Merrenoloths, also known as marraenoloths, charonadaemons, and the in-between were the highest ranking of the lesser yugoloths and in charge of piloting the boats that sailed the River Styx. The skeletal servitors of Charon were the most specialized among the daemons, loyal only to their boats and the incredible amounts of money needed to afford their services.
Merrenoloths appeared as pale, nearly skeletal humanoids that stood 5 ft (1.5 m) tall and wore rotted, hooded robes and burial wraps. Their eyes glowed red, especially when they became angered.
Charonadaemons were grim and pitiless, possessing more cunning and malice than Charon himself. Merrenoloths held a mercenary mentality and a neutral outlook in their dealings, possibly more than any other yugoloth. Despite being able to speak all languages they were taciturn in demeanor, preferring to focus on their skiffs rather than engage in needless chatter. They realized their inability to function without a ship and always attempted to stay near the one they had attached themselves to.
Merrenoloths did not excel in combat, as they were limited to trying to bite at foes with their bony fangs or smack them with their oars. They did, however, possess supernatural control of any ship they were hired to captain, being able to command them by simply naming their destination. They could manipulate the winds around their ships, not only to speed up travel and prevent others from boarding them but also to increase the level of comfort of paying passengers. The ship would not sink if the hull was breached and could be magically restored by the merrenoloth. Their crafts could be piloted not only in fiendish waters but also in the Ethereal and Astral planes if they so chose.
They could innately cause the effects of the charm person, control water, control weather, darkness, detect magic, dispel magic, and gust of wind spells. When angered, their gaze could cause intense fear in their opponents. After this they normally summoned a small group of hydroloths or less commonly a second merrenoloth, to fight for them. All merrenoloths were in constant telepathic contact with at least one other member of their kind, and when in conversation used telepathy to communicate.
Although not weak, merrenoloths tried to avoid combat whenever possible, only caring about the safety of their ship. Their contracts normally went out of their way to specify that they had no obligation to do battle.
Merrenoloths possessed an innate understanding of the River Styx and all of its twists, bends, and channels, and so could not get lost within it. Although able to enter the Material Plane, doing so forced them to leave their skiffs behind, rendering them lost and practically powerless. As such, this was only done when they were summoned or sent to transport others between the Material and Lower Planes using a specialized version of plane shift. Those who took on contracts to ferry ships bonded with the vessels allowing them to control it like their own skiffs.
Merrenoloths demanded payment for their service worth 100 gold pieces charging either 10 platinum pieces, two gems worth at least 50 gold pieces each, or a magic item worth at least 100 gold pieces, per passenger, in advance. Unless paid they would prevent passengers from entering the boat and attempt to teleport away, and also refused to accept cargo. When sent to the Material Plane it was sometimes in service to the Oinoloth, Charon, or another powerful evil entity to retrieve someone. Although it was practically impossible for them to get lost on the treacherous course of the river they were occasionally known to lead their passengers to traps laid out by a higher paying third party. It was advisable to increase the payment to a merrenoloth to avoid such an inconvenience. In order to secure a safe passage free of betrayal the sum paid had to be four times greater than normal.
Because all merrenoloths were in constant telepathic contact with one another they were instantly aware of those who cheated or harmed another member of their kind. Although apathetic to each other's plight, transgressors of the merrenoloths' rules were duly noted and their services would be suspended for the violators. As the defender of all charonadaemons, Charon could be called upon to rescue an endangered merrenoloth, although his prices were so exorbitant that most of his followers would choose death first. The only way to return to the favor of the merrenoloths, and therefore call upon their services without rejection or almost inevitable treachery, was to make a suitable sacrifice to their race. Such a tribute often included the offering of rare gemstones, unique magical items, or the sacrifice of intelligent good-aligned beings, normally in a desecrated temple of good and presented with ceremony and repentance.
Merrenoloths existed only to obtain the fare for their ferrying service and tried to steer clear of Blood War politics, although they would still ferry fiendish armies across the planes. It was only by maintaining their neutrality to the dealings of others that they could truly accomplish their purpose. Unlike most fiends, they could move throughout the Lower Planes without attracting suspicion due to their impartial status.
If they were to subvert this purpose and act as spies for powerful entities they would no longer be able to move freely throughout the Styx and therefore be practically worthless. Although many tanar'ri and baatezu would like to subjugate them, and some powerful fiends occasionally forced them to obey their demands, most recognized the value in their services and so tolerated their unbiased behavior. Despite not outright controlling them for this reason, other powerful evil entities tried to subtly manipulate them in ways that acted in their favor.
After being promoted from yagnoloths, merrenoloths quickly learned to trade the power of ownership and command, with that of material wealth and information. They absorbed the knowledge of the labyrinthine River Styx and saw its twisting patterns reflected in both the multiverse and the minds of the greater yugoloths. They also gained a further understanding of the benefits of making, holding to, and breaking contracts, as well as how to hold others to their whims and the politics of their society.
Merrenoloths were sometimes called the in-between, as they represented a middle ground between the lesser and greater castes of the yugoloths. Only by learning the depths of their political system and mastering them could the normally apolitical merrenoloths be promoted into greater yugoloths in the form of nycaloths.
Long ago, when under unyielding attacks by the demodands under the command of Apomps, the merrenoloths were forced to make a difficult decision. With the prices for calling upon the ultroloths for aid too high they were ask for the assistance of the night hags. In return for a altraloth defender the night hags would be given free ferrying across the Styx forever. With nowhere left to turn, the merrenoloths agreed and had one among them transformed into the altraloth known as Charon.
- Mike Mearls, Jeremy Crawford (May 29, 2018). Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes. Edited by Kim Mohan, Michele Carter. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 249–250. ISBN 978-0786966240.
- Ed Bonny, Jeff Grubb, Rich Redman, Skip Williams, and Steve Winter (September 2002). Monster Manual II 3rd edition. (TSR, Inc), pp. 202–203. ISBN 07-8692-873-5.
- David "Zeb" Cook (1994). Planescape Campaign Setting, Monstrous Supplement. Edited by David Wise. (TSR, Inc), pp. 30–31. ISBN 978-1560768340.
- Gary Gygax (August 1983). Monster Manual II 1st edition. (TSR, Inc), p. 29. ISBN 0-88038-031-4.
- Colin McComb (September 1997). Faces of Evil: The Fiends. Edited by Ray Vallese. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 70–72. ISBN 0-7869-3430-1.
- Ed Stark, James Jacobs, Erik Mona (June 13, 2006). Fiendish Codex I: Hordes of the Abyss. (Wizards of the Coast). ISBN 0-7869-3919-2.
- Ed Bonny (1997). “Pox of the Planes”. In Dave Gross ed. Dragon Annual #2 (TSR, Inc.), pp. 107–108.
- Colin McComb (December 1995). “Liber Malevolentiae”. In Michele Carter ed. Planes of Conflict (TSR, Inc.), p. 30. ISBN 0-7869-0309-0.