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Quick in the water, very curious, and mischievous. Merfolk are very devout servants of their goddess, Melora and will protect their watery home she has provided them from those who wish to destroy or take it.

Racial Traits

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
Size: Medium
Speed: 5
Vision: Normal

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 Shape: You can use Change Shape as an at-will power.

Change Shape Merfolk Racial Power
As you enter the water, your legs are instantly replaced by a strong fish tail.
Immediate Interrupt Personal
Trigger: You enter a square with water or you become wet.
Effect: Your swim speed changes to 7. The effect ends when you're on land tiles.

Once thought to be related to humans, Merfolk are actually descended from a race of fey who were fanatic worshipers of Melora, goddess of the wilderness and sea. Historians named their anscestors "Sea Elves" from how much they focused on the oceans in their culture and for spending most of their time in it. The sea elves were located throughout the shorelines of the Feywild, building fishing villages where they allowed adventurers to stay and make trades. The exact origin of this race is not known, but it is believed there was a schism of beliefs within the Elf Kingdoms, which caused some groups to move closer to the seas.

One day they were invaded by a cult from the Abyss called the "Esoteric Order of Dagon". The cultists were trying to gain converts by force after their offers of plentiful fishing and gold were turned down. The reason why they were turned down was the condition of the so-called "Unholy Rites" to be taken after acceptance, an event so terrible that no one dares to mention it outside the Order. The Order began to invade every seaside village and killed those who refused to join them. Before the attack, the Sea Elves prayed to Melora for a way to have them escape and to be safe from Dagon's forces for all time. The goddess heard the people's plea and sent out her best clerics to change the forms of everyone and escape into the sea. They were still met with opposition and many lives were lost in the struggle but they were able to leave their approaching destruction behind. These would become the first merfolk born into the planes. 

Melora led her people to a well defended reef where they would make their new home. Together, they built a city that kept them concealed for a millennium inside a large camouflaged domed structure. From this point, the sea elves were declared to be extinct, though there may still be a few living in the present. No one knows what the great merfolk city was called or how big of an area it covered, but anyone can find its ruins in the Feywild's largest oceans. 

Over the generations after the city was founded, according to its written history, the merfolk became isolationists, hiding from the watching eyes of the Order of Dagon and keeping their existence a secret from the rest of the world to avoid any clues of their location. That ended when some adventurous merfolk decided to leave the confines of the dome to explore the outside. They were eventually discovered and caught by some fishermen by accident and the whole world (and worlds beyond) knew of them, including the Order. The demon lord, Dagon, with blood-lust and a desire for revenge, sent his children, the Deep Ones, on a rampage to ravage the city and slaughter every single mermaid and merman in sight. Everyone that could escape fled beyond the boundaries and scattered in different directions towards different oceans. Their civilization had fallen into ruin and an age of feudal tribalism began.

Some argue that Dagon may not have had anything. Whatever the reason, the merfolk where divided into different tribes after their home was destroyed and have become bitter with one-another. 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 and anyone who sees them might tell the tale.

Physical Qualities

In most cases, merfolk tend to appear slender and athletic like the elves. Though, there are times where they have become musclebound after living in deeper waters with increased water pressure. Due to their amphibious lifestyles from the help of magic, they have an ability to change into two forms to move over land or through water. In their terrestrial forms, they can stand to be about the same height as humans or a bit taller than the tallest halfling and they appear very much like elves or humans aside from a few visible differences. Their forms in the water just have their legs replaced by a tail that is fish-like in appearance with smooth scales and 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 the only hair they grow is on their head. Their ears are outlined with fin-like extensions that seem to reach out to a point.

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. Eventually, they will seem to sleep with no end and will die in the middle of this. Funerals are provided during this "death sleep".

Attitudes and Beliefs

Almost with everyone of their race, 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. If there is another they would revere, it would be the deity, Eadro, which has been all but forgotten in recent years.

Since being isolated from the rest of the world, there are a lot of them who avoid contact with other races. The majority show this by feigning shyness, working in playful mischief to annoy and drive off visitors, or sometimes being quite hostile depending how far they find you into their territory. Only other merfolk or those who have gained their trust over time will have the pleasure of have the company of one and even then they wouldn't be called "friends".

For adventurers encountering them, they should be prepared for trouble, because the young members of the tribe love to pull pranks on strangers. It still should be remembered that, though what they do may be cruel, they are never truly evil in any way. In fact, most groups encountered by adventurers are actually hunting or scouting party and sometimes their trips can last for days. This can make things for them very boring and the only entertainment they can find is from playing around with surface dwellers.

