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Doppelgangers, otherwise known by themselves as Shallar,[7] were monstrous humanoids, infamous for their shapeshifting abilities that allowed them to mimic almost any humanoid creature.[6] There was also a stronger, more capable subspecies known as greater doppelgangers or mirrorkin.[8][9][10]

I've been so many people I can hardly remember my own name... Sometimes I wake up and have to touch my face to remember who I am that day. And sometimes I can't remember whether I'm supposed to woo you or kill you without glancing in the mirror first.
— Aunn, doppelganger spy[11]


In their true form, doppelgangers appeared as tall, elven, gray-skinned humanoids, whose thin hairless bodies made them appear, to human eyes, sexless. Their heads were bulbous, with formless faces and bulging eyes that were a pale yellow hue and lacked visible pupils. Though even this form was deceptive, as it gave the impression they were physically weak, when in fact they were quite strong and agile.[3]


They were lazy but cunning creatures, who killed or disposed of people then assumed their place. While not actually evil, doppelgangers were extremely self-centered and liable to look down on their victims.[6] Because of their laziness and selfishness, they rarely ever had any interest in raising their young.[1]


FR Doppelganger

A doppelganger in service of Gornak, shapeshifting out of his human disguise.

Doppelgangers could assume shapes of any humanoid creatures between 4‒8 ft (1.2‒2.4 m) in height. After they chose their victim they duplicated the victim's form, clothing, and equipment, and attempted to kill the original. The biggest boon for the doppelgangers was the confusion their shapeshifting caused.[6][5]

These shapeshifters were immune to many mind affecting spells, such as sleep and charm spells.[6][5] They also possessed a continuous spell-like ability to detect the thoughts of their victims and opponents,[3][1] which some described as being a form of ESP.[5] This ability extended out 60 feet (18 meters) and could penetrate most 2‒3 ft (0.61‒0.91 m) barriers.[1] These would often use this ability to learn everything they could about their chosen target.[6]

Though their abilities allowed them to physically impersonate other creatures, a normal doppelganger could not duplicate the languages, memories, mannerisms, or personality of their victims. Because of this they sometimes kept the original alive and close by for weeks when their plans were more long-term. While captured a victim's mind would be read daily by a doppelganger in order to learn how to best behave and speak without being detected.[1]


Being shapeshifting creatures, doppelgangers preferred to surprise and ambush their opponents.[1][5] Once engaged in close quarters combat, a doppelganger would use their brute strength to slam opponents around.[1]


Doppelganger by Tony DiTerlizzi

A pair of doppelgangers.

Doppelgangers tended to be solitary creatures, though were also known to operate in small groups as part of longer cons,[1] as doing so further ensured that their infiltration and attacks were successful.[6] Many lived a stolen life. When they encountered a person whose appearance or station they desired for themselves, the doppelganger used their mental powers to learn everything they could about the chosen target.[6][1] Once they had all the knowledge they needed, they quietly eliminated[6] or captured their target and assumed his or her form, taking their place in life.[1]


Doppelgangers were highly feared by most races for their ability to assume the form of any humanoid creature they encountered. Knowledge of their presence tended to make people very paranoid and suspicious of others.[3][1]

Whenever food or treasure were scarce they would work for other creatures, though they preferred doing business with the magically inclined.[6] Many beings throughout the Realms were known to utilize them as spies, assassins,[3] or in elaborate plots to usurp power.[6]


Doppelgangers could only reproduce while in the form of a human, with another human; they lacked reproductive organs in their true form. Doppelgangers looked completely human at birth (though certain organs functioned differently), and remained in a human form during childhood and adolescence, during which time they were left to be raised by humans; this was sometimes compared to how cuckoos left their eggs in the nests of other birds. Upon reaching maturity, however, they changed and their minds were "filled with an awareness of what they were".[12]

Sometimes, however, a lone doppelganger lost itself and permanently assumed another identity. In such cases where the doppelganger had also taken up a romantic partner, the offspring that resulted were known as half-doppelgangers. Like doppelgangers, they were born in the form of their non-doppelganger parent; however, that remained their normal form throughout their lives, and they had more limited abilities compared to full doppelgangers.[13]


“Shapeshifters,” the Khelbens replied in unison... “Somehow they disposed of Lady Eidola's attendants and took their places. When I found them out, I led them back into the crying room for questioning. One of them attacked. They rushed for the door, taking my form to confuse pursuit.” “If I am a shapeshifter,” said the fifth, “why did I slay two of my comrades with a crushing hand?” The ninth shook his head. “He slew only those two, and in front of you so that you would believe him. I killed the rest”
— [14]

They were believed to be an artificial race, created by the Creator Race known as the batrachi to serve as spies and assassins.[15] Per other scholars, doppelgangers were closely related to humans and may have originated as magically-altered individuals of that species.[12]

In the Year of the Banner, 1368 DR, the trading company Seven Suns's headquarters in Baldur's Gate was infiltrated and taken over by doppelgangers, working on behalf of the rival organization Iron Throne. The doppelgangers then proceeded to make poor business decisions that drove the coster toward bankruptcy. This affected the economy of the whole city and attracted the attention of the Grand Dukes.[16]

