A Changeling (sometimes shortened to "ling") is a shapeshifting monster that sucks the fluids out of people in order to take on their appearance. They are always tasked with absorbing a certain number of humans (usually ten, unless the station's population is too low for ten to be feasible) and then to escape on the shuttle.
The changeling role is randomly assigned to 1 or more players at the beginning of a round. The changeling usually looks just like a regular crewman. If it manages to get a human in a stranglehold, it can stab them with a proboscis and suck out all of their fluids, incorporating their DNA into itself and leaving nothing but a dried out husk. The changeling is capable of instantly taking on the appearance of any of the people it has absorbed, and has a number of powers it can use.
If you catch a changeling in the middle of a meal, it's obvious what it is. At all other times it is indistinguishable from normal humans, unless you can get a sample of its blood. Changeling blood reacts very strangely in response to direct heat, so take your sample and use a welder on it a few times. It will be obvious if it reacts.
In general, changelings can take a lot more punishment than humans. They are immune to diseases and cannot develop heart conditions, so it's usually difficult to kill them. They do not need to breathe (and thus can't take OXY damage), are immune to noxious gases and the freezing effects of space. Additionally, on the map Nadir, changelings will find they have near total immunity to the aqua tenebrae ocean found outside its walls. The acid will still melt their face off, but as a face-changing creature, this won't be much of a setback.
In addition, when the changeling absorbs someone, the victim becomes a part of the changeling's hivemind. Flavor-wise, the changeling gains the victim's skills, memories, and knowledge. Mechanics-wise, the victim enters a special version of deadchat where they can telepathically speak with the changeling and other absorbed crew and ask to be made into a handspider, eyespider, legworm, or buttcrab. Should one of the absorbed be borged, cloned, or otherwise revived, they will be evicted out of the hivemind into their own bodies and are allowed to disclose any information they've learned with hivemind. Should the controlling changeling irreversibly die, all the hivemind members will be evicted into the afterlife as regular Ghosts. A hivemind member can also leave on their old volition a minute after they've been absorbed.
Remember, you start with a job and all the access it comes with. Being A Better Traitor may have some useful tips for you.
Only Enter Regenerative Stasis and Horror Form can be used while unconscious, but handcuffs are not a concern.
|Icon||Name||Cooldown||DNA Cost||While stunned?||In lesser / horror form?||Description|
|Absorb DNA||N/A||N/A||No||No||Starts the DNA absorbing process, for which a stranglehold (neck grab) is required. If successful, 10 DNA points and one unique identity are gained for every human. Absorbing a fellow changeling adds all their accumulated DNA material. Monkeys cannot be drained.|
|Handspider||140 seconds||4 DNA||Yes||Yes||Depending on which hand is currently active, either the changeling's left or right arm falls off and turns it into a handspider controlled by a selected member of the hive mind. The missing arm automatically regrows after 75 seconds. See below for more information.|
|Eyespider||140 seconds||0 DNA||Yes||Yes||A literal application of "got my eye on you" in form of an eyeball informant/scout. Turns one of the changeling's eyes into an eyespider controlled by a selected member of the hivemind. The missing eye automatically regrows after 40 seconds. See below for more information.|
|Legworm||180 seconds||6 DNA||Yes||Yes||Turns one of your legs into a mightly legworm, controlled by a selected member of the hivemind. The missing leg automatically regrows after 75 seconds. See below for more information.|
|Buttcrab||60 seconds||1 DNA||Yes||Yes||Reminder that you're playing Goonstation. Turns your butt into a silly buttcrab, controlled by a hivemind member of choice. The missing butt regrows after 40 seconds. See below for more information.|
|Transform||N/A||0 DNA||Yes||No||Allows the changeling to select the appearance of any of its victims and change to it immediately. And no, you do not get wizard/vampire/whatever abilities from absorbing and transforming into the wizard/vampire/whatever.|
|Lesser Form||5 seconds||0 DNA||Yes||No||The changeling turns into a monkey, with all associated abilities and restrictions. You keep all the clothes and other equipment you're wearing during the transformation, and handcuffs will also be removed in the process. In this form, only some of the changeling's powers are available. Use the command again to revert to a human body.|
|Mimic Voice||N/A||0 DNA||Yes||No||Allows the changeling to speak with the voice of anyone, even those it hasn't absorbed. If you speak over radio, it'll prompt you for the appropriate radio icon to help aid in the masquerade. You can even use it to sound like someone who doesn't actually exist. It is very handy (albeit not often used) as you can very easily throw the crew off your trail with a fake announcement.|
|Enter Regenerative Stasis||45 seconds||0 DNA||Yes||No||The changeling appears to die, but in reality it is slowly repairing damage to itself, and will get up unharmed and active if left alone. Removes all embedded bullets and purges all reagents in the bloodstream, along with regenerating missing limbs and organs. You won't be able to move while in stasis.|
|Speed Regeneration||90 seconds||10 DNA||Yes||Lesser: No
Horror: Auto (free)
