I've been trying to create a story that isn't all that cliche and I found not that many books have been made with the plot surrounding mermaids. However the more I thought about it the fewer mermaids seemed to fit in with the story. So I started looking at Nereids which is a sea Nymph which worked a little bit better considering I'm trying to factor in the fact my main character has a humanoid appearance and doesn't grow legs magically in the water at all (she does need a good soak every once and a while to reconnect with the sea) But now I'm thinking Nereids arent the way to go either since they don't particularly have the magical properties of controlling water and they may be a little too embedded into greek lore. So I'm thinking of a siren/Nereid hybrid of having a humanoid appearance, power over water, and control over people with their voice.

My story also goes off on the fact that my main character was thrown overboard because of the superstition that women bring bad luck when on ships.

I'm also maybe trying to incorporate the sea itself. I know in Nereid Lore the woman would ride on dolphins to travel and I was thinking a hippocampus of sorts but now I may be delving too much into Greek lore and throwing the idea a little too out there. I could use animals native to the area, seals, turtles, hell even the dolphins. But what my main character would be doing in the sea I'm not too sure of yet. I don't even want to touch the concept of a little mermaid idea or even really delve too deep into an underwater world.

Just some help with maybe cementing ideas and getting a grip on not being so wishy-washy. Is this concept too far-fetched?


closed as unclear what you're asking by Frostfyre, JBH, Vincent, sphennings, nzaman Dec 26 '17 at 12:36

Please clarify your specific problem or add additional details to highlight exactly what you need. As it's currently written, it’s hard to tell exactly what you're asking. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    $\begingroup$ The idea of sirens being interchangeable with merfolk is a relatively recent thing. Traditionally, sirens (which, incidentally, are just as Greek in origins as Nereids), were part-bird and part-woman. Later they got confused with merfolk, and some modern interpretations have them fully humanoid, sometimes with minor details such as webbed fingers and toes. Really, if avoiding a "Greek" feel is an issue, it would be helpful if you could name a different culture you want a feel of, since they might have their own take on sea-people. $\endgroup$ – Cowrie Dec 20 '17 at 1:06
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    $\begingroup$ That is actually very useful. After doing some more research (a simple google look) it seems they managed to get wings from Demeter to protect her daughter. Alternately I could make it into a fly fish find of situation where they have fins that may seem like wings. I don't have a serious issue with avoiding anything Greek but I wanted to be somewhat original but have a reference to look to, being the Greeks. $\endgroup$ – Isillome Dec 20 '17 at 2:55
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    $\begingroup$ Your character seems to some kind of undine, but there are plenty of other mythologies with sea women, selkies, for example. There are also mythologies of women being thrown into the sea and transforming, e.g. Sedna. I suggest you do some mixing and matching to get the kind of character mythology you want - there seems to be plenty available. $\endgroup$ – Lee Leon Dec 20 '17 at 9:09
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    $\begingroup$ Welcome to the site, Isillome. Please note that the Worldbuilding SE is dedicated to providing detailed answers to specific questions about your world. We are not, however, a sounding board for story or character development. As is, this is likely to be put on hold until an edit is made clarifying your specific problem and how it relates to worldbuilding. If you haven't already, feel free to take the tour to get a better understanding of the site. $\endgroup$ – Frostfyre Dec 20 '17 at 14:03
  • $\begingroup$ I'm voting to close this question because it is unclear what you want. Frankly, I'm not convinced that you know what you want. For some reason you're trying to keep your creatures pigeon-holed in Greek mythology... and yet not. Regrettably, this site doesn't work well as a forum or discussion. It's a one-question-one-answer format and what you've asked is too much train-of-conciousness. Too many maybe's, too much fishing-for-ideas. The nature of fiction is anything goes. So, exactly what are you asking? $\endgroup$ – JBH Dec 26 '17 at 3:22

The best thing about using water nymphs is this painting of Hylas and the water nymphs by John Waterhouse.

Hylas and the water nymphs

Sirens / fairies that lure people, drown people, eat people - sure, all of that and there are plenty of them. Odysseus' sirens, European fairies like https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jenny_Greenteeth.

Rusalkas are Slavic ghosts that do this sort of thing. That would work for your character too, who was thrown overboard. Rusalkas are not pure monsters, like the sirens or Jenny Greenteeth. Like the rusalka, your character might be dead. She might not know that she is, or what she is.

It is accounted by most stories that the soul of a young woman who had died in or near a river or a lake would come back to haunt that waterway. This undead rusalka is not invariably malevolent, and would be allowed to die in peace if her death is avenged. Her main purpose is, however, to lure young men, seduced by either her looks or her voice, into the depths of said waterways where she would entangle their feet with her long red hair and submerge them. Her body would instantly become very slippery and not allow the victim to cling on to her body in order to reach the surface. She would then wait until the victim had drowned, or, on some occasions, tickle them to death, as she laughed.

That sounds pretty bad, but what if the Rusalka does not know she is killing these guys? She thinks things are just not working out, and she is frustrated. Or maybe they do keep her company after they die and become something more like her.

But Hylas! These water nymphs do not want to kill Hylas, I am pretty sure. I think they want to keep him. It is more like the Queen of the Fairies (in Celtic myth) who notices a prince named Oisin and asks him to come stay with her. She does not mean him harm; quite the opposite. He does leave his family to go with her. 300 years pass in the blink of an eye, which does not turn out well for him when he goes home.

So too Hylas - I think they just want him to come live with them, and he does. Given a choice between these girls and Hercules I can see how that might happen.


If your questions is "can an aquatic humanoid work without a tail" then yes, it can. Even a subtle elongation of the feet/toes, combined with some webbing, will let feet act much like flippers and greatly enhance swimming. Plus if they live without shoes/much walking their feet will be broader. Expect them all to look kinda like Olympic swimmers, ie long and lanky, usually with pretty good leg muscle definition. Look at how a swimmer doing the butterfly stroke looks in the first part of the race when they are swimming underwater.

Or you could borrow from Aquaman in the Justice League movie and just have them magically propel themselves through the water. Then they can be 100% human looking and still master the aquatic world.


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