(11) LORE: THE HIVE AND THE CHANGELINGS
Authors: Reflected Failure, Onyx, Freyia, Sten Softclaw
- Changelings, although very equine in nature, have a social structure that resembles a colony, with workers, soldiers, and of course a queen. They usually have one main home, called the Grand Hive. It is the largest domicile for Changelings, where the Queen lives along with most of the caretakers and nymphs. Often the Grand Hive connects to smaller constructions, called Lairs. Farther away from the Grand Hive, Changelings set up Outposts, where scouts and hunters can regroup and rally from their assignments. The overall structure mirrors that of any civilized society; the Grand Hive is the capitol, tunnels act as roads to connect it to smaller Lairs, or small cities. Outposts can be like small towns or lodges for travelers far from any Lair. Not every Lair is connected to the Grand Hive via tunnels, only the ones that are relatively close, or in hostile territory.
Although the Grand Hive and some Lairs may have structures aboveground, most of the construction is subterranean, with extensive tunnels leading to open areas for living. The walls, ceilings, and floors are covered in their resin for structural support. The different chambers are used for living, crafting, nurseries, training, and prisons, or as they call them, Vaults. Aboveground there is nothing if in enemy territory. However in their own land, tall spires made of dirt stone and resin shoot into the sky with holes to allow access to the subterranean levels. The Grand Hive usually has the largest Spire, towering almost like a mountain, and even containing its own chambers, including a hanger for the Dreadnaught.
Changelings share a singular consciousness called the Hive Mind. They are able to relay information, senses, and commands to other Changelings. Individuals are able to tune into the Hive Mind when they need to send or receive information, meaning that they are not always connected. Contrary to popular belief, the Hive Mind does not control individuals, it is only used as a way to relay information over vast distances and very quickly. Changelings that have been separated from the Hive Mind for extended periods of time, or those suffering from Empathy Sickness may find trying to reconnect difficult.
Empathy Sickness is not a physical illness or condition. Rather it’s the state when changeling being to return emotions to the ponies around them, such as when a Hunter begins feeling love towards its quarry. This is called a sickness because it often results in individuals defecting from the Hive, and is feared by most Changelings. There isn’t any physical hindrance with the sickness, but it does cause chaos and confusion amongst the hive and is often removed when detected.
The number one priority for the Hive is love collection. Scouts or Hunters are the ones who are assigned the jobs of collecting love. Scouts collect love while in the field, meaning when they return they usually empty their cache to others. Hunters usually bring in whole creatures. These creatures are then wrapped in cocoons filled with a liquid that slowly puts the captive into a deep sleep. The chemicals help facilitate loving dreams which the cocoon converts into magical energy and stores the energy in what is called a ‘Love Light’. These Love Lights convert the magical energy back into love which Changelings can tap into to feed off of.
Different Changelings have different jobs depending on what the Hive needs at the time. When a nymph is born, if more workers are needed, it will be raised into that role. Never has there been any evidence of a Changeling switching to a different job, although in times of war or disaster, certain Changelings may assist other jobs until it passes. Below is a list of the different kinds of Changelings:
- Drones – The basic builders and workers of the Hive; they dig and construct the necessary parts of the hive. They’re physically powerful and good with their Resin, but lack most magical capabilities. Their attitudes tend to be carefree in life and happy. Due to not being the smartest of Hive (Even the smartest of drones aren’t as smart as anything else) they are unwaveringly loyal to the queen, whoever she may be.
Scouts - Scouts are physically weak, but fast, agile and tend to have fairly average magical capabilities. Their jobs consist of going out to gather intelligence and stray love. Scouts are given basic combat training to defend themselves if need be, but they are not considered combatants. Most of them go out into other kingdoms to collect information and love for the hive. In order to remain in contact, they have the ability to connect to the Hive from great distances effectively. This means that during large combat situations, they are able to relay orders and information effectively and quickly.