|Similar to the stasis, but heals you on the move. Every tick, speed regeneration purges a small percentage of all reagents in the bloodstream and has a chance to regenerate any missing limbs and organs. Speed regeneration doesn't work at all when you're on fire, though. If you aren't, it remains active until you are fully healed and have a complete set of limbs. Unfortunately, using this ability is incredibly obvious and will expose your alien nature to anyone nearby (and the AI, in case it's watching you)|
|N/A||Release headspider||N/A||10 DNA (passive)||N/A||N/A||Passively activates on death if the changeling's body isn't destroyed and it has a small amount of DNA. Releases a small spider that you can control that can move under tables and through doors. If you successfully implant yourself down a victim, then unless they get immediate surgery or killed, you'll control of their body and live again. Don't rely on this saving you if you die, however.|
|Toxic Spit||90 seconds||0 DNA||Yes||Yes||Launches a bright green wad of fluorosulfuric acid at a person. If it makes contact, it will instantly melt their headgear, making it easier for the changeling to absorb the victim. If they aren't wearing any, the acid will burn and disfigure their face instead. The projectile is very slow and can be outrun, and also shows a bright red and very obvious message to everyone in visual range. Therefore, it is generally only practical to use at point-blank range or on someone you've already incapacitated.|
|Neurotoxic Sting||140 seconds||0 DNA||Yes||Yes||Injects an adjacent human with 50 units of neurotoxin which, after a short delay, will knock them unconscious for a long time and give them severe brain damage. The sting is stealthy, but the effect is not. If you continue standing next to the victim, it'll be quite obvious to everyone that you stung them. The sting makes them start drooling and moving out of control before they fall asleep. They also receive an indication just before they go down, but it's usually too late by this point. Still, use with caution, as the victim (or a bystander) may be able to shout for help if they catch on quickly. Replaced by Capulettium Sting on the RP servers.|
|Capulettium Sting||140 seconds||0 DNA||Yes||Yes||A special RP-server sting, replaces Neurotoxic Sting. Injects 20 units of capulettium, which will paralyze someone, prevent them from speaking louder than a whisper, and allow you to monologue freely.|
|Hallucinogenic Sting||90 seconds||0 DNA||Yes||Yes||Injects them with 30 units of LSD. They'll start seeing weird colors and mobs, which miiight make someone think they're being attacked by someone else if they're really gullible. Not very useful, but it's better than nothing if you're waiting for your spit and neurotoxin to recharge.|
|DNA Sting||90 seconds||4 DNA||Yes||Yes||Consists of two separate commands: Select DNA sting target and DNA sting. The former is a list of every identity you've absorbed so far, plus the one you started with. Once a target ID has been set, using the sting will inject the victim with DNA along with stable mutagen, altering their name and appearance to that of the selected identity after a delay. It also works on "open" containers, such as beakers and drinking glasses, and all patches, even medical ones ; whoever ingests the chems in the container or has the tampered patch applied to them also gets their name and appearance altered to the selected identity after a while.|
It isn't used up in the process, though the ability is very situational. It can be feasible for misdirection in combination with mimic voice. If you get outed, you could for example transform and then sting someone else with your outed identity, and let the crew murder them instead of you.
|Horror Form||N/A||(15 DNA)||Yes||No||This removes all stuns, and the changeling turns into a shambling abomination (see below). Doesn't cost DNA, but requires that you have at least 15 points stored up.|
|Morph Arm||180 seconds||6 for abom.
4 for claw
|Yes||Yes||Transforms your currently selected arm into either an abomination arm or a claw for 3 minutes.
It's worth noting that this power will work even if you don't have any arms to start with. It's also a good idea to remember that you can't pry open doors with either one of these arms, even the abomination tendril. Even the mighty changeling quakes in fear before the nigh omnipotence of an unpowered airlock.
|Speak Hivemind||N/A||0 DNA||Yes||Yes||Sends a message to all members of the hivemind chat and only hivemind chat, so there's little possibility of somebody snooping as you talk to yourself.|
|Silence Hivemind Member||N/A||0 DNA||Yes||Yes||Kicks someone out of the hivemind, into deadchat.|
|Grant Control to Hivemind Member||N/A||0 DNA||Yes||Yes||Allows a member of your choice to play and control the changeling for a while. You are still considered the "master" mind other minds follow, but now the "controller" is a different mind/player. Note that the member doesn't get this ability, so they can't relinquish control on their own nor transfer control to another member. They also can't use Silence Hivemind Member.|
|Retake Control||N/A||0 DNA||Yes||Yes||Allows you to retake control of the changeling body at any point after you've used Grant Control to Hivemind Member. If you don't see this ability, look for a Changeling tab and see if there's a Retake Control command.|
When a changeling who has already absorbed several humans is threatened or exposed, they can resort to entering horror form. They become an enormous monster with a host of deadly powers, detailed below, and retain their usual abilities such as toxic spit (or an equivalent power).
