Ecology of the Wilderlands Mermaid

I wrote up the mermaids I’m using for my Ultan’s Door/Wilderlands campaign.

They came about largely due to a reference to “last year’s debacle with sour mermaid sushi” at Mazirian’s Garden - I thought we should hear the mermaids’ side of this, and I knew we’d be heading to the Shattered Isles at some point.

I also wanted a monster that could be “good” and potentially allied to the PCs, but still a source of problems or danger, and to walk the line between the fairytale personable mermaid and the more monstrous siren type.

They’ve been a fun element in the campaign, a constant source of gentle black humor, and the PCs are fond of them but very cautious about going in the water.

“We’ll come with you! Which boat is yours?” asks Pearl.

“That one, the No Tomorrow,” says Gallows, pointing to the ragged sloop on the far side of Wolsdag harbour.

Pearl follows his gaze, noting how low the slightly leaky vessel floats in the water, and involuntarily licks her lips.


Nice work! I love new twists on classics. I also really like the idea of a mermaid being part piranha – you think everything is going swimmingly with your new mermaid pal, but then you suddenly have 25 mermaids taking a bite of you.


Wow, fantastic write-up! I especially liked the bit about all mermaids knowing all other mermaids, got my brain thinking. The bit about goth mermaids also made me burst out laughing. I really want to incorporate these guys into my campaign, but I’m running a sci-fi game right now lol, will need to think on that a bit. Do you have any fun stories of your party’s interactions with these mermaids?


Thank you, I’m glad you liked it!

I see your problem, there’s room for similar creatures in SF - the race of spider-people who need to take nutritional supplements when mating so they don’t eat their mate, and so on - but the mermaids have this mythical element of being partly formed of people’s expectations of mermaids.

The idea of having a few gothy and morose benthic mermaids was an answer to what gender-nonconforming individuals might look like in such an odd and heavily gendered species - and as with all the other questions I had about mermaids, I wanted to have an entertaining answer.

The PCs first met the mermaids at the festival of Mannanan at Wolsdag, which involves skinny-dipping. The party mage decided to make out with a couple of mermaids and got bitten, but was quick enough on the uptake to cast Fly and get out of the water when they started getting excited. Of course then he was hovering in the air naked, and the bard declared “I can see your arse! HEY! EVERYONE! LOOK AT HIS ARSE!”

Since then they’ve been mostly a background feature, occasionally chatting with the PCs but mostly just being there, swimming around the ship, cheerful and hungry.

At one point the fighter found a chess set and gave it to them as a gift, and two of the mermaids proceeded to play one of the worst games of chess in the history of the Wilderlands.

And one time they took Espi, the sapient Caryatid Column, on a walk around the ocean floor:

Shafts of blue light spear the water to dapple the ocean floor, the rocks and sand dotted with ancient fragments of ruin even older than the spire. Espi walks among them, wondering at the ruins, colourful corals and shoals of brightly patterned fish, pausing to let weird crustaceans amble by on their own inscrutable business.

The mermaids swim down to join her, circling around her, their iridescent scales glinting in rainbow hues, full of questions.

“No, we don’t know what Brooke saw down there,” the living statue begins to answer. Broke, the only mermaid to explore the Spire had lost her will to live upon her return, to the horror of her sisters. “There were monsters, and weird machines, and a lot of books, and things in jars. We made a friend, too.”

The mermaids are always interested in new friends; sadly a lot of people don’t want to be their friends for some reason.

“She wants us all in the reading room as soon as it’s cleared to listen to her seminar on the selection of names,” Espi giggles, “she’s pretty funny.” More thoughtfully, “and I don’t think anyone taught her right from wrong, she comes out with some weird stuff sometimes.”

They come to the base of a section of great wall, cyclopean blocks stacked to a great height even in ruin, the remains of a mighty tower partway along its length. The foundations of it stretch on in both directions as far as the eye can see.

“What’s this?” asks Espi.

“Oh, that’s been there forever, it runs all the way along the Shattered Isles!” says Marin.

Sedna adds, “I heard it used to be the edge of Ghinor, before half of it sank.”

“Good, more space for us!” says Beck.

Pearl nods, “Beh’ladin told me it was called the Sheer Veil. There were great weapons on those towers, to keep the wild north at bay.”

Sedna gazes up at the wall thoughtfully. “Now I suppose everywhere is wild.”

Beck says, “it’s a good thing we have teeth.”

Later, Beck would attempt to nibble Espi, and in so doing break a tooth.

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Hey this is great! A lot of thought put into them! :heart: :fish: