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This is a follow-up question for Finding Nymphs Before Predators and covers the terrifying possibility of Nymph-infused superhumans. So....

Recap: Magic bleeding through from an alternate reality combines with built-up residual life force (which is found in cemeteries, warzones, battlefields, anywhere where lots of things die) to form Nymphs. Nymphs appear to be human women in their prime and are unaffected by hot and cold (making them able to stroll through the Arctic and wade in lava flows) not to mention able to breathe air and water with equal ease, speak and understand any human language, and even know any animal or plant in their environment. Despite all of this knowledge, Nymphs still have childlike awe and love of nature.

Nymphs are born clad in leaf clothing (a la Tinker Bell and her fairy friends), being naive, peaceful, curious, and with a deep longing and belief: the longing is to find their purpose, and their belief is that fate is real (ie. that they will find their purpose in the course of their journey).

All Nymphs go on a journey after being "born," both to see the wonders of nature for themselves and to find their purpose. However, this is where my question comes in. You see, Nymphs have a natural ability to "return to nature" by being eaten, which infuses their consumer with their potent natural energies and enhances them.

As an example, a Nymph-infused tiger is supernaturally stealthy, becoming invisible in shadows, and is fast and strong enough to A) catch up to a running horse and B) rend that armored knight on the horse's back. It also has all the nature-related knowledge and human intelligence of a Nymph.

That being said, the problem with someone eating a Nymph is clear. A natural runner would be able to outrun a horse at top speed, while a well-built warrior would have the strength of a gorilla. Their senses would be enhanced (actually, as put above, their everything would enhance, but only one thing will be the most enhanced) and they'd have both the ability to speak and understand any human language and the knowledge needed to survive out in the woods.

Never mind a human's main advantage over other animals: endurance. Biologically speaking, animals have the advantage over us in every area except this one. Well, Nymph-infused humans will have that advantage over everyone else. That runner mentioned above? Yeah, there's no way your cavalry can catch up to him, even with a head start. You'd have to catch him napping. And you can pretty much forget about wearing down that well-built warrior; no sane army would take him on.

So, my question is: How Can an Early Medieval Society Deal With The Danger of Nymph-infused Humans?
Specifically, how can kings prevent an upstart (noble or peasant) from finding a Nymph and becoming a serious threat? (Please note: the previous question concerns finding Nymphs before predators do, so Nymphs don't become monsters and terrorize the populace. However, the system used to do this also makes it really easy for someone to find a Nymph if they want to....)

One Final Note: Thanks to everyone for all of your thoughtful comments! Each and everyone was useful, but in the end, I had to pick one.

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  • $\begingroup$ Is the quest too confusing? I thought I made it clear, but if more information is needed or it has a glaring problem, please let me know! $\endgroup$
    – Alendyias
    Feb 8 at 19:10
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    $\begingroup$ Question : Are there esthetic differences between a nymph-eater and another person? Like the gorilla one having more muscles than the world's top one weightlifter, or a runner having a boosted up torso to hold a super-sized heart and lungs? $\endgroup$
    – Tortliena
    Feb 8 at 20:25
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    $\begingroup$ Good point, I should account for that! Like most superheroes, Nymph-infused humans don't have any telltale mutations, at least as far as I've imagined them. I'm now considering giving them markings like the Moonshadow Elves in The Dragon Prince . $\endgroup$
    – Alendyias
    Feb 8 at 20:30
  • $\begingroup$ Is it possible that those who consumed a Nymph would be subject to sensory overload? I remember hating loud noise as a child, and I suspect children diagnosed autistic have similar issues. If this is so, would Nymph consumers suffer from the same stigmas of Medieval Society & Mental Health? $\endgroup$ Feb 9 at 6:13
  • $\begingroup$ @AlanCampbell, interesting idea! That would definitely put an interesting spin on things.... $\endgroup$
    – Alendyias
    Feb 9 at 16:29

10 Answers 10

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This sounds like a non issue, at least as it applies to human on human interaction in the medieval ages. Based on your previous post nymphs are effectively a natural resource. Countries will fight over it and those that exploit it better or have more of it will have an advantage. The same as cavalry, steel or human soldiers.

