Doppelganger (Dungeons & Dragons)

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First appearanceGreyhawk (1975)
Based onDoppelgänger
TypeMonstrous humanoid
AlignmentUsually Neutral

In the Dungeons & Dragons fantasy role-playing game, Doppelgangers are monstrous humanoids, identified primarily by their ability to change their shape and appearance to mimic almost any humanoid creature. They can be used in the game by Dungeon Masters as allies or opponents of the player characters.

Publication history[edit]

The doppelganger was one of the earliest creatures introduced in the D&D game.

Dungeons & Dragons (1974–1976)[edit]

The doppelganger was introduced to the game in its first supplement, Greyhawk (1975).[1] It is described as a creature with a mutable form, able to shape itself into a double of any person it observes.

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st edition (1977–1988)[edit]

The doppelganger appears in the first edition Monster Manual (1977),[2] where it is described as a bipedal creature able to shape itself into the likeness of any humanoid creature it can observe.

The doppelganger was detailed in Dragon #80 (December 1983), in the "Psychology of the Doppelganger".[3]

Dungeons & Dragons (1977–1999)[edit]

This edition of the D&D game included its own version of the doppelganger, spelled doppleganger, in the Dungeons & Dragons Basic Set (1977, 1981, 1983).[4][5][6] The doppleganger was also later featured in the Dungeons & Dragons Game set (1991), the Dungeons & Dragons Rules Cyclopedia (1991),[7] and the Classic Dungeons & Dragons Game set (1994).

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd edition (1989–1999)[edit]

The doppelganger appears first in the Monstrous Compendium Volume Two (1989),[8] and is reprinted in the Monstrous Manual (1993).[9]

The greater doppelganger was introduced in the Forgotten Realms campaign setting boxed set, City of Splendors (1994), and then in the Monstrous Compendium Annual Two (1995).

The doppelganger appears in the Ravenloft campaign setting module Hour of the Knife (1994) and the dread doppelganger was introduced in Ravenloft Monstrous Compendium Appendix III: Creatures of Darkness (1994).

Dungeons & Dragons 3.0 edition (2000–2002)[edit]

The doppelganger appears in the Monster Manual for this edition (2000).[10] In the 3rd edition of Dungeons & Dragons, Doppelgangers were classified as shapechangers.

The greater doppelganger reappeared in Monsters of Faerûn (2000).[11]

The ethereal doppelganger was introduced in Monster Manual II (2002).[12]

Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 edition (2003–2007)[edit]

The doppelganger appears in the revised Monster Manual for this edition (2003).[13] In 3.5 Edition, their type was monstrous humanoid. If used as a player character race, their favored class is Rogue.

The doppelganger appeared as a player character race in Races of Destiny (2004).[14]

The changeling, offspring of doppelgangers and humans, appears as a player character race in the Eberron Campaign Setting (2004).

Dungeons & Dragons 4th edition (2008–)[edit]

The doppelganger appears in the Monster Manual for this edition (2008), including the doppelganger sneak and the doppelganger assassin,[15] with the At-Will power Change Shape (as in earlier editions). The statistics in the 4th Edition Monster Manual depicts them as rogues, as both the Sneak and Assassin have the ability to deal extra damage to enemies they have Combat Advantage against. (much like the rogue Sneak Attack).


In Dungeons & Dragons, doppelgangers have long, gangly limbs despite their above-average strength and agility, and pale gray skin. Their eyes resemble those of an octopus, yellow with slitted pupils, and they have no hair on any part of their body. Their facial features appear to be half-developed. They are cunning and patient, and will wait as long as it takes for an opportunity to present itself. They have the ability to Detect Thoughts, which helps them to mimic their target almost flawlessly by imitating their mannerisms and discovering information that only their target would know. Because of this, they are feared and regarded as natural spies and assassins.


Changelings are a playable race in the Eberron campaign setting. In the 3.5 edition, they are a race descended from half-human/half-Doppelgangers. They breed true, like Doppelgangers do, but have slightly more distinct facial features in their natural form. Changelings also have more-typically human proportions than doppelgangers, and naturally grow fine white hair from their scalps (although this can be altered with normally by the changeling's Change Shape ability). Changelings can only change their physical appearance, not including their clothes, and they cannot Detect Thoughts. In D&D 3.5, their favored class is Rogue. In 4th edition, "Changeling" is merely another word for "Doppelganger".

