There’s Eberron in the air tonight. Over on Nerdarchy the YouTube channel Nerdarchists Dave and Ted discuss what class you should play as a kalashtar or changeling, Eberron: Rising from the Last War releases in a few days and I just watched a terrific video about playing a juggernaut warforged as a T-800 Terminator character for fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons. I’m on the same page with Dave and Ted as regards ideal classes for changelings and kalashtar, so we’ll go in an unexpected direction here instead. A fresh cohort of Unearthed Arcana subclasses recently wrapped with lots of fantastic playtest options. How might some of them interact with kalashtar and changelings for a new Eberron campaign? Let’s get into it.
Rising from the Last War: Changeling and kalashtar
I’ll preface this by letting you know I’m not an Eberron expert. I’m familiar with the broad strokes. And I’ve played a hell of a lot of Dungeons & Dragons Online. So I know the places and organizations, but I don’t know who leads the Silver Flame for example. Up until Wayfinder’s Guide to Eberron came out, the only other time I’d heard of kalashtar was the Dungeon Master narration for DDO commenting on their high perception. When it comes to changelings my thoughts go to Changeling: The Dreaming. I mention all this for Eberron enthusiasts who might take umbrage at my interpretation of concepts or themes for these two races.
“The kalashtar are a compound race created from the union of humanity and renegade spirits from the plane of dreams — spirits called quori. Kalashtar are often seen as wise, spiritual people with great compassion for others. But there is an unmistakable alien quality to the kalashtar, as they are haunted by the conflicts of their otherworldly spirits.” — from Wayfinder’s Guide to Eberron
In the video, Dave and Ted point to the barbarian as an unexpected character class for a kalashtar. The interplay between the humanoid themselves and the quori spirit they’re bound to offers fertile ground for roleplaying and flavoring whatever class features they’ve got. Since the core mechanic for barbarians is rage, in the video they talk about considering the spirit as a calming influence, with rage representing basically the kalashtar’s id taking the wheel. Alternatively, the kalashtar’s standard operating procedure is serenity, until they unleash the power of the quori spirit inside. These are both great ways to illustrate the strange, symbiotic relationship.
But for our unexpected kalashtar barbarian it would be fun to lean into their quirky nature and imagine the Path of the Wild Soul features through the lens of this quori spirit. Unearthed Arcana describes the source of this Primal Path’s power as the Feywild, a realm of abundant beauty, unpredictable emotion and rampant magic. Exposure to this energy intensifies the barbarian’s emotions and infuses their body with magic, causing their rage to manifest in unpredictable ways. This sounds like a short walk to reflavoring the Feywild as the plane of dreams where the quori spirit resides.
Constitution fuels the subclass features so I’d put the floating ability score increase there, and invest heavily into this ability score as I level up. For your other ability scores, Strength will serve you well for combat. I’d dump Intelligence, and as for Dexterity, Wisdom and Charisma it’s a toss up although I dig Charisma to represent this character’s unusual personality. Mechanically, Wisdom is probably the better bet though. For Psychic Glamour I’d choose Intimidation.
This character develops a powerful relationship with their quori spirit, and the kalashtar quirks table helps further illustrate how this manifests. Let’s take a quick look at the Path of the Wild Soul features and how they play out for our kalashtar barbarian.
Path of the Wild Soul
Lingering Magic. When you detect magic you’re inviting your quori spirit to take a look around. You get to choose whatever color you glow to indicate various schools of magic, and for you this glow includes a translucent image of the quori coalescing around you. Up until now you might have explained the quori to your companions, but now they can actually see what the thing looks like.
Wild Surge. The juice! This incredible table of effects could easily represent you as a conduit, with your quori channeling a bit of the Region of Dreams through you into the Material Plane.
Magic Reserves. A kalashtar’s mind draws from the memories of their otherworldly spirit while they sleep, and spell slots represent a spellcaster’s memory in a manner of speaking. When you use this feature, you’re inviting the spellcaster to take a peek into the Region of Dreams with you and find greater potential there.
Arcane Rebuke. I can imagine the quori spirit manifesting visually, flaring up with rage at the affront and interposing themselves between the barbarian and the source of the creature forcing a saving throw.
Chaotic Fury. By now your relationship with your quori spirit is very powerful, and you’ve learned to manipulate the energy surging forth from the Region of Dreams when you rage.
There’s no mechanical changes here but I always enjoy imagining personalized ways to describe character abilities and features. Psychically bonding with a dream spirit is pretty strange, and the Path of the Wild Soul is equally unusual. So mashing these two concepts together makes for a character whose interactions with others almost guarantee unpredictable results.
