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The Sea Devils (1997)

Generally, I like monster fish people. Deep ones are cool. Creach rules. Mer-man was my favorite Master of the Universe. D&D monster fish people, though? Nope. It isn’t that I don’t like sahuagin. They’re cool! But I really, really don’t like underwater adventures. So that baseline, coupled with the fact that I don’t really think of sahuagin as brand-defining for D&D the way beholders are, makes the fish-folk focus of the second installment of the Monstrous Arcana series a bit puzzling to me.

The Sea Devils (1997) is great though. Like I, Tyrant did for beholders, this is all you could possibly want to know about sahuagin and more. This is where we first are introduced to the four-armed sahuagin barons. I also generally appreciate the move to strongly associate sahuagin with sharks. This was always sort of the case, as they generally pal around in previous depictions, but here they are very firmly shown as shark-people. Coupled with the fantastic array of art (Arnie Swekel, RK Post and Todd Lockwood, among others, not to mention Jennell Jaquays on the cover) creates a sense of…it isn’t plausibility, but something like a pervasive, evocative sense. Like, there is nothing terribly realistic or ecological about this material, though it sometimes attempts to be so. Rather, it creates a package of material I want to engage with, sort of on a mythic level. Murky oceans, hostile predators, alien agendas, endless hunger. Its a shame it is underwater, though.

Fun fact: this is one of the last products published by an independent TSR — the next volume in the series is a Wizards of the Coast product!

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