragon turtles provide a very important part to their way of life. Their shells floating above the waves provide a place for them to rest and, if an island forms on it, gives a place to build a village they can live in and travel the world's oceans as if it were a ship.
Merfolk in Rokugan
Merfolk in the Orient are often called Ningyo. They are not as nice or as curious as their western cousins and are more times more violent. They can be usually found either on the backs of Lung Wang (Dragon Turtle) or within the Dragon Palaces under the sea. In ancient times they were hunted for their flesh which was said to be poisonous but will bring immortality to those immune to it and their tears which rumors claim hardens into very rare and unique pearls. The hunts ended during one of the Golden Dynasties and Middle Shogunate Eras.
The biggest dream of a mermaid or merman's young life is always to be an adventurer. As children, they always love to surface to meet with people from the different continents and hear their stories of everything they've done and why they are traveling. Adventurers tend to become role models form them like any other hero, making them want to grow up to be like them and have their own stories to tell. They usually start their adventuring career at the young age of 16 when they gain the freedom to leave their homes without need of permission but if they were to leave the walls of their cities, they are to never return as they may be followed. Many things wish them ill and the Deep Ones are just one of them.
Bard: It is thought by many that the music of the merfolk bards is the most enjoyable to hear while traveling. Their songs tend to flow like waves on the water's surface. Sometimes its a relaxing melody that can soothe even the most enraged of dragons. Other times it would be a powerful requiem that will turn an army into an unrelenting force. Whatever the song, these bards tend to be become a great source of entertainment in the long journeys and are always requested to play a tune at the local taverns.
Cleric: If you thought merfolk were hopeless romantics before then their clerics will certainly set you on the edge of insanity. They do more than just fantasizing about love stories. They also become matchmakers and often times try to force relationships together. They don't like it when people refuse and will threaten their lives if they don't make an agreement. The reason for this is that a merfolk cleric's favorite pastime is to host weddings and if they haven't had one in a long time, they tend to get edgy. Other times they give proper praise to Melora and will have bitter relations with those who destroy nature.
Druid: Some merfolk who love nature to the point of it consuming their lives end up becoming druids. Their animal forms tend to be along the lines of anything near their size that can swim though they prefer to become young dragon turtles as a rite of passage and to learn how to fight as one from the local dragon turtle that protects them.
Fighter: As long as they have a weapon at hand, a mermaid and merman can become a decent fighter. With added strength from all the swimming, their blows can become slightly more deadly. However without the support of the water, they sometimes have difficulty wearing heavy armor. They prefer to wear lighter armor to keep them mobile on land and water. Their favored weapon is the spear or trident for fighting.
Monk: With their new legs, merfolk will certainly want to be trained to fight with them along with their arms, so they journey to the mountaintops and alleyways to become monks in the monasteries there. They will sometimes return to the sea to form their own schools to teach the fighting style back home and also teach some new tricks they can use with their tails to make them into effective weapons. Just like other monks, they are very disciplined and tend to be very wise but they still have a desire to collect things to examine.
Rogue: With the merfolk's curiosity comes a slight bit of kleptomania. They can't help but grab anything they find interesting from other races as many of them are not seen by their culture. Lockpicking is a favorite hobby for them since they love to study the mechanics of locks which are absent in their watery home.
Wizard: Besides dealing with sea hags, merfolk wizards are also a source for the ability to shape change. Like other wizards, they spend a lot of time reading and testing the different methods of the uses of magic. They also make great alchemists, mixing components they've collected from reefs to make their potions.
Roleplaying a Mermaid or Merman
Here are some points to be considered while roleplaying a mermaid or merman.
Your curiosity knows no bounds. You always want to learn everything about the world around you. This may mean meeting new people and asking them many questions even if your culture tells you to limit your conversations with outsiders. You also can't keep your hands off of anything not native to your home and it can either lead you to great knowledge or trouble. Sometimes you may simply take a gem or two from a cavern's wall or you may accidentally examine and activate a trap. Your wandering eye both helps and hinders between allies and enemies.
The water may sometimes call to you. In long periods of time while on land, you may eventually feel a desire to jump into a lake, river, puddle, or tub that can't be ignored. Any form of water is the only reminder of your home and you feel addicted to it. You keep this addiction under control by keeping an extra flask with you or by spending some time in the water at least once a day.
The Order is hunting you. All your life, the Esoteric Order of Dagon wishes to hunt you down and take your head for their ever hungering demon lord. You don't know who is really with them and you may find it hard to trust those with you. However, if you do find anyone to trust, you will probably wish to stick with them for extra cover when you are found. But what will be your situation with the order? Will you keep running? Do you have the courage to fight back? Or, perhaps, you may wish to give up and join them? The choice is yours.
Merfolk Characteristics: Shy or irritable, curious, hyper, flirty, adventurous, good sense of humor, forceful, silly or serious, boastful or modest, fun loving, paranoid.
Merfolk Names: The names for both mermaids and mermen are similar to if not the same as those of Elves and Eladrin. Because of this, it is thought that they are descended from both races or maybe one that adopted their names.