Stryders – The warriors and protectors of the Hive; they may not be the fastest, nor the most magically adept, but they are strong, smart, and unwaveringly loyal. Built for combat, the only time they are able to collect love is during war time, usually from stallions protecting their families and friends. Most are held in high regard and respected among all Changelings. A few Styrders, the ones that prove themselves to be exceptional, are chosen as generals, or even higher as royal guards.
Hunters – Hunters are the main love collectors for the Hive. They infiltrate cities, mostly impersonating lovers, to either collect love over a prolonged period of time, or trick ponies into leaving their towns before capturing them for the hive. They’re all round average, capable of doing anything with general ease. Like Stryders they are highly respected and relied upon, since they bring in the largest source of food. Unlike Scouts, Hunters are rarely sneaking, having to be out in the open in order to collect the most love. This means that they are at the highest risk of being caught as well as contracting “empathy sickness”.
Caretakers – These are the nurses and teachers of the Hive. They take care of the Nymphs and those that fail to fall into the lines of the other classes, such as physically or mentally ill, hurt, and disabled. Caretakers are not considered a set rank; they are both above and below every other class due to their job. Most Changelings treat Caretakers with much respect, due to taking care of those that are unable to take care of themselves, or healing those hurt in their jobs.
Nymphs - Child/Children
Queen – The Queen is unique among Changelings, similar to that of Alicorns among ponies. There is only ever one queen at a time. Once a Queen dies, a new one is usually born the same day, though how this occurs has yet to be determined. To outsiders, until a Queen reaches full maturity there are no discernible differences to other Changelings. However, once a new Queen is born, every Changeling can feel it in the Hive Mind and immediately begin preparing her for the tough task ahead. Queens are far more powerful than any Changeling in every way. However, the Queen must take responsibility and manage all aspects of the Hive. If a Queen is ill prepared, the Changelings could go into a period of chaos.
In recent years Changelings have all but vanished. The recent Equestrian War and the subsequent Griffon Invasion of their land killed many, while the rest were captured and taken by the griffons. This has caused massive starvation for those that still exist. Currently, the ‘Grand Hive’ is roughly three Lairs large, much smaller than a normal Grand Hive. Here they have done their best to fix and repair, but times are very difficult for them. The old Queen, Queen Chrysalis, managed to avoid capture by the griffons during the invasion. To save her subjects, she sacrificed herself, giving her love to the survivors. Since then they’ve been living in a recession, using a few runaway ponies and anything the scouts collect to feed the remaining hive members. Their current population number in the three hundreds, and dropping fast. The new Queen is only a juvenile, and is not ready to take control, leaving leadership to a general Chrysalis appointed. In addition, most of the Hive suffers from empathy sickness due to being so few in number and having no way to actually stop it.
- Most Changeling technology is made out of their carefully refined Risen. There is no crafting class; instead each Changeling tends to make their own equipment. This means that quality tends to change with the individual. However, the commonalities are that their armor is one of the strongest of any and their weapons are some of the lightest and strongest weapons of any.
The most coming weapons for changelings are glaives and bows. These weapons have high maneuverability and versatility, able to use them in the air and with magic. However, skills with these weapons are limited to Hunters, Scouts and Stryders; since Drones don’t do much combat and Caretakers are more medics and teachers. The weapon descriptions are below:
Glaives - Long pole arms with large blades at the end instead of just a spear head. They’re used mostly by Hunters and Stryders and were developed to counter both swords and spears.
Bows - They needed something the compete none magically with the other races in case of invasion thus leading to the stolen design of the bow. Used by Scouts and occasionally by Hunters.
Other weapons do exist among them, since the only thing limiting the individual is their skill with resin. These two are just the most common types.
Their armor is made for the individual, mostly for Stryders and the occasional Hunter. The armor is made in pieces by shaping resin over the body, like a cast. These pieces are then hardened and removed from the individual. When donned, the armor is pieced and held together by a tough, yet removable resin, making the only weak points of the suit these connection points. The plates themselves are some of the strongest and toughest materials if made properly. Normally the whole body, back of the neck, upper limbs and heads are armored; how much depends on whether it is a heavy trooper or a more aerial trooper. Over time, as a Stryder participates in more battles and earns more prestige, their armor usually gains more features such as ornaments or spikes, indicating their prowess in battle.
