Pieces Of Creation is an occasional recurring column at Campaign Mastery in which Mike offers game reference and other materials that he has created for his own campaigns.
A somewhat unusual example to get this first “Pieces Of Creation” off to a flying start. Normally, I would present the game materials within the column text, with some framing exposition in the blockquote that precedes it. This time, the game materials are contained in a PDF, and the exposition is the column – which actually concerns a product that’s been around for more than two years: The Complete Guide To Doppelgangers from Goodman Games.
When Completeness Is Not Enough
Make no mistake, The Complete Guide to Doppelgangers is a fantastic and thoroughly recommended work. In fact, the PDF that I am offering here is completely useless without it. It’s currently shown as just US$3.50, so make sure you pick one up if you don’t have it already!
But my players had read it. They knew what to expect.
Doppelgangers operate by subterfuge, stealth and deception – and that was not possible under those circumstances.
One of my players asked me if his then-girlfriend could join the game. I had no problem with that, but I did have a number of concerns to be worked through.
The first was to ensure that the prospective player know that she would be signing up for a long-term commitment; this was a campaign designed and intended to run for years. I had just had another campaign almost ruined by players who signed up for ‘the long haul’ and then vanished after only a session or two without notice – after several weeks of effort in expanding the campaign to give their characters an equal role. I was anxious that this not happen a second time.
The second was that this was an evil campaign – some players have problems being anti-heros and villains. I discussed this aspect of the campaign in Part 5 of my series Focussing on Alignment. In a nutshell, part 1 of that series was a guest post arguing that alignment was unnecessary and undesirable and the game would be greatly improved if people dis as the author had done and excised it. Parts 2 and 3 were a rebuttal by me which proposed a different metagame perspective on the whole issue. Part 4 looked at redefining the meaning of alignment and offered a tool for the generation of complex behaviours within an alignment system, while Part 5 extracted the mechanics of the subject of Alignment from the House Rules for my Shards Of Divinity campaign.
The third was that the campaign was centred around the boyfriend and the trials and tribulations that his character would experience in fulfilling a self-appointed quest to control everything – all of existence would be his to rule if things worked out as they should. At times, this would put him at odds with the other PCs, and ultimately they might even become his enemies. I wanted to be sure that the two would not connive together when they were supposed to be enemies.
A doppelganger developing a relationship with, and then exploiting, the central character fitted the bill for that last, perfectly.
As it happened, the couple broke up before she ever entered play. So the work that is being offered today was never actually used in-game.
When Completeness Is Not Enough (continued)
So the decision had been made to use a doppelganger, but the race needed a lot of fleshing out (no pun intended) before it was suitable for use as a PC Race.
That’s where the The Complete Guide To Doppelgangers comes in. Since it lives up to all its promises and is highly recommended by me, I don’t think I can do better than to quote the product description by Goodman Games:
Doppelgangers have spawned hundreds of rumours and stories. What adventurer doesn’t have a tale about the time he fought a doppelganger assassin, stopped one from impersonating the duke, or was surprised by a doppelganger disguised as his friend? But these accounts leave many questions unanswered. What do doppelgangers do when they aren’t assassinating or impersonating people? Why do they work for humans – and how do prospective employers find them, anyway? Are there doppelganger communities?
Written by Eberron creator Keith Baker, this 3.5-edition book examines the psychology and motivations of these mysterious creatures. It looks at the lifecycle of the doppelganger, and reveals the existence of biological variations of the creature. For the fact of the matter is that there are doppelgangers all around – they are far more common than people believe.
The Complete Guide to Doppelgangers is a stand-alone, world-neutral sourcebook covering everything you ever wanted to know about doppelgangers. This edition has been updated to the 3.5 rules set.
As a GM, you’ll learn how to run doppelgangers — both in combat and role-playing situations. And since every Complete Guide includes guidelines on playing the monster as a character race, players have new options, too.
The Complete Guide to Doppelgangers features:
- The true origin of these bizarre creatures.
- Background on doppelganger social structure, including their various life stages and details on how they have penetrated human and demi-human society.
- Unique campaign ideas and adventure hooks centred around doppelgangers.
- New monster stats for intriguing variations on the standard doppelganger.
The version I have is an updated release that is compatible with 3.x, which includes additional material originally released as freebies online and in Game Trade magazine.
The Path Not Taken
So I was happy with everything except for one vital fact: at least two of my players had read The Complete Guide To Doppelgangers and knew what to look for and what to expect. I wondered if I could use that against them – which would only be possible if the “truth” that they had read in the ‘official’ publication was actually a pack of lies distributed by Doppelgangers to conceal their real abilities, objectives, and vulnerabilities.
Almost as soon as I had formulated this objective, I had a singular flash of inspiration and saw how it could be done, and that is the basis of the PDF that is being offered with today’s column. It assumes that the reader has read and understood The Complete Guide To Doppelgangers. Without the Goodman Games offering as a foundation, the contents will make little or no sense.
You can download the PDF by clicking on the icon. You may need to right-click and choose “Save Target As…”.
The Complete Guide To Doppelgangers contains no copyright notice but is assumed to be copyrighted by Goodman Games except where content may be copyrighted Wizards Of The Coast and presented under the terms of the OGL/d20 licence. No content or statement in this blog post or the attached PDF is intended to challenge that copyright in any way. The additional game materials provided in the attached PDF are considered by the author to be house rules, subject (as a derivative work) to any and all copyrights applicable to the parent works. As such, they will never be presented by the author in a form which does not require the prior purchase of a copy of the Goodman Games licensed product to have value for the reader.
I want to extend special thanks to Goodman Games for their permission to publish both this article and the accompanying PDF in this column.