During the opening scene of The Witcher: Blood Origin, we see Jaskier in the middle of a battle, as he sees a copy of himself on the battlefield. Of course, this surprised him because seeing another version of yourself would always surprise you. While we do know that this was actually Seanchaí, who took the form of Jaskier to catch his attention, the bard initially thought that it was a doppler. So, what are the dopplers in The Witcher?
Dopplers are shapeshifting monsters that can take the form of any person or beast they encounter as long as they don’t differ a lot in size. They don’t only copy the form of the person or beast but also their physical characteristics, personalities, skills, and behaviors without prior observation.
The fact that Jaskier thought that he had encountered a doppler was quite interesting, considering that these creatures did have the ability to make almost-perfect copies of other people and creatures. Of course, we know that Jaskier actually encountered an elf that had shapeshifting powers. Nevertheless, let’s look at what a doppler is and what it is capable of in the world of The Witcher.
What Is A Doppler In The Witcher?
One of the things that we know about The Witcher is that the different monsters and beasts that we see in the storyline were all taken by Andrzej Sapkowski from real-life European and even Western folklore. That means that most of the monsters that we see in the books, games, and Netflix series were all inspired by stories of creatures and beasts that we have read in the past.
In that regard, we were able to hear Jaskier say the name of a familiar monster during the events of The Witcher: Blood Origin. During the first few scenes of the series, Jaskier is in the middle of a battle in what could possibly be the present-day timeline of The Witcher. However, as he struggled to survive the battle, he saw a copy of himself on the battlefield, and he was obviously surprised by what he saw.
It was this copy of himself that was responsible for rescuing him from the battle because he was about to get killed by a human soldier. Time suddenly stopped right as the soldier was ready to split Jaskier’s head open with his axe. That was when he met the copy of himself, who he thought was a doppler but was actually just an elf named Seanchaí.
So, while we do know that this other Jaskier was an elf that magically took on Jaskier’s form, it was interesting to note that the bard thought that this was a monster called a doppler. But what is a doppler in The Witcher?
As mentioned, the monsters and beasts of The Witcher are taken straight out of European and Western folklore. In that regard, dopplers are monsters that are capable of producing doppelgangers, which you are probably familiar with. In real-life folklore, doppelgangers are spiritual copies of people and creatures. While dopplers are not spiritual in any way, they still have similarities with their folklore counterparts in many ways.
In The Witcher, dopplers are not spirits but are actually monsters. They are shapeshifting creatures that have the ability to take on the form of almost anything they encounter. In that regard, they use their powers of shapeshifting as a means of survival, especially when they know that they are threatened.
Normally, dopplers are kind and gentle creatures that aren’t aggressive in any way. In fact, their ability to change their appearance and copy a person or an animal is what allows them to survive, as dopplers are not as aggressive or as ferocious as most other monsters in the Continent.
They arrived during the time of the First Landing, which was just right after the Conjunction of the Spheres. The dopplers immediately inhabited a plateau near the Pontar Delta and took on the form of different animals so that they could blend in with their surroundings.
Human settlers eventually changed the way that the dopplers lived because they began hunting down the dopplers. That is why only a few dopplers survived in the wild during the time that the humans began dominating the Continent. The dopplers that survived decided to stay in cities like Novigrad so that they could live as humans, considering that it was easier to survive in plain sight than to hide in the wilds where they could be hunted down like rabid dogs.
While dopplers are generally kind, the fact that they had to live amongst humans changed them. The dangers they encountered when humans began hunting them down and the experiences they had while living alongside humans allowed some of them to develop wicked tendencies. For example, in the Netflix version of The Witcher, Cahir enlisted the help of an evil doppler that took the form of Mousesack so that he could get close to Ciri.
What Are The Powers Of A Doppler?
While not a lot of people have seen what a doppler looks like, they are actually hideous creatures in their natural states. They have long noses and bald heads. There are even some dopplers that are actually midgets, although that wasn’t the case in relation to the doppler that we saw in season 1 of The Witcher. Some dopplers have elongated limbs, tongues, and noses.
However, dopplers rarely remain in their natural forms because they have the capability to copy the form of another person or creature they encounter. As long as the person or creature is similar in size to them and is familiar to the doppler, they can take their form quite easily. Of course, as mentioned, they have to be similar in size, and that’s the reason why dopplers aren’t capable of copying the forms of creatures or monsters that are exceptionally large.
Dopplers are not only capable of copying the appearance of a person or creature precisely because they also acquire other physical features, such as the voice and language of the person. On top of that, they also acquire the physical behaviors, characteristics, and skills of the ones that they copy, although they aren’t capable of copying the memories of the person. We saw this in play during the events of season 1 of The Witcher when Ciri tricked the Mousesack doppelganger using memories that it didn’t have.
This shapeshifting ability is also so precise that the doppler doesn’t need to observe a person or creature prior to shifting into them to gain their behaviors and skills. This is something instinctive to them as they are able to become almost as strong and as skilled as the original person or monster without even observing them. And they can even change fragments of their bodies into weapons when copying a person.
As powerful as a doppler’s shapeshifting ability is, they do have weaknesses. They are unable to copy a person when they are touching silver. There is also the fact that any item created from their body would change into torn-out flesh if it loses contact with the rest of the doppler’s body. For example, if a doppler drops a sword that it made using its body, it will change back into the doppler’s flesh.