The Changeling race in D&D 3.5 has a history defined as

They evolved through the union of doppelgangers and humans, eventually becoming a separate race distinct from either ancestral tree.

In D&D 3.5, there is also a list of Changeling Racial Feats, including but not limited to Racial Emulation:

Racial Emulation (Races of Eberron, p. 110)


You can emulate a humanoid more closely with your minor change shape ability.

Prerequisite: Changeling

Now, can a player character with the Doppelganger race take any of those feats, Racial Emulation in particular?

RaW, I'd say probably not, but seeing as how the player is choosing a LA +4 race for the superior version of Change Shape and continuous Detect Thoughts, I'd be inclined to allow it - since we're talking about feat(s) to support an ability the Doppelganger has a better version of than Changelings.

Thoughts on balance? Would house-ruling to allow this wreak havoc with game balance? Is there something in the rules that would actually make this legal without needing house-rules?

  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ Given that you know RAW answer already, what criteria will you use to judge answers good or bad? Now it looks like you ask for opinions, and that's poorly suited for the Q&A format of this site. \$\endgroup\$
    – Mołot
    Sep 11, 2022 at 18:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ I was mostly looking for opinions on balance, but also potential "broken" consequences of allowing it. And very interested in hearing if any rules contradict my current understanding of RaW. \$\endgroup\$
    – From
    Sep 11, 2022 at 18:16
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    \$\begingroup\$ Hmm, it seems the Cabinet Trickster Prestige Class provides the Doppelganger qualities in five levels to a Changeling (LA +0) character. That will probably solve my use-case. Should I leave the question up or delete it? \$\endgroup\$
    – From
    Sep 11, 2022 at 19:47
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    \$\begingroup\$ I think you may leave it but edit it to make it clearly not opinion based but about balance. But as there are no answers and question score is not negative, you will lose nothing (except 10 rep) by deleting it. \$\endgroup\$
    – Mołot
    Sep 11, 2022 at 19:53

1 Answer 1


The case for disallowing doppelgangers here—beyond pure RAW—is that changelings are somehow “closer” to humanoid races, because they have some genetic heritage from these creatures. Doppelgangers are purely alien, aberrations rather than humanoids, and despite their ability to mimic humanoids, they aren’t remotely like them. Changelings are definitely humanoid, and have human (and maybe elven and dwarven and so on) heritage.

But none of that has anything to do with balance. Balance-wise, no, there is no reason why this would be any kind of a problem for doppelgangers. It doesn’t become a reason, in itself, to choose doppelganger—changeling is far superior for that—and it isn’t something I’d expect every doppelganger ever to select, any more than every changeling does. Racial Emulation is a potentially-powerful feat—it is not impossible to cause problems at the table with it, as you get into corner cases—but being a doppelganger just makes you worse at everything you might use it for.


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