Merfolk in Materia
Merfolk can be found all around Materia, and have existed for as long as anyone can remember. They can be found in both fresh and ocean water. Near the shores, many tend to be able to change their lower extremities into legs and walk around on shore, although rather slowly.
In the fresh water of lakes, one can find the small cities of freshwater merfolk. These merfolk use lakes to create cities so they have enough space to build the buildings underwater. They try to light these using some magically enchanted stone. A notable city is Dymea, which a at the bottom of a high altitude lake and is allied with the wood elf house of The Skyborns.
There are also tribes of merfolk that travel up and down rivers. They never settle in one place, but use rock outcroppings to keep shelter during the night. They live off of the river, and travel up and down, sometimes even trading with land creatures who come near the rivers. A notable example are the Orutuk tribe that travels up the rivers of The Twinbrooks and commonly trades with the elves and humans along the river.
There are also merfolk who bridge the gap between freshwater and saltwater merfolk who live in estuaries. They can pass easily between fresh and salt water, and help keep continuity for merfolk society. A notable town is a small estuary city in southern Undam called Malowen.
Swamp merfolk live in swamps, and are constantly having to deal with going in and out of water. They generally live peacefully with the creatures there, and use swamp mud to conceal themselves. The Jademarshes and the Swamp tribe of Tutualani live in the same swamp on Undam.
Coastal merfolk live near the coastlines and generally like interacting with people there. The merfolk who usually do this try not distinguish themselves as a separate town, but rather a subculture of the city. They like to help people who have been stranded at sea. Notable examples are those that live with the societies of The Silverseas and Ithlon.
There are also groups of nomadic merfolk, who travel in the ocean many miles each day. They find and use what they can, and take refuge in reefs when they can. They will save the occasional person, but generally they just keep to themselves on the open ocean. There is also a group of merfolk raiders called the Typhoon from the Deeps, who raids ships for weapons, food, and jewelry.
There are also towns of deep sea merfolk who use bio-luminescence to glow at the bottoms of the oceans. Many live in trench, usually near hydrothermal vents, where ecosystems thrive. A notable city is Orasille, which the party recently helped with a little bomb problem.
A special brand of nomadic merfolk who are able to dive to great depths, much like sperm whales, close the divide between deep sea merfolk and other surface merfolk. They tend to elicit news and trade between the groups, and are how deep sea merfolk get any descriptions at all about land dwelling creatures. The tribe of Zalmuk dive in between the coastal merfolk of the Silverseas and the deep sea merfolk of Orasille.
Selkie like merfolk live in the arctic regions of the world. They are comfortable fishing for their prey above and below the ice. They also trade with others who are near the arctic themselves. The Farlorn tribe near to the north commonly trades with the fish city of Esset.
Sahuagin are a race of evil creatures residing throughout the oceans, driven by a lust for power and control. They look similar to merfolk, but they could be distiguished by a variety of features, most notably the color of their skin and the tentacles upon their face. They are also able to split their fins into legs and walk upon land effortlessly, and breath there for up to 4 hours.
The Sahuagin are not a natural race, and were created long ago. 3000 years before now, there was a war between 1 nation of merfolk and 3 others. This nation, called Marwenia was cruel, and laid waste to the nation of Argosteen, creating an area of desolation called The Argonaut. The other two nations quickly fell in line. As punishment, the remaining alive from the nations of Prenean and Shamolan were driven to the desolate area of The Argonaut, along with the remaining survivors of that nation.
Obtaining resources in The Argonaut was difficult, but many lush resources and food could be seen up on islands nearby, taunting the merfolk residing there. After about 50 years, and after much of their people fell, the remaining nations of the newly called Argent Fall were given a proposal by the devilish shark Sekolah. She promised them devilish power, and a metamorphosis that would allow them to retrieve the resources from the land above them. Starving and desperate, they accepted the offer, painfully turning the survivors of the 3 nations into what are now referred to as Sahuagin.
With their new found strength, they quickly prospered, stripping the island of its resources. They then fought back against Marwenia, exacting their revenge for what happened 50 years prior. They left few from that nation alive, and what were left were forced to interbreed with the new Sahuagin nation of Argent Fall, since there was nowhere else to go. The decendents of such breedings can sometimes create creatures almost exactly like other merfolk of varying types, which are referred to as Merrow by outside merfolk. The Sahuagin usually refer to these as Marwins, a derogatory reference to the nation that they once warred with.