|Devour||N/A||N/A||The abomination quickly eats whoever they have grabbed aggressively (which they do by default), absorbing their DNA. Conveniently, this ability bypasses the need to remove the victim's headgear as well. Be warned that devouring somebody will destroy all items they had on them. Monkeys cannot be consumed.|
|Horrific Scream||10 seconds||1 DNA||The abomination lets out a horrible screech, slowing down all nearby humans and often (70% chance to occur) causing them to drop items. Blocked by ear protection (earmuffs etc).|
|N/A||Maintain form||Auto||1 DNA per tick||Not an ability per se, but important nonetheless. Abominations automatically expend 1 DNA point every two seconds.|
|Revert||N/A||15 DNA||Accomplished by pressing Horror Form again. The abomination takes on a human form once more, sacrificing some DNA points in the process. This weakens it and leaves it temporarily stunned. Abominations automatically revert if they run out of DNA points.|
Abominations are tough and very capable fighters. Its punches will do a large amount of damage to people, cyborgs and critters, stun them for a few seconds, and can smack them across the room. Using Grab intent automatically results in aggressive grabs, and using the Disarm intent is guaranteed to knock a weapon out of somebody's hands and can also literally 'dis-arm' threats (i.e. chop off their limbs). Shamblers can pry open doors and firedoors, and smash through windows as well as grilles. And that's just unarmed; It they can still human weapons and such.
Abominations are impressively resistant to brute damage, receiving only 20% of the damage. They have massive amounts of stamina (roughly 1200), regenerate lost stamina extremely quickly (over 1000 regen!), and are completely immune to almost all stuns. They have the effects of Speed Regeneration going on at all times, meaning as long as they aren't on fire, they constantly heal their wounds (including spontaneous limb regeneration) and purge a small portion of chems inside their system.
What's the downside? Because of all that mass, abominations are slower than usual, and despite all their stamina, they cannot sprint. They cannot wear clothes other than hats and backpacks, maintaining horror form burns up the DNA stockpile, and, obviously, it's not very stealthy. The AI and cyborgs are also free to murder them as a blatant non-human killing machine.
In addition, all members of the changeling hivemind can fire a weak acid splash ball simply by clicking anywhere on their screen. The acid splash does a piddling 1 BURN damage and can't melt items or faces, but it travels very quickly, though it can obviously still be dodged, and there's little downtime between each use, allowing it to be easily spammed. Naturally, more members means more projectiles too. A ten- or even a five-member hivemind all firing at once produces an absolute machine gun of acid splashes.
Playing as a changeling
You accumulate DNA points by absorbing humans. Try to find someone out of the way, or at least somewhere where no one is present at the moment. Make sure you're near somewhere you can hide for an extended amount of time (maintenance is a popular choice); the absorbing process takes a long time. Have your plan laid out beforehand. Trying to wing it will almost certainly get you caught. Once you're confident, it's time to take your target down.
Any movement on the part of the victim during the absorbing process will ruin it, so you need to get them down for a significant amount of time to allow you to go to work. Fortunately, you have some powers that can help you with that, in particular the Neurotoxic Sting ability. It is completely silent and with careful timing can be used in ways so as not to blow you cover. Stinging people drinking in the bar or smoking space weed may not immediately alert them to the danger they are in. You can then pull out a health analyzer, gasp at the readings and drag them off to be eaten.
Absorbing Your Victims
After your victim is down, you need to cart him off to the area you planned on to absorb him. Once there, it is a good idea to remove the radio from your victim's ear as soon as possible. Victims can still type while unconscious, so if they get a split second up they can send out a long message revealing your identity and your position. To strip the radio, click-drag them onto your sprite. This opens the gear stripping menu. Click on their radio headset and stand still until you pull it off.
After you have your victim down and prepped, you need to first grab them no fewer than 4 times first before you can absorb them for DNA. The precise process for absorbing people is listed below:
- Switch to the Grab intent and click on your victim to grab ahold of them. This will give you a new icon in your hand that says Grab.
- Click on your victim again to strengthen your grip further. Alternatively, you can also click on the Grab icon in your hand (not the Grab intent button), press C if you're on Goon WASD hotkeys, or press Z if you're on /tg/-style hotkeys. This will give you a new icon in your hand that, rather confusingly, says Disarm. This is different from the Disarm intent button.
