D&D 5E My Sahuagin Lore

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
So my local group is on the cusp of starting U3 - The Final Enemy as it appears in Ghosts of Saltmarsh with some changes and additions. Before this happens they will be attending a council of the various allies (humans, dwarves, lizardfolk, sea elves, locathah, and merfolk), where they will be various political shenanigans (including a backdoor link to my own version of White Plume Mountain, which is not relevant here, but I am proud of) - and during the three days of preparation and meetings, a trio of elves will show up unannounced bearing lore about the foe these different communities have bound together to resist. In my setting, elves are reclusive and on the decline - rarely seen, even more rarely talked to - so their arrival is a big deal.

Essentially, they come to honor a promise made long ago to their shorter lived and estranged aquatic kin, which was to hold fast to the lore of the sahuagin who have been known to disappear for centuries and then re-emerge in conquering numbers. Since sea elf lore and literature is oral and not literate, things can be more easily forgotten or twisted. In the old days, the bonds between different elf groups were used to make up for each other's weaknesses and complement their strengths - thus such lore was entrusted to much longer lived kin who tend to write things down.

Rather than read through the list of things myself, I plan to share the info below on a handout (And we may go around the table and each read one aloud that strikes us as important). And this can be the basis for any other questions the PCs may have for their prep for the scouting raid they have been asked to undertake.

Not everything here is necessary relevant or 100% accurate and I plan to remind the players that this info is from the PoV of ancient (from the PC's perspective) elves).

Lore of the Sahuagin People (as Recorded in Silverstand on Behalf of Our Shimmaré Kin)

  • Sahuagin were created by the God Sekolah (known as Tiburon in some realms) who is sometimes depicted as a gargantuan shark and other times as a gluttonous and bloody maw surrounded by countless tentacles.
  • There is no record of the sahuagin ever making alliances with other peoples.
  • Sahuagin conquer, devour, and destroy. They thrive in toxic and poisonous waters. It is not uncommon to find monstrous mutations among them. These mutants are considered the blessed of Sekolah.
  • Sahuagin raise different kinds of sharks and brand them to mark ownership. They use them for defense, hunting, and eating.
  • Like sharks, Sahuagin can enter a frenzy when the taste of blood is on the water.
  • They eschew creation and have little respect for labor, stealing any resources they need and making use of slave labor that is usually worked to death. Rather than build, they take over spaces created by other beings and convert them for their own uses.
  • Aside from slaves, they also take prisoners to make them fight monsters or each other for the community’s amusement.
  • There are no known distinctions in sahuagin social roles based on gender.
  • Sahuagin cannot live outside of water for more than about 24 hours at a time without becoming gradually weaker and eventually dying horribly within an additional 24 hours.
  • Sahuagin are organized in pods based on when they hatch, not families. They recognize no paternal or maternal bonds.
  • While Sahuagin eggs can survive centuries before hatching whole new communities at once, typically they hatch almost immediately and reach full adulthood in about six to nine months—eating others of their pod and rival pods to gain strength and respect. Only about 1 in 6 sahuagin young live to adulthood.
  • Sahuagin communities are usually led by mutated specimens called “Barons.”
  • Sahuagin has an incredibly hierarchal society based on an explicit caste system. Any disobedience or deviance is punishable by summary execution and being devoured.
  • Sahuagin are not known to have wizards among their number, and while there are records of some sahuagin sorcerers, they are not as common (or powerful) as their priests .

Any feedback? Anything you think I should add? Anything that is either a part of traditional D&D sahuagin lore or that might be cool to consider? This is meant to be general lore about sahuagin that could be useful, but not specifically about the lair to be raided (though some bits of lore - like there is an arena for bloodsport - will be relevant).
 

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Stormonu

Legend
The Sea Devils from 2E greatly expanded the lore of the Sahuugin, if you have access to it there is some deep lore there.

One thing I remember is that they have an unusual, undying hatred of sea elves. Occasionally, rare mutants are born among Sahaugin that look like swarthy sea elves. They are used as spies and saboteurs in sea elf communities. My memory is fuzzy, but I also believe in that series it is revealed that Sekolah transformed sea elves to create the first sahaugin (perhaps as elvin vengeance for crimes by land dwellers?)

Funny your also using White Plume Mountain - I did so as well as part of Ghosts of Saltmarsh. I incorporated a variant of the Keraptis shards from Return to White Plume Mountain (one of the players had Keraptis’s spell book think Harry Potter’s Tom Riddle horcrux) . I mention this because recovering Wave was important to the alliance in my game (it belonged to the Tritons and recovering it and returning it got them as allies).
 

