Many merrow remain detached from their companions.

Overview

The merrow are touched by the realm of Day, a realm of reason and shining light where sky and ocean merge. They are rational, calm, curious people who are fascinated by the complexity of the cosmos.

Merrow prefer roles that allow them to remain principled and detached. They are at home in the Conclave - some of the Empire's most brilliant magicians have been merrow - but they also flourish in the Synod, where their calm reason allows them to judge others impartially. A few merrow have a fascination for economics but many find trade and commerce prosaic. Few merrow are effective battle leaders, they often lack the charisma and passion to motivate soldiers, but they do make effective generals, having a ready mastery for strategy and tactics. The passion and oratory required of politics, as well as the inevitable grubby compromises, often vex them.

The merrow lineage is intended to appeal to not only players who want to create scholastic, intellectual or magician character concepts, but also to anyone who enjoys gathering information. Spies, scouts and loremasters of all types all make good merrow characters.

Sobriquets

Other terms for merrow, both within the Empire and in other parts of the world, include: Tritons, Merfolk, Fendwellers, Vodyanoi

What they are not

  • Emotionless robots: Although merrow are calm and cerebral, they still experience the full range of human emotions and none of them have any difficulty identifying, understanding and sympathising with human emotions in other people.
  • Fish people. Merrow may have gills, finned ears, barbells, and other piscine features but these these features are designed to give them an otherworldly look, and enhance their calm and cerebral demeanour. Merrow are not fish, nor are they related to other creatures that live in the sea like crabs, jellyfish, squid, or similar.

Iconic trapping

Each lineage has an iconic trapping; in the case of the merrow it is gills. This is the most common physical mark for lineaged characters but they are not a required element. If you do not have the iconic trapping, however, you must have at least one of the other physical trappings associated with the merrow lineage.

Gills

Gills are the definitive trapping of a merrow. These need to be represented by prosthetics, as make-up lines drawn onto the skin are not identifiable enough as gills. Gills should be in pairs on either side of the face or neck, or in some rare cases both.

Other trappings

In addition to gills there are a number of physical trappings that mark someone as being of the merrow lineage. If you want to phys-rep one of the trappings with a slightly different technique or style to the ideas suggested here then that is absolutely fine. If you want to use different trappings to the ones listed then you should email us.

Barbels

Many merrow have barbels. Barbels are hanging tendrils around the mouth, like those of a catfish, the moustache of a Chinese dragon, or even something suggestive of D&D illithid facial tentacles. You will need to use a prosthetic to create barbels.

Mottled Skin

Some merrow have patches of mottled skin that are light or dark blue. This can range from patches of mottling or discolouration to a whole body effect. Make-up can be used to create this effect. If you are adopting this trapping for your character you should either paint or cover all visible skin or else design the areas that are coloured to make it clear that you have mottled skin - do not paint your entire face in one solid colour and then leave your neck and ears unpainted.

Scales

Merrow may have areas of their body that are covered in thin blue scales, like the scales on a fish. You can achieve this effect with make-up or prosthetics; in the latter case it is a good idea to paint the skin around the scales in a matching colour to blend them in.

Blank Eyes

Merrow eyes often contain no distinct iris or pupil and are either entirely white or entirely black. Cosmetic contact lenses can be used to achieve this. The iris should be the normal shape but should be entirely white or black.

Bulging Eyes

High lineage merrow sometimes have large protruding eyes that bulge out of the skull sockets. These eyes are usually entirely white or black in colour. This is a very hard effect to achieve but can be done using lenses that cover the eyes which are set into a prosthetic or domino mask worn on or over the upper face.

Crest

Some bald merrow have a crest of protruding skin over the centre of the head, like the crest of a newt. The best way to do this is usually with a prosthetic skull cap but if you are naturally bald you may be able to attach a prosthetic crest directly to your skin.

Fins

Some merrow have wide, fin-like ears. A few merrow have fins: crests of skin that hang down from the arms. It may be possible to create these effectively using costume or prosthetics.

Webbed Fingers

Some merrow have webbed fingers. This may be possible using thin thin gloves that have been adapted or specially made prosthetics that fit between the fingers.

