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The Evolution of Tieflings in D&D: Interviews with Zeb Cook and Colin McComb

I'd certainly use the PHB entry and the expansions in other products as the basis for the more diverse Tieflings in 5e, I've given a little thought to how one might handle variant abilities. Of course the appearance and origins of the characters are up to the player's personal choice.

It's very useful to hear from Zeb Cook and McComb about Tielfings, but I think Monte Cook's opinions also matters a lot on the subject.
 

Comments

Aldarc

Adventurer
Is this a statement about what players of 5e prefer... is fan art being used as support for said statement??
It's a statement that the game's visions for certain monsters evolves and occasionally becomes more solidified through editions.

Like, how many pick tiefling and base their look off some Blizzard fan art of a draenai? I wouldn't be surprised if there are quite a few of them.
At least one of my friends did.
 

Aldarc

Adventurer
Lol...but WotC offered non 4e/Asmodeus variants... in the first supplement they produced for 5e... so no one is saying they dont know what they are doing.
(1) These tieflings are still all infernal-based, if anything 5e SCAG made tieflings far more Asmodeus-only than 4e actually did (see below). ;)

(2) The actual 4e lore was that the human nobles who would become tieflings made pacts with the devils of the Nine Hells. We are never told that it was with Asmodeus or that tieflings were an Asmodeus-only thing. Far from it. 4e Tiefling book, p. 4:
Long ago, so long that none but immortals can remember it, a human kingdom called Bael Turath expanded into a grand empire. As with all great empires, Bael Turath built itself up on the prostrate backs of conquered kingdoms. Assuredly, some conquests were just, and the world was better off without Bael Turath’s enemies. Of course, the people of the growing empire also fought and died in many wars for less than noble reasons.

Also as with all great empires, at its height Bael Turath was closest to its fall. It strained under the pressures of ruling defeated peoples. Noble houses schemed to carve out their own kingdoms or to replace their betters in the halls of power. Civil wars, seceding territories, assassination plots, famine, plague—Bael Turath endured all these threats to its existence and survived by only the barest of margins.

The ruling family and others among the nobility prayed for a means of securing their country and their eternal dominion. Bael Turath had lasted for centuries, and they hoped to ensure its continuance for centuries more.

Alas, their prayers were answered.

The most avaricious, the most domineering, and the most paranoid—including the emperor himself—began to dream of a new age. They awoke from fevered sleep with visions of the future still floating before their bloodshot eyes. The empire could be saved. Indeed, it could grow to rival the greatest nations of history, perhaps even surpass them. Their noble lines would extend on into eternity. What price could outweigh eternal glory?

With the full force of the emperor’s will behind them, chosen nobles were permitted to perform dark rituals that would put them in contact with the powers that would help them maintain their rule: the devils of the Nine Hells. This association with the devils showed the emperor the way. A month-long ritual, the Bloodfire Moon, would set Bael Turath on the path to true greatness. The head of every noble house had to participate. Those who would not did not survive that bloody month. They and all their families died on the sword or the altar.
That's pretty much it. Nowhere does it specify that tieflings were an Asmodeus-only thing, only that it was pact with the devils of the Nine Hells. This lines up with tieflings in the PHB, the SCAG, and MToF in 5e, which are still infernal-based.

Edit: Checked and the name "Asmodeus" does not even appear in the Tiefling race description, again only that the tieflings' ancestors made pacts with devils.

In fact the Asmodeus-only stuff comes more from 5e than 4e!

5e PHB (p. 42):
To be greeted with stares and whispers, to suffer violence and insult on the street, to see mistrust and fear in every eye: this is the lot of the tiefling. And to twist the knife, tieflings know that this is because a pact struck generations ago infused the essence of Asmodeus-overlord of the Nine Hells-into their bloodline. Their appearance and their nature are not their fault but the result of an ancient sin, for which they and their children and their children's children will always be held accountable.
And since you like talking about the alternate tieflings that SCAG provided, then I'm sure you are incredibly well-versed in what that text says, so I won't quote all that here. :D

But sure, I get it. It's easier to blindly complain about what 4e did without knowing much about it. ;)
 
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cbwjm

I can add a custom title.
I think it might be because they were using the forgotten realms as a basis for lore. 4e forgotten realms the tieflings were all claimed by Asmodeus from memory and turned into the 4e tiefling.
 

Imaro

Adventurer
(1) These tieflings are still all infernal-based, if anything 5e SCAG made tieflings far more Asmodeus-only than 4e actually did (see below). ;)

(2) The actual 4e lore was that the human nobles who would become tieflings made pacts with the devils of the Nine Hells. We are never told that it was with Asmodeus or that tieflings were an Asmodeus-only thing. Far from it. 4e Tiefling book, p. 4:
That's pretty much it. Nowhere does it specify that tieflings were an Asmodeus-only thing, only that it was pact with the devils of the Nine Hells. This lines up with tieflings in the PHB, the SCAG, and MToF in 5e, which are still infernal-based.

Edit: Checked and the name "Asmodeus" does not even appear in the Tiefling race description, again only that the tieflings' ancestors made pacts with devils.

In fact the Asmodeus-only stuff comes more from 5e than 4e!

