Under the Sea
I'm going to be honest, when you said something was fishy I didn't think you meant it this way.
Merfolk are a race that lives in Fabulae's oceans. Known to live in the depths beneath the waters, few are seen on land due to their aquatic nature. As such, they became the base for many myths and legends, sometimes playing into said role as spirits of the sea.
From the waist up, Merfolk look like your average Human or even Triton. Some even sport fins for ears or having webbed hands. Their lower body is more akin to that of a giant fish, made out of fins and scales similar to most aquatic life. Depending on the area, the length can vary a lot, from stumpy tails to long eel-like lower halves.
As oceanic pressure gets worse the deeper you go, some Merfolk have adapted to live in such depths. Unlike their surface-dwelling cousins, their eyes have adapted to see in complete darkness. Some groups even are known to have transparent bits of skin showing their organs.
Certain variants that live in shallower waters have evolved to use their fins as feet. While still not as fast as most land creatures, it does make them able to somewhat strive on land. However, most remain in the swamps and mud flats to remain hydrated.
Genetics and Reproduction
Despite their fish-like nature, Merfolk reproduce like mammals akin to dolphins. On average, each pregnancy can produce one to two children at a time.
As such, Merfolk are also compatible with others such as Tritons or Humans. Although there is evidence they might be compatible with other races as well.
Ecology and Habitats
As an aquatic race, Merfolk live underwater or at least in humid environments. Since they lack any legs, many are forced to remain within oceans, lakes and rivers alike to get across. At best they have to rely on a wheelchair or other person to get them across land.
Without water, most Merfolk only last 48 hours on land. As such, it is important for to remain hydrated at all costs. Most inland Merfolk hence carry a bathtub of water with them for convenience.
Dietary Needs and Habits
What? You think we just eat kelp and seaweed? It's a fish eats fish life down here.
Although Merfolk are omnivores like Humans, their diet is mostly made out of fish. While most eat smaller fish, some have adapted to eat larger prey. As such, some Merfolk have evolved to eat meals up to half their size without needing to chew.
Geographic Origin and Distribution
Merfolk have been spotted across Fabulae, both in warmer and colder oceans. Typically, their societies and sightings seem to remain at the epipelagic zone. Others, meanwhile, go as deep as the abyssopelagic zone.
Merfolk also make up most of the population from the Plane of Water. There, most live on the landmasses floating amongst the endless oceans. Usually hiding in the coral reefs to avoid the larger predators of the realm.
Perception and Sensory Capabilities
To see in the darker regions of the ocean, Merfolk have adapted a low-light sight. Those living on the depths are known to have developed darkvision instead.
Symbiotic and Parasitic organisms
A lot of Merfolk have symbiotic relationships with other fish and sea life. Most of the time, this is just smaller fish cleaning their scales or living amongst them. Others, however, are used for things like farming or even transportation.
A more extreme relationship is that with a specific type of tongue-eating louse. By offering it to replace their own tongue, it lets them speak other languages. Some even are able to speak dead languages, found amongst Fabulae's ocean floors.
Civilization and Culture
Average Technological Level
Merfolk aren't actually that far behind when it comes to their technological advancements. Despite their lack of fire, they learned to work around the issues of their environment.
Most noticeable is their usage of hydrothermal vents. Through careful planning, they convert these natural exhausts into forges or cooking places. Most underwater settlements even use them as their centerpiece. And if they don't have access to them, they simply dig a "well" into volcanic veins to create a vent themselves.
Such volcanic activity also grants them access to obsidian tools. While the practise has been switched to more durable minerals, it is still used for its sharp edge. Hence an obsidian edge is often implemented in most of their tools and weaponry.
Common Dress Code
To make their clothes, Merfolk use similar methods for creating them as on the surface. By using a mixture of fish skins and aquatic plant life, they design their clothing. Females especially use bandages as tops to suppress any chest one might have. Usually to remain aerodynamic when hunting or swimming. Kilts and skirts are also common, mostly for interactions with the surface world.
The wealthier class of Merfolk does adorn themselves with sea silk. For them, they go more form over function, being known to get quite elaborate with designs. Accessories also tend to exist of swirling patterns, made from both gold and obsidian.
Common Myths and Legends
- Male Merfolk are the ones getting pregnant: Since some male fish carry their children, Mermaids are the ones who actually get pregnant.
- Mermaids can steal a person's voice: Some believe that a mermaid gets their voice from sailing women, stealing it downright for themselves.
- Merfolk have beautiful voices: While some are known to sing with gorgeous vocals, not all Merfolk are gifted with this amazing voice.
- Capturing Merfolk causes bad luck on sea: Some sailors that tend to steal Merfolk find themselves to get bad luck on the seas, which typically is caused by more Merfolk messing with them.
- Eating Merfolk flesh grants your immortality: A common rumour amongst eastern sailors is that eating Merfolk flesh can grant you immortality. Of course, this is not true, and many Merfolk as such avoid sailors as a precaution.
- Merfolk are the drowned souls of sailors: Some sailors believe Merfolk are born when a sailor drowns at sea, either that or they get eaten halfway by a large fish.
Interspecies Relations and Assumptions
Merfolk have been around for as long as mankind has traversed the seas. However, their interactions have been scarce at best. While many are aware of the surface world, few interact with them. Mostly due to their lack of land mobility. At best, they have become known through sailors seeing them, leading to the many known myths.
Some have formed alliances with fellow aquatic races such as Tritons and Locathah. Most even share settlements, working together to strive upon the ocean floors.
Some abyss-dwelling Merfolk do work together with the feared @sah. Most do this to maintain ground in the hostile depths of Fabulae's seas. While their hostility is exaggerated, there are reasons why people don't like to piss one off.
Merfolk are a mythical and abnormal race compared to most humanoids, seeing as their existence is known but not their way of living. They know as little about the surface world, often being sceptical but not uninviting to new ideas. It just takes some time to get acquainted with a whole other world.
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