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The Changeling Courts

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/changeling_swarm_emblem__vip__by_emkay_mlp_d8xy11j_fullview_5.png
"The Changelings MUST Survive."

Hidden from other races and civilizations for aeons, Changelingkind turned out to be far larger and more complex than Ex-Queen Chrysalis, Thorax and their Changelings. With the Purification of Thorax's Hive and the fall of the Masquerade, the whole world are left stunned at the realization that not only do the Changelings lived among them, feeding on their love and helping/manipulating them whenever they could, but also had history and mysteries far deeper than anyone could even begin to imagine...


  • The Ageless: Royal Changelings stop physically aging once they reach maturity. That being said, it won't stop them from being killed by accidents, diseases, and/or violence.
  • A Million Is a Statistic: Disturbingly, thanks to their numbers, their biology, their collectivism and their borderline-fanatical devotion to survival no matter the costs, not only do they not care much for the loss of many thousands of their own people, those many thousands would gladly and happily sacrifice themselves if it means the Changeling race as a whole would survive. They don't even care if they will die unremembered and unmourned; they see it as their duty to the greater whole, and in their eyes, the fact that their swarm/hive/court/race would live on as good enough a legacy. The implications are that on a cultural and perhaps even psychological level, much of Changelingkind literally see themselves as expendable.
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  • Apocalypse How: Changelingkind began with a fabled event known as 'The Fall', which ended the precursor civilization in Amorea ('The Ones Before') and either turned their remnants into Changelingkind or spawned them via 'The Cursing'. Then almost immediately afterwards, 'The Burning of Amorea' happened, whereupon hordes of dragons burnt down their homeland and plundered its ruins out of greed. Suffice to say, Changelingkind was traumatized to the point that they become obsessed with survival and secrecy, and developed a burning hatred for Dragonkind and Discord (Whom many suspected engineered the whole thing back when he was evil).
  • Arc Words: If the entirety of Changelingkind's mindset, culture and beliefs can be summarized in just four words, it can be found in the single most important tenet of the 'Changeling Creed': "The Changelings MUST Survive."
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  • Arch-Enemy: Changelingkind has a collective one in Dragonkind, as flights of Dragons burnt and plundered their homeland aeons ago in the 'Burning of Amorea'. The feeling became mutual after the Changeling Summer Court attempted to return the favour in 'The Time of Broken Scales'.
  • Beyond the Impossible: Changelingkind managed to hide their entire civilization from the rest of the world since gods-knows-when and had only came out fairly recently, and even then only by their own discretion due to changing circumstances. Let that sink in for a moment.
  • Changeling Fantasy: Many of the Royal Changelings have origins like this: Their Royal or Progenitor Parents beget them while sojourning among the mortals in disguise, where they grew up unaware of their heritage until their 'True Nature' begins to awaken. Whereupon they would undergo a fabled 'Errance' where they'll instinctively go out to search for their 'True Parent', whereupon they would learn their true heritage, and upon accepting/embracing it would metamorphosize into their Royal Changeling form. With the addition of a few Common Changeling subjects they're ready to get started creating their own Hive - and eventually, siring their own 'Spawns' like their True Parent before them.
  • The Clan: The 'official' Courts are ruled by a clan of Royal Changelings each, demi-divine absolute monarchs related by heritage to the 'Progenitors' matriarch/patriarch, and whose characters (mostly) reflects their wider family's temperament.
  • Crazy Survivalist: Besides secrecy, the Changelings are this to the point of obsession, with only the Meridians rivaling/surpassing them. The trauma of the Fall and the 'Burning of Amorea', along with their love-hunger, instilled upon ALL of Changelingkind a determination to survive no matter the costs. In the Changeling Creed, there is no greater rule other than that the Changelings must survive - it MUST.
