|A swanmay, as depicted in Book of Exalted Deeds (2003). Art by Rebecca Guay.|
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.
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.
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.
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.
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