“A changeling can shift its face and form with a thought. Many changelings use this gift as a form of artistic and emotional expression, but it’s an invaluable tool for grifters, spies, and others who wish to deceive. This leads many people to treat known changelings with fear and suspicion.” — from Wayfinder’s Guide to Eberron
In the video, Dave and Ted point to cleric as an unexpected character class for a changeling. In Eberron lore, changelings are closely tied to the Traveler, a deity of the Dark Six. This pleases me greatly, since my favorite subclass out of all the recent Unearthed Arcana cohort is the Twilight Domain for clerics. And wouldn’t you know it, the text even suggests the Traveler for this Divine Domain, as a deity of transition. Perfect! A Twilight cleric’s doctrine includes bringing comfort to those lost far from the light, and I love the idea of a changeling cleric keeping their identity mysterious whenever they lend their aid to strangers.
Unearthed Arcana describes the Twilight Domain as governing the threshold between safety and the unknown, and a changeling’s unknowable nature plugs right into this concept. Their Divergent Persona could be their way of further maintaining a secret identity, and their Twilight cleric abilities something they keep hidden to better serve the state of obscurity and ambiguity their deity represents.
Charisma, Dexterity and Intelligence ability score increases don’t necessarily jive with clerics, and the heavy armor proficiency Twilight clerics receive muddies the waters even more. I’d focus my attention on Wisdom and Strength so this character could bravely hang out where the action is hottest in heavy armor with a sword and board. A changeling’s ability score increases might not be optimal, but at least your less important abilities will get a little bump. For Changeling Instincts I’d choose Deception and Persuasion to represent their ability to assume a guise befitting their needs. And for their Divergent Persona tool proficiency I’d go with glassblower’s tools, imagining their craft things like glass lantern orbs. Their kitschy but also putting symbology of your deity in people’s hands.
This character’s deity directs them to delve into the dark to hold its dangers at bay. Protecting and comforting travelers in the night is a strong motivation for Twilight clerics, and for a changeling this is a wonderful opportunity to repay the kindness their people received from the Traveler. Let’s take a quick look at the Twilight Domain features and how they play out for our changeling cleric.
Twilight Domain Spells. Depending on the domain spell you cast, your physical features change to match the tone of the magic. When you cast sleep you take on a visage of restful calm. Casting darkness causes your eyes to turn into pools of solid black. Faerie fire elicits the unearthly grace of the fey. You get the idea.
Bonus Proficiencies. Your Divergent Persona as a glassblower includes a physical appearance as a thin, unimposing person. When the time comes to take on the mantle of Twilight cleric your body shape becomes bulkier and more imposing to fill out your armor and inspire a sense of safety to others in your presence.
Eyes of Night. It’s easy for you to change your eyes to see in the dark — your deity has blessed you with special sight. And now you can grant that blessing to companions. They might freak out a little when you explain how your deity is mutating their eyeballs but once everyone can see in the dark they’ll get used to it.
Vigilant Blessing. Your Changeling Instincts provide intuition about the way people think and behave. Your faith rewards these senses and now you can anticipate other creatures’ intent in just enough time to give you or an ally the extra split second needed to act first.
Channel Divinity: Twilight Sanctuary. I like the idea of your face becoming a blank slate when this feature is used, and through the power of your deity you appear to be whatever is most comforting to those in your sphere of twilight.
Steps of the Brave. This is your most superheroic ability — you can fly! Your changeling form is idealized here, this is how you see yourself at your very best. Maybe this will change over time, but whenever you use this feature you assume a very special appearance. It might only be a personal thing, but it’s special for you and your relationship to your deity.
Divine Strike. When you strike an enemy they get a brief glimpse of your Unsettling Visage. Your face rapidly morphs into different configurations for the briefest moment, enough for the enemy to see and hurt their brain because it’s so unsettling.
Midnight Shroud. Your most powerful Twilight ability gives you over completely to your deity and your appearance becomes totally blank. You can be anything to anyone, and nothing to everyone at the same time.
Same as with the Wild Soul kalashtar, none of these things present mechanical changes or benefits. The interaction of race, class and background in 5E D&D fascinates me and I enjoy thinking about different ways this combination of traits represents during play. I’m very excited about the upcoming release of Eberron: Rising from the Last War and playing either of these characters would be a lot of fun for me. Kalashtar intrigue me for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is a built-in connection to the quori and Dreaming Dark — some of my favorite aspects of the Eberron setting. As for changelings, I’ve never been terribly interested by them but I do love the Twilight Domain cleric and they feel like a great fit to me.
How about you? What sort of kalashtar or changeling characters sound cool to you? Are you already playing an Eberron campaign with one of these races? Do you like to reimagine and reflavor class features and abilities to personalize them for you character? Let me know all about it in the comments below.