  • Curse: How they came to be the way they were - a curse gave them their hideous forms and installed a need to feed on love for other sapient beings capable of such. Whether they were cursed that way by their precursors or were actually remnants of their precursors who were cursed is unknown even among the Changelings. Thorax's breaking and purification of the Curse is a major event as it promises a cure for their accursed conditions.
  • Cursed with Awesome: Arguably, their Changeling forms are hideous, and they constantly have to feed on love in order to survive. To make up for this, they gained shapeshifting abilities that allow them to impersonate whoever they want and blend in with different societies.
  • Cycle of Revenge: Deconstructed. The Changelings were engaged in a race/civilization-spanning blood-feud with Dragonkind that spanned aeons, due to Dragons burning down their homeland at the dawn of their existence and indirectly responsible for all the hardship they suffered. It's getting to the point that it's actually threatening the existence of both Changelingkind and Dragonkind as the fallout and consequences from their very long war returns to haunt them with a vengeance.
  • Death World: Amorea, the homeland of the Changelings, is a pretty nasty place to live from all available facts, with ashlands in the north (Constantly replendished with ashes from a volcanic chain), deadly jungles in the south, littered with ruins from the Changelings' predecessors and dwells many deadly natural wildlife and supernatural monsters. The fact that Changelingkind managed to endure and even prosper in this environment is lampshaded as a testament to their determination to survive, no matter the costs.
    • Also an important plot point to their origins, history and relationship with other races given how it got that way with 'The Fall' and 'The Burning of Amorea'. Is it any wonder how Changelingkind turned out the way they did?
  • The Determinator: The Changelings will survive, no matter the odds, no matter what they have to do. And they managed to keep this up for eons.
  • The Dreaded:
    • In general, getting the attention of the Unseelie Changelings is a recipe for disaster. The Winter Court Changelings are the worst of them, due to many of them being banished criminals and other lowlifes.
    • Inverted with the Seelie Changelings who are decidedly more benevolent. That being said, it's advisable not to get on their bad side.
    • First-Spawn Changelings have an infamous reputation among Changelingkind for being like gods that are second only to their parents, the Changeling Progenitors, in terms of experience and power. So great was their influence that the First-Spawn was collectively feared and respected. Currently only a few of them exist, as most of them have gone into hibernation, willingly or not; Prince Puck, Blackrose's son, is a First-Spawn that's still active, though it's hard to tell since he looks like a Common Changeling rather than a Royal Changeling as befitting his station.
  • Emotion Eater: As in canon, part of the bread and butter of being a Changeling is a hunger for love. This came from 'The Curse' that also created Changelingkind in the first place. Failure to feed causes their bodies and their minds to fall apart and becoming animalistic 'Feral Changelings' who would attack and drain love from anyone they could get their hooves on. Luckily, newly-ascendant Thorax and his Purified Changelings will hopefully cure or at least reduce this part to a minimum.
  • Exact Words: Like the Fae in mythology, the Changelings are fond of this. While their culture ensures they WILL stick to their end of their oaths and deals, especially the more benevolent Seelie Courts, they're also compelled by their culture to either milk it to their advantage or weasel out of it if it may harm/inconvenience them. It is advised that when making a deal with a Changeling one makes sure to cover every possible bases with clearly defined and unambiguous language.
  • Fatal Flaw: Obsession. Many members of Changelingkind and likely the Courts as a whole have a tendency of being overly preoccupied with past trauma and grudges, some aeons old, to the point these old pains and feelings are passed down generations and defined their entire identity and culture. Their defining racial obsession with secrecy and survival stems from their traumatic beginnings in 'The Fall' and the 'Burning of Amorea' as much as genuine necessity, for example. Some prominent Changelings such as Thorax don't have that sort of baggage, but more often then not, this usually ends up biting them in the flank when they least expect it.
