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. 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.
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, Agatha Heterodyne 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 and a legendary strategist like Pallas Athena.
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.
Tritons, Merfolk, Fendwellers, Vodyanoi
- Gills. Gills are the definitive trapping of a merrow. These need to be represented by latex 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.
- Barbels. Many merrow have barbels. Barbels are hanging tendrils around the mouth, like those of a catfish, the moustache of an oriental 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.
- Inscrutable 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. A few merrow have fins or fronds: long 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.
- 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.
Minor trappings are alternative trappings that have been requested by players and which have been approved as part of the setting. They are considered to be rare and are always found in combination with one or more of the regular physical trappings; they should not be used by themselves.
- 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.
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 analyze 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 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. Coupled with their gills, 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.
- Merrow may degenerate into madness. 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. Their focus becomes obsessive and they 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.
Despite their appearance, merrow are as warm-blooded and mammalian as any human. They mate and breed just like humans do, 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.
Lines of the 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.
- Merrow children from the Brass Coast are often sent to be raised in Urizen, in the belief they will have a happier life.