They entered a contract with the people of Innsmouth to keep the fish plentiful in their area. They also seem to have a supply of gold artifacts of unearthly design. The Deep Ones worship Father Dagon and his consort Mother Hydra. (HPL: "The Shadow Over Innsmouth")
The Deep Ones are humanoid beings with fish, human and amphibian-like traits, they are described as having grey-ish green, glossy and slippery skin with white stomachs. They have scaled, ridged backs, as well as webbed and clawed hands and gilled necks. Notably, they have heads similar to that of a fish, with mouths filled with sharp teeth and eyes incapable of blinking.
They move about in an inhuman fashion, by hopping oddly, and occasionally move on all fours. The narrator, Robert Olmstead, describes them as having abhorrent, croaking voices that spoke a language other than English. Their form was so horrid that their mere appearance caused Robert to lose consciousness for a while. (HPL: "The Shadow Over Innsmouth")
All hybrids are shown coming from a female Deep One and a male human. It is a safety measure based on the fact that both of those possess the limiting growth gene of their own species, otherwise the child would become much larger. It is similar to a liger, a hybrid born from a male lion and a female tigress who never stop growing until their maturity. (EXP: Providence, Alan Moore)
Deep One Hybrids
As part of their pact with the Deep Ones, the residents of Innsmouth are forced to interbreed with them. Although the Deep One hybrid offspring are born with the appearance of a normal human being, they gradually assume the appearance of their Deep One ancestors. These traits include:
- Shrunken/nonexistent ears
- Glassy, bulging, unblinking eyes
- Narrow, hairless head
- Sharpened teeth
- Rubbery, blue-gray skin
- Clawed hands and feet
- Folds on the neck which eventually become functional gills
- Webbing between fingers
When the hybrid becomes too obviously non-human, they go into seclusion in ostensibly abandoned buildings until fully capable of living solely underwater. The rate of progression varies with each individual. However, it normally does not reach completion until the human middle age. Once this transformation is complete they are also functionally immortal. Apart from the physical change they also feel a scorn for humanity, an affinity for the Non-Euclidean artwork of the Deep One race, and an increasingly powerful desire to abandon the human world and go to the Deep One city of Y'ha-nthlei. Asenath Waite is a notable Deep One but she was killed before the transformation could finish.
- In the role-playing game Call of Cthulhu it is explained that this habit is due to the fact that when an underwater city reaches a certain size, fertility decreases, as the females begin to eat their young.
In popular culture
- Deep Ones appear frequently in the Hellboy comic, with one of its protagonists, Abe Sapien, being one of them.
- Deep Ones appear as enemies in the game Alone in the Dark.
- In the PC game Warcraft 3: Reign of Chaos, from Blizzard Entertainment, a race called Murloc appears. It has the same characteristics mentioned in the novel The Shadow Over Innsmouth.
- In the PC game The Witcher, a race of underwater humanoids called the Vodyanoi appears. Some of its members are Dagon worshippers.
- One of the races that appear in the video game Etrian Odysey 3 and that act as antagonists are the Deep Ones. They live in an underwater city located at the foot of Yggdrasil and their goal is to free the "Abyssal God" (which in turn is a reference to Cthulhu).
- In her series of novels The Innsmouth Legacy, Ruthanna Emrys uses and subverts the mythology of the Deep Ones and their involvement with the town of Innsmouth.
- The Deep Ones, along with Father Dagon and Mother Hydra appear in the Fantasy Flight board game Unfathomable, where players are passengers on the ship Atlantica heading across the Atlantic to Boston. On the journey, the ship is attacked by Deep Ones and certain players will be Hybrids who are secretly working with them to sabotage the ship and ensure it does not arrive safely at it's destination.
Gallery of Deep Ones
- Main article: Deep One/Gallery