There’s something to say about having no face. You lose your individuality, sure, but you are a godly infiltrator, and nobody ever can really chase you down if you have a moment to switch faces. If you find this prospect intriguing, you might be interested in the Changeling. Changelings don’t exactly have no identity – their personalities are very different – but their legacy of being thieves and shadowy villains holds tight to their foreign relations. Our Changeling 5E guide will give you the lowdown so you can start your Changeling character.
Changeling 5E Lore
The Changeling are an unfortunate, cursed race. Born of the Traveler, Changelings are either accepted in Changeling communities, accepted by the most kind of people, or completely shunned. Therefore, Changelings must dance a dangerous line between complete isolation and tentative warmth. Changeling parents are not quick to disguise to their children that the world will be cruel to them.
Some Changelings use their natural gifts as a work of art. Changeling actors (with good hearts) are sought after for their incredible ability to change shape. This allows them to perfectly replicate those that they can see, or occasionally hear about. This makes for fantastic satirizations, glorious replications of previous events, or flawless representations of legendary works.
See Also: Changeling Names Guide
However, some Changelings use their fantastic ability to steal, cheat, and lie their way to wealth and happiness. This causes most races to gauge Changelings with suspicion, and a town that knows a changeling is in its midst becomes paranoid. The presence of a Changeling, even an adventuring one, will leave a village in disarray. It is up to the changeling themself to forge bonds with people around them, embrace their true identity, or feel exiled and isolated as others gauge you with suspicion.
Changelings in their natural form are easy to notice. They are deathly pale, with colorless eyes and silver-white hair. The ultimate albino! However, since Changelings are natural shapeshifters, they often change their eyes or their hair (or even their height!) at whim. Most Changelings create a “mask”, which is what they tend to shift to when they want to be casual around others. A given Changeling might have an infinite number of masks, or return to the same one over and over. How a Changeling uses their masks, and switches them, is a huge part of their personality and their day-to-day adventuring habits. Perhaps the most interesting masks are the ones passed down through generations or community; a father might have a Nurse mask that he insists his children use, for instance.
A Changeling’s name is usually a very short, one-syllable word that can be said quickly, though most Changelings change their name with their masks. They also tend to be descriptive; two Changelings with the name Tek might be Tek-with-golden-eyes and Tek-with-purple-nails. Changelings also don’t understand gender constraints (or even sex, really!), since they can change their body so easily.
Changelings do not currently have any subclasses; if you want to be a changeling, you can only ride one way! That’s not to say that Changelings aren’t versatile or anything. They’re actually fine just as they are!
- +2 Charisma, +1 Any Other Stat. Once upon a time, this was +2 Charisma, +1 Anything… Including Charisma. Back then, Changelings could get +3 to Charisma. That was a crazy time! Now, they only get +2 to Charisma, which is still fine. Charisma is a pretty niche stat in general; Charisma saves are good, but rare. Also, charisma skills are well-used, but only one party member tends to need them. This puts the Changeling in the unfortunate situation where it kind of needs to be in a Charisma based class, or it has slightly lower stats than other racial options. That’s more than fine, however! The +1 to any other stat helps this problem a ton by allowing the Changeling to pick a wide variety of options. Usually, you’ll want Strength, Dexterity, or Constitution (depending completely on the class you’re looking for!). The ability to choose which one of those is best is quite potent!
- Medium Size, 30 ft Move Speed. The standards for any race. No real benefits or downsides.
- Shapechanger. This is the bread and butter of the Changeling. Becoming other races at will is interesting, especially since you can choose exactly what kind of creature you want! Unfortunately, you don’t get a new set of clothes, but you can loot clothes to help your disguise. You also can’t be a Small race (without DM permission), which can be limiting in certain situations. However, the things you can pull with this are hilarious. You can take out a Bandit guard, take his identity, and report back to his group. That’ll let you get the drop on the combat, or maybe even let you befriend them! This ability’s strength is almost exclusively based on how creative you are with it. Otherwise, it’s just a way to change your appearance which, while fun, doesn’t match the combat power of other races. Seriously, have fun with this and you’ll see a whole new world of problem-solving!
- Changeling Instincts. Two skill proficiencies are a lot, though your options are admittedly small. You can choose from the main Charisma (or “face”) skills… And Insight. These are all pretty great choices! Deception will let you disguise easier, and let you improv if you get caught. Intimidation lets you be a terrifying force. However, Persuasion tends to be better in most situations. Depends on your DM! Insight is solid, if you don’t want two face skills, but tends to work better on your Cleric or a Wisdom caster. All great choices; just depends on the kind of talker your Changeling is.
