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Doppelgangers

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RPG Dinosaur
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Doppelgangers

Post#1 » Sat Nov 03, 2018 11:31 am

I'm a little late posting this, but around Halloween I watched one of my favorite horror films, The Thing (2011). *Semi-Spoiler* The plot deals with an alien who can perfectly mimic earth creatures it comes in contact with. It got me thinking about the AD&D monster the Doppelganger (and Greater Doppelganger), and their potential to cause havoc in campaigns for PC's. As I'm thinking about this I'm kicking myself for never having utilized this monster, to it's fullest potential, and never having played with a DM who did either IIRC. Was wondering if you had any war stories, as either a player or DM, of Doppelgangers creating wonderful (from a DM's point of view!) confusion and havoc?
_Matt_

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Re: Doppelgangers

Post#2 » Sat Nov 03, 2018 2:21 pm

I always liked how the doppelganger in 2E looked like Roswell Greys. So creepy.

Image

Although the 5E version still looks pretty spooky, too. I wouldn't want to run into that in an alley at night.
Image

Anyway, as it just so happens, I am using a doppelganger in one of my 2E games right now. Xe's proving quite a thorn in the party's side. The doppelganger, whom the party only knows as "Ghalt" (a pseudonym, obviously), is a cleric of the god of chaos. The town the party lives in is dedicated to the goddess of order. Unsurprisingly, those two deities do not like each other. Ghalt's primary goal is to completely tear down all civilization, create pure anarchy, and otherwise disrupt the status quo. This eventually led to xem creating a magical disease that infects 90% of the population, but is only fatal to those with any sort of authority (nobles, leaders, constables, councilmen, etc.). In order to save their town, the party hunts xem down and a fight broke out. Ghalt used an artifact to open a portal and escape, and the party followed after xem.

When the party was spit out of the other side of the portal, they found themselves just outside of their hometown and assumed (rightfully) that Ghalt must have run there. But they start looking around and everything is familiar, but a bit off. They don't recognize the locals, some of the buildings are different, etc. Eventually they piece it together when a man who died in the last war 20 years ago approaches and greets them (his sacrifice saved the town; they have a statue of him in the village square and an annual festival named after him). The party realizes they have gone back in time 20 years, just months before the aforementioned war.

So, here they are, two decades in the past, searching for someone who can read minds and mimic appearances of anyone xe wants. Xe knows what will happen in the future and will try and change the timeline, but the party has no idea who xe is impersonating or what xyr next move will be. They aren't doing so great, either. The very first thing they decide, I kid you not, is to split up. Now they've reunited and are left unsure if any among them are secretly the doppelganger or not.

I intend to have some more fun with this before we're done.

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Re: Doppelgangers

Post#3 » Sat Nov 03, 2018 3:03 pm

This is one of those monsters its been rare for me to use.

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Re: Doppelgangers

Post#4 » Sun Nov 04, 2018 10:19 pm

JadedDM wrote:Anyway, as it just so happens, I am using a doppelganger in one of my 2E games right now. Xe's proving quite a thorn in the party's side. The doppelganger, whom the party only knows as "Ghalt" (a pseudonym, obviously), is a cleric of the god of chaos. The town the party lives in is dedicated to the goddess of order. Unsurprisingly, those two deities do not like each other. Ghalt's primary goal is to completely tear down all civilization, create pure anarchy, and otherwise disrupt the status quo. This eventually led to xem creating a magical disease that infects 90% of the population, but is only fatal to those with any sort of authority (nobles, leaders, constables, councilmen, etc.). In order to save their town, the party hunts xem down and a fight broke out. Ghalt used an artifact to open a portal and escape, and the party followed after xem.

When the party was spit out of the other side of the portal, they found themselves just outside of their hometown and assumed (rightfully) that Ghalt must have run there. But they start looking around and everything is familiar, but a bit off. They don't recognize the locals, some of the buildings are different, etc. Eventually they piece it together when a man who died in the last war 20 years ago approaches and greets them (his sacrifice saved the town; they have a statue of him in the village square and an annual festival named after him). The party realizes they have gone back in time 20 years, just months before the aforementioned war.

So, here they are, two decades in the past, searching for someone who can read minds and mimic appearances of anyone xe wants. Xe knows what will happen in the future and will try and change the timeline, but the party has no idea who xe is impersonating or what xyr next move will be.

I intend to have some more fun with this before we're done.


Awesome! This is exactly the type of story I was hoping somebody would have and share: a doppelganger running amok! You've got this thing doing things I never would have thought of.

They aren't doing so great, either. The very first thing they decide, I kid you not, is to split up. Now they've reunited and are left unsure if any among them are secretly the doppelganger or not.

:| :|
I don't want to judge your players too harshly, I'm sure they've played well and intelligently before, but, C'mon now. :| :lol: It's a good thing for them that you only have the PC's dealing with one.

I intend to have some more fun with this before we're done.

