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ID: 220


December 4, 2005, 2:47 pm

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Michael Jotne Slayer (3x)

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The Demon Mirror


Two characters, one player, and no way to tell which is the real one.

For dynamic effect, I will present this part of the plot as If I were running an adventure and you are a fighter. However, keep in mind that the setting and the player can be as diverse as you want.

“With the knowledge that the evil mage has been defeated, you decide to separate from you’re party and see what kind of treasures await you in the various rooms of his castle. You walk down a dimly lit corrider and into the room ahead of you. The room has a dry parched smell about it and there is various furniture in the room.”

“As you take a step inside, the torch is knocked out of you’re hands by a fighter and the face of you’re assailant is lost to the stuggle at hand. The fighter is every bit as capable as you are, and returns each blow for blow.”

“After a tense struggle for you’re life, the fighter runs out of the room and through the back door of the house. You are badly wounded, sporting gashes and cuts all over from the tense struggle, and realizing that healing is more important than catching this dark figure, you return to you’re party for healing.”

“You inform the rest of the party of the fighter in the other room and you decide to stay with the party while you go room to room searching for treasure just in case he returns.”

“A little later, you are in a well lit room with the rest of your party, searching a barrel in the northern corner of the room for anything that you might find of value. As you are searching the barrel, you burst in through the door to the south and see an imposter of yourself looking through a barrel in the northern corner of the room. What do you do?”

(you might want to read that last part again, just in case you were caught off gaurd the first time)

OK, so, behind the scenes, what really happened is the fighter walked alone into a room with a demon mirror, a legendary artifact that creates a false duplicate of a person, complete with equiptment. The mirror demon takes an adventurer’s exact form, complete with items, equiptment, knowledge, skills, abilities, and anything else that defines that character, but the demon is also evil.

There is a struggle, and depending on how the fight goes either the adventurer or the demon wins, returning to the party as that player.

The real beauty here, is that you always make the player think that he/she won the fight and that the unseen figure ran away (although he could be playing either the person or the demon). Later when the player has returned to the party, you tell the player that while he is doing something completely unrelated, that he enters the room to see an imposter of himself in the room with the party.

Understand that while the demon knows who he is, that he is also going to act exactly like the real player in order to prevent discovery. Only when nobody is watching would he do something uncharacteristic of his copy. In other words, players would only see the effects of demon exercising his free will, but they would never catch him on their own.
This is perfect for two reasons.

1. There is no metagaming. Since nobody actually knows who is who, then it isn’t possible for characters to metagame and unfairly discover the identity of the demon.

2. Since even the player himself is not aware of who is the real him, and who is the imposter, there is an actual suspense created by the real life mystery of who is who, something that can be hard to do sometimes.

If both copies of the player are allowed freedom, then during the night, strange things start to happen. First somebody is missing a magical pendant. Then somebody else finds the water in their canteen poisoned ect. The players know that one of the two is sabotaging the group, but they don’t know who.

On one hand, if they let both act freely, bad things will keep happening. On the other hand, if they tie them both up, they are down not one player, but two.

(Now I have given you the main Idea, I will talk about how to handle the situation as a whole and keeping everybody happy)

Now, I think that it is important here to actually use the player reactions govern the characters that they act out. So in other words, when a player goes, “HUH?” have the character do so as well.

Sometimes a player will have trouble with the concept of roleplaying such a thing. By sometimes, I really mean always. In order to avoid the problem, it is necessary to keep presenting the player with the scenario again and again from his new perspective.

(For example,: the player might say that he wants to draw his sword. I say, “You hear somebody behind you draw a sword. As you turn around, you see an imposter of yourself wielding a weapon at you. You recognize this as the person who ran off earlier, but he seems healed now. You realize that while you may have won before, that it was just luck that you were the victor and not he. What do you want to do”

It is espescially important that you re-discribe the actions that the “Imposter” took, and keep asking the player what he would like to do in response.

Meanwhile, the other players can act as themselves. You would tell them that there are two duplicates of the same character, and that while one of them must be an imposter, that it is immediately impossible to tell which one is which.

I like to keep it up for a while. Let players really react to things. Then I give them a quest to find out the identity, usually having them run a mission for a high level cleric, for the exchange of having the true identity detected. It should be noted that the players themselves should not be of high enough level to discern one from the other without help, but you can call it off whenever.

A good Idea is to present the entrance of the second duplicate as the last thing that happens in the adventure. Sort of a cliffhanger for everybody when the second fighter comes in and says “He is an imposter”.

Then you can talk to the individual player at a little more length about what has happened (without telling them which character is which), and give them some time to cope with the idea so that you don’t spend the entire adventure time putting out the absolutely magnificant forest fire that you just created.

*This was edited after talking a little to Mourngrym*

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Comments ( 30 )
Commenters gain extra XP from Author votes.

