Changelings are the protagonists of Changeling: The Lost. They were ordinary humans who attracted the interest of one of the True Fae, the alien beings who live in Arcadia on the other side of the Hedge that separates the two worlds. Abducted and treated as slaves, playthings, pets or ornaments, they were replaced on Earth by a Fetch, a simulacrum created from Faerie glamour and scraps.
Unlike most such humans, Changelings have been able to escape back to Earth, but their time in Arcadia has transformed them physically, emotionally and mentally. Changelings are also known as the Lost, however, for while they have found their way back to the mortal world, the changes wrought on them have made them part fae. They are no longer human, and they can never truly belong to humanity again. Instead they must exist in societies of their own, trying to balance their humanity against the inescapable truth that they are now partially creatures of Glamour like their once masters.
A group of Changelings is known as a motley.
- Main article: Seeming (CTL)
The Fae long ago used their Glamour to create the Mask, a magical veil that makes anything touched by Faerie appear mundane to human eyes, and this extends to Changelings as well: they appear human, and indeed look much as they did, though older (depending on how long they spent in Arcadia). But a mask is all it is; underneath it, a Changeling's true mien is something from a story. They may be anything from an impossibly beautiful figure with a narrow face and pointed ears to a towering brute made of living stone; the demands and whim of their Keeper has shaped them to fulfil whatever role they required. While each Changeling is unique, there are basic similarities in their experiences which have shaped them in similar ways. These "types" of Changeling are called Seemings, and there are six commonly recognised:
- Main article: Kith (CTL)
Each Seeming is further divided into Kiths, subcategories which are even more alike. For example, all Beasts are bestial in some way, but those who have an affinity for the hunt share more in common, and belong to the Hunterheart Kith.
- Main article: Court (CTL)
Changelings have formed societies of their own; no others can truly understand their lot, after all. More than comfort, though, their social groupings grant safety from the Fae. The Changeling Courts are associated with powerful concepts which grant their members powers and abilities and some measure of protection from their former masters. In Europe and the rest of the Western world, these Courts are most commonly based on the seasons, each one associated with an emotion which represents a powerful tie between mortals and the Fae:
- The Spring Court, the Court of Desire
- The Summer Court, the Court of Wrath
- The Autumn Court, the Court of Fear
- The Winter Court, the Court of Sorrow
In other parts of the world, similar Court structures exist aligned with other concepts, such as the cardinal directions (most common in Asia), the elements or Night and Day (popular in Slavic countries).
The Directional Courts:
- The North Court, the Court of Suffering
- The East Court, the Court of Envy
- The South Court, the Court of Ecstacy
- The West Court, the Court of War
The Diurnal Courts:
- The Sun Court, the Court of Shame (analogous to the Seelie Court from Changeling: the Dreaming)
- The Moon Court, the Court of Disgust (analogous to the Unseelie Court from Changeling: the Dreaming)
Powers and Abilities
- Main article: Contract
The magic of the Fae is heavily dependent on Oaths and Pledges made not just with mortals, but with embodiments of objects, physical forces and concepts. Changelings are able to learn to exploit the clauses of some of these Contracts, granting them supernatural powers resembling those from traditional fae folklore.
- According to folklore, a Changeling is typically described as being the offspring of a fairy, troll, elf or other legendary creature that has been secretly left in the place of a human child. In Changeling: The Lost, the closest equivalents are instead called fetches.