Overall Answer

Human nature wouldn't change. People won't fight without a reason. Simply eating a nymph confers the ability to have a comfortable life in the wilderness, regardless of any other circumstances. In order for a nymph bearer to be involved in an attack on the status quo, they would have to have a lot to gain.

Kings will handle upstart nobles and outlaws in the same manner as they always have. Taxes, tradition, law and armies.

Taboo. Eating humans is uncommon and nymphs look like humans. Eventually humans will learn of the power they can gain by eating them but if a strange woman walked up to wearing just leaves and told me to kill and eat them I wouldn't trust them immediately.

Tradition. Wild nymphs are valuable (for their enhancements) and dangerous (because of a predator eating one) so traditions that survive will involve capturing or killing them in some way. Some traditions will say the king is divine and nymphs belong to him. Some traditions will restrict accurate information on the properties of nymphs to those in power. Eating strange women even those who are telling them to eat you would be pretty unnatural to most people. Once everyone believes they are devils that can only be eaten by the divine bloodline of the king, most of them will get turned in.

Taxes. The central authority will be hunting nymphs in the area they control directly. If they have areas that they receive tribute from that tribute may contain a payment of nymphs or nymph soldiers. The amount of nymphs tributed will depend on the culture.

Law. Access to nymphs would be restricted just as horses, swords and guns have been in the past.

Military. Eating a nymph may give you the strength of 10 men and the stamina of 10 horses. However, so does having ten men and ten horses. Having a single nymph isn't going to be different than having a small band of outlaws or fiefdom to conscript. When a noble attacks his king it will be exactly the same as if a noble attacked his king in our universe. The proportion of empowered to unempowered will likely be the same if the are in similar climates but the central authority will levy a tax on nymphs and have more than those that rebel.

Military Power of A Nymph I can't tell from the post how powerful a nymph makes a person but it doesn't seem to make them immune to arrows, poison, spears or swords. In a pitched battle nymph soldiers will be valuable but if a human is elevated to have the strength of a bear and the speed of a horse, a bunch of arrows and spears is still going to kill him. In skirmishes, ambushes, scouting, assassination or guerrilla warfare the value of the nymph goes up but so does the value of having an opposing nymph. Overall this seems to favor the king who will have more nymphs.

Naval Power Naval power in The Golden Age of Piracyhttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golden_Age_of_Piracy would be a good analogue to the effect of nymphs on power. A small group could hijack a ship and set off on their own, they could raid and pillage and many would be helpless against them. A single ship represented a significant amount of power. They could disappear and without a ship to follow them they would not be caught. However, the golden age of piracy came to an end because eventually the organized powers had more ships.

I was making the following assumptions

1). Nymphs don't stack. You can get the power of one nymph at time.

2). Nymphs can be captured and given to someone else to eat. This is what I got from my reading of the previous post but I wanted to spell it out.

3). Eating Nymph doesn't change how much food you eat. This doesn't much but I assume they still need to eat and breathe but won't require an entire village to feed each one.

4). Killing a Nymph User doesn't get you a Nymph. The nymph supply stays fairly constant. Without this there would be a continuous build up of nymphs.

5). Nymphs aren't rare. As long as nymphs aren't a once in a generation occurrence, eventually the more powerful groups will have more nymphs than the less powerful on average.

6). Normal humans still pose a threat to those who have eaten a nymph. Not much but a crossbow or axe through the head will still kill even someone who has been empowered. Eating a nymph does not turn you into a god. Even if nymphs render all other forms of military power irrelevant it would come down to whoever has the most and best trained nymphs which would be whoever can gather more.

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  • $\begingroup$ Very well thought, thank you! I appreciate your enlightening perspective. $\endgroup$
    – Alendyias
    Feb 9 at 16:27
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You deal with it the same way the police and armies deal with the common folk: by being more organized and having the monopoly on violence.

