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5E Mythological Figures: Nymue, Lady of the Lake

Today Mythological Figures is after one of Britain’s most enduring characters—she gives King Arthur the sword Excalibur, woos Merlin, and raises Lancelot du Lac. I can be referring only to the Lady of the Lake: Nymue!

Nymue Lady of the Lake DnD 5E banner.jpg


To start off with let’s talk about her name (or perhaps their names? Read onward!) I thought Hayreddin Barbossa was a shoe-in to take the coveted Figure With The Most Names title but I was dead wrong because Nymue is also known as Nimuë, Ninianne, Viviane, Nimane, Moistened Bint, Nimanne, Nivienne, Vivienne, Vivien, Vivian, Nimiane, Niniame, Nymenche, Ninieve, Niniane, Niviana, Uinuiane, Nymanne, Nynyane, Niniane, Watery Tart, Nimue, Nyneue, Nynyue, Nynyve, and Nenyve. There might even be a double in there I am so vexed by this listing of monikers I honestly can’t tell. Part of the reason for this is the multitude of authors who’ve published Arthurian fiction—sometimes she’s split into two with a villainous half, sometimes she’s a quieter influence, sometimes she isn’t Nymue at all and the Lady of the Lake is thought to be Morgan le Fay. In short the mythology of this character has spread and seeped its way into so many nooks and crannies that trying to pull out any one true Lady of the Lake is a quest doomed to fail. You don’t have to believe me though and it’s kind of interesting how the character propagated so I recommend checking it out for yourself (not doing a 3 page context post today, folks).

For our purposes here the focus is going to stick to a few key points about Nymue/the Lady of the Lake—she lives in a lake, she gives King Arthur the sword Excalibur (yes this one, not one of the other Ladies in the Lake [which again depending on the author, there may have been]), she seduces Merlin, and she raises Lancelot du Lac. Looking forward to the comments on this one because this woman is quite the tangled-up root ball and there are definitely some solid Arthurian sages out there on the ENWorld forums. :)

Design Notes: What to do with Nymue—this was pondered for a good bit before settling on the Artificer wizard archetype. “Artificer?!” you might say, spitting out your cup of tea all over the crumpets or what have you, “what in the devil did the Lady of the Lake have to do with constructing devices?” Nothing! The answer is nothing. However she is best known for giving Excalibur to King Arthur, and Lancelot du Lac receives magic items as gifts from her. Thus is the reasoning behind putting her in the archetype for wizards that are all about enchanting objects. Water genasi as the character race seems like a simple pick (need to have Amphibious for her to live underwater, you know, in the lake), and while there could be more access to curative magics (for fixing Lancelot’s sanity) wish covers the ground where dispel magic and remove curse will be lacking. If it comes to blows Nymue can fall back on arcane sword and confusion, and it’s safe to assume that every turn she’s going to cast shield (because why not?), but even so she’s really not meant to be fighting much—which is why contingency snuck in there (probably with either greater invisibility or misty step queued up). Let’s look at the numbers! The DMG plots Nymue at 12.83 and the Blog of Holding rubric at 13.5, averaging out on the topside for a reasonable CR 13 (the same as Morgan le Fay).

Design Notes 2 - Naiad Boogaloo: None of you know it but we’re actually getting a touch divergent as far as character races go in Mythological Figures builds, and since in an upcoming entry we’ll be referencing it anyway (bonus points to anyone who figures out for who!) these notes can be used to change the Lady of the Lake from a water genasi into a nymph (as the race appears in the Odyssey of the Dragonlords Player’s Guide © James Ohlen 2019, © Jesse Sky 2019 www.arcanumworlds.com).

Speed Increase Nymue’s swim speed to 40 feet.
Skills Add Persuasion +8.
Damage Resistances Remove resistance to acid.
Traits Replace the Amphibious and Genasi Magic traits with Enthralling Beauty and Naiad Ancestry.
Enthralling Beauty (1/Short Rest). Nymue can cast charm person (DC 16) using Charisma as her spellcasting ability.​
Naiad Ancestry. Nymue can hold her breath for 1 hour, and she can cast the create or destroy water and control water spells once each between short rests. Charisma is her spellcasting ability for these spells.​

Nymue, Lady of the Lake
Medium humanoid (water genasi), neutral good wizard (inventor) 20
Armor Class 14 (mage armor, 19 with shield)
Hit Points 110 (20d6+40)
Speed 30 ft., swim 30 ft.