Thanks for sharing. Hope you'll keep us up to date with how this plays out, or at the very least please post about it if 'Ghalt' has incapacitated one of the PC's, assumed his/her identity and tries to interact with the rest of the party. I'll be interested to know how you handled that. The only way I see you preventing the rest of the party from being tipped off if that has occurred is if the player whose character has been assimilated actually, under your secret direction, does the roleplaying as Ghalt, while pretending to still be the character. If you suddenly start controlling the character, doing the talking for him/her, etc. in my opinion that would be a dead giveaway that the doppelganger has infiltrated them.
_Matt_

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Re: Doppelgangers

Post#5 » Sun Nov 04, 2018 11:15 pm

RPG Dinosaur wrote:I don't want to judge your players too harshly, I'm sure they've played well and intelligently before, but, C'mon now. :| :lol: It's a good thing for them that you only have the PC's dealing with one.

I think they just didn't really think things through. The party consists of 3 NPCs at the moment, too. So after they all split up to look for Ghalt (and their process there wasn't great, either; they just went around asking townsfolk if they had 'seen anything strange lately', and then all got distracted by more personal things; like one of them discovered her father may have been having an affair, etc.), they reunited and suddenly realized that they had no idea if any of the party NPCs were really them or not (what happened to the party NPCs happened 'off-screen' so none of the players witnessed it). As you pointed out, they do not suspect each other at all, since they are still being controlled by their respective players.

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Re: Doppelgangers

Post#6 » Mon Nov 05, 2018 12:14 pm

That's one reason several other DM's i know, have been reluctant to use a Doppleganger, because of the potential for them inadvertently spurting out "your guy doesn't do that, remember who you are", or something like that.

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Re: Doppelgangers

Post#7 » Mon Nov 05, 2018 9:53 pm

JadedDM wrote: but the party has no idea who xe is impersonating or what xyr next move will be.
I intend to have some more fun with this before we're done.

Have you decided if Ghalt is going to try to impersonate an NPC or maybe it's already happened?
_Matt_

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Re: Doppelgangers

Post#8 » Tue Nov 06, 2018 9:08 am

They are lots of potential fun but as has been pointed out, they can cause a great deal of additional headache for the DM especially if you use one to take over a major PC in the party. I did this once and was able to convince the player to continue playing to DG as his PC (who was safely ensconced in a dungeon prison cell and was later saved by the group). The player had a lot of fun trying to keep the other players guessing and he actually did a very good job. It took several weeks of in-game time for the others to deduce what had actually happened. I awarded the player some bonus XPs for going along with the premise and for a while he would occasionally bug me to let him try it again. As NPCs they can truly wreak some havoc on a campaign.

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Re: Doppelgangers

Post#9 » Tue Nov 06, 2018 11:05 am

RPG Dinosaur wrote:Have you decided if Ghalt is going to try to impersonate an NPC or maybe it's already happened?

Yes and yes. One of the NPCs had been replaced, and the players suspected it but wasn't sure which one (as I stated before, they did not suspect each other whatsoever, which I thought was blatant metagaming, but whatever).

Once the group reunited, none of the PCs had any leads (as I said, they just went around asking, "Hey, have you seen anything strange lately?" and then got distracted by personal things), but the NPCs each had one. The party decided to follow up on the lead from the replaced NPC first. He claimed he had heard some rumor of strange things going on at the mill. The party found the front door locked, but the cellar door was open. They all went inside to investigate...and Ghalt then slammed the door on them and locked them inside, before laughing maniacally and running off. The actual NPC Ghalt replaced is tied up and knocked out inside there.

I'm interested to see how they get out of this, as there is no party thief so picking the lock to escape is out of the question.

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Re: Doppelgangers

Post#10 » Tue Nov 06, 2018 12:08 pm

LOL.. Maybe as a twist, a 2nd doppleganger is "Appearing to be that tied up Ghalt".

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Re: Doppelgangers

Post#11 » Wed Nov 07, 2018 10:32 pm

Billy_Buttcheese wrote: I awarded the player some bonus XPs for going along with the premise and for a while he would occasionally bug me to let him try it again.

Wow, he must have really enjoyed 'going under cover'.
_Matt_

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Re: Doppelgangers

Post#12 » Sat Nov 10, 2018 8:42 pm

RPG Dinosaur wrote:Wow, he must have really enjoyed 'going under cover'.

Yeah, he was a natural actor and truly enjoyed the role-playing aspect of the game. Sadly, he & I went our separate ways when we both went to different bases after our tour in Alaska ended. I keep hoping to find others like him but, alas, haven't had any luck. He was also an excellent DM.

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Re: Doppelgangers

Post#13 » Sun Nov 11, 2018 9:27 pm

Billy_Buttcheese wrote: He was also an excellent DM.

It seems only natural that someone who had also been a DM would perhaps be more cooperative and better at going undercover as Doppelganger than maybe a player who had never been a DM would.
Still, the fact that after doing it once this man would be willing to put his characters treasure gathering, career, advancement, etc. almost completely on hold and lobby to do it again still kind of amazes me. I do remember that you awarded him some XP after the first time, but still 8O . Hearing about that is a first for me.
_Matt_

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