Merren are the single race most adapted to life amongst the shards. They can fall from shard to shard, and rise again upon the backs of flying animals they have convinced to give them passage. The males merren are called merrow, and the females are referred to as sirens. The two genders do not commonly live together or form permanent relationships until very late in life, if at all. They would rather travel, see the shards, and live life to the fullest.
Their talent with animals, especially flying ones, has born the merren a reputation as the breeders of the finest sky steeds in all the shards. In the air, few can best a well-trained cavalry of merrow, and the aerial skill of such warriors is known up and down the shards. Those looking for the finest in aerial mounts see out the great merren ranches, wherein thoroughbred aerial steeds of various species can be found.
The merren are excellent skysailors, able to navigate the treacherous passages of the shards with ease. Their ability to speak to animals and sense the hub and spin of the shards enables them to succeed as sailors of Oemag’s breath where others have failed. Each gender has found a use for this talent.
The sirens have established themselves as the premier water traders of the shards. A large number of sirens work as one united mercantile sisterhood. They constantly deliver water to those shards unable to naturally maintain a water supply of their own; they leave their homes with a full waterberth, and return loaded with needed goods and money. A siren vessel never sails the same route twice in a row, allowing the sirens to double as sources of information from far-distant shards; indeed, some siren skyships do almost as much business dealing in information as they do dealing in water. This side-business is fueled by the race’s easy way with people, and love of the new and exotic. More than one siren ship has gone missing on a journey of exploration when they received news of a strange new sight just off the beaten path.
The merrow are generally good-natured men. Merrow, and merren in general, can often learn to intuitively wield magical power, and often combine a swift sword with magical prowess. Some who enjoy a rough and tumble life become traveling mercenaries, often traveling air cavalry. Others who find social dealings more intriguing turn to mercantile pursuits. Merrow turn to piracy if they find the life of a mercenary too restricting; their ability to fall quietly onto the deck of a passing skyship gives them an edge when ambushing peaceful trader vessels. Despite their reputation as sorcerous mercenaries and warriors, merrow are not bloodthirsty or vengeful, and accept both sides of fortune with an optimistic attitude.
Merren do not have the established homelands of theælven or the ancient history of the drakken. Fate has not been cruel to them as it has the manx, and thus has not forged similar canny survivors out of them. Merren find their way through the good will and acceptance of others, and the love of their fellow merren. They reflexively ingratiate themselves with new people, and pick up the ways of new cultures with ease. They have no clan or tribal structure as do the manx, and simply graft themselves into the society they find themselves in. Despite this, merren always show good will and charity to others of their race.
Personality: Merren in general tend to grow bored rather quickly; they desire change, danger, excitement, and travel. Many become increasingly unhappy if they stay in a boring locale for too long, and are somewhat addicted to new experiences and new sights. If a friend shares this love, then so much the better. If not, they will find themselves left with a fond farewell and a warm remembrance as the siren or merrow in question leaves for new sights. As a merren ages, this wanderlust abates somewhat, though it is not uncommon to hear that a retired merren skycaptain has suddenly taken to Ôemag’s breath once more.
This passion for travel is but one of many passions the merren indulge. They are as a rule a fiery and passionate folk.
The merren are also somewhat materialistic, perhaps even greedy in some cases. They love beautiful objects, extravagant parties, and treating others to food and drink. The more expensive the food and drink, the better. The point of having money is to spend it, after all. Still, having more money to spend is a very, very good thing. Even the most non-materialistic merren appreciates fine food and drink.
Merren often see the race as a whole as some sort of vastly extended family, and commonly refer to one another as ‘sisters’ or ‘brothers’, also using the term when addressing an unfamiliar merren, or between two merren who work closely together. The racial bond of merren as a whole is a powerful thing, and few merren would refuse another of their race aid.