In most places in medieval times only knights and nobles could wield longswords and wear armor. In your case only knights and nobles can be around and consume nymphs. Anyone else who eats a nymph gets treated like a modern american driving an armed tank around in Manhattan.

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    $\begingroup$ Very good answer; however, this still doesn't prevent that one guy from eating a Nymph. They may be treated badly, they may be outcasted, but they may make up for that through intimidation and fear. $\endgroup$
    – Alendyias
    Feb 8 at 19:29
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    $\begingroup$ Out of curiosity, how would a modern American driving an armed tank around Manhattan be treated? With contempt? $\endgroup$
    – Alendyias
    Feb 8 at 19:34
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    $\begingroup$ Forget conventional armored vehicles for the apocalypse; I need me a concrete/steel plated bulldozer! Ultimate apocalypse shelter right there: mobile, defensible, capable of mowing down zombies, almost impervious to attack.... $\endgroup$
    – Alendyias
    Feb 8 at 20:23
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    $\begingroup$ @Alendyias yeah, but almost all the nobility will be enhanced as well and guess what punishment was due for taking the noble's hunt? Death. They will hunt you down. Eventually there will be lower, landless nobility which specializes in that even $\endgroup$
    – Hobbamok
    Feb 9 at 9:34
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    $\begingroup$ Best and simplest answer. Send twenty nymph-eating-cops after your nymph-eating criminal and that's it. $\endgroup$
    – Echox
    Feb 9 at 16:08
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The same way the law maintains order

One person is still just one person, even with an awesomely destructive weapon at their disposal. Somewhat comparable incidents have happened before. Marvin Heemeyer spent months creating his Killdozer (as mentioned by @TheSquare-CubeLaw in a comment) and then there was the time one Shawn Nelson just walked into a National Guard installation and helped himself to a tank which he proceeded to joyride around downtown San Diego. You'll note both individuals did wreak havoc for a while, but only on a small scale (relative to a whole nation) and then it was over.

Why does it turn out this way? Because there was only one of them, they were easily contained and dealt with. An army of Killdozers would be very bad news, but one? One's not nothing, it can do a lot of damage; but Marvin Heemeyer can't win as long as it's just him. He can't force the government to the negotiating table and win any political concessions.

So the governments maintain law and order the same way they've always done: make penalties for threatening it draconian and don't screw around. As long as everyone respects the law, only small numbers of folks will want to challenge your authority or screw around. And small numbers of folks are a solvable problem.

All you really need to do is make sure that small problems don't turn into large problems. A hundred nymph-enhanced hostile people per year will be a very big problem. You deal with this in one of several ways. Any kingdom that wants to remain stable must necessarily have one (or more) of these things:

  1. A military force capable of dealing with nymph-enhanced people that is constantly active and monitoring for them.
  2. A force dedicating to securing new nymphs. It will need to know how to find them to make sure the government finds them first. (What to actually do with the nymphs can vary from 'exile them' to simply 'provide protection so nobody tries to eat them' to 'kill them immediately' or 'feed them to my generals', depending on whether these are good guys or bad guys.)
  3. A group of nymphs that work for the kingdom so when an enhanced person starts making trouble, they're there to put a stop to it.
  4. A group of nymph-enhanced law enforcement officers to do the same.

If this looks somewhat boring and similar to how real world law enforcement operates today, well, that's not a coincidence.

