Sahuagen Magic Expanded

Derek Holland

I am a proponent of using racial magic. This comes in two forms, of which I mix. The first is easy- common spells that get a change in appearance or slight changes in effect. The second are unique spells that can only be learned by that race (at that level, other races that want to use that spell must research it at a higher level). Inspired by last week's CoW on deepspawn, I have decided to pull out my notes on sahuagen magic.

First a little history. One of my favorite D&D books is the 2nd edition Sea Devils, the sourcebook on sahuagen. It had all kinds of cool stuff except for magic. Even the adventure supplements and Dragon article (on their technology and intelligence) had pretty much nada in that regard. When I was able to get my hands on Dragon 200 with its article, The Color Of Magic, on how to "reskin" spells, I found one way to make sahuagen (and other critters) much more interesting. So I redesigned a lot of spells and even came up with local variations. Much later I purchased Distant Horizon's Paths of Power I & II. Both have suggestions on racial magics (the first has the standard races and the latter monsters, including winter wolves and medusas) and they opened my eyes to racially exclusive spells. After that I wrote up some notes on new spells that sahuagen have exclusively. Sadly most of those notes are gone (or buried in the shelves and boxes of notebooks, where I am not going to dig for them). So I am going to use those notes I did find and try to come up with some new spell ideas. With the latter I am going to go back to the idea of using metamagic feats to create new spells and additional effects that I used for the deepspawn.

Fireball is the probably the most iconic spell so let's start there. Waterball (which does bludgeon damage) is okay but pretty boring. How about Slimeball, which does acid damage and entangles for 1 round per level. It would be a 5th level spell. Or Fishball, which summons carnivorous fish to chew apart the targets. They do slashing damage. Or Globball, a spell that does d8 points of damage per level but only to those creatures with gills (so land dwellers, jellyfish, bronze dragons, etc. are immune). And then there is the Airball, a 5th level spell that drys out aquatic creatures. It does d8 points of damage per level and effectively fatigues aquatic creatures for 1 round per level. Another set of metamagics allow the range to be reduced to touch but allow the caster to be immune to this spell; they cancel each other out in terms of level increase. Using them and another allow the caster to use the spell while grappled. The caster has to make a concentration check and the level increase is 1 or 2 (up to the DM as I just came up with that metamagic feat while rereading this).

Light and Continual Flame should be common in sahuagen communities- they live on the bottom of the ocean and have excellent vision yet there are very little sources of light. Yet the spells are not something the sharkmen would want to use. They are blinded easily from bright light. So how about a couple variants that use the light that is found down there. Jellyfish Light acts Light but only works for those with low light vision (for sahuagen it doubles the distance for their underwater sense). The other is Vent Flame. Some of the deep sea vents produce enough light to allow bacterial photosynthesis. This 3rd level spell does the same thing as Jellyfish Light but the area is 360' in diameter and lasts for 3d6 X 10 years.

Sea Hail is a form of Solid Fog. It inhibits movement, does d4 points of cold damage per round and only functions underwater. A simple, effective spell that many aquatic races use for defense.

Minor Creation and Major Creation are easy to turn into a variety of weaker spells that produce only specific materials. The exact reduction in level is up to the DM. Sharkmen have one very vile version- Create Blood. It is cast on a target, lasts for one hour per level and draws sharks and sahuagen from 5 miles downstream. A more powerful version, Create Raging Blood, gives a +1 to hit and damage per 4 caster levels to sharks and other creatures drawn to blood. For those sahuagen casters who want to deal with an opponent quickly, there is Create Anchor and Create Ice, both of which stick to the target and cause them to sink or rise. Squish or boom, depending on the distance moved.

Shell Armor is a simple variant of Mage Armor. It summons thousands of tiny fish ghosts that protect the caster.

Sea Tendrils is a 2nd level spell that acts as entangle in three dimentions. Very handy for destroying enemies from a distance. Ripping Tendrils is a 4th level variant that does d4 points of damage per caster level per round (no save).

Poison and Ray of Enfeeblement are interesting in that they are but one of six possibilities each. Fool's Ray target's a victim's Wisdom score. Lamprey's Bite does constitution damage (like Poison) and causes bleeding. Brain Bubbles does either intelligence or wisdom damage (DM's call on the effects of nitrogen narcosis). Shark' Bite causes dexterity damage. And so on.

Scale Shatter is a variant of Rusting Grasp. It has no effect on creatures without scales and damages those in a similar manner to Rusting Grasp affecting metal creatures.

