Hiding the Mermaid Princess


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Backstory: In the palace of a mermaid queen deep beneath the sea, a usurper leads a coup against her. She and her minions invade the palace, kill the queen, and then begin to hunt down and massacre her family.

Conveniently, the queen's very young daughter (probably 5-7 years old) is away from that palace at this time. Her caretakers (who are assumed to be retired NPC adventurers of the lowest level possible to do what is needed) spirit her away and resort to magical means to disguise her so that the usurper cannot find her or, failing that, recognize her.

The items I have thought of so far for this purpose are an Elixir of Two Worlds (which replaces the merfolk tail with human-like legs) and an Elixir of Sex Shifting (which turns the princess into a male). After feeding those elixirs to her, they leave her on a beach near a human settlement, where she grows up with dim memories of these events and can be restored to what she was by the same means she was turned into a land-dwelling male.

Anyway, I am wondering whether any other magic could be applied to this princess to make it even less likely that she will be discovered. With the items already proposed, she is still a merfolk, albeit one who can't swim or breathe water -- and when she grows up, she would be freakishly tall by human standards, as the height of a male merfolk is 5'10" + 2d10 additional inches (although that development could be one of her motivations to become an adventurer). I would prefer not to resort to Wish, Miracle, or similarly powerful magic if possible.

Any ideas?

Obviously, you need something related to preventing her being discovered via divination magic.

So our young man must have a strange family heirloom, likely in the form of a necklace of shells or some such, which functions as an amulet of proof against detection and location.

Bonus points if it has some other function attached to it that prevents the wearer removing it, such as them losing the ability to breathe air if they take it off.

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Good idea. My only reservation is that it leaves a 1st level character with a valuable magic item -- but it is one that this character literally could not live without.

I don't know what spells you are using. Can the magics used be detected and dispelled? Its worth considering this as it'll affect what could happen if divination spells and dispell magic is thrown their way.

If the spells used had a permanent duration, then dispell magic might be able to affect them. If the spells used mentions that it is resistant to dispell magic, such as bestow curse, then you need something more powerful. Break enchantment is one such more powerful spell. It can dispell many spells resistant to dispell magic, and can even reverse instantaneous effects like flesh to stone.

Polymorph any object can definitely turn a merfolk into a human (or other race) and change their gender (and other details) at the same time, but that would be overkill. Its also an level 8 spells which complicates your desire to have a low level adventure party. What you really need is a version of Alter Self that can affect other creatures and has a permanent duration. I'm thinking it should be a 3rd level spell.

I forgot to give this spell a material component requirement. Magic that changes a character in the way you want isn't something you want to be free. Using the spell permanency as a guideline, a material component of 7500 gp is appropriate for a 3rd level spell. Thats a bit much for 5 level character (WBL says a 5th level character should have 10500 gp). Maybe take it down to a 500 gp pearl or something.

A magic item which does a constant alter self might work as well or better than elixirs. A ring which has been on her hand for a decade could be very difficult to remove.

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The elixirs that I named in my initial post have permanent effects that can be reversed only by a second instance of the item in question or by 9th level spells.

The sheer difficulty of scrying for somebody with whom you have no connection and selection of a particular class (vigilante) could make it next to impossible to locate the transformed mermaid by scrying -- especially if she/he stays in vigilante form nearly all of the time and no land dweller who sees the "social" form knows enough to be able to tell the usurper anything useful.

Is there any item in Pathfinder that is equivalent to Starfinder's Serum of Appearance Change? Such an item would provide the finishing touch's to the disguise if it were available. Unfortunately, Starfinder rules for gear lack the construction requirements that would point me to any spells or magic items that do what is needed even if they are called something entirely different.

Finally, we need to remember that anything used has to have been in effect since this person was a small child, so a certain degree of childproofing is needed.

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The guardians killed her (possibly in her sleep, to be kind). Then they took a piece of her body and had a druid reincarnate her, possibly placing her with new caretakers if the guardians were merfolk and would be uncomfortable on land or too easily identified to remain close to her and risk discovery. Reincarnate is random, but human is very likely and they weren't too worried about most results, in this case it was human.

Since her soul had no reason not to return, it did. When she awoke, they told her they had transformed her with a ritual. Since she was likely 1st level, she got 2 Con drain at the time. By now it's probably been cured or maybe she's just been frail and prone to sickliness.

Any misgivings or suspicions she had (she shouldn't, she was asleep) could have been dismissed as a nightmare caused by the horror of the coup. Plus now you don't need to worry about detecting as magic, being dispelled, or even true seeing.

One or two of the merfolk guardians took the original body back (obviously before the princess was brought back and could see it) and claimed to have killed her and have since been serving with the new regime, possibly now in sensitive positions, awaiting a chance to bring them down or provide intel or assistance in the future.

This doesn't stop potential divinations from finding her, but they all think she's long dead (and destroyed/hidden the body long ago to prevent raising). A small charm to protect against divinations might still have been given to her, but it can be much simpler now.

When the time is right for her to be returned to the throne, the heroes will need to be able to find her and also obtain a wish or miracle to restore her form (or some other plot related ritual that might do it). The guardians knew this would be years away and may have uncovered some leads for when the time is right, possibly requiring the party to figure out which member of the new regime is the loyalist to get the information.

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