On the Ecology of the Doppelganger

"But you see, I'm not the Duke of southern Ostland at all." -Last words heard by the knight Fineous, as replayed by the crypt necropticon

Nomenclature: double goer, doppelgänger, etiäinen, vardøger, Ankou, Ka, metamorph, skin-walker, mimic, therianthrope
Description: metamorphs

Things that are known:
  • They are shapeshifters that infiltrate humanoid societies. 
  • They are bipedal, probably.
  • They can read minds

Rumors and other whispers in the dark:
  • They derive ecstasy from the emotions of fear and confusion. They thrive on disrupting intimate relationships
  • They start their lives by taking over tribes of small dumb humanoids, before moving on to larger more complicated power structures
  • They are humans who receive training from a rare akashic clan. They are trained from birth, given strange potions all in service to their clan. They are the ultimate ninja
  • Prestige among their races is dictated by the complexity of their schemes. The most powerful of them simultaneously impersonate dozens of separate individuals
  • Master doppelgangers can emulate any forms: fire, fog, any organic or non-organic substance
  • There are no doppelgangers. They are actually you, located in another place or time
  • They dwell in a place called the black lodge, where they are trapped, until released by a demon, or the entrance of a naïve humanoid
  • They have no shadow or reflection
  • They are actually born of rare human children, having no race or culture of their own
  • They are actually elven children switched with human children. There is no such thing as an elf, just a face the doppelganger chooses to show us
  • In combat, they can change in a dazzling burst, making the opponents uncertain which is the dopple and which is real
  • Doppelgangers all suffer from amnesia, they don't know who they are or what they are doing. They are just doing what comes instinctually and seems like a good idea at the time
  • They are actually extraplanar, and are summoned and bound by wizards
  • That isn't true, the wizards create them like homunculi, and claim they are from the outer plains
  • They bargain with states and other socio-political entities, asking for strange deliveries and indebting themselves to work as spies for short periods
  • All rulers of men have been replaced by doppelgangers. They live among us
  • They have a compulsion to impersonate and believe they are who they impersonate. They will become hostile and kill anyone who attempts to make them confront their delusion
  • No doppelganger ever dies. When killed their consciousness is reborn in a new body
  • They can't actually survive in civilization for very long because they are just too alien. They lose their forms both mentally and physically
  • They detest others of their own kind
  • Doppelgangers are actually very timid creatures having no sense of worth, believing themselves to be a non-entity. They take other forms in a desperate attempt to please others and escape their emotional turmoil
  • A long time ago, they made an ancient pact with an otherworldly intelligence. They serve this great outer power in exchange for their abilities
  • Doppelgangers may come from any place at any time. They all exist as transient, detached, driftwood through the corridors of time
  • The outer intelligence that controls them stores all their souls in an ever changing box
  • Doppelgangers are actually magical plants created by wizards. They grow in pods that hang from vines where they ripen like fruit
  • They are social parasites, stealing identities to give themselves purpose and meaning
  • Doppelgangers gain more pleasure from mental pursuits then physical ones
  • Doppelgangers view humanoids with contempt, seeing them as agressive and egocentric creatures who will never truly know each other
  • They are stunted elemental creatures. They steal forms and identities to experience life. In their own form the world is grey and lifeless
  • Doppelgangers follow certain people, watching their thoughts like television. They get caught up in their lives and make sure to follow all their favorite characters
  • Shapeshifting is their religion and they will ascend once they have assumed every perfect shape
  • Doppelgangers often live in the wilds as animals
  • They all live in a great link, a giant pool where they all exist together in liquid form
  • They can only hold their shape for 18 hours before they must revert to liquid form 
  • Doppelgangers are mentally unstable. They quickly adopt any odd habits or beliefs picked up by anyone they contact, which then quickly spread back to their conclave
  • In fact, doppelgangers that infiltrate non-doppelganger society for a long time eventually adopt the culture and mannerisms of the locals, they forget they're a doppelganger. They either are the subject of a raid from a doppelganger clan or have an emotional breakdown when they discover they are a monster
  • Some of these doppelgangers see the mental instability as a mirror to their physical malleability. They isolate living aesthetic lives trying to quell their inner turmoil by rejecting their ability to shape shift
  • What is beauty to the formless? They only find beauty in their own form, when they are isolated from all other races. They wear their disguises with disgust. With no home to go to, they have to wander, disgusted by their forms, terrified by exposure
  • When they mate with each other, they produce a doppelganger. When they mate with humans they produce changelings
  • They are thought forms made from concentrated hate and frustrated desires of one or more people, and aimed at an individual which is an object of loathing, fear, unrequited lust or one that you wish to subjugate
    They are the double of this person in particular (or more rarely a tribe, corporation, or idea), the master of its face. It is created with the sole purpose of destroying, humiliating, or replacing that master
    But the doppelganger is filled with complexity and incoherence. It creates a double that is self-directed and strongly willed. It borrows features from its hate-donors, shifting faces freely on the way to meeting its master. It pursues its own bizarre agendas as long as they don't conflict with the inevitable showdown
    Once the master is destroyed and its mission complete? The funny thing about hate and lust and loathing is that they don't just disappear. It is now free to explore the meaning of its existence. Very often, it seeks out those who created it, its wrathful parents
