Changelings are a humanoid race who are distantly descended from doppelgangers and share their shapeshifting qualities. Their shapeshifting has led to them being used as spies and assassins, which has, in turn, led to them being mistrusted amongst the people of Khorvaire.
Changelings are commonly harmless, passive people and are uninterested in politics and social affairs. Due to their capricious ways of life, however, many people have come to distrust changelings, which has led to them becoming social recluses or more commonly has pushed them to create fake identities to escape persecution.
Having no culture of their own, changelings slip into other's societies and blend in. Rather than creating their own art and achievements, changelings are happy with claiming other societies' as their own. This nomadic lifestyle has led changelings to become exceptionally adaptable people. Changelings will not simply shapeshift into a new person but rather create a new whole one. Most changelings will set up a handful of personas so if one is compromised they can disappear and switch to one of their others. Their personas are incredibly realistic and have their own personality traits, backgrounds, and a network of friends. Changelings can be evasive and will often try to avoid confrontation or anything that will draw attention to themselves.
While changelings can look like anyone, they do have a true form. Their natural look can be scary to some due to their lack of detail and distinctive features. Their skin tone is always pale, either white or light gray, and they tend to have slender bodies with limbs slightly longer in proportion to other humanoids. They have large colorless eyes circled by thick black rings. Their hair color is most commonly a light shade of silver followed by platinum and blonde. In rarer cases, their hair can be pale shades of green, pink, and blue. Similar to elves, changelings lack body and facial hair.
However, most changelings are rarely seen in their true form and prefer to adopt all kinds of humanoid shapes, treating their appearance like others treat clothes. This includes gender.
Most changelings prefer to keep a low profile and often do not take passionate stances that would draw attention. However, changelings can be of any moral stance, and often readily adapt to the culture they are raised in.
Changelings have long been persecuted by other races, seen at best as tricksters and con-artists, at worst as thieves and assassins. Many people find it hard to trust changelings, and while their talents make them natural spies and criminals, in reality, a changeling is just as likely as any creature to turn to good or evil. Some changelings work hard to remove this stigma, but each time a changeling is caught robbing from a wealthy merchant or sneaking about where they are not welcome, it only perpetuates the stereotype.
In general, changelings are prudent and cautious, preferring to take risks only when they feel that their chances are good or the payoff is worth it. They appreciate the finer things in life and take great pleasure in the comforts of a wealthy lifestyle when they can obtain it. They avoid direct confrontation, preferring stealthy strikes and hasty retreats whenever possible. In conversation, they are soft-spoken but have a gift for drawing out more information than the other party usually plans to reveal.
Without a longstanding history or home of their own, changelings have a natural curiosity about the cultures of other races. Many strike out as adventurers to learn (and adopt) as much as they can.
Changelings' inborn abilities leave them uniquely suited to professions that rely on subterfuge or disguise:
- Assassins: Changeling assassins, thieves, and spies avoid detection by adopting the form of an unassuming commoner or trusted ally to get close to a target.
- Performers: Due to the persecution and mistrust of their race, many famous changeling performers (such as actors and acrobats) keep their true form hidden from their audience at all times.
- Diplomats: Changelings have a gift for languages and are quick to pick up the social cues and manners of other cultures.
All changeling names are unisex and are very short, usually one syllable.
Changelings live among humans, goblinoids, and other races, blending in among them and living in their shadow. They are commonly found in large cities, where their talents can be used as entertainers, government agents, or adventurers, but also for more criminal purposes. Some changelings live in stable communities where they are open about their true nature, while others live in nomadic communities that hide their ability to shapeshift from outsiders.
Many changelings take up one of three philosophical beliefs when it comes to their mutable forms and these philosophies guide many aspects of a changeling's day-to-day life:
- Passers are changelings who wish to fit in with conventional society and live life in only one form or at the least suppress their shape-changing abilities to better fit in with those around them. Other changelings will often view passers with contempt and use slang words such as "pretender" or "actor" to mock them.
- Becomers believe that to be a changeling is to possess many different shapes and often different identities and lives altogether. A becomer takes the concept of a dual life to a whole new degree and some will successfully live as several "different people" for many years.
