(Illustration by Dave Allsop comes from the Paizo Blog and is © Paizo Publishing.)
Setting aside movie faces—pale-skinned vampires, furry-cheeked wolfmen, Pinhead—“the Innsmouth look” is probably the most famous physiognomy in horror. “[Q]ueer narrow heads with flat noses and bulgy, stary eyes," Lovecraft wrote—facial features that betray a mingling of human blood with something old and piscine. While Lovecraft spent a lot of time (and even more adjectives) describing unknowable horrors from beyond space and time, he was just as invested in the potential threat of monsters living among us…and even becoming us…or rather, us becoming them, through interbreeding and slow degeneration. (And whoa does his biography—rampant racist, parents both died in a mental hospital—explain a lot about those particular preoccupations.) Whatever the genesis of his stories, they gave us the deep one hybrid—your chance to have the folk of Innsmouth in your game.
And not just in your game…but on your character sheet. Because the most interesting thing about deep one hybrids isn’t their creepy appearance or even the fact that they don’t die but rather evolve into full-fledged deep ones, sloughing off their troublesome humanity. No, the most interesting thing about deep one hybrids is that you can play one as your character!
How’s that for a ballsy move? If you’re a scene-chewing role-player, taking on a character desperately trying to stave off his eventual monstrous fate is a hell of a hook. (So is eagerly rushing toward it, if you’re in a horror-based or evil campaign.) And if you’re a more of a dice-dropping “roll-player”…well, why fear death when you get +1 natural armor and a chance of morphing into a fish creature with +6 Str/+6 Con when you go? A deep one hybrid isn’t the right PC for every campaign, but in the right campaign, it’s killer (literally).
The local church of Shalessa has always venerated the sea and its bounties…but lately its worship has skewed heavily toward the worship Saint Vitun, a spirit of ropes, rigging, and ships lost in stormy weather. The rise of Saint Vitun’s mystery cult has brought with it more public penances—flagellations (self- and otherwise) are up—and more “accidents” such as suicides by hangings (and at least one strangulation that may have been a prank gone wrong or may have been murder). The clerics pushing the rise of Saint Vitun are of course deep one hybrids eager to take control of the village. A hidden rope dragon has caught on to their secret, though, and she longs for someone to tell this juicy gossip to.
A local adventuring group calls itself the Thrice-Damned. Consisting of a tiefling, a changeling, and a deep one hybrid, they all fear the day that the latent curses in their bloodlines will manifest. Unfortunately, their desperation leads them to take any job they can, often for unsavory clients, which may lead to true damnation if they’re not careful.
A series of seaside monasteries is staffed with deep one hybrid friars. These clerics and monks are famous for the potent ciders they distill from local apples and cranberries. The fact that they are also slavers is a well-kept secret. Adventurers might uncover one of their press gangs in action and stop their recruitment efforts…but if they follow the slave trade back to its source, they will find a swampy temple being excavated by conscripts, marsh giants, and constantly writhing, darkness-vomiting things that might have once been wayangs but are something entirely different now.
—Pathfinder Bestiary 5 70
I’m not finding stats for Bestiary 5’s default deep one hybrid on the OGC so you’ll have to go straight to the source.
There’s a lively discussion about deep merfolk happening in the Blogger comments and one about deep ones happening in the Tumblr comments and reblogs. Check them out!