I appologise for getting ahead of myself, but my ideas tend to disappear if I don't write them down somewhere. What do you all think of this?
Doppelgangers. Skinwalkers. Changelings. A great number of mythologies have in some incarnation the trope of the shapeshifter, something that appears human, but. . . isn't. Usually, these characters are hated and despised by the population, for rather valid reasons. I've played several RPGs that included shapeshifters, but with very few exceptions, they were just part of the scenery, used once in a blue moon when a mystery adventure was on hand.
I, personally, think the trope should be in full force, with as much space in the spotlight as other races. This may be difficult, considering that they're, well, shapeshifters, and thus blend in with other societies, but it can and should be done. My suggestions:
Anything, obviously, this being their biggest racial advantage.
Best suited towards:
Varies. Discussed below.
Traits and abilities:
The race has one and only one innate ability: Shapeshifting. Rather than adapt to a certain environment over generations, they adapt to almost every
environment, over, at most, days. There are two basic incarnations of their ability: Imitation and Modification.
Imitation is the much quicker and easier method of transformation. The Doppelganger gets a good look at a living being and, with a few moments of concentration, becomes a nearly-identical copy of them.
Modification is a more involved, long term process. It allows the Doppelgangers to alter almost any aspect of their bodies, with the exception that they are incapable of producing or shedding mass, averting Shapeshifter Baggage
. This does not mean they can't grow or shrink, just that they cannot do so to either extreme.*
Making a new modification is a very involved process, requiring both time and focus. After this modification is made, the shapeshifter will typically repeat it many times; each use makes it easier to pull off at a moment's notice, as is the case with anything else in the world. Note that, without some serious magic, elemental transmutation doesn't happen. A Doppelganger cannot, for instance, will themselves to be made of gold. As such, in order to keep their options open, resourceful Doppelgangers frequently consume things that others would consider downright odd, like scorpion venom or fingernails. As they mature, most shapeshifters develop some specialty or another, something that they're very, very good at morphing themselves to do; this can be anything from combat to gymnastics to cross-country ski-knitting.
Most Doppelgangers live amoungst other races, and adopt the culture of their homes to a large extent. However, there is a mostly underground shapeshifter subculture within most large population centres. Though most do not know it, there also exists a place called the Veil, though most Doppelgangers (and almost no-one of any other race) are unaware of its existence.
The Veil is a city-state populated only by Doppelgangers, always located in an obscure place and always moving. Powerful enchantments have been placed upon every centimetre of the city enabling even the inanimate objects to transform into inconspicuous scenery at a moment's notice, preventing its location from being discovered.
A Doppelganger magician that isn't a Changeling (see below) is incredibly rare- perhaps one in a thousand natural Doppelgangers have the capacity for magic. When magic does manifest, it's usually as an extension of their shapeshifting abilities- they develop the power to change other things as well as themselves.
Most Doppelgangers are born Doppelgangers, the manifestation of a recessive gene. Some, however, are created through use of powerful magic. A particularly powerful magician of the transmuting persuasion is capable of imparting the ability to shapeshift into a newborn human (only humans are genetically adaptable enough to be able to take on the proper forms) within the first week of its birth. Those touched in this way are called Changelings. Changelings make up roughly one-fourth the total Doppelganger population, and one-half their magical population, as the artificially-created beings are much more inclined to develop magical abilities.
Opinions on Changelings within the Doppelganger race, or, at least, within the Veil, are mixed; some perceive them to be identical to all other Doppelgangers, some see them as something different from a "true" Doppelganger entirely.
edited 6th Apr '12 4:55:16 PM by Exelixi
Mura: -flips the bird to veterinary science with one hand and Euclidean geometry with the other-