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From PathfinderWiki

Rusalkas are deceptive, cruel fey who roam bodies of water near humanoid settlements and lure unwilling people and creatures to serve as pets until tiring of them and killing them off.1


Rusalkas appear as pale, nude, androgynous humanoids2—particularly elves and aiuvarins—with perpetually damp skin and long dark hair that floats around them as if it were underwater, even when on land. Their appearance often leads people to confuse them with ghosts or other spirits of drowning victims. Each rusalka's appearance includes traits related to their home, such as the currents of a stream reflecting in the grace of their movements.1


Rusalkas can emit an enchanting call in the form of speech or a song that draws their quarry close and dazes them. The types of creatures each rusalka prefers to enthrall varies, and can range from most commonly humanoids to animals, or even magical beasts.1

Like other fey, rusalkas are vulnerable to cold iron. Although they appear physically fragile, rusalkas are stronger than they look.1


Lack of gender

Despite their feminine appearance, rusalkas do not have a gender. They identify as female mostly to help them take advantage of both their enemies and their thralls.1


Rusalkas are not born often, and they reproduce through craft and song. A mother rusalka fashions a child from mud while singing all of the songs it has heard, which are said to imbue the offspring with a certain personality and influence how many children result from this ritual—as many as six. The mother then embeds the mud doll in the bed of the body of water, where its magic keeps it intact and receives further magical infusion and fey connections from its mother. After a week, the mother retrieves the doll and wipes away the mud to reveal their daughters underneath.1

After birth, rusalkas take less than a month to grow into the size of a typical 8-year-old humanoid child, at which point they are sent away to find their own home. They mature at 40 years of age and can live natural lives of up to 500 years, though many die before then while failing to find a home or being killed by adventurers.1

Aquatic connections

Like other aquatic fey, rusalkas share a connection with water. They often choose places with hidden dangers, such as streams with deceptive currents or ponds frozen over with thin ice—any body of water where mortals might face or seek their death. They also protect their domains from corruption and spoil, though they often demand tribute for others to reasonably exploit their resources.1


Rusalkas need to eat, and prefer fish and water flora. A rare few prefer cooked meals.1


Rusalkas primarily focus on themselves and rarely cooperate, with the exception of groups of rusalkas—often sisters—who share a single body of water. Each of these groups is called an eddy, and are more commonly found in streams and rivers, including known eddies in the Sellen, Sphinx, Vanji, and Yondabakari rivers.1

Most rusalkas, however, are bitter rivals all vying to cow the local mortal populace. In many cases, they keep their pets and thralls close as protection, or use them to drive away competition.1

Rusalkas naturally enjoy music and are proud, skilled singers. Many enjoy the company of musicians, whether volunteered or coerced by their enthralling abilities. They often target bards, and if challenged to a test of musical abilities might grant their respect or direct their ire to a challenger.1

They also enjoy glittering treasures, especially valuable gems and metals, and will equally accept them as tribute, earn them through deception, and take them by deadly force. They use such baubles to decorate their underwater lairs, and occasionally as payment to others to dispose of rivals or perform other tasks beyond their abilities.1

Blue Week

Rusalka activity spikes during an annual week-long period early in Sarenith known as the Blue Week, during which settlements near a rusalka's residence place temporary bans on fishing and swimming. Such bans are notoriously difficult to enforce, since the week typically coincides with the season's best weather. Particularly superstitious people also secure their homes inside and out.2


The rare creature who impresses a rusalka and earns their respect is often offered a special token by the creature. Such tokens are usually smooth stones or wood, and are sometimes engraved with artistic designs or wrapped in bits of watery vegetation. Such tokens can grant their bearers the ability to walk on the water of that rusalka's domain, though their fickle granters can disable them at any time.1


Rusalkas are not religious, and most who practice divine magic are oracles.1

On Golarion

When on Golarion in the Material Plane, rusalkas prefer climates in colder, temperate areas, including northern Avistan, Brevoy, the Lands of the Linnorm Kings, and the Crown of the World.1 However, they can live in any body of water, and some are known to have appeared as far south as Garund.34

Known rusalkas

See also: Category:Rusalka/Inhabitants


Paizo published a major chapter about rusalkas in Fey Revisited.

For additional as-yet unincorporated sources about this subject, see the Meta page.

  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 1.13 1.14 1.15 Savannah Broadway. Rusalka” in Fey Revisited, 46–51. Paizo Inc., 2013
  2. 2.0 2.1 Lyz Liddell & Ron Lundeen. “Adventure Toolbox” in Tomorrow Must Burn, 81. Paizo Inc., 2019
  3. 3.0 3.1 Savannah Broadway. Rusalka” in Fey Revisited, 50–51. Paizo Inc., 2013
  4. 4.0 4.1 Mike Shel. “Shackles Gazetteer” in Isles of the Shackles, 23. Paizo Inc., 2012
  5. Adam Daigle, et al. Arnlaugr the Fearless (Draugr)” in Undead Unleashed, 8. Paizo Inc., 2014
  6. Matthew Goodall, et al. Lands of the Linnorm Kings, inside front cover. Paizo Inc., 2011
  7. Matthew Goodall, et al. “The Linnorm Kingdoms” in Lands of the Linnorm Kings, 23. Paizo Inc., 2011
  8. Matthew Goodall, et al. “The Proving Grounds” in Lands of the Linnorm Kings, 35. Paizo Inc., 2011
  9. James Jacobs, et al. The Inner Sea World Guide, 103. Paizo Inc., 2011
  10. Mike Shel. Irrisen” in Irrisen, Land of Eternal Winter, 28. Paizo Inc., 2013

External links

  • Rusalka (real-life myth) on Wikipedia