Tuesday, May 5, 2009

A Kinda New Look at Mr. Doppelganger

Ah, the doppelganger, one of my favorite critters in the Monster Manual. A nasty enemy who can create gobs of paranoia within the party. I took the time to flesh out their abilities and psychology for an adventure Dwayne and I wrote. There is nothing earth shattering or reinventing going on here, just my extrapolation on well known abilities and then I throw in a little of my own flavor to make it a more unique experience when my players encounter them. That was my intent at least. And maybe there will be something you can use in your campaign. The stats are arbitrary numbers and I used a system neutral approach to present the rules.

Doppelgangers are a feared race because they can alter their form to match any humanoid creature within 50% of their mass. Their transformation power is nearly instantaneous. Coupled with their frightening ability to read minds makes them a threat to every civilized race. Doppelgangers can send information, both verbal and images, instantly. Their range limit for full communication is 500 yards, but can deliver pieces of non-verbal information up to 1000 yards. Doppelgangers cannot be contacted while sleeping or critically injured.

A person needs to be in sight for a doppelganger to read their mind. When a doppelganger attempts to read the mind of a player, a contest between the player’s intelligence (and any bonuses or penalties that the DM sees fit) vs. the doppelgangers skill level should be rolled. If the player wins he will know someone is prying into his thoughts and can make a resist roll. A resist roll is the same as above. Detecting the attempt will not give the player insight into who tried to read his mind unless a critical success is rolled.

In combat doppelgangers use their mind reading to their advantage. They can anticipate attacks and coordinate with other doppelgangers. This gives them a bonus +2 to hit and defense.

Doppelgangers prefer to stalk their victim before killing. They gather as much information as they can before taking the place of their target. They work in small groups to assist one another and to minimize detection. All doppelgangers are skilled at digging and camouflaging the graves of their victims. Doppelgangers feel no remorse when they kill. They kill to survive, as a hunter kills a deer.

Alcohol cripples a doppelganger’s mind reading and shape shifting ability. It acts as a poison in their system, causing extreme pain. In such a state they are unable to focus on the form they have taken and shift between their original form and other forms taken in the past. Alcohol blocks their mind reading and sending ability. Even after the alcohol has left their system they are disoriented for a few days. Because of this weakness and the need to blend into communities doppelgangers have become experts in pretending to drink and be drunk. A player that actively observes the behavior of a doppelganger can make an intelligence roll to detect its deception.

Doppelgangers work together to improve the situation of the group. They travel in groups of twelve or less fearing more would make them easier to detect. And all doppelgangers are aware that if they are discovered they would be slaughtered.