Blue-green Hair

A few merrow have been born with blue-green hair. This can be achieved with a wig or dye. In a few extreme cases some or all of the hair is replaced with long thin blue-green tentacles.

Luminous Patches

A small number of merrow have a few spots or lines of mottled skin that emit dim light. Only mottled skin is affected in this way, and it is only small, thin glowing marks on the skin that are affected - never the whole area. The effect should be discreet and can be achieved with dots or brush-strokes of luminous or light-capturing paint.

Not Trappings

Angler-fish Lures

Merrow are not fish people; they cannot have angler-fish lures.

Gallery

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Webbed fingers and fins
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Scale patches, gills, and fins

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Roleplaying

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Merrow can be very single minded
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Merrow seek rational explanations for events
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Merrow are by no means joyless or humourless.

</picturecolumn> Merrow blood influences the character of the one who possesses it. Not every merrow expresses these effects to the same degree, but characters who demonstrate these roleplaying trappings possess stronger lineage than those who do not.

Merrow are curious

They want to know things. Some are experts – they are fascinated by an area of understanding and seek to master it. Others are polymaths and want to know absolutely everything. Merrow tend to be split between those who like to study books and discuss knowledge and those who prefer to be active in the world testing things and trying out new ideas.

Merrow are calm

Merrow are far from emotionless, but they tend to experience their own emotions in a more detached way than many humans. They are conscious of them, but not moved by them. As a result they tend to assume a calm demeanour and are rarely if ever overcome with emotion. This emotional detachment means that some merrow must make a conscious effort to be a part of events as they happen, otherwise they find themselves simply observing. A merrow at a banquet for example, may find themselves watching and analysing the conversations happening around them rather than taking part.

Merrow are cerebral

All merrow tend to analyse things, looking to understand what is happening and why. They seek to find a rational explanation for things and like to test theories and ideas to see if they are correct. They enjoy games of skill and finesse and dislike games of chance. Many merrow find the idea of things beyond their rational understanding or ability to control frustrating and unpleasant.

Merrow are focused

Some merrow are very single-minded. They pursue the things that interest them with stubborn doggedness, but find it difficult to show interest in other matters, no matter how important they are to others. They may even become oblivious to the things that do not interest them. Merrow fixate on goals as well as ideas or problems, allowing them to focus very intently on their objectives when they choose to.

Merrow have a quiet demeanour

Merrow don’t have to whisper but they often express their cerebral nature by speaking in a calm, low voice. This effect can be enhanced by remaining still and avoiding hand gestures and large body movements while talking. This cannot be your only trapping - you must have at least one physical trapping as part of your lineage.

Merrow are relaxed in water

Merrow feel calm and relaxed underwater. They don't panic as others might when submerged, and all their bodily functions slow when they are underwater. This quality gives them a unique ability to survive in water for long periods of time.

Merrow may be overwhelmed by the day realm

Some merrow become so obsessed with the pursuit of knowledge that they lose sight of anything else. Often the subject of the obsession is esoteric or irrelevant to the human experience. They quickly find themselves unconcerned with the interests and welfare of others. They are uncaring and unmoved by suffering and may perform horrific experiments to expand their knowledge or watch dreadful events out of interest as to how they will play out.

Deep Silence

The merrow boon makes them feel at home in water. Coupled with their gills, this means they are able to exist underwater for much longer than an equivalent human. Because of this many merrow live their lives on or in the water. Given the nature of many of their physical trappings, merrow also tend to be excellent swimmers. They can engage in feats that most other humans would find amazing, surviving for long periods of time underwater when exploring ruins or diving for sunken treasure, and there are many stories of those with merrow blood being the sole survivors of shipwrecks or floods.

Despite their advantages, merrow cannot live their lives underwater; there are no submerged towns populated entirely by merrow. Spending extended periods underwater is still reasonably hostile - vision is impaired, movement is difficult, it is hard to communicate, and very difficult to actually do anything. Likewise, even though they have gills they are still creatures of the surface world - even the highest lineage merrow must come up for air every few hours. Still, the fact that they find being submerged in water calming and restful means that many merrow like to make their homes near open water - or bring the water to them if they live in places where this is impossible. There are plenty of examples of Freeborn merrow creating artificial swimming pools in the arid grasslands of the Brass Coast, of League citizens flooding basement rooms, or of groups of Highborn merrow who meet regularly at the public baths to relax and meditate.

