Doppleganger - ROM, 09/Apr/05

Requisites: Str 13+, Int 13+; Neutral

Level  Experience  HD  AC  Dam  Save  Dis  Abilities
  1             0  1D6  9  D4    2nd  90%  ESP, Shape Form, Surprise
  2         2,500   2   8  D6    4th  90%
  3         5,000   3   7  D8    6th  90%
  4        10,000   4   6  D10   8th  90%
  5        20,000   5   5  D12  10th  90%

  6        30,000   6   -   -   11th  92%
  7        50,000   7   -   -   12th  94%
  8        80,000   8   -   -   13th  96%
  9       120,000   9   -   -   14th  98%
 10       170,000  10   -   -   15th  99%

Dopplegangers are bipedal humanoids who have the ability to take any humanoid form from 4' to 8' tall. They also have far more resistance than their hit dice would indicate, being immune to sleep and charm spells, and making saving throws as if twice their level, typically as a fighting man. They may shape their bodies into weapons, but these may not leave their hands (they would be throwing away part of themselves), and the damage that they can do with this ability increases with level. Their maximum armour class also increases with level. Note that they have 9" Move, unlike unencumbered humans who have 12".

Dopplegangers are not as a rule a popular race, as they have a reputation for impersonation and murder, and the closest they come to being a normal character class is rogue, though they pay increased experience points for their special abilities. Their abilities to impersonate may lead some to be very popular with people who want spying done, or even assassination. A 'standard' doppleganger may be considered to be a tribal barbarian, but some have been raised in cities, and are much more sophisticated. According to legend, they originated as magical constructs.

A civilised doppleganger can have two weapon proficiencies, acquiring more as rogues, allowing them to effectively use weapons which are not part of themselves. If they wish to use a bow, which shoots arrows that they carry with them, then even though the weapon which is the bow is shaped from their own body, this requires a weapon proficiency. The rogue combat table is used to determine THAC0 for carried weapons. Standard dopplegangers have no WP. Civilised dopplegangers are often literate, so that they can write, without having to pick the skill out of someone's head. They often carry clothing 'props' with them, such as a coat, or a hat, so that they can remove it from their person, reducing the chance that people will be suspicious about their behaviour.

If non-weapon proficiencies (NWP) are worked out for dopplegangers, then they have three initially, and advance as rogues, using the warrior NWP group table for standard dopplegangers, and the rogue NWP group table for civilised dopplegangers. NWP may be used to improve the normal doppleganger disguise chance, by learning more about a specific culture, so that they can anticipate problems that they will run into, or even all about a specific family, or even individual, to perfect a disguise.

Most dopplegangers can be considered to be lazy and cowardly, interested in taking wealth from others, without too much risk to themselves. Player character dopplegangers tend to be more strongly motivated, to go out and see the world, to be accepted by at least some non-dopplegangers, to pay back a debt that they believe they owe, or something else that makes them move outside the normal doppleganger cultural mindset.

While doppleganger abilities do not usually advance beyond 5th, where they gain their full adult abilities, doppleganger characters might be played to higher levels. DMs give +2% to the Disguise roll per extra level, but the maximum is 99%, at 10th level. Saving throws are +5 levels, so at 6th level they save as if 11th, at 10th level 15th. Further HD (D6) are gained. In general 10th level is the limit, but if they advance further they gain +1 HP per level. DMs might allow adult dopplegangers, particularly the civilised variety, to get the training needed to become another class, typically not a magic-using one, and usually not a clerical or warrior one. But, with 15 Dexterity, becoming a first level rogue, such as a thief might be a possibility, and with 13 Dexterity and 15 Charisma, they might become a bard.


Armour Class: comes from having a thick skin, but they can make their skin thinner, to make their AC worse, to a minimum of AC 10, if they want to improve their impersonation. In general, any improved armour class that they have will appear to come from armour that they are wearing.

Damage: comes from shaping their body into weapons, or even things like claws, horns or fangs, but while a single value is given, this might be split between multiple weapons, as long as the total does not exceed the maximum, and the average is not more than the given dice, plus a half HP. For example, at 5th level can do D12 damage, which has an average of 6.5 HP damage, so two attacks doing D6 damage each, which have a total average of (3.5+3.5=) 7 HP damage, or two attacks doing D4 damage and one doing D3, average (2.5+2.5+2=) 7 HP damage, or some other combination. This allows a much wider range of weapon styles to be impersonated.

