Lifespan: 80 years
Activity Cycle: Diurnal
As humanity was once the dominant species of Midgard’s land, so mermaids dominate the seas. They inhabit the sunlight zone of every sea, with hundreds of cultures worldwide. The only regions of the ocean they have failed to conquer are the dark regions where sunlight cannot reach. While on the surface, they resemble mammals, they have gills, allowing them to breathe underwater, and they cannot survive or move on land.
Mermaids have two broad lifestyles depending on where they live. In the shallow waters near coastlines, powerful agricultural nations can arise. These nations are the ones who interact most with land-dwelling folks, as most harbors are heavily inhabited by them. Often, these harbor-dwelling mermaids are hugely wealthy, given tribute to avoid sabotage of the trading ships that pass through. The greatest of these harbor-nations form great empires stretching across entire island chains, trading with land folk and distant mermaids alike.
The other main group of mermaids are the open water mermaids, hunters who follow shoals of their preferred prey across the ocean on their migratory routes. These mermaids have smaller groups than their agricultural cousins, usually segregated by their preferred prey. They mingle when their prey’s migration brings them together, often forming marriages and trading at these times. Many clans meet in the cold regions of the world, especially those tribes who hunt whales, where they have formed great meeting halls in the glaciers. One coalition of clans formed a more sedentary lifestyle, creating a city of floating boards in one of the most open spots of the ocean, which has become an important waypoint for merchants the world over. Most terrestrial inhabitants of the city are sambito and selkies.
No matter their culture, mermaids share some traits in common, both biological and behavior-wise. Mermaids naturally put on fat, giving them a resistance to cold waters. Mermaids are active at day and night, capable of resting half of their brain while acting out simple tasks, and their large eyes pick up even dim light. Mermaids are habitually monogamous, pair-bonding strongly and for life. Without the faculties for creating metal tools, they are either limited to stone tools or find magical means to make superior objects. Mermaids rarely wear anything other than straps for carrying objects and rarely, armor. Tattoos and ritual scars are not uncommon as markers of achievements and tribal membership, and leaders are often distinguished not by extravagant jewelry and clothing but full-body tattoos.