“They say when you meet somebody that looks just like you, you die.”
― P. Wish, The Doppelgänger
As a ketch, you’ll run into a wide variety of fetches, whether you want to admit it or not (and not all of us do). Because, let’s face it: It’s easier to think all fetches are alike because then you never have to hold back; you can just kill them all and call it a day. But an honest and observant ketch - who happens to have some morals left - will notice pretty big differences between them.
This shouldn’t be a surprise. Humans are a diverse bunch, and fetches are based on us to start with. But fetch creation isn’t a simple equation. They’re also made by various Keepers, each with their own needs, powers, and style. And since we know a single Keeper can produce a wide assortment of changelings, why wouldn’t they be able to run the gamut with fetches?
The thing is, once a fetch is created, it’s linked to the original person it was based on. That’s why they can sense us and grow more powerful when we do. But they don’t control the link. They can only react to who others expect them to be and the memories they have. Add in the monkey wrenches the Wyrd throws at them, and the outcome can be hard to predict.
I find it helps to think of fetches in broad categories, even if that’s not the cool thing to do to most people. As much as I hate to admit it, fetches seem to share some major views and reactions in common, and having some idea of who you’re dealing with can save your life. These categories aren’t about race or sex; they’re all about how fetches see and live their lives as fetches.
You might want to argue with everything I say here, but we can be stubborn bastards. So let’s get this straight: I’ll never know everything about fetches, but in over 20 years of tracking them, I’ve learned a lot. I’ve got my damage, but I’m still sane enough to figure out what’s real. I’m not putting my name on this guide because I’m not here to brag; I’m here to save lives - maybe yours.
Since I’ll get plenty of shit for this anyway, I might as well yank more chains right out the gate: This guide won’t tell you which fetches are the most dangerous, point-blank. We’ll cover some red flags, but there’s no quick-and-dirty way to make that call. Any fetch can be fair, fickle, or foul. Any of them can be weak or powerful. Doesn’t matter what type of fetch they are.
I’m also not here to say all fetches are badwrong puppets that need to die. Sorry, not sorry. Are they “real people”? Who the fuck knows? But they’re here, they’re aware, and they didn’t ask for any of this, either. Do they all know what they are? No. Some of them are more in the dark than we’ve ever been. Are they all homicidal? Again, no. Some of them are nicer than most of us.
“How can they not know what they are?” you may ask. “They sense us! They have freakish powers!” Sure, they sense us, but they can write that off, especially with all the mental illnesses we know about nowadays. And yeah, they have powers, but they’re not always aware of them - and people have a funny way of denying the supernatural when they see it.
“Aren’t they doing damage just by existing?” some of you are probably wondering. And I’ve gotta admit, that’s a trickier question. They’re tied to us by parts of our souls. Truth is, we’re still not sure how much of a toll that takes. Some of us recover lost memories when our doubles die. Rumors say that when a changeling kills their own fetch, they can get a lot more in return.
Problem is, they’re just that: rumors. We know better than to ignore rumors, but we should also know better than to just believe them.
So, without further ado, here are some of the fetches you’re likely to meet.
“I look like you wanna look, I fuck like you wanna fuck, I am smart, capable, and most importantly, I am free in all the ways that you are not.”
― Tyler Durden, Fight Club
This type of fetch is the infinitely cooler, more popular version of the person they replaced, but can have very different skills and interests. They’re more likely to be public and well-connected. They tend to get attention wherever they go because they dial up the changeling’s best traits to 11 - or they’re good at acting like they have it all covered. It can be damned hard to tell which.
“I’m not… I’m John Smith. That’s all I want to be. John Smith. With his life and his job. And his love. Why can’t I be John Smith? Isn’t he a good man?”
― The Doctor, “The Family of Blood,” Doctor Who
This fetch feels at home with their experience. They don’t mind the traits they were given or resent the life they were handed. In fact, they think the status quo is pretty sweet and enjoy keeping it up. They’re likely to keep going along the same groove and have an easy time maintaining old social ties - and might react violently if someone tries to take their good life away.
Maria: What do you want from me?
Airam: I can take your sadness away. Listen, I’m here for you. I know you. I know your secret desires, your fears...who you love, who you hate. I understand you completely.
― Look Away
This fetch knows that some part of them is missing and usually thinks the person they replaced is the key to feeling happy and whole. They have services to offer, love to give, a life to share - and they don’t tend to take rejection well. They can be the best buddy a changeling always dreamt of or worse than an obsessed ex-lover - but they will not be kept away from their other half.
