On the peaceful lakeside in a dense and beautiful forest, amongst the flitting of dragonflies and mayflies, buzzing of horseflies and tweet tweet toowoos of birdflies, the water stirs from the water strides of water ducks and water bucks drinking their fill.
And at the edge of the waterline with a view of the forestline a dangerous kind of sight and sound runs in as straight a line as a man on fire can.
And from behind these lines stands two compatriots of the fiery man wearing quizzical looks and whimsical smirks as they joke and jibe at the advice forsook “Do not play with flame and oil when so much tinder fills every cranny and nook”
And the combusted man learning his lesson in the most frantic of ways, makes zig zags in the undergrowth to and fro and fray, when he reaches the magnificent pool and stops as if to pull up a stool and screams like a fool “Lorelei be friend! My desire is for these flames to end!”
And out popped the sprite, with anger and excite across its furrowed brow. And with a wave of its webbed hands and a lash of it’s tangled locks it took its frown into a bow and blasted him with wet from head to trow.
And laughing from the forest line right up to the water line, the compatriots all a riot with stiches in their bellies and wheezing in the lungs and tears in their eyes they regain themselves to ask “Why ask Lorelei when your desire lie right at the line beside which you lay?”
And with great embarrassment the man spies the great body of water, as if for the first time, with the eyes of a newborn babe. What a waste of desire, without reason or rhyme, such as it is when you find yourself aflame.
Nickname #1: River Horse Nickname #2: Maritime Disaster
Source: Bestiary 2, pg. 183
Reading List: Bonus Bestiary, pg 15 (Free RPG Day, 2009)
The size of a child and with large eyes, catfish-like whiskers and webbed fingers and toes.
Scaly skin, pointed ears and long seaweed-coloured hair.
1e: feet and hands more like a duck’s or tha of a fish’s flipper than a human appendage. And skin covered in very, very fine fish-like scales. They stand about 4 ft tall and weigh about 50 pounds (or 22.7 kg)
They form small communities, sometimes turning into full underwater societies if there are enough in one place.
1e: tribes of up to eighty
Some folklore claims there are Nixie nations at the bottom of particularly large lakes.
Guarding ponds, rivers and lakes in their bucolic homes from predators and encroaching negligent humanoids are aquatic fey creatures called Nixies.
They are reclusive and hide from both hoping neither will cause them to act on the trespassing.
Stories are told about miracles performed by Nixies to those who befriend them. So humanoids then foolishly seek them out.
Predictably, the irony is that the Nixie is likely to grant any kind of boon to someone seeking it.
But if someone does approach a Nixie with the proper humility, positive attitude and respect. Even an easygoing openness = read: hippy-like attitude. They are more likely to respond to the need for aid.
Only those who have properly befriended a Nixie are extended invitations to swim or dine with them, and only the most trusted are gifted a minor wish.
In order to gain said trust, they will most often require a task of some kind in return.
It could be as simple as telling a grand tale or performing a song, or something more dangerous like dispatching with a nearby predator that is causing trouble (Dweomercat!), or doing something about a source of pollution in the area.
If the task they need doing is important enough and those seeking out the Nixie refuse to help, the Nixie may use their magics to charm the individuals and subtly nudge them into helping.
Violence for a Nixie is a last resort, and prefer solutions based in Primal Magic. Preferring to defuse a situation before the conflict rises to bloodshed.
In this pursuit they lean on Charming intruders and convincing them to leave peacefully.
Or they may use local fauna to scare them off.
Those who are helping the Nixie (charmed or not) may be granted the temporary ability to breath water (if the task requires it).
Sidebar: Nixies that dwell in bogs, swamps or fens have much more foul temperaments.
They much more quick to violence and delight in tempting those who seek our their power into doing unplanned acts of evil.
HAGS Let’s go!
Mythology & Folklore
Coming from Germanic and Scandinavian folklore!
They are shapeshifting water spirits and are related to many other water spirits of different cultures, including the English knucker, the German nixe (female river mermaid), the French Melusine, the Spanish xana and various Slavic options such as rusalka.
Etymology: the word is derived from Sanskrit, Greek and Irish words that mean “to wash or be washed”.
However, there are many variations across many languages. I won’t bother getting into it.
They share characteristics to English folklore entities like Jenny Greenteeth, Peg Powler and Nelly Longarms (river or water hags I can’t believe I never came across before), the Shellycoat (a river or stream bogeyman) and the grindylow (which is another episode of its own).
In Nordic traditions these spirits sing sweet songs that can lure men, women and children alike, and are very siren-esque. Some in fact were quite malevolent and played beautiful violin music that attracted children to the water so they could drown them.
The Norwegian figure known as Fossegrim would, when properly approached, teach a musician to play so adeptly "that the trees dance and waterfalls stop at his music".
