Sahuagin, Deep Ones
It’s hard to say how long the Sahuagin lived in the depths. It wasn’t until hundreds of years after the fall of Atlantis that the first of the deep-dwellers set foot on the streets of the great city. The Mer hadn’t encountered them much before either. Neither race feels really comfortable at the crushing, sunless depths the Sahuagin call home.
Sahuagin resemble humans somehow adapted for life deep undersea. They have tough, dark, denticled skin marked by patches of bioluminescence, webbed hands and feet, gills alongside lungs and a far too wide mouth filled with banks of pointed teeth. The color and intensity of the bioluminescence varies with health, age and tribe, but also by mood and choice.
A Sahuagin’s appearance depends heavily on tribe, especially the shape of the bioluminescent markings and the presence of additional fins or even a vestigal tail. In fact, a child adopted by another tribe would resemble its new tribe more than its birth parents.
The average Sahuagin is healthier and stronger than the average human, however that is mainly a result of their harsher living conditions. The weaker ones simply don’t survive. They do not share the Atlanteans’ and Merfolk’s long lifespan.
Every Sahuagin has the supernatural ability to consciously control his surroundings to a limited degree. They use this ability, usually referred to as manipulating the Weave, to both survive the crushing pressure of their chosen home and move swiftly through the water. Particularly skilled Weavers can command considerable force or fine-tune their power to treat wounds.
Sahuagin cannot perceive changes in the Weave outside their own range and, as such, do not use it for communication. However, it’s believed that some subconscious awareness of it is related to their strong tribal self-identification. Also, greater talent with Weaving is believed to correlate with a limited form of eidetic memory.
Very rarely, a Sahuagin will develop strong oracular powers. Such an Oracle can enter a trancelike state where their sight reaches far out both across space and time, but are themselves very vulnerable. Also importantly, their aging while in the trance state is greatly slowed, giving them great knowledge and wisdom. They’re also all invariably, incurably, insane.
Sahuagin live in tribes of between thirty and eighty adults. Larger ones are rare and tend to be plagued by internal strife, usually splitting into smaller ones within a generation. Tribal identity is very strong -- two depleted tribes are more likely to compete each other to extinction than to merge, though it’s not unheard of. If resources are plentiful however, several tribes can and will coexist in an area, whether a few smaller tribes banding together for a few years to raise children safely, or a more permanent settlement where the tribes develop a measure of codependency.
The largest Sahuagin settlements are located in the vicinity of the fertile silt created by geothermal vents. These few cities are home to numerous tribes and a population of thousands, as well as being centres of culture and hubs of trade, and are only kept from exploding from internal strife by a single fact -- the cities are, invariably, the seat of an Oracle, who are drawn to the vents’ fumes. The Oracle’s chambers doubles then as a meeting hall for the leaders or representative of the assemvled
A Sahuagin settlement tends to be vertical or even three-dimensional, the materials depending on what is available locally or what can be traded for. Their creations tend to be simple and utilitarian, with little in the way of artistic qualities. There are no temples to speak of.
Most Sahuagin are hunters or kelp farmers, with the odd storyteller and toolmaker. Larger tribes can afford the luxury of more varied professions. Sahuagin do not have a standing army. In times of war or emergency, every able-bodied tribesmember becomes a warrior. Larger tribes are known to have a rotating militia, though it is a recent development. The only semi-permanent soldiers are Oracle guardians, often Mer-trained and equipped.
Sahuagin are known to trade with Mer and even Atlanteans, bringing the exotic bounties of the deep seas and returning with tools and tales of the wonders of these far-off lands. Thankfully, their traditional garb includes a wrap around the lower face.
Sahuagin have no written language, though some are literate in those of Atlantis or the Mer. Instead, they rely on a rich oral tradition. They also have no spoken language, relying instead on a system of gestures and subtle bioluminescence change. Those two facts are as contradictory as they seem.
The Sahuagin are close-lipped about their history, and get defensive when pressed. Still, it has been possible to glean and compile some of their past.
They trace their roots to a creature or being of godlike power. For whatever reason, it became jealous of the surfacers, and (there is no consensus here) either kidnapped them to turn them into the first Sahuagin, or created them in their image. This same being also taught them how to manipulate the Weave, to enable them to survive in the crushing depths. It’s notable that the Sahuagin do not worship the being past acknowledging its role in their creation, and absolutely refuse to name it.
It’s impossible to establish a timeframe for their creation, though it’s implied they have a large amount of legends that take place between then and the next event. It involves another godlike being, one they refuse to name even more forcefully. It’s not even clear if the being is the same as their creator or not, nor is it known if it was acting out of malice, punishment, or an attempt at ransom. What is known is that the second entity took away the Sahuagin’s precious voice, and with it their oral tradition. It’s not known what the entity demanded for its return.
What is also known is that the hardy people of the dark depths refused. This they will say, with a bitter pride. The Sahuagin never got their voice back. In its stead, they taught themselves to go without. Their system of hand and bioluminescence signals was developed for simple communication, but it was insufficient for maintaining the oral tradition. Instead, alongside it, they developed something else. The old storytellers, gifted with eidetic memory, were also talented Weavers, and to capitalize on it, they developed the Stillsong, a method of creating sound and speech and song with Weaving alone.
Interestingly, Sahuagin do not consider a legend told by Stillsinging valid. It’s considered inferior, only a method to keep them in memory and pass them from generation to generation until the glorious day when they regain their voice and are able to tell these legends in the way they should be, however long it takes.
- Yes, the name is also from D&D.
- The word ”denticle” means “small tooth”. Dermal denticles are another word for placoid scales, which cover Sahuagin skin. Just like with sharks, the denticles help them swim quickly and quietly, makes their hide tough, leathery, and feel like sandpaper.
- Sahuagin jaws (and to a lesser extent, other bones) are flexible and they can distend their mouths to open disturbingly wide. They are no less unnerved by the sight than any other creature.
- Sahuagin are considered adults after undergoing a coming of age ceremony at the age of 12.
- Strictly speaking, not every Sahuagin is born with the ability to manipulate the Weave. However, those who do not, do not survive to adulthood, and are not spoken of. Ever.
- Sahuagin are born underwater, with collapsed lungs. First exposure to atmospheric air causes them to expand, which is a traumatic and, for the unprepared, often lethal experience. Most go their entire lives without having to go through it, and the ones who cannot avoid it undertake extensive mental preparation. Even then, small mistakes lead to very severe, usually lethal complications.
- Sahuagin gills are visible on the lower part of their neck and stretch back to between their shoulder blades.
- Sahuagin females give live birth and nurse their young. Because hips and boobs.
- Traditional Sahuagin garb consists of tight-fitting pants made from the sewn-together hide of any of several preferred sea creatures, a possible tunic, and a mask/cowl covering both the mouth and the delicate gills.
Not my creation, posted for a friend unfamiliar with VV