DND Merfolk: Stats, Lore, & Ultimate Guide for Busy DMs

Welcome to the enchanting depths of DND Merfolk lore—a compact treasure trove for Dungeon Masters pressed for time.

Here is a summary of the most important information about DND Merfolk:

DND Merfolk are aquatic humanoids with spell-like abilities, tactical underwater combat, and rich cultural backgrounds. They speak Aquan, have a varied size, and worship various deities, such as the god Persana.

In this swimmingly good guide, you’ll learn everything you need to know about DND Merfolk.

DND Merfolk Stats

When you introduce Merfolk into your campaign, it’s essential to have a grasp of their basic stats to ensure the encounters are balanced and engaging.

Based on the DND Player’s Handbook, here’s a simplified stat block to help you get started:

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AlignmentTypically Neutral
Armor Class11 (with leather armor)
Hit Points13 (3d8)
SpeedSwim 40 ft., Walk 10 ft.
LanguagesAquan, Common
AttacksSpear (Melee or Ranged)
AbilitiesAmphibious, Telepathic Communication (Limited)
DND Merfolk stats – Source: Wizards of the Coast – Plane Shift

Remember, these stats serve as a baseline.

Feel free to tweak them to fit the narrative and challenge level of your campaign.

Merfolk can be versatile adversaries or allies, and their abilities can vary widely to create the exact encounter you envision.

DND Merfolk Description

DND Merfolk
I made this image with AI – DND Merfolk

Merfolk are as diverse as the oceans they inhabit, with appearances varying widely across different realms of D&D.

Physically, they typically have the upper body of a humanoid and the lower half of a fish.

And that fish half comes complete with a powerful tail fin.

Their scales shimmer in hues that mirror the seas—from the deep blue of the ocean abyss to the vibrant greens and turquoise of tropical waters.

Some may have intricate patterns or luminescent markings that hint at their subaquatic heritage.

Culturally, Merfolk societies are as rich and deep as the lore of the land-dwellers.

They form tight-knit communities, often establishing settlements on the ocean floor, within coral reefs, or in the mysterious ruins of submerged cities.

Merfolk value harmony with their environment and can be fiercely protective of their aquatic domains. Their societal structures can range from egalitarian collectives to kingdoms ruled by mer-royalty.

Here is a good video about Merfolk in DND:

YouTube Short Video by Steely Dan about DND Merfolk

Other features of Merfolk include their innate magic, which is often tied to the water element.

Many can weave spells to communicate with marine life, control currents, or defend their homes against intruders.

Their songs carry through the waters, capable of enchanting sailors or warding off predators.

When it comes to interacting with surface dwellers, Merfolk can be curious, diplomatic, or reserved, depending on their cultural norms and past experiences.

In your campaign, Merfolk can serve as guardians of ancient underwater secrets, advisors in maritime matters, or even adversaries protecting their sacred waters.

Their motivations can be as varied as those of any land-based NPC.

Types of Merfolk

Merfolk in DND aren’t just a singular race.

They are a varied species that inhabit the different waters of the world.

Each type of Merfolk has unique traits and qualities that can add a distinct flavor to your campaigns. Below are various Merfolk subtypes, ranging from the colossal to the spectral, offering a spectrum of characters for players to encounter.

Giant Merfolk

Giant Merfolk are the titans of the deep.

Much larger than their standard counterparts, these beings often reach over 15 feet in length and wield the power of the sea with immense physical strength.

They are known to be guardians of the most sacred and ancient underwater sites.

In fact, they are sometimes mistaken for sea gods by sailors and fishermen.

Undead Merfolk

Even in death, some Merfolk are bound to the ocean.

Undead Merfolk are tragic figures, often the remnants of lost civilizations or the outcome of dark curses. These spectral beings may retain some memories of their past lives and could be either mournful wraiths or vengeful spirits haunting the depths.

Homebrew Merfolk

The creativity of homebrew allows DMs to craft unique Merfolk that are tailored to their campaigns.

These could range from ice Merfolk in frigid arctic waters, wielding frost magic, to volcanic Merfolk living near underwater thermal vents, adapted to the heat with magma-like scales.

Homebrew Merfolk can be designed to fit any story or setting.