Strangely, though they hold tightly to their racial bond, merren have an unusual ability: they can mate with any of the thinking races and produce offspring. Such offspring are equally likely to be a merren or of the parent’s race, though marks of both parents can be seen in such children. Some nations, such as Fioré, smile upon merchildren, while the Pentatra frowns upon it, and refuses to marry couples of such mixed race.
Appearance: Merren stand about as tall as humans. They tend towards a wiry build. Their skin is usually sky blue, though some merren display skin of various shades of blue, green, or apple yellow. Their hair is often black, dark green, or dark blue, though some exotic shades occasionally crop up, such as pearl, coral red, or light purple. The eyes of merren come in a range of colors similar to humans, though they tend to be more piercing; some liken the eyes of merren to those of eagles or tigers. Merrow, it should be noted, often grow facial hair. They favor goatees or thin moustaches as opposed to the thick beards of the dwarves.
The hair of both genders is an important thing. Aboard a ship, both genders use hairstyle and braiding to show rank. A new recruit to a ship must shave his or her head except for the forelock or one lock at the base of the skull. As the hair grows, and a siren or merrow increases in seniority, a number of different braiding patterns and colored ribbons are woven into the hair. The ribbons are the ships colors. The captain of a ship adds a golden ribbon to the ships colors, while the first mate adds a silver ribbon. The more complex the hairstyle, the more important the siren or merrow is aboard the ship. The two genders use slightly different styles.
Mercenary merren let their hair grown long. If they are bested in combat, they cut it off. A mercenary band with long braids down past their shoulders is either composed of deadly fighters or shameless liars.
Merren not serving on a ship or living as a mercenary tend to style their hair in whatever the local fashion is, or in a fashion that fits their profession. Many merren bards use their hair and clothing to catch the attention of their audience, and a festival or large tavern can become host to a battle of outrageous appearances if rival merren are working the crowd.
Of note is the fact that merren "eyebrows" fork in the middle, and are made up of coarse quills that can barely be called hair. On the whole, merren hair is rather thick, heavy and full bodied.
Relations: Merren of both genders seem to get along exceptionally well with almost everyone. They are generally tolerant and open-minded, and seem to enjoy the company of most people that they meet, though this feeling may not necessarily be reciprocated. Some see the race as being too friendly, and question the sincerity of their words and actions. Generally, however, such doubt is short-lived. Note that though most merren come across as friendly, this does not necessarily mean that all are kind or just.
Merren are a passionate people, and can easily inspire or influence other folk. Other races often see the passionate, attractive merren as exotic, and from this many tales of merren lovers and merren sexual prowess are born. Some merren play up to these tales, others abuse the fascination other races have with them.
Merren are open-minded when it comes to marriage, and those few who decide to settle and marry almost never feel the need to marry within their race. Of a liberal disposition and generally easy to get along with, merren are often seen to be rather casual with regards to relationships.
The exception to this universal acceptance is the Pentatra. Wild magical talents seem to arise commonly amongst the charismatic merren, and the Pentatra dislikes this undercutting of their magical power base. The merren in turn disdain the Pentatra’s rules and regulations, and trouble between the Pentatra and the merren is common throughout the shards. Some port cities under the Pentatra’s thumb strictly control how many merren sailors are allowed shoreleave at any one time. The merren, of course, do their best to sidestep or break such laws.
Alignment: Sirens and merrow both tend towards chaos. They do not enjoy static, sedate environments, do not pay attention to rules and laws if they don’t have to, and generally only give authority lip service. Though they band together into small ordered groups onboard a merren vessel and work towards the good of the group, this is not a symptom of lawfulness. Siren and merrow band together to achieve their individual ends, and ship-life serves this goal. Chaotic neutral and chaotic good are the most common alignments, followed by neutral good and neutral. Degenerate merrow sometimes favor the ways of chaos and evil.
On Merren Life:
Sirens and merrow are a talented people. They have a knack for dealing with people, a talent and passion for traveling, and often make great artists or performers. Merren have no homeland, as they find it so much easier to assimilate into the culture of another race, and experience life amongst them.
