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Origins of the PCs: Changeling

Born to infiltrate, changelings are the descendants of doppelgangers and humans. Possessing a unique ability to change their features to appear like other people, they can easily blend in and disappear in a crowd, or assume multiple identities. Understandably, other races aren't given to trusting changelings. Indeed, their very nature makes them untrustworthy, but with a little luck many of them make their way in the world as consummate adventurers.

Changelings were first introduced in the Eberron Campaign Setting as one of the world of Eberron's unique races. As they don't have a cultural identity of their own, many changelings assume the form of another race, and some may even masquerade in this way for years, creating a life for themselves and never revealing the truth until they are forced to.

Changeling Strengths

  • Bonus to resist sleep and charm effects
  • Bonus to Bluff, Intimidate and Sense Motive checks
  • Ability to use disguise self at will
  • Speak Language is always treated as a class still

Changeling Weaknesses

  • Changelings as a race have no particular weaknesses

Playing a Changeling
Changelings, like humans, have no draw-backs associated with their race. This makes them extremely versatile overall, as they don't have any penalties that might push them away from a particular party role or class. The strength of the changeling race is in it's social capabilities, ironic as they aren't particularly trusted by any other race. Their ability to learn new languages with ease, and their bonuses to Bluff, Intimidate and Sense Motive checks makes them ideal for becoming the 'face' of an adventuring party.

The changeling's defining feature is its ability to use disguise self at will. While this might not seem particularly important at first glance, it allows a changeling character to adapt itself to different groups with ease. A changeling could use this ability to infiltrate a tribe of orcs in order to sabotage them or broker peace, and later might take the form of a human in order to collect a reward for dealing with that pesky orc situation in a nearby town.

With skill, the changeling can assume better and better disguises over time, lending themselves easily to the role of a spy.

Class Suggestions
The changeling's favored class is rogue, and why shouldn't it be? Rogues provide a wide range of skills that the changeling can benefit from. A changeling rogue could easily be the party's leader, who charms nobles with a silver tongue and sparkling personality. They could also easily become a deadly assassin, using their innate abilities to infiltrate and later extradite themselves from secured locations. Changeling rogues also have special substitution levels available to them (Races of Eberron) which allow them special options with some of their skills, bonuses to Knowledge checks and the ability to turn away critical hits.

When selecting a class for your changeling, you're probably going to want to focus on social skills. This is where the race's greatest strengths are. If you're tired of the rogue class, try the factotum (Dungeonscape). This class not only provides the changeling with a huge number of skills, but also with the ability to use their intelligence to overcome almost any obstacle.

The bard can also provide the changeling with a number of useful skills, along with some arcane magic and a number of musical abilities. Changeling bards can use their bardic music to control the minds of the weaker-willed, and if used maliciously, could end up acting much like their doppelganger ancestors.

Changelings can also become excellent warriors. With it's higher number of social-based class skills and focus on precise strikes, the swashbuckler (Complete Warrior) is probably a better choice than fighter for most changelings. These characters will want to focus on manipulating their opponents in combat, feinting whenever possible and striking precisely.

The wizard is an excellent choice for a changeling who wants to try their hand at arcane magic. Changeling wizards will want to use the substitution levels available in Races of Eberron. These provide the character with the ability to dual-specialize in the illusion and transmutation schools and the ability to alter the form of their familiar, making them much more versatile than their human peers.

Changelings can also excel as psions, and there are substitutions available (in Races of Eberron) for those who want to follow the path of the egoist and specialize in the science of psychometabolism. These allow the character to better reshape their own bodies, to alter their psycrystal personalities and provide them with a small number of known powers. These characters can turn themselves into psionically-charged bruisers and wreak havoc upon a battlefield.

As stated earlier, because changelings don't have any innate weaknesses, they can easily assume any class with ease. Druids, with their ability to change forms, might be attractive to your character. You may also want to try a changeling samurai who uses their bonus to Intimidate or the Disturbing Visage feat (see below) to great effect. The possibilities are endless.

Feat Suggestions
Unlike warforged, shifters or kalashtars, who were all introduced in the Eberron Campaign Setting, changelings actually have very few feats designed specifically for them. This is probably due to changelings not having a cultural identity of their own, and thus no historical fighting styles or long developed abilities like those possessed by dwarves or elves.

Most changeling feats: Persona Immersion, Quick Change, Racial Emulation, Disturbing Visage and Mutable Body come from Races of Eberron, a book which should be indispensable to players using this race.

Persona Immersion allows a changeling to manipulate the outcome of lower-level divination spells and telepathic powers that target them. This makes it ideal for changeling characters who spend most of their time infiltrating one group or another as it makes it more difficult for them to be exposed as an imposter.

Quick Change allows the changeling to use their minor change shape ability as a move action. Not only can this assist them in making a quick getaway if they're ever caught, but it is also a prerequisite for the Disturbing Visage feat (see below), making it extremely useful for changelings who often find themselves in battle.

Racial Emulation allows the changeling to assume the subtype of a race they assume the form of, removing the penalty to their Disguise check to appear as that race and allowing them to be treated as the race. For example, by using this feat, a changeling could disguise themselves as a dwarf to gain the added benefits from the Dwarven Thrower warhammer.

Disturbing Visage is a tactical feat which allows a changeling character to use Bluff to great effect in battle, causing opponents to lose focus in combat. If your changeling character finds themselves in melee combat, this feat can be indispensable to them.