October 19, 2005, 14:41
One more thing. You should only do this with a maturee roleplayer. Immature roleplayers will often be unwilling to give up that sense of control.
October 19, 2005, 15:26
Ok. First, what would make a single player go off on their own after a battle to come into a dark room in an 'evil wizard's' home?

While I like the concept of it, I love throwing curve balls at my group, I don't feel it is plausible the way it is described. I love the concept, just not the way it was delivered. I feel it needs more background into the item and possible setting then a description of how the fight fought himself and then found himself in another room with his party. What does the mirror look like, how was it made, why was it made?

The response anyone in my group would be, without prior knowledge of it from me, would be. "What? Wait did you just say I walked into the room? I am in the room." Which then would cause a five minute debate on what really transpired.

I think you definately eed to pick the right player. I have five players in my group and only two of them could pull that off.

My addition would be this. Instead of beating the evil badguy wizard. During the fight, have a spell go off and the entire party is seperated. Wizard isn't destroyed, he is still there but gearing up to get right of the pests he has placed through his house. Could have been an accident, could have been planned. One of those who you choose before hand ends up walking into a room with a wall or a very large mirror. The person enters and sees themself. I would explain how the difference in the mirror is slight but nearly the same. Colors and textures seem off. Then when they turn to leave, have the reflection in the mirror do something different to catch their eye. The person walks to inspect it, if they touch it then bam... if not, have it reach out and touch them. Battle ensues between the two and one of them runs off through the castle. At this point tell them they feel oddly detached but it could be due to having to fight themself. A chase ensues. Have them meet up with a member of the party or two. have the others leave the room, or call a break and talk to them seperately. They meet have both people think its the real one. Then pull the rest aside and meet with the other one. Make both groups think the one with them is real. If there is confusion tell the person as far as you know this is what happened. When the two groups meet, an interesting fight should happen with the bad one claiming the others with the real character are also fake and its a ploy by the wizard.

I realize I went into far more detail than I wanted to. A plot like this I realy don't see a good way to detail it where it is impartial without making it seem like a module.
Voted MoonHunter
October 19, 2005, 16:44
Two thumbs up. Many people list this kind of plot, but give no inkling on how to run it. The presentation of this kind of plot is key: preserving the "secret" and balancing for fairness.
Voted CaptainPenguin
October 19, 2005, 21:41
"I'm Bizarro Stormy!"
"I'm regular Stormy!"
"I'm Bizarro Stormy!"
"I'm regular Stormy!"

April 22, 2008, 17:25
Three years have passed, and I have still not understood the reference.
November 19, 2017, 20:37
sealab 2021....
Voted Iain
October 20, 2005, 7:22
A very good item and one that would be interesting to put in to use with the right person. Some things I thought of:
- Maybe the "evil mage" who they have just defeated is actually the evil demon twin of an ordinary mage. A prominent mage could have obtained this mirror, not knowing what it was and then, when his evil twin came out, the evil twin won. The PCs could have been sent to investigate why this formerly respected mage has suddenly started doing illegal and dark things. When the whole mirror episode starts to come out one of them will hopefully one of them will put two and two together.
- If an evil necromancer gets affected by the mirror is the demon that is created "good" (which would mean he was hated by the necromancer) or "evil" (in which case the two of them could potentially team up!)?
October 20, 2005, 8:48
Ok, so what would happen if an evil person looked into the mirror? Would a good twin pop out? It is the whole chaos theory after all.
Voted Dragon Lord
October 20, 2005, 8:58
Reads like the effect you get from the old AD&D Mirror of Opposition so the Demon Mirror could be a variation on that, although I do agree with Mourngryman that it could use a little more explanation - perhaps you should write up and post the item

My only gripe is that it kind of relies on the party being split up (and when have you EVER seen a party split up voluntarily) - not too much of a problem though since even a half-decent GM should be able to engineer this if he really has to

A variation: The demon copy doesn't immediately attack, but instead slips away and heads back to town. He then starts the traditional demonic crime spree (i.e. well into Jack the Ripper territory here) and, of course, our hapless hero is positively identified as the culprit. You now have the seeds of a nice little murder mystery.

Overall - an interesting and useful idea - 4/5
October 20, 2005, 9:03
Three things. First, you should realize that the demon mirror is only the means to an end. The real reason I came up with this was because I wanted a way to hove two copies of a character, and the character not know which was which.

The item itself is very common. It is the presentation that is the key. It is pointless for example to have a clone of that person while letting everybody know who the real bad-guy is. This is the reason that I made this a plot submission and not an item submission, because HOW the copy came to be does not matter. What happened does.

As for the whole party separation thing, you could do this in somebody's house as well. I have seen a party split up again and again in a house that they happened to know was uninhabited by the host. And again, there are other countless ways to orchestrate the same effect.

Also, the demon would still be evil even if the adventurer was evil, but keep in mind that just because two people are evil does not mean that they get along. The demon has his own agendas, and on the top of his list is the removal of his clone (but only if nobody is around to see it, and only if the chances of victory are assured). So while he would fight with the group like normal, and be as useful as his counterpart (keep in mind that most of the time the same player is actually controlling him) he still wants to erase the evidence of himself being a copy.