- Languages. Changelings are awfully versatile, learning Common and two languages that you want. The languages you choose should fill in holes in your party; maybe grab Draconic or Celestial, or Infernal, depending on what kind of foes you think you might run into. Common good languages also include Giant, Goblin, Undercommon, Sylvan, and Elvish.
What Class is Best for Changeling?
The Changeling’s +2 Charisma is somewhat important for choosing your class. The bonus skill proficiencies also push it towards a particular destination. This is not to say these are the only options for your Changeling… But…
Good Classes for Changeling
A Changeling makes a fantastic Bard, Paladin, Warlock, or Sorcerer. Really. They’re good at all four classes. Bard Changelings benefit hugely from the +2 Charisma, augmenting their spellcasting, bardic inspiration, and talking skills. The +1 floating stat boost can be used in a ton of different places; Dexterity for AC, Constitution for health, Strength for a Strength-based Valor build, etc. Bards get a lot of skills, but two more doesn’t hurt, and those two skills are ones that Bard definitely wants to have! Shapechanging is a little less powerful on a Bard, since Bards can do that with spell slots. However, it’s far from useless, and makes a lot of sense for an actor-type character.
Paladin Changelings might be a little too dedicated to Charisma to be useful, but the +1 Strength is still fine. Paladins benefit a lot more from the Changeling’s two bonus skills, and Paladins don’t have access to the same disguising magic that Bards have. This lets the Changeling Paladin be useful in social situations, where Paladins tend to struggle a bit. Your lack of Low-Light or Darkvision matters much less with Paladin, since you’ll likely be a light source for your party anyways.
Warlock, out of all of the spellcasters, makes a ton of sense. Flavor-wise, you’re absolutely a race that tends to get put down by the rest of society. Mechanically, the Warlock doesn’t want to learn a Disguise spell with one of it’s few spell slots. That lets the Shapeshifter feature work very, very well for you. Warlocks also benefit from the free Face skill proficiency. Perfect!
Finally, Sorcerers might benefit the least from the abilities of the Changeling, but they work very well. The huge charisma boost is all Sorcerers really need, and the extra skills benefit Sorcerers a lot.
Realistically, Paladin and Warlock might be the best options, closely followed by Sorcerer and Bard. Rogues get an honorable mention, as long as they want to use Charisma skills at least a little. Changelings make fine Rogues, and the Shapeshifter ability can be fun.
Bad Classes for Changeling
Changelings can be any class, theoretically. But, there are a few classes that the Changeling doesn’t benefit much. Artificer and Wizard don’t need Shapeshifter, nor do they need the free face skill proficiencies. Barbarian, Fighter, and Ranger don’t really need the +2 to Charisma, so they’re just getting the +1 to their Strength or Dexterity… Which is a rough start. The Charisma bonus isn’t useful on Cleric or Druid, either. Cleric and Druid really, really want a bit of Wisdom, and don’t need Charisma in the slightest.
The big problem with changeling is the limitations of their Shapeshifter ability. Shapeshifter doesn’t make them better at acting like the person they’ve replicated, and the lack of clothing shifting can make last-second changes less useful. So, to maximize your chance of making good use of your racial ability, you want medium to high Charisma. And not many classes can afford having “alright” Charisma. Maybe the Banneret Fighter?
The problem is that the Changeling is so good at those Charisma classes that any other option is less enticing. Sure, you can play the Banneret Fighter. But why not play a Paladin instead? You can support your team with Paladin and your skills are better suited for the build path.
Monk is probably a bit far fetched as well, since there are no Charisma-based monks… Perhaps for obvious reasons. Monk also relies far too much on Dexterity and Wisdom to waste time on Charisma.
The floating +1 to an Attribute of your choice lets the Changeling attempt any role you’d like. But that Charisma boost is a little too strong to not have a class that at least uses Charisma as a secondary statistic.
Changeling 5E FAQ
What Can a Changeling Turn Into?
a changeling can turn into a humanoid of similar size. That means while you cannot change from medium to small, you could take the form of a wide range of other races or even individuals. It goes without saying that the possibilities are endless.
Do Changelings Have Genders in 5E?
Changelings do have a gender and are able to reproduce. However, Changelings have a fluid relationship with gender, seeing it as one characteristic to change among many others. It can alter its gender just like it can take aspects of the creature it is imitating.
Is a Changeling a Fey?
A changeling is a fey creature in 5E. They trace their lineage and ability to shapeshift to dopplegangers, but they also call the Feywild home.
What Book is Changeling From?
You can find the Changeling race in Eberron: Rising From the Last War.
Conclusion – Changeling 5E Guide
The Changeling is a really unique, someone static race that enjoys a pretty versatile benefit. You can kinda play a Changeling however you want, but there are a few classes that Changelings enjoy vastly more. We hope this guide was useful for your Changeling build!