I'm writing a class for OSR games.
I want it to tie into a few OSR-ish ideas: frequent character deaths, prioritizing the story of the party over the stories of individual characters, amorality.
I want it to subvert expectations of play in ways that other classes don't. That is, I want to make a class which does not mind dying. A class that sees the unpredictable lethality of OSR play, and embraces it, and profits from it. A class for which death is not the end.
Here's how I'm gonna do it.
First up, the fluff. The Dancers Of The Black Labyrinth are a mystical religious group. The Cleric as a class embraces fundamentally western ideas of spirituality. Worship, death as a finality, the granting of favors through divine grace. This class, meanwhile, takes on a more oriental approach, focusing on the soul's journey through reincarnations towards transcendence. I want this class to be morbid, thanatological mystics who treat death as a minor setback.
The do not see death as an end. The soul passes into a lightless maze, from which it cannot easily return. These mystics, though continually retread the paths of the black labyrinth, each journey expanding their knowledge of its nature and how it might be exploited.
In play, how does this work? The Dancers work like clerics: it makes sense for such a mystically-inclined class. They have only a few spells, mostly surrounding death and divination. Compared to an MU or even a cleric, their repertoire is limited.
The first Dancer you play is capped at level one.
When they die, if your next PC is also a Dancer, then this cap is increased; if they survive and gain enough XP, they can progress to level 2. The new PC is, on some level, the same entity as the last one. Though their body and mind are different, they have some degree of memory of their previous life and their exploration of the Black Labyrinth can continue.
Furthermore, each time they die, the nature of their death unlocks new secrets to them: each subsequent Dancer gains a permanent bonus for each new type of death unlocked. For weirder and more esoteric deaths, these bonuses can be quite dramatic.
So you get an entity who reincarnates into different PCs over the course of the game, gradually unlocking greater power as they do. One who is motivated to die in new and unusual ways.