Red Box Workshop: The Doppelganger PC


In their natural form, doppelgangers are tall and gaunt, with flesh as featureless and puffy as dough. But the doppelganger is a shapeshifter capable of assuming any human, demi-human or humanoid form. These creatures rarely hold any love for humanity, but some have been known to associate with adventuring parties for their own inscrutable purposes.

The prime requisites for a doppelganger are Intelligence and Charisma. A doppelganger character whose Intelligence or Charisma score is 13 or higher will receive a 5% bonus on earned experience. Doppelgangers whose Intelligence and Charisma scores are 13 or higher will receive a 10% bonus to earned experience.

RESTRICTIONS: Doppelgangers use eight-sided dice (d8) to determine their hit points. They may advance to a maximum of 4th level of experience. Doppelgangers may use any type of weapon. Their tough hides grant them a base AC of 5, but they may not wear armor or use shields. Doppelgangers must have a minimum score of 9 in Intelligence and Charisma.

SPECIAL ABILITIES: A doppelganger may assume the shape of any human or human-like creature from 4’ to 8’ tall. This power is otherwise the same as polymorph self, with an indefinite duration and usable once per day per level. The false shape includes clothing, armor and weapons. False armor provides no benefit to AC, but the doppelganger always has an AC of 5 or its new form’s natural AC, whichever is better. Melee weapons—swords, maces, staves, etc—formed from the doppelganger’s own flesh deal 1d6 damage at level 1; this increases to 1d8 at level 2, 1d10 at level 3, and 1d12 at level 4. Doppelgangers are immune to sleep and charm effects. All doppelgangers speak Common, Doppelganger and the alignment language or dialect of the character.

SAVING THROWS: As fighters.


ADVANCEMENT: As per the elf advancement table.

10 Responses to “Red Box Workshop: The Doppelganger PC”

  1. April 21, 2010 at 8:02 pm

    I like this kind of thinking. Someday I want to play D&D again, but I don’t want to play it the same way I have been since 1984. Cool monsters as playable race would be a step in the right direction. :)

  2. April 21, 2010 at 8:14 pm

    Very nice. I took a stab at doppleganger PCs not too long ago and ended up overcomplicating it horribly.

  3. 3 Naked Samurai
    April 21, 2010 at 8:40 pm

    I guess the level limit is the big restriction. Should they automatically be given an ulterior purpose? Doppelgaengers seem like world daemons created out of a sense of oblique evil (true to their literary genesis). Should they be played like the barely capped slavering id of straight-laced humanity (like Mr. Hyde)? Should they be set by a malevolent force to destroy a certain character or person (Dostoevsky’s The Double) by madness or claw? Should they exist merely to wreak chaos (soap opera’s evil twin skippys)? Or… perhaps, for a different tack, to take on the sins of an existing persona, to expunge them (Joseph Conrad’s Secret Sharer)?

    It’s a bottomless character type but one hard to drop into a campaign setting, I think, without some planning with the GM.

  4. 4 Chris Newman
    April 21, 2010 at 9:01 pm

    I might at well make Chrystos commit suicide, a Doppelganger will be so much more useful

  5. 5 Lord Bodacious
    April 21, 2010 at 9:12 pm

    Well, you could replace him and no one would ever have to know…

  6. April 22, 2010 at 3:49 am

    A well-prepared party always has means of detecting whether any of them has been replaced by a doppleganger since last they met. (Seriously, we really had a magic item just for this in Age of Worms).

    How protean are dopplegangers? Can you only reproduce existing appearances, or could you do crazy Plastic Man stuff like hiding things inside your body?

    Even if it’s just disguise I really like the territory this class would open up in play.

  7. April 22, 2010 at 1:58 pm

    @NakedSamurai: These are good questions, but they’re setting questions rather than rules questions. Different gaming groups can use them in different ways, just as they find their own flavors of dwarves and elves and what-have-you.

    @Tavis: A good question! The intent of the class as written is that it’s only usable for disguise. On the other hand, the doppelgangers who attacked the PCs in my game concealed their treasure inside their bodies, so who am I to say?

  8. 8 Naked Samurai
    April 22, 2010 at 3:41 pm

    Converting flat as a pancake to slip through doors would also be cool.

  9. 9 Scott
    April 22, 2010 at 5:09 pm

    It sounds too powerful at levels 1-4. I mean, three players roll dopplegangers, you don’t need a dungeon. You would get rich robbing and killing merchants and nobles.

  10. April 22, 2010 at 5:31 pm

    That would be an interesting adventure, Scott! And it’s nothing that you can’t already try; if three players roll magic-users with sleep spells, they’d have an even easier time of it.

    Also note that first-level doppelgangers can only change shape once per day. This will severely limit their ability to pull such stunts with impunity.

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Past Adventures of the Mule

April 2010

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