  • The Fair Folk: Inspired this on Equus, complete with the distinction between Seelie and Unseelie Fae. The Spring and Autumn Courts belong to the former while the Summer and Winter Courts belong to the latter. In turn, Changelingkind in general is based on mythical faeries, such as their stickler for oaths.
  • Foil: To the Dragons. As quoted from Word of God:
    "I think this has to do with the fact that when I looked at them, I found that they are complete antitheses of one another; the Changelings are weak individually, hideous to look at and are dependent on harvesting love from others, and even in canon seems in possession of a culture which emphasizes on guile, secrecy, and sacrificing for the greater good. The Dragons by contrast are strong, aggressive and greedy to a fault, and even in-universe had a culture that emphasizes on might make right, brawn over brains, prideful individualism and wealth who never had to fight for their survival. I found that when put together, both of them are not exactly very compatible and even mutually exclusive."
  • Freudian Excuse: Changelingkind's immense hatred for Dragonkind came from 'The Burning of Amorea', where greedy dragons burned and ransacked the Changelings' homeland in order to plunder its riches for themselves, transforming the once lush and fertile Amorea into an irrevocably lifeless Death World. While it's understandable, it became increasingly clear that the Changelings were only hurting themselves in the name of fulfilling their vengeance, not to mention that there were dragons who weren't even involved in what their ancestors had done.
  • Forever War: Changelingkind had been fighting on-and-off against Dragonkind for aeons in a generations-spanning, cultural/racial blood feud over mutual transgressions. This began with the 'Burning of Amorea', when hordes of Dragons ravaged and plunder Amorea at the dawn of Changelingkind's existence, nearly pushing them to extinction and instilling them with a deep and festering grudge. One of the most infamous instances of this conflict was the 'Time of Broken Scales' nearly 5,000 years ago, when the Changeling Summer Court retaliated by launching an all-out genocide on Dragonkind and nearly did the job, which made the bitter enmity mutual from the Dragons' end. Only when recent crises caused by this conflict threatened both sides' existence, as well as budding friendship/love appearing between some of the most important members among Dragons and Changelings, are there now signs that the conflict might finally end.
  • Guile Hero: Changelingkind prizes wits more than brawn, owing to their weak insectoid-equine constitution, so heroes and champions among Changelingkind are naturally this, relying on skills and cunning to prevail. To quote one of their mantras: "POWER IS NOT EVERYTHING."
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Every Royal Changeling is sired with a person from a mortal race, whether they be a pony, a griffon, or something else. This often gives the child physical and magical benefits such as increased strength, size, or eyesight. Why this is, it's not exactly known, though it's speculated by non-Changelings that it's possibly related to the circumstances that led to the creation of Changelingkind.
  • Hive Mind: Subverted, as Changeling hives in general do not work like this. It's possible for a Royal Changeling to make a swarm behave as one unite with magic pheromones, but every Changeling is their own person and capable of having free will, something the Royal Changelings try to discourage in order to keep their royal legitimacy intact.
  • Holier Than Thou: Stated to be the attitude of many Royal Changelings, including the more benevolent ones. They do not tolerate dissension because they see themselves as objectively better than other Changelings - after all, they are smarter, stronger, longer-lived, and magically more powerful than their subjects. Plus, most Royal Changelings are children of either Blackrose or Blackthorn. Therefore, they deserve to rule by literal divine right. A major reason why the Royal Changelings hate the Autumn Court because they see the Changelings there as ungrateful for rejecting the protection and love they give all their subjects, and undermine their legitimacy by merely existing; once they find an Autumn hive, they either try to assimilate it back into mainstream society (Spring Court) or destroy it and enslave the survivors (Summer Court). This is deconstructed in that this attitude, especially when combined with Fantastic Racism, caused them to commit horrible atrocities that eventually came back to bite them in the ass and rightfully earned the anger of several people, including some deities and morally good Changelings. It's averted with Thorax, however, as his origins as a lowly Changeling drone played a part in becoming a truly good leader and gaining so many allies from inside and outside of the Changeling Courts.