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
One thing I remember is that they have an unusual, undying hatred of sea elves. Occasionally, rare mutants are born among Sahaugin that look like swarthy sea elves. They are used as spies and saboteurs in sea elf communities. My memory is fuzzy, but I also believe in that series it is revealed that Sekolah transformed sea elves to create the first sahaugin (perhaps as elvin vengeance for crimes by land dwellers?)

I remember this lore but I am not a fan of it and decided to eschew it.
Funny your also using White Plume Mountain - I did so as well as part of Ghosts of Saltmarsh. I incorporated a variant of the Keraptis shards from Return to White Plume Mountain (one of the players had Keraptis’s spell book think Harry Potter’s Tom Riddle horcrux) . I mention this because recovering Wave was important to the alliance in my game (it belonged to the Tritons and recovering it and returning it got them as allies).

My version of Keraptis - The Laughing Magus Jocose - was accidentally awakened by one of the PCs playing with a magic orb they found on a previous adventure and who then unfortunately shared too much information about what they are up to, which caught the playfully evil wizard's interest. In hopes of sowing chaos, right before the meeting I described above he is going to send a message to the leaders of the dwarves, merfolk, and humans offering that they send heroes to acquire Whelm, Wave, and Black Razor (I may change this sword) suggesting they will be crucial in defeating the sahuagin. Do they further delay the assault on the sahuagin in hopes of getting these weapons? Can the legendary death mazes of Jocose really be real? And if so are they actually navigable in order to retrieve these items? The PCs will have the chance to decide what they prefer to do.
 

aco175

Legend
Are they evil? They seem to do evil things and I would assume that all the 'goodly' races view them as such if they are attacking your town and taking your friends as slaves. A lot of the description seems to match most of the earlier descriptions of drow from the Salvatore books.

Maybe you can lead in with am item found that links some of the text or a sailor that washed up on shore that can talk about one he say that was mutated. Sort of foreshadow for a later encounter.
 

Agametorememberbooks

Explorer
Publisher
Do you have any interest in tying the ‘mutants‘ in with any Lovecraftian-style elder being, or just keeping it more along the lines of arcane/semi-natural pollution that creates the more powerful versions?

Might the sea elves have some ancient stash of written lore that they’ve forgotten about? Maybe specialized sheafs of seaweed parchment written with arance ink of some sort.

Is the cycle of sahuagin arrival and then fade away part of a natural cycle, or are they beholden to some fiendish pact or power that causes their wax and wane?
 

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
I haven't decided if they are inherently evil, but from the perspective of the PC and they're allies they certainly are evil and their worship of Sekolah leads them to do evil things to others and among themselves.
 

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
Do you have any interest in tying the ‘mutants‘ in with any Lovecraftian-style elder being, or just keeping it more along the lines of arcane/semi-natural pollution that creates the more powerful versions?

Might the sea elves have some ancient stash of written lore that they’ve forgotten about? Maybe specialized sheafs of seaweed parchment written with arance ink of some sort.

Is the cycle of sahuagin arrival and then fade away part of a natural cycle, or are they beholden to some fiendish pact or power that causes their wax and wane?

I am playing with an environmental plot with the local poisoning of wetlands (called "The Grey Water") and toxins seeping into The World Below (my version of the Underdark/Hollow Earth) that they call "Poison Rain." The PCs don't know the source (spoiler, its the dwarves).

I see the sahuagin "waves" (punny) as part of a cycle, but that cycle has to do with the rise and fall of civilizations and how their magic and metallurgy leaches toxins into the water.

That said, the second form of Sekolah might tie in nicely with an "Outsider" Lovecraftian pantheon that wants to swallow the universe or something.
 

Agametorememberbooks

Explorer
Publisher
I like the fact that the sahuagin are toxifying the environment on multiple levels being a huge tie in for any druid, ranger, paladin (ancients), or cleric with a nature domain.

Depending on how hard you wanna go with the environmental theme, you could do a series of mutated non-sahuagin to start cluing them in on where to be, etc.
 

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
Depending on how hard you wanna go with the environmental theme, you could do a series of mutated non-sahuagin to start cluing them in on where to be, etc.

I am way ahead of you. They ran into a bunch of refugees from the world below and among them were some F-ed up trolls - who I decided because they regenerate so quickly are absorbing mutagens into their systems.
 

Agametorememberbooks

Explorer
Publisher
I love trolls. There’s an encounter in our volume 1 supplement wherein a young man is morphing into a troll, but it can be reversed if the players decide they want to save him in lieu of just outright killing the fellow.

I do think the idea of having a savant sahuagin who looks like a sea elf being an infiltrator in the meeting could be an awesome plot twist.
 


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