Changeling (5e Background)

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The further human civilisation expands, the more people are forced to coexist with primal forces from the dawn of time. Be they mischievous elves, wrathful fiends, or creatures from beyond the material plain, these entities are well documented for snatching children who wander into the forest, sleep too soundly, or misbehave. Often, they leave behind replacements. These replacements are otherworldly children who take their place in society, and reap the benefits of being human. You aren’t human, but people think you are. You’ve lived most of your life as a human, and that isn’t likely to change any time soon.

Skill Proficiencies: Insight, Survival

Tool Proficiencies: Special (see Human Parents below)

Languages: One of your choice. In addition, you may forego one of the languages offered by your race (other than common) to learn one additional language.

Equipment: One set of traveller’s clothes, a trinket that reminds you of your former life (a broken hilt with Elvish script, a necklace made of various holy symbols, a broken demon’s horn, or a glass orb that replicates yesterday's weather inside itself), and a belt pouch containing 15gp.

Changeling origin[edit]

Think about how your character became a changeling. Why were you chosen by your original people to be sent into the human world? How did your human family come into contact with these people? Does your character even know that they are a changeling? You can roll on these tables to get inspiration for your character. Bear in mind, however, that the circumstances that give rise to changelings are as infinitely diverse as the changelings themselves, and as such some of these traits may contradict one another.

Otherworldly Races

Every changeling initially belonged to a culture of otherworldly significance. Choose a playable race that fits this archetype or roll on the table below:

d4 Culture (And Player Race)
1 Fey (Elf)
2 Fiends (Tiefling)
3 Celestials (Couatl)
4 elementals (Genasi)

Exodus From Your Original realm

d6 Otherworldly Exodus
1 My people no longer wanted to raise me. I was sent to live as a human as a punishment.
2 I volunteered to be assimilated into human society in order to sate my own curiosity.
3 My realm was dying. I was sent away to survive.
4 War was looming on the horizon. I was chosen to spy on the humans.
5 My people feared the humans, but wished for peace. I was meant to be an ambassador.
6 My people wished to steal a human child without arousing suspicion.

Human Family

d6 Human Parents (And Tool Proficiency)
1 My parents were simple farmers, toiling away in the shadow of an enchanted forest. (Land vehicles)
2 My parents were researchers who got too close to an otherworldly power. (Choose 1: navigator's tools, cartographer's tools)
3 I had no parents. I was raised in an orphanage. (Thieves' tools)
4 My parents were villagers who angered a powerful warlock. (One type of artisan's tools)
5 My mother was barren, and made a pact with an otherworldly entity to be given a child. (Alchemist's supplies)
6 My parents were caravaneers, who often found themselves crossing uncharted areas. (Choose 1: land vehicles, extra language)

Feature: Assimilation[edit]

Whatever your race truly is, it doesn’t matter to people around you. You present as a full human. The illusion is so good in fact, that even you may not realise who you truly are. There are few, if any, physical indications of your true heritage, and the way you behave may or may not be a giveaway, depending on how much of your life you spent as a human. Due to your outsider’s perspective, you also have a slight edge when determining if people are who or what they claim to be, so long as you have a point of reference for how the thing they claim to be should act.

Variant: Non-Human Changeling[edit]

While most changelings are forced into the lives of humans, a few have been known to target other mortal races. You might have been raised as a dwarf, or a member of one of the monstrous races, for example. If you choose to do this, change the assimilation feature to match the race you choose, and choose one of the languages that that race speaks. You may also want to work with your Dungeon Master to come up with a replacement for the proficiency granted by the Human Family.

Suggested Characteristics[edit]

Personality Traits

d6 Personality Trait
1 My tastebuds are not arranged like a human’s. I often gag when eating human delicacies.
2 Everybody I meet thinks I have a strange obsession with a particular otherworldly race.
3 I think human cities are hideous, even though I have nothing to compare them to.
4 I frequently treat my friends to lengthy moralising lectures based around my (very unusual) values.
5 I get bored very easily. I can’t handle a day without adventure.
6 I have inherited the godlike confidence of my otherworldly kin.


d6 Ideal
1 Diplomacy. I have been given the opportunity to bridge the gap between two peoples. I must not waste it. (good)
2 Superiority. I have no respect for humans. I will take what I want then return to my true people. (Evil)
3 Assimilation. I feel obliged to follow the customs of my adopted culture to the best of my ability. (Lawful)
4 Pride. I flaunt my otherworldly origin at every opportunity. Anybody who doesn’t like it can go kiss a fire elemental. (Chaotic)
5 Fairness. I try to balance my two loyalties as best I can. (Neutral)
6 Apathy. I don’t care who I was in the past. I just want to get on with my life. (Any)


d6 Bond
1 I watched my children die of old age. No parent should have to go through that.
2 I was disowned and outcast when my secret was discovered.
3 I am usually accompanied by a messenger from my original realm. Only I can see it, and it guides my morality.
4 When I first joined the human world, I had no idea how to behave. The townsfolk thought I was possessed, but a kindly old sage convinced them that he could fix me. I owe him my life.
5 I have a great many siblings, and every one of them behaves more like a changeling than I do.
6 I often wonder what happened to my human double.


d6 Flaw
1 I secretly worry that everyone who finds out who I really am is plotting to kill me.
2 I can’t help thinking of humans as strange or inferior.
3 No matter where I go, I never feel like I belong, and I fear I never will.
4 Where I come from, morality and ideals are unyielding juggernauts. I don’t understand the complexity of this world.
5 I often don’t understand what people say. They usually have to repeat themselves multiple times before it suddenly hits me.
6 I hate the fact that I look like a human. It feels wrong.

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