Changeling spellcasters, especially wizards, will find the Mutable Body feat to be extremely useful, as it allows transmutation spells to affect them more than other targets. This can be extremely beneficial at lower levels. For example, a first level changeling wizard with this feat who casts jump on himself has double the spell duration of a human wizard who had cast the same spell.

Changelings are also able to take the Able Learner feat (Races of Destiny), allowing them to learn cross-class skills at a reduced cost. For changeling characters who opt for a less skilled class, this is an excellent way of allowing them to branch out their abilities, while not handicapping them. This feat is also a prerequisite for the Chameleon prestige class (see below).

Although Wanderer's Diplomacy (Player's Handbook II) is usually restricted to halfling characters, changelings can often meet the higher skill prerequisites for the feat. This allows them a number of skill-based abilities focused on communication and diplomacy.

If you're looking to create a melee-combat focused character, consider the Combat Panache feat (also from the Player's Handbook II). This allows the character to use Bluff and Intimidate checks to mislead attackers and gain the upper hand. This is an extremely useful feat for changeling swashbucklers, especially when combined with the Disturbing Visage feat (see above).

Prestige Class Suggestions
The changeling's class selection is likely going to be the strongest factor in determining the character's prestige class, and since changeling characters are so diverse, it stands to reason that their choice in prestige classes will be likewise varied. Still, there are a number of prestige classes that lend themselves well to changelings, and can help them bring out their inner qualities.

Cabinet Trickster (Races of Eberron) - For changelings looking to take on more aspects of a doppelganger, this is the prestige class to take. Not only does it provide them with improved skills and the abilities to read minds and manipulate the thoughts of lesser creatures, but it also allows them to change shape like a true doppelganger. The hidden strength of this prestige class is that it allows a changeling character to then take levels in the Mindspy prestige class, which is extremely beneficial, but normally not accessible to them.

Chameleon (Races of Destiny) - This prestige class, normally open to doppelgangers and humans, is also available to changelings who have take the Able Learner feat (see above). By mixing and matching class features, spellcasting abilities and feats, the changeling is able to assert their racial features strongly upon their training. A changeling chameleon could be a human warrior one day and an elven wizard the next. Such a character might continually join the same adventuring party time and time again, each time under a new identity and with a new set of skills.

Mindspy (Complete Warrior) - Normally this prestige class is only open to changeling characters who have learned detect thoughts as a spell, most likely through the wizard class. A changeling character who has levels in the Cabinet Trickster prestige class (see above), preferably all five, can take levels in this class as well, and put it to much better use. By further improving their detect thoughts ability, they become deadlier in battle and much harder to kill.

Recaster (Races of Eberron) - If you're playing a changeling wizard (or any other arcane spellcasting class), this is the prestige class you'll want to look at first. Its strength is in the ability to manipulate the properties of spells making them last longer, or effect different areas than normal. Beyond the metamagic abilities, the class also allows the character to add two spells from any class's spell list to their own, allowing them to learn cure spells or any number of useful abilities normally barred to them.

Spymaster (Complete Adventurer) - If you want to play a changeling who's life is full of intrigue and suspense, taking this class is the equivalent of becoming a 00 agent. The changeling's innate ability to create disguises are further augmented by this class, and they become much more difficult to detect magically.

Warshaper (Complete Warrior) - Most people who talk about the changeling race focus on the Warshaper prestige class as well, and for good reason. First of all, it's extremely easy for a changeling, especially one with a high base attack bonus (such as a swashbuckler) to enter. Secondly, just about every ability the class provides is extremely powerful. A changeling warshaper can grow natural weapons, gain reach, heal fast and protect themselves from serious harm. Top it off with their ability to become much stronger and tougher and you've got a changeling who could easily kill a swath of enemies without breaking a sweat.

New Material

Racial Weapon Familiarity [General]
You have studied the weapons and fighting styles of various races. This unique insight has allowed you to better imitate demihuman warriors.
    Prerequisites: Disguise 6 ranks, Racial Emulation, base attack
bonus +1.
    Benefit: When emulating a race, you treat all exotic weapons associated with that race as martial weapons rather than as exotic weapons. A weapon is treated as being associated with a race if the race's name appears as part of the weapon's name such as dwarven urgrosh or elven thinblade.
    Normal: Without this feat, a character must select the Exotic Weapon Proficiency feat to eliminate the nonproficiency penalty they take when wielding an exotic weapon.
    Special: A changeling fighter may select Racial Weapon Familiarity as one of her fighter bonus feats (see page 38 of the Player's Handbook).

Changeling Domain
Although they have little racial identity, some changeling clerics have been able to tap into the divine essence of their very beings. These priests, rare as they may be, have spoken of a divine sphere of influence directly concerning their race. In the Eberron campaign setting, The Traveller is the only deity that provides this domain. As changelings slowly enter the multiverse, this domain spreads with them, and deities such as Urbanus have begun providing it to his rare changeling followers as well.

Changeling Domain
    Deities: The Traveller (Eberron), Urbanus. This domain may also be provided by any other deity who has sought fit to patronize the changeling race.
    Granted Powers: Add Bluff, Intimidate and Sense Motive to your list of cleric class skills.

Changeling Domain Spells

1 - Comprehend Languages
2 - Detect Thoughts
3 - Nondetection
4 - Discern Lies
5 - True Seeing
6 - Seeming
7 - Project Image
8 - Mind Blank
9 - Foresight

Want more changeling material?
  • Arcane Ancestry 3 - Changeling sorcerers could benefit from the Doppelganger Bloodline and Racial Impression feats presented in this article.

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