The tieflings are one of the most numerous planetouched races, the offspring of humans and some lower planar denizen. This ancestry causes tieflings to often be shunned by respectable society, driving them to associate with those on the wrong side of the law. Often tieflings grow up with no family or close relations, and few tieflings feel the need to look after other members of their kind. Despite these obstacles, tieflings often have a strong personal drive to rise to positions of power, wealth, and respect.
Personality: Some have theorized that tieflings are born canny, for it seems that they always know a little bit about everything. Part of this is because tieflings are children of the planes; unlike many other races they have no home and are much more willing to explore. Tieflings are often driven to prove that they are better than their fiendish heritage, and thus try to stay on top of things, more so than most other folk. In their desire to rise to the top, however, many tieflings take risks that others would shy away from, and they sometimes find it convenient to bend, or even break, the law. This gives some the impression that tieflings are untrustworthy and deceitful. This is of course not universally true; there are some tieflings that are more virtuous than a paladin. The vast majority, however, seem somewhat shady to most.
Physical Description: Tieflings look like normal humans, with only a few physical traits to show their Lower Planar heritage. It is said that all tieflings come from the inbreeding of humans and fiends, with the fiendish traits being diluted over time. Some graybeards even suggest that after a great number of generations fiendish traits may become so diluted that tieflings are indistinguishable from normal humans. The most noticeable traits include: goat legs, cloven hooves, horns, tails, fur, and scales. Note that no tiefling possesses all of these traits, and some possess none of them. The less noticeable traits include pointed teeth, unnatural eye or hair colours, and pointed nails.
Relations: Tieflings are generally tolerant of other races, though most other people do not extend this generosity to them. Many distrust and fear them, and a few are openly hostile. Residents of cosmopolitan areas, such as Sigil, interact with many tieflings, and thus are more accustomed to them. While these people still often distrust them, they will not react with open fear or anger. In general tieflings get along better with the shadier side of society than with those who live uprightly, even if the tiefling is of a good nature himself.
Alignment: Tieflings can be found possessing any alignment, though because of the way they are raised, or perhaps because of their fiendish blood, they seem to have a disposition towards being evil. This could just as likely be a stereotype placed on them, however.
Tiefling Lands: Tieflings do not have any specific lands of their own. However, as a group tieflings tend to gravitate toward cities and other heavily populated areas where they are more likely to be accepted. While tieflings can be found on all of the planes, there are very few residing on the Upper Planes, as the inhabitants there are disturbed by the tieflings’ Lower Planar connections.
Language: Most tieflings speak Common, as well as a few other languages they may have picked up either from their planar travels.
Names: Like many of the planetouched, tieflings tend to be named based on where they were raised. That is, their parents pick a name that is appropriate for the culture they currently live in.
Adventurers: Many tieflings end up as adventurers. Some are trying to figure out where they belong, and others are coming to grips with their dark heritage. Most tieflings are adventurers for far less noble reasons, however. These tieflings have come to terms with their past and are more focused in establishing a name for themselves, along with wealth and power. Realizing that their past doesn’t have to limit them, many tieflings are driven to rise from humble beginnings, and gain the respect and prestige that may be denied to them because of their appearance. This drives some tieflings to embrace their heritage and attempt to rise to great power within the ranks of the fiends.
Role-playing a Tiefling: Who really cares where a body came from? If a body makes a name for himself through his deeds none can say that he didn’t earn it. If the multiverse gives you lemons use them to corner the lemon market, push your competitors out of business, and amass a huge pile of jink. Sometimes it may be necessary to bend the law a little, but that is the price of success, and you are willing to pay it. You may have some disadvantages, but no one can stop you now; you will rise to the top of society, and then you won’t have to hear any whispers about your origins again.
Tiefling Racial Traits
- Abilities: DEX +2, INT +2, CHA –2
- Skills: Bluff +2, Hide +2
- Feat: Darkvision
- Spell-like Ability: Darkness
- Resistances: Acid 5, Electricity 5, Fire 5
- Level Adjustment: +1
- Automatic Languages: Common, home region.
- Bonus Languages: Any (except secret languages, such as Druidic).
- Plane of Origin: Any (Often one of the Lower Planes).
- Favoured Class: Rogue.
Racial type changes to Outsider
Regions: Mulhorand, Unther, Thay.
Carrying the taint of evil in their very souls, tieflings are persecuted and feared in most parts of Faerûn. Those with gross physical alterations are often killed at birth, and even those with less noticeable physical traits are sometimes killed by their own horrified parents. Occasionally a tiefling is born to someone indifferent to its appearance, determined to redeem it, willing to exploit it, or evil enough not to care about its nature, and these tieflings are most likely to survive to adulthood. Most tieflings are evil, but a few have managed to overcome their bloodline's influence to make their own choices about good and evil.
Tieflings are the distant decendants of a human and some evil outsider, such as a demon (usually a marilith or succubus), devil (usually an erinyes, gelugon, or pit fiend), night hag, rakshasa, or even a servant of an evil deity (some of these creatures must use magic to assume a form that is compatible with a human mate, of course). Fiend-touched and similarly tainted mixes of elves (notably the fey'ri), orcs (such as the tanarukk), and other races are known, but those are distinct lines and are not true tieflings.