STR
DEX
CON
INT
WIS
CHA
8 (–1)​
12 (+1)​
14 (+2)​
20 (+5)​
12 (+1)​
15 (+2)​

Saving Throws Int +11, Wis +7
Skills Arcana +11, History +11, Medicine +7, Religion +11
Damage Resistances acid
Senses passive Perception 11
Languages Olde English
Challenge 13 (10,000 XP)

Background Feature: Divine Connection. Nymue has a deep connection with fey and nature, giving her keen insights into destiny and a mystical understanding of the universe.

Amphibious. Nymue can breathe air and water.

Arcane Recovery (1/Day). When Nymue finishes a short rest, she can choose to recover expended spell slots of a combined level that is equal to or less than 9th-level (although no single recovered spell may be higher than 6th-level).

Feat: Ranged Spellcaster. Nymue ignores half cover and three-quarters cover when making a ranged spell attack. In addition, she doubles the range of any spell she casts that has a ranged spell attack.

Feat: War Magic. Nymue has advantage when she is concentrating on a spell and has to make a Constitution saving throw from taking damage, she can wield weapons or a shield in both hands and still make somatic components for spellcasting, and can use her reaction to cast a spell (maximum casting time: 1 action) at a creature that provokes an opportunity attack from her.

Genasi Magic. Nymue knows the shape water cantrip and can cast create or destroy water as a 2nd-level spell once between long rests. She uses Constitution as her spellcasting ability for these spells.

Signature Spells (1 each/Short Rest). Nymue can cast misty step and major image once each at 3rd-level without expending a spell slot. If Nymue wants to cast either spell at a higher level, she must expend a spell slot as normal.

Spellcasting. Nymue is a 20th level spellcaster that uses Intelligence as her spellcasting ability (spell save DC 19; +11 to hit with spell attacks). She has the following spells prepared from the wizard’s spell list:
Cantrips: dancing lights, eldritch blast, mage hand, message, prestidigitation, shocking grasp
1st-level (4 slots): alarm, charm person, identify, mage armor, magic missile
2nd-level (3 slots): darkvision, detect thoughts, hold person, invisibility, suggestion
3rd-level (3 slots): dispel magic, remove curse, sending
4th-level (3 slots): confusion, greater invisibility
5th-level (3 slots): cone of cold, geas, scrying
6th-level (2 slots): contingency, eyebite
7th-level (2 slots): arcane sword, mirage arcane, project image
8th-level (1 slot): maze
9th-level (1 slot): wish

Spell Mastery. Nymue can cast detect magic and shield without expending a spell slot.



ACTIONS
Dagger. Melee or Ranged Weapon Attack: +7 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 3 (1d4+1) piercing damage.


CRAFTING
Magic Item. Over the course of a week, Nymue can craft one of the following magic items: bag of holding, cap of water breathing, cloak of the manta ray, dust of disappearance, dust of dryness, elemental gem, goggles of night, helm of comprehending languages, immovable rod, mithral armor, oil of slipperiness, philter of love, potion of animal friendship, potion of fire breath, potion of poison, potion of strength (hill giant), ring of swimming, robe of useful items, rope of climbing, wand of magic detection. At the GM’s discretion, she may be able to use this feature to craft other items. Afterwards she cannot use Craft Magic Item again for a month.

Magic Potion. Nymue can expend a spell slot and spend 10 minutes brewing a potion. Once she does so, she cannot regain that spell slot until the potion either loses its potency (1 week) or is consumed. She can have 4 such potions at a time. The spell level of the expended spell slot determines what potions she makes: 1st—climbing, growth, healing; 2nd—mind reading, greater healing; 3rd—invisibility, superior healing, water breathing; 4th—resistance.

Magic Scroll. After finishing a short rest Nymue can spend 10 minutes creating up to 2 spell scrolls that use spells she has written in her spellbook. The spell level of a spell slot used on a spell scroll is subtracted from Nymue’s recovered spell levels using Arcane Recovery until the scroll is cast and she finishes a long rest.

Magic Weapons & Armor. Nymue can expend a spell slot and spend 10 minutes infusing energy into up to 2 mundane items (either a weapon, suit of armor, shield, or 20 pieces of ammunition). For the next 8 hours, the item gains a magical bonus determined by the spell level of the expended spell slot: 2nd—+1 ammunition (20 pieces); 3rd—+1 weapon or +1 shield; 4th—+1 armor; 5th—+2 weapon or +2 ammunition (20 pieces); 6th—+2 armor.
 
Last edited:
Mike Myler

Comments


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Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Supporter
I like it. Fits inside D&D and still manages to fit the character concept, or at least one version of it, quite well.
 


