Ethnic Groups: habitats-provisioning(food gaining)-agriculture-livestock-game-clothing-other notes
Geographic range: swamps, marshes, mangroves, lagoons, large lakes, large rivers
Provisioning: foraging, shifting cultivation, free range farms
Agriculture:sea grass, duckweed, cattails, wild rice, watercress, water pepper, water spinach, wasabi, water chestnut/caltrop, taro, lotus, bulrush, bamboo, cord grass, shrub fruit and nuts, peanuts, chestnuts
Livestock:carp, small mouth bass, cod, salmon, duck, crayfish, goose, river mussels, tilapia
Game:large dragonflies, large mosquitoes and larvae, large mouth bass, catfish, bullhead, crappie, bluegill, black buffalo, pike, lake sturgeon, war-mouth, paddle fish, rainbow trout, fathead minnow, river otter, beaver
Common physical features:
aquatic skin resembles coloring of following fish: goldfish, koi carp, guppy, catfish, molly, rainbow-fish, tiger-fish, angelfish, discus
darker shades of hair
fined tail changes to legs slightly faster
Societal Behavior: Brackish merfolk tend to be insular and distrustful of strangers, but individuals, especially adventuring Merfolk, break the mold and can be quite boisterous. Often they are more open to beings that live within their regions like Lamia who are similar in appearance and culture. Brackish merfolk are more likely to venture on land and even have alternate land based settlements near bodies of water. Adolescent merfolk often have a vacation season at the same time as adolescent and emerging adult jungle and island homins and fairies, resulting in mutual party going, dancing, and temporary romances and sexual experiences.
Geographic range: coral reefs, kelp forests, tropical sea-grass beds, half-submerged caves, cliff-walled caves, mangroves, oceanic islands
Provisioning: foraging, fisheries, seabed and tide pool gardens, coral gardens
Agriculture:giant kelp, green algae, sea grasses, beach grasses, drift fruit and seeds
Livestock:sponges, parrot fish, tuna, striped bass, crabs, shrimp, clams, oysters, scallops, barnacles, soft corals, lobsters, krill, sea cucumbers
Game: forage fish– anchovies, reef squid, menhaden, sardines, herring, pollock large pelagic– bill fish, bonito, mackerel, salmon, small sharks, large squid, octopus, sea urchins birds-gulls, auks, gannets, pelicans mammals-sea otter, ringed seal, Caspian seal
Common physical features:
aquatic skin resembles coloring of following fish: clown-fish, butterfly-fish, cardinal-fish, damsel fish, parrot-fish, dragnets, file-fish, rabbit-fish, gobies, hawk-fish, yellow tangs, trigger-fish, blue wrasse, rainbow wrasse, lion fish
lighter shades of hair
ears are more likely to be finned
legs change into finned tails slightly faster
Marine merfolk started off as bands and tribes of nomadic foragers and some of these still exist in less traveled waters who mostly consisted of forage fish. With the creation of nation states, they were able to collect larger pelagic creatures to feed their populous but this lead to the creation of distinct classes and a ruling government. Marine merfolk themselves are quite playful with various sea creatures primarily dolphins, most whales, and sea turtles. Being the only beings in the sea with fine articulation has allowed them to manipulate many materials unique to the oceans such as kelp, animal secretions, and coral.
Marine merfolk generally shelter themselves in hidden communities, fiercely protecting the territory they hold from outsiders. Merfolk historically have been distrusting of surface races, and went to great lengths to conceal their presence from those that live primarily on land. This has changed since the United Sentient Species attempts to foster unity between races by funding for large underwater cities filled with buildings, connected by networks of reinforced glass tunnels, bathysphere transport systems, and submerged railways. As a result, most smaller merfolk settlements remain unknown to those on the surface, and encounters between marine merfolk and surface dwellers are uncommon, outside of urban areas.
Merfolk structures often incorporate unique materials and features which results in distinct a architectural style. Wooden materials are uncommon due to the effect of woodworms. Instead, Merfolk make use of a variety of durable marine building materials:
Kelp – Many merfolk buildings are made by weaving living kelp into a hollow ball that floats in the water while anchored to ocean floor. There can be several rooms arrayed in a daisy chain, one above the other, all constructed from only a few plants.