“Once upon a time, there was a girl and the girl had a shadow. The two were connected, tethered together. And when the girl ate, her food was given to her warm and tasty. But when the shadow was hungry, she had to eat rabbit raw and bloody. On Christmas, the girl received wonderful toys; soft and cushy. But the shadow's toys were so sharp and cold they sliced through her fingers when she tried to play with them.”
― Red, Us
Some fetches are not made to work well or last long; they’re thrown together at the last minute, animated, and sent on their way. They’re unable to do a number of things they were designed for and become aware there’s something wrong with them. They may spend years trying to find out how to fix themselves and continue to be frustrated when nothing works.
Ash: What are you? Are you me?
Evil Twin: I'm bad Ash, and you're good Ash. You're a little goodie two shoes!
― Ash, Army of Darkness
This kind of fetch is a dark reflection of the original, often with exaggerated traits or obsessions based on life before they were created. They’re not the exact opposite of the changeling they were based on; they’re just enough like them to be deeply unsettling. They’re not necessarily evil, either, but represent whatever the changeling finds disgusting and unacceptable.
Cobb: I can't stay with her anymore because she doesn't exist.
Mal: I'm the only thing you do believe in anymore.
Cobb: I wish. I wish more than anything. But I can't imagine you with all your complexity, all you perfection, all your imperfection. Look at you. You are just a shade of my real wife. You're the best I can do; but I'm sorry, you are just not good enough.
This fetch is the quiet presence that haunts the changeling’s old life and family. They might have some influence on a few people but never become a major player on the stage. No matter what they try, they rarely inspire deep emotional responses from others. This means they rarely receive big promotions or punishments, but can feel frustratingly invisible.
“Where in the world have you been?” demanded Strange.
“Walking,” she said. Her voice was just as it had always been.
“Walking! Arabella, are you quite mad? In three feet of snow? Where?”
“In the dark woods,” she said, “among my soft-sleeping brothers and sisters. Across the high moors among the sweet-scented ghosts of my brothers and sisters long dead. Under the grey sky through the dreams and murmurs of my brothers and sisters yet to come.”
Strange stared at her. “What?”
― Susanna Clarke, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell
This kind of fetch is the exact opposite of their original in every way that is emotionally resonant. If the original was proud of being smart, the fetch is slow; if the original was taunted for being ugly, the fetch is stunningly gorgeous. The fetch also tends to have opposing morals, goals, social circles, and so on, which can make dealing with their original a lot more difficult.
Deckard: Implants. Those aren't your memories, they're somebody else's. They're Tyrell's niece's.
Deckard: [he sees that she's deeply hurt by the implication] O.K., bad joke... I made a bad joke. You're not a replicant. Go home, O.K.? No, really - I'm sorry, go home.
— Blade Runner
This fetch is locked in place, arrested at the time they replaced their original. They can gain new skills but their desires, motivations, patterns, and such don’t change. They may act like 40 year old teenagers, irresponsible and stunted. They can also try very hard to change, repeatedly, only to find themselves stuck in the same old patterns.
Joanna Eberhart: Bobbie! Bobbie... this isn't you...
Bobbie Markowitz: That's right! This isn't me, it's a whole new me. I'm happy, and I'm healthy, because I understand what's important in life.
— The Stepford Wives
When a fetch hates their original lifestyle, they might decide to completely start over - and succeed. The lazy ass turns into an entrepreneur while the community role model loses everything to addiction. Family and friends will be shocked but not always appalled by the results. Whatever the case, the fetch will probably continue to despise and reject everything they once were.
Alex Rogan: Hey, you look like me!
Beta: Of course I do. I'm a beta unit.
Alex Rogan: What the hell is a beta unit?
Beta: A beta unit is a simuloid. An exact duplicate, only not as loud!
— The Last Starfighter
This type of fetch does what it was programmed to do - and may even do it better than the original - but not much more. Specifically, it does not have the capacity for much emotional depth or expression, for better or worse. This disconnection can lead a fetch to be a harmless homebody, a desperate eccentric, or a sociopathic torturer, and most times, no one will notice.
I torched all the evidence that proves you're you, okay? So, wow! Looks like you're going to be in here for THE NEXT HUNDRED YEARS! Now, I have got to go. I've got a government job to abuse and a lonely wife to fuck! Whoops did I just say that? I'm sorry... make love to! God, I miss that face!
— Castor Troy, Face/Off
This is the fetch who went too far, got caught, and is on the run from the consequences. They may be victims of circumstances, but they can also be bastards; either way, they plague the changeling they replaced with a case of mistaken identity. They also tend to hold onto their criminal schemes and connections, which means they won’t stop causing trouble for long.
* Please note: This is a fictional guide based on a tabletop roleplaying game, Changeling: the Lost. It is not meant to be taken literally and does not condone violence of any kind in the real world.
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Thank you, and happy gaming!