Book of Souls
|Intelligence:||Intelligence: Average to High (8-14)|
|Treasure:||B,C,R,T in lair; K,M individually|
|No. Appearing:||2-20 (2d10)|
|Armor Class:||7 (or 10 or by Armor: see below)|
|No. of Attacks:||2 or 1|
|Damage/Attack:||1d3/1d3 or by weapon|
|Special Attacks:||See below|
|Special Defenses:||See below|
|Size:||M (6’ tall)|
|Morale:||Average to Elite (8-14)|
The natural appearance of a mask doppleganger is as an emaciated, greenish-grey humanoid, essentially hairless. It appears to have something reptilian – a snake or lizard – in its heritage, and has large, unblinking eyes. The creature is always covered in a slimy, mucous-like chemical that it exudes from tiny pores in its skin. The flesh is cool and rubbery to the touch, and the creature appears oddly boneless, though in fact it actually has a full skeleton of uncommonly flexible bones. The mouth of a mask doppleganger is wide and thin-lipped, too large for its face. It has dozens of small, sharp, barbed teeth, including a pair of snake-like fangs that inject poison into anyone bitten. Both ears and nostrils are no more than tiny holes in the creature’s skin.
Mask dopplegangers are rarely encountered in their natural form, however (at least at first). They possess the ability to use the skins of humans as a shell, appearing to all intents to be a normal person, though they will lack the special abilities of a classed victim. Although the disguise looks close to perfect, mask dopplegangers have difficulty mimicking human speech, both from a lack of command of the language (they usually speak haltingly and carefully, like a novice student of a foreign tongue) and because their mouths are not properly shaped for human speech (their voices have an unnatural cadence and reverberate oddly). As a consequence, they avoid speaking as much as they can and often fake throat injuries or infections. Otherwise the nature of the creature is undetectable from casual inspection, though if the Mask Doppleganger is carefully scrutinized (for any reason) the viewer is entitled to a senses check, success indicating that (s)he notices some oddity about the creature, such as a flap of bloody skin, signs of decay or similar.
Mask dopplegangers exude a preservative liquid from their skin that minimizes decay of the disguise they are “wearing,” allowing it to last with only minor signs of deterioration for as much as twelve months. Mask dopplegangers can use weapons and wear armor whilst in these shells (gaining AC normal for the armor type). However, due to the creature’s true emaciated, rubbery build any armor it wears will slide off if it adopts its true form. Due to the constraints of needing to fit within a skin, mask dopplegangers are largely limited to human shells: most demihumans are too short or of too slim a build for their skins to be used.
Combat: If exposed as a mask doppleganger or if it so desires, the creature is able to shed its human shell in moments by exuding a chemical that reacts with the normal preservative it exudes. The result is that the human skin melts into pink, fleshy goo in the space of a few seconds. This grisly transformation causes all spectators of less than 3 Hit Dice or levels to be automatically stunned for the first round of combat. Characters of 3 to 5 Hit Dice or Levels must save vs. paralyzation or be similarly stunned. If a witness has 6 or more Hit Dice or levels (s)he is unaffected by the transformation. Mask dopplegangers have a natural AC of 7 due to their rubbery skin and flexible bodies, but if wearing the skin of dead humans as a disguise they become AC 10 unless wearing armor. If using a human shell, the mask doppleganger fights with whatever weapons are at hand (it can thus sometimes be discovered if it forgets itself and uses a prohibited weapon for its shell’s Class).
If fighting in its true form, the creature uses two claw attacks per round. These attacks do a mere 1-3 points of damage each, but if both hit the same opponent in one round, the mask doppleganger has grabbed hold of its victim and may also attempt to bite. This bite is deep and painful, inflicting 1d4+2 damage. More importantly it also allows the mask doppleganger to inject venom into its opponent. This venom affects the victim’s muscle control. The bitten character must save vs. poison or (s)he will fall to the ground two rounds later, effectively paralyzed due to being unable to use any voluntary muscles (i.e. the bitten person still gets to act in the round of the bite and the round immediately after the bite). This paralysis lasts 5-15 (2d6+3) rounds. If the character saves then (s)he is still slowed (as per the spell) for 2-12 (2d6) rounds starting two rounds after the bite. Each new bite from a mask doppleganger requires a new saving throw from the victim.
Anyone bitten three rounds in succession must make a saving throw vs. death magic or the build up of venom has become too much for their involuntary muscles: in these cases the victim’s heart will stop and they will die. Note that a character who has collapsed after being affected by the mask doppleganger’s poison can still see, hear and otherwise sense their surroundings: this makes the grisly fate of those victims who are promptly skinned best left unconsidered.
Habitat/Society: Mask doppleganger clans are most commonly found on the fringes of human society: they are particularly fond of replacing the entire population of a small village, or taking over a noble’s summer home. In such cases they usually act under the direction of their Chiefs, who are clever enough to place themselves in relatively inconspicuous roles.
Mask dopplegangers may also be found in the service of more powerful evil creatures, particularly those with great magical or supernatural power. In these cases they demand payment in the form of plentiful human meat and many skins to wear, though they also accumulate gems or artwork, which they appear to value mainly for their beauty. If the group has an Oratore, they will also usually require scrolls as part of their payment.
Any group of mask dopplegangers is 30% likely to have 1-4 young in addition to their determined numbers. These young have only 1 Hit Die and inflict only 1 point of damage with their claws. They lack both the paralytic poison and chemical excretion abilities of the mature mask doppleganger and cannot wear a skin. As a consequence, they are kept hidden by the adults: often near to any prisoners the group may be holding for later consumption.
Ecology: Mask dopplegangers are carnivores. They will stoop to scavenging in particularly difficult times but prefer their meat as fresh as possible. They can draw sustenance from any sort of meat but prefer to consume that of intelligent creatures, often holding raucous debates about the merits of the meat of their various prisoners (usually in earshot of the prisoners). Due to their dietary preference, they have little significant interaction with the more general ecology of an area.
Mask doppleganger Chiefs have 4+1 Hit Dice. Chiefs always have a 12 Morale, as do any mask dopplegangers fighting alongside them (without a Chief these creatures have a Morale of only 8). Mask dopplegangers groups have one Chief per six normal mask dopplegangers (for example, 6-11 = 1 Chief, 12-17 = 2 Chiefs, 18-20 = 3 Chiefs).
Mask doppleganger Oratores have 3 Hit Dice. Oratores have a 14 Morale, as do any mask dopplegangers fighting alongside them. It is 70% likely that a group of mask dopplegangers will have an Oratore. This chance increases to 100% if the group has two or more Chiefs. There will never be more than one Oratore in a group. Oratores have the spell-casting ability of a 3rd-level priest and a 3rd-level wizard. They have access to the wizard schools of Alteration, Enchantment/ Charm, Illusion/ Phantasm and Invocation/ Evocation. They may use any spell from the priest spheres of All, Charm, Divination, Protection and Thought. They also have access to any scrolls the mask doppleganger group has accumulated.
By Adam Windsor
Last Modified: March 01, 2014, 20:06:00 GMT
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