Sea grass – Sea grass is used as a filler material in thatching and living sea grass is planted on the roofs of buildings as an anchor or decoration.
Coral – Coral is tough easily workable, and abundant in tropical climates. It is used all over the aquatic world.
Stone – Used in alone or in combination with hydraulic cement, stone is one of the best materials for durability
Hydraulic cement – hydraulic cement is a building material in use since ancient times and is known for its ability to harden underwater. Hydraulic cement is combined with sand or other materials to create concrete structures, or is used in mortar to create masonry buildings
Giant bones – The bones of giant sea creatures such as whales and sea serpents are and strong and durable enough to be excellent building materials
Giant shells – Some sea shell are large enough to be used by themselves as rooms in buildings. smaller ones are used in “shell masonry”
Wood – Freshwater merfolk often use wood to build their structures, because woodworms do not live in freshwater.
Many indigenous merfolk beliefs followed deities that had dominion of the seas and tides. After the collapse of divine pantheons, groups transferred faith to nature itself or the idea of an living force in magical energies or “wild magic”. As an extension of this idea, certain animals were sacred and culturally treated with respect no matter ones belief or lack thereof. Frogs and newts are this for the brackish, and dolphins and whales for the marine community.
Various introduced religions followed by various Merfolk individuals include:
Buddhism (Mostly Theravada)
Mermaids far outnumber mermen. In merfolk culture, mermaids typically hunt. They also, by virtue of vastly overpopulating their male counterparts, tend to rule merfolk society. Mermen, by contrast, tend to be “soldiers” to their “queens”. While promiscuous outside of their race and, in fact, known for their loose sexual attitudes, merfolk nevertheless often choose to mate for life with each other. When couples marry, the man leaves his mother’s family and goes to live with the woman in her family. Married men often have two names, their own and their wife’s, while women only ever have one. The duties of a husband are to be a partner and aid to his wife, including doing all the physical work that needs doing in the family group and also helping to raise their children. Since most merfolk live & travel in pods of up to 12, once children are added into the mix, raising them is a group effort.
A merfolk is officially adult once he or she copulates. This may sound strange to other cultures, but the merfolk see it as a sign that the now adult merfolk is responsible enough to conceive children of her own.
As a merfolk ages, they are given a sort of tutelage. This tutelage consists of all the necessary skills to live in the harsh aquatic environment. They learn to hunt, communicate in their language and a set of other useful skills for survival.
Those in developed nation states may go on to continue their education for specialized professions in centers of formal education.
As spell casters, they tend to be quite good in specific areas. Their mystical relationship with water makes it easier for them to use magic related to liquids and gases. The legendary water magic that altered their ancestors to live in the oceans were lost since ancient times, but some of that affinity still remains.
Merfolk weave a crude kind of fabric from seaweed drying along the shoreline, called seaweed cloth, that is used for garments, rope, and even baskets. Shells or pieces of coral with small holes in them form necklaces the merpeople may wear around their necks and sometimes loop along their tails. Merfolk of both major cultures are very liberal in their views on appropriate clothing. Nudity is a non-issue for children and is also the case for un/contacted clans and tribes. Being a species where females traditionally hold community and household influence generally means that chests of both sexes tend to not be covered.
Societal Organization The major Marine merfolk countries are an oligarchy, in the form of a coalition of queens who are from the same family instead of a single queen. Therefore, if one queen produces only sons, the loss of her lineage and office could be offset by another queen producing multiple daughters who all become queens instead of just the eldest. The queen is chosen from women of a suitable age from one of the ‘royal houses’. The female ruler can even keep several male consorts, it doesn’t matter because only her female children will inherit the throne, though male kids may be granted small lordships or minor offices to make them useful to the crown.
The upper class, at least, is organized into houses or family groups, each lead by a Matriarch. Regardless of the wealth or status of each family group, the women are the ones that make the decisions.
Brackish Merfolk societies are a bit different due to being generally smaller and more influenced by the lifestyles of local land species. As such they may adopt similar forms of government like tribes, chiefdom, or states while retaining a core matriarchal household (albeit they are generally more egalitarian compared to the Marine varieties.)
