In which I rant about Tieflings for no good reason

Yeah, okay, of all the dumb rants there are in the world this is one of the dumbest and worse it is several years out of date but it’s one of those things boiling over into nerdrage and the entire point of this blog is to have a place for nerdrage so it is serving its purpose.

So.

Tieflings.

Back in the wild world of AD&D 2nd Edition we had a thing called Planescape and it was good. Well, it wasn’t good. But it was better than most. And Planescape introduced a nice place called Sigil that was full of kind people who liked to stab — each other, other people, you know, in general, stab. Stabbing was a thing in Sigil. In Sigil were these people called Tieflings. Since Sigil was the center of all the Planes all based on the 9 D&D alignments it made sense that the occasional Demon or Devil or Fiend would wander on through, leave a couple of babies with the local whores and barmaids, and wander on their way. Could the demons help it if they were good looking? No, probably not.

Tieflings were the closest thing that Sigil had to a native population. Each one was weird in their own way. Grandpa was a Cambian and Mom was some sort of nasty half-fiend so you’re just this freak with giant bulging red eyeballs and vestigial wings that go fwip fwip fwip and your poker buddy has 6 foot tall curving horns and hooves. But no one cared because over infinite time in Sigil everyone was a damned Tiefling. One assumed any Tiefling sorcerer who fell through a Door and ended up in someone’s campaign was only adventuring to get back to their goddamn poker game where they had a full flush high they swear and they leaned back in their chair and now here they are fighting goddamn orcs what the hell is this garbage. Old Tieflings were guys who had fireballs in one hand and cigarettes in the other and weren’t interested in that sword in that magical horde because they could do a thing. They were cool guys.

I was one of those people who liked Tieflings. And yes, I know they are lame.

Tieflings were like this in 3rd edition and survived that way through the patch but then were watered down into non-existence. Instead of an interesting background of some demon passing through town now it is a Mysterious Ancestor who Tainted a Bloodline and now all Tieflings are Generically the Same. They were gutted of all their interestingness into bland sameness with a Spooky and Mysterious Past that was Spooky and Mysterious. And they are all weird in the exact same way and have absolutely no knowledge about plains or Evil Grandpa George the Demon or extra-planar games of chance.

And because not everything can be awesome, in D&D 5th Edition Tieflings are still a race with a mysterious tainted bloodline with a tail and flamey eyes all in the same way.

So screw that. I have declared an Official House Rule that all Tieflings are Different, Dammit. They might not be from Sigil — a summoning could have gone wrong, someone hung around with Great Evil too long, who knows. Something interesting. Something interesting happened that was more than a vague and unspoken spooky evil that is strange and spooky. Something awesome happened. And that’s the whole point of Backgrounds. Something. Awesome. Happened. And I have declared it So for all Tieflings.

Life is too short for boring bland evil backgrounds.

Comments

  1. Kurt Rauscher says:

    I’m with you!
    When I played a Tiefling in 4e LFR my backstory of being only a few generations removed. Great great grandfather was a neutral evil Shar worshiping sorcerer who’d had a half-fiend daughter with a succubus. Coincidentally also a previous PC…

  2. Yeah. Tieflings got all gentrified. I’m working on a homebrew that sort of just takes a step in a different direction on them, borrowing a bit from the concept of infanticide and some medieval soul mythos.
    Good rant.

  3. I kinda decided to flip the whole thing on its head in my campaign setting. Basically, after a big planar battle where the winning side allied with Fiends, the Tieflings, while all still unique, are high ups in society, because well, they have a better bloodline. I figured it would be a nice change from the treated like crap tieflings of most other settings. Plus, now the elves, dwarves, dragonborn, and orcs are the oppressed classes.

  4. I personally really like it when tieflings show a variety of traits depending on their ancestor. Greasy and reeking hezrou-spawn, sorta-furry rakshasa-spawn, kyton-spawn that naturally look like pierced-up skinheads, and then you have tieflings that are descended from an evil deity, which opens up a whole treasure trove of new possibilities…

    That’s the worst part of 4E tieflings for me. They just look so damn boring! Their horns are really silly too, and must be the bane of doorframes across the planes.