Those sirens born in the Water Trade are encouraged to serve for at least four years in the merchant fleet. Many keep with the merchant fleet for their entire life; most just find it to fit their inquisitive nature and love of travel and seeing new things. A few do strike out on their own, seeking their fortunes as independent sailors or captains of their own vessels, or sometimes on other intriguing ventures. Some leave service in the merchant fleet just to see more of the Shards, or live among other races. Whatever the reason, such an independent-minded siren can return home at anytime by catching a ride on any siren waterfreighter they find. No questions are asked (though stories of adventures undertaken and sights seen are sure to be dispersed), and there is no shame or guilt involved. The open-minded sirens see such encounters as a joyous reunion of sisters. A returning wanderer is taken without exception, for the bond among sirens is stronger than any petty outside affairs or influence.
If a male child is born in the siren waterholds or on a siren vessel, he is given over to any merrow willing to adopt him as soon as the child is able to walk. Merrow see such sudden parenthood as amn obligation to their blood that must be carried out.
Many merrow children are often raised in a mercenary company, or aboard a pirate ship. Some merrow vessels are corsairs, hired to raid the skyships of certain kingdoms. The less adventurous merrow become bodyguards or dockworkers. It is rare to meet a merrow farmer or shopkeeper, but occasionally a merrow will tire of the vagabond’s life, and do such a thing. At times, a merrow raised in a mercenary band will simply leave to travel, and perhaps join another merrow band in another land. While siren and merrow social bonds are nothing if not fluid, their passionate racial bond overcomes nearly all other differences.
Merren Shards: The few large bodies of water that can be found through out the shards are where sirens make permanent enclaves and congregate. The water’s ever-changing surface holds a special power over the heart of the passionate, mercurial merren. Here the sirens have shipyards and nurseries, and merrow mercenary bands come to seek business. The largest siren enclave is on the Circle Sea, and it marks the central point on many siren trade routes. Merrow make their homes wherever they can, usually living amongst other races. They have no nations of their own.
Religion: The race especially reveres the sisters Gulmé the Lady of Waters and Ilifinsata, the Wind Witch. Merrow are also known to pay homage to Avashek, the Lord of Swords or Chaltis, the Warrior Goddess. Avasha is also paid reverence by the merren.
Language: Sirens and merrow have a trade-tongue in common. The entire race speak this and the Common tongue. They can also commonly learn aquan, and any of a number of races of those they trade or deal with.
Names: Sirens have three names. The first is a child-name, given to them when they are born; the child name consists of two syllables and is only used by childhood friends or the merren's parents. Upon first taking a voyage on a skyship, they choose an adult name for themselves that evokes something from their first voyage or travel that left a lasting impression (often this is a natural landmark, a name inspired by a great city, or an most commonly an animal that brought good fortune on the trip). The third name is the name of the last ship they served upon. A siren named Lark who served aboard the vessel Goldenspar would be named Lark of Goldenspar, or perhaps Lark Goldenspar.
Merrow also have a birth name, an adult name chosen after their first battle or grand exploit (often this is the name of a hero with some significance to the battle, an animal of good omen the day of the battle, or the name of a friend who perished in the battle), and a third name derived from the merrow’s last band or ship. If a merrow named Hawk fought as a member of the Red Band, for instance, he would be called Hawk the Red, Hawk O’Red, or simply Hawk Red.
Adventurers: Merren love to travel and explore the shards. Many merren also love money, gems, finery, and beautiful things. Both of these facts have tempted a merren to seek out a life of adventure. Those who are too free-spirited to work onboard a ship often strike out on their own, making use of their talents and charm to find fortune and excitement. Merren also find the bold souls of adventurers as passionate as their own, and so adventure to be amongst those they respect and admire. Merren bards find great inspiration as companions to heroes. Sirens and merrow are quite common in the adventuring field.
Merren Racial Traits
once per day
Speak with Animal
Feather Fall once per day, on self only.
Know Direction once per day