Thrilling Tales of Old Video Games: Sea Hag or Sagahin? A Quick History of an RPG Water Monster
“This is the first installment of a series I’ve wanted to do for a while, whether as its own blog or as a podcast, but I’ve decided it’s going to live here. In my head, I was calling it Questing Beast, and it was going to focus on the histories behind recurring JRPG enemies, especially those that show up in unrelated franchises. Now that it’s living here, the first monster I want to explore is the Sahagin, which originated in the lore of Dungeons & Dragons as a sort of monstrous merman, but there’s a lot of surprising cultural history and linguistic shenanigans that played into its creation.
My first encounter with the Sahagin happened in the English translation of the first Final Fantasy, where character limits caused its name to be rendered as Sahag. Lacking any awareness of Dungeons & Dragons back in the day, I read this as an approximation of “sea hag.” It’s not that, but I don’t think I’m the only person who read it that way.”