Sunday, November 23, 2014

Dopplegangers in Generica

"When the gods looked away, something slipped into the world. It held an elm branch in front of its face, so it could not be seen. It busied itself in the affairs of elves and men. It smiled and seemed friendly.

When the elves and men looked away, it wet its lips and ate them up. It crunched their bones and slurped their brains. It pulled the elm branch away, and it had the face of an elf and the face of a man. It was both and neither. 

When the gods looked back and saw this, they were confused. "Wh-what is that?!" they cried, "Did you make that? Who made that?!" All replied "Not I". "Wh-what is it? WHAT IS IT?!" they shouted, no one would take the blame. 

If someone busies themselves in your affairs, if they're not quite elf or man, if they smile and seem friendly, do not look away"
-Saul Spidermin, recounting an old fey tale.

Dopplegangers in Remlia

In the world of Generica there are many creatures that can change their faces. Ancient wyrms are said to take the form of bent travellers, hags and vampires can take the shape of comely lasses and nubile men, even goblins can imitate the traits of those better than them. None compare to the imitation that is a doppleganger.

Dopplegangers are scary in concept. They're a creature that can look like anyone and exist to steal your secrets and take your place. That can be pretty arresting stuff. Then again, there's a lot of monsters that can look like other things. Mimics can look like various inanimate objects, changelings can do most of the things dopplegangers can do, but less so.

So I propose that they're all one and the same.
The perfect imitator.
A doppleganger is an intangible and inhuman thing, trying to mimic other lifeforms. Perhaps they start out simple and formless; small creatures with rudimentary transformation abilities. Relatively harmless, until they begin to learn more.
Not especially intimidating at first.
Then they become Mimics, moving up the food chain, bettering their ability to blend in and change shape. With greater intelligence, they become masters at imitating inanimate objects. Only once they've devoured a sapient creature's brains can they shapeshift into one.
An especially large Mimic.
They then become Changelings; fully sapient and aware, able to blend in with the gatherings of other humanoid sapient creatures. Here the changeling can either fully adopt its chosen form permanently, or continue its more monstrous existence as an alien other. Most choose the latter. After they've consumed the brains of more than one race of creatures, they become true Dopplegangers.
Their imitations are now flawless.
True dopplegangers are masters of imitation and disguise, able to shift forms quickly and imitate creatures perfectly, even their most prized strengths and traits. This masterful imitation does not come without a price, however. Dopplegangers have assimilated many different creatures, and under extreme duress they have trouble differentiating between them. When this happens, they become a 'Thing'.
*Unworldly howl*
A Thing is a twisted amalgamation of all of the objects and people a doppleganger has assumed. Incredibly dangerous and unpredictable. This is the true form of a shapeshifter.

Family of Imitators

A doppleganger is an inhuman thing that looks human (or looks elven, or dwarven, etc). It can also look like any object of a certain size. The types of forms they can take depend on what they've encountered and consumed.