Animate Sand/Mud is a variant of Animate Dead. The caster has to shape the forms to be animated and the results have the stats of skeleton (sand) or zombies (mud). As they are animated with positive energy, they can be turned or destroyed with negative channeling.

Both versions of Create Undead can be used to model spells that create other creature types. Sahuagen would most likely Create Animals (mostly sharks but some prey as well) and Create Aberrations.

Sometimes a hunting party gets bored with the local game and want something more challenging. Cunning Prey is their version of Awaken. It does not increase intelligence and charisma much (d4+2) but does boost wisdom (d6+8) and provides a +4 to Survival checks.

Bite Sized is a 3rd level version of Reduce. It does not affect a target's gear...

For those communities that live near the surface, Animate Kelp (version of Animate Rope) is useful in capturing prey and making temporary tools. A 5th level version includes Spike Growth.

One city of sahuagen I used a while ago had steel weapons and tools. This gave them a serious advantage over their neighbors (sharkmen and others). It was the result of Flesh to Steel and Fabricate. The corpses of their dead as well as remains of food and enemies were converted into metal and then implements. Since steel rusts so readily, they had to make a lot of it.

Wall of Coral allows them to make villages and fortresses quickly and hide them from outsiders.

Sea Mines are Explosive Runes that come with their own tiny chunk of ice or stone. Ice bobs on the surface and will melt in 24 hours. Stone sinks to the bottom and becomes useless when it gets covered in mud or sand.

Surface Scuttle is an odd variant of Water Walk. It allows the sahuagen to walk on the surface of the water upside down. They can use their crossbows to better effect as they aren't bobbing in the water and may even be able to kill some of a ship's crew without producing a ripple.

Sea Monsters comes in three levels. They are a variant of Planar Ally (or Dragon Ally from the Spell Compendium), one that allows the caster to ally with the monsters of the deep. Krakens, aboleth, morkoth, topaz dragons and whatever else might be down there. Of course that is just the beginning as it can be easily adapted for other races- Monsters of the Earth's Heart call elementals (and outsiders that live on the elemental planes) in volcanos, Forest Gods call those creatures that druids venerate, etc. And then there are more variants based on the Planar Binding series.


Another source for spells is psionics. They come in 9 levels and are easy to convert to spells. I wanted to use Genjitsu's Metablades and a couple books from Dreamscarred, but I decided to stick with the SRD powers to make it a bit easier for you.

Brain Worm summons a tiny creature and implants it into an opponent's brain, where it screws with what the victim sees, feels and hears. It is a variant of False Sensory Imput.

Close Gills and Crush Lungs are variants of Crisis of Breath.

Speed is a variant of Hustle and is very common to those sahuagen that are expecting to fight in hand to hand combat. Some even cheat in duels with this spell.

Feeding is a variant of Vampiric Blade and applies only to the sahuagen's bite.

I was also considering pulling out a couple books from En Publishing that relate to magic as technology (Mechamancy) and technology as magic (The Fantastic Science) as they can be easily given slimy biotechnological descriptions. For those who want just the casters to have such items, TFS is the book. For those who want everyone to use the items (sahuagen, their trading partners and the PCs), then Mechamancy is the book.

So, do you have a monster that you would like to see me create some species specific spell variants for?


(Comments from old Blog) Here are some additional ideas from other sources as well as a couple more from the SRD.

A 3rd level variant of Polymorph Any Object is Turn Wood to Water. If the sharkmen start relying on it to sink all vessels in an area, shipping either stops or metal designs are used.

Scaly Tendrils is a 6th level combination of Black Tentacles and Baleful Polymorph. The first creature struck by a specific tentacle must save or be turned into a small fish.


From Genjitsu's Metablades

Cloud of Scales is a 3rd level variation of Steel Satellites. It creates razor sharp scales that surround the caster and provide a +4 AC bonus. Once per round one can be shot (range and damage as a shortbow with standard arrows). It lasts one round per level and can not run out of ammo.

Waterbolt is a 3rd level variant of Launch. Water at short range can be made solid and fired at an opponent. It is treated as a heavy crossbow for damage and range and lasts for one round per level. As it does not have to fire from the caster's position, Waterbolt can be used as a distraction.


From Dreamscarred's Untapped Potential

Steel Scales is a 4th level variant of Rending Rift. It adds +2 to the caster's (or recipient's) AC and damages everything that hits the caster for 2d6 points of damage (this is meant to destroy melee weapons).