- Click on your victim once more, for a third time. The alternatives to clicking on your victim in the previous step still apply. Wait until it changes to kill and keep it that way. You'll need to remove their headwear as well if the game says it's keeping you from getting a good grip on them.
- Click Absorb DNA in the top left.
- Finally, wait. Absorbing someone takes a while. You need to stand still until the messages say you've drained all the fluids from your target.
Your victim will be turned into a husk, and their identity will be added to your collection of forms. The neurotoxic sting isn't necessary to absorb a target, it's just a relatively easy way to knock down a target. They make it most likely that your victim will not get off a cry for help. You can absorb DNA from any human body. It doesn't matter if it's a suicide or a corpse left behind by another antagonist. It is free food. Hide or destroy the husks you leave behind to keep the crew unaware of your existence.
It should be noted that you can technically drain human NPCs. There's no difference between eating these and eating a player-controlled human, though the disguises offered by assuming the appearance of a NPC tend to be not as useful.
When you absorb a person, your victim doesn't simply die and get ejected into the afterlife. Instead, that person lives again as one of multiple minds in your personal hivemind. In this state, they can see everything you see, right down to your UI style, and they can speak to you telepathically via hivemindchat. You can talk back via Speak Hivemind. However, they can't control your character or otherwise interact with the world around you (though you can lend a member control for some time by the Grant Control to Hivemind Member ability). It's very much like having a Ghost Observing you that can you talk to and recruit.
Each hivemind is solely yours. If there's another changeling, the members of their hivemind won't be able to talk to you or members of your hivemind, and vice versa. If one of the hivemind's (former) body gets turned into a Cyborg or AI or otherwise somewhow gets revived, they'll exit the hivemind. Once a minute has passed since entering the hivemind (i.e. getting absorbed), a member can also leave on their accord via Exit Hivemind in their Special Verbs tab. You can oust them out yourself via Silence Hivemind Member.
These absorbed players can do so much more than just observe and give advice. By detaching your hand, eye, leg, and/or butt into a separate creature through the Handspider, Eyespider, and Legworm abilities, respectively, you can turn a hivemind member of choice into your very own underling! Each changeling pet brings its own boon to your hunt for the crew's DNA, and you can have multiple of each out at a time.
- Eyespider: A weak (5HP!) scout/tracker unit. They are quite fast and can see through walls, walk through closed doors, and Mark a single person at a time, allowing them to keep track of the marked's appearance and the current room they're in and allowing you to see the Marked target through walls too, temporarily. They can also cry to create visible puddles of water for people to slip on, which will essentially knockdown people who are moving too fast without wearing magic sandals or galoshes, granting you an opportune moment to sting them with neurotoxin or use your own stun item on them.
- Handspider: A worker unit or a resource gatherer for DNA Points, scary good in the hands of a robust player. These spiders can Gnaw into humans, living or dead, for DNA Points, which you can collect by clicking on the handspider via Grab intent. (Alternatively, the handspider can click on you while on Grab to give back your arm and all their DNA Points.) Or they can just hide under a table and punch the utter shit out of random passerbys, giving you an ample distraction for a Neurotoxic sting. They can also pickup items, though this slows them down a lot and prevents them from sprinting.
- Legworm: A dedicated warrior unit. Because they're whole limbs instead of just a hand or an eye, they're good bit sturdier, clocking at around 30 HP, and hit harder than eyespiders and handspiders but are also easier to hit. They can launch (i.e. throw) items by clicking on them. They have a Power Kick ability that can be used to smash glass and/or tables, force open closed doors, and even launch humans or any unanchored item backwards. A legworm can also Writhe on the floor to stun all adjacent players - just be careful not to activate this ability near your master or limb friends!
- Buttcrab: The clown of limbcritters. It can Farting sting to inject unsuspecting victims with fartonium, causing endless farting for some time, and can Anti-farting sting to inject them with simethicone, preventing them from farting. Speaking of farting, they can *fart to release a fart cloud that's mildly poisonous and blocks line of sight. While they don't actually have hat slots, other people can put hats on them simply by clicking on them while holding a hat. All in good, harmless fun until they start combining the two stings together or bringing out the bible.
In addition, the first three changeling pets have a Boil Blood ability. When used, the pet will burst into a big spray of gibs and hot blood, dealing a little burn damage to everyone in the immediate vicinity, as well as injecting them with some changeling blood. Legworms and handspiders can also hide under tables simply by clicking on them.
If you click on any of these critters while on Grab intent, you will regain the associated limb, and the controlling player will return to your hivemind. As mentioned before, this is also how you collect DNA points from handspiders. Dead/smashed handspiders and legworms can still be collected, providing 4 and 6 DNA points respectively, essentially refunding the ability costs. If you collect an eyespider, living or dead, the mark on a marked target will disappear, and you'll no longer see them through walls.
