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Simply put, can a Changeling change its sex... physically?

Specifically, I had an incident where a female PC tried to change into a male but I told her that a Changeling can't change 'reproductive organs'. Just wondering if I was wrong at that point.

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5 Answers

up vote 22 down vote accepted

Yes,

The Changeling Disguise ability reads:

Effect: You alter your physical form to take on the appearance of any Medium humanoid.

It is not restricted to any medium humanoid of the same sex.

Also, note the suggested names for Changelings in the book. Unlike the other races, they are not separated by sex. Changelings have just one list of names.

From the Eberron Player's Guide pg 29

A changeling who travels frequently might change identities from town to town, swapping genders, appearances, and voices to blend in within each new community.

Just noticed that all of the above is also in the DDI entry for Changeling. I didn't realize they added that much of the supplemental material there.

As to answering questions like:

  • Can a changeling's parts functional?
  • Can a changeling conceive regardless of his/her original sex?
  • Does it matter if a changeling polymorphs while pregnant?

While they are interesting questions, the game as written doesn't specify how reproduction happens for any race. We can't answer questions about what happens when a dwarf and an elf "get together", much less the particulars of changeling reproduction! @Brian's answer gives excellent guidance as to what you and your group can do to figure things out if you want to go down that road.

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No.

You can gain the appearance and outer characteristics of another sex — or no sex at all, as with a warforged — but you retain your personal sexual identity.

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It Depends.

As @Pat noted, DDI indicates you can change gender. And the spell is a polymorph spell, which means that physical changes do take place. It would be difficult to disguise yourself via polymorph without taking the external sexual characteristics of the race into account. (Or removing them, in the case of lizardpeople.)

However, the fundamental question is one of the social contract between players and DM, because this is something that can completely and totally break immersion for some groups. While impersonating someone of the other sex is fine, (and I'm absolutely not getting into the silly prescriptivist debate between sex and gender), the question of bringing a child to bear as someone polymorphed into the other sex is one that is absolutely and completely under the DM's control.

Therefore, if a player tries this during your game, allowing them to look as if they're "Lady Such and Such" when they're a male rogue is fine. If they try to go further than that, ask them to table their plans for now and to chat with you after the game over coffee (or beverage of your choice.) Here, as in all contracts, the boundaries need to be drawn regarding the use of and the depiction of the act of sex in a game. I would be quite shocked if the player playing as a male character would want to carry a child within them for any non-trivial length of time, as that would basically stop the character adventuring. In short form, if they want to have sex, the most trivial thing to do is fade to black, and resume the story, as the biological consequences of sex are unlikely to be directly interesting to the plot.

However, in the right group, a story about the genetic nature of changelings could make for a very interesting philosophical exploration, if handled well. While this is a world-setting toggle "how do changelings have children?" the consequences are fascinating any way one sets the toggle. This topic absolutely must be unanimously agreed upon by the group beforehand, and is not a topic for a newbie DM nor a group that has people with extremely strong feelings on the topic.

My recommendation, if Changelings don't feature in your game except as a PC race is to assume that they have normal biological workings, are infertile except with people of their own species, and can mimic the external sexual characteristics (and appropriate mental responses) of any race their power covers.

If changelings do feature in your game, absolutely explore the question of how they reproduce, figure out the consequences, and then have it be part of their background or a clue in a plot.

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Yes.

From 'Races of Eberron', Page 45 : "A changeling can alter his or her gender (and reproductive abilities) as part of using the race's minor shapechange ability." "If a changeling in a female form conceives a child, she loses the ability to change her gender until after the child is born."

Unless there is something in 4e overriding that content.

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About the gender: Changelings can any take any humanoid form and gender (if a humanoid race has no gender or is transgendered or anything similar then that too), this is no illusion, it is a real change.

About pregnancy: Changelings are themselves natural descendants of the Doppelganger and Human races, their organs truly change, and these two facts mean they can be pregnant, or make others pregnant. The offspring is most likely always a Changeling itself.

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do you have a source for this? –  wax eagle Feb 29 '12 at 13:17
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