New Race: Changeling

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Talanall
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New Race: Changeling

This is a release candidate for the Tolrea setting. Thoughts?


Changelings

Fey are the living embodiment of nature (or possibly just the embodiments of mortal ideas about nature). Nature is fecund, and as a result, fey creatures occasionally breed with mortals; indeed, in many cases the fey are compelled to mate across species lines if they are to mate at all; for example, nymphs and ondine are always female, and satyrs are always male, necessitating that they should if not intermarry, then at least interbreed with mortals or other fey.

In general, when two different kinds of fey mate with one another, the offspring is of the same kind as one of the parents; the offspring of a pixie and a sluagh would have a roughly even chance of taking after either of its parents. Changelings are something different: the outcome of pairing between a fey and a humanoid that does not result in the birth of a new member of the fey parent's kind. Thus, a changeling is the result when an ondine has a dalliance with a mortal man and gives birth to a son, or when a human woman presents her satyr paramour with a new daughter (the female and male children of these fey grow up, respectively to be members of the same kind as their fey parents).

Physically, a changeling usually is a more delicate, refined version of the mortal parent, although changelings born to a halfling or gnome are conspicuously larger than their mortal parent (and they may be similarly oversize compared to their fey parents, if they are the children of a sprite or other smaller faerie). But in most other cases, changelings resemble their mortal parents closely enough to pass as members of the same race if they are not subject to expert examination, and they may even be sought after as romantic partners because of their grace and physical attractiveness.

Also unlike most fey, who grow rapidly to adulthood and then are effectively immortal if they aren't slain by mishap or in war, changelings mature as quickly and live as long as typical members of the mortal parent's race. It's therefore entirely possible for a changeling to pass a lifetime without ever learning that she is not of the same race as her mortal parent, especially if the parent did not realize that his or her lover was a fey in the first place.

Nevertheless, most changelings never truly fit into their parents' societies. Changelings living as elves sleep instead of engaging in revery like their peers, and they do not naturally display the same penchant for swordplay and archery. Those growing up in a dwarven culture may have beards as full and rich as their friends, but they lack darkvision and do not have the instinctive feel for stone and metal that characterizes a true dwarf. Even among humans, a changeling doesn't show the same predilection to pick up new skills and knacks. As a result of their inability to fit in, changelings often gain a reputation as troublemakers, misfits and eccentrics.

Changelings raised among the fey are no better off. Most "pure-blooded" fey look down on their half-mortal brethren, perceiving themselves as superior. In many cases, especially among those fey that hold allegiance to the Unseelie Court, this attitude slides over into outright aggression and maltreatment; a changeling among the sluagh is doomed to be treated as a servant at best. In general, changelings are best accepted among fey kinds, such as dryads, nymphs, and satyrs, that are restricted to a single gender, since interbreeding is a fact of life for them. But even among these fey races, it would be accurate to say that there is a bias in favor of those whose parentage is fey on both sides.

In any case, changeling characters nearly always are outsiders to some degree. If they are naturally charismatic, lucky enough to be born into a cosmopolitan society, and agreeable enough to try to go along to get along, they may be well liked, even admired and respected. But in any society that encourages rigid confirmity, a changeling faces difficulty and ostracism.

Fortunately, changelings are tougher than their appearance suggests. As a rule, they are resistant to injury by conventional weapons that are not forged from cold iron. They are impervious to all magic that affects the mind, which not only protects them from charm and domination spells but also makes it notably harder to use magic to affect their morale or read their intentions, and they even have a weakened version of their fey parents' resistance to magic in general.

Changeling Characters

Changeling characters possess the following racial traits.

  • Fey: changelings belong to the fey type but do not possess the Spirit subtype.
  • +2 Dexterity and +2 Charisma. Changelings partake of their fey parents' charm and grace.
  • Medium: As Medium creatures, changelings have no special bonuses or penalties due to their size.
  • A changeling's base land speed is 30 ft.
  • Immunity to mind-affecting spells and effects.
  • Low-light vision: A changeling can see twice as far as a human in starlight, moonlight, torchlight, and similar conditions of poor illumination. He retains the ability to distinguish color and detail under these conditions.
  • +2 racial bonus on Hide, Listen, Move Silently, and Spot checks.
  • Damage reduction 2/cold iron.
  • Spell resistance equal to 5 + class levels.
  • Automatic Languages: Common plus one other, almost always the mortal parent's native language. Changelings raised by the fey learn Common and Sylvan.
  • Bonus Languages: Any, except secret languages such as Druidic.
  • Favored Class: Druid.
  • Level adjustment: +1.
Edited by: Talanall on 02/26/2017 - 13:37
MinusInnocence
MinusInnocence's picture

How much would you say DR 5 would be worth? Did you bump it down to 2 because you felt that was too high for LA+1?

"Every normal man must be tempted, at times, to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag and begin slitting throats." - H.L. Mencken

Talanall
Talanall's picture

Yeah. If I push it up to DR 5/cold iron and SR 10 + level, I think that'd be a fair +2 LA.

Wæs se grimma gæst Grendel haten,
mære mearcstapa, se þe moras heold

Darker

I almost think its still too much for +1. The DR is a particular boon, especially at lower levels. I would say that this particular race is a bit more powerful than a tiefling or aasimar. I almost think you should stick with the DR 5 and go +2. Maybe add in some minor spell like abilities like dancing lights or something.

Talanall
Talanall's picture

I understand what you're saying about the DR; 2/cold iron doesn't sound like much, but at 1st and 2nd level it's pretty nice and makes a positive contribution to the bearer's chance of survival. On the other hand, one of the major criticisms against ECL modified races is that it's quite difficult to live through those first few levels. Survivability takes a huge leap upward in the first three or four levels. By the time you're, say, Alannah at 6th level and 7th level, it's down at "nice to have."

I would really like to keep this as a +1 LA race, because +2 LA is a raw deal no matter what class you're playing. So I'll need to cut, and if I cut anything, I'm inclined to cut the SR. DR/cold iron is by far the more iconic "fey" ability, in my opinion.

Wæs se grimma gæst Grendel haten,
mære mearcstapa, se þe moras heold

Darker

I think cutting the SR is a good deal. That's pretty big too... I remember the drow with that.

Fixxxer
Fixxxer's picture

If I cut anything, it would be the SR. I think you're right that the resistance to anything not made of cold iron is iconic of the fey.

Talanall
Talanall's picture

What do you think of the following? I've knocked off the spell resistance. Instead, a +2 racial bonus to saves against spells and spell-like effects.

Changeling Characters

Changeling characters possess the following racial traits.

  • Fey: changelings belong to the fey type but do not possess the Spirit subtype.
  • +2 Dexterity and +2 Charisma. Changelings partake of their fey parents' charm and grace.
  • Medium: As Medium creatures, changelings have no special bonuses or penalties due to their size.
  • A changeling's base land speed is 30 ft.
  • Immunity to mind-affecting spells and spell-like effects.
  • Low-light vision: A changeling can see twice as far as a human in starlight, moonlight, torchlight, and similar conditions of poor illumination. He retains the ability to distinguish color and detail under these conditions.
  • +2 racial bonus on saving throws against spells and spell-like effects.
  • +2 racial bonus on Hide, Listen, Move Silently, and Spot checks.
  • Damage reduction 2/cold iron.
  • Automatic Languages: Common plus one other, almost always the mortal parent's native language. Changelings raised by the fey learn Common and Sylvan.
  • Bonus Languages: Any, except secret languages such as Druidic.
  • Favored Class: Druid.
  • Level adjustment: +1.

Wæs se grimma gæst Grendel haten,
mære mearcstapa, se þe moras heold

Darker

This looks more reasonable. If Rasnak bites it at some point soon, I'd be happy to playtest it. Or Alannah finally trash talks the wrong guy.

Talanall
Talanall's picture

Does the flavor text on this seem like it would provide sufficient guidance to a player who's gauging whether he wants to play a changeling?

Wæs se grimma gæst Grendel haten,
mære mearcstapa, se þe moras heold

Darker

I think so. I particularly like the concept of members of the race appearing like a non-fey race with very minor differences.

MinusInnocence
MinusInnocence's picture

I went into the description thinking it would be a Fey specimen left behind by its parents when they stole a humanoid baby. But this is a more reasonable background for a playable PC race for sure.

"Every normal man must be tempted, at times, to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag and begin slitting throats." - H.L. Mencken

Talanall
Talanall's picture

I didn't see your reply, MI.

I thought about doing that, but then I decided it would be a pretty narrow scope for character background. So instead, I decided to approach it a little differently, and make it so that changelings would look just like the parent's race, but grow up to be subtly "wrong" by the standards of the culture they were born in.

It wouldn't be hard to make it work out so that a mortal mother doesn't necessarily realize she's done the nasty with a male fey (see brownies, which have polymorph self as a spell-like ability; satyrs, which are horndogs and often advance as bards, which would give them potential access to disguise self and other pertinent magic; grigs, which are on the small side but can use disguise self; and sluagh, which also have disguise self). From the mortal family's perspective, it could seem totally inexplicable. Maybe the male half of the couple came home for a nooner, only it wasn't really him. And then one gestation period later, there's a changeling who looks just like her mommy.

From there, the changeling grows up to be unusually personable and dexterous for a dwarf, but lacking in stonecunning, the racial facility for metalwork, bad with an axe, etc. The parents figure their real child was stolen and replaced with a fake.

Kinda rapey, but that's right in line with the contents of old stories out of something like Mabinogion or Grimm's Fairy Tales.

Conversely, it's totally reasonable that if, say, the father of a changeling is married and has a dalliance with a fey, baby mama drama ensues and his legitimate son is whisked from the cradle and replaced by his changeling son. And then the mortal child gets . . . I dunno, I guess it depends on what kind of fey his dad was boning. Maybe brought up as a servant. Maybe eaten. Maybe trained from childhood onward as a great warrior who'll kill his dad and marry his mom.

Wæs se grimma gæst Grendel haten,
mære mearcstapa, se þe moras heold