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  • $\begingroup$ Interesting idea with the Nymph enforcement! It seems counterintuitive though, since the Nymphs may be eaten by the troublemaker....could you explain why this option is equal or superior to the Nymph-enhanced law enforcers? $\endgroup$
    – Alendyias
    Feb 8 at 21:03
  • $\begingroup$ I've considered having Nymph-infused people being sensed by other Nymph-infused creatures (dragons, mermaids, elf assassins). Would this serve as a good check? $\endgroup$
    – Alendyias
    Feb 8 at 21:11
  • $\begingroup$ Nymphs being eaten by troublemakers is an issue, but really no more than cops shot by their own guns. It happens, but the point is police know where any given cop is at any given time (as much as possible anyway) and so bad actors are deprived of a key advantage: secrecy. Disappearing government agents brings LOTS of heat. Not to mention, a nymph ought to be just as dangerous - if not more so - than an ordinary human who hasn't eaten one yet. An untrained nymph might be easy prey, but trained warrior nymphs will kick ass and take names. Especially if they aren't fool enough to work alone. $\endgroup$
    – Ton Day
    Feb 9 at 0:19
  • $\begingroup$ Let me amend that - A trained warrior nymph ought be just as dangerous, if not more so, than a trained nymph-enhanced human warrior. The raw physical strength of a nymph might well be less, but whatever nymph potential brings out in a human should be stronger in the original, if only it cares to develop it (i.e. the power ought to be weakened somewhat via consumption). When two trained warriors fight, the human - being a mere mortal - ought to get his ass handed to him by the nymph. $\endgroup$
    – Ton Day
    Feb 9 at 0:45
  • $\begingroup$ Also, if the same thing works in reverse, then warrior nymphs are far more dangerous. The nymph eats (say) a tiger. Nymphs might be pacifists by nature, but enough might be willing to defend their own kind that nymph warriors might be a thing. In which case every kingdom would need to be on good relations with the nymphs, or be very good at hunting them down real quick. $\endgroup$
    – Ton Day
    Feb 9 at 0:47
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Like I said in one of your earlier questions regarding nymphs, eating them can grant great powers, but it has a cost, too...

Self-aware nymph-eater creatures become insane

What you forgot about humans is that they are one of the more clever species on Earth, and have much similarities with nymphs, as much in form as in personalities (curious, looking for a sign of fate, sometimes naive...). Someone who eats a nymph is known to become quickly mad. There are many different cases depending on the personality of the nymph-eater, but doctors of that time have noticed the growing of the following symptoms:

  • Tinnitus, vision blur and unability to focus or to sleep : Patients tell that they sense the world as a double of itself, but with a very slightly displaced point of view. Overfeeling the roots of the world itself through all senses give them strong headaches and prevent them from focusing on any task.
  • Split personalities : The nymph and the human share the same body, at different times of the day. The soul in charge changes as often as sunny days come to raining ones, and raining ones come back to sunny days (rumors say it depends on the emotions felt). And well, because nymphs think -or rather feel- it's a good idea to get eaten, it's quite rare to see one of these people alive very long.
  • Fused personalities : Similar and yet quite the reverse of the split personalities, both souls fall in an endless struggle to get the control of the body. Most of the time unfortunately, the wild nature of the nymph overpowers the soul of the patient. At this point, only a glimmer of the victim's soul remains, as if they were forced to watch their life from a distance, before they ultimately meet the jaw of a monster.
  • Hallucinations, schizophrenia, and dementia : One of the worst cases, where the patient become a shadow of their former selves. First, they frighten at the most common sights, then over time they move to a still while mumbling incoherent prayers and words, watching something which is out of this world. What is it? Nobody knows, but if it ever actually came to this world, it would be the beginning of the apocalypse.

During their research, what noticed the doctors is that the personality of the nymph-eater give different results : A naive and pure adolescent who has been tricked into eating a nymph will have the first two lesser symptoms, while ambitious people looking for power and who thinks that they can overcome even Fate and Gods will often fall into the two latter, which are rarely good ending cases.

Animals, having a knowledge of self to a much lesser extent, don't face as much that issue. Some of the smartest creatures might become enraged or act weirdly, but it's one case seen in thousands. One hypothesis which was raised that they either think too differently from nymphs or, on the reverse, think exactly like them which makes them more or less immune to these mind-altering illnesses.

This is why people seldomly eat nymphs. They might become extremely powerful, but they know they will soon sell their souls to the devil, and might very well never come back from it...


Note : The rare ones who manage to overcome this maddening act are often people of legends, being the bravest, wisest or cunniest people of all kingdoms, and capable of incredible feats. They are the heroes of humanity and its greatest symbols.

