D&D General Tieflings

Temporalgod

Villager
Fellow Tiefling Players, how do you design YOUR Tieflings?

Personally I prefer a more subtle approach to designing them, I give them human skin tones, 0 horns and white hair, no hooves or digitgrade legs and leave the rest of their bodies your stereotypical tiefling design, pictured below are what I'm trying to get, they're a rough estimation,

Also please don't mind my crappy Photoshop skills or my crappy Camera skills
 

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Sidhanei

Explorer
I lean slightly more ‘realistic’ with mine—realistic not in terms of lore/mythology but muscle and bone structure.

My first encounter with them was THE LAST MYTHAL trilogy, so they tend to be half-elves (fey’ri and deamonfey in FR), and that shaped it alot. Wings are important, lol…even if mechanically they aren’t usable or even there.

Horns tend to vary. My favorite are 4 horns for the aesthetic mixing nice with pointed ears. Don’t do many with hooves, but they’re harder to be expressive visually with and I draw my characters alot.

When I started working on my own fantasy comic, I developed a fiendish/angellic trimorphic subspecies of Fae/elves. This encouraged me to take a deeper look and how such creatures would work, and now informs how I represent tieflings since the legwork is done. Some things are small, like the pinky being more of a qausi-second thumb for extra grip/item stability in flight and somantic-magical control. But the wings and tail are the big ones. The body is more hourglass shape because of the extra muscles needed, such as around the hip for the tail. A second set of shoulder blades rests near the bottom of the rib cage on the back—so just above the center of the back. I’ve also developed a liking for a more subtle keel structure, namely a pair of floating bones that rest on front of the ribcage. Kinda / \ shaped, with an extra layer of muscles forming around the torso to connect them with the extra shoulder blades on the back. The setup also makes it easy for a tiefling to fold up their wings like a sleeveless cloak and operate more like general humanoids in activities like rising a horse or disguising themselves.
 

Tieflings in my Jewel of the Desert game are somewhat variable, but tend to have the following physical characteristics.

Tail: All tieflings have a tail, unless amputated or otherwise lost. For some it may be shorter/thinner than others, but it's always there. Some can use it precisely enough to develop prehensile skill, but for most it's just there. They design their chairs and pants differently as a result.
Horns: Many, though not all, have a pair of horns, varying in size and shape. Our party Bard has two pretty small horns, which easily get lost in his hair if he lets it grow out a bit. His elder brother has slightly more prominent horns, and IIRC one of his known ancestors (an nth-great aunt who was canonized) had a much more prominent pair.
Skin tone/hair color: More variable than base