- Seekers or "reality seekers" are convinced that a great truth exists that only the changelings can discover; they suppress their shapechanging abilities even more than passers and prefer to live or socialize with other changelings.
The changelings of Riedra receive far more respect than those that inhabit Khorvaire, owing to them being embraced by the Inspired. Any hopeful changeling can make their way to Riedra in search of acceptance. However, it comes at the price of losing ones' individuality as the Inspired specifically tutor changelings on how to relinquish all sense of individuality.
Most Riedran changelings loyally serve either the Thousand Eyes or the Iron Gate. Due to their devoted service to the Inspired, changelings are feared and distrusted in the other lands of Sarlona. This devotion is often exploited by dissident or outsider changelings. The dragons of Argonnessen, for example, use changelings to infiltrate the ranks of the Inspired and other nations often find changeling agents are better suited for operations in Riedra.
Due to their nature, changelings do not have much recorded history. It is thought that they are the result of interbreeding between humans and doppelgangers. However, it is also claimed that changelings originated first, and doppelgangers were twisted changelings created by the daelkyr.
Changelings have been a playable race in the 3.5, 4th, and 5th editions of Dungeons & Dragons. They are an exclusive race to the Eberron campaign setting, being introduced in the main Eberron sourcebook for each edition and first featured in the Eberron Campaign Setting book in 2004.
However, in 3.5 and 5th editions, "changeling" refers to a playable race of distant descent from doppelgangers, the latter being a more monstrous and powerful race, which is thus generally not playable and which predates changelings and Eberron. In 4th edition, of course, the words "changeling" and "doppelganger" are synonymous, though the latter carries a more negative connotation.
Originally, the origin of changelings is unknown but believed to be from doppelgangers, but 5th edition changed this to changelings having originated first, and doppelgangers being the results of Dyrrn the Corruptor's experiments.
In 3.5 edition, they had two changeling-specific prestige classes in Races of Eberron, the cabinet trickster and the recaster.
- Keith Baker, Jeremy Crawford, & James Wyatt (2019). Eberron: Rising from the Last War. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 317. ISBN 0786966890.
- David Noonan, Ari Marmell, and Robert J. Schwalb (2009). Eberron Player's Guide. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 29. ISBN 0-7869-5100-1.
- Keith Baker, Bill Slavicsek, & James Wyatt (2004). Eberron Campaign Setting. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 12–13. ISBN 0-7869-3274-0.
- Keith Baker, Jeremy Crawford, & James Wyatt (2019). Eberron: Rising from the Last War. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 18. ISBN 0786966890.
- Keith Baker, Jeremy Crawford, & James Wyatt (2019). Eberron: Rising from the Last War. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 17. ISBN 0786966890.
- James Wyatt, Keith Baker, Luke Johnson, Steven Brown (2006). Player's Guide to Eberron. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 24. ISBN 0-7869-3912-5.
- Jesse Decker, Matthew Sernett, Gwendolyn F.M. Kestrel, & Keith Baker (2005). Races of Eberron. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 43–44. ISBN 0-7869-3658-4.
- Keith Baker, Scott Fitzgerald Gray, Glenn McDonald, and Chris Sims (2007). Secrets of Sarlona. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 107. ISBN 978-0-7869-4037-0.
- Keith Baker, Jeremy Crawford, & James Wyatt (2019). Eberron: Rising from the Last War. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 284. ISBN 0786966890.
|Player's Handbook Races: Dragonborn | Drow | Dwarf | Elf | Gnome | Half-Elf | Half-Orc | Halfling | Human | Tiefling|
|Eberron Races: Bugbear | Changeling | Goblin | Hobgoblin | Kalashtar | Orc | Shifter | Warforged|
|Other Races: Armand | Asherati | Bhuka | Doppelganger | Dragon | Gnoll | Goliath | Kobold | Lizardfolk | Medusa | Sahuagin | Shulassakar | Thri-kreen | Yuan-Ti|
|Outsiders: Aasimar | Angel | Archon | Daelkyr | Demon | Devil | Elemental | Genie | Githyanki | Githzerai | Inevitable | Mephit | Quori | Slaad|