Shapeshifting was one of the core attributes of the Nixie and as such the appearance of one was difficult or impossible to describe. However, they were usually depicted as male.
A common appearance was in brooks or waterfalls as a man playing the violin. More modern descriptions were that he was fair and naked, older ones have him in elegant clothing.
Could even be seen as treasure or floating objects, or animals. Particularly a brook or river horse.
This extends into Scottish folklore of the Kelpie. Fore which 2e also has a creature stat block!
The Nixie was most dangerous to women and children…particularly…pregnant women…and unbaptized children (crazy old school Christianity rears its ugly head again).
And they were most active during Midsummer’s Night (a summer event close to the summer solstice), Christmas Eve….and Thursdays…hahhha
If the were caught dragging someone into the water, the way to stop them was to call out their name (presuming you know it…?) which supposedly just outright killed them.
You could also learn his music if you brought it a “treat” in the form of: three drops of blood, a black animal brannvin (Scandinavian Vodka) and snus (Scandinavian snuff).
He also served as an omen for drowning. Calling out from a particular spot in a lake or river and scream like a loon. And a drowning would later occur in the exact spot.
So…just don’t go there I guess?
Or alternatively…swimmers could avoid being drowned by the Nixie…by throwing a bit of steel in the water…
Fun but dreadful fact: In Scandinavia water lilies are sometimes called Nix Roses. Which comes from a tale about a promised his father to a NIxie in exchange for great hauls of fish.
She refused and stabbed herself to death, staining the water lilies red forever.
In German traditions, they originate as river mermen or mermaids.
In the German epic poem Nibelungenlied (or Song of the Nibelungs) mentions the nix in relation to the Danube river as far back as 1180-1210 CE.
Over time they became more of a water sprite, but still lure people toward the water.
Males could shapeshift and take on the form of a human, fish or snake.
Females had the tail of a fish, so still mermaid-esque.
They can be spotted in human form by noticing the wet hem of their clothes.
Stories range here from malicious to harmless to friendly.
Jacob Grimm of Brothers Grimm fame, wrote about Nixies being among water sprites who love music and dancing and "Like the sirens, the Nixie by her song draws listening youth to herself, and then into the deep."
A famous and relatively more recent story is of Lorelei.
Coming from the 19th century, Lorelei was said to sit on the rock of the same name on the bank of the Rhine river.
The area is a famous maritime disaster site, and Lorelei was believed to have lured fisherman into the reefs.
The name Lorelei is derived from the Rhine dialect lureln meaning “murmuring” and the Celtic ley meaning rock.
A small waterfall, strong currents and a natural sound amplification from the rock creates a sort of murmuring sound. Which is now hard to hear due to urbanization of the area.
Fun Fact: Germany had a spelling reform in 1901, and the letter ‘y’ was changed to ‘i’ for nearly anything. Exceptions being some proper nouns such as Bayern. This is why we have the spelling Lorelei now used alongside the original Loreley.
The Folkore of Lorelei starts with Clemens Brentano, who first told the story of an enchanting woman on the rock.
The beautiful “Lore Ley” who was betrayed by her love, was accused of bewitching men and leading them to their deaths.
Rather than sentencing her to death, a bishop sends her to a nunnery.
On the way, with three knights as her guard, they come to the Lorelei rock and she asks to climb it to see the Rhine one last time.
Doing so, she thinks she sees her love in the river and falls to her death. And the rock now forever echoes her name.
Following up Clemens is Heinrich Heine in 1824, who writes the poem “Die Lorelei”.
Described as siren who sits atop the rock combing her golden hair.
Her beauty and song distract the fishermen below, causing them to crash.
But she does this unwittingly.
The poem was used as lyrics by Friedrich Silcher and became a very well known song in German-speaking lands.
Franz Liszt and many other artists adapted the lyrics to song.
And during the Nazi regime, Heine was stripped of credit for the words because he was a jew. The Nazis basically trying to pretend jews never contributed to German art.
Thanks to the song by Silcher, the story is well known, but also commonly mistaken as a very old folk tale.
The biggest difference here is the “luring” of people.
The 2e version specifically doesn’t want intruders, unless they have an important task needs doing.
1e was the same.
Story and Mechanic Ideas
This creature screams story stepping stone.
· I imagine them tied to a campaign or story arch involving heavy nature environments.
· For Swamps bring in the Catoblepas, Boggards (Bullywugs) or Gripplis, Hags, Marsh Giants, Mudwretches, Bog Striders, Crocodiles, Giant Toads, Shamblers, Witchfires, Spirit Nagas, Mobogos and Black Dragons!!!!
· For Forests bring in Twigjacks, Kodama, Arboreal Reapers, Giant Pocupines, Forest Dragons or Sasquatch himself!
· Just search buzz words in the AoN search feature and explore!