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  • $\begingroup$ Tinnitus, I think you just found my cure, stop eating F.....! nymphs! But they taste sooo good! $\endgroup$ Feb 9 at 8:41
  • $\begingroup$ Re: split personalities: Wouldn't the clever ones figure out what triggers the nymph taking over and lock themselves in some kind of restraints that the nymph doesn't know how to get out of? $\endgroup$
    – reirab
    Feb 9 at 22:19
  • $\begingroup$ @reirab Perhaps, but thinking you can silence the nymph soul may very well take you to the fused personalities case at the first sign of weakness. You'd need a very strong will to not be taken out by their resulting anger. $\endgroup$
    – Tortliena
    Feb 9 at 22:25
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Taboo:

No, get your mind out of the gutter. Make the natural human impulse to avoid cannibalism apply to nymphs. Anyone killing and eating a nymph should be characterized as the most brutal murderous Satanic hell-hound in existence. Since this kind of raw power is blatantly obvious, tainting their reputation should be simple. Once every proper Christian Knight realizes that to kill and eat a nymph is to take on an existence of pure evil, only the most wicked among them will follow suit. These folks are witches and in league with the Devil. Period. But don't say it's eating the nymph that gives power. Leave that part a mystery. Emphasize destroying nymph bodies (however that can be done) and that those who get power from nymphs do it by infernal means revealed by the darkest of evil means.

Society would need to actively oppose such people. An army of people willing to do anything to stop pure evil would be able to make their lives hell at least. After all, to slit the throat of such a fiend in their sleep would be duty - to die opposing them would be martyrdom.

This does have some problems. There are always vile people willing to do the most despicable things to get ahead. So a "good" knight would pretty much have three options: kill all nymphs on sight (the safe choice), help the nymph fulfill her quest by any means necessary, or imprison nymphs so they can't be eaten. The fact that essence of nymph is pure evil suggests there would be a kill (and destroy the corpse) first, ask questions about quests later policy.

Temptation for power can be overwhelming. Does eating a little nymph give a little power? Perhaps a powerful church organization (call them crusaders?) would capture these nymphs and slowly siphon off their blood (and power) a little at a time until the nymphs were virtually drained. A nymph might even permit such a thing - as their destiny OR to return to nature. A few drops of blood mixed into communion wine would "bless" the special orders with divine power to fight the savage cannibals. Then these enhanced heroes would be sent to search and destroy both nymphs and those willing to consume them.

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  • $\begingroup$ Definitely a good idea, I really appreciate how you built it off the time period! FYI, a Nymph would allow someone to drink their blood, and will even encourage people to eat them. Your idea of communion wine could actually link the "blessed" knights and enhance them equally, creating a powerful force with a collective conscious.....hmm.... $\endgroup$
    – Alendyias
    Feb 8 at 19:55
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    $\begingroup$ That being said, while Nymphs are naive and peaceful, they are still beings of nature: beautiful, wondrous, savage nature. If people start going around and trying to destroy them, they will fight back, likely by intentionally infusing predators or the people who oppose these knights. $\endgroup$
    – Alendyias
    Feb 8 at 20:00
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Religion and mysticism.

These nymphs are mystical creatures with Supernatural abilities so it makes sense that especially for humans relate to them on terms of religion and mysticism.

  1. The nymphs are holy and or gods . And even thinking about eating one can make you forfeit your place in the afterlife.

  2. The nymphs are sacred sacrifice meant to only be eaten by that God emperor and his family.

  3. Nymphs are scary vampire ghost creatures born from death if you even see one you will lose your soul.

OK well how about for those who disobey

  1. disinformation and censor. This would be a lot more effective in a pre industrial society if No one knows about how to take the powers of a nymph then probably wont discover it by accident.

  2. Organize your own nymph enhanced kill squad. Either organize the nymph themselves ( Yes I know they're innocent and childlike but child soldiers are a thing) or Feed them to your elite Warriors whose job it is to hunt Law breakers who have eaten nymphs.

