Doppelganger (starting race)

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Racial benefits and restrictions Edit

Doppelgangers can polymorph into any of the permitted monsters with the extended command #youpoly, consuming some power; however, until they get polymorph control, the attempt may end in an undesired monster. They are still considered human for eating purposes, so you will be considered a cannibal for eating a human.

Doppelgangers can be either Neutral or Chaotic. They can be any role exept Samurai, Knight, and Yeoman. From an attribute perspective, at their maximum they have high strength and all other stats except Charisma, which strangely caps at 15 (even lower than that of orcs). The following table outlines their maximum (unaided) attribute levels. However, to make up for their excellent combat stats, Doppelgangers are restricted in two-weapon combat.

Strength Dexterity Constitution Intelligence Wisdom Charisma
Doppelganger 18/** 20 20 20 20 15


The Doppelganger's high stats and useful ability to polymorph makes it an excellent choice for any role.

Physical roles benefit greatly from the Doppelganger's high Strength; however, it is arguably a bad idea to use a Barbarian, Rogue, or Tourist since Doppelgangers have low charisma and those roles already get large penalties in shopping, making matters much worse. On the other hand, the price-increases are so large for those roles that they might already make stealing from shops the best option, in which case the Doppelganger's low charisma is irrelevant.

  • Monks benefit greatly from the Doppelganger's high stats and their ability to polymorph.
  • Undead Slayers benefit greatly from the high strength; however, they are unable to polymorph into undead, receiving penalties.

Magic roles are not a bad option either, since the high Constitution makes them more durable than the normal variants.

  • Healers and Priests benefit greatly from the Doppelganger's high Constitution, making them better fighters, and their Wisdom is good enough to cast spells effectively.
  • Necromancers and Wizards enjoy the the high Strength and Constitution if those Mages prefer to use their daggers over their spells.


There are a few conditions which must be satisfied before you can #youpoly. Obviously, you must not be wearing an amulet of unchanging. If you are in your normal doppelganger form but have less than 20 energy, you won't be able to polymorph. (Flame mages, ice mages, and lycanthropes have different requirements. For example, flame mages can polymorph into a red dragon for free if they are wearing red dragon scale mail.)

If you use the #youpoly command while polymorphed, you will return to doppelganger form. This does not consume any energy or nutrition. Flame mages and ice mages can also do this, but lycanthropes need energy to rehumanize.

Otherwise, you will be prompted for the type of monster you wish to polymorph into. Doppelgangers gain intrinsic polymorph control at level 9. The prompt is Become what kind of monster? if you have polymorph control, and Attempt to become what kind of monster? otherwise.

What you cannot polymorph intoEdit

As in vanilla, you will never be permitted to polymorph into any of the following monsters. If you select any of them (or something that doesn't exist), you'll have another chance to choose a monster to polymorph into, up to five tries.

  • Unique named monsters
  • High-powered angelic beings (movanic devas, monadic devas, astral devas, Angels, ki-rin, Archons, Planetars, and Solars).
  • Humans, including werecreatures but not including Keystone Kops
  • Valid player races: doppelgangers, drow, dwarves, elves, gnomes, hobbits, humans, orcs, and vampires. This rule only bans the precise monsters mentioned. Others of the same species, like woodland-elves and dwarf kings, are OK to polymorph into. You can choose to polymorph into your own race ("human" or "doppelganger") - this guarantees feeling like a new doppelganger.
  • Ghosts, shadows, and shades
  • Water demons
  • Djinn
  • Kraken
  • Chameleons and sandestins
  • Nazgul
  • Erinys
  • All types of gnoll

Undead slayers' gods will not allow them to change into an undead monster. If they have polymorph control, the attempt was clearly deliberate and they take an alignment penalty of -5 and abuse their wisdom. If it was a successful attempt by an inexperienced doppelganger, there's no penalty, but not much point either since it won't work.

