Tieflings were originally introduced as humans with demonic ancestry. A Tiefling is a being whose lineage can be traced back to some degree or another to that of a fiend or demon within the Dungeons & Dragons universe. A tiefling should not be confused with a half-fiend as half-fiends are generally half mortal being and half fiend or demon, whereas the demonic lineage of a tiefling's ancestry often lies further up the family tree. In 4th Edition Dungeons & Dragons, Tieflings are a race whose human ancestors made a bargain with devils to increase their power.
- 1 Publication history
- 2 Fictional history
- 3 Tiefling aspects
- 4 Alignment
- 5 Tieflings in various campaign settings
- 6 In other media
- 7 References
- 8 External links
The name "Tiefling" was coined by Wolfgang Baur, when original Planescape designer David "Zeb" Cook asked for a Germanic-sounding word for humans with fiendish blood. Baur derived the name from Teufel, or "Devil" in German. The direct translation of Tiefling, however, would be "deepling," since tief means "deep." A closer derivation from Teufel would be teufling.
Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd edition (1989-1999)
The tiefling was introduced in the Planescape Campaign Setting (1994) with more information in the first Planescape Monstrous Compendium Appendix (1994) and the Planewalker's Handbook (1996).
Dungeons & Dragons 3.0 edition (2000-2002)
The tiefling appears in the Monster Manual for this edition (2000) under the planetouched entry.
The fey'ri and tanna'ruk tieflings appeared in Monsters of Faerun (2001). The tiefling is presented as a player character race for the Forgotten Realms setting in the Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting (2001), and the tiefling and fey'ri appear as player character races in Races of Faerûn (2003).
Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 edition (2003-2007)
The tiefling appears in the revised Monster Manual for this edition (2003) under the planetouched entry.
Dungeons & Dragons 4th edition (2008-2014)
The tiefling appears as a player character race in the Player's Handbook for this edition (2008), and again in Heroes of the Forgotten Kingdom (2010). Tieflings also have a racial book dedicated to them in this edition, Player's Handbook Races: Tieflings.
Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition (2014-)
The tiefling appears as a player character race in the Player's Handbook for this edition (2014).
In Dungeons & Dragons 4th edition, the story of the humans' descent into the Tiefling race took place in the Empire of Bael Turath. Long ago, Bael Turath was one of the greatest nations in all of humankind's history. In the Empire, the noble class was completely obsessed with preserving and gaining power. Rumors of their schemes and obsession with power reached a realm called the Nine Hells, located around the Astral Sea. The devil creatures that resided in the Nine Hells gave the noble and ruling classes of Bael Turath visions while they slept, which contained the directions for a grisly, month-long ritual that would extend their rule into eternity. The details of the ritual have been left unclear in the books from the Player's Handbook series describing the events, though it is described as being very horrible. As the ritual demanded the participation of every noble house, those that refused were wholly slaughtered. Once this was done, the nobles and ruling class began their ritual. Afterwards, devils from the Nine Hells began to appear and the nobles gladly made pacts with them. These pacts gave power to the nobles and their descendants forever, but also gave them the devilish features of horns, non-prehensile tails, sharpened teeth, and red skin. Thus began the race known as the Tiefling.
In 5th edition, the overlord of the Nine Hells, Asmodeus, is cited as the ancestral source of their devilish features.
In earlier versions of Dungeons & Dragons, 3.5 and previous, Tieflings have any of a number of features that reference (directly or indirectly) their fiendish lineage. These include, but are not limited to, horns located on their heads, pointed sharp teeth, extra fingers, cloven hooves in place of feet, tails, and unusually colored eyes. They exude a feeling of "evil" even though their race has become civil and no longer lusts for power. Many races distrust or outright hate Tieflings seeing them as devil worshippers. Tiefling villains often live up to this reputation, whereas player characters have the choice to abandon this stereotype.
In 4th and 5th edition, tieflings are a core character race and have had their appearance altered. All tieflings possess large thick horns of various styles on their heads, non-prehensile tails approximately 4 to 5 feet in length, sharply pointed teeth, and their eyes are solid orbs of red, black, white, silver, or gold. Tiefling skin ranges through common human shades right into the reds, ranging from brick red to a ruddy tan. Tiefling hair, which starts behind their horns, ranges from dark blue to purple to red in addition to more normal human colors.
