The Merfolk

Family Structure | Half-los | Physical Description | Society | Return Home


As a race, the people of the sea themselves are referred to as Merfolk, the males as mermen, and the females as merwomen.

Physical Description

Skin of face, neck, palms, soles, underarms and groin is leathery. From these areas scales fan out to cover the rest of the body. Skin color varies as widely as the coloring of tropical fish, encompassing anything from muted and mottled shades of black, green and blue to accents of brilliant white, yellow, turquoise or crimson. Hair is nearly always worn long -- sometimes braided or beaded -- and is commonly (naturally) streaked in lighter shades of the predominant body color. Facial features tend to softer curves and planes than humans. The shape of the eyes is more round, the nose flatter. They do not possess finger- or toenails. Hands and feet are webbed.

The Merfolk possess a unique internal structure with two separate but complementary pulmonary and cardio circuits which allow them to breathe in water or on land. Their gills are located below and just behind their somewhat pointed ears, but out of the water these gills seal up into barely noticeable slits that may be mistaken as scars. Their land-oriented systems are not as efficient as their underwater systems, causing their lips and extremities to take on a blue tinge when in use. While Merfolk have the ability to take to land for brief amounts of time, it is something they detest. Without the support of the water, they feel slow and cumbersome and are at a disadvantage. Too long out of the water and they will sicken and die.

The eyes of Merfolk are unique. While the structure is basically the same as humans, the lens is larger and has a greater density. They focus by moving the lens forward and backward. Other differences include a clear protective shield (a nictating eyelid that is slightly bioluminescent) in addition to regular eyelids, a greater sensitivity to light, a slower adjustment to new light levels, and a consistency in color -- they are always nearly black.

The voices of the Merfolk have often been described as 'silvery' or 'fluted', though this does not discount an occasional deeper timbre among the males. It is a rare treat indeed for land-walkers to hear a group of them singing.

The build of Merfolk tends to be slight -- the males not more than 5'6" and 110-130 pounds, and the females averaging about 5'3" and 95-115 pounds. They are slender, graceful creatures and can move through the water at great speeds.

Merfolk are omnivorous.

Clothing such as land-walkers affect is usually non-existent and considered far too restrictive. Physical adornment, beyond their caste tattooing, runs the gamut and might consist of anything, including necklaces, torques, earring, bracelets, belts, armbands, anklets -- all form-fitting, as loose items are dangerous and easily lost.

The above description accounts for the greatest majority of Merfolk, but it must be remembered that there are several different subspecies of the race, ranging from Moraeans (half eel) to Molluskians (half octopus) and so on. Generally, members of the subspecies are more reticent -- and more rare -- than their humanoid kin. They are very seldom seen close to the habitations (floating or stable) of Men. Along with rumors of the existence of these odd creatures is talk of a race of sea-gypsies with a trace of merfolk blood in them. It is said that these gypsies despise the land, going ashore only twice a year for the Gathering (a mix of party, meeting of clan leaders, and inter-trading of clanmembers).

Maturing of the Merfolk

In an environment where everything is prey to the next biggest hunter, Merfolk reach adulthood quickly, usually by their fourth year. Merfolk life expectancy is 50-60 years. Sexual maturity is reached at 6-10 years of age. Each female typically bears a child every 2-3 years and the gestation period is approximately six cycles.

Family Structure

Matings are arranged by contract and only occasionally do Merfolk commit to lifelong partnerships.

Mer young are cared for by their mothers, and the females often congregate in pods, sharing the duties of child-rearing. At age four the child's caste and occupation are chosen by the viljanen (council of elders - see Society. below).

There is no segregation of male or female roles in Merfolk society except as dictated by physical nature. Merwomen are highly valued for their ability to bear children, and pregnant women are granted ojaniemi - a temporary pardon or waiver from class distinctions that lasts until one year after their child is born.

Society of the Merfolk

Ruled by the hereditary Devvol monarchy (currently King Cyyroidius Devvol), Merfolk observe strict class distinctions. Progress and personal achievement throughout life are displayed in beautiful, colorful tattoos on their faces. A basic symbol delineates class, and more elaborate ones show stature within that class.

The term ahti (meaning "estate" or "social standing") refers to the division of Merfolk society into six separate classes:

  1. the laulaja, warriors, princes and kings - in other words, the nobility
  2. the taipale, record keepers, teachers and exponents of the law
  3. the elonen, priests and religious followers
  4. the sulku, farmers and merchants
  5. the parras, manual laborers, artisans, masons, etc.
  6. the ylänne, castless - usually children and youths before occupation/profession is determined

Merfolk castes are differentiated by rituals and beliefs that pervade their daily existence. Caste is determined by one's profession as decided by the viljanen (council of elders) and deeds, and not by one's birth. Changes in standing can be attained through exceptional personal accomplishment and achievement.

Mer craftsmen are considered the "true artists". They are thought to possess superior intellect, vision, a full understanding of culture, and a wide ranging sense of ingenuity. They have the capacity to create and produce great works of art that can but rarely find their equal in world of the land-walkers.

Loss of social standing amongst the Mer is devastating. When the Mer lose their ahti they are stripped completely of any and all rank -- forever -- by three ritual slashes down each cheek. Such condemnation is not delivered lightly. It is forbidden to be repaired by any means, and those disowned in such a manner are treated as though they do not exist. There is no employment for them, no social interaction, no familial claims.

Because 'undersea' is uncharted by humans, the actual Merfolk population is unknown, neither is it known how far out to sea they might range. One group of Mer, the Irjelaani, have declared independence from Devvol rule and established themselves in the area of the islands of Southern Oceanuus, seeking a less rigid class system and culture. It is to these separatists that most of the Half-los owe their parentage. Shortly after the overthrow of the Devvol twins, Tahvanainen and Ulanen, the Irjelaani aligned themselves with Kili Bashar and his government.


Half-Los are of part merfolk lineage and part human lineage. The origin of the name is uncertain, but it is thought to have come about from reference to being from "half below the water." While the Mer gene is dominant, it tends to manifest in the Half-Lo's coloration, although some Half-Los exhibit tiny scales which can cover all or part of their bodies. Hair and eyes can vary greatly, encompassing all Human and Mer traits. Gill-less, they are required to breathe air, though they are able to hold their breaths for an extended period of time.

Half-los are able to breed with human, merfolk, and other half-los. The original Mer parent of a Half-lo must be from the humanoid species of Merfolk, and not one of the subspecies, nor is it possible to cross-breed with other non-humanoid sea life.


For more information on the Mer, contact:

The Oceanuus Region Leader

Family Structure | Half-los | Physical Description | Society | Return Home