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  • $\begingroup$ These are all very good ideas, thank you! However, I believe I specified that Nymphs are peaceful; they are very, very unlikely to fight people. Also, those elite warriors may just turn against you....otherwise, great job! $\endgroup$
    – Alendyias
    Feb 8 at 19:27
  • $\begingroup$ @Alendyias They could but that's a risk that what happened anyways there's always a risk that your soldiers will turn against you the The ways you would manage it would be the same way as you always do. And don't forget that your king or emperor would be one of these soldiers to. $\endgroup$ Feb 8 at 20:55
  • $\begingroup$ Oh....yes, I see your point. Your elite warriors should be fanatics, that way you'll have built-in checks and help in claiming the Nymph for yourself. $\endgroup$
    – Alendyias
    Feb 8 at 20:58
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The criminals become the law, or the Law becomes the criminals. Or both. The nymph-eaters have power as individuals, but more so as a gang, a faction, an army. The government can have its thralls, fearing for their families, hunt down and dutifully turn over nymphs to their betters so that those betters can become ... much better. After a period of war, they come to some new organized structure - one which also believes a great deal in order and suppressing any new rivals, but now has the power to hold their position.

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  • $\begingroup$ Good point; I really need to put checks in so things don't look so bleak for people. $\endgroup$
    – Alendyias
    Feb 9 at 2:41
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A mix of natural limitations and human laws plus information hiding.

Nymphs are strong, aren't they? Is doesn't matter if they are pacifists or naive. I cannot imagine any life form without a sense for peril. If they are strong, at least they can avoid danger by using their special capabilities. They can detect danger very soon, and quickly run from it.

But by say they can be eaten to acquire their capabilities, you are defining a mechanic that you want somebody to try to exploit at some point. Why have the mechanic otherwise?

Let's say then, that they aren't impossible to catch. Just very difficult to catch. For example, some King may want to create a super strong knight. Then he organizes a well equipped party, with everything that is needed to attempt the catching of a Nymph. Let's call them [Nymph Hunters].

Our natural limitation, then, is that the catching of a Nymph is an issue that requires technical expertise. Not everyone with a katana, a bow if you prefer that version, is a Samurai.

This required a modification due to the Nymph behavior being defined as very specific. And the expected cycle of their life being in the core of this worldbuilding, making it difficult to trade.

While the act of catching a Nymph needs to lower its difficulty, the act of locating one may steel be a challenge.

To accommodate to this, we exchange Nymph Hunters, for Nymph Trackers.

The black market is always there to make the game more fun... for some. There are mercenaries too. Nymph Hunters Trackers can be hired by everyone with enough money.

Then we have the need for artificial limitations too. The kings will try to make it illegal. They will actively punish offenders.

The act of tracking itself isn't an offend. The act of catching is.

Also, another accommodation with already existing worlbuilding (look at the series of question) is that the most common places where to find Nymphs may we well known. Battlefields, graveyards, etc. But worry not, our Trackers still have well secured jobs.

Common places are expected to be under some form of surveillance, while uncommon ones aren't. Our Trackers can go to the uncommon ones, and in record time. Also, they have the knowledge and experience to correctly place their bets.

Expend smart, hire your tracker

Some considerations

Artificial limitations require constant dedication and sourcing. Laws are nothing if nobody is watching. If you want some degree of believability, and there is demand for a Nymph, at some point somebody will illegally catch one, for one reason or another.

But that is actually... good. For woldbuilders at least. I don't know about the Nymph. Because you can have your conflicts, your drama, and your stories.

Also consider, that if you will mix this with "information hiding" your laws have to be ambiguous. Otherwise you are leaking information. People may be tired at times, but they aren't stupid. They eventually find out. I would be very disappointed if they don't.

Your laws has to say "don't hurt or attempt to hurt, a Nymph". You can go even more ambiguous to protect critical knowlegde by not saying Nymphs at all, "don't hurt or attempt to hurt any magical being". You don't say "Nymph", and you don't say "eat".

Information hiding

This may require to trade some aspects of this world, but let me try to sell you this one. Not everyone have to know about what happen when a Nymph is eaten.