5e PHB (p. 42):
And since you like talking about the alternate tieflings that SCAG provided, then I'm sure you are incredibly well-versed in what that text says, so I won't quote all that here. :D

But sure, I get it. It's easier to blindly complain about what 4e did without knowing much about it. ;)
This is the probably the last time I'll reply to you on this because you don't seem to get it. There are two axis that I find the 4e and 5e Tieflings not to my liking...

The first is the standardized appearance most epitomized in 4e but also a part of 5e... however with SCAG and that small sidebar you mentioned the freedom for Tieflings to have a non-unified look was opened up... were there a ton of examples given? Nope but the point is the option was given... and the precedence was set for it to be expanded on by DM's either in home campaigns or through DM's Guild.

The second is the imposition of a monolithic and singular background...either they are all descendants of the nobles of a single civilization/culture/etc. mostly epitomized in 4e by all of them being part of the corrupted nobles of the Bael Turath civilization or we have the all Asmodeus narrative in 5e... it amounts to the same thing a narrowing of the possibilities in origin and background of Tieflings that I don't think is better in any way than the mysterious and open possibilities Planescape offered.

The 5e PHB leaves the Tieflings pretty open pretty but since FR is the default for 5e, I appreciate the fact that SCAG makes it doubly clear there is no all encompassing narrative for the backgrounds and origins of Tieflings anymore (though there is a most common origin) and they are not all specifically of the blood of Asmodeus.... Xanthars goes a step further and gives us some actual subraces. Now do either of these books totally open up all the possibilities of Planescape... nope to my dissapointment WotC seems intent on keeping them as infernal based, but again unlike say the Dragonborn who really haven't been changed beyond their incarnation in the PHB, WotC have steadily offered more and more possibilities outside the original (narrow) origin and culture of Tieflings presented in 5e or 4e. That's the direction I want to see them go in and am glad that seems to be where they are at as well.

Now if you expect me to type out the details of the exact differences between the 4e and 5e Tieflings every time I am talking about this stuff well I'm not since I think most people get what the big issues are around the way the race was done in both editions (stated above) whether or not I'm using all-Asmodeus tieflings as a short hand for both editions giving them a singular background/culture or not.

EDIT: The thing I find hilarious about this debate is that Planescape/2e Tieflings encompassed the 4e Tieflings and so much more... it's like arguing the world would be improved if we only had grapes vs the variety of fruits we have instead.
 
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gyor

Adventurer
This is the probably the last time I'll reply to you on this because you don't seem to get it. There are two axis that I find the 4e and 5e Tieflings not to my liking...

The first is the standardized appearance most epitomized in 4e but also a part of 5e... however with SCAG and that small sidebar you mentioned the freedom for Tieflings to have a non-unified look was opened up... were there a ton of examples given? Nope but the point is the option was given... and the precedence was set for it to be expanded on by DM's either in home campaigns or through DM's Guild.

The second is the imposition of a monolithic and singular background...either they are all descendants of the nobles of a single civilization/culture/etc. mostly epitomized in 4e by all of them being part of the corrupted nobles of the Bael Turath civilization or we have the all Asmodeus narrative in 5e... it amounts to the same thing a narrowing of the possibilities in origin and background of Tieflings that I don't think is better in any way than the mysterious and open possibilities Planescape offered.

The 5e PHB leaves the Tieflings pretty open pretty but since FR is the default for 5e, I appreciate the fact that SCAG makes it doubly clear there is no all encompassing narrative for the backgrounds and origins of Tieflings anymore (though there is a most common origin) and they are not all specifically of the blood of Asmodeus.... Xanthars goes a step further and gives us some actual subraces. Now do either of these books totally open up all the possibilities of Planescape... nope to my dissapointment WotC seems intent on keeping them as infernal based, but again unlike say the Dragonborn who really haven't been changed beyond their incarnation in the PHB, WotC have steadily offered more and more possibilities outside the original (narrow) origin and culture of Tieflings presented in 5e or 4e. That's the direction I want to see them go in and am glad that seems to be where they are at as well.

Now if you expect me to type out the details of the exact differences between the 4e and 5e Tieflings every time I am talking about this stuff well I'm not since I think most people get what the big issues are around the way the race was done in both editions (stated above) whether or not I'm using all-Asmodeus tieflings as a short hand for both editions giving them a singular background/culture or not.

EDIT: The thing I find hilarious about this debate is that Planescape/2e Tieflings encompassed the 4e Tieflings and so much more... it's like arguing the world would be improved if we only had grapes vs the variety of fruits we have instead.
Even in 4e FR Tieflings were different from Nentir Vale Tieflings. The origin in 4e FR was was not an ancient Empire of Tieflings, which is fine for the Nentir Vale setting, but rather a ritual that transformed 2e-3.5e Tieflings into 4e Tieflings. But still some of those Tieflings were different, as expressed in the Godborn feat.

And they were more cultural diverse. Many just participated in other races cultures, mostly humans, but 4e Tieflings breed true, so it could be any culture. Other areas had hotspots of Tiefling population growth, such as Memnon, High Imaskar/Old Empires Region, Narfell, Thay and thanks to Thayan Refugees Aglarond for example.
 
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