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Rusalka (1968), a painting by Konstantin Vasiliev.

Her eyes shine like green fire, others describe them as extremely pale, with no visible pupils. Hair is sometimes depicted as green, and perpetually wet. The rusalki live at the bottom of rivers. In the middle of the night, they walk out to the bank and dance in meadows.

If they saw handsome men, they would fascinate them with songs and dancing, mesmerise them, then lead the person away to the river floor to live with them.


The rusalka is an unquiet dead being, associated with the “unclean force”. People who die violently and before their time, such as young women who commit suicide because they have been jilted by their lovers, or unmarried women who are pregnant out of wedlock, must live out their designated time on earth as a spirit.

The ghostly version is the soul of a young woman who had died in or near a river or a lake and came to haunt that waterway. This undead rusalka is not invariably malevolent and will be allowed to die in peace if her death is avenged.

Rusalki can also come from those who were born out of wedlock and drowned by their mothers for that reason. They are not necessarily innocent, however, and can attack a human foolish enough to approach them.


While her primary dwelling place was the body of water in which she died, the rusalka could come out of the water at night, climb a tree, and sit there singing songs, sit on a dock and comb her hair, or join other rusalki in circle dances in the field.

Her eyes shine like green fire, others describe them as extremely pale, with no visible pupils. Her hair is sometimes depicted as green, and perpetually wet.

Rusalki like to seduce men. They can do so by enticing men with their singing and then drowning them. Men seduced by the rusalka could die in her arms, and in some versions hearing her laugh could also cause death.

Rusalka Week

The rusalki were believed to be at their most dangerous during the Rusalka Week (Rusal’naia) in early June. At this time, they were supposed to have left their watery depths in order to swing on branches of birch and willow trees by nights. Swimming during this week was strictly forbidden, lest mermaids drag a swimmer down to the river floor. A common feature of the celebration of Rusal’naia week was the ritual banishing or burial of the rusalka at the end of the week.

    Rusalka DnD 5e BANNER.jpg

    She’s beautiful, and beckoning to you to join her, and without thinking you march to your watery grave becoming yet another victim of the vengeful rusalka!

    The rusalka is a Slavic myth mostly about women killed in the water, turned into creatures consumed by a burning need for revenge and an obsession with murder (particularly killing men). That’s now how they once were however! In ages past rusalka were powerful nature gods that encouraged fertility, coming out of the waters every spring to bring essential moisture into the cropped fields. Then the 1800s rolled around and they became lethal, loud, and foul undead created when a woman takes her own life by drowning or otherwise dies in the water (with misogynistic motives, naturally). These beautiful golden-haired ladies wear sedge wreaths and are usually naked (covered by their long hair), spending most of their time hanging out together in riverbed crystal palaces until spring comes and they go around dancing and singing on the banks (returning after the first thunder).

    Looking specifically in Poland (where rusalka are also called boginka, dziwożona, majka, moriana, water maiden, topielica, and wodiana), they show up for the new moon to kill off young men with relentless tickling and uncontrollable compulsions to dance—unless their victim could correctly answer a riddle first. Even though these rusalka are very much about killing dudes, they are also notably mean to girls as well (although not necessarily murderous). There’s some variation too as some rusalka associated with the woods (and have black-hair) or when they leave the material world they rise up into the sky.

    Medium undead, neutral evil
    Armor Class 15 (natural armor)
    Hit Points 105 (14d8+42)
    Speed 30 ft., swim 45 ft.

    17 (+3)​14 (+2)​16 (+3)​13 (+1)​12 (+1)​17 (+3)​

    Skills Athletics +6, Insight +7, Perception +7, Stealth +8
    Damage Immunities cold, necrotic, poison
    Condition Immunities charmed, exhaustion, frightened, paralyzed, petrified, poisoned
    Senses darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 17
    Languages Common
    Challenge 6 (2,300 XP)

    Enchanting Gaze. When a creature that can see the rusalka’s face starts its turn within 30 feet of the rusalka, the rusalka can force it to make a DC 14 Charisma saving throw if the rusalka isn’t incapacitated and can see the creature. On a failed save, the creature becomes charmed. While charmed in this way, the creature is compelled to directly approach, embrace, and show romantic affection for the rusalka regardless of any danger that may pose, including suffocation. When the charmed creature takes damage or at the end of every minute, it repeats the saving throw, ending the effect on a success.
    Unless surprised, a creature can avert its eyes to avoid the saving throw at the start of its turn. If the creature does so, it can’t see the rusalka until the start of its next turn, when it can avert its eyes again. If the creature looks at the rusalka in the meantime, it must immediately make the save.

    Innate Spellcasting. The rusalka’s innate spellcasting ability is Charisma (spell save DC 14). The rusalka can innately cast the following spells, requiring no material components:

    At will: hideous laughter

    3/day each: irresistible dance, suggestion

    Magic Resistance. The rusalka has advantage on saving throws made against spells and other magical effects.

    Riddler. The rusalka spends a bonus action asking a creature a riddle. If the creature responds with silence or anything but the correct answer, for the next minute it takes an extra 7 (2d6) slashing damage whenever the rusalka hits it with a melee weapon attack. Once a creature has been asked a riddle by the rusalka, it is immune to this trait for the next 24 hours.

    Multiattack. The rusalka attacks three times with its claws.

    Claws. Melee Weapon Attack: +6 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 6 (1d6+3) slashing damage. If the target is a Medium or smaller creature, it is grappled (escape DC 14).


    You hear unearthly singing, you look up, and see sitting in a tree a beautiful woman combing her wet hair.

    The Dancing Hut
    Author Michael Tresca
    Series Torassi
    Publisher Monkey God Enterprises
    Publish date 2002

    Medium-size undead (water)
    Hit Dice2d12 (13 hp)
    Initiative+4 (+4 Improved Initiative)
    Speed30 ft., Swim 30 ft
    AttacksDagger +2 melee
    DamageDagger 1d4+1
    Face/Reach5 ft by 5 ft/5 ft
    Special AttacksSpell-like abilities
    Special QualitiesSymbiosis, undead
    SavesFort +0, Ref +0, Will +5
    AbilitiesStrength 12, Dexterity 10, Constitution –, Intelligence 14, Wisdom 15, Charisma 18
    SkillsKnowledge (any one) +6, Escape Artist +7, Hide +7, Listen +9, Move Silently +7, Sense Motive +7, Spot +6, Swim +8, Wilderness Lore +7
    FeatsAlertness, Dodge, Improved Initiative
    Climate/TerrainAny freshwater aquatic
    OrganizationSolitary or group (4-7)
    Challenge Rating1
    AlignmentUsually neutral evil
    Advancement3-4 HD (Medium-size)


    Rusalka have been known to tickle to death those who can’t answer their riddles and those who don’t carry wormwood while in the forest.

    Spell-like Abilities (Su): Three times per day, rusalka can cast control water, uncontrollable hideous laugther, plant growth, and water breathing as a 7thlevel sorcerer. A rusalka can also use Charm Person three times per day, as cast by a 4th-level sorcerer; targets must succeed at a Will save (DC 15) or be charmed for 4 hours.

    Symbiosis (Su): Each rusalka is mystically bound to a single body of water and must never stray more than 300 yards from it. If she does, she disintegrates into a puddle of water within 4d6 hours.

    Undead: Immune to mind-influencing effects, poison, sleep, Paralysis, stunning, and disease. Not subject to critical hits, subdual damage, ability damage, energy drain, or death from massive damage.

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