Sap is a 3rd level version of Foxhole. Foxhole makes 3-5' deep holes in soft soil in a single round. Sap digs holes 10' deep in any material softer than steel in a single round. It is mostly used against break walls, piers, docks and the occasional building. But it also has another use:

ST Cooley used to have a file for rangers. Sadly it seems that the file is gone (unlike the rest of their files). There was a spell, Personal Oasis, that allowed a caster to ignore environmental dangers, from bright light to extreme cold. And it lasts for 24 hours. Sahuagen using a variant of this spell could go on land indefinately. It could be used to move from ocean to sea or salt marsh. In the latter case, Sap can be used to expand the depths of the water (albet slowly) and allow a sahuagen colony to form inland.


And since it has been a while since I wrote this, here are some ideas from yet more sources, starting with Rite Publishing's 1001 Spells

Tiny Fangs is a variant of Antagonize Wounds, a 0 level spell that inflicts 1 point of damage per round to wounded creatures and characters. Tiny Fangs summons Fine carnivorous fish that strip flesh from bleeding wounds.

Take Prey is based on Capture Alive, a 0 level spell that makes attacks by the target non-lethal. The sharkmen use this spell to capture prey without cutting them apart with claws. This keeps the amount of blood in the water to a minimum as well as leaving the food more or less intact.

Scent Weakness is based on Discern Health, a 0 level spell that tells the caster how wounded one or more creatures are. This allows the sahuagen caster to tell others of the weak members of an opposing force.

Hidden Ally is a variant of Animate Element, a 1st level spell that creates a Small elemental. Obviously this would be water for sharkmen casters and the resulting elementals would be invisible underwater. They could attack and confuse prey.

Contingency X Healing is a series of spells that heal the target of a certain amount (much less than normal for the level) after they recieve a significant wound. Though sahuagen don't like healing magic, some use it anyways in times of great need, such as a war with tritons or sea elves.

Great Shark, based on Dire Form, is a 2nd level that increases the power of the sahuagen shark allies. A 5th level version allows for increased speed and Magic Fang added to the fish. A 7th level version makes the shark Legendary and gives them +3 worth of magic weapon qualities.

Deep Shadows is based on Mass Camouflage, a 4th level spell. It allows the sharkmen to not only ambush prey, but also to slowly move into enemy communities before striking.

Sunray, a 4th level spell, may seem an odd choice, but it has been adapted to Burning Light. Since it is a ray, it will not affect the caster and their allies but will blind the target as well as burn their flesh. This is very useful considering how many aquatic creatures are blinded by bright light.

Pass Coral is an variation of Path of Stone, a 5th level spell. It allows the sharkmen to swim through coral and other stone as if it was water. With this spell in the hands of the sahuagen, no community on the bottom of the ocean or along the shoreline can be easily protected. Now they can come from below.

Kill Magic, based on Sever from the Source, is a 6th level spell that prevents the target from casting spells. This is a vital spell for packs that attack ships and port cities as sahuagen can be driven off with magical light and heat.

Vermin Growth is another 6th level spell. As there are many tiny invertebrates in the oceans, this gives the caster the option of using the most dangerous as weapons (there are so many toxic species). I would alter the spell so that it affects less individuals and makes them grow more.

Monstrous Lore is a 7th level spell and could be used by the caster to assist in planning attacks. The target doesn't have to be a monster, it could be a king, general or wizard. All their strengths and vulnerabilities would be revealed by the spell.

Wall of White Water is an 8th level spell. On the ocean, set in front of a moving ship, it could sink the vessel (or at least would harm the crew and passengers). At a port, it could close access to the city from the ocean with the correct layout (ie a bay narrow enough for one or more spells to block).

Boiling Sea, a 9th level spell, is perfect for roasting a lot of enemies. The heavens help any sea elf city struck by this spell.


From Dreadfox's Grimoire series

From Grimoire Facilitas there is Fumigate, a 2nd level spell that stops scent and charms or nausiates the target. Sahuagen could use this to keep their sharks in check and prevent them from finding food not meant for them.

From Grimoire Repartus there is Plainstrider, a 2nd level spell that allows the targets to ignore exaustion for overland travel. This is handy in two ways. It can allow the sharkmen to strike inland much farther than normal or could allow them to swim very long distances and hit coastal communities they normall don't.

From the same file is Ward of Inertia, another 2nd level spell. This one stops prey from escaping.

