Thursday, October 20, 2011

Buan Creatures: Merfolk

The Philippines, as an archipelago, naturally have their own variants of the merfolk. I won't dwell on how such stories start within a cultural group or whether mermaids are actually real- that is not my place. I'm just here to bring these awesome creatures to life within the context of a D&D 4E game.

The most popular variant of the Philippine merfolk is the sirena. It is, however, almost the same as standard merfolk, so I won't bother statting what I'm sure others have homebrewed already at this point in 4E's life.

Yep, that's the exact same actress that plays
Amaya in my previous post. >.>

Instead, I've decided to focus on two creatures - the male siukoy and the rarer, two-tailed mambubuno (and no, I'm not talking about the Starbucks girl).

Before I get to the statblocks, let me add in a few notes about them:

  • The creatures are designed for aquatic combat, which can be tricky in 4E. Brush up on aquatic combat rules before using these creatures (the most recent ones can be found in the Rules Compendium). In particular, remember that weapons other than spears have disadvantages, as do powers with the fire descriptor. Also note the rules for suffocation, and how it gets triggered when characters holding their breath are damaged by attacks.
  • The aquatic keyword gives these creatures an edge over their land-based opponents. To offset that, I generally count the watery environment as a hazard whose level is equal to the lowest level aquatic creature in my encounter design to keep things level. That's just a personal houserule, though. 
  • With that being said, the creatures' design assumes that the merfolk will have chances to suffocate their opponents. The siukoy drag its opponents down into the deep, while the mambubuno lures them to the same watery fate (unless she fancies one or more of the land dwellers). The siukoy in particular do not get the lurker CA damage bonus because the surges that could be lost through suffocation represent that already.
  • The siukoy's Sea Camouflage trait refers to people "on the surface." I didn't bother explaining it on the statblock, and really the DM is the best arbiter for what constitutes being on the surface. Personally, I count a character as being on the surface while he's on a ship, treading in water, or otherwise not diving or completely submerged.
  • The mambubuno's Rising Tides attack can knock creatures prone. What does it mean for an underwater/treading creature to be prone? Basically, when underwater it is possible to lose your sense of up and down. People have drowned in this way because they thought they were going back to the surface but were actually swimming downwards. But that's no fun for D&D heroes - when they are disoriented, they simply have the same penalties as someone who is prone on land, and may re-orient themselves by spending a move action to "stand up."
  • Fluffwise, I'm not too happy with how I've treated the siukoy - I feel like the origin is too gender-based, which is kind of frowned upon in fluff philosophies today. However, I kept it as a placeholder for now. When we include the siukoy in a future supplement, expect a radically different fluff direction.
  • I made the statblocks using Masterplan - I think the CSS inherent in the format messes up with the blog's layout a little bit. But oh well.
  • I chose a level that would allow them to be in the same encounter as the sahuagin. I was thinking of doing either going for levels 5-7, or something closer to the kuo-toa instead. But the merfolk as a threat never felt like it fit the paragon levels (interestingly I could say the same for the kuo-toa), so I thought the heroic tier is best for them.
Image by Montoy, not
owned by Nosfecatu. Used
for nonprofit

The anatomy of a male merfolk called the siukoy is far removed from their fairer mermaid counterparts. Their skins are a pungent, fishy green, perpetually slippery from the slime that they emit. The slime that comes out of their webbed hands are stickier, however, and many have been stuck to them, dragged to a watery grave by the siukoy's jealousy.

The various types of female merfolk prevalent in the seas that separate Kalupaan from Karagatan are enamored by land dwelling men, and many will take a siukoy as a mate only as an act of desperation. Simply put, the mermaids think the siukoy are too ugly for them - and the bitter males know it. 

The siukoy have no need for food - their bodies are green from photosynthesis, their fins somewhat resembling seaweeds. Their only biological desire is to be with a mermaid - the females as such generally have a small school of siukoy that'll do their bidding as they hope for the impossible.

