Here are some guidelines for character creation, in terms of how to do it, and in terms of what classes and races you have to choose from.
I woke already in the ground. I knew that I ought to have been terrified, to be frightened that I might die in my coffin, and yet I was calm. In my very depths, some part of me felt assured that I would emerge from the ground, and return to my home, and see my husband, and all would be well.
As I clawed my way through the wood of the coffin, and burrowed by body up out of the ground—my lungs burning, my fingers bleeding, and my eyes blinded by dirt—something else stirred within me. It was… I can only call it a conviction that there was something I had to do. Something I absolutely had to do. But I could not remember what it was, or why I had to do it. It was like a name forgotten, one you are certain will return to your memories at any moment. I put it out of my mind, and, finding myself in the churchyard outside my village, I hurried home with only the light of the moon to guide me.
When I got there, I found my husband with another woman… another wife. “Where have you been?” he cried, and then, “Is it really you…” He hesitated, and I saw it then: he was older. He had aged, even in the time I’d been unconscious. There was grey in his hair, and lines on his face. How long had I slept? Why had I not woken sooner?
Then he answered my question for me, his voice shaking as he whispered, “But you’ve been dead for ten years…”
The Revenant is an alternate PC race for our campaign—a replacement for the demi-humans we won’t be using.
Though it is undead, it’s not a “revenant” of the sort that’s traditional in D&D—another flavor of undead antaognist, that is. The PC revenant is undead, and it is driven by some unfulfilled impetus that drove it in life: to protect a loved one, to finish a project, to save a village, to destroy a specific enemy, but that vengeful impulse doesn’t define the revenant one-dimensionally.
How could I have known the mirror was magical? All I did was check my face, smile, and say the phrase so many say before mirrors, “C’est pas mauvais…” And suddenly, everything became très, très mauvais. Out from the mirror sprang strange beings, blue of skin and dressed in military uniforms, marching in single file, and each of them greeting me with a hello, and the heartiest of thanks for lending them such crucial aid in what they called ‘the Great Invasion!’ What could I do? How could I remedy the horror I had unleashed?
Then it struck me: as I had invited them in, they were my guests. As their host, the least I owed them was a cup of hot tea, and surely, were I to insist, they would have to stop and accept it from my hand, allowing me to be a good host. And, fortunately, I had a very, very small kettle in which to brew such a great quantity of tea. I called my brother, sending him to town “for tea leaves”… and, of course, with a message for the town guard.
Today we call someone silly if we think they’re foolish, but the original root word, “sælig,” suggested a kind of simplicity that was holy and blessed—sort of the Fool of the Tarot deck (and a lot of stories), in other words. The Alice class is the living embodiment of the link between those two ideas. Well, that plus being Unluckily Lucky, and a Weirdness Magnet.
The Alice character is basically the normal person who somehow ignorantly, cluelessly stumbles into adventure… and then somehow survives, and survives, and survives through a mixture of serendipity, luck, stubbornness, and cleverness.
This alternate PC Race is not really a PC “race” at all: I guess the best way to describe it is as a subrace of humans who have undergone a bizarre experience that has transformed them, for better and worse. It’s inspired by world folklore, as well as by the White Wolf game Changeling (though I only know a little about the game), as well as films like Night Watch and Pan’s Labyrinth. (Oh, and a little inspiration from Frank Mitchell’s Cambion race for LotFP.)
Imagine being abducted by a being like the faun in Pan’s Labyrinth, or by Elder Gods from the Cthulhu Mythos, or djinn, or the grey aliens of American UFO mythology, and kept prisoner (and slave) in their bewilderingly alien world. Imagine being changed by force to better serve them, and then imagine escaping or being spit back out into your own world, forever changed. That’s what a Changeling is.
A warning: this class is experimental, wild, and pretty complicated—and the description is long since there’s variety of possible powers and flaws available. I don’t recommend the class for a newbie player’s first character.
(The Dagonian is mainly inspired by H.P. Lovecraft’s stories “The Shadow Over Innsmouth” and “The Doom that Came to Sarnath”… along with a whole host of mermaid, siren, sea monster, and selkie stories.)
“Some of ’em have queer narrow heads with flat noses and bulgy, stary eyes that never seem to shut, and their skin ain’t quite right. Rough and scabby, and the sides of their necks are all shrivelled or creased up. Get bald, too, very young. The older fellows look the worst—fact is, I don’t believe I’ve ever seen a very old chap of that kind. Guess they must die of looking in the glass! Animals hate ’em—they used to have lots of horse trouble before autos came in.”
“Nobody around here or in Arkham or Ipswich will have anything to do with ’em, and they act kind of offish themselves when they come to town or when anyone tries to fish on their grounds. Queer how fish are always thick off Innsmouth Harbour when there ain’t any anywhere else around—but just try to fish there yourself and see how the folks chase you off!”
—H.P. Lovecraft, “The Shadow Over Innsmouth”
Dagonians are the product of ancient interbreeding between two species: human beings and a bipedal race of sea-dwellers (known by many names, including the term “Deep Ones”) whose appearance mixes elements of frogs and fish alike. Usually, it is quite far back in the Dagonian’s ancestry: rarely is a Dagonian in the present time the child of such an interbreeding, and it is never human enough to escape destruction when others are present for the birth.