In Dungeons & Dragons version 4.0, tieflings do not associate with a specific god or gods. Their lack of faith also means paladins and clerics are seldom, if ever, found. Tieflings have no homeland and are very rare due to a long lasting war with the dragonborn, another race seen in the 4th edition of Dungeons & Dragons. Most tieflings prefer to be adventurers and rarely ever adventure with their own kin due to the prejudices of other races (people are concerned when two or more of their kind travel together).
In most editions, tiefling naming conventions consist of ancestral Infernal names. In 3.5, tieflings use human names until they seek to differentiate themselves from their parents, after which they usually take fiendish "names" of Infernal or Abyssal origin that sound menacing. In 4.0 onwards, tieflings usually take an ancestral Infernal name, although some young tieflings, striving to find a place in the world, choose a name that signifies a concept and then try to embody the concept.
In most editions, tieflings are described as slow to trust, but those who do earn their trust and loyalty earn a firm friend or ally for life.
Unlike half-fiends, tieflings are not necessarily of evil alignments. Tieflings of all alignments exist, including good, although many take more shady jobs, such as that of thieves, assassins or spies.
In a standard 3.0 and 3.5 game, Tieflings tend to have an unsettling air about them, and most people are uncomfortable around them, whether they are aware of the tiefling's unsavory ancestry or not.
In 4th edition Tieflings have the same alignments choices as any other starting character.
In 5th edition Tieflings do not have an innate tendency towards evil, many usually end up going down that path due to the prejudice against them. Also due to the prejudice against them, Tieflings have a fierce independent streak and are inclined towards being chaotic.
Tieflings in various campaign settings
Tieflings appear in a number of campaign settings, including the following notable examples:
Tieflings in the Forgotten Realms
In the Forgotten Realms campaign setting, both tieflings and aasimar are more common than in other settings. Tieflings even have elven and orc counterparts (Fey'ri and Tanarruk, respectively). In the 3rd Edition of Dungeons and Dragons, less common varieties of the tiefling were introduced, including a dwarven counterpart, the Maeluth and a halfling counterpart, the Wispling.
Tieflings in Planescape
Livonia Darktongue appears in the book Weapons of Legacy in 2005.
Tieflings in Urban Arcana
Tieflings are a playable race in Urban Arcana, which is based on the premise that races from Dungeons and Dragons exist on earth. Most tieflings in Urban Arcana are humans with horns, although more obvious appearances exist. To regular humans who cannot perceive shadow, they appear to be cynical humans — the horns are not visible to those unable to perceive shadow.
In other media
In the PC game Planescape: Torment the player character is joined by Annah, a tiefling fighter/thief with a rat-like tail. In Baldur's Gate 2: Shadows of Amn the tiefling bard NPC Haer'Daelis can join the party. In Neverwinter Nights: Hordes of the Underdark, Valen Shadowbreath, a tiefling weapons master, is a recruitable henchman and potential romance option. Arden Swift is a tiefling NPC who plays a minor role in the last act of the campaign. In Neverwinter Nights II, tiefling is a playable race and Neeshka, a female tiefling rogue, can join the party. Tieflings are also a playable race in the online MMORPG Neverwinter, developed by Cryptic studios.
- Cook, Zeb. Planescape Campaign Setting. (TSR, 1994)
- Varney, Allen, ed. Planescape Monstrous Compendium Appendix (TSR, 1994)
- Cook, Monte. The Planewalker's Handbook. (TSR, 1996)
- Cook, Monte, Jonathan Tweet, and Skip Williams. Monster Manual (Wizards of the Coast, 2000)
- Wyatt, James and Rob Heinsoo. Monstrous Compendium: Monsters of Faerûn (Wizards of the Coast, 2001)
- Greenwood, Ed, Sean K. Reynolds, Skip Williams, and Rob Heinsoo. Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting (Wizards of the Coast, 2001)
- Reynolds, Sean K., Forbeck, Matt, Jacobs, James, Boyd, Erik L. Races of Faerûn (Wizards of the Coast, 2003)
- Collins, Andy, Jesse Decker, David Noonan, and Rich Redman. Unearthed Arcana (Wizards of the Coast, 2004)
- Cordell, Bruce, Gwendolyn F.M. Kestrel. Planar Handbook (Wizards of the Coast, 2004)
- Noonan, David, Eric Cagle, and Aaron Rosenberg. Races of Destiny. (Wizards of the Coast, 2004
- Heinsoo, Rob, Andy Collins, and James Wyatt. Player's Handbook. (Wizards of the Coast, 2008)
- Mearls, Mike, Bill Slavicsek, and Rodney Thompson. Heroes of the Forgotten Kingdom. (Wizards of the Coast, 2010)