From Grimoire Mutameteria there is Fleetness and Communical Fleetness (2nd and 3rd level), both increase the primary movement rate of the target(s). If used in combination with Plainstrider, sahuagen may very well be able to strike more than a hundred miles inland. And then Sap allows them to stay hidden until they need to return to the sea.

1st level Dexetrous Claws allow them to use their webbed hands as if they were human. This would increase their technological abilities, which are already considerable in Sea Devils.

And the same applies to Ingenious Modification, another 1st level spell. It increases the bonus a tool provides.

I don't know if Permanent Alter Self, a 5th level spell, would be popular among the racial purists of sahuagen society (almost everyone), but its possible uses in scouting, spying, raiding and sabotage might be too great for princes to ignore.


From Necromancers of the North West's Advanced Arcana line

The Vermin Shape series from the AA 1 might be useful but it only affects the caster.

Changling Transformation from AA 2, a 1st level spell, allows the caster to take a trait from another race. In this case it is low level enough to make more powerful versions for use on others. This could allow the sahuagen to completely ignore their need for water, at least for the duration. I would have it as a 4th level version that affects one target per caster level and lasts for a hour per level.

Balthavius's Physical Augmentor boosts physical ability scores. The longer the casting and the more slots used, the higher the results. Considering how sahuagen love hand to hand combat, this is a perfect spell for them.

World Sculpting is from the 3rd volume and has many different levels (put it in a higher slot and get different benefits from casting it). For sahuagen, I see them using it to demolish enemy communities that have been depopulated (either slain or driven off) as well as landscaping to make their own cities easier to defend.

Lethal Claws is another multi level spell. The more powerful versions would make a sahuagen very lethal in melee.

Beastflesh is a 7th level spell that gives damage resistance that works best against manufactured weapons.

Summon Boat is a 2nd level spell that can be used to make a decoy to string out ship crews.


Spes Magna Games' In One's Blood

Dehydration, a 6th spell, is used for irony. It can kill, but usually does not. I would think that a created that is dehydrated and underwater would suffer more due to osmotic pressure (i.e. water forcing its way into the victim's body).

Jotunblood Form is a 9th level spell that allows the caster to become a giant. There aren't many found in the ocean, but storm giants and scrags are. Throwing lightning underwater or regeneration, choices choices.

Ocean's Depths is 8th level and chills and crushes those affected. As sahuagen are shallow water dwellers, this includes them.

Whirlpool is also 8th level. Just has handy in sinking ships as Wall of White Water.


Otherverse's The Modern Digital Sorcerer

Carrion Surge is a 3rd level spell that uses bodies to empower a negative energy form of lightning. Considering how many corpses sahuagen make, this can be useful on the battlefield.

Disimmunize is a 4th level spell that turns a creature's natural attacks against it by removing an immunity to energy. A dragon could incinerate itself. Useful against sea monsters that prey on sahuagen communities.


Otherverse's Modern Grimoire (note it is meant to be used with a different class than the Digital Sorcerer)

Xeno-study is a 1st level spell that allows the caster to find the weaknesses and strengths of a species after a short examination (which can be ranged). It is meant for aliens and outsiders, but I would allow sahuagen to use it on any creature considering the weird monsters in the depths.

Hunter's Spear is Scorpion's attack from Mortal Combat (damage and then target drawn to caster). It is second level and seems perfect for the sharkmen.

Fostering is a 4th level spell that transforms an infant from one race to another. It could be used to replenish their ranks as long as the people see it as no different from young hatched from eggs (a tough sell, but possible considering their intelligence and willingness to adopt new ideas).

Disintegrate Armor and a mass version are 4th and 6th level. Free the meat from the shell.

Spreading Sedition is a 5th level spell that disrupts the bonds between troops and may even charm them to the caster's side. I think this may be worse than Boiling Seas in the hands of the sahuagen (or any monster for that matter).

Transfigure Species is 6th level and does the same thing as Fostering just with children and adults.

Grand Terraforming is 9th level and is meant for space travel. In this case, I would allow it to be used to sink a nation or region into the ocean. It also transforms the inhabitants (sapient and other) into sea creatures. So humans would grow gills and maybe webbed hands.

Uplift is a 10th level spell and increases the intelligent of an entire species as well as making them psionic. Technically it is only once in the species existence, but I can see it being used every 1000 years or so. This is the spell sahuagen cast on themselves to further their plans of world(s) domination.