Information control worked better in middle ages than today.

Some considerations

Medieval societies had "Internet". Just a very slow one. There were cultural and economic interactions between kingdoms/countries. Both, market and military conquests, contributed to it.

Knowledge will leak, eventually.

Knights may become mercenaries. Scholars may go rogue, or change factions, for unforeseen circumstances. And before of that, both may, occasionally, leak knowledge without knowing.

Disinformation

A tactic to counteract the inevitable knowledge leaking.

If you need to switch to this paradigm, then you already have a lot of knowledge leaking. Once in this scenario, you cannot go back.

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  • $\begingroup$ Nymphs do have a sense of peril, it's just not well-developed since they aren't killed by being eaten and are essentially reborn into whatever predator eats them. Since they are biologically immortal, this lack of fear and desire to return to nature keeps their population (and potential to be dangerous) in check. $\endgroup$
    – Alendyias
    Feb 8 at 20:56
  • $\begingroup$ @Alendyias, I see, you already have a mechanic to justify that cycle. Must I assume then, that the difficulty in catching a Nymph is low? $\endgroup$ Feb 8 at 21:00
  • $\begingroup$ Not necessarily; Nymphs wander around, they tend to end up in dangerous places (like children), and they tend to be in remote areas. It's just that they don't run or struggle when you show up and try to catch them. $\endgroup$
    – Alendyias
    Feb 8 at 21:02
  • $\begingroup$ I see, they are very passive. Part of my answer is in conflict with your worldbuilding. I will edit it. $\endgroup$ Feb 8 at 21:16
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Some of the other answers have touched on this in passing, but one key factor to consider is rarity / frequency. Let's consider a few possible variations and what they would lead to, before we go into "how to deal with them". Also, you're going to have to deal with a "human-centric" problem: you will get vastly different patterns depending on whether you consider "residual life" to be a property of simple biomass, or if consciousness (or at least complexity of intellect) weights it and if so how strongly.

For the sake of breaking it down a bit, I'm going to assume that it is heavily biased toward "higher consciousness" resulting in stronger residuals. For a purely pragmatic storytelling driver: there's a reason that not many ghost stories are told about animals other than pets, and pretty much none about random rodents. Just recognize that this is a consideration that will impact how and where nymphs will spawn, because if humans are the high end of the scale, the fact that they cluster quite tightly compared to the total area available (and tend to keep many of the next-highest-rank of creatures within that same tight clustering) will have a noticeable impact.

So, that said:

  1. If all it takes is a medieval village's graveyard ("single to double digit sentient corpses") and the "residual life force" recharges itself somehow after spawning a nymph, they're going to be ridiculously common. Probably not what you're aiming for, from the descriptions, but something to think about. Also, anyone with a slaughterhouse would be spawning them almost faster than the humans could eat them.
  2. If it takes a village graveyard but the life force doesn't recharge unless more things die / are buried there, then they'll be roughly on a par with the rarity of good metal weapons (but much, much more effective at enhancing the person who has the benefit).
  3. If it takes a significant battlefield (hundreds of corpses) but recharges, you're looking at about the same rarity, but the locations will be much more concentrated, which has impacts on probable societal controls.
  4. Same scale, but without recharging, and you're to the point that you're into high fantasy "find a powerful sword" tropes. Common enough that they're known to happen, but rare enough that you're talking about a handful of these existing across the entirety of Europe at any given moment.
  5. Thousands to tens of thousands (with or without recharge), and they would be rare enough to associate with specific areas or historic events. With recharge, you're still probably talking about only a few dozen across the continent at any one moment; without, you're talking about one or two happening in an entire generation.