Disguise: is the accuracy with which a doppleganger impersonates, and is a base 90% chance. The acting and appearance of a doppleganger is not what normally fails, but they can be tripped up by being 'too perfect', by not being able to remove and put down something as that, apparently independent, object is in fact part of their body, getting injured and this not looking right, or possibly by being caught by several people having differing expectations of the form that they are impersonating. The more the doppleganger knows about the form they have taken, the more chance they will be able to talk their way out of any flaw in their disguise. However, sometimes creative lying, followed by a quick escape as soon as is feasible, is the best course of action, and the situation is best roleplayed for PC dopplegangers. DMs may choose to say that there are rarely known, hidden differences between dopplegangers and, say, humans. Such as, alcoholic drinks being more effective on dopplegangers, some human foods like peppers or some spice being poisonous to them, dopplegangers not having a vomit reflex or being immune to infections that cause food poisoning in humans, etc. These differences should normally be revealed to doppleganger PCs, particularly the civilised ones.

ESP: is usable at will and allows sensing others expectations of what should be heard, seen, or even smelled and felt next, in a stylistic rather than a precise way. This allows Communication Telepathy which causes listeners to hear speech in the language, and even the precise accent and intonation, that they expect, and allows the doppleganger to understand any speech. This is a very subtle form of telepathy and while most forms of mental defence or block which hide the surface thoughts prevent it working, someone who is familiar with this sort of thing (for example they have at least Communication Telepathy themselves), is needed to detect it passively. Anyone reading the emotions (or more) of a doppleganger will realise what kind of thing is going on, although they probably won't identify it in detail unless they know they know a lot about dopplegangers, or have come across this sort of ability before. Also allows tapping into the literacy ability of anyone around, so the doppleganger can make sense of writing, or even write themselves. Using this, a doppleganger can learn a new language quite rapidly, in weeks rather than the months or years most take, which can be useful, for example, to understand the speech of people shouting, from outside ESP range. This ability should be assumed to be 3" range, though in crowded or mentally 'noisy' situations the range will be less, down to half, and if it is very quiet more, up to 9" range maximum.

Shape Form: is usable at will and may perfectly duplicate sounds/voices, faces, shape, stance, movement and clothing 'props'; even smell, for a vaguely humanoid shape, 4 to 8' tall. Things like multiple limbs and tails are possible. Even the precise texture of someone's hair, skin and clothing is duplicated. The details of the form can be determined by observing someone, who is then copied, and then using ESP to sense what is expected. Smart dopplegangers, even though they can shape all required 'props' from the material of their bodies, and even make things like the motion of pulling a weapon out of its sheath look right, also carry things that they are expected to be able to put down, like hats, and maybe things like coats, boots and weapons. Sometimes they wear a complete set of clothes and equipment, for example if they know they are attending public baths, though this can slow them down, if they need to switch to another form. Even though they can shape their body to look like any weapon, and fight with full effectiveness in this way, this does not mean that they can use that actual weapon, unless they have a WP for it. If forced to fight with a weapon they are carrying as a 'prop', they will hide this if possible, possibly by reshaping their body, and use a shaped part of their body, instead. The shaped form is stable even if they are asleep, or unconscious, but death, and certain rare drugs, cause them to revert to their true form. This is an actual reshaping of the body, not a semi-real magical effect, like Polymorph Self, and does not detect as a polymorph. Dispel Magic, and anti-magic effects, has no affect. There is supposed to be a rare disease, that only affect dopplegangers, that causes them to temporarily, or even permanently, loose their ability to change their form, so they are stuck, or even forces them back to their true form.

Surprise: is a special ability of dopplegangers, and under (A)D&D they surprise on a 1-4 on a D6, under AD&D 2nd Edition they give a -4 on the D10 surprise roll. This surprise comes from their opponents suddenly realising that they have an enemy near them, that they did not even realise was there, or that one of their allies is in fact an enemy. If the doppleganger fails their Disguise roll, for some reason, when they first encounter someone, then they loose their special surprise bonus, though normal surprise is still possible. A doppleganger might also surprise by 'removing their disguise', say by removing a concealing hood or cloak, revealing that they are someone that is clearly recognisable (such as a respected noble), but this can be very risky, unless they know a lot about that person and their movements, or, they just happen to be lucky!

(c) Rory O. McLean, 1980 - Apr. 2005
    Permission granted to use for non-profit making purposes