Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Racial Template: Fishmen

Don't zoom in.
Fishmen, kinda a horror thing? Sometimes a fantasy thing? I think Dark Souls 2 made it a dark fantasy thing, and Castlevania made it a gothic action thing? So let's see if we can't make it a Dungeon Fantasy thing.


I don't even particularly like
the horror genre, but this book
is still very helpful, and a fun
GURPS Horror has a Gill-Man on p.153, which is basically the typification of what we expect of a fishman, but let's see if we can tune it in a way to make it more appropriate and interesting for a Dungeon Fantasy character, while trying to get a nice even point cost. Obvious take-aways from this template include:
  • Amphibious
  • Doesn't Breathe (Gills)
  • DR from scales
Those are basically the absolute genre-neutral requirements from that list. That list is a little bone dry though, and we probably want some flavorful disadvantages to make this race stick out. Speaking to a Dungeon Fantasy sensibility, let's give the race a few of the following, inspired by monsters in various Dungeon Fantasy sources.
  • Vulnerability to dehydration
  • Phobia of fire
  • Seafarer Talent
  • Negative Appearance
It's hard thinking of interesting drawbacks for fishmen, it seems. Ah well, let's run with what we got and see how expensive it gets.


30 points
Attribute Modifiers:  HT+1[10].
Secondary Characteristic Modifiers:  Basic Speed -.25[-5]; HP +1[2].
Advantages:  Amphibious[10]; Claws (Sharp) [5];  Damage Resistance 2 (Flexible, -20%)[8]; Doesn't Breathe (Gills, -50%)[10]; Nictitating Membrane 1 [1]; Speak Underwater[5]; Terrain Adaption (One of Sand, Shallow Water, or Swamp)[5]
Disadvantages: Appearance(Unattractive)[-4]; Phobia (Fire) (9) [-7]; Vulnerability (Dehydration attacks x2) [-10].
Features: Fins, scales, webbed fingers, preference for little clothing.


The following are probably all appropriate
  • Levels of Pressure Support
  • Additional related Terrain Adaptations
  • The ability to take the Underwater modifier on advantages or spells even if it wouldn't normally make sense.
  • Harder Scales for 2 more flexible DR.
  • Speak With Animals (Aquatic)
  • Enhanced Move (Water) probably one level is enough.

Other Thoughts

I feel like this template lacks a bit of punch, but I'm not sure what else might make it interesting. It creates a character that has no especial strengths or weaknesses so can easily be used probably fine with any occupational template, but this lack of boldly determined proficiency or weakness makes it a bit wishy washy. Though, on the other hand, maybe for statting up fishpeople monsters, it's a pretty handy shortcut. Spearman + Fishman and you are done. Triger + Fishman, and oh geeze, God have mercy on my soul.


  1. There are fishmen in the old 3e book Fantasy Folk. I used them as the basic template for my own fishmen. Which I then converted into more DF-level dangerous creatures, of course, but it's also a good place to look.

    1. I was a huge fan of those 3e Fantasy Folk Fishmen.

      As for these Fishmen, or really any Fishmen, the real advantage is that they'd be exceptional in water. That creates the "aquaman" problem, though, since everyone else isn't great in water, you have to either create a really contrived situation to make a fishman useful, heavily disadvantage everyone who is not a fishman, or run a campaign where the premise makes fishmen equally useful (a pirate campaign, for example).

    2. Sounds like a good book to put on my impulse buy list then. The 3e books daunt me a little because of the slight incompatibility, but it's nice that there is an official update guide for 3e->4e, and that the books are pretty heavily discounted.

      And yeah, I was having the same exact thoughts, Daniel, literally thought, "this is Aquaman, or almost wasted points."

      It could be a really useful alternate form that gives a whole "I can deal with water easily now" package, though that is also a wee bit of a problem if it turns a unique adventure backdrop into "everything's the same, but Spongebob Squarepants now."


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