The merrow are merfolk who dwell in the rivers and streams that are spread throughout the world. In fact, they don't just live in them – they control them. Water magic allows merrow to create new rivers and divert old ones. Because of this, no one knows the Merrow Lanes (as Lorwyn's rivers are called) better than the merfolk. They use this knowledge to travel the world, serving as messengers, traders, and diplomats.
Merrow are somewhat "cold fish," with limited and restrained emotions. They make up for this with razor-sharp minds and razor-sharp tongues. Just as kithkin are Lorwyn's best listeners, merrow are the best talkers, able to placate and persuade better than anyone. Like fish, merrow travel in tight knit schools, groups of merfolk united by common interests or purpose, whether it's commerce, changing the Lanes, or exploring the system of underground waterways known as the Dark Meanders.
Merrows have developed musculature in their tails that allows them to sit upright on land, along with sets of specialized “walking” fins that they can use to dig into the earth and drag their bulk along the ground. This mode of transportation is clumsy and inefficient, but it allows them to interact with other races on Lorwyn.
Merrow have a dizzying array of possible roles, such as the reejereys (who lead merrow schools), rudders (who, like Sygg, guide travelers along the rivers), landspanners (hunters who take down landbound prey by leaping between close-grouped rivers), and deeptreads (who specialize in delving in the mysteries of the subterranean waterways called the Dark Meanders).
Like boggart warrens, merrow schools often have distinct personalities, territory, or roles. The Silvergill school does a lot of mercantile business with the elves, while the Stonybrook school sticks to lowland territory often inhabited by kithkin. The Inkfathom school, meanwhile, barely comes to the surface at all, since their members are mostly deeptreads.
When the world of Lorwyn enters its Shadowmoor phase, the merrow transform into vicious merfolk, skulking through swamp waters looking for prey and treasures. Merrows after the Aurora lose much of their formerly human-like appearance and courteous demeanor. Their features become fishlike and monstrous. Their mouths, wide-jawed and full of teeth, have lost the ability to render language with precision, so their communication is relegated to hisses, a bubbling froth through the gills and nostrils, and their own gutteral version of landspeech. Among their own, merrows usually use secretions from scent glands to transfer simple facts and moods.
Their skin is made up of tiny diamond-shaped scales topped with even smaller barbs, which can catch and rip delicate flesh. The crisscrossing pattern of scales gives off an oily sheen. Long, needle-sharp structural spines support merrows’ fanned swimming and rudder fins. The spines can, in some cases, deliver poison for hunting and defense.
The mind of a Shadowmoor merrow is consumed by covetousness. Wracked by envy of the wealth and acclaim possessed by others, yet outclassed in power and reach by the larger races and monsters in Shadowmoor, their deepest desire is to deprive the “haves” of Shadowmoor of whatever they have, by whatever means possible. Raiders and hunters collect goods and prey before returning to the dark waters of the Lanes. Their selfishness and envy are such that they will steal anything other races value; only in theft do they show any of their Lorwyn guile and trickery.
This covetousness is backed by a cruel intelligence; Shadowmoor merrows concoct devious plans to secure their quarries. Some lure solitary travelers to the riverside with deceiving magic and promises of treasures from the deep, whereupon two or three merrows can drag their prey underwater with net and claw, later fighting over the looted valuables. Others weave a form of hypnotic magic, creating temporary servants with whom they build influence and carry out tasks on dry land. Still others sneak onto the land themselves, using their primitive walking fins to invade homes and farmlands for weapons, produce, livestock, and gold.
As enormous symbols of power, giants in particular evoke the ire of merrows. Merrow schemers may spend weeks preparing a system of tripwires across a stretch of land in order to bring down one of Lorwyn’s shaggy giants. Merrows believe that the blood and tissue of giants brings them strength, and some merrows carve jewelry, axes, and even lairs from giants’ sturdy bones.
Merrow schools are more like criminal gangs, each defending their turf and loot with their various strengths. Some merrow still explore the Dark Meanders, which is an even darker, colder, more inhospitable place on Shadowmoor, holding darker, colder, more inhospitable secrets.