Be sure to do this in a fairly secluded place or with no one around, as the handspidering/eyespidering/legworming/buttcrabbing process is very obvious (as in, anyone watching will see a big bold red message). Each ability will also result in a corresponding loss of an arm/eye/leg/butt and, as you'd expect, the associated disability. Luckily, you automatically heal back the respective organ after ability use, usually in time for the cooldown to expire, so you usually don't need to use Enter Regenerative Stasis or Speed Regeneration. Be very quick about it or make a reasonable excuse for when someone asks why you're inexplicably missing a leg or arm.
The Art of Deceit
The changeling's greatest strength is deceit. If you cleanly absorb a crew member, you can transform into any one of them at will. Don't do this where somebody can see you, obviously. If it would help to disguise yourself as your victim, you can strip them down of clothing and dress up as them. Keep in mind, the sharper-eyed crewmembers may notice something is off with your outfit if you don't take everything they're wearing. In addition, don't mix and match your victims' clothes. If you see a man with items from four people, he's probably none of those people. This is grounds for security officers to stun you and look you over if they know there's a changeling about. In reality, everyone is probably (key word: probably) too oblivious to realize you aren't that person unless you do something exceedingly blatant (like wearing a captain's jumpsuit as a staff assistant, and even then it isn't too out of character).
Lying is even more important to changelings than it is to other antagonists. Your ability to mimic voices has great potential. You can imitate anyone, even people you haven't absorbed or who don't exist. Keep in mind, the AI can see the job associated with the voice and track it back to you. Limit its ability to do this by hiding in a locker or out in space. Also consider removing your ID. Alternatively, wear the same kind of ID your intended target is wearing. Common uses for this are staging cries for help at the opposite end of the ship from you to keep security busy, staging a fake Syndicate attack, etc. It takes some practice to use properly, but can be very effective when mastered.
The lesser form ability can also be useful for getting into places before people are generally aware there's a changeling about. It turns you into a monkey, which will let you jump over tables with a delay and is overall a less threatening form to the crew. Most people will generally ignore a monkey if one sneaks in the door behind him or starts poking around at a corpse. You can use this to get access to a new area or just screw around a bit while other antagonists cause havoc and give you more of an opportunity to kill people. Be aware however that player monkeys are easily identifiable from regular monkeys, and if a changeling is reported, player monkeys are often public enemy number one.
Another way of lying can simply be to wait. If you narrowly escape security, just hole up somewhere and wait for 5 or 10 minutes for the heat to die down. Unless you are the only antagonist on the station, security will almost certainly become caught up in some other crisis and forget about you. At that point, you are free to visit crew quarters, grab a new outfit, and blend in with everyone else.
Lying is the most important skill a changeling can have, but there is one way you can be caught out, even if you aren't seen using your powers and have an explanation for everything. If a savvy investigator gets suspicious of you, there's a method available to them that allows them to determine your guilt with certainty: the blood test.
Changeling blood is different from human blood. It reacts to strong heat. If someone is allowed to draw your blood and heat it, you'll be revealed as a changeling. Not everyone knows this trick, and not everyone realizes just how much heat they have to apply to cause a reaction (it is a lot). If you're unlucky enough to be up against someone who knows what he's doing, you'll be caught for sure. You do have options though. Drawing blood requires them to be next to you, allowing you to deploy your stings and spit on them easily. If they aren't smart enough to have backup, sting and then eat them because one on one they have little chance against you.
If they're testing more than one person, try and sting them while they work on someone else's blood, and then blame the other person. At least one person will be occupied working on the test, so you can use that as a chance to disable their backup and escape to change identities. If you've acquired a decent store of DNA already, you may have a chance to catch everyone working against you in one attack by changing to a shambling abomination and screeching at them and punching them out. That requires you to commit yourself to fighting your way through the rest of the crew, mind. They'll quickly descend upon you with the heaviest blunt objects they can find as soon as they hear a shambler is on board.
Alternatively, you could convince one of your eyespider/legworm/handspider underlings to use their Boil Blood ability near one of the testees. This will inject the testee (and anyone else caught in the spray of gibs) with a dose of hot changeling blood. If they time it right, the test will be falsely frame the testee as a changeling, and a sound beating from everyone in the vicinity will likely ensue.
You could wait for them to actually do the test before making your move, because they might mess it up. If they get it wrong and clear you as a human, you can do basically whatever you want short of actually using powers in public without getting caught.
You could be the most cautious changeling in the world, but fact of the matter is, it's entirely possible that somebody is going to walk in on you at the exact instant you stab the captain with your proboscis. Naturally, they'll run away and raise a riot about you. Depending on the mood of the crew, this can mean a single, inept security guard comes taking a glance around, or it can mean a horde of angry and scared people carrying improvised weaponry. The second is a lot more common. Assistants will take any opportunity to beat something to death. So now what?
