In the Dungeons & Dragons fantasy role-playing game, the sahuagin are a fish-like monstrous humanoid species that live in oceans, seas, underground lakes, and underwater caves. Sahuagin speak their native tongue ("Sahuagin"). With higher intelligence scores, they can also speak two bonus languages, usually Common and Aquan.
Sahuagin are usually green skinned, darker on the back and lighter on the belly. Many have dark stripes, bands, or spots, but these tend to fade with age. An adult male Sahuagin stands roughly 6 feet (1.83 m) tall and weighs about 200 pounds (91 kg). Sahuagin are highly fish-like, with webbed feet and hands, gills, and a finned tail. There is additional webbing down the back, at the elbows and, notably, also where human ears would be. One in 216 specimens are a mutation with four usable arms instead of two. These four-armed mutations are usually black, fading to gray in color.
The appearance of the Sahuagin has changed somewhat since its inception in 1975. Originally the Sahuagin frame was more like that of the aquatic elf not possessing a tail and having a similar skeletal structure to humans. This early interpretation of the Sahuagin is apparent in sources like the first edition Monster Manual (page 84), various images throughout the AD&D Module U3: The Final Enemy, "Monster Cards" illustrated by Erol Otus and in the sculptures of early lead miniatures from several companies. With the advent of AD&D second edition and such products as The Sea Devils, the Sahuagin changed its appearance greatly. Newer artwork now depicts the sea devils with long finned tails and a skeletal structure more fish-like (long slender webbed fingers and toes, and a large dorsal fin) and much less humanoid. The exact origins and reasons for this inconsistency is unclear but it may have its origins in the Sahuagin's swimming speed and artist's concerns with producing a viable creature to fit the swimming speed of its RPG game stats.
Sahuagin society closely resembles some aspects of Aztec society. It is claimed that the Aztecs were part of the inspiration for these creatures.
Sahuagin are the natural enemies of aquatic elves. The two cannot coexist peacefully: wars between them are prolonged, bloody affairs that sometimes interfere with shipping and maritime trade. Sahuagin have an only slightly less vehement hatred for tritons. Precisely why the two races hate each other so much is unknown, but what is known that the presence of an aquatic elf community within several miles of a sahuagin community occasionally causes some sahuagin to be born as malenti; mutants who resemble aquatic elves.
They also hate the Kuo-toa, another fish-like race, though the two races have been known to ally.
Multiple births are frequent among them. Sahuagin deal very harshly with offspring who are not robust or aggressive enough—they are eliminated by compulsory fighting to the death between young sahuagin. Sahuagin seem fixated on all aspects of consumption, and are eager to weed out anything they see as weak or unworthy to compete for resources. Savage fighters, sahuagin ask for and give no quarter. When swimming, a sahuagin is able to tear with its sharp feet, using them as weapons. About half of any group of sahuagin are also armed with nets. Since there are many illustrations of sahuagin wielding spears, these would seem to also be favored weapons.
Sahuagin worship Sekolah, the lawful evil god of sharks, as their patron deity and the father of their race. They also perceive him as the ultimate adjudicator and incarnation of punishment, officiating over an endless struggle between mythic figures. These figures are the hunter "He Who Eats" and the hated "It That Is Eaten", with the struggle between them reflected in every aspect of life. Because of this, sharks are seen as holy creatures to them, and dolphins are hated for their friendship with aquatic elves. The Sahuagin make regular, living sacrifices to Sekolah by feeding the sacrificed being to the sharks that follow every sahuagin priest. In the first edition of the Monster Manual mention of being "devil worshipers" is likewise made on page 84. This also suggests there may be fiendish cults that venerate other diabolical gods not yet known.
Sahuagin in GreyhawkIn the World of Greyhawk campaign setting, sahuagin are known to inhabit the Azure Sea, and once threatened the Keoish coastal town of Saltmarsh in the 570's CY. The sahuagin laid siege to a lair of lizardfolk and drove them out of their home. The sahuagin converted this lair into a base of operations from which to launch an attack on Saltmarsh. The buildup of sahuagin forces caused an alliance to be formed between the citizens of Saltmarsh, an aquatic elf tribe (the Manan), a tribe of mermen, a tribe of locathah, and the original lizardfolk who were driven from their home.