  • Hopeless War: The Cycle of Revenge and aeons/generation-spanning conflict between Changelings and Dragons is fast becoming this by the present age, as not only are both sides getting no closer to wiping each other out, but the fallout and damage created by the toxic environment of vindictive hate are giving rise to evils and villains that threaten BOTH sides' existence. Despite all the wrongs, all the suffering both races had done upon each other, the only way this conflict could end now in any meaningful sense is by both sides burying their hatchets and walk away. Ember and Thorax are presently working on that, so there may yet be hope...
  • Horror Hunger: What their racial "Curse" entails. Changelingkind in general is forced to feed on love gathered from sapient beings, which in turn forces them to come up with creative ways to do this without earning the fear and wrath of the beings they feed on. Most members of the Spring Court feed by symbiosis, gaining love by doing good deeds for the public at large, while most members of the Summer Court get it from raiding non-Changeling settlements. It's averted with Thorax, who, beyond all odds, managed to ascend to Royal Changelinghood by willingly share his love with Chrysalis, allowing him to purify himself and a large majority of Chrysalis's hive in the process. It's implied that they were the results of the Amare kingdom's sins, forced to bear the weight of their predecessors wrongdoings, or they were cursed by Discord to become love-sucking monsters.
  • I Gave My Word: A Changeling's Word, Oath or Contract is regarded as serious business among the Changeling Courts, as in legends regarding the Fae. It can be inferred that in a society where survival depends upon deceiving others, trustworthiness through meeting obligations is a valuable commodity that allows for Changeling civilization to remain united and not devolve into society-rending distrust and paranoia (At least where the Seelie Courts are concerned). That being said, the letter and meaning of the promise is still important. Breaking one's oath immediately warrants the punishment of being Condemned to the Winter Court, as it is the equivalent to committing treason against their race.
  • I Have No Son!: In Changeling society, being disowned by a family member in general is a very serious matter; not only does it leave the victim at risk of starving (since Changelings are Emotion Eaters), it also shows just how far a Changeling had gone to deserve that kind of punishment. This is exemplified with the conflict between Buprestidae and Chrysalis; Buprestidae's complete disownment of her sister for committing genocide against the Twinkle-Eye Ponies of Timbucktu shows the kind of monster Chrysalis has become.
  • Land of Faerie: The Changeling homeland of Amorea, a continent which up until the Fall of the Masquerade remains unexplored, with all expeditions never returning. Now the world knows the reasons why that is the case.
  • Large and in Charge: Royal Changelings are known for their greater physical size compared to Common Changelings. As shown in canon, Chrysalis towered over the members of her hive, and after Thorax became a newly-ascended Royal Changeling, he grew in size as well.
  • Magnetic Hero: Though the "Hero" part varies with each individual, Royal Changelings are known for an aura of charisma that could draw Common Changelings towards them and inspire their loyalty. It takes a considerable amount of effort - like being too much of a tyrant - to spoil it and turn the Common Changelings against them, something cited as one of the reasons behind Chrysalis' downfall.
  • Mark of Shame: In-universe; being Condemned to Winter is regarded by Changelings as the equivalent of being actually marked, since it's a sign that someone committed an unspeakable crime.
  • Martyrdom Culture: From various entries it is explicitly or implicitly shown that Changeling culture operates with this vibe. Individualism is discouraged (Though NOT entirely eliminated), and sacrifice for the greater good of the hive is seen as the highest calling. When they stated "The Changelings MUST Survive", it likely means the race as a whole, a 'body' composed of millions upon millions of components, capable of enduring the (Willing) loss of thousands of units if that's what it takes to ensure the wider whole can survive and recover. They are so devoted into this concept many outside Changelingkind found it very disturbing.

