Nixies (/ˈnɪksi/listen), more commonly called sea elves, are a subspecies of elf. Nixies are common on realms with large elven populations, where they live in the oceans, lakes, and large rivers.  

Physical Description

Nixies are physically very similar to elves, though adapted to living under water. The most immediately noticeable difference are their skin and hair, which take on coloration and patterns suitable to their environments. Those who make their homes in open ocean waters often have blue colors on their backs, while those in shallows and near the shore frequently have skin the color of sea foam all over. Freshwater nixies, both those who live in rivers and lakes, tend to be browish-gray, reflecting the waters they live in. Most striking among all nixies is the pale gray or white skin on their faces, chests, underarms, palms, front of the legs, and top of the feet. This color pattern makes nixies difficult to see when they swim through the water, providing effective countershading camouflage.   Nixies tend to have short or even no hair. Many cannot grow hair whatsoever and thus have completely bald heads. Those who do have hair tend to grow no more than an inch or two, as it slows them down while swimming. In most cases, nixie hair tends to be a darker color of their skin. Aside from these obvious traits, nixies also have long, slender arms and legs with webbed fingers and toes. These lengthy limbs and webbing help them swim faster in the water, which they do through long, easy strokes. They are not as slim or wiry as land elves, but rather have a little bit of fat to help insulate them in colder waters. Their ears are also noticeably smaller than most elves', being comparable to the small side of human ears, though they retain the pointed tip.   Despite popular belief, nixies cannot naturally breathe under water. Instead, they must surface roughly once an hour, at which point they take a single large breath. It's during these surfacings that they are most often seen by other species. In order to sleep, nixies enter a deep torpor where their metabolism, body temperature, and heart rate drop. This deep sleep allows them to remain underwater for a full sleep cycle, which like surface elves is four hours. While sleeping this way, nixies are virtually impossible to rouse and they can take up to ten minutes to fully wake. In rare events where nixies get trapped underwater, they can remain in this torpor for up to 24 hours safely.  


Nixies have senses which are comparable to land elves, though they are able to hear higher pitches and cannot hear lower pitches. Their voices tend to be higher pitched as a result. Their vision is adapted for underwater, so they have worse distance vision, but it is not debilitatingly so. Their sense of touch is also less sensitive than land elves, though this also makes them less susceptible to pain.  

Life Cycle

Nixies have nearly identical life cycles to surface elves, though their fertile cycles are not tied to the seasons. Instead, they are tied to the dynamics of the waters in which they live. For instance, many river dwelling nixies are fertile during annual flood periods, while ocean nixies during warm periods of warm-cold water cycles. These periods of fertility correspond with warmth, high water levels, or faster flows. Nixies can have children with surface elves. Their children tend to take more after their nixie side, though about 1 in 10 take after their elven heritage.  


Nixies tend to eat far more meat than their surface dwelling cousins, eating brainless creatures like muscles, urchins, squirts, or jellyfish. However, the majority of their diet continues to be plant-based. Ocean nixies cultivate fields of kelp, algae, and other marine plants, while those living in fresh water often grow wild rice, watercress, water chestnut, and similar aquatic plants.  


Nearly any realm with a large elven population has nixie settlements, living in the major seas, lakes, and rivers. They prefer warmer waters, often those near the tropics, though they tolerate more temperate waters. It is rare that they settle in arctic waters, as they lack the fur or blubber of other ocean dwelling mammals. They mostly live in small settlements of a few dozen families, centered around major kelp forests, reefs, underwater caves, beneath lily canopies, or other natural structures. They weave plants into huts, use druidic magic to shape the bed into houses, or live in naturally occurring shelters. Larger cities are rare, though some are known to exist, mostly among ocean dwelling nixies.  

Culture and Society

Nixies have even more dispersed societies than surface elves, since the places they can settle are usually small and distant from one another. Thus they rarely form larger kingdoms or nations, instead consisting of loose confederations at most. Individual towns or cities govern themselves; those who live close enough to other settlements engage in diplomacy or trade. Otherwise, nixie societies are largely similar to elven ones, centered around individual freedom, respect for nature, and the pursuit of leisure.  

Appearance and Dress

Because they live underwater, nixies wear either very little or form-fitting clothing, largely dependent upon where they live. Those in warmer waters tend to wear small vests, wraps, and loin cloths as everyday wear. In colder climates, they wear long-sleeved shirts and trousers which have little give. For more formal occasions, they will wear diaphanous, flowing skirts and cloaks. They favor brighter colors, often those that flash in the light and resembles fish scales. They typically weave clothing from byssus, water lily, and other aquatic fibers.  

Relations with Other Species

Nixies tend to only deal with other water-dwelling species on a regular basis, such as taniwha, ningyo, selkies, and muraens. Much like land elves, they tend to be on good terms with those who respect the natural world and hostile toward those who would exploit it. They rarely interact with those who live on the land, typically only emerging to deal with those who are causing problems, such as dumping garbage, overfishing, or damaging local reefs. The rare exceptions where a nixie settlement near the shore and a coastal village have a mutual partnership often leads to great benefits to both sides, but they usually only occur in times of great need.

Cover image: by Denis Khusainov


Please Login in order to comment!