These monsters are statistically the same as how they're listed in the Monster Manual (type v), but with the following changes:
  • Because shapechangers confound the divine powers that be, they are immune to radiant and necrotic damage, even if assuming the form of something vulnerable against such damage.
  • If you encounter a doppleganger that is imitating YOU, you are immediately surprised and cannot save against this. However, this surprise effect can only effect you once during combat.
Formless Shapechanger (Ditto) - Challenge 1/2
More novelty than threat.
  • A small blob-like creature, these shapechangers are often mistaken for oozes. 
  • They can assume the shape, size, and texture of various small objects. However, this imitation is poor, and only a simpleton would confuse the creature for the real thing (low DC check to reveal).
  • These roly-poly shapechangers are prized by rich nobles to be used in parlour games and during parties. Extremely rich families sometimes keep them as pets.
  • Once a shapechanger has tasted blood, it becomes a Mimic, able to grow teeth.
Mimic - Challenge 2
A mimic midway through its transformation into a changeling.
  • Mimics can only imitate simple and inanimate objects such as doors, walls, floors, chests, etc.
  • A mimic forms inside of itself a blood-red gem. This gem holds the image of their true form and various other unworldly memories. It is worth 1d4 x 25gp.
  • When a mimic consumes the brain of a sentient creature, it can then change its appearance to that race of creature. Consumption of brain matter also imbues it with all of that creature's memories. It becomes a Changeling.
Changeling - Challenge 3 (able to be played as a PC race in some games)
  • A changeling can imitate any humanoid creature it sees. It also gains the 'telepathy' trait.
  • A changeling can only perfectly imitate creatures of races who's brains it has consumed. 
  • A changeling is susceptible to charm and sleep effects at this stage, but has advantage against them.
  • A changeling cannot imitate weapons or inanimate objects while imitating a person.
  • A changeling's internal gem is worth 1d4 x 50gp.
  • Changelings can telepathically bond to a single creature, assuming that form perminantly. Now that they are functionally that creature's double, they are psychically linked. If one dies, the other dies as well. When one is harmed, the other feels the pain as well.
  • This is the stage at which a changeling can choose to continue down the path of evil or attempt to fully hide its true nature. The changeling is compelled to consume brain matter, and must make Constitution saves (moderate DC) at the end of every ten-day to resist this compulsion. Once more than one sapient race's brains are absorbed, the changeling becomes a true doppleganger.
Doppleganger - Challenge 3-4
Seeing a doppleganger as yourself is psychologically unnerving.
  • A doppleganger can imitate any race of sapient creature it has seen and encountered. While imitating these creatures it is identical to them in all but statistics.
  • A doppleganger, using its telepathy, can peer into another creature's mind and memories, imitating any person that that creature has known or thought about. 
  • Consuming a person's brain imbues the doppleganger with the consumed creature's powers. Now, when it imitates that specific person, its stats become identical to that person's stats, provided they're better than its own. This includes hit points, armour class, observed weapons, and class features.
  • A doppleganger can only use the powers of the creature it is currently imitating. If it's a warrior, it cannot cast spells unless it assumes the form of a spellcaster.
  • When a doppleganger imitates a creature using weapons, it forms those weapons out of its own flesh. They deal the same damage as those weapons would normally, and have the same tensile strength. Dopplegangers cannot imitate the effects of a magical weapon/armour, but they can perfectly imitate their appearance.
  • A dropped doppleganger weapon acts as an extension of its body, able to imitate other things of a similar size. A doppleganger can create no more than 4 weapons at a time. When the doppleganger dies, these weapons persist. If they kill and consume the creature who killed their host body, they can reform with all of their memories and abilities intact.
  • Dopplegangers are immune to charm person, hold person, and sleep spells. They will, however, still make spell saves against them. On a failed save, the doppleganger pretends to be affected by the spell, attempting to fool its enemies.
  • A doppleganger's gem is worth 2d4 x 75gp
  • When a doppleganger is bloodied (at half hit points or below) it must make Constitution saves at the beginning of its turn (low DC). If it fails it transforms into a Thing.
Thing - Challenge 5-6
  • A Thing is a monstrosity, capable of three attacks per round, and a fear aura (Spell Save DC equal to the highest level spellcaster whose brains it has consumed, or whichever DC is referenced if you don't know).
  • When transformed, a Thing immediately gains 8d6 hit points and has resistance to all non-magical weapon damage. It is, however, now vulnerable to fire.
  • A Thing's attacks are randomly determined. Each attack draws on a creature that it had imitated in life. Attacks with an asterisk can only be used once. If you roll them again, the Thing uses a basic Slam attack (doppleganger stats).
  • A Thing's gem is worth the same amount as its Doppleganger form's gem, but plus 100gp extra.

Roll 1d8
Morningstar Swipe
+6 to hit, 1d8+5 bludgeoning damage.
1 or 2 targets, +6 to hit, 1d6+5 bludgeoning damage each.
Impaling Tendrils
+4 to hit, 2d6+3 piercing damage. Target must make a Dex save (moderate DC) or be impaled, taking another 1d6 damage and is restrained.
Magic Missile
Part of a wizard’s torso emerges from the Thing. It casts magic missile as a 2nd level spell.
(Moderate Spell Save DC) It suggests that the target should attack its friends.
Melf’s Acid Arrow
(Moderate Spell Save DC) It casts acid arrow as a 3rd level spell.
Hold Person*
(High Spell Save DC) Part of a cleric’s torso emerges from the Thing.
Cure Wounds*
It casts cure wounds as a 3rd level spell.

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