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[Unofficial Lore] Methods of Changeling Feeding

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Changeling feeding can ultimately be divided into three types: passive, direct, and active.

 

Passive feeding is in many respects what one would expect: it is where the changeling simply absorbs ambient love energy from the surrounding area.  It is the lowest risk option available to a changeling, requiring no interaction with other beings and a minimum of effort and concentration, and has the least impact food supply, leaving a local population in the best condition to produce more love and least likely to be on guard for future changelings.  The downside, naturally, is low rate of return.  It requires a large number of ponies for each changeling in an area for changelings to survive off of this method of feeding alone, and it is also the slowest method of feeding.  This can be further compounded by circumstances, which can make a town or city better or worse for passive feeding depending on the prevalent attitude toward their fellows.

 

Active feeding is essentially the polar opposite passive feeding, being comparatively fast, efficient, obvious and disruptive.  Active feeding is where a changeling takes love energy by force, with no positive intent or feelings required on the part of the victim.  The ability is a magical, non-spell effect of which all changelings are capable, channelled through a changeling's mouth.  This approach is the fastest a changeling can acquire love to consume, but it comes with considerable downsides.  The requisite ability is obvious when in use, meaning the changeling requires at least a secluded area to not be disturbed, and it drains whoever is subjected to it.  In small amounts this merely causes fatigue which is easy enough to recover from, however further draining can cause more serious effects, some of which include semi-permanent loss of energy, temporary loss of or loss of control of emotions, and in extreme cases can even be fatal.  The effects of this method of feeding are always visible as well, although the symptoms can be mistaken for having other causes.

 

Direct feeding occupies an unusual middle ground between the other two methods.  It doesn't harm the subject, or require any direct action on the changeling's part, but it is still one of the more difficult or risky ways to feed, and it is almost as efficient as active feeding.  It uses the same mechanism as passive feeding, but in a more focused manner: direct feeding occurs when a changeling is a subject of a non-changeling's love, either by earning or disguising as someone that being already loves.  The cost then is either the effort needed to earn a creature's love in the first place, or maintaining the disguise necessary to feed on love meant for another.

 

There is a difference, it should be noted, between love and love-energy.  Love is an extreme and focused affection for another, while love-energy is the magic that is produced from such a state.  Changelings are capable of experiencing the former, but unlike most creatures, for them doing so does not produce the latter.  They can exchanged stored love energy among each other, but they cannot produce it themselves except perhaps in negligible amounts, which is the reason why they require other creatures to feed off of.

 

- Excerpt from An Outsider's Guide to Equestria

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