In the Year of the Unstrung Harp, 1371 DR,[note 1] a group of doppelgangers infiltrated a wedding ceremony between Piergeiron the Paladinson and Eidola of Neverwinter in Waterdeep, posing as guards and handmaidens. Khelben "Blackstaff" Arunsun foiled the monsters' sinister plot but failed to stop Eidola's subsequent abduction.[14]

Notable doppelgangers[]

  • The Unseen was a group of shapeshifters, including many doppelgangers, that operated in Waterdeep.[21]



  1. The Abduction, p.6 states that the wedding of Piergeiron the Paladinson and Eidola took place in the Year of the Haunting, 1377 DR. However, that date is implausible. Khelben Arunsun died in 1374 DR as depicted in Blackstaff (novel). Furthermore, Aleena Paladinstar was stated to be gone from Waterdeep by 1372 DR, planeswalking (City of Splendors: Waterdeep). On the other hand, the events of the Descent to Undermountain took place in 1370 DR, during which Aleena was actively banned from adventuring and any danger by her father. In the events of The Paladins, as well as the finale of the DDTS, Aleena took a central role, no longer bound by her father's rules. She later, with all the experience she received from battling the Unseen and hordes of Tanar'ri, felt confident enough to use her magic to traverse the planes. This places DDTS events likely in 1371 DR. This also does not conflict with appearances by Artemis Entreri, and the Neshers.



Novels & Short Stories



Referenced only
Spawn of Dragonspear

Video Games

Board Games

Card Games

Organized Play & Licensed Adventures

Referenced only
Blood in the Water

Further Reading[]


External Links[]


  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 Mike Mearls, Jeremy Crawford, Christopher Perkins (2014-09-30). Monster Manual 5th edition. Edited by Scott Fitzgerald Gray. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 82. ISBN 978-0786965614.
  2. Mike Mearls, Stephen Schubert, James Wyatt (June 2008). Monster Manual 4th edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 71. ISBN 978-0-7869-4852-9.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 3.8 3.9 Skip Williams, Jonathan Tweet, Monte Cook (July 2003). Monster Manual v.3.5. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 67–68. ISBN 0-7869-2893-X.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Ed Greenwood and Steven E. Schend (July 1994). City of Splendors. (TSR, Inc). ISBN 0-5607-6868-1.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 Gary Gygax (December 1977). Monster Manual, 1st edition. (TSR, Inc), p. 29. ISBN 0-935696-00-8.
  6. 6.00 6.01 6.02 6.03 6.04 6.05 6.06 6.07 6.08 6.09 6.10 Doug Stewart (June 1993). Monstrous Manual. (TSR, Inc), p. 60. ISBN 1-5607-6619-0.
  7. Ed Greenwood (2013-01-04). Quelzard, Patron of Adventurers. Forging the Realms. Wizards of the Coast. Archived from the original on 2013-02-21. Retrieved on 2013-06-30.
  8. James Wyatt, Rob Heinsoo (February 2001). Monster Compendium: Monsters of Faerûn. Edited by Duane Maxwell. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 36. ISBN 0-7869-1832-2.
  9. Joseph C. Wolf (1999). Skullport. (TSR, Inc), p. 23. ISBN 0-7869-1348-7.
  10. Jason Bulmahn, Eric L. Boyd, Keith Baker, Philip Larwood (October 2005). Dungeon #127 Map & Handout Supplement (PDF). Paizo Publishing. p. 7. Archived from the original on 2009-07-11. Retrieved on 2020-11-17.
  11. Rodney Thompson, Logan Bonner, Matthew Sernett (November 2010). Monster Vault. Edited by Greg Bilsland et al. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 61. ISBN 978-0-7869-5631-9.
  12. 12.0 12.1 Fraser Sherman (December 1983). “Ecology: The psychology of the Doppleganger”. In Kim Mohan ed. Dragon #80 (TSR, Inc.), pp. 6–8.
  13. Wade Nudson (November 2003). “Strange Bedfellows: New Half-Monster Templates”. In Chris Thomasson ed. Dragon #313 (Paizo Publishing, LLC), p. 93.
  14. 14.0 14.1 J. Robert King (February 1998). The Abduction. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 63. ISBN 0-7869-0864-5.
  15. Ed Greenwood, Eric L. Boyd, Darrin Drader (July 2004). Serpent Kingdoms. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 55. ISBN 0-7869-3277-5.
  16. BioWare (December 1998). Designed by James Ohlen. Baldur's Gate. Black Isle Studios.
  17. Christopher Perkins, James Haeck, James Introcaso, Adam Lee, Matthew Sernett (September 2018). Waterdeep: Dragon Heist. Edited by Jeremy Crawford. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 20. ISBN 978-0-7869-6625-7.
  18. Steven E. Schend, Sean K. Reynolds and Eric L. Boyd (June 2000). Cloak & Dagger. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 143. ISBN 0-7869-1627-3.
  19. Steven E. Schend, Sean K. Reynolds and Eric L. Boyd (June 2000). Cloak & Dagger. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 99–100. ISBN 0-7869-1627-3.
  20. James M. Ward and David Wise (February 1998). The Paladins. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 44. ISBN 0-7869-0865-3.
  21. Eric L. Boyd (June 2005). City of Splendors: Waterdeep. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 57. ISBN 0-7869-3693-2.