View Full Version : D&D 5e/Next New 5e Player Race: Merfolk

2015-02-13, 04:49 AM


Merfolk live in large extended families in and around cool, flowing bodies of water. They are amphibious, with a streamlined body that lets them move gracefully through water, and short but nimble limbs that let them manipulate tools and weapons. Merfolk are primarily carnivores, hunting and catching the lesser fish and crustaceans in their environment with relatively little effort. Their skin usually takes on a pale blue or lavender tone, depending on the pigments in the seafood that makes up the bulk of their diet. Merfolk rarely build houses, preferring to sleep in quiet pebbled areas of a cave or shore.

Because merfolk can 'earn a living' without much hard work, they show less regard for material wealth than most races, and have little aptitude for commerce. Instead of guilds or feudal lords, Merfolk society is governed by matriarchs who take on the awkward duty of ensuring that their school does not breed more children than the local environment can comfortably support. Most Merfolk are related to their local matriarch in one way or another. A matriarch's authority rests partly on her reputation for wisdom, and partly on fear of her ability to recall embarrassing stories from when one of her subjects was just a guppy. Merfolk's lifelong connections to their family, their environment, and their oral traditions give them a well-earned reputation for wisdom.

Core Class Attributes:

All Merfolk get +2 WIS to their starting ability score.
20 foot Run Speed
40 foot Swim Speed
Medium Size
Gills: Merfolk can breathe in running water without difficulty. In stagnant water, such as a swamp or a small pond, Merfolk can breathe for 10 + CON minutes at a time, after which they must either surface or take 1 level of exhaustion per minute.
Aquatic Lore: Merfolk can add double their proficiency bonus to any Nature check involving underwater plants, animals, or tides, even if they are not otherwise proficient in Nature.
Healthy Circulation: Merfolk are used to swimming in temperate or wintry climates. All Merfolk have resistance to cold damage, even when they are out of the water.
Short Limbs: Merfolk's limbs are too short to make good use of the heaviest weapons. Merfolk have disadvantage when wielding a Pike, Greataxe, Greatsword, or Maul.
Merfolk speak the Common language.

Subrace: River Merfolk

The Merfolk most commonly seen by other humanoids are the River Merfolk, who prefer to live in gently running streams, often near a bridge or a ford. River Merfolk have smaller families and are friendlier toward other races. Most River Merfolk have the Good alignment.

+1 CHR
Musical Voices: River Merfolk have melodious singing voices that many humanoids find strangely alluring. River Merfolk gain proficiency at Performance, and if they know how to cast spells that would typically require the use of a musical instrument as a focus, they can use their voices as the focus instead.
Siren's Call: Once per long rest, you can cast Friends on a creature who can hear and understand your voice. Your song pleases the target, so that the target does not automatically become hostile when the spell ends, although depending on the situation the target may still become angry with you.
Courteous Speech: You can speak (but not write) one additional language that is commonly spoken by residents or travelers in the region where you grew up.

Subrace: Bay Merfolk

The largest schools of Merfolk live in bays and gulfs off the coast of large watersheds, swimming in and out of reach of the shore with the tides. They tend to develop sophisticated societies with complex rituals and intensely felt religious views. These Bay Merfolk are somewhat more prone to conflict, either because of disputes about which fisheries belong to which family, or because of rivalries among their patron deities. Most Bay Merfolk have the Lawful alignment.

+1 DEX
Naval Combat Training: Bay Merrow have proficiency with Light Armor, Nets, Spears, Tridents, and Daggers.
Divine Ritual: You learn one Cleric or Ranger spell of Level 1 or Level 2 that has the ritual tag. Once per long rest, you can cast this spell as a ritual. Your spellcaster ability for this ritual is Wisdom.

Subrace: Deepwater Merfolk

Some Merfolk live in underground aquifers, or in the deepest trenches they can find, rarely surfacing to see the light of day. Toughened by the pressure of thousands of feet of water, Deepwater Merfolk are the hardest and harshest of their race, and their animalistic nature is more readily apparent. Most Deepwater Merfolk have at least one Neutral alignment.

+2 CON
Hardened Scales: Deepwater Merrow gain +1 to AC when not wearing heavy armor.
Arid Sensitivity: Deepwater Merrow do not enjoy the feel of dry land under their legs, and will rapidly grow uncomfortable if exposed to arid conditions. Deepwater Merrow have disadvantage on all attacks and saving throws while in a desert or similarly arid environment. When not at least partly immersed in water, Deepwater Merrow are vulnerable to fire damage. Deepwater Merrow cannot benefit from a long rest unless they are at least partly immersed in water.
Bite Attack: You can use your bonus action to bite a creature within 5 feet of you, inflicting 1d4 + STR piercing damage. This attack counts as an 'unarmed strike'. For obvious reasons, you do not need to have a hand free to make this attack.
Darkvision: You can see in dim lighting at a distance of up to 30 feet as if it were brightly lit.

2015-02-14, 12:48 PM
Short Limbs would be better worded as a restriction on weapons with the Heavy keyword.

Merrow are significantly more powerful than the other two subraces. I would remove the bonus action bite attack, but the rest is okay as long as you're not playing in an aquatic campaign setting.

2015-02-17, 02:38 PM
So your merfolks have no limbs but they still crawl at a whooping 20' par round ?

2015-02-17, 02:59 PM
Uh, class? I thought this was a race? Also, shouldn't they know Aquan? And yeah, the above poster si right about the speed, it doesn't make sense...

Great idea, though :smallbiggrin: