Pathfinder Bestiary Inclusion Initiative Work in Progress
Changelings can resemble any of the races that their hag mothers trick into coupling, including dwarves, gnomes, orcs, and goblins, but humans are most common. Regardless of their father's race, changelings always appear slim and exceptionally pale for their ancestry, and they are often — but not always — also distinguished by having mismatched, differently coloured eyes. Changelings also normally possess an aura of oddness that often prevents them being fully accepted into their birth-father's society.
Changelings are born when a hag tricks a male of certain species into coupling with her; the hag will normally murder and eat the changeling's father before he can ever see his daughter. After giving birth, the hag will then abandon the child with a family or an organisation of the father's race that she believes will care for the child, like a temple. The limited powers inherited from the changeling's hag mother normally manifest around puberty; the changeling finds herself able to see in the dark, her skin gains a supernatural hardness, or her nails subtly change becoming sharp and hard enough to effectively function as claws.
Some manifest stranger powers; for instance, changeling children of dreamthief and night hags can better resist magically compelled sleep or dreams. Changelings are also fundamentally infused with inhuman magic and often become powerful witches, sorceresses, or are drawn to occult or primal magics. Despite these differences, it is very possible for a changeling to be completely unaware of her supernatural origin.
Around the same time changelings develop their new-found abilities, they also hear the Call, a powerful psychic cry issued by their hag mother that is designed to lure them away from their foster communities. Most changelings feel it as a lust to wander but its origin is much more sinister: the changeling's mother forms a coven with at least two other hags to summon their wayward daughters home.
Those who follow the call are abducted and subjected to an horrific ritual that harnesses their innate magic and twists their physical form eventually resulting in the birth of a new hag. Some changelings who have been subjected to rejection and persecution actually embrace this wicked metamorphosis, while those with stronger social bonds or deep druidic beliefs resist it and live out their mortal lives as changeling exiles.
The Call primarily targets female changelings, and this prevalence led to a long-held mistaken belief that all changelings are female.† The secret heritage of male changelings is therefore more hidden within their paternal ancestry.
Changelings vary greatly depending not only on the species which whom the hag mated, but on the hag parent herself. These differences fall into the following categories known as heritages, while the changelings who exhibit these differences are known as mays. Below is a list of the best-known heritages along with their hag parents:
Habitat and society
Changelings grow up in the society of their fathers and this shapes much of their character: despite their monstrous mother, they have no predisposition towards evil. Unfortunately, her innate otherness often marks a changeling as an innate outcast, as a result of which they often relate easiest with other mixed heritage outsiders, especially half-elves. Those who are embraced by their adopted society, however, find it easiest to ignore the sinister Call of their progenitor. Changelings can be found wherever hags dwell, such as Varisia, the River Kingdoms, and the fey-haunted Verduran Forest. They are comparatively common in the Lands of the Linnorm Kings, where they associated with the powerful seeress norns; the witch kingdom of Irrisen; and most commonly in the haunted kingdom of Ustalav.
Changelings, unfortunately, occupy a terrifying place amongst the folklore of the Inner Sea region, representing some primal feeling that even people they think they know might not be what they seem. In these tales, a changeling is a manipulative monster using their human form to torment their community. Unfortunately, these often false tales can lead to the very real persecution of any changeling whose heritage is discovered. The same folklore also claims that changelings who resist the call are rewarded after death by Pharasma, who turns their souls into shoki psychopomp.
For additional resources, see the Meta page.
- Adam Daigle and Patrick Renie. (2011). Bestiary. The Haunting of Harrowstone, p. 84. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-308-8
- Logan Bonner, Jason Bulmahn, Stephen Radney-MacFarland, Mark Seifter, et al. (2019). Pathfinder Bestiary (Second Edition), p. 62. Paizo Inc. ISBN 978-1-64078-170-2
- Benjamin Bruck, et al. (2015). Inner Sea Races, p. 169. Paizo Inc. ISBN 978-1-60125-722-2
- John Compton, Eleanor Ferron, Crystal Frasier, et al. (2017). Blood of the Coven, p. 4-9. Paizo Inc. ISBN 978-1-60125-982-0
- Adam Daigle and Patrick Renie. (2011). Bestiary. The Haunting of Harrowstone, p. 85. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-308-8
- Benjamin Bruck, et al. (2015). Inner Sea Races, p. 168. Paizo Inc. ISBN 978-1-60125-722-2