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Malenti are sahuagin appearing as sea elves.

"If a community of aquatic elves is located within 100 miles of a sahuagin community, about one in one hundred sahuagin looks just like an aquatic elf. These creatures, called malenti, have a swim speed of 40 feet, can remain out of water for 1 hour per point of Constitution, and have freshwater sensitivity and light sensitivity (dazzled in bright light). Malenti have no natural attacks. They are otherwise identical with sahuagin." Monster Manual, p. 218

If they look just like aquatic elves, they cannot have scales. So: Do malenti have the natural armor bonus of sahuagin?

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Malenti have the typical sahuagin natural armor bonus

The Monster Manual entry on sahuagin says that mutant sahuagin malenti "have a swim speed of 40 feet, can remain out of water for 1 hour per point of Constitution, and have freshwater sensitivity and light sensitivity [but] have no natural attacks [and] are otherwise identical with sahuagin" (218). Thus a malenti's sahuagin identity should extend to a malenti gaining a +5 natural armor bonus just like any other sahuagin, but I totally understand the skepticism: that's a pretty crazy high natural armor bonus for a creature that "looks just like an aquatic elf" (and could be a giveaway as to the malenti's identity in the right situation).

However, to confirm, at least three published malenti gain the natural armor bonus of the sahuagin:

  • City of Stormreach has K’shegla, a malenti of legend cleric 7 (155). He has a Dexterity score of 20 and gains a +5 increase his natural armor bonus from the template monster of legend (Monster Manual II 213-4). His AC is listed as 20 normally and when flat-footed and 15 against touch attacks. With no other sources of armor, the natural amor bonus of the sahuagin is the most reasonable source of this unmentioned-by-the-text bonus to Armor Class. (Also, K’shegla's illustration looks nothing like an aquatic elf, but that's hardly his fault.)
  • More telling, Secrets of Xen'drik has the unfortunately-named Korel, a malenti expert 1/rogue 2 (64-5). The sources of Korel's Armor Class bonuses are actually detailed: she receives a +3 bonus from her Dexterity, a +2 armor bonus, and—for no other reason that I can discern except for her malenti heritage—a +5 natural armor bonus to Armor Class.
  • The Web adventure "Shoals of Intrigue" has Medjil, a malenti Drd 4 (6). Her AC 18 (touch 12, flat-footed 16) is a product of her Dexterity score of 14, her bracers of armor +1, and—presumably—her sahuagin identity, no other source conveniently explaining her +5 bonus to AC.

While three is a really small sample size, the malenti is a fairly obscure monster—a 1-in-100 mutant offspring of an evil underwater race—, so having three sources that agree that the malenti receive the sahuagin natural armor bonus should, I hope, be enough.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Wow, perfect research. \$\endgroup\$ – Giorin Oct 12 '17 at 15:04
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Yes.

Aside from the listed features the block clearly states "They are otherwise identical to Sahagin."

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  • \$\begingroup\$ But isn't +5 natural armor a bit too much for, say, tough skin? \$\endgroup\$ – Giorin Oct 10 '17 at 22:00
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Giorin That’s personal opinion, and not something this site is really equipped to discuss. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Oct 10 '17 at 22:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Giorin Similarly, it's a bit much that waving your arms and shouting nonsense produces consistent magical results. But that's how the game works. \$\endgroup\$ – fectin - free Monica Oct 11 '17 at 3:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Giorin The entry on natural armor bonuses just says "naturally tough hide". It doesn't care how specifically that is accomplished in a physics sense. Since the rules say it is possible for hide to be +5, then it is, regardless of how that is pulled off. You could say the scales are sub-dermal or something if you can't deal with magical physics? \$\endgroup\$ – nijineko Oct 12 '17 at 14:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ @nijineko Thanks, that was, what I was looking for: some sort of definition that included skin that could look like aquatic elf. \$\endgroup\$ – Giorin Oct 12 '17 at 15:02

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