Tieflings look human except for one or two distinguising features related to their unusual ancestor. Some examples of these features (and the ancestors that cause them) are:
Small horns on head (demon, devil, night hag)
Fangs or pointed teeth
Forked tongue (demon, devil)
Glowing red eyes (demon, devil, night hag)
Cat eyes (Rakshasa)
More or less than five fingers (demon, devil)
Goatlike legs (devil)
Non-prehensile tail (demon, devil)
Furry, leathery, or scaly skin (demon, devil, rakshasa)
Red skin (demon, devil)
Bruised blue skin (night hag)
Casts no shadow (demon, devil)
Throws no reflection (demon, devil)
Skin is hot to the touch (demon, devil)
Smell of brimstone (demon, devil)
Tieflings are aware at an early age that they are different from the people around them, and often have strange urges, desires, or needs because of their evil heritage. Because tieflings are born of many different creatures, it is difficult to tell if any two of them are related, and because many of them come from demonic bloodlines, even two tieflings descended from similar demons or the very same demon might look very different.
Tieflings have the same life expectancy and age categories as humans.
Most Faerûnian tieflings come from bloodlines originating in Mulhorand or Thay. The Mulhorandi tieflings are descended from servants or manifestations of Set or Sebek, while those from Thay are usually the result of dalliances with fiends of all kinds. As with the aasimar from Mulhorand, many tieflings from that ancient leave the region to seek their own destiny without outside interference. Thayan tieflings are usually the grandchildren of powerful wizards, birthed as part of some power scheme, and usually spend their lives as slaves or pawns to both sides of the family (although Nevron, the zulkir of Conjuration, is rumored to be a tiefling). In either case, tieflings from these two regions usually resemble the human race of their parents, with their inhuman traits making them stand out from other Thayans or Mulhorandi.
Unther is reputed to have a tiefling population comparable to Mulhorand, but in truth this is a misconception, for the evil and mad god-king Gilgeam sired no children for fear of creating something that might usurp his throne. However, Nergal (the Untheric god of the underworld) is thought to have fathered at least one child before he was slain during the Orcgate Wars over two thousand years ago, and it is possible that some Untheric men and women still carry that evil deity's bloodline. The mages of Unther may also be responsible for some devil-spawned tieflings as well.
Tieflings live as outcasts. Feared for their evil heritage and often acting appropriately to their ancestry, they learn to keep people at a distance and hide that which makes them different. Like all the planetouched, they are different from their own parents; rarely has a tiefling been raised in a home filled with love. Tieflings are bitter folk who expect eventual rejection from even their best friends and easily fall into lives of crime, depravity, and cruelty. Tieflings look upon true fiends and other evil outsiders with envy and fear.
Some tieflings reject their tainted blood and seek the light. Not many succeed for long, and far more slide to a comfortable place midway between evil and good. But of the creatures who work to be good, good-aligned tieflings probably work the hardest.
Many tieflings multiclass between rogue and another class; even the most skilled tiefling wizard might have a knack for tumbling, opening locks, or sneaking about. A tiefling is versatile enough to be just about anything, although they make poor sorcerers.
Favored Class: Rogue. No other class rewards high Dexterity and Intelligence like the rogue does, and its flexible nature suits the tiefling's status as an outcast.
Prestige Classes: Because of their innate association with evil, many evil tieflings become blackguards. Still others become assassins, shadowdancers, or shadow adepts.
Because of the varied circumstances of their births, most tieflings become adults without knowing another of their kind. Given their scattered heritage and tendency toward evil, tieflings mistrust each other, while at the same time wanting another of their kind near to experience a limited kinship. There it is not unusual to find a small group of like-minded tieflings at the head of a thieves' guild. Sometimes a good tiefling will search out others of her kind in the hopes of rescuing them from evil or persecution, but most tieflings are so used to looking out only for themselves that such a thought never occurs to them.
Thay is unusual because its numbers of tiefling slaves. An unknown number of fiendish bloodlines exist in Thay, some of them lost for generations. When a true tiefling arises from a latent bloodline, there is often a scramble as the Red Wizards struggle to collect the planetouched offspring. Some Red Wizards train these young tieflings with others of their kind, either to work as spies in other households, personal assassins, or as some sort of sacrifice to an evil being. These tieflings can develop a sense of community among their fellows. If they are lucky, they may manage to escape their evil masters, scattering to the four winds to elude pursuit. Some of these slaves start revolts to cover their tracks, others return to kill their former owners, and still others never look back. In this way, certain tieflings have extended families, although how to find their adopted siblings usually poses a problem.
Language and Literacy
Tieflings share no common language. Some learn Infernal or Abyssal, although since most have no idea where their bloodline comes from as often as not they choose the wrong racial language. A tiefling usually learns the language of her parents and may pick up other languages appropriate to her region.
All tieflings are literate, except for barbarians and commoners.