    Entomo (Changeling Philosopher): "We will survive - We MUST. Though some of us may die, nameless and unmourned, their legacy will remain forever with us, through the swarms, through the hives, though our people's VERY EXISTENCE. Where one may fall before those that threaten us, there will be a dozen who would follow, and then hundreds and thousands after them. Those who sacrificed are but their harbingers, and those that follow will prevail where they cannot...

    "You may think 'We gave our lives for our swarm/hive/kind' is a disturbing thing to do. But for us... there is no greater epitaph. Though we are transient, in the greater whole, enduring forever, we shall be IMMORTAL. There is nothing more meaningful than to devote oneself to something greater. So ask yourself, then: how many others on this world are willing to do the same with such determination and devotion?"

  • Matriarchy:
    • The Spring Court is ruled by (mostly) benevolent Changeling Queens, and is likely an Enlightened version of the trope, since Blackrose's oldest son, Prince Puck, serves as her adviser and has other important responsibilities that she wouldn't normally trust her daughters with. However, the Spring Court is not without its own flaws, as it occasionally spawns 'bad apples' like Chrysalis, and even the more benevolent Queens tend to have a Holier Than Thou attitude towards their subjects and exhibits traces of racism towards non-Changelings, especially dragons. It's implied that the Spring Court's government system was inherited from their predecessors, who hailed from the Amare kingdom, which was ruled by wise and benevolent queens.
    • The Summer and Autumn Courts are an inversion, as they are both patriarchies ruled by Changeling Kings. This does not mean that they are objectively "inferior" to the matriarchal Spring Courts - while the Summer Court is a nest of backstabbing, underhandedness, and complicated schemes, it is largely due to the nature of its patriarch, Emperor Blackthorn. The Autumn Court has a looser form of government since it is populated by free-willed Changelings, but the most well-known Autumn hive is Hive Thorax, a hive of purified Changelings that is ruled by the benevolent Thorax, who became a Royal Changeling through The Power of Love.
  • The Masquerade: Maintained one for aeons, due to their secretive nature and obsession with survival. They had only recently broken it.
  • Monster Progenitor: The aptly-named Progenitors, the Parent Deities of all Changelingkind. Interestingly, they're not a couple (they couldn't stand the other in one case), but are instead the patriarch/matriarch of their own official Courts. Thorax is an unusual example; he was a former Changeling drone who ascended to Royal status by sharing love with Chrysalis, but he is technically regarded as a Progenitor in-universe, since his actions led to Chrysalis's hive transforming when they decided to follow his example in sharing love.
  • Mysterious Past: A lot of information about the Changelingkind's origins as well as that of their most notable figures are open to speculation. This is because the secretive race goes great lengths to hide them, leaving only tidbits of questionably reliable information at best for the outside world to consider. This includes the true nature of the Changeling Progenitors (though it's implied they were once mortal), how they became Changelings in the first place, and the backstory of the Amber Royal.
  • The Power of Love: It is implied that the cure to Changelingkind's love hunger lay in Thorax, who ascended to a Royal Changeling by willingly giving his love to Chrysalis. Supporting this is the gods' collective angry reaction to Changelingkind's mistreatment of Queen Acherontia for falling in love with a dragon, with Luminiferous informing them that continuing the racial feud with Dragonkind wasn't really worth letting their own people continue being condemned by their own curse. It's also theorized by Emperor Blackthorn that a Changeling's ability to share love with others is influenced by their determination to share love, which was supposedly how Thorax was able to ascend in the first place.
  • The Oath-Breaker: One of the worst things a Changeling can become, due to heavy emphasis on oaths and words in general. Breaking an oath immediately warrants condemnation to the Winter Court, as it is equivalent to treason.
  • Riddle for the Ages:
    • "What happened during 'the Fall'?"
    • "Who were the Progenitors and what role did they play in the creation of the Changelings? Why are they estranged?"
    • "What role did Discord play to make him earn the Progenitors' and Changelingkind's enmity for him?"