Differing communities of the merfolk are can be hostile to each other, but they may trade and provide tips for good spots to catch fish. In fact, despite their hostility or mischief toward many other outsiders, they never declare war or take part of it except when their way of life is threatened. Instead, they would much rather be sunning themselves on rocks in shallow water than to to take lives. However, there are those who merfolk do not trust at all and will show extreme prejudice if they see anyone within their presence that carries the wrong marks. For example, anyone wearing the symbol of Dagon, will make a travelling merperson not hesitate to kill them where they stand. They have developed hatred of the Order and they want them all to pay for their ancestors' suffering. After they kill at least one member, they have to move on to another town to avoid more cultists that may want revenge themselves. Anyone without the symbol is seen as an eventual friend to them and an amulet of Melora will make them a permanent ally.

Merfolk Communities

Merfolk tend to form most of their communities around or within the seas and oceans of the world and the Feywild where there is good fishing and hunting. Underwater, they form semipermanent 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 out of wrecked ships are temporary as they actually grow their permanent homes from cultured corals over the supporting wood. Once completed, an opening is carved for the entrance and the wooden skeleton of the interior is removed. On the shoreline, they don't have the same accommodations and are at a disadvantage without their usual methods. Their culture didn't make proper tools for using trees to provide housing so, they get their materials that are washed up on the beach or provided by passing traders.

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, while floating above the waves, provide a place for them to rest and, if rocks and shorelines form on the sides, gives a place to build a village they can live in and travel the world's oceans as if it were a ship. Dragon Turtles are also providers of knowledge since their great age has granted them a lot of wisdom, making it a living library.

Merfolk Adventurers

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. Many things wish them ill and may follow them back. They will be on their own from here and will try to find companions as soon as possible.

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 to smash their skulls with a mace 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. They will 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. Their favored form is the young dragon turtle since it is a rite of passage and a way to gain a longer life than most other Fey.

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, they wish to find you 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, mischievous.

Merfolk Names: The names for both mermaids and mermen are similar to if not the same as those of Elves and Eladrin.

Merfolk in the Orient

Merfolk in the Orient are often called Ningyo and they are not as mischievous as their western cousins and much 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, would make an entire community wealthy. The hunts ended during one of the Golden Dynasties and Middle Shogunate Eras.

Ningyo Components

Blood: The fey magic flowing through the blood of every Ningyo has been said to be a very good component for healing potions and other alchemical items. It is not advised, however, to take it straight. The effects of which will cause the consumer to become a ghoul, undead and always hungry for the flesh of the living.

Flesh: The flesh of the fish tail was once used as an ingredient in sushi for those who were lucky or unlucky to taste it. It is unwise to feast on this flesh and would seem like playing a deadly game of chance. The meat is very poisonous and very few are immune to it. Those who take non-lethal doses describe the feeling of being on fire. If the consumer is not immune, they were surely die instantly. There is no known antidote. On the other hand, if one of the lucky few does survive, legend says they will be gifted with eternal youth and longevity. It is not known if this is true or if any of this "few" is still living, but the ningyo flesh can be used as a component for rituals that increase the chances of survival in saving throws.

Internal Organs: Organs such as the heart, kidneys, and digestive system can be harvested as components for raise dead rituals and necromancy. If used for corpses in advanced stages of decay, ningyo organs in legends had the power to slowly regenerate the flesh of the body and raise the dead with all the memories they had before death. They are still undead and will only remain animated as long as they consume an organ of their choice from the living. If they don't eat anything for a certain amount of time, they will die again and return to their original point of rot.

((See Merfolk Variants for more information...))

What's a fantasy realm without these guys? Plus I wanted to give them justice and let them be adventurers too.

You can create your own race with this template: [link]

The Esoteric Order of Dagon and the Deep Ones are a product of Harris Philip Lovecraft's novella, "Shadow over Innsmouth", based in the Cthulhu mythos.

Edited the Change Shape swim speed to 7 instead of 8.
Add a Comment:
Jakegothicsnake Featured By Owner Oct 11, 2012
My merrows/merpeople have a very similar ability! Except when they become mobile on land, their tails merely split in two and become funtional like legs while still retaining the fins and scales. Basically scaly legs with fins for feet! lol But yeah, why didn't WOTC think of that for 4e merpeople? Merpeople don't even make an appearance in 4e! X_X
Wyvern-Master Featured By Owner Oct 11, 2012
Who knows? They just never thought of it I guess.
Jakegothicsnake Featured By Owner Oct 11, 2012
Wyvern-Master Featured By Owner Oct 11, 2012
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