Changelings don't need air to survive and aren't bothered by cold. Space is your friend. You can freely clamber along the outside of the station, so if you can make it to an airlock, jump out and rely on a fire extinguisher to propel you around. You can also use the inky void to stash and absorb bodies, but be careful to do this only on the very tip of the solars, where the AI can't see you. To remain stealthy while spacewalking, put on a space suit and oxygen tank, even though you don't need one.
Fight it out
Don't fool yourself into thinking you're Superman. You usually have the upper hand in one-on-one combat, but you're in serious trouble against a crowd. Fighting is a last resort. Maybe you get a chance to break a window and leap into space, or maybe someone slips up and you overpower them for long enough to escape. If you end up being handcuffed and on a one way trip to the kitchen, remember all is not lost: your "human" body is nothing but a puppet to you, and in the blink of an eye you are able to shrink your upper appendages to instantly slip out of your cuffs and, through a fake death and a lucky disarm, possibly regain the upper hand against multiple opponents too busy gloating over their performance to adequately keep you stunlocked.
If you're completely out of options, it's time to pull out all the stops. Turn into a shambling abomination and try to take as many of them with you as you can. You can still wear hats and masks, keep your back item, and use your hands. Everything else is shed as you turn into a lumpy mass of spider legs and gnashing jaws. A shambling abomination has a much more offensive skill-set. Not only is it incredibly obvious what you are (the AI and cyborgs will now zealously try to kill you), but you pose such a massive threat that you will almost certainly be immediately swarmed by a huge crowd of desperate humans.
This new form is much larger and more malleable; see a previous paragraph for a detailed description of your powers. Combine the screech with your increased strength (disarm and harm attacks) and regular abilities (spit and stings), and try to knock down or disable as many opponents as possible. Devour helpless humans while they try to recover or fight back. For this you grab a fallen human by the neck as you would to absorb DNA, and pick the Devour ability. After a few seconds, you'll simply swallow them whole, destroying any items they might have held and their body, and adding them to your DNA counter. If there are too many humans to devour before they can reorganize their attack, repeat the procedure by using the DNA of the people you've already eaten.
One thing that might seem like a good idea but is not is regenerative stasis. This power makes you die outwardly, while inwardly you are healing your wounds. You cannot move or act while this process goes on. If you do this in sight of a human that knows or suspects you are a changeling, they will almost certainly gib or incinerate your body before you can get back up. The headspider practically compels them to do this. Regenerative stasis is best used when you're wounded and unwilling or unable to go to the medbay for healing. Go in a locker, close the door, and start your stasis. At that point, even if someone finds you, they will presume you are a victim of a different antagonist.
In the event that the crew manages to murder you without destroying your body, there's one last ace in the hole. After death, over the course of several seconds, your head will detach with a series of obvious messages. If your body is not destroyed, it turns into a headspider that you can control. If successfully shove yourself down some unfortunate victim's throat, you'll eventually take control of their body after five or so minutes, unless they get surgery, commit suicide or are killed. In the meantime, they'll get scary messages about something trying to take over their body. This rarely happens, though. In practice, they'll throw themselves in the gibber out of spite.
Playing It Pacifist
Apparently, it's possible to play Changeling without taking a single human life. There is now only one way of doing this. First and foremost is to walk down to the cloning bay, clone a few dead people, and absorb the corpse before you recycle it. This is a long and tiring process, and there used to be a second method which has now been removed. Previously, if you had access to Genetics, you could change a pathetic screeching thing into a quality meal through the power of Science!. This is no longer the case as you can no longer absorb non-player entities. Of course, some people don't exactly get the idea of a pacifist Changeling, so you may have to use your powers once in a while to shake them off your tail.
Fighting a changeling
Its abilities make it extremely dangerous in a one-on-one fight, especially where it has the element of surprise (it generally does). Past one-one-one, however, the changeling's ability to successfully win a fight drops considerably. Keep your distance and attack in numbers, as it can certainly disable one person with neurotoxin if it gets in close. Attack in groups of 2 or more and try to stun it. It can still use its powers even if stunned, but not if unconscious (meaning fully deprived of stamina), so batons are of limited use. Tasers can work if you can get land a burst shot on them (it helps if you hide and ambush them), since the two shots will instantly knock them unconscious. A few .38 stun rounds or rubber slugs from a shotgun can also do the trick.
The best way for security to handle a changeling is to lock it into a Port-a-Brig, from which it can't sting its victims. Because of the headspider threat, dead changelings should immediately be destroyed. Recommended methods to dispose of them include the e.g. crusher, crematorium, enzymatic reclaimer or gibber.