While not Merfolk in the traditional sense, sirens share many characteristics with their aquatic kin.

These bewitching creatures often lure sailors to their doom with enchanting songs and are both feared and respected for their mystical powers.

Deep Sea Merfolk

Adapted to the crushing pressures and darkness of the ocean’s abyss, deep sea Merfolk are elusive and mysterious.

They have bio-luminescent features.

Also, they are often more monstrous in appearance, reflecting the harsh environment of the deep sea trenches where they dwell.

River Merfolk

Not all Merfolk are bound to the salty seas.

River Merfolk inhabit the freshwater bodies of the world. They are often more in tune with the terrestrial ecosystems and may have more dealings with land-dwelling creatures compared to their oceanic cousins.

Coral Merfolk

Coral Merfolk are symbiotically connected to the vibrant coral reefs they call home.

They may have coral-like appendages and can blend seamlessly into their colorful surroundings. These Merfolk are often skilled artisans, crafting from the bounty of the reef.

Merfolk Combat Tactics

In the throes of battle, Merfolk can be as formidable as any land-based adversary, utilizing their aquatic environment to full advantage.

Their combat tactics are deeply influenced by their surroundings—fluid and dynamic.

Much like the ebb and flow of the tides.

They excel in ambushing from the depths and using the water itself as a weapon, often catching their enemies off guard with their speed and maneuverability.

  • Hit and Run: Merfolk often employ guerrilla tactics, striking swiftly and retreating before the enemy can mount a counterattack.
  • Aquatic Ambushes: Utilizing the murky depths or coral reefs for cover, Merfolk can launch surprise attacks, often spearheading the assault with their telepathic abilities.
  • Water Magic: Spellcasting Merfolk might use water-based magic to create hazards, heal allies, or control the battlefield, turning the tide in their favor.
  • Harassment: Smaller groups of Merfolk may harass larger foes, using their swim speed to stay out of reach, while pelting enemies with thrown spears or harpoons.
  • Coordinated Attacks: Merfolk are excellent at coordinating with marine creatures, often calling upon the aid of beasts like sharks or giant squids to supplement their ranks.

Difference Between Merfolk and Tritons in D&D

Merfolk and Tritons represent two distinct races that hail from the depths of the sea, each with its own history, abilities, and role in the aquatic hierarchy.

Merfolk are the iconic sea-dwellers known for their human upper bodies and fish-like lower halves.

They are often depicted as curious about the surface world yet bound to their underwater kingdoms.

Merfolk are incredibly diverse, with societies ranging from nomadic tribes to grand underwater cities. They excel in agility and grace, often using their alluring voices and appearance to interact with other creatures, and are usually more involved in the arts and magic.

Tritons, on the other hand, are born warriors and guardians of the sea’s depths.

They are an amphibious race with a more uniform appearance: blue-green skin, fins, and muscular builds.

Tritons are often considered outsiders in the surface world, as they originate from the Elemental Plane of Water and have only recently ventured to the Material Plane.

They have a more militaristic and structured society and are innately equipped with abilities to combat the threats of the deep, such as sea monsters and the ever-encroaching influence of the abyss.

Here’s a brief comparison:

  • Merfolk:
    • More diverse in appearance.
    • Magic and artistry-focused.
    • Greater interaction with surface dwellers.
    • Cultural emphasis on history and lore.
  • Tritons:
    • Uniform warrior-like appearance.
    • Innate combat abilities against deep-sea threats.
    • Elemental Plane of Water origin.
    • Strong sense of duty and guardianship over the ocean.

Both races share a love and protection for the sea but approach these ideals differently.

While Merfolk charm and negotiate, Tritons act as the frontline defense against the darkness beneath the waves.

How to Play a Merfolk in D&D

Playing a Merfolk is a rewarding experience that allows you to explore the rich tapestry of underwater life and culture.

Here’s how to bring your Merfolk to life in D&D:

First, immerse yourself in the lore of Merfolk. Understand their connection to the sea, their societal structures, and their common traits.

Then, consider how your Merfolk interacts with the world above the waves.

They might be a diplomat, a trader, or simply a curious wanderer drawn to the surface.