You still have the exact same scenario, just with an evil party and an evil demon.

Or who knows, maybe you could have a good demon. You're choice.
October 20, 2005, 9:12
Well, Dragon Lord, your variation spoils the main focus of the plot - the player confronting himself, and the mystery as to which of the two is which. If the murders happen, and one player was with the party at the time, it is clear that the OTHER is the culprit, no mystery here. There has to be confusion as to who is who.
Dragon Lord
October 20, 2005, 10:02
Not necessarily EchoMirage - depends how you run it

The trick is the run the crime spree over a period of time, perhaps a LONG period of time - let it build up over the course of several game weeks (or months, or years) - after all no group, however close, stays together ALL the time

Have the atrocities happen in the 'down time' between scenarios, when the group splits up to do all the mundane things of life - this works best if the PCs all have interests independent of the group - e.g. clerics would have temples to run (or at least temple duties to perform), wizards might have to spend a lot of time researching magical effects, etc

If done right (and with a little bit luck), it should be possible to build a really good head of paranoia, even with the PC who's been copied - after all, do you remember EXACTLY what you were doing at 2:33AM a week last Tuesday? - are you really SURE you were snuggled up with that tavern girl? - and doesn't the latest victim look an awful lot like her?

All it takes is a little imagination and a group that is prepared to role-play
October 20, 2005, 17:09
I think this is a very good plot, with the Mirror being more incedental than self important. I only say this as there is no explanation as to where the mirror came from, what it looks like, or even how it could be used other than to spawn a single demon copy.

What if more than one person looks into the mirror? Can there be more than one evil demon duplicate?

Could destroying the mirror also destroy the demon?
Voted Mourngrymn
November 6, 2005, 8:44
I realized I never voted on this. Contrary to my comments it is still a good and decent post.
Voted Dream
December 5, 2005, 18:45
I think Nobody's and DragonLord's comments of October 20 are the combination. Add some classic murder mystery to the classic roleplaying scenario with an evil twin. There is real potential there, I think. Works best with an experienced -- and perhaps bored -- band of players, since it is different.
Michael Jotne Slayer
December 18, 2005, 21:03
Going to use this soon. Great piece Nobody.
Michael Jotne Slayer
February 15, 2006, 12:34
It went terrific. My players just didn't get it, they kept trying to "cheat the system" and test the PC and his mirror twin. I did some small modification to make it fit my campaign. In the end they actually killed their companion mistaking him for the demon after their "tests" to discover the fake. They still don't know what they're travelling with, neither does the PC/Demon.
Ah GM'ing is fun when you get to use fine plots like this Nobody, thank you.
February 15, 2006, 15:43
That is awesome Mike...
August 11, 2009, 14:59
I want to try this one out.
MJS did you let the PC who was replaced make choices for the demon PC?

Did you explain the demon mirror to them when they encountered the double or did they not know where the imposter came from?

Did they examine the demon mirror?
Michael Jotne Slayer
February 18, 2010, 17:26
They did not find the mirror afterwards, no point in throwing them a red herring. Did not explain anything either, they had to figure it out for themselves.
Voted Strolen
April 21, 2008, 21:33
Thanks to MJS for using it and letting us know how it went!

I really enjoyed the confusion I got just reading it so couldn't imagine it happening for real. I am sure we have all done similiar things with the duplicate or a dream or whatever, but this is the best description on how to run the confusion I have seen!
Michael Jotne Slayer
April 23, 2008, 20:01
Agreed, it's a good piece, the options are vast with this one.
Barbarian Horde
May 31, 2008, 11:55
(Fighter walks into a room and sees himself looking through a barrel of stuff).

"Now neither of us will be virgins!"
Voted Peppe Pepis
August 7, 2009, 15:34
Hey this is a great submission, with a great idea! The duplication thing itself isn't new at all (doppleganger in 1st ed. d&d basically offers the same situation) but the way you propose to manage it is awesome!
Voted axlerowes
August 11, 2009, 15:00
Really solid idea, I hope to use it soon.
Voted celticring
February 16, 2010, 16:58
A solid if confusing idea has been done but I like how you set this up, limiting Meta gaming and adding an element of shook. I do however believe that the players may not always enjoy the loss of character control
Michael Jotne Slayer
February 18, 2010, 17:24
They have perfect char control, the player just needs to get the gist of it.
Voted Michael Jotne Slayer
October 17, 2010, 9:45

I voted again on this, and gave it an HoH.

Michael Jotne Slayer
March 1, 2011, 10:39

Still a favorite, plug&play, easy to modify. BUMP and HoH.

Voted valadaar
May 9, 2016, 13:19
This is an interesting plot. I like how you make it hard for the player to sort out who's who.

Good stuff!

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