Unlike the other kingdoms, changelings were left out of the Airship race. The only one known to exist is their Queen’s ship the Dreadnaught; an organic risen plated airship that has never actually seen combat much less flown very far from the Grand Hive itself. This does not mean it is weak by any means of the word. Changelings never had the need to test the massive fully equipped ship, thus the mounted ballista has never been used for anything more than training or intimidation. They’ve launched very few full-scale invasions and won even fewer, thus large aerial transportation and assault isn’t something they focus on.
Compared to their equestrian neighbors, their ship is far sturdier, due to heated risen being about as hard as steel while as light as aluminum. However, the ship can be easily outgunned and out ran by the more advanced equine and griffonic airships. Because of the better durability, the Changelings made it a sieging ship. Combining their Crash Shield with the durability of their Risen, they made “Siege Pods” which allowed for high altitude drops. These are, or would be, used to shatter shields and break entrenchment allowing the Changelings inside to escape through the pod or use it for cover. These pods are hidden along two rows on the bottom of the ship, allowing the ship to fly over a city or army, then rain hell on it.
- Editor's note: The author, for whatever reason, decides to begin this section on anatomy with a diatribe on the matter of procreation among changelings. Those of a nervous or gentle disposition may want to skip this bit. I know I do.
The anatomy of changelings is a very interesting thing, as they show qualities seen in both animals and in insects, and sometimes in neither. They are a fact unto themselves, and one must surely wonder where such creatures could have come from, but such theorizing isn't the aim of this book. It is however, important to note that, contrary to folk belief, changelings are not merely ponies who have undergone a transformation. Notwithstanding the sheer logistics of such a transformation, it is a demonstrable fact that changelings do in fact reproduce.
The matter of reproduction and procreation among changelings is particularly worthy of note, given that despite their insectoid appearance, they are in fact monogamous. Each changeling tends to mate with only one individual, developing an emotional connection which can be roughly equated to love. Physically, changelings are malleable, meaning that in an all-male environment, changes can be made to make the balance of genders more equal (This also allows female changelings to carry the young of other species). This need to balance genders is present more nowadays, due to the rapidly falling population, and necessitating consanguinity in relations. This seldom results in the usual effects of inbreeding seen among other species, for which the changelings are doubtless grateful.
Being that we now know where changelings come from, it would then follow we should find out what they look like. Although they appear identical, there are subtle differences between individual changelings and even wider differences between strains and hives.
Common to all changelings, however, is the horn. Usually a curved, conical object, shorter than the average unicorn's, and part of the changeling's exoskeleton, rather than a bony protrusion. The external cover is protection for a complex internal biological network of leylines and thaumatic reservoirs, the details of which are visible in Figs. 1a-c. This allows changelings with access to the magic their powers require, as well as providing them with a means of transmitting thoughts to each other (although this is not a continuous 'hive mind', as some have supposed).
Changelings also possess wings, and are capable of flight. Their weighty exoskeleton by rights should prevent this, but it is offset by their hollow legs. The holes through them are not wounds, but rather present to reduce weight and air resistance.
While their main support is provided by an exoskeleton (Fig. 2a), they also have cartilage bones (Fig. 2b), providing further support and internal buttressing, required for the high-altitude dives observed during the Canterlot event.
Manes and tails appear to largely be a matter of choice among changelings, often being left off, perhaps for practical reasons or simply a lack of time for styling.
Changeling eyes are uniformly blue, with a white pupil. They are unlike insect eyes, and bear closer resemblance to pony eyes, although they are certainly more specialised, seeing a broader spectrum both in light and in emotions (Fig 3).