Tiefling Magic and Lore
Many tieflings seek out magic that brings the power of the Lower Planes to them, especially divination magic that lets tieflings ask questions of powerful fiends and conjuration spells that call forth creatures of darkness.
Tieflings have no common racial deity, but sometimes worship powerful demons, devils, or whatever divine being their ancestor serves (or that being itself, if the ancestor is a deity). A tiefling born outside the Old Empires or Thay, or one whose travels have taken her far from those lands, usually takes a like-minded patron appropriate to her new country. The following deities are the most common patrons of evil tieflings, but are certainly not the only ones.
Beshaba, the Main of Misfortune, appeals to a number of tieflings. This wicked and beautiful goddess has created a few tiefling bloodlines over the ages, many of which have white hair and manifest antlers instead of other kinds of horns. Tieflings whop worship Beshaba do so because they believe they are unlucky to have been born as what they are and seek to pass this misfortune on to others. While Cyric has not fathered any tiefling bloodlines since his apotheosis, tiefling assassins, illusionists, and those drawn to conflict and aggression because of their heritage often worship Cyric.
Gargauth, the god of corruption, betrayal, and cruelty, has been known to disguise himself as a helpful stranger, befriend a good woman in difficult circumstances, and leave her just before she gives birth to their halfbreed child. These children of evil emulate their father's practices, and so the bloodline of Gargauth has many scions in Faerûn. He is worshiped by tieflings looking to destroy a hated rival (possibly a good-aligned temple that harassed them as a youth) or those looking to gain power very quickly.
As many tieflings naturally gravitate toward the arts of the rogue, a number of them have taken Mask for their patron. Only one Maskarran tiefling bloodline is known, a line from Thesk noted for never casting reflections, but Mask's secretive nature means that others could be almost anywhere. Mask is worshiped by tiefling thieves or those who must do their work concealed by shadows. Shar is not known to have any planetouched offspring, but she draws the worship of those who wish to forget their old pains and hurts. She particularly enjoys pitting her tiefling worshipers against the aasimar servants of Selûne.
Bane: While few if any tieflings are thought to be spawn of Bane (for any that existed probably have been slain by one of Cyric’s heresy crusades or had their power sucked dry upon the Black Lord’s return), his faith is an appealing and charismatic one for the dark planetouched. As the god of fear, Bane is an example of how a tiefling could take another creature’s fear and turn it into a weapon.
Loviatar: The Maiden of Pain has many fiendish servants as beautiful and cold as she is, and they are sometimes instructed to breed with mortals to produce fiend-touched servants. Tieflings of these lines become feared at an early age for their ability to tolerate abuse and inflict terrible physical and emotional wounds upon others. Tieflings that worship her are often drawn to careers that involve hurting others, such as torturers, or practice strange blood- and pain-based magic.
Nergal: This dead deity is no longer worshipped anywhere on Toril, but his midnight-skinned descendants are reputed to still live in the lands near Unther. As lord of the underworld, his bloodline has a talent for necromancy, although they usually worship Velsharoon rather than acknowledging their long-dead divine ancestor.
Orcus: Tieflings that find their way to the Cold Lands sometimes try to revive worship of Orcus, for the demon prince of the undead once had a thriving cult there. Sages believe that Orcus’ ties to undead have prevented him from begetting any offspring, but goat-horned tieflings have been born in the area more than once. He is worshipped by assassins, necromancers, and members of death cults.
Pazrael: This demon prince of evil aerial creatures has gained a foothold in Faerûn, possibly because he acts as an evil counterpart to the elven goddess Aerdrie Faenya. Tieflings with a more birdlike appearance are thought to be related to him or his minions. Tieflings that worship Pazrael are frequently in conflict with worshipers of Istishia and air genasi in general.
Sebek: The Lord of Crocodiles has few tiefling descendants, for most of his offspring are some sort of lycanthrope. Those that are not shapechangers still tend to have reptilian eyes or scaly skin on their heads, and are often confused for yuan-ti. They have an affinity toward crocodiles. His tiefling worshipers usually rely upon rivers for their livelihood or are part of cults that revere reptiles of all kinds.
Set: Scions of this desert god’s bloodline often have scaly skin or fangs, making them resemble yuan-ti in some cases. Evil tiefling mages of all schools worship him. Set enjoys pitting his tieflings against the followers of his rival deities. They have an affinity for poisonous snakes.
Relations With Other Races
Tieflings treat most other races equally--at arm's length. They are very slow to trust others and always wary of a friend suddenly becoming an enemy. Aasimar often trigger an instinctive fear or revulsion in tieflings, making it difficult for them to work together at all.
Half-orcs are the only race tieflings easily tolerate, since they are the only common mixed-breed race that is derided as muh as tieflings. Still, a tiefling isn't more likely to trust a half-orc; she's just more likely to understand his perspective.
Animals and Pets
Given their diverse backgrounds, tieflings don't have any particular animal that can be recognized as a racial favorite. However, they do favor vicious dogs, rats, snakes, and ravens as pets, and those with talent for magic can sometimes establish a bond with a fiendish animal of some sort.