A changeling is most vulnerable when they're caught in the middle of feeding. They will be sitting still, and probably just expended at least one of their most useful attacks on whomever they're digesting, meaning you can get in some hits before they're able to start spitting and stinging again. If they run off, think carefully before immediately changing them. Their victim (if still alive) is going to be unconscious for a long time and unable to help you, so if the changeling turns the tables on you, you've merely given him another meal.
Abominations are far tougher to deal with. Setting them on fire will help immensely as it stops them from regenerating their health and resisting non-stamina stuns, but is not always an option.
Your traditional methods of finding out whodunit are probably not going to work as well. Changelings can mimic another person's voice with ease and take on the identity of anybody they've absorbed at will, so hearsay and eyewitness testimony can be unreliable, especially if the changeling knows how to mislead people. Transform also changes their fingerprints and DNA, so trying to use forensics to determine a changeling is going to be more difficult.
There is, however, a special test that is very good at outting changelings, called "the blood test". As homage to The Thing (1982), when blood from a changeling is exposed to a temperature of 324 K (around 50C), it boils away with a distinct sound and a unique message along the lines of "The blood reacts, attempting to escape the heat before sizzling away!". That's not a lot of heat; just one or two swipes from an welder or igniter is often enough to provoke the response. In fact a lot of people doing the blood test will take a suspected ling's blood out with a syringe and then heat it up with a welder or igniter (though sadly you can't use a heated wire like in the "source material".)
There's also a variant of the blood test where you draw their blood out and, instead of using heat, you mix it with vodka. No, really. Vodka and changeling blood combine into a special drink called Bloody Scary, and like the heat-based test, the reaction has a special sound effect and chat message: "The blood feverishly tries to escape the burn of the vodka, but eventually succumbs." Do note, this only happens if the blood is outside the changeling. If you make a ling drink a swig of vodka, the vodka and blood inside them won't mix, and it'll be exactly same as if a normal human drank it (though they might mix if you draw their blood after they have the alcohol).
The downside is with both versions of the blood test is that, naturally, a savvy changeling is not going to make it easy for you to take a blood sample. They might try to kill/absorb you, especially if you're alone, so bring friends when testing. More importantly, you can potentially have false positives. Blood oranges and certain Discount Dan's products contain changeling blood, so if someone's had a bite of those, it's possible for the test to "expose" them as a ling even when they aren't. Moreover, some limbspiders have a Boil Blood ability that causes them to explode and spray changeling blood into people, so a clever limbspider could use it to sacrifice themselves to frame someone as a changeling. Try to back your test results with other evidence.
Dealing With Neurotoxic Stings
Neurotoxic stings are rough, but with the right chem mixes, you can survive them.
- Calomel flushes out neurotoxin fairly quickly but causes a little TOX damage.
- Hunchback flushes it out even faster, but it also causes TOX damage and may give you food poisoning, though either may be a preferable alternative to being eaten by a changeling.
- Charcoal heals the TOX damage from the neurotoxin, but it might not cure it fast enough. Similar deal with omnizine and triple citrus.
- Pentetic acid heals the TOX damage much better than charcoal does, and it'll even help cleanse out the neurotoxin. You might have to deal with a little BURN or BRUTE damage though.
- Beer heals the TOX damage even better than pentetic acid does--if you can keep it near 0C. Any higher and it'll just taste gross and get you drunk. In addition, since the healing effect only activates each time you ingest the chilled beer rather than when it's in your body, you can't just put it in a pill. You have to continually ingest it, by constantly drinking it from sort of container or putting it into an IV drip bag.
- Mannitol will heal the brain damage from the neurotoxin when ingested. Holy water heals more, but only on TOUCH reactions (medical patches, chemical smoke, beaker splashes, things like that).
Whatever anti-neurotoxin mix your decide on, you should ideally have it as a pill, so that you instantly ingest all the desired reagents rather than waste precious seconds injecting yourself with your mix while the neurotoxin is doing its nefarious work.
An even riskier tactic is to carry around a pill/some syringes/a few hyposprays with 50 units of epinephrine. When you think you've been stung, you take the epinephrine, which will react with neurotoxin to create unstable mutagen, possibly giving you harmful mutations in the process. The viability of this tactic is questionable, but there is something worth noting: ending up as a blind, ugly, and Swedish mutant due to the mutagen can be fixed with mutadone; ending up as a Changeling's snack cannot.
Yet another, much simpler, counter is to have a Toxic Resistance gene activated. Ideally, it'd be Empowered, and you'd also have the Natural Anti-Toxins gene. You take much less TOX damage because of the Toxic Resistance gene, so it's easier to treat (and if it's Empowered, you won't take any TOX at all), and Natural Anti-Toxins will help deplete the neurotoxin from your system. However, neither gene will protect your from the brain damage and stun, and a smart Changeling will simply DNA Sting you to rid you of your pesky nucleotides (and potentially absorb the rest of them).
