The reality works out a lot better than the stories, most of the time. Sometimes the two are merely casual lovers or have a chance embrace; other times, when their love runs deeper, they find ways to make it work. The ability to breathe water is somewhat easily acquired, after all, and ships can take landwalkers out over the water.
The children born of these unions, the merg, claim both worlds as their birthrights. At home both on land and at sea, the merg grow up learning about love that can withstand separation and steeped in the mystery and wonder of the world around them. Sure, getting to know both of their parents and both worlds that they’ve been born into takes effort, but the merg know that effort is worth it. After all, if it wasn’t worth it to brave the dangers of the wild, of love and loss and passion, they would have never been born.
Merg appear human at first glance, with lithe builds and brightly colored blue, green, or orange hair; a merg’s eyes often, but not always, change color with their mood. Merg often have pointed, slightly ridged ears. A merg’s gills are behind and slightly below her ears; most merg have webbed digits, though not all do.
Merg tend to dress lightly, in clothing or armor that has been thoroughly waterproofed or even enchanted for easy transitions between water and land. Merg pick their weapons for ease of use in both environments, and can be found favoring daggers, spears, and tridents, as well as nets. Merg don’t accessorize much, and when they do it tends to in small, tasteful forms—bracelets, stud earrings, and chokers are common and favored because they don’t slow the merg in the water.
Merg are adventurous souls, mostly because going to visit one or the other of their parents is not an affair that gets to be taken lightly. The things that dwell in the ocean range from the “merely deadly” (such as dire sharks) to “horrors that should have never been”, and the merg must learn to size up, then fight or escape them all if they want to enjoy both the land and the sea. Calm confidence and enthusiasm define the merg, coupled with a curiosity born early in their lives when their merfolk parent shows them the hidden wonders of the sea. Merg find beauty in places others would not look for it and have a talent for seeing hope where others can only find sorrow.
Merg often develop a love of challenges that drives them to push themselves, to broaden their horizons and find new places, new experiences, and grow as people. They tend to be open-minded and optimistic without being naive, though their boldness can make them seem foolish to those that haven’t yet caught up to their enthusiasm. It isn’t uncommon for a merg to set a seemingly impossible goal and attack it with zeal and verve, perfectly willing to attempt the journey even if they think they’ll never reach the destination.
Merg tend to be born of loving but distant romances between two very different people. Sometimes these relationships are open, and sometimes they are not, but the merg learns one of their first and most powerful life lessons from their parents: anything worth having is worth fighting to attain. Merg become curious at a young age, and as they blossom into teens and young adults begin visiting each parent on their own instead of with an escort. With luck and training from one or both parents, these savvy young merg learn to avoid the hazards they can and defeat the others, making both water and land a little safer on their way to and from the land and sea.
Leaving home tends to be a gradual thing for the merg; they explore further and further afield until one day they’re just gone, possibly without noticing it themselves. Merg sign on with caravans, traveling schools of merfolk or adventuring parties so they can get a taste of something new. Many return home with exciting tales to tell and then leave again; others dare to go further, looking to see the wonders of other worlds or to claim a home in the skies as well as on land and sea. Wherever their ambitions lead them, merg bring their cool practicality and verve with them, making them welcome companions on the road.
Any merg that wants to visit both parents is, essentially, already an adventurer. The seas are hideously lethal, and they are not any more forgiving to their natives than they are to strangers; a merg learns to fight and flee, or she dies swiftly. Merg often become clerics, druids, rangers, sorcerers, and stalkers, though they excel in many fields and might learn esoteric powers simply for the thrill of knowing them or to surprise her foes.
Merg tend to be open-minded about race, though they have limits. As frequent travelers they can become seriously annoyed with races like sahuagin, orcs, or gnolls that waylay roads and travel currents, and more than one merg has taken out a portion of her life and dedicated it to clearing the roads of such filth so others can enjoy the wonders of the world too. This concern over open travel aside, merg mostly don’t care about race and are delighted to hear about new cultures and meet exotic new people.
Ability Score Adjustments
Medium: Merg are Medium creatures and thus have no bonus or penalties due to their size.
Other Racial Traits
Low-light Vision (Ex) A merg can see twice as far as humans in dim light.
Flexible Bones (Ex) Merg are very flexible and able to move in ways that defy humanoid physiology. This makes them exceedingly agile. They gain a +2 dodge bonus to AC and Reflex saves as well as a +2 racial bonus to Escape Artist checks.
Aqua Favored (Ex) Spells with the water descriptor cast by the merg gain a +1 bonus to their caster level.
Step Back (Ex) Once per encounter, the merg may make a 5 -foot step as an immediate action, provided that the movement causes her to cease being adjacent to a hostile creature.
Languages: Merg begin play speaking Common and Aquan. Merg with high Intelligence scores can choose from the following: Elven, Dwarven, Halfling, or Sylvan
Alternate Racial Traits
Adept Predator (Ex) Some merg are naturally skilled at the acts of predation as their instincts aid them in stalking prey. These mergs gain practical reflexes rather than general knowledge. They gain a +2 racial bonus on Perception and Stealth checks. This replaces firsthand experience.
Merfolk Tail (Ex) Some Merg have the tails of their merfolk parent. They have a notable lack of ground speed at 10 feet base speed due to dragging themselves along, but gain a swim speed of 50 ft.
Malenti Heritage (Ex) Some merg are actually related to malenti and not merfolk. Because of this they have a bite attack that deals 1d4 +1.5 times the merg’s Strength modifier damage but lack the favor of aquan gods. This replaces aqua favored.
Whirlpool Lash (Su) Some merg manifest their unique nature with a potent akashic construct that simulates the tails of their aquatic forebears. Such merg gain the ability to shape the Whirlpool Lash veil, and do not count it against their normal limits on veils shaped. This replaces aqua favored and step back.
Favored Class Options
Stalker: Add +1/6 of a new Deadly Strike die.
Vizier: Add +1/2 to all cold damage dealt with veil abilities.
Warlord: Gain +1/5 of a new gambit.
Bloodforge, © 2017, Dreamscarred Press, LLC; Author: Matthew Ryan Medeiros, Jade Ripley, based on material by Owen K.C. Stephens