Even if the monster you've chosen is OK to polymorph into, it may be too powerful for you to take its form yet. If you have polymorph control, or have eaten the monster, there is no problem - you have a 1/20 chance of feeling like a new doppelganger, and otherwise will become the monster you want to become. Otherwise, the probability that you will take the form you want is dependent on the monster's level and your own. If you fail, you will turn into a random monster (or feel like a new doppelganger) instead. The probability of failure is:

\frac{Monster Level - Your level}{5}

Effects of polymorphingEdit

When you successfully use the #youpoly command as a doppelganger, you use 20 energy points. If you actually changed form, as opposed to feeling like a new doppelganger, you use an additional 5 energy points per level of your new form. If you don't have enough energy for this, the excess is made up with nutrition points. If you are a doppelganger or lycanthrope, you will drop your body armour, cloak, and shirt rather than breaking out of them, unless they are cursed or beneath a cursed piece of armor.

Polymorphing into a strong monster sets your strength to 18/** while you are polymorphed. Polymorphing into a stoning-resistant monster cures stoning, polymorphing into a sickness-resistant monster cures sickness, and polymorphing into a fire elemental, fire vortex, or green slime cures sliming.

When you are polymorphed, your physical stats are temporary. You cannot exercise or abuse stats [citation needed] other than wisdom while polymorphed, and any changes to your stats will be lost when you return to doppelganger form.

Changes to your intelligence and wisdom are also lost when you return, and if the exercise counter is checked leading to a message like "You feel strong! You must have been exercising" while you're polymorphed, only your polymorphed stats change.


You will remain in your polymorphed form for 500-999 turns, multiplied by your level divided by your new form's level, and multiplied by 2 if you are a doppelganger and have changed into a monster you've eaten. You can prolong this time indefinitely by wearing an amulet of unchanging.

If you run out of hit points while polymorphed, you will change back to your normal form (unless you have the unchanging intrinsic, of course). However, if you die in any other way (e.g. turning to stone or being hit by a death ray), it will be permanent.

If you revert to your normal form by the #youpoly command or because your polymorph time ran out, you will come back with at least as many hit points as you had before you polymorphed (barring a few obscure actions like eating cursed royal jelly, which knock down your real HP even though you are polymorphed). The way natural healing seems to work while polymorphed is that if your polymorphed form is at below max HP, it will heal, and if it is at max HP, your real doppelganger HP will heal, all at the normal rate as affected by regeneration and healthstones.

However, if you revert because your polymorphed form died, you lose half your real HP. Non-doppelgangers may also lose half their real HP if they fail a constitution check when their polymorph time runs out.

If your polymorphed form was killed by a monster or explosion, you may also have a number of HP equal to your polymorphed form's level deducted from both your current and maximum HP. This penalty will be extracted every time if you have polymorph control and 1/3 of the time if you do not.

Feeling like a new doppelgangerEdit

If you are a doppelganger, you will not experience all the typical effects of polymorphing into a new version of yourself. For example, your level and hit points will not change, because if they did, then repeatedly polymorphing into a human would be abusive. Here's what will happen. There is a 1/10 chance that you will change sex. All your maximum stats, except for intelligence and wisdom, will change by a random amount ranging from -2 to +2, and your current stats will be adjusted in proportion to your max stats. E.g. if your strength was 15 (max 16), and your max strength went up to 18, your new strength would be 18*15/16. You will no longer be hungry (your nutrition points will be set to a random value between 500 and 999). Sickness and stoning will be cured. Sliming will not be cured, but the sliming process will be restarted from the beginning.

Extremely low hit points and energy will be cured. After the polymorph, your HP and max HP will have a minimum value of 10, and your energy and max energy will have a minimum value equal to your experience level.

Polymorphing into a new version of yourself is permanent, and stats which go down as a result cannot be restored with a unicorn horn, because your max stats changed too.