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: After the Dragons burnt down their homeland for the sake of seizing their riches, and nearly drove them to extinction at the dawn of their people, the Summer Court Changelings returned the favor in 'The Time of Broken Scales'. They would have wiped every dragon out had not for the intervention of the Dragons' own deities.
  • Secret Keeper: Next to survival, secrecy is this for Changelingkind, being one of their greatest protections from a hostile and dangerous world. Until recently 'The Masquerade' was the biggest one for them, with the gods and the very few individuals, groups and races which knew the Changelings' existence complicit in maintaining it. Even after it was dropped, Changelingkind is adamant to make sure few of their secrets falls into the wrong hooves.
  • Semi-Divine: Royal Changelings, the 'Spawns' and 'Grandspawns' of the Progenitors who are the Parent Deities of all Changelingkind, are this by their blood, and has everything that comes with being demigods. In-universe, they are collectively called the 'Scions of Amorea' to distinguish them from the 'mortal children' of the Progenitors that they rule over. "First Spawn" Royal Changelings are the oldest and most powerful among Royal Changelings, second to the Changeling Progenitors themselves.
  • Super Intelligence: One of the boons of being a Royal Changeling was a highly enhanced intelligence.
  • Trauma Button: 'The Fall', in which Changelingkind were cursed into becoming the love-eating creatures they are today. Asking about it to any Changeling would get shocked and/or angry reactions at best. The only ones who don't have this reaction are those from Chrysalis's hive and, by extension, Thorax's hive, as they were Locked Out of the Loop by Chrysalis herself via several generations of deceit for selfish reasons.
  • The Trickster: Changelingkind in general, owing to their culture emphasizing wits more than brute strength. Made easier by their powers of shapeshifting and being masters of infiltration.
  • We Are as Mayflies: A common attitude among the common Changelings of the Courts. Compare to their ageless, immortal demigod and divine rulers and in the face of ever-present adversity threatening the existence of their lives, hives, courts and even species, they see their short, humble lives as inconsequential in the greater scheme of things. This partly results in them developing a pervasive collectivist Martyrdom Culture, to the point they seem happy at the idea that they are utterly expendable, believing their devotion to the greater whole of Changelingkind and the higher cause of its survival to be all that matters and a willingness to die for them to be the greatest epitaph imaginable.
  • Women Are Wiser: Zigzagged.
    • The Royal Changeling matriarchs of the Spring Court are generally more benevolent than their patriarchal Summer Court counterparts, who are scheming, ambitious, and violent, and hives tend to be far more stable when ruled by a Queen. The Spring Court in general is also more stable than the Summer Court due to the positive influence of Empress Blackrose. However, this does not mean they are objectively "better", since Blackrose and most of her children are deeply racist towards Dragonkind, and even the more benevolent Queens tend to display a superior and patronizing attitude towards their subjects because they are royals. Chrysalis is also one of the few 'bad apples' that is birthed by the Spring Court, and is utterly irredeemable in the eyes of her family. Prince Puck, Blackrose's eldest son, is considered to be leagues reasonable than the females of his family, to the point where he serves as his mother's confidant and personal assistant, something that none of his sisters could hope to achieve.
    • The patriarchal Summer Court is a toxic nest of consummate backstabbing and complicated scheming, but everyone, including Emperor Blackthorn, pays respects to the Crone, a wise, ancient female Changeling who is Blackthorn's servant. That being said, there are a few Changeling Kings who break the mold; one of the more famous benevolent Summer Court figures is King Metamorphosis, who is widely regarded as "Summer's Conscience". This is largely a reason why he's Blackthorn's current favorite.
    • While the Autumn Court has a very loose government system (leadership tends to vary with each Autumn hive), the most famous Autumn hive is Hive Thorax, a patriarchal group of purified Changelings that is led by Thorax, a former Changeling drone who managed to ascend into a Royal Changeling through The Power of Love. Thorax struggles to become a proper leader, but he is very compassionate and has the potential to become a Changeling Emperor on the level of Blackrose/Blackthorn if he desired.

Spring Court

See their folder entries here.

Summer Court

See their folder entries here.

The Autumn Court

See their folder entries here.

The Winter Court

See their folder entries here.


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