PF2 Mermaid Guide


Merfolk an iconic fantasy creature, often depicted interacting with sailors and ships. Pathfinder leans into that mythology, offering options that can make merfolk both helpful to and dangerous to other creatures in and around water.

The Merfolk’s Ancestry Feats offer almost no clear feat chains, and feats which probably should have prerequisites like Sea Witch don’t. This offers a lot of flexibility, but despite this flexibility, there are few worthwhile combinations of feats. Many of the Merfolk’s feats work best in water, but even then, there are few exciting options. Among the best options are those related to Performance. Combined with the Merfolk’s Attribute Boosts and Flaws, a Merfolk Bard seems like an obvious choice.

As you might expect, the Merfolk struggles to function on land without an assistive device. While this may be an interesting character to play, there’s no reason to do so from an optimization perspective. If you choose to play a Merfolk in a non-aquatic campaign, you are doing so specifically to lean into that challenge.

Table of Contents


RPGBOT uses the color coding scheme which has become common among Pathfinder build handbooks.

  • Red: Bad, useless options, or options which are extremely situational. Nearly never useful.
  • Orange: OK options, or useful options that only apply in rare circumstances. Useful sometimes.
  • Green: Good options. Useful often.
  • Blue: Fantastic options, often essential to the function of your character. Useful very frequently.

Merfolk Ancestry Traits

  • Hit Points: 8 is standard, but you also get a Constitution Flaw.
  • Size: Medium. Medium and small size have few functional differences in Pathfinder 2e.
  • Speed: Unless you’re in an underwater campaign, you’ll need an assistive device like a Supramarine Chair.
  • Attributes: A Constitution Flaw is hard on any character, but Dexterity/Charisma is otherwise a great combo for Charisma-based spellcasters.
  • Languages: Ancestry language plus Common is standard.
  • Senses: Low-light vision.
  • Aquatic Grace: Rarely impactful.
  • Hydration: Annoying, but survivable.

Merfolk Heritages

  • Abyssal Merfolk (HotW): Darkvision is great, but you can get it from a Versatile Heritage. The ability to endure crushing open depths is interesting, but unless you’re in a party of all Abyssal Merfolk, you’re going to need to solve that problem magically anyway if you’re ever in a circumstance where it matters.
  • Carcharodon Merfolk (HotW): Scent is great.
  • Pelagic Merfolk (HotW): The ability to resist both acid and fire is great, but the Action cost is annoying. You’ll get more consistent benefit from permanent damage resistance, which you can get from a Versatile Heritage.
  • Reef Merfolk (HotW): Consistently useful for your whole career.
  • Sailfish Merfolk (HotW): Nearly useless in most campaigns, but helpful in an underwater campaign.

Merfolk Ancestry Feats

Level 1

  • Merfolk Lore (HotW): Two good Intelligence-based skills.
  • Merfolk Weapon Familiarity (HotW): This only impacts tridents, and that’s simply not enough.
  • Ocean’s Bite (HotW): Normal for an Ancestry-based unarmed strike.
  • Seasong (HotW): Performance is rarely useful.
  • Swimmer’s Guidance (HotW): In most situations, this is effectively a permanent swim speed for your whole party, removing the need for most Athletics checks to swim. In a game where your party can’t all swim, but you’re sometimes in the water, this is a huge asset. Other options like Feet to Fins exist, but covering your whole party can be expensive.
  • Wave Speaker (HotW): This can be useful in aquatic campaigns, but there are also low-Rank spells that let you do this magically. Buy a wand.

Level 5

  • Apprentice Sea Witch (HotW): Hydraulic Push is a decent offensive spell, but this isn’t worth the feat unless you’re a Charisma-based Primal spellcaster.
  • Fishblooded (HotW): Great in an underwater campaign, but otherwise it won’t be impactful frequently enough to justify the feat.
  • Healing Flesh (HotW): The benefits to Treat Wounds can be replaced with an item. Don’t take a feat because it makes cannibalism helpful after you die. Being raised from the dead isn’t worth the cost.
  • Strong Tail (HotW): If you’ve gotten this far but haven’t solved the issue of movement on land, you’re dead.

Level 9

  • Ill Tide (HotW): Very powerful, but at only once per day it won’t have a huge impact.
  • Shore Gift (HotW): A 9th-level feat to be able to walk as fast as a human. Thematically this is very cool, but it’s just too expensive for something that you probably solved a long time ago.
  • Siren Song (HotW): Great crowd control, but depending on your Performance DC means that you need to invest in Performance, which is rarely a good idea.
  • Tears of Pearl (HotW): A great debuff against powerful enemies. This doesn’t have the Incapacitation trait, so it’s excellent against enemies above your level.

Level 13

Level 17