Good things to polymorph intoEdit

Before gaining polymorph controlEdit

  • Medium-sized humanoids can wear all armor and use weapons.
    • Hill orcs are guaranteed at level 2, and are strong monsters
    • Elf and dwarf mummies are reasonably fast, and do not have to eat, making them useful if you want to wait around and sacrifice at an altar. Spined devils are also inediate, but caution is advised if non-chaotic and you wish to pray.
    • Doppelgangers can start polymorphing into mind flayers with a reasonable chance of success at level 6 or 7; the brain-eating attack will make short work of most monsters, but is useless against those without heads or brains, and downright dangerous against monsters with passive attacks. Note that mind flayers will not be stoned by attacking cockatrices; the tentacle attack is instead turned off.
  • Although not guaranteed until level 8, a level 5-7 character has a reasonable chance of polymorphing into a basilisk. They are essentially stronger cockatrices, with the same passive attacks. As such, they can be very handy for getting through the Gnomish mines. Note that nutrition can be a problem, since you can't eat statues. Also, the similar asphynx may look appealing, being faster, but it can carry very few items, and cannot pick any up at all.
  • Blue jellies have a powerful passive attack and are a guaranteed polymorphable form at level 4. Unfortunately, they are also immobile and their lack of carrying capacity will result in nutriton burn if you do not first drop ALL of your equipment. If a non-cold resistant monster attacks you in melee they will take damage and heal you, possibly also causing you to split creating tame blue jellies. This can be useful for survival in the Gnomish mines, and the tame jellies can be abandoned and killed after becoming untame as a source of cold resistance.
  • Gargoyles and Winged gargoyles can sit and lay eggs that will hatch as gargoyles; winged gargoyles cannot wear body armor, but normal ones can. Both forms also have excellent natural AC.
  • Baby dragons are guaranteed starting at level 4. They can lay eggs, which will then hatch tame. Unfortunately, the larger disparity between the base levels of baby and adult dragons in SLASH'EM makes getting pet dragons from baby dragons harder, although not impossible.
  • The hell hound pup and winter wolf cub forms are on occasion useful because of their breath attack, which will neither destroy boulder forts, nor boulders in Sokoban.
  • Demons have low natural AC, good attacks, and are a source of powerful pets through demon gating. The weaker demons become guaranteed polymorphable forms before a doppelganger gains intrinsic polymorph control at level 9 as well.
    • Chasmes can attack quickly and can repeatedly put foes to sleep. Great for killing shopkeepers (though this will come at the cost of -5 alignment if you kill the shopkeeper without having him/her become angry with you due to not waking up).

After gaining polymorph controlEdit

  • Giant shoggoths are about the most powerful form, making short work of just about any monster, including One-Eyed Sam. They are stoning resistant, can eat metal, are quite fast, and have teleport control. Unfortunately, they are also blind, and have no hands. Thus, they make poor traveling forms, but are excellent for problem-solving.
  • Crystal golems are too large to wear body armor, but intrinsically possess magic resistance, reflection, fire, cold, sleep, and shock resistance. They will always have 300 hp as well. While their melee attack only does the damage of your wielded weapon/bare-handed combat abilities, they also possess a random breath weapon, possibly including disintegration.
  • Skeletons are somewhat slow, but are reasonably strong, stoning resistant, have a good natural AC, and can wear all armor and use weapons. The slow speed can be offset by intrinsic speed or (better) speed boots.
  • Master mind flayers are stronger than normal mind flayers. Note, however, that in SLASH'EM they oddly have fewer brain-eating attacks than normal mind flayers. Besides them, Star vampire also provides multiple tentacle attacks, but drain life instead of intelligence. 
  • Dragons of any color have excellent defensive and offensive capabilities and by sitting they can lay eggs, which can then grow into pets.
  • Xorns and earth elementals have the ability to travel through walls. Stealing from shops is easy and escaping into the middle of nowhere to heal up is a great bonus.


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