Never initiate a battle that you haven’t prepared for and researched extensively. A battlefield needs to have plenty of cover, lots of line-of-sight breaks, and preferably numerous traps. When you cannot set up the battle, it is usually wise to flee, as a shapechangers strengths lie in devastating ambushes, not in a prolonged fight. If the enemy is not crippled and dying in the first assault, retreat to try again later. Back against the wall, keep using misdirection to create opportunities for disguise for sowing confusion in enemies ranks, hopefully a gap in the defenses will present itself.
F: The canned meatheads you are likely to meet on the front line of combat will be tricky if not impossible to take head on. It is best to trick them into ambushes and traps, or to bypass them entirely using disguise.
T: Slippery thieves are watching and looking for the same hiding places and distractions you are. They are the most likely enemies to spot your back-stabs before you plunge the knife in. Distract them with puzzles and traps they must spend time disarming and disguise yourself as them to take advantage of their naturally paranoid behavior to get in close to their less scrupulous allies. They will have trouble hurting you unless you let your guard down.
R: Avoid becoming a pincushion target for these glorified arrow carriers. Stay out of open lines of sight, something you should be doing already, and use distractions and cover to move in close. Aim for the bowstring on the back-swing of the knife you put in their back.
W: Spellslingers are a delicious target if you can get close. They go down fast and with the right magic, they can stop your shape changing in its tracks. Study their allies and copy the one most likely to defend them in a fight, impersonate that ally, and twist the knife when you get it in. Make sure the wound bleeds so they are too distracted to tag you with spellfire as you retreat.
A Quisling’s Seamless Disguises
Shifting faces like other creatures change clothes is the truest expression of creativity and cunning. Knowing the perfect disguise and designing a plan that destroys your enemies from the least expected vantage is sweeter still. Do not let pride or identity limit your options and always have a fallback plan. No genius is so stunning that the advice below cannot be spurred to even greater heights by the manicured list below.
- Never be caught without a fallback disguise. Create and maintain a portfolio of plausible identities.
- Invest in hidden weaponry. Train shape shifting around them so you could do so unconscious or sleeping.
- Learn or purchase the ability to create smokescreens and magical darkness.
- Practice your improvisation skills and remember that even a poor bluff is better than a moment’s hesitation. Trying to catch a liar takes a moment’s thought, hesitation you can use to strike first, but if you hesitate, it is your opponent who can launch the first attack.
- Do not attack influential targets without proper research. More important targets require exponentially more study and practice.
- Have a plan to kill everyone you meet. You never know when a hostile shapeshifter may make a move or a small tell gives away your secret.
- Do not ever explain the full limitations of your shifting abilities. Cultivate rumors about the existence of flaws and unavoidable tiks.
- Invisibility and illusion magic are natural allies to shapeshifters but many abilities that will reveal your disguises also functions on these effects as well. Conjuration of physical barriers and teleportation spells can, with the right mind, accomplish the same distracting results.
- When setting up a lair, it is always best to nest multiple layers together, related to multiple layers of disguises. Find metal eating beasts you can plausibly keep and train them to seek out silver.
- Makeup kits are a mundane tool you should excel at, well enough that your enemies should not be sure whether you can shift or just make exceedingly good disguises. A clay foundation can be secretly applied to the hands or face when social niceties require you touch silver.
- Any quisling worth their salt will sprinkle traps, cover, and secret passages throughout their enterprises.
- Do not kill the targets you replace. Keep them comfortable but contained so that if discovered, you have a bargaining chip and one last distraction.
- Other shapeshifters are your friends. Take turns visiting each other’s enterprises and providing alibis so hunters have trouble pinning you down by activity.
- While it may seem redundant, having alternate means of changing your form both grants an excuse for your activity but also expands your repertoire.
- Hoard magic items, henchmen, and abilities that increase your versatility in copying class and racial abilities to perfect your disguises.
- Do not assume you will never be outed as a doppelganger. Practice your response and escapes for when it does happen.
- Cultivate powerful customers and partners that benefit enough from your service to not be bothered if you are revealed. Do not lose both your identities and cash flow when exposed.
- Pranks and tricks make doppelgangers out to be more harmless than dangerous. Play them on others and take credit for them so if you are revealed, people think you a fool rather than evil.
- Never transform into something easily killed or trapped by your enemies.
- Secrets and rumors are the knives and poisons of the social world. Keep appraised of the weaknesses and secrets of enemies, allies, and the powerful.
With these tips in your repertoire of skills, your disguises will be flawless. Let your plots flow and weave together beyond lesser fools comprehension.