Dealing With Limb Critters
All limb critters (eyespiders, handspiders, legworms, and buttcrabs) are vulnerable to the inner Randy Savage in all of us, specifically our chair-flipper aspect. Everyone can chairflip. The easiest way is to stand on the same tile as a chair, and make sure you're on Grab intent. Then, press either Z (if you're on Goon WASD) or C (if you're on /tg/style WASD), and click a tile within 3 squares of you. If land it right, you'll slam right into the critter (so long as no one else is near you), stunning them and dealing some BRUTE damage. Since limb critters have so little health (even the mighty legworm has only 30 HP), it will actually hurt a lot. For best results, you might want to carry a chair with you or go around in a wheelchair.
All limb critters are vulnerable to burn damage. Flamethrowers will set them ablaze; they will likely die unless they are able to jump into a body of water. Phasers or Lasers are both safe methods of dealing burn damage at range. Tasers, kinetic weapons and the like will still hurt and/or stun them.
While it's dangerous to confront them in close range, melee weapons can still be useful. If they try to hide under a table, you can try using your weapon's special attack (while on Harm or Disarm intent, click on any tile or object a good bit away from you). Some weapons' special attacks (such as that of the venerable toolbox) will hit everything in a certain tile adjacent to you, letting you hit the critter under the table without actually clicking on their sprite. Spears from the Nano-Fab do the same thing with their regular attacks.
Fighting Changelings Under the RP Rules
- Main article: RP Rules
When it comes to changelings, a lot of people roleplay having limited knowledge on what their character/job knows about them, like "most people besides Cap, HoS, and RD wouldn't know about changelings". This is a perfectly valid way to RP, but keep in mind, these knowledge rules are imposed by players, not admins. The RP Rules do not actually regulate how much knowledge players should have, but rather, whether they use that knowledge wisely. Essentially, think less "does X make sense given what my job knows about changelings?" and more "would it improve everyone's roleplay experience if I did X?". It might be a scary decision, but that's the thing about freedom.
For example, say a changeling injects you with Capulettium Sting. If the ling doesn't seem to have done much so far, then it's kinda lame to screech about it over the radio and immediately try to throw them into the crusher, because you're basically shutting down their RP before it can build up. To put it in another way, while you might have secured your own round, you're acting on your knowledge of changelings in way that makes the round less exciting for everyone. That's not to say you shouldn't fight back or try to escape, but try to tailor your response appropriately, and maybe consider holding back since things are pretty low-key.
If on the other hand, it's clear that the changeling has absorbed plenty of people at this point and is roaming the halls with an entourage of limbspiders and thwacking people with claws, and Sec is on a manhunt for them, then it makes sense to scream about getting stung over the radio and fight more aggressively because you really don't want your DNA sucked out of you like a milkshake. Things have escalated to the point where that's an appropriate response to getting stung, and you don't need to hold back.
That's just two examples, and it's likely you're find yourself in a completely different situation, but they illuminate a key principle. Notice that in none of these scenarios was your job type an important detail; instead, what mattered was context.
On the Term "Ling" in RP
It depends on context, but in most situations, using the term "ling" in-game (e.g. over radio, in face-to-face speech, etc.) is usually against the rules. The reason why might not be what you think it is.
There is a somewhat common misconception that the term "ling" is often forbidden because in the game's fictional world, only certain jobs (typically some combination of RD, AI, Captain, or HoS) know about changelings, so it would not make sense for people who are not these roles to throw out slang terms for them. This is a perfectly logical conclusion, but as previously explained in the previous section, the administration does not enforce formal rules about in-character knowledge.
Instead, the real reason has to do with the "Don't speak in IC like a chatroom" rule. "Ling" is an example of out-of-game (OOC) terminology; it's a word primarily used by players discussing the game, rather than characters within the setting, and unless you're in some alternate universe of The Thing, it's not really something used in everyday life. That's the thing about the "Don't speak...like a chatroom" rule; characters should speak like people in real life, rather than SS13 fans or Twitter users. (And remember, there are plenty of strange people in real life, so there is still room for silliness and eccentricities.) Thus, "ling" is forbidden in most contexts. It is possible to justify "ling" as slang within the game's setting or some other way, but this opens up a can of worms that's very difficult to administrate, which is why the rule also specifies "even where "technically" justifiable in rp".
As the "Don't speak in IC like a chatroom" rule implies, it's still perfectly fine to use "ling" in LOOC, post- and pre-round OOC chat, Goonstation Discord, Goonstation gorums, etc. These are not spaces for roleplaying, so there is no need to apply roleplaying standards.
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