Colouration remains fairly uniform too, with the carapace usually being black, but with a raised patch on their back, which may be blue, green, red, greyish or purple. It is important to note the colors are always muted and dark though, regardless of the changeling. They are also covered in fine hairs, similar to those of a ponies coat (Fig. 4), it is almost impossible to tell this except by touch.
Internally, changelings have a good deal in common with ponies, except in the matter of digestion. The organ they possess which best equates to a stomach takes all food consumed and converts it into a pure form of love. The exact chemistry of this is unknown, but what is known is that the love produced by this process is insufficient for a changeling to survive on. It must be supplemented by love from external sources. And this is where the true nature of changelings goes from interesting to ghoulish.
-Excerpt from The Glorious History of the Changelings by Richard Trottenborough.
- The changeling history has long been forgotten by other species, but is taught to every Nymph early in life. They tend to split their history into important events, only choosing to remember these rather than a continuous timeline. These are taught through almost the same kind of process that their Hive Mind works. Actual memories, feelings, and emotions are given to each Changeling. These are not so much that the Changeling feels like they were there, more like they were observing it firsthand. This makes their history one of the most detailed and accurate of any species; however, they do not put dates to them, so knowing when exactly any of it takes place is speculation. They do however put them in chronological order of occurance. Here are some of the major events which every changeling would know about:
Quelling of Equestria
In the time before the Princesses of Equestria and Discord, Changelings were a great threat to the world. Their lands were vast, and they numbered in the millions. The equine community, which was still unorganized, were like sheep to the timberwolves of the organized Hive. However, in order to sustain their numbers over a long period of time, they could only prey upon ponies in small amounts. It was during this time that a new kind of Changeling was born, a Queen. This Queen, the first of her kind, led her people to conquer the equine community and rule over them. This however, did not last, both because of the equine revolution, and the subsequent rise of Discord. Because of this failure to completely control the equine society by means of direct force, alternatives were made for storing love, and smaller scale conquering was attempted in order to get a more constant supply of love.
First Battle for the Everfree
In the first attempt against the organized country of Equestria, the Changelings attempted to take down the pony Princesses. As it is unknown that the ponies would have developed serious tactics, the Changelings had taken a direct approach, as they had during the first campaign to conquer the equinic community. This resulted in the death of many Changelings at the hands of the Equestrian army. Fortunately, the leader of the assault recognized the futility of the situation, and fled the battlefield before heavier losses could happen.
Second Battle for the Everfree
In a second attempt on the Equestrian community, the Changelings launched a second assault on the castle in the Everfree with even less success. While some attempts at infiltration were attempted, they all failed, resulting in the ponies realizing the incoming raid and being ready. The assault ended with a 75% mortality rate among the Changelings. No further attempts were made for a full scale invasion of Equestria for a thousand years.
Subjugation of Marelantis
This part of history is largely unknown to other civilizations. The destruction of Marelantis was a direct result of the Changelings. After the repeated failures against Equestria, alternatives were found. The actual assault on the island went very smoothly, because despite their numbers, defensible position, and arguably better technology, the city did not expect an attack. Once the Stryders and Hunters assaulted the city, their rulers were quickly defeated in the same day. Furthermore, the Marelantians did not know of Changelings, resulting in many Marelantians dying to friendly fire. This huge success was largely due to the first Queen, who had personally infiltrated the city and posed as a member of the royal family. They plundered the city and its citezens, taking everything of value back to the Grand Hive. These spoils would eventualy lead to the building of the Dreadnaught Airship.
The Grand Campaign against Griffons
This would turn out to be the single worst campaign in Changeling history. It was meant to deal with the militarism of the Griffon population against the local Changeling Lairs. While some small towns fell to the sheer numbers of the Changelings, the success did not last. The lack of prowess that the average Changeling warrior holds on the battlefield could not compare with the brute force of the griffons once they mobilized. In a single battle, 95% of the entire expeditionary force was killed within one day. The remaining 5% managed to retreat to home territory, where the griffons lost track of the defeated army. It was not at a complete loss, as many griffons were captured for the Vaults.
