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Greyhawk creature
A swanmay, as depicted in Book of Exalted Deeds (2003). Art by Rebecca Guay.
Alignment Neutral Good
Type Humanoid
First appearance

Swanmays are a sisterhood of humanoids who can assume a swan form. In normal form, they resemble a slender, tawny, attractive human female, generally clad in light robes and some form of white, feathered garment. In swan form, they completely resemble swans.



A sisterhood of 44 swanmays dwells within the Gnarley Forest. They are led by Matriarch Serendya, a priestess of Ehlonna.

Typical physical characteristics

Swanmays are rather indistinguishable from normal humans when in normal form, but can assume the swan form at will (they have full control over their shapeshifting). Any garments they are wearing, particularly the feathered garments, become part of the plumage when they do so. Swanmays attack with whatever weapons they have when in normal form, but prefer to attack with their beaks and claws in swan form. Abhoring violence, swanmays will as soon fly away as attack. Swanmays rarely associate with other creatures, only communing regularly with feys, sylvan elves, and certain priests.


They are neutral good in alignment.



Many swanmays serve the goddess Fionnghuala. The quasi-deity Quaal has been known to grant copies of his Quaal's cloak to those swanmays who have earned his favor with their persistent opposition to evil. Some swanmays worship Ehlonna.


Swanmays speak Common and Sylvan.


The first known swanmay, Fionnghuala, was a mortal human ranger who was rewarded for sacrificing her life to save an avatar of Oberon by being raised from the dead, made a demigoddess by Titania, and gifted with a white feather token that enabled her to take the form of a swan. Over the centuries since, a small, secret sorority of female rangers have been granted simulacra of Fionnghuala's feather, allowing them to also become swanmays.

Creative origins

Swanmays were inspired by the swanmay in Poul Anderson's Three Hearts and Three Lions, who in turn was based on swan maidens in folklore.


  • Culotta, Paul F. "The Ecology of the Bird Maiden." Dragon #218. Lake Geneva, WI: TSR, 1995.
  • Gygax, Gary. Monster Manual II. Lake Geneva, WI: TSR, 1983.
  • Slavicsek, Bill. The Complete Book of Humanoids. Lake Geneva, WI: TSR, 1993.
  • Wyatt, James. "Feathered Friends and Foes." Dragon #266. Renton, WA: Wizards of the Coast, 1999.
  • Wyatt, James, Christopher Perkins, and Darren Drader. "Prestige Classes: Swanmay".Book of Exalted Deeds, pp. 76-77. Renton, WA: Wizards of the Coast, 2003.

External links