Nymph
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Basic Information

Nymphs are beautiful woman-like beings most famously found bathing in streams.

The original source of the nymph appears to be Greek mythology where they are a class of nature spirit, often tied to specific locations and/or attendant on various gods. Some of the different types of nymph include heavenly/sky, plant, land, stream or lake and cave or cool dark dwelling. In most cases they seem to be benevolent and sometimes even angelic although burning down woods or other such acts against nature may cause you to incur their wrath.

Nymphs of various kinds seem to have been popular sexual partners for all sorts of people in Greco-Roman mythology, ranging from deities down to mere mortals and were the mothers of many demi-gods, titans and heroes. Some interpretations have them as the female equivalent of the satyr as a form of nature spirit (much as the holzfrau is to the schrat), but in others they are merely a common target of the satyr's lust. They may also serve as genii for particular locations in the wilderness or even "small gods" in an animist setting … they may also blend into the category of fairies, especially to a northern European.

Popular subtypes of nymph include:

  • Dryad (spirit of the trees)
  • Naiad (spirit of fresh water, especially springs) - possibly related to the Germanic Fossergrim.
  • Oceanid (spirit of the sea)
  • Maenad (a particular, nomadic and rather vicious type that accompanied Dionysius)
  • The Muses (a very specialised spirit of the arts)

…and there are many others, most of these subtypes having subtypes of their own. Note that the sylph, often regarded as a form of nymph, is of much later origin and is, in its origins at least, more of an elemental than a nature spirit.

Sources

try Greek mythology books for more info.

Bibliography

Game and Story Ideas

  • nymphs are likely to feature a lot in games as they are a fairly well know mythological creature.
  • Having a nymph of some kind as a mother could serve as an unusual background to explain a character's supernatural powers.
  • This arcanist once had PCs sent to track down a forest dwelling NPC by their mentor, who claimed the man as a friend from his youth. They encountered a young woman who claimed to be his wife … who then told them he was dead, and lead them to where a large oak tree was growing over his grave. She was, of course, a dryad and the PCs mentor … well, he wasn't all he appeared to be either and had forgotten how long it had been since he was young.
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