This trait has few practical applications during the game, but may help shape your character or your background. In very rare circumstances a quest or encounter may be easier for a merrow, or might rely on the ability to travel underwater for a long distance as part of the narrative.

Merrow Life

Merrow children

Despite their appearance, merrow are as warm-blooded and mammalian as any human. They reproduce like any other human, they give birth to live offspring and all have at least some body hair. The only sign of the lineage in new born children is usually faint gills on the side of the neck (these may be phys-repped using make-up). It is very rare for children to show any more traits of the merrow lineage than this initially. As they grow older, most merrow children who spend time in water find that their lineage continues to grow stronger, with their gills becoming pronounced and scales and webs appearing in some cases.

Imperial Merrow

Merrow find a special place in a few nations of the Empire.

  • Marchers tend to treat merrow with suspicion, finding them cold and too clever by half. As a result most merrow born in the Marches gravitate to the fens of Bregasland where they can find acceptance as part of the community of Fendwellers.
  • The Reckoner guilds of the League are dominated by those of merrow and naga blood.
  • Merrow children from the Brass Coast are often sent to be raised in Urizen, in the belief they will have a happier life.

Becoming a merrow

  • The eternals Kimus and Sinokenon can both offer boons to allow a character to gain the merrow lineage
  • The steading of Glimmerwater can provide access to a lantern with origins in the Day realm over downtime that will grant an unlineaged human the merrow lineage

Viziers of Kimus have in the past offered a small crystal known as a concentration of light. They have been known to offer a crystal as payment for an intense debate on such topics as perception of the self, the nature of time, and what change comes about from experiencing significant events. Some unlineaged people who sleep grasping one of the crystals in their hand wake up the next day with the merrow lineage, the crystal having disappeared without a trace.

The servitors of Sinokenon are able to offer the use of the vial of the apex to mortals who have been able to explain their understanding of Loyalty, and provide evidence of their commitment of progressing to perfection to a satisfiable extent. Pure water drunk directly from a vial of the apex will see most unlineaged adults develop the merrow lineage over the course of the next twelve hours.

Downtime
The Glimmerwater steading in Eastring, Therunin rests in the centre of one of the region's many bayous. One of the long dead vates of the steading received a boon from an eternals of the Day realm in the form of a marvellous living wooden lantern. The lamp allows an unlineaged adult who studies and meditates by it's steady golden light for several days may begin to manifest merrow lineage, assuming they are able to cultivate a certain degree of calm focus. Once the lineage begins to manifest, one must remain in the light until it has finished doing so - a process that takes at least a week. Recently recovered from a waterlogged ruin, the merrow of Glimmerwater steading have installed it in a partially flooded Day regio, and offer advice and support to those who seek ought the profound transformation it offers.

Inspirations

Inspiration for merrow might draw on any of the historical or religious philosophers like Aristotle or Confucius. Historical and literary scientific figures like Marie Curie, Ada Lovelace, and Dr Frankenstein are good as are masters of deduction and reasoning like Sherlock Holmes, William of Baskerville, Cadfael, or the mentats from Dune. While Star Trek's Vulcans are an obvious inspiration, brilliant technical musicians like Johann Sebastian Bach are also great merrow characters, as are calculating spymasters like Stella Rimmington, calm warriors like Li Mu Bai from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, or a legendary strategist like Pallas Athena.

H. P. Lovecraft's deep ones, or perhaps more properly the inhabitants of Innsmouth, are also something of an inspiration for merrow. Fans of Lovecraft and his successors can be mysterious or sinister deep ones and play up the alien and magical elements. People who don’t like Lovecraft can emphasize the calm, focused celestial bureaucracy elements and play up the ordered and cerebral parts of the merrow nature.

Useful Links

Merrow Images

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Further Reading

General Information

Lineages