Changelings are subtle, shapeshifting humanoids capable of disguising their appearance. They evolved through the union of the race of doppelgangers and humans, eventually becoming a separate race distinct from either ancestral tree. Changelings do not possess the full shapechanging ability of a doppelganger, but they can create effective disguises at will. This ability makes them consummate spies and criminals, and many changelings live up to that dark potential.
Changelings strongly resemble their doppelganger lineage, with only a passing nod to their human heritage. All changelings usually stand between 5 and 6 feet tall. Unlike true doppelgangers, changelings do have gender in their natural form, although they can adopt any shape they like. Changelings have white skin, and their hair is thin and fair. Their limbs are long and slightly out of proportion compared to other humanoids. Their faces have slightly more distinct features than a doppelganger’s, including a hint of nose and lips, though their eyes remain blank white and the rest of their facial features do not look quite as finished as those of a human.
In general, changelings are prudent and cautious, preferring to take risks only when they feel that their chances of success 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 intends to reveal. Changelings live wherever humans do in Khorvaire, blending in among them and living in their shadow. They are most commonly found in the large cities of Khorvaire, where they form the backbone of the criminal underworld, though many find more respectable work as entertainers, inquisitives, government agents, and sometimes adventurers. Changelings have no established homeland of their own.
Members of most other races have a clear answer to the question “Who am I?” Dwarves are clever workers of stone, stable, and skillful in battle against goblins and giants. Elves are graceful and observant. Half-orcs are strong and gruff. Each of the civilized races has a sense of belonging and the comfort of the society of others like them. They are accepted by and accepting of others of their kind. Not so with changelings. The mutability of changelings means that they have no one clear place in the world. Most changelings live scattered among communities dominated by other races. These other races view them with suspicion. While a minority group with a stronger sense of self might react to this prejudice by banding together and forming a strong community of their own, changelings are anything but unified as a species. Many changelings view each other with suspicion, too, and are often prejudiced against their own kind.
Passers are the most human-like of changelings in their thoughts and perspectives. They are ordinary people. They just want to be part of a community and live their lives. A passer endeavors to repress or deny his mutable nature. Since living as a changeling brings suspicion and distrust, passers use their minor shapechange ability to fit into society more easily, to “pass” in their chosen communities. Each most likely has one form he chooses and keeps. Most often, it is human, but in a community not dominated by humans it matches the majority race. Some so thoroughly adopt the new identities that they closely identify with the races portrayed. They rarely travel or adopt other identities. Becomers, reality seekers, and many changelings who have chosen more adventurous lives view passers with contempt, calling them “actors” or “pretenders” who have denied their true selves.
For becomers, living is being not just one person, but many people. These changelings actively use their minor change shape ability and live life in many different forms. They disguise, deceive, and lie as needed to further their individual goals. At the core of a becomer’s identity is the belief that the central aspect of a changeling is his mutability. To fully be a changeling, one must change, convincingly and frequently. For many, however, there is a purpose and integrity to these changes. A becomer considers himself simultaneously to be both a mutable changeling and the individual he portrays.
A few changelings reject the passers’ notion of conformity at the cost of identity and spurn the becomers’ philosophies of transience and impermanence. These deep thinkers believe that there is an ultimate Truth, a Perfect Form, and a Way of Being. Reality is out there, and it can be sought and understood. Their quest is to discover what is real. The reality seekers, also known as perfecters, prefer their natural form and the society of their own kind. These changelings hold strong. Most do not engage in deception, but the definition of deception varies among them. Some reality seekers find any thing remotely deceptive to be disgusting, while most hold this high standard only in reference to their own kind and feel that absolute truth and integrity are only due other changelings. Since the Last War ended, many reality seekers have looked with envy or admiration at the struggles of the newly free warforged and some of their attempts to develop communities. Building on this idea, several utopian changeling communities led by reality seekers have formed in various parts of Khorvaire.