Halintar: Respite of the Gods
Masters of magic in all forms, the merfolk of Halintar pride themselves as wise mentors and powerful mages. Being an aquatic race, they dwell in the cavernous depths of the High North Sea, organizing themselves into a number of different wizard colleges known together as the Wizards of the Coast. As the most scholarly and ancient of the mortals, they live to about 400 years of age and spend every minute dedicating themselves to either their studies or their teachings. Most merfolk see their race to be superior to others because of their longevity and brainpower, but other than pompous bragging they usually don’t act upon this belief.
Merfolk are one of the more naturally colorful races of Halintar. Their skin, which most often comes in varying shades of blue and turquoise, is covered in a thin layers of scale that enable them to glide through water like dragons through the sky. They live far longer than any other race, maxing out at 400 years- this makes them great scholars, for they have much less concern for running out of time. Merfolk share a humanoid torso with other mortals, but their lower half tapers into a long, finned tail.
The merfolk of Halintar can be divided into three different subraces- the Photics, the Pelagics, and the Sweetfish. The first two come from the High North: Photics are merfolk who life in shallower waters, close to the surface; meanwhile, Pelagics seek their home far deeper within the sea, in underwater trenches and tunnels. Sweetfish come from a time where merfolk tried to settle further inland via rivers, branching off into their own niche society of river pirates.
The Photic merfolk enjoy sunlight, finding it a great source of energy and a way to keep their internal clocks running smoothly. They are the most colorful subrace of the three, scale colors stemming from every color of the rainbow. Younger merfolk have scales with baffling neon hues, that dull with old age. Photic fins are also the largest and flashiest, with hundreds of variations from every different family. The hands of Photics are webbed up to the beginning of the last digit, using their arm strength to help speed themselves up as they swim . The Photic merfolk are the friendliest towards the land-dwellers out of the three, due to close quarters, and are happy to give their neighbors tours of their underwater castles in exchange for news from far inland.
Pelagics find security in living deeper within the sea. They aren’t as flashy as their upshore relatives, but the extra swimming space allows them to grow larger and bulkier. Their scales typically don’t stray any further from dark, cool colors than purple, though muddled variations can occur. The fins of a Pelagic tend to be shorter and lay flatter against the merfolk’s skin- their hands are unwebbed, allowing for more dexterous motion when carving and scavenging the deep sea crevices. The deeper the merfolk lives, the more likely they are to have strange deformities like crooked limbs and bioluminescence- but in exchange, the dark meditation gives them a deeper understanding of their school of magic.
Sweetfish are a different breed of merfolk altogether- though they retain traits such as natural talent for magic and their finned bodies, the way their scales are colored and their bodies built are much different. The typical sweetfish has a stouter, more muscular body than their saltwater cousins- the result of having to fight strong river currents. Their scales gradient from a yellow-green hue to blue around their face and underbelly, with black stripes trailing across the length of the spine. The fins of a sweetfish are short like a Pelagic but stiff and poised like a Photic’s. Lastly, these merfolk have abnormally large eyes that they use as a focus for charm magic, and often are hunted down so they can be taken and sold as a component for spells.
Knowledge is power when you live amongst the merfolk. A respectable individual will spend many years studying the ins and outs of all the magic the Wizards of the Coast have to offer, before discovering their interests and talents and joining the school they wish to study under.
Merfolk are a patient and thoughtful race, and allow their young to spend all the time they need to discover the form of magic they find comes to them the easiest. After spending their childhood practicing and studying all schools of magic, upon selecting one the merfolk travels to the college to take an entrance exam imposed by the dean. If they pass, they’re allowed to board at the college for free and master that branch of magic with guidance from that dean and their cast of professors. While this is the closest thing they have to a “rite of passage”, it’s really a standard for merfolk to be adults around 100 years- after all, any race can take the entrance exams. Those who fail the test are simply encouraged to study more and sent to a lesser place of education until they can re-approach the test next year.
Sweetfish are radically different in culture. They are highly nomadic, swimming through the veins of the rivers in search of travelers and caravans to ambush. They either live alone, in small families, or small groups, depending on the size of the river or lake. Relying on mainly charms, enchantments, and sometimes brute strength, they lure foolish individuals close enough to fight before dragging them into the water, along with all their valuables and resources. When they aren’t thieving, they enjoy selling their shifty wares at riverside towns. Despite this less refined lifestyle, the sweetfish are also immense fans of magic and the kinder of them genuinely enjoy teaching others their own personal spins on spells. They naturally dislike most land dwellers due to being hunted by them for their magical eyes.
Playing a Merfolk
Whether from flowing rivers or vast oceans, all merfolk of Halintar are clever beings who can use both their skill in magic and great intelligence to adapt to anything the world throws at them. The lengthened lifespan of your oceanic race allows you to spend many more years dedicating your life to your passions, and you are natural born mentors at heart. As mentioned earlier, the color and fin shapes of your merfolk is conditional to their origins: Photic merfolk are the most colorful, with wide vibrant fins and a knack for socialization; Pelagic are duller shades of blue or violet, with flatter fins and unfinned fingers; and sweetfish have trout-colored, stouter bodies and short-but-sharp fins. Eye colors are the same as fin color, typically, though rare exceptions occur, especially in those merfolk with greater magical potential.
Ability Score Increase. Merfolk have an affinity for magic of all types. Your Intelligence and Wisdom scores increase by 1. If you’re a sea-born fish you may choose to increase one of those scores by 1 more based on your preferred school of magic. If you’re a sweetfish you increase your Strength score by 1 instead.
