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Okay, after I posted Adventurers Transporting Mermaids, I realized I had made an embarrassing mistake: I had neglected to post a question about how adventurers would recruit mermaids to travel with them.

See, even though there are good transportation options, most mermaids aren't really going to want to travel with an adventurer. Why?

  1. It's Dangerous Adventurers tangle with things like goblins (many small, weak but still quite deadly monsters), dragons ( a single, big, powerful monster), bandits, rogues, and slave traders all the time, along with the occasional crazy mage or royal. Quite simply, it's not safe.

  2. Adventurers (generally) Don't Have Good Motivation Most adventurers are men (as helpfully pointed out by Brad0440, this is because of society and sexism working together) and there are a handful of reasons the typical adventurer will want a mermaid to accompany them:

A. Coolness-Yes, trophy mermaids are a thing. Plenty of adventurers show off their mermaid companion, for much the same reasons one would show off a trophy wife or a dragon pet.

B. Magic-If you aren't a mage, the only way to get magic is from a magical creature. Mermaids are magical, and therefore can be an ample source of magic (magic can be obtained over time by unharmful means, otherwise mermaids wouldn't be okay with this). However, most mermaids don't want to share their magical essence with someone else.

C. Company-Sometimes adventurers want company, particularly female company, the latter often for not-so-good reasons. Mermaids know this, and sensible mermaids, therefore, avoid adventurers.

D. Practical Reasons-Mermaids don't have to be paid so much as cared for, they can go places where ferries can't, they can defend themselves, and they can vouch for you when you encounter other mermaids.

E. Money-The darkest of all the possible motivations. Mermaids can be made to do street performances and so on, which can pay very well. Mermaids can be an even more ample source of coin if one is unscrupulous enough to sell her pearls (naturally formed, they contain part of her very heart and soul), shed scales, and so forth, and one can similarly gain some money by, well, trafficking a mermaid. Because of this bad behavior, mermaids generally avoid and have a low opinion of people.

So, How Can An Adventurer Recruit Mermaids To Accompany Them? My question exactly. This recruitment method has to be feasible for the medieval period, it has to result in a mermaid willing to accompany an adventurer (free will is key here, otherwise the adventurers are no better than the monsters they fight), it should not be magical (though sheets of Plop paper can and probably should be used), and it should be:

  1. Efficient Use the least amount of labor, effort, and/or manpower

and

  1. Effective It should result in the most loyal, cooperative, helpful mermaid companion possible.

I really appreciate your input and feedback, so don't be shy. If you decide to VTC or downvote, I would appreciate your constructive criticism. Thank you for your help and advice! (Oh, and if it needs another tag, please let me know what it is....I wasn't sure what would fit.)

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  • $\begingroup$ Quote from question: "Most adventurers are men (please correct me if I'm wrong, but men tend to be more reckless/adventurous than women) " - In the real world, adventurers were more likely to be male because of societal expectations (women stay home and look after the house/kids) rather than attributes like recklessness. That, and men were more likely to be funded for expeditions than women because of sexist attitudes. The society in your world will determine whether adventurers are mainly men or not, but it won't be because they're more adventurous/etc... $\endgroup$ – Brad0440 Mar 2 at 14:48
  • $\begingroup$ @Brad0440 According to mortality data, mortality rates among children are basically interchangeable between males and females through early childhood. Then the mortality rate for males jumps sharply for males, primarily with accidents as the cause, basically after adolescence (and again, sharply and mostly for males, around 16/17, when they hit driving age). It is not presumption to say that males are more reckless than females. And that is in modern times. $\endgroup$ – Jedediah Mar 2 at 19:11
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You recruit loyal, cooperative, helpful mer-folk the same way you recruit any other loyal, cooperative, helpful companions: By staying away from seedy shoreline alehouses.

Seek adventurous recruits at the mer-folk equivalents of farms, schools, and industries. Learn the language, rent a rowboat, invent the snorkel and swim flippers, and go get wet.

You might need to be a companion on one of their adventures before they trust you enough to go dry. In which case, you should also invent swim goggles so you can see enough of that adventure to appreciate it.

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  • $\begingroup$ I can't believe I didn't think of this, thank you! So, in order to get mermaid companions, you have to find the right place and earn their trust, yes? $\endgroup$ – Alendyias Mar 2 at 18:31
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Perhaps the mermaids would like to travel somewhere they can not normally reach, like a landlocked lake or sea. The mermaid could become an indentured servant until the journey is complete or an agreed period of time.

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  • $\begingroup$ Good answer, this is quite feasible and I'm surprised I didn't think of it myself. $\endgroup$ – Alendyias Mar 2 at 18:32
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A hostage as guarantor

In the antiquity, it was usual to exchange hostages as a guarantee for a pact.
Usually a vassal used to send his sons or relatives to the court of his liege: this way the liege could be (reasonably) sure of the loyalty of his vassal, and could also educate the vassal's offspring.

Similarly, an adventurer could recruit a mermaid by leaving one of his familiars or companions to live by the family/clan of the mermaid.
This way the mermaid can be sure that the adventurer will be respectful and helpful toward her (and won't sell her for peanuts at the first occasion!). Her clan would gain valuable indentured servant, who could help them by being able to work and live on the surface.

For the reason why adventurer could persuade the mermaid to join him (in addition to the forementioned help to her clan), I can say

  • The adventurer will pay her for her service (for instance a part of the treasures of the dungeon)
  • The mermaid is tired of living underwater and wants to live a once in a lifetime adventure
  • The big bad enemy of the adventurer is a threat even for the pacific life of the merfolk
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  • $\begingroup$ Interesting perspective; such an arrangement would definitely help foster mutual trust, and your ideas for persuading the mermaids to agree are bright and valid. It's sort of a trade, then, isn't it? $\endgroup$ – Alendyias Mar 2 at 20:34
  • $\begingroup$ Exactly, in my idea this is a kind of arrangement where all the involved parts gain something (even the "hostage" has the chance to make valuable experience living with the merfolk) $\endgroup$ – McTroopers Mar 2 at 20:44
  • $\begingroup$ That's the greatest pro of it, but there is a con: I can see this developing into a literal slave trade. $\endgroup$ – Alendyias Mar 2 at 20:52
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, it's danger. But when I talked about the hostage being a kind of servant, it is not necessary for this to happen: the relative of the adventurer could just be a kind of guest or employee of the family of the mermaid. If I were the mermaid, I wouldn't trust the word of somebody too eager to give away a relative as slave. And the mermaid's family has all the reasons to treat well the hostage. In the end, the deal would settle to a kind of apprentice contract for both the mermaid and the hostage, rather than slavery. Or maybe it's just that I have too an optimistic opinion of people... $\endgroup$ – McTroopers Mar 2 at 21:53
  • $\begingroup$ No, either way is equally feasible; as least as far as I believe, which is that people have equal capacity for good or evil. $\endgroup$ – Alendyias Mar 2 at 23:39

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