Zebrican assault on a Hive
The zebra, fearing an inevitable attack, decided to assault against one of the larger Lairs near their capital. They moved in with many troops, and were met with much success as the Changelings in the area were not under the influence of the Queen, and were generally disorganized. The Hive itself remained abandoned and forsaken by the zebra, but unbeknownst to the local population Changelings under the Queen slowly took back the Hive, and causing the local zebra to believe it haunted.
Betrayal at Baltimare
This was widely considered a success in the beginning. The Changelings of Baltimare managed to create a coup d’état against the local government disguised as anarchist ponies, zebra, and assorted griffon gangs. The coup was a success, but that was short lived. Troops from surrounding cities cracked down on the coup, forcing the Changelings to flee the area, and causing guards to arrest innocent civilians. This too worked in the Changelings favor, as they disguised as guards to “arrest” civilians.
Assault on Canterlot
In the most recent history, the invasion of Canterlot, which was described by all involved as an “utter failure”, proved once again that the Changelings are not meant for full scale invasions. Despite the Stryder’s pacification of the Elements of Harmony, proving their vulnerability that was in question by some nations, and the defeat of Princess Celestia by Queen Chrysalis, the Changelings still lost. This was the most humiliating defeat at the hooves of ponies to date. Their forces were scattered after the events and required a lot of time to regroup. The Changelings did not lose resolve in the queen during this trying time. Unfortunately, the Equestrian War happened before they could regroup, and thus their fate was sealed.
The Sacking of the Grand Hive
After the fall of Princess Celestia, Princess Luna, and the Elements of Harmony, the Griffon Occupation Movement moved against the Changeling’s home land. They captured and tortured scouts until the Lair locations were given. At first the Queen thought that Changelings were defecting, but realized too late of the invasion on her land. Eventually, after many brave attempts to hold out, the Queen was betrayed, and the Grand Hive’s location was revealed. The Griffons took their Airships and troops and assaulted the Grand Hive. Fortunately, not all of the scouts and spies were captured, and the Queen was able to prepare against the assault. She set up defenses as best she could, but evacuated most of the Changelings, giving her love to them so that they could make it to Equestria and the other kingdoms using the Dreadnaught. The griffons, knew this was happening and set up a blockade as the ship left the Grand Hive.
In a valiant attempt, the ship managed to attack the blockade, the incident dubbed Black Rain by the griffons, where Changelings rained from the sky blocking out the sun, the massive ship being the hellish nightmare that destroyed the griffon air support. However, after the volley, the ship was captured by the griffons. The remaining changelings were for the most part taken as prisoners. Most of the Changelings the Queen was trying to protect were on the ship, leaving the Changeling population severely depleted and dependent.
The sacking itself was brutal for the Changelings. They did their best and killed many griffons, but the strength, numbers, and technology proved far too much for them. In a final act of survival, Queen Chrysalis sacrificed herself so that the remaining forces could escape. They fled using secret tunnels to the fallen Equestria. All in all, the Invasion lasted only a year and a half after the War.
Without the immediate guidance of the Queen, many spies were caught, as they were unable to maintain their guises without encouragement, and most of the other Lairs in the other kingdoms fell into disarray. Griffons occasionally come across outposts, taking all Changelings in them as prisoners. Only one stronghold remains, the one in Manehatten, where the new Queen and her last subjects attempt to survive.
To this day, it is a struggle to maintain survival, as the love vaults of the old Grand Hive remain untouched and inaccessible back in the home land. The new “Grand Hive” is currently an outpost under the city of Manehatten; in fact, under the Undermarket, allowing the remaining Changelings to feed off of scraps of love that manage to seep done to them from the rebels. Only around 300 Changelings exist in the outpost including the Queen and her 8 Royal Guards. It is not known whether the other outposts have fallen or just gone into hiding, so for all any Changeling knows, they are the last of their race.
Any character wishing to play as a Changeling must be very familiar with these rules and the Changeling Lore.
