Doppelgänger PC race

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Doppelgänger PC race

Post by Coronoides »

Though written for my Age of [Ostoria] project, I think this might have general appeal and so I have given it it's own topic.
Any thoughts, issues, clarifications?

Shapeshifting doppelgangers trust only an inner circle and survive by deceiving all others. Doppelgangers are born as members of other races then must adapt to the losses suffered when their true nature surfaces as young adults. Some are adopted by giant lords to act as spies and emissaries, others fall into a life of crime. Though their numbers have declined since the fall of the empires of their creators, doppelgangers are more common in the Ostorian Age than in later periods.
Like Wax
Doppelgangers are born as apparently normal babies of other humanoid races. As the child matures something might seem off. The child might be lazy and fail to apply himself to learning the traditional skills of his people. Other oddities such as an elf child who sleeps or a human child’s excellent night vision begin to set them apart. Then as young adults they discover they are not who they thought they were. They gain the ability to mimic the appearance of any individual they see with no regard for gender, race, or culture and discover that their natural form is of a hairless sexless grey humanoid with the look of melted wax and pupil-less yellow eyes.
Born to Deceive
Although the doppelganger’s body can look like anyone, the disguise cannot be perfect without an act. Shapeshifting does not impart languages, knowledge, mannerisms, or typical behaviours; these the doppelganger must learn by studying the role and then execute by its skills in acting and deception. Many learn to shadow or capture their victims in order to learn what they need to know to perfect the role. Most eventually unlock a limited psionic power to read surface thoughts and thus learn a person’s name, fears, motivations, and memories brought to the surface.
Designed to deceive it is no surprise that doppelgangers have trouble trusting others. They develop strong friendships with a small group of people they feel they can trust and rely on no one outside of their inner circle. Doppelganger groups show great intelligence and care in planning missions and heists to ensure there is little risk of discovery and no witnesses. Another common personality trait is laziness, why work hard to earn what you want when it is so much easier to dupe riches out of others?
Servants of Lost Empires
The Batrachi built vast empires and with their potent magic created many races to serve them. The doppelgangers were created to blend in or present a pleasing face as needed. They served the Batrachi as assassins, informers, emissaries, spies, and entertainers. When the last empire of the Batrachi fell some doppelgangers found new masters among the dragons and giants and continued to serve. Those in the employ of a powerful lord like a cloud giant or silver dragon trust that lord as part of their inner circle. If that trust is ever broken the doppelgangers vanish taking the lord’s secrets with them. Doppelgangers without masters lack the trust to build a civilisation of their own and instead form small bands of criminals assuming roles that enable them to steal what they need. They also sometimes fall in with criminals of other races.
Hidden Cuckoos
Dragons and giants consider some doppelgangers to be loyal and useful agents, and the rest parasitic vermin. Doppelgangers in the employ of nobles of other races serve masters they trust and are rewarded for that loyalty. That many doppelgangers are trusted servants of ruling giants and dragons gives the race a veneer of acceptability they lack in later ages.
Humanoids fear doppelgangers, except perhaps those who serve the same giant or dragon lord. They are especially feared by the elves of Ilythiiri, who realise the amount damage an imposter in a powerful political position could do. The rumour that doppelgangers are around spreads paranoia and fear through a humanoid community. That some doppelgangers often kidnap victims in order to study them or stalk people in their most private moments furthers distrust of the race.
The doppelganger method of reproduction worsens race relations. Doppelgangers assume the form of a comely male humanoid to woo a female humanoid. The doppelganger then leaves and the young is born as a member of the mother’s species. At adolescence the new doppelganger discovers its true nature and feels and instinctive urge to find its own kind.
The Inner Circle
Most doppelgangers are adventurers. Forced out of home early, they fall into lives as agents or criminals taking large short-term calculated risks in the hope of great gains and a life of ease later. They come to regard the adventuring party as their inner circle trusting and remaining true to these comrades and mistrusting all others. While doppelgangers have a poor reputation others in a party discover a companion they can trust with their lives and who is not easily fooled is a boon.
Doppelgangers have no naming conventions of their own. Their mother of another race gives their birth-name to them. Then during their lives they adopt the names of many roles.
Ability score increases. Increase your dexterity by 3 and your charisma, constitution and wisdom all by 1.
Alignment. Deceit, laziness and greed pull them towards chaos and evil. Loyalty to their inner circle and a tendency for careful planning draws them towards good and law. However, in the end their strong survival instinct trumps these equal and opposite opposing forces. Most are true neutral. Player character doppelgangers can be any alignment.
Type. Monstrosity (shapechanger).
Languages. Common and one humanoid language from those known by your birth race.
Slippery Mind. You are immune to the Charmed condition.
Cuckoo. Choose one Small or Medium player character humanoid race. Your character looks like a member of that race and may not even know they are a doppelganger! You do not gain the traits of the other race. If the race has a natural weapon, such as the lizardfolks' bite then yours does only the same damage as your unarmed strike, though damage type can change to match the emulated attack.
Size. At first level your size can be Small or Medium to match your birth race. At 3rd level your Size becomes Medium.
Speed. Your speed is 30 feet.
Darkvision. You have a Darkvison range of 60 feet.
Shapechanger. At 3rd level you can use an action to polymorph into a Small or Medium humanoid you have seen or back into your natural form. You can even mimic specific individuals you have seen. Your statistics except Size are not changed. Your equipment, including clothing, does not change. If the race has a natural weapon, such as the lizardfolks' bite then yours does only the same damage as your unarmed strike, though damage type can change to match the emulated attack. You revert to your natural form if killed.

Doppelganger racial feats
Through training and meditation doppelgangers can become deadly unarmed combatants and unlock the ability to read the thoughts of others.
Mind Reader
You have gain the ability to read the thoughts of others.
Increase your Charisma score by 1.
Read thoughts. You can magically read the surface thoughts of one creature within 60 feet of you. The effect can penetrate barriers, but 3 feet of wood or dirt, 2 feet of stone, 2 inches of metal, or a thin sheet of lead blocks it. While the target is in range, you can continue reading its thoughts, as long as your concentration isn't broken (as if concentrating on a spell). While reading the target's mind, you have advantage on Wisdom (Insight) and Charisma (Deception, Intimidation, and Persuasion) checks against the target.

Living Weapon
You have learned the traditional martial art of your people
Increase your dexterity score by 1.
Ambusher. In the first round of combat you have advantage on attack rolls against any creature you have surprised.
Unarmed slam. Your unarmed strikes have the finesse quality and do 1d6 plus dexterity or strength modifier bludgeoning damage.
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