  • Choose the right class: Merfolk are naturally inclined towards classes like Bards, Sorcerers, or Druids due to their innate charisma and connection to nature. Select a class that complements their strengths and adds depth to their character.
  • Consider your background: A Merfolk’s background could range from a royal envoy to a shipwreck survivor. Pick a background that gives your character a rich history and motivations.
  • Adapt to the environment: As a creature of the sea, consider the challenges your Merfolk might face on land. They may need to hydrate frequently or struggle with mobility without their aquatic grace.
  • Focus on roleplay: Embrace the Merfolk’s unique perspective. Their views on society, morality, and life can be vastly different from land-dwelling races, which can create interesting dynamics within the party.
  • Utilize racial abilities: Make the most of your Merfolk’s racial traits, such as swimming speed and the ability to communicate with sea creatures, to add strategic advantages in your campaign.
  • Connect with the sea: Whether it’s seeking out bodies of water on your travels or showcasing your character’s longing for the ocean, keep the sea close to your Merfolk’s heart.
  • Collaborate with your DM: Work with your Dungeon Master to integrate your Merfolk’s background into the story, ensuring a personal and engaging narrative.

20 DND Merfolk Names

Creating a name for your Merfolk character can be a fun and imaginative process.

Here’s a list of 20 names that draw inspiration from aquatic sounds, sea mythology, and the melodic nature of the underwater world:

  1. Azura
  2. Ceto
  3. Delphine
  4. Eione
  5. Finneas
  6. Galiana
  7. Halimar
  8. Ione
  9. Jorunna
  10. Kailani
  11. Lir
  12. Mira
  13. Nautica
  14. Oceanus
  15. Pelagia
  16. Qamar
  17. Ryn
  18. Sirena
  19. Triton
  20. Undina

These names offer a blend of the mystical and the familiar, perfectly suited for a character who bridges the gap between the sea and the land.

Example DND Merfolk Build

Creating a Merfolk character involves considering their unique racial traits and how they can complement certain classes and backgrounds.

Below is an example build for a Merfolk character in Dungeons & Dragons:

Character Name: Azura Wavebound

Race: Merfolk

Class: Sorcerer (Sea Sorcery Origin)

Background: Marine Envoy

Ability Scores (Point Buy System):

  • Strength: 8
  • Dexterity: 14
  • Constitution: 13
  • Intelligence: 12
  • Wisdom: 10
  • Charisma: 16


  • Arcana
  • Persuasion
  • Nature
  • Perception


  • Common
  • Aquan


  • A simple weapon (trident)
  • A component pouch
  • An explorer’s pack
  • A scroll of pedigree
  • A set of fine clothes
  • A signet ring

Features and Traits:

  • Amphibious: Can breathe air and water.
  • Swimming Speed: Has a base swimming speed of 30 feet.
  • Sea Sorcery: Gains additional abilities related to the sea and its might.
  • Marine Envoy: Proficient in water-based vehicles and has a diplomatic status.

Spell Selection:

  • Cantrips: Shape Water, Ray of Frost, Light
  • Level 1 Spells: Ice Knife, Fog Cloud

Personality Traits:

  • Curious about the surface world, yet deeply connected to the sea.
  • Noble and articulate, carrying the grace of the ocean in every word.


  • Balance: Believes in maintaining harmony between the sea and the land.


  • Ocean’s Protection: Sworn to protect the sea and its creatures.


  • Naïve: Sometimes fails to understand the surface world’s complexities.

With this build, Azura Wavebound emerges as a character who embodies the heart of the ocean and wields its power.

She serves as a bridge between her underwater home and the adventures that await on land, offering a dynamic and fluid presence in any D&D campaign.

Merfolk Ideas for DMs

Merfolk can be woven into your D&D campaign in countless ways, enriching the story and providing your players with memorable encounters.

