Alterpedia – Sirens

In the Alters’ World (and the series of books found here), creatures of legend reveal themselves to the world. Born through genetic abnormalities, defects and mutations, the Alters have lived for centuries as outcasts of human society, hiding their true nature from the world while colorful stories have been written by many to describe what they’ve seen. How are these creatures different from what was described in the stories? What relationship do they have with humanity? Every entry of the Alterpedia will delve into a new creature from around the world. This week we cover:


The beautiful, enchanting voices calling to sailors from across the sea – we often think of Sirens as either monsters of the Aegean Sea or the unfortunate inevitability for those all-night binge drinking sessions near frat houses. But whether you think of the women of the distant shores or the flashing lights atop patrol cars, the thought of Sirens has long haunted the collective consciousness of mankind. But are these beautiful entities really the evil beasts we’ve so long feared?



Sirens of legend have long been depicted with avian features.  Greek myth has gone so far as to say that the Sirens themselves were granted wings by the goddess Demeter so that they could search for Persephone when she was taken to Hades. However, for failing to return her daughter, Demeter cursed the creatures.

The depictions of these entities have varied over the ages from being more bird or more human depending on the artist. Some depictions have even removed all bird-like traits in favor of attractive female forms. On the other hand, some have gone to as much of an extreme as making the Sirens birds with human faces.


Sirens, like most Alters, are primarily human in nature. Though they have bird-like features these are often just the effects of their Alter biology on the human physical form. Some of these features happen to be:

Long, slender legs
Sharper noses
And unnaturally feathered hair

While these can be attributed to bird-like features, they are still typically within the realm of appearing human in nature. However, in some extreme cases there have been exceptions to this rule.





The Sirens were gifted with a beautiful voice that they used to enthrall people towards their doom. Through the mechanism changed from story to story, the effect was always the same: those who heard the siren’s song were going to meet their death. In some stories this was accomplished by drawing the unsuspecting victim to run their ship across the rocks.

Not that sailors have ever required much help

In others, it was simply a song that would lull them into a “fatal lethargy”.

However it was to happen, the song of the siren had dramatic impact on the minds of those who could hear it, one irresistible and magically driven. Were a mortal to defy the song of the sirens, it was said the sirens would die.


Much like bats and marine mammals, Sirens possess vocal chords capable of reaching notes and frequencies impossible by conventional human standards. This grants them a great deal of control over their vocal communication and allows them to influence the people around them.

This influence is accomplished through subliminal messaging or through hypnotic suggestion. Using the impact of sound on the human mind, Sirens can manipulate people as they induce chemical changes in the minds of their target. This can result in giving them partial or complete control over their victims to the point of even causing people to behave irrationally against their own self-interests.



Sirens are hostile towards humans and have been known to cause shipwrecks and to eat human flesh. Often they spend their time on islands, luring sailors towards shore so that they can be shipwrecked and left helpless or dead to be preyed on by the ravenous appetites of their seductresses.

When shipwrecking their victim is not a feasible method of capture, they use their ability to control people to lure them in and lull them into a false sense of security before devouring them. This behavior is somewhat similar to the ferret war dance, where in the ferret shall stupefy its prey before violently assaulting it.


Sirens have no more hostility towards humans than any other human being. The typical Siren is usually an entertainer of some form, often taking part in things that will allow them to effectively use their vocal range and seductive powers. Among these trades is singing, public speaking and live sex hotlines.

The accuracy of their man-eating is questionable. While the majority of Sirens in the modern day maintain a perfectly normal diet for humans, there have been instances of Sirens giving into more primal urges and losing their perspective for periods of time.

Often these Sirens have been exposed to unhealthy influences from other creatures and/or social pressures. When this occurs, there has been tendency for them to lose all sense of rational behavior and to be prone to abuse their powers in ways that can be unpredictable and against their original character.

Historical Relationship



Sirens were the terrors of the sea and responsible for a great deal of shipwrecks in their time. While not often encountered on land, their reputation preceded them among all sailors and travelers in the Mediterranean region.


The stories of Sirens preying on sailors and wayward travelers were greatly exaggerated. In truth, most Sirens spent their time entertaining humans and using their skills to obtain what they wanted from those who willingly gave it to them. Through traveling with entertainer troupes, the Sirens made a living without harming others.

However, in an unfortunate and dark period of their history, Sirens did act as the stories depicted despite their normally harmless nature. Using their song, Sirens would draw in ships and cause them to run ashore. The news of these events often spread fast and caused a dark mark on the history of the race, but what few stories revealed is that these Sirens were not representatives of the entirety of the race but rather bands of pirates who were using their talents to steal from passing ships.

Due in part to their treatment by the Ancient Hellenistic society, particularly their views on women – A band of sirens (who also brought about the origins of the Amazonian myths) broke away from conventional society and began to use their talents to lure in men from sea to steal their cargo and potentially enslave them. These Sirens were by no means the entire population and to this day most modern Sirens attempt to avoid association with this myth. The Ancient Greeks, for their part, did not seem to notice the disappearance of a great deal of their women during this time.


Though there is some truth in the behavior of Sirens, particularly the actions of a select group of pirates, Sirens are no more dangerous to humanity than humans are to each other. While their voices do give them the ability to manipulate men and bend them to their whim, rarely would one use their abilities for violence. After all…

There are easier ways.

(and maybe this time I’ll manage to update regularly, but until that comes true, check out my books to bide your time!)

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