Given that list:

  • If they're ridiculously common, eating one will be a rite of passage. It will also be necessary just to survive the number of enhanced predators around. "When everyone's super… nobody is."
  • If they're on a par with metal weapons, but more powerful, then you'll tend to see dynamics that would probably resemble "real" ones — they are rare enough (especially if focused in particular areas) that they are a controllable resource, but you have enough of them to be able to 'equip' a sizable enough force of loyalists who can take on rogues. At least until the rogues get smart and start organizing out in the wilds, but that's when you start calling them "the next kingdom over". Basically, they will be the domain of the nobility (if there is a strong enough centralization of governance), or about-one-per-village folk heroes if nobody has that good a grip on things. Also, those folks heroes will become the nobility fairly rapidly.
  • If they're in fantasy trope rarity, you have a lot of room to play with. The key thing that will probably decide it is how much enhancement helps you. Specifically, if "mere mortals" can still take someone like this down at a 10:1 or maybe even 20:1 ratio, the nobles can afford to enforce the death penalty on anyone who transgresses. Inconvenient but affordable and probably worth their while, since most folks won't transgress given the consequences.
  • If it is more like 50:1 or 100:1 then this isn't a winning proposition; it is just too expensive to try to enforce a death penalty (some may still try, of course). The more effective ones would use a combination of spreading the belief that terrible things would happen to you if you ate one but were not specifically trained/prepared/had a bloodline (whatever the local population's mythology supports) but also making a policy of paying out very well for someone who brings one in, or making very, very friendly with the stray youth who didn't know any better and using their naiveté to get a good handle on them. Definitely classic fantasy trope land here; anything consuming one is a Hero or a Monster, and most sane people don't actually want to be Heroes (especially if doing so without permission can get you on the bad side of the royals but bringing them in gets you favor, money, and power).
  • Rarer than that, and there just aren't enough of them to make a generalized case; if life force recharges, then areas which can spawn them at all reliably will have local customs for dealing with it that will vary wildly, and they'll still be far enough apart that any sitting ruler will probably never have to deal with more than one spawning in their reign. If there isn't any recharge, then they're going to be unique and linked to major historic events, and may actually be more predictable because the humans will have noticed that much dying; it is a non-trivial portion of the population, after all.
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  • $\begingroup$ Yup; Your best answer will vary a lot based on the rarity, up to a point where none are valid for every step on the "nymph quantity scale". $\endgroup$
    – Tortliena
    Feb 10 at 13:00
  • $\begingroup$ Thank you for your well-thought answer! 2 is closest to what I had envisioned. $\endgroup$
    – Alendyias
    Feb 10 at 14:13
  • $\begingroup$ @Alendyias Then it does seem like they will be a relatively well-understood "fact of life", if not a familiar one, to most of the population. Probably just about everyone has a relative, friend, or at least friend-of-a-friend who is Nymph-enhanced (especially given the broader distribution of where they appear). Most rebellions will have a solid core of enhanced members, but by and large they'll still probably mostly be the purview of the nobility or those directly associated with them. $\endgroup$ Feb 10 at 19:37
  • $\begingroup$ Thank you for sharing your perception, it was very helpful! $\endgroup$
    – Alendyias
    Feb 10 at 20:33
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Consuming nymphs doesn't always go well...

or at least that's what you want people to think.

Spread storys about nymph eaters going crazy, if not sufficiently prepared by government supervised rituals.
It doesn't happen in an instant. It's just that after cosnuming the nymph, your mind starts to rot away until you are no more than a wild beast.

To strenghten your point you can always hunt and contain these people while using exessive force against them and any bystanders. Leave no witnesses and declare later that you had to contain yet another mindless "nymph hybrid" which massacred everyone in the area, while you were, very unfortunately of course, too late to rescue anyone.

Since you should have some superpowered people at hand already, it is easy to devastate whole villages if neccessary and have the damage look like the result of mindless rage and the fight necessary to overwhelm the "beast".

Most people will become too scared to dare coming anywhere near a nymph. And those who still try their luck and seem to be fine at first can either be "invited" to join your forces or just violently eliminated later.
And those people who actually manage to hide their powers from you could, when they later get found out, be identified as people with a naturally high resistance to decay but who still, for their own safety and everyone else's, needs to join your forces and start using your rituals asap.

You are the only one keeping these people alive and sane!

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