One of the things that makes the most recent 5e edition of Dungeons and Dragons so popular is the way that it took the original concepts of the game and pushed its boundaries in every conceivable direction. The spell books got bigger, the class choices were broader and the creature opponents more deadly and diverse. It also expanded the choices of which race that the player was able to inhabit and one of the most interesting and mysterious is the Tiefling.
Tieflings – An Overview
Tieflings are a human-looking race who, due to an ancient curse, have been imbued with many of the physical characteristics of the creatures of hell, namely rams horns and long tails, pointed canine teeth, beguiling eyes and hair and skin tones of all manner of unusual colour. They are mistrusted by most and tend to live in small enclaves in the roughest parts of town or away from large populations altogether.
Their natural abilities such as night vision, their tendency towards chaotic and evil alignment and the fact that they are shunned by much of society, mean that they are often drawn to more roguish activities but can be found pursuing other occupations, especially when encountered as player characters.
Tieflings are not exactly a single race and can be created in one of three distinct ways. Firstly, a human may be transformed into a Tiefling as the result of being the target of powerful magic. Secondly, they are often the offspring of Tiefling parents, as with any other race. Finally, they can be born as the offspring of a human and a Cambion, or half-fiend. This means that even within Tiefling society there are many layers of social and racial complexity.
A Tiefling as a Wizard
Even before you consider the various statistical pros and cons of the Tiefling as a wizard, they just seem a perfect option for this profession. A mystical, half-human, half-devil race, shunned by most and living on the fringes of society, sounds like the perfect fit. Also with the bonus to Charisma and Intelligence that they receive as racial bonuses, the Tiefling Wizard is less likely to be the traditional image of an old academic hunched over their spell books, but a dashingly handsome, young mystic full of life and allure. And who wouldn’t want to play that character?
Tieflings, due to their infernal legacy come with some nature magic, such as knowing the Thaumaturgy Cantrip and upon reaching 3rd level having the ability to cast the Hellish Rebuke as a 2nd-level spell. When the Tiefling Wizard reaches 5th level, they can also cast the Darkness spell once with this trait. These abilities are recharged by the character undertaking a long rest.
Most human variants make better than average wizards and this holds for Tieflings, especially if they chose to specialise as Warlocks or Sorcerers.
Subraces and specialisation
There are plenty of variants to the Tiefling race. These are caused by the various hellish bloodlines which run through the Tiefling family tree and means that each type has a slightly different set of powers. The standard Tiefling in 5e is deemed to be of The Bloodline of Asmodeus, but if your campaign allows for other bloodlines, though the DM shouldn’t feel obliged to further complicate their game with them if they would rather not, then you can specialise even further.
Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes and The Players Handbook has lots of information on the variants, their different ability score increases and natural magical powers. The Tiefling race can be expanded into a wide and complex community, should your DM chose, but for this article, we will just cover the common ground of the race in general.
Other Classes for Tieflings
Being a Wizard is a good option for the player character Tiefling, especially if you combine your variant sub-race (if you are playing them) with the right school of magic but there are plenty of other options when creating the character.
Their natural abilities of Darkvision and Fire resistance makes them useful fighters and opting to be a Paladin makes for an interesting role too, although the clash between the Paladin’s alignment restrictions and the Tieflings nature tendency towards chaos and evil is a back story that you will have to work out with the DM should you pick this option.
Similarly, Monk makes for a great class and the Tiefling’s natural tendency to work in the shadows makes them right for both Ranger and Rogue careers. Again, if playing sub-variants of the race, careful selection can make these classes even more desirable.
Tiefling and Alignment
As mentioned in the overview, Tieflings are not necessarily evil or chaotic but the way that they are regarded by those around them and the outsider nature of their society means that they are likely to be drawn down a route that takes them to such a world outlook. If you do want to play a Tiefling with a more lawful, neutral or good outlook on life, it is easy enough to construct a suitable backstory with your DM. After all, adventurers are the exceptions to society, they are the ones marked for, hopefully, greater things by destiny.
Tieflings and the Afterlife
There is a common misconception that Tieflings are immortal, that their otherworldly bloodline means that they have the longevity and freedom from death that the denizens of hell do. This is not true as the human element of their life force is dominant in this case and whilst they live slightly longer than humans, when they take their last breath, their souls slip away to the appropriate afterlife just like any other mortal.
Like any race, there is a balance of pros and cons, but as an exotic outsider with a tendency to skirt the fringes of society undertaking covert missions armed with sharp wits, magic and no small amount of charisma, the attraction of playing a Tiefling is easy to understand.