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The kelpie is a supernatural shape-shifting water horse that haunts the rivers and lochs of Scotland and Ireland. It also appears in Scandinavia where it in Sweden is known by the name Bäckahästen, the brook horse. In Norway it is called nøkken, where the horse shape is often used, but is not its true form.

History and mythology

A kelpie would lure people onto its back and then dive into a deep lake to magically vanish. A kelpie's bridle could work magic if stolen; conversely, a human bridle on a kelpie could compel it to work for a human.

In Scandinavia, the brook horse was a transformation of the Nix, a water spirit in the shape of a man. It was often described as a majestic white horse that would appear near rivers, particularly during foggy weather. Anyone who Climbed onto its back would not be able to get off again. The horse would then Jump into the river, drowning the rider. The brook horse could also be harnessed and made to plough, either because it was trying to trick a person or because the person had tricked the horse into it. The kelpie sometimes appeared as a rough hairy man who would grip and crush travellers, but it most commonly took the form of a beautiful tame horse standing by a stream or river. If anyone mounted it, it would charge into the deepest part of the water, submerging and taking the rider with it. They would sometimes interbreed with humans' horses, and the foals were said to be fine fleetfooted horses. The kelpie was also said to warn of forthcoming storms by wailing and howling. Rarely, kelpies could be benign.

Kelpie Legends

The following tale is a good illustration of the brook horse:

A long time ago, there was a girl who was not only pretty but also big and strong. She worked as a maid on a farm by Lake Hjärtasjön in southern Nerike. She was ploughing with the farm's horse on one of the fields by the lake. It was springtime and beautiful weather. The birds chirped and the wagtails flitted in the tracks of the girl and the horse in order to pick worms. All of a sudden, a horse appeared out of the lake. It was big and beautiful, bright in color and with large spots on the sides. The horse had a beautiful mane which fluttered in the wind and a tail that trailed on the ground. The horse pranced for the girl to show her how beautiful he was. The girl, however, knew that it was the brook horse and ignored it. Then the brook horse came closer and closer and finally he was so close that he could bite the farm horse in the mane. The girl hit the brook horse with the bridle and cried: "Disappear you scoundrel, or you'll have to plough so you'll never forget it." As soon as she had said this, the brook horse had changed places with the farm horse, and the brook horse started ploughing the field with such speed that soil and stones whirled in its wake, and the girl hung like a mitten from the plough. Faster than the cock crows seven times, the ploughing was finished and the brook horse headed for the lake, dragging both the plough and the girl. But the girl had a piece of steel in her pocket, and she made the sign of the cross. Immediately she fell down on the ground, and she saw the brook horse disappear into the lake with the plough. She heard a frustrated neighing when the brook horse understood that his trick had failed. Until this day, a deep track can be seen in the field. (Hellström 1985:16)


Originally Posted by

Silversheen197 of the Wizards Community forums.

On this Thread

A large and powerful horse comes trotting across the water towards you. It drips water as though eternally wet, and clumps of reeds and other vegetation are caught in its tangled mane. Its eyes are a soulless coal-black.

Kelpies are bloodthirsty Unseelie fey that thrive on mayhem and murder. They live in rivers, lakes, pools, and other bodies of water where they can drown their prey before devouring the corpses.

A kelpie hunts either in its natural form, where it offers rides to pedestrians near its home then rushes into the water and drowns the poor traveler as soon as they have mounted, or by shifting into human form and luring people into the water, usually by pretending to be drowning. Those making a thorough search of the bottom of a body of water that is home to a kelpie will find great amounts of carcasses and bones littering the muddy floor.

These Faeries are very territorial and prone to prey on animals or humans who wander too close to their homes. The Kelpies are cannibals, and prey on other Faeries who intrude on their dwellings.

The kelpie is a supernatural shape-shifter they may appear as handsome young men, but are unable to keep their hair from appearing as seaweed .The kelpie sometimes appears as a rough hairy man who would grip and crush travellers

The form the Kelpie most often undertakes, however, is that of a beautiful wild horse (generally grey or black in their coloring). The Kelpie in this form acts docile and beguiles unwitting travelers to Ride (Dexterity)on its back. However, no sooner than they mount, the Kelpie leaps into the water, dragging its rider into the deep where they can drown their prey before devouring the corpses.

They will sometimes interbreed with humans' horses, and the foals are fine fleetfooted horses, they live in rivers, lakes, and other bodies of water

The kelpie warns of forthcoming storms by wailing and howling.

Large fey (Aquatic)
Hit Dice 10d6+30(65 hp)
Initiative +6
Speed60 ft. (12 squares), Swim 60 ft.
Armor Class23 (–1 size, +2 Dexterity, +12 natural), touch 11, flat-footed 21
Base Attack/Grapple+5/+16
AttackHoof +11 melee (1d6+7)
Full Attack2 hooves +11 melee (1d6+7) and bite +6 melee (1d8+3)
Space/Reach10 ft./5 ft.
Special AttacksSpell-like abilities
Special QualitiesAlternate form, amphibious, Low-Light Vision, resistance to cold 20 and fire 20, Scent, water walking
SavesFort +8, Ref +9, Will +8
AbilitiesStrength 24, Dexterity 15, Constitution 21, Intelligence 10, Wisdom 13, Charisma 14
Skills Bluff +15, Diplomacy +6, Disguise +2 (+4 acting), Hide +5, Intimidate +4, Listen +14, Move Silently+14, Sense Motive +14, Spot +14, Swim +20
FeatsAlertness, Endurance, Improved Initiative, Run
EnvironmentAny aquatic and land
OrganizationSolitary or pair
Challenge Rating 10
AlignmentAlways chaotic evil
Advancement11–15 HD (Large); 16–20 HD (Huge)
Level Adjustment


Kelpies prefer to use Charm Person to lure prey into the water, where it hold the advantage. Then it drags the creature underwater or trips it so that the opponent is in danger of drowning.

Spell-Like Abilities: At will—charm person (DC 13), detect thoughts (DC 14);

3/day—suggestion (DC 15).

Caster level 7th. The save DCs are Charisma-based.

Alternate Form (Su): A kelpie can assume the form of a human or other similar humanoid or the form of a beautiful horse as a standard action. This is similar to the polymorph spell, except it allows only humanoid forms, and the kelpie does not regain hit points for changing form. A kelpie can remain in humanoid or horse form until it chooses to revert to its natural form.

Amphibious (Ex): A kelpie can breathe air as well as water.

Water Walking (Su): Kelpies are continuously under the effect of a water walk spell. The kelpie can suppress or resume this ability as a free action.

Skills: A kelpie has a +8 racial bonus on any Swim check to perform some special action or avoid a hazard. It can always choose to take 10 on a Swim check, even if distracted or endangered. It can use the run action while swimming, provided it swims in a straight line.

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