There are still recently contacted merpeople whose societies are almost strictly hunting/foraging and organized only by bands or maybe tribes. Because of their small populations, the roles of males and females are different but considered to be equal in importance.
Science and Technology
Many weapons suffer reduced effectiveness under water due to hydrodynamic drag. Merfolk therefore use weapons that are specially designed to eliminate drag and increase ergonomics for submerged use. Some weapons are unchanged but the techniques for their use underwater is radically different. Mermen commonly employ tridents and javelins as weapons, although spears, daggers and underwater crossbows are also common. The Merfolk have developed their martial arts strongly on thrusting and grappling, since those are the most efficient ways to fight underwater. They therefore prefer polearms and short swords above all other weapons, though they have also been trained to use longer swords quite well.
Partisan – A partisan is a pole-arm similar to a spear but it has a much larger spear point and prongs on either side of the blade. it could accurately be described as a sword on a pole.
Great trident – This trident has 3 large bladed points and is capable of delivering grievous wounds.
Mersarissa – A very long spear for use in underwater army formations. it has a large blade and reach.
Chain Net – A net made of fine chain links or cable instead of rope. It has small barbs that cut a trapped creature as it struggles.
Katar – A short sword that attaches to the forearm instead of being held by the handle
Armor and Shields There are several considerations to make when using armor underwater, drag and buoyancy. Merfolk armors are usually form fitting and flexible. Medium and heavy armors usually use some form of buoyant material for padding such as kelp pods or cork. Shields are designed to have as little drag as possible when moving them laterally and also have small buoys distributed to the inner surface. Tower shields are extremely rare in the underwater world because they are simply too unwieldy and the reduced danger from ranged weapons. They have been reduced to specialty applications or for merfolk fighting on land.
Sharkskin leather armor – Basic leather armor has the same properties as land based leather armor.
Padded – This padded armor uses aquatic fibers to give its wearer some protection.
Chain shirt – Chain shirts built by merfolk smiths tend to be tighter fitting than those on land to reduce drag.
Scale mail – Scale mail is more popular with merfolk than chain because it has less drag.
Breastplate – Breast plates are very popular in in the underwater world for their ease of manufacture, good protection, and freedom of movement
Lorica Plumata – This armor is a combination of chainmail and scalemail. It consists of metal scales that are attached to a backing of tight fitting chainmail. It is expensive but gives excellent freedom of movement, low drag, and good protection.
Energy A majority of their energy comes from geothermal energy from deep sea vents. As more cities rise, the use of mana motors that rely on oceanic environmental essence has been increasing as well as hydrogen fuel cells for domestic technologies.
Brackish merfolk societies mainly rely on firewood and vegetable oils and grasses for domestic power. Larger brackish run civilizations are switching to supplement with offshore wind turbines and hydroelectric plants.
Medical Treatment Herbal and medicinal baths made up the majority of treatments. After the Medical Revolution, liquid and pill form medication became prevalent, along with injections that remained effective even underwater.
Communications Below the water they communicate in a series of whistles, fluting sounds, sub- and super-sonic pulses which humans cannot hear. It is thought that whales, dolphins, and other large fish may also hear and comprehend this language.
Manufacturing Merfolk tools are made from bone, discarded land glass, or the sharp teeth of sharks. These tools are often bound at one end with eel skin.
Other materials include
Bronze – a poor quality but inexpensive metal that resists corrosion
Stellite – a common type of metal that resists corrosion and is similar in strength to steel
Byssus/Sea Silk-strong fibers from mollusks that are immune to water degradation and can be woven into fabrics to make clothing, rope, nets, and other tools.
Sharkskin – Leather made from the skin of sharks. it is very tough.
Orichalcum– a rare and mysterious metal dug from out of Seamounts, Orichalcum has a golden or coppery color. Orichalcum shares many properties in common with Iron such as strength and magnetism, however it does not rust in salt water. The only thing preventing it from being more widely used, is that it is rare and expensive. Large Orichalcum (and iron) deposits can be found by observing where sharks congregate due to their electromagnetic senses, the large number of sharks also makes extracting the ore difficult at best and further increases the rarity of this much sought after metal.