Medium elemental humanoid (aquatic, merfolk)
Level 5 Lurker
200 XP
HP 50; Bloodied 25 Initiative +10
AC 19; Fort 17; Ref 18; Will 16 Perception +3
Speed 4, swim 6
The siukoy can breathe underwater. In aquatic combat, it gains a +2 bonus to attack rolls against non-aquatic creatures.
Sea Camouflage
While a siukoy is underwater, it has total concealment against opponents on the surface and can make stealth checks to become hidden from them.
Standard Actions
Javelin (weapon) ♦ At-Will (basic attack)
Range: Melee 1 or Ranged 10/20 (one creature)
Attack: +10 vs AC
Hit: 2d6 + 6 damage.
Slimy Embrace ♦ At-Will: Requires combat advantage against the target.
Range: Melee 1 (one creature)
Attack: +8 vs Reflex
Hit: 3d6 + 6 damage, and the target is grabbed (escape DC 15).
Special: The siukoy cannot grab a huge or larger target.
Suffocate ♦ At-Will
Range: Melee 1 (one creature grabbed by the siukoy)
Attack: +8 vs Fortitude
Hit: 2d6 + 6 damage, and the target takes a -2 penalty on Endurance checks and on checks to escape a grab until the start of the siukoy's next turn.
Move Actions
Drag to the Deep ♦ At-Will: The siukoy must have a creature grabbed.
Effect: The siukoy makes a strength check to move the grabbed target. If either it or the target is swimming, the siukoy gets a +5 bonus on this strength check (for a total of +9).
Skills Athletics +9, Stealth +13
Str: 15 (+4)
Con: 14 (+4)
Dex: 18 (+6)
Int: 8 (+1)
Wis: 12 (+3)
Cha: 9 (+1)
Alignment unaligned
Languages Common, Primordial


Nosfecatu sketch of a mambubuno. Art by
The birth of a merfolk with two tails is rare among their kind. usually this is seen as a sign of favor from the Sinaya pantheon of primordials, and as such are taught the arcane arts at a young age and weaned for positions of power within their barangay. But like the majority of their kind, they are whimsical and are likely to abandon their responsibility to pursue their own selfish interests. Worse, they may keep such positions of power so that they may do the same with a whole tribe of merfolk to help reach her goals.

It is said that a mambubuno will crush entire populations of mollusks to obtain the beauty of a single, giant pearl that will aid her use her powers. Similarly, a mambubuno has been known to sink entire ships just to control one person whom she fancies as a temporary consort.

BJ's note: If I'm feeling up to it, I'll include a skirmisher type of mambubuno as well. two tails seem like a good enough fantasy reason to go for better mobility. XD

Mambubuno Seductress
Medium elemental magical beast (aquatic, merfolk)
Level 7 Controller (L)
300 XP
HP 77; Bloodied 38 Initiative +6
AC 21; Fort 17; Ref 19; Will 21 Perception +6
Speed 4, swim 8
The mambubuno can breathe underwater. In aquatic combat, it gains a +2 bonus to attack rolls against non-aquatic creatures.
Standard Actions
Tail Swap ♦ At-Will (basic attack)
Range: Melee 2 (one creature)
Attack: +12 vs AC
Hit: 2d4 + 9 damage, and the mambubuno seductress may swap the targets position with an ally within two squares of the mambubuno.
Luresong (charm, psychic) ♦ At-Will
Range: Close Burst 10 (enemies in burst; deafened creatures are immune)
Attack: +10 vs Will
Hit: The target is pulled 3 squares and is lured until the start of the mambubuno seductress's next turn. If the target is the pilot of a vehicle, the vehicle is pulled instead of the target.
Special: A lured creature that willingly moves away from the mambubuno takes 10 psychic damage.
Rising Tides (zone) ♦ Encounter
Range: Area Burst 2 within 10 (creatures in burst)
Attack: +10 vs Reflex
Hit: 2d6 + 10 damage, and the target is knocked prone.
Effect: The burst creates a zone of rapidly rising waters. The zone is difficult terrain. Any vehicle that enters the zone is immobilized until the end of its pilot's next turn.
Sustain Minor: The zone persists, and its radius increases by 1 square (to a maximum of area burst 5).
Minor Actions
Appoint Consort (charm) ♦ Recharges on 5-6
Range: Melee 1 (one creature; no attack roll if used on an ally)
Attack: +10 vs Will
Hit: The target gains 5 temporary hit points, gains a swim speed equal to its land speed, and can breathe underwater until the end of the encounter. If used on an opponent, it is also dominated (save ends the dominate effect).
Skills Arcana +9, Stealth +8
Str: 8 (+2)
Con: 13 (+4)
Dex: 16 (+6)
Int: 13 (+4)
Wis: 16 (+6)
Cha: 19 (+7)
Alignment unaligned
Languages Common, Primordial
Equipment orb