The first "Unearthed Arcana" article on the Wizards of the Coast web site presented a playtest version of the Changeling for Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition.[16]

Dread Doppelgangers[edit]

A subspecies of Doppelganger can be found in the Demiplane of Dread, Ravenloft. These Dread Doppelgangers, like many creatures of Ravenloft, are a twisted rendition of the original. Dread doppelgangers are capable of mimicking with 100% efficiency, aided by a natural ability to probe minds (a feat only approached, amongst ordinary doppelgangers, by the Greater Doppelganger with its ability to assimilate memories from consumed brains) as well as generating natural illusions via their "Glamour" ability. But in the process, the dread doppelgangers have become sexless parasites, dependent on their ability to integrate with society to survive. While normal doppelgangers have their own culture and have no real need to mingle with humanoids, dread doppelgangers can only reproduce by mating with humanoids (usually doing so as males, as a "pregnant" dread doppelgänger cannot change forms until after giving birth) and have effectively lost their own culture.

Dread doppelgangers have one major accomplishment over ordinary doppelgangers in other campaign settings: their own country. The Ravenloft domain of Paridon is the birthplace of the dread doppelganger, and as such is crawling with the vile things. The Darklord of the domain, Sodo the Flickerflame, directs and organizes a vile ritual called the Blood Rite, which takes place once every thirteen years and is used by Sodo to give himself effective immortality. This ritual is conducted by a chosen dread doppelganger, and the Paridoners refer to the time when the killer stalks the streets as "The Bloody Jack Killings", because for many years Paridon thought the killings were the work of a madman. The truth behind the Bloody Jack Killings was made public after the events of the Shadow of the Knife adventure.


  1. ^ Gygax, Gary and Robert Kuntz. Supplement I: Greyhawk (TSR, 1975)
  2. ^ Gygax, Gary. Monster Manual (TSR, 1977)
  3. ^ Sherman, Fraser. "The Psychology of the Doppelganger" Dragon #80 (TSR, 1983)
  4. ^ Gygax, Gary, and Dave Arneson [1974], edited by J. Eric Holmes. Dungeons & Dragons Basic Set (TSR, 1977)
  5. ^ Gygax, Gary, and Dave Arneson [1974], edited by Tom Moldvay. Dungeons & Dragons Basic Set (TSR, 1981)
  6. ^ Gygax, Gary, and Dave Arneson [1974], edited by Frank Mentzer. Dungeons & Dragons Set 1: Basic Rules (TSR, 1983)
  7. ^ Allston, Aaron, Steven E. Schend, Jon Pickens, and Dori Watry. Dungeons & Dragons Rules Cyclopedia (TSR, 1991)
  8. ^ Cook, David, et al. Monstrous Compendium Volume Two (TSR, 1989)
  9. ^ Stewart, Doug, ed. Monstrous Manual (TSR, 1994)
  10. ^ Cook, Monte, Jonathan Tweet, and Skip Williams. Monster Manual (Wizards of the Coast, 2000)
  11. ^ Wyatt, James and Rob Heinsoo. Monstrous Compendium: Monsters of Faerun (Wizards of the Coast, 2001)
  12. ^ Bonny, Ed, Jeff Grubb, Rich Redman, Skip Williams, and Steve Winter. Monster Manual II (Wizards of the Coast, 2002)
  13. ^ Williams, Skip. Monster Manual (Wizards of the Coast, 2003)
  14. ^ Noonan, David, Eric Cagle, and Aaron Rosenberg. Races of Destiny. (Wizards of the Coast, 2004
  15. ^ Mearls, Mike, Stephen Schubert, and James Wyatt. Monster Manual (Wizards of the Coast, 2008)
  16. ^ Mearls, Mike. "Unearthed Arcana: Eberron". Dungeons & Dragons. Wizards of the Coast. Retrieved 27 July 2015.

Further reading[edit]

  • Cagle, Eric. "The Minions of Darkness" Dragon #300 (Paizo Publishing, 2002).