  • They are actually from elsewhere, visiting humanoids and capturing them for study
  • Doppelgangers are like honeybees, led by a queen. The personality of the hive is based on the personalities the queen has copied
  • They were originally humans, modified by wizards to be concubines and spies. At some point, the goose got away from the gander
  • Doppelgangers are actually an advanced ooze that has recently picked itself up and left the dungeon. They just can't seem to maintain their humanoid form, so they borrow it from others to prevent returning to an ooze like state
  • This has caused a rift in doppelganger society, some wish to pursue a hedonistic lifestyle, while others become morose and philosophical, becoming violent and loving to inflict pain on those weaker then themselves
  • They are a strongly secretly religious culture. They perform rituals in private to help remind them of who they truly are
  • They are not just men. Werewolves, mimics, trappers, cloakers, all are doppelgangers in different stages of their life cycle
  • They stole the source of true names and fled where only the damned go. They have returned, paying another price; their own visage. They imprinted the book on each of their souls, allowing them to take any form. You may have them do a task for you, but you must give your name to the book, allowing them the right to use your own face
  • They are violently territorial sociopaths. They do not experience guilt or remorse. They are driven to succeed and control everything, driven by their utter solitude
  • Doppelgangers don't burn
  • They pool them memories in clansmen who become memory wells
  • These memory wells allow doppelgangers to take on the skills and knowledge of those people's minds contained within
  • When unconscious they revert back to their natural form
  • Certain elder doppelgangers can consume the brain of a creature, gaining access to the memories and personality of the victim
  • Doppelgangers believe that the world and everything in it is alive and all existence is a competition, a test of physical and mental superiority 
  • They are failed alchemical creations, the detritus of attempts to create artificial life
  • Their origin is human, undeniably. Altered by magic, alchemy, or surgery in some bizarre fashion
  • Blood from a doppelganger exhibits life-like traits. It ripples and avoids hazards, oozing away from them
  • Doppelgangers eventually replace every building, person, and object in a city with one of their kind
  • They do not sweat or produce other skin excretions
  • They are the liquid sea-formed soldiers of chaos, walking among the stone of the land to destroy law and all its stable forms. That war never ended
  • They often collect rubbish. Small rocks, bits of string, screws, pieces of metal
  • Their natural skin appears greasy, but is actually dry to the touch and feels leathery
  • Doppelgangers are able to alter their voice to reproduce any sound
  • They are immune to charm and their ability to detect thoughts operates constantly
  • After death, their natural form quickly petrifies
  • They evolved in a dungeon environment to take advantage of large groups of unorganized men. A party with more hirelings then it can keep its eye on at once is particularly prone to a doppelganger infestation
  • They lust and desire the wealth of humans, wealth they are unable or unwilling to create themselves
  • They can only reproduce with the aid of humans and leave their children among human children as the cuckoo does
  • Part of their superiority in combat comes from their mental abilities. Against opponents with protected minds (psionics, etc.) they are considered to have a much lower armor class and fight much worse, hitting much less often and doing reduced damage
  • They do not sleep
  • They form their clothing and weapons from their own mass
  • They are the stuff of life that first came forth, protean and ever-shifting. Originally it took on the many varied forms, learning to be born, hold a shape, and die. Now it has appeared again, perhaps to herald the end of the race of men
  • Doppelganger society if founded on honesty and truth, being unable to lie to each other
  • Doppelgangers actually avoid each other because they are the only race they can't read, leading to severe distrust
  • When they age, the take the form of large structures, forest glens, or other giant permanent structures and become powerful psionic beacons containing repositories of memories
  • This large structure then will birth new doppelgangers
  • They respond to their targets, always displaying what each expects to see
  • They are each born without a face of their own. They either break off and worship their own lack of identity, or as is more often the case, just steal one
  • They are creatures without a conscious. They just kill and replace people on a whim, not from malice, but simply from habit and temperament
  • Their natural form is non-viable. They must change form to breed
  • The doppelganger isn't a separate creature, but your own dark side, released. It kills your mind, in a very real sense taking over your body and becoming the evil that lurks inside you manifest
  • Doppelgangers exist only as a curse. They do and accomplish what the original desires, yet cannot accomplish himself
  • They are creatures of balance. When a creature, perhaps descended from the divine, drifts from its nature, a doppelganger appears and reasserts the balance by their actions. This always ends in misery and the balancing creature can only be killed by destroying the original creature
  • A religious order is the source of all doppelgangers. Once sought, the god curses the joiner. They must seek out, defeat, and re-assimilate the doppelganger to be inducted. Often they die or fail. Once a great many had, they bound together and brought down the order that created them. They now seek to bring down the god himself
  • They are robotic killers from the future to kill those who will disadvantage their creator
  • They are servants of the gods who kill those who interfere with worship and their god's divine supremacy
  • They are dreams that survive their dreamer's death

Thus it appeared, I say, but it was not. It was my antagonist - it was Wilson, who then stood before me in the agonies of his dissolution. His mask and cloak lay, where he had thrown then, upon the floor. Not a thread in all his raiment - not a line in all the marked and singular lineaments of his face which was not, even in the most absolute identity, mine own!- Edgar Allan Poe, “William Wilson”

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