Here are 30 creative and unique ideas to inspire you:

  1. Sunken Treasure Hunt: Players must negotiate with Merfolk to locate a sunken ship’s treasure.
  2. Merfolk Escort Mission: Escort a Merfolk dignitary through dangerous waters.
  3. Underwater Siege: Aid Merfolk in defending their home from an aquatic monster invasion.
  4. Cultural Exchange: Arrange a meeting between land and sea leaders to discuss territorial disputes.
  5. Cursed Merfolk: Break a curse that’s turned a Merfolk into a sea monster.
  6. Sacred Grounds: Help Merfolk protect their burial grounds from grave robbers.
  7. Pirate Alliance: Players uncover a pirate-Merfolk alliance that threatens coastal cities.
  8. Marine Rescue: Save Merfolk captives from an underwater prison.
  9. Sea Festival: Participate in a Merfolk festival that includes underwater sports and feasts.
  10. Mystical Illness: Seek a cure for a disease that’s plaguing the Merfolk community.
  11. Elemental Rift: Close a rift that’s spewing forth aberrations into the Merfolk’s realm.
  12. Forbidden Romance: Help a Merfolk who’s fallen for a surface dweller find a way to be together.
  13. Merfolk Artifact: Recover an ancient Merfolk artifact that controls the tides.
  14. Deep Sea Diplomacy: Act as diplomats in a dispute between Merfolk clans.
  15. Merfolk Market: Trade in a Merfolk market that deals in exotic underwater goods.
  16. Lost Knowledge: Unearth ancient wisdom from a Merfolk library beneath the sea.
  17. Oceanic Ritual: Assist in a Merfolk ritual to appease a sea deity.
  18. Merfolk Games: Compete in a series of challenges to win a Merfolk’s trust.
  19. Sea Witch’s Curse: Lift a hex a sea witch has placed on the Merfolk.
  20. Underwater Heist: Infiltrate a Merfolk palace to steal a magical pearl.
  21. Monster Hunter: Join forces with Merfolk to hunt a legendary sea beast.
  22. Shipwreck Spirits: Solve the mystery of a haunted shipwreck with Merfolk ghosts.
  23. Coral Maze: Navigate a labyrinthine coral reef with the help of a Merfolk guide.
  24. Eco-Warriors: Partner with Merfolk activists to stop an underwater mining operation.
  25. Magical Research: Help a Merfolk wizard gather rare components for a powerful spell.
  26. Sea Espionage: Uncover a spy in the Merfolk court.
  27. Triton Conflict: Mediate a conflict between Merfolk and their Triton cousins.
  28. Ocean’s Blessing: Earn the blessing of a Merfolk prophetess by completing a sacred quest.
  29. Poseidon’s Tournament: Enter an underwater tournament to win a boon from a sea god.
  30. Dark Tides: Investigate the source of a dark energy corrupting the Merfolk’s waters.

DND Merfolk FAQs

How Old Are Merfolk in D&D?

Merfolk in D&D have lifespans comparable to humans, typically living up to around 120 years.

They mature at the same rate as humans but enjoy a longer period of adulthood due to their hardy constitutions. This long lifespan allows them to accumulate a vast knowledge of the sea, its secrets, and history, making elder Merfolk respected leaders and sages within their communities.

What Language Do Merfolk Speak?

Merfolk primarily speak Aquan, the fluid language of the elemental plane of water.

It’s a common tongue among oceanic creatures and is known for its melodic and flowing sounds.

Some Merfolk communities might also speak Common to trade or interact with land-dwelling races, and older Merfolk settlements may have their own ancient dialects, as varied as the seas they inhabit.

Are Merfolk Fey?

Merfolk are not classified as Fey creatures in D&D.

They are typically considered humanoids with the aquatic subtype, meaning they are mortal beings of flesh and blood that have adapted to life under the sea.

However, some campaigns may choose to portray Merfolk with more mystical, fey-like qualities, blurring the lines between the natural and the supernatural.

Who Is the god of Merfolk?

The god of Merfolk isn’t universally defined in D&D, as different groups of Merfolk may worship different deities.

However, a common choice is the deity of the sea, such as Umberlee, the capricious and fearsome goddess of the ocean, or Poseidon from real-world mythology

In some settings, Merfolk may venerate a pantheon of sea gods, each reflecting different aspects of the ocean and marine life.

Final Thoughts: DND Merfolk

Diving into the depths of Merfolk lore enriches your D&D experience with a splash of enchantment and mystery.

For more fantastical insights and creative campaign ideas, swim over to our other articles and let your imagination set sail. Thanks for reading!

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Wizards of the Coast – Plane Shift