Doppelganger (starting race)

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Doppelgangers are a new race added in SLASH'EM, different from other races in that they have the intrinsic ability to change form at will.

Racial benefits and restrictions

Doppelgangers can polymorph into any of the permited 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 and sacrificial purposes, so you will be considered a cannibal for eating a human.

Doppelgangers can be either neutral or chaotic. They can be any role except 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 low maximum charisma is of little concern, as the player can simply polymorph into a foocubus or nymph whenever high charisma is needed – both are guaranteed 18 charisma and are easy to polymorph into due to their low base levels. 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.

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

Roles

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

Physical roles benefit greatly from the doppelgangers' high strength.

  • Monks benefit greatly from the doppelgangers' 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. Not to mention, their max unaided int/wis of 20, which is as good as elves.

  • Healers and priests benefit greatly from doppelgangers' high constitution making them better fighters and their Wisdom is good enough to cast spells effectively.
  • Necromancer and wizards enjoy the high strength and constitution, which are way better than elves would have with the same int/wis of 20.

Polyself

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 into

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 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{\text{Monster level} - \text{Your level}}{5}

Effects of polymorphing

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 armor, 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.

Unpolymorphing

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 doppelganger

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 into

Before gaining polymorph control

  • Medium-sized humanoids can wear all armor and use weapons.
    • Hill orcs are guaranteed at level 2, and are strong monsters
    • Barrow wights are guaranteed at level 3, and can additionally drain levels.
    • Human mummies are inediate and normal speed, although not guaranteed until level 6. They make a good form if you want to wait around an altar and sacrifice. Human mummies have greater carrying capacity than their elven counterparts, and are available at the same level.
    • Salamanders (guaranteed at level 8) are humanoid with good AC and speed, and have 2 weapon attacks, a fire touch, and a fire crushing attack.
    • 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. Mind flayers will not be stoned when attacking a cockatrice; the tentacle attack is instead turned off.
  • 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.
    • Spined devils have 18 speed (almost as fast as speed boots), are inediate, have resistances to fire, poison, and level-drain, have good natural AC, and hit fairly hard - this is a guaranteed form at level 5. It is strictly better either the elf or dwarf mummy, unless you are working with prayer (the spined devil is a major demon). They cannot wear suits, shirts or cloaks, but can wear other armor.
    • 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 record if you kill the shopkeeper without having him/her become angry with you due to not waking up).
    • Mariliths, guaranteed at 7, have normal speed, decent base AC, and attack 5 times. The multiple attack makes demon gating very effective.
  • 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. 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.
    • If you're trapped by a single monster, chickatrices are guaranteed at 4 and will stone an attacking monster. However, they have extremely low base HP, can carry very little, and are slow, so they should only be used as an instakill in case of emergency.
  • Gargoyles and winged gargoyles can sit and lay eggs that will hatch has gargoyles; winged gargoyles cannot wear body armor but normal ones can. Both forms also have excellent natural AC.
  • Other oviparous monsters can provide some highly useful pets via egg laying, especially in the early game. Rhaumbusun, guaranteed at level 2, are weak and slow but very effective at paralysing enemies which can help in scoring easy kills.
  • Soldier ants are guaranteed at level 3, and as pets, can if anything be almost too effective - they can often close in, kill and devour weak foes in the time taken for an unhasted player to make even a single move. Creating an army may be tempting, but this can lead to nutrition problems if you can't reach corpses in time. Spawning 2 or 3 is generally more than sufficient.
  • Death dogs are guaranteed at level 2 and are fairly powerful. Their carry capacity is fairly limited though, so they're not good travel forms if you have a lot of things that you want to keep with you.
  • Unicorns are guaranteed at level 4. They have high speed and a decent attack, and can use #monster to remove some bad effects.
  • Mumakil are guaranteed at level 5. They have comparatively very strong attacks, but somewhat low speed. Especially good if you are fast or, better still, very fast.
  • Leocrottas are guaranteed at level 6. They are moderately fast and quite powerful, although unable to use any weapons or armor.

After gaining polymorph control

Main article: Polymorph control

Once you have obtained polymorph control, a world of powerful choices is open to you, including crystal golems, fire vampires, vorpal jabberwocks, and the nigh-invincible giant shoggoth.

Sources