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Tieflings all carry an element of the infernal in their bloodline. Some variants exist that have the blood of other members of the Nine Hells, but most trace their infernal origin to Asmodeus, the Lord of the Nine Hells.

Tiefling – A guide to D&D Races

Tieflings have been a playable character race since the latter part of the Dungeons and Dragon 3rd Edition, but have been included in the Player’s Handbook since the 4th Edition. They are a popular choice and have been represented in some very well-known D&D games over the past few years. Tieflings are an adaptable race and best suited to such classes as Warlock, Sorcerer or Rogue.

Lore and Heritage

Tieflings all carry an element of the infernal in their bloodline. Some variants exist that have the blood of other members of the Nine Hells, but most trace their infernal origin to Asmodeus, the Lord of the Nine Hells.

This infernal heritage is the result of pacts struck long ago, manifesting in the being of the Tiefling and it is implied that a Tiefling can appear in a bloodline, even generations after an infernal deal as well as being a true breeding race in and of itself.

Defining Characteristics

Their infernal heritage marks the Tieflings in very obvious ways. All have horns, although the shape of them may vary and all have a long tail, over which they have muscular control. Tieflings have pronounced, sharp canine teeth and eyes of a single colour with no sign of pupil or iris. Tiefling horns may appear to come from any horned creature, and while curled ram’s horns are commonplace, bovine horns, antelope horns and even combinations of all are not unheard of.

Tieflings are naturally intelligent and highly charismatic, often as a result of prejudice suffered while younger. With a range of skin tones from human and infernal heritages, many find them exotic and alluring, even while fearing them.

Tieflings are a similar size, weight and age range to humans, although they often tend to attractive physiques.

Tieflings in Social Environments

Most Tieflings suffer greatly for their infernal heritage and are treated with mistrust or outright hate. This can lead to a range of responses. Some internalise the hate and become the ‘monster’ that others see them as. These Tieflings can be cruel, manipulative or violent. Other fight against their blood, showing the world that they are still people, demonstrating tolerance, openness and respect to push back against the hate.

Most Tieflings fall somewhere in this spectrum. Tieflings often find it hard to trust, but once they are shown trust will reciprocate it deeply.

Class also plays a big part in how any given Tiefling will respond in a social situation. With their high charisma, Tieflings are well suited to roles as Warlocks, Bards or Sorcerers, but can also make for charismatic rogues or famed fighters. Each would respond very differently to the same encounter, but Tieflings often prefer to talk first and fight later.

Tieflings in Combat Encounters

Tieflings can be fearsome opponents in combat. When they choose to ‘let go’ of their humanity, a combat Tiefling can be a truly terrifying sight on the battlefield.

Class again becomes an important consideration here, as a Warlock Tiefling and a Ranger Tiefling will both have a very different approach to combat, but both will make full use of their natural abilities as well as any class abilities to serve them in a fight.

Tiefling spellcasters often excel at summoning, conjuration and evocation spells, with some preferring enchantments to beguile and confuse.

Tiefling rogues and rangers will make use of their ability to cast darkness (from 5th level) to strike from shadows even where there are none and both hellish rebuke and thaumaturgy have great utility to front line fighters.

Reasons to Play Tieflings

Tieflings are exotic, mysterious and fatally flawed, everything you need for a fantastic character arc. Consider not only synchronicity in characters – such as a Tiefling Warlock – but also ways to highlight the opposite – perhaps a Tiefling Paladin? From a personal story perspective, Tieflings offer a great deal of growth and development.

Mechanically, the bonus to Charisma makes for a natural spellcaster of some skill, whether it be a Warlock, Sorcerer or Bard who can be very difficult to counter the spells of. Physically, the imposing appearance and infernal nature of a Tiefling present an excellent opportunity to intimidate or unsettle their opponents.

Reasons NOT to Play Tieflings

Tieflings are rare. Rare as they are, this means they will often stand out wherever they go. There is also an amount of prejudice to be expected when playing a character who is partly infernal and it may feel at times that you are being unfairly targeted or left out of parts of the story because of your choice of character.

Don’t play a Tiefling if you just want to be a growly, edgy human with horns either – try to make the characters origin a part of who and what they are, but also why they do what they do. There are dozens of ‘secretly evil Tiefling Warlock’ characters out there – what can you bring that is new and different?

Tiefling Mechanics

Tieflings have a bonus of 1 to their Intelligence and a bonus of 2 to their Charisma. They have a base walking speed of 30. Tieflings begin play able to speak, read and write in Common and Infernal. Tieflings have Darkvision to 60’.As descendants of infernal lineage, Tieflings have Hellish Resistance to fire damage and, as a result of their Infernal Legacy they start with the thaumaturgy cantrip. At 3rd level they gain the ability to cast hellish rebuke as a 2nd level spell. At 5th level they can cast darkness. The latter two spells can be cast once per long rest and Charisma is the spell casting ability.

Written by Rawand Al-Issa

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