Mike Myler

Mythological Figures & Maleficent Monsters KS soon
Added some extra design notes for making her a nymph for those so inclined.

As for the bard bit: I did think about making her a bard, but I didn't feel like there were any official archetypes that really fit for it. Did I overlook one? The 'enchanting items and handing them to dudes' thing seems to really be important for her so I hung my hat on there, but if there's another good choice I'll definitely give it a good think!

Also—and I don't mean to be divergent or foment discord, I truly do not—but no objections to watery tart?
Hopefully nobody is too offended! I'm just trying to give folks a bit of a laugh and certainly didn't meant to be problematic.
 


Tonguez

Hero
Yes so are Nereids! There are pretty well no non evil Celtic fae in the books.
among the Tylwyth Teg of Wales theres a group known as Lake Maidens. The Physicians of Myddfai were said to descend from such a Lake fairy who had married a mortal man and taught her sons the art of healing.
 

S'mon

Legend
among the Tylwyth Teg of Wales theres a group known as Lake Maidens. The Physicians of Myddfai were said to descend from such a Lake fairy who had married a mortal man and taught her sons the art of healing.
Sorry, by 'books' I meant D&D monster books.
 

Samloyal23

Adventurer
Are there stats for the Sidhe in 5E? If not, convert the stats from the 2E Celts HR sourcebook, add modifications you would for a water elemental genasi template. Voila!
 

Mike Myler

Mythological Figures & Maleficent Monsters KS soon
Are there stats for the Sidhe in 5E? If not, convert the stats from the 2E Celts HR sourcebook, add modifications you would for a water elemental genasi template. Voila!
That'd be an Epic Monster entry, which posts every other week. As it stands now Nymue here is built as a RAW (rules-as-written) player character with 27 points using bought ability scores. You could walk into most 20th level one-shots and play her if you like, or use her as an NPC in your game. Either one works. All the Mythological Figures are the same way and built from the standard rules using standard character options (except where noted because it can't be avoided, like Sun Wukong's special magic items or a few notables that stretched past 20th level).

A sidhe might be a good entry for Epic Monsters though.

makes note
 

TheSword

Hero
That'd be an Epic Monster entry, which posts every other week. As it stands now Nymue here is built as a RAW (rules-as-written) player character with 27 points using bought ability scores. You could walk into most 20th level one-shots and play her if you like, or use her as an NPC in your game. Either one works. All the Mythological Figures are the same way and built from the standard rules using standard character options (except where noted because it can't be avoided, like Sun Wukong's special magic items or a few notables that stretched past 20th level).

A sidhe might be a good entry for Epic Monsters though.

makes note
I love the series Mike it’s very well done!

I too love Arthurian legend and think Bernard Cornwalls adaption is amazing, though it places the characters in a historical novel setting so no overt magic. He draws on the essence of characters and then translate that into Dark Ages Britain. Your version is true to the romantic version and I think fits the legend well.

Have you tried Geralt of Rivia yet? He’s not mythological per se but considering the massive popularity of the Witcher 3, the books and TV series he’s pretty well ensconced in the genre. I think he’d be a challenge.
 

Mike Myler

Mythological Figures & Maleficent Monsters KS soon
Have you tried Geralt of Rivia yet? He’s not mythological per se but considering the massive popularity of the Witcher 3, the books and TV series he’s pretty well ensconced in the genre. I think he’d be a challenge.
I have not! Anything in this column has to be in the public domain.

That said, I just put up an evil Winnie the Pooh and hardcore Tigger up on my personal (not at all for profit) website. :)
 

Coroc

Hero
concerning these names i first read about her as Ninyve or so, think about the similarity to Guinevere, Arthus' wife, for a moment and the deeper symbolism:

Sword -> male
Lake -> female

etc.
 


Mike Myler

Mythological Figures & Maleficent Monsters KS soon
omg!!! I giggled when you had Pooh summon a Quasit named Piglet but then I made the mistake of looking to see what you had done to Eeyore - thats vile and disturbing work
Working on Kanga and Roo today. Not sure if the game I run in Hundred Acre Wood should be played as these characters, or if they should be NPCs. Maybe both? Or the twisted versions show up and try to take over so the party are standard Pooh/Piglet/Tigger/etc?

We'll see.
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Supporter
Working on Kanga and Roo today. Not sure if the game I run in Hundred Acre Wood should be played as these characters, or if they should be NPCs. Maybe both? Or the twisted versions show up and try to take over so the party are standard Pooh/Piglet/Tigger/etc?

We'll see.
I think the Tarrasque is an appropriate base for a Heffalump write up. (y)
 



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