Authors: Reflected Failure, Onyx, Freyia
Love is what is required by all Changelings to function properly. Love is lost over time as the character progresses. A character will start off with “a few days’ worth,” and how much collected is dependent on the others around him/her, meaning there may be none collected. Changelings are unable to feed off other emotions like happiness or excitement. If a character does not at least love as a friend, there is no love gained. If a character drops out of a thread for any given amount of time or join in another elsewhere, for that thread your love is reset to “Average” even if you spent the whole other thread sleeping with mares and getting more love.
The magic and capabilities of Changelings is listed below. A character may choose to specialize in certain spells and capabilities. Doing so will lower the effectiveness of others while increasing the effectiveness of those specialized in. For every specialization you must choose any two combination of either spells that cannot be used or capabilities that are decreased in effectiveness. Specializing increases the skill, effectiveness, and power of the spell or capability. This means that using the spell will take less effort and be more effective or the capability is . Some spells and capabilities have extra features specialized. A decreased spell is unable to be used at all. A decreased capability has reduced effectiveness and power.
For example a Changeling character specializes in Crash Shield and Flying. He chooses to decrease Levitate, Transform, Night Vision, and Resin. This means that he is faster and has a more effective Crash Shield than other Changelings while at the same time he is unable to cast Levitate and Transform, and his resin and night vision is below average and less effective than other Changeling.
- Energy Bolt - A generic magical energy bolt. Most unicorns use them. A Changelings energy bolt is decided by how much love they have. (An Average Changeling = Normal Unicorn). Specializing in this makes the bolts more powerful and able to fire faster.
Crash shield - A Changeling’s shield is more powerful than that of a unicorn when it comes to taking kinetic damage, but it only covers everything within a 45 degree angle from the end of the nose. So if you’re sideways yes it will cover your side. Not only does maintaining the shield increase the rate in which your magic drains, but any damage it takes also takes from your love reserves. Specializing increases the strength and durability of the shield, it will not change the radius or shape.
Transformation - A changeling can shape shift into any pony they see. If they specialize, they can mix and match these traits to create their own pony. Only a specialized Changeling in Transformation can turn into races other than equine.
Levitation (Cannot be Traded) - Like unicorns, Changelings can levitate objects from a distance. They are less skilled at this than Unicorns, who can lift from farther away and heavier objects. If a Changeling specializes in this, they become as proficient as Unicorns immediately, with the potential to for more.
- Flying - Changelings are slower than both Pegasi and Griffons. However, they can outmaneuver both of them. Speed is what is mostly improved from specializing in this.
Strength - Changelings are durable but not invulnerable, and they sure as hell aren’t built for hoof to hoof combat. Specializing in this will increase the physical power a Changeling can have.
Carapace - Changelings have tough yet flexible and smooth coats. These coats naturally increase the amount damage a changeling can take but suffer when hit by blunt weapons. (mallets, maces, clubs, even hoof or claw strikes). A Changeling can increase the durability and toughness of their carapace without sacrificing flexibility by specializing.
Eating (Cannot be Traded) - Eating normal food does not give more love, but it does slow down the rate in which love is lost by just a little, though only eating food will eventually kill the changeling as they still need love to function. No benefit from specialization.
Night Vision - Changelings can see decently in dark places, (Not pitch black) but more often than not are given away due to their eyes glowing a very bright blue or green. Specializing in this improves the distance and light level required for normal vision.
Natural Resin - All changelings can excrete a green organic substance, which can be molded and stretched to fit multiple things. All characters may choose two attributes for their resin. If specialized in, a character may choose three attributes:
-Enzyme Rich Resin: At its base form it’s thick and wet, but has several anti-bacterial enzymes on it which make it good for bandaging.
-Tough Resin: When heated and refined, it hardens to that of roughly iron and can make a good piece of building material.
-Flexible Resin: When cooled it becomes flexible yet sturdy, like a trampoline it then becomes flammable.
-Glass Resin: When stretched far enough it becomes reflective, and then transparent, making good windows or mirrors.
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