Age. Merfolk age slower than other races, maturing at about 30-45 and living to the ripe age of 400.
Alignment. The structured college system of the Wizards of the Coast reflect a lawful hierarchy within the merfolk’s society. However, the love for adventure and vibrant passion for their work can also lead to randomness, and the consideration of the sweetfish society can’t be ignored. Merfolk don’t have a true tendency to any alignment, but lean towards lawful as they get older.
Size. Merfolk rely on their powerful tail fins to navigate their natural watery homes. Measuring from the tip of the tail to their heads they are usually 7 to 9 feet long, with builds that vary as much as humans do (based on family heritage). Your size is Medium.
Speed. As an aquatic race, you can move incredible speeds in the water- but when it comes to land mobility your speed can be quite lacking. In the sea your swim speed is 50 ft, but regardless of your methods of land motion you can only move about 20 ft. If you are dragging yourself around instead of using a bubble or other transportation, you move at a base speed of 5 ft (10 ft for Sweetfish).
Amphibious. All merfolk can breathe underwater, obviously. 95% of merfolk can breathe air, but that 5% consists only of the rare deep-sea Pelagics who cannot breathe anywhere other than within the sea. Pelagic merfolk cannot breathe in freshwater, and Sweetfish cannot breathe in saltwater.
Underwater Agility. Underwater combat does not impose any penalties or disadvantages on movement or attacks.
Slippery. You have advantage on Dexterity saving throws against being grappled or restrained.
Bubble Buddies. To travel upon land, all merfolk are able to cast the Create Water cantrip to summon a bubble of water around them. They are so adept with magic that they can maintain this spell with ease all day. A merfolk can live without water for up to 8 hours, with variance based upon the given climate. Summoning your bubble takes a full turn. If you suffer one of these conditions, your bubble bursts: Grappled, Incapacitated, Paralyzed, Petrified, Prone, Restrained, Stunned, or Unconscious.
NOTE: Sweetfish cannot summon bubbles. However, their base land speed is 10 ft due to their inherent strength, and they may attempt a STR DC 15 check as part of their move action to increase that to 25 ft.
Language. You can speak Aquan and Common. Sea-based merfolk may choose one extra language.
From here, the final skills of your merfolk depend on whether or not their are a Photic, Pelagic, or Sweetfish.
Charming. Your colorful appearance and experience with surface dwellers makes you adept at socializing with others. +2 to all Persuasion checks.
Optimists. The Photic merfolk generally have more faith in themselves and others. Once per day, you or one of your allies within 50ft of you may reroll a check that would have failed otherwise, not including attack rolls.
Photic Weapon Training. You have proficiency with 3 different martial weapons of your choice, thanks to interacting with the many species of the surface.
Aquatic Allies. You live amongst the grand ecosystem of coral reef creatures. You can speak the language of the coast and talk to shallow water aquatic creatures, such as fish and octopi. They can understand you perfectly, but their willingness to listen is based on DM discretion.
Thoughtful. A Pelagic spends many hours meditating in the total darkness of the deep sea. It’s hard to make you lose focus on a spell, even when being attacked- your DC for Constitution checks regarding keeping focus on a spell is 5, as opposed to 10.
Pessimists. Your subrace of merfolk is secluded, which sometimes leads to mild depression or lack of faith in the world- but in exchange, you depend even harder on your own abilities. Once a day, you may allow an opponent to have an automatic success on a check, and in exchange you get an automatic success on your next check of a similar kind (ie if you allow them success on a saving throw, you get an automatic success on a saving throw) as well.
Darkvision. You can see in dim light within 60 feet of you as if it were bright light and in darkness as though it were dim light. You cannot discern color in darkness, only shades of grey.
Pelagic Weapon Training. Pelagics are more traditional in their weapons training. You are proficient in with the trident, net, and spear. Thanks to your unwebbed hands, you may use your Dexterity bonuses instead of your Strength for attacks with these weapons in particular.
Gift from the Deep. The depths at which Pelagics live lead to both defects and blessings given by the sea. Refer to this page regarding how to determine which gift your Pelagic was born with.
Trout’s Strength. A lifetime living in rough-and-tumble river currents has made you strong, and you are capable of swimming against pounding currents at 1/2 your speed with ease. If you can withstand that, you can withstand opponents even easier; they have to pass a Strength check with DC 20 to be able to forcibly move you in any direction, grapple you, or otherwise affect your movement in any way.
Opportunists. You can make as many attacks of opportunity as you please. You can use these opportunities instead to forcibly remove a visible object of your choice from the body of the opponent in question, causing a Strength contest to occur between you and any other creature(s) holding the object. Attacks of opportunity still count as a reaction- therefore, if you choose to do something else as your reaction (such as a spell) instead of an attack of opportunity, you cannot make more attacks of opportunity.
Sweetfish Weapon Training. Sweetfish learn to use the weapons of the locals nearest to their waters. You are proficient with three locally favored weapons of your choice, and when presented with a weapon you aren’t proficient in you can become proficient by studying it for a minimum of 5 hours during a rest.
Forceful Persuasion. Using either magic or brute force, you forcibly convince creatures to do as you say. You get +2 to Intimidation checks.
Big Ol’ Eyes. The eyes of a Sweetfish hold the most magical potential than any other part of their body. You can use your eyes as a focus for Enchantment spells. Once per day, you can also cast the Enthrall spell without using a spell slot- when using Big Ol’ Eyes to do so, your victims simply have to be in view of your eyes to be enthralled, rather than you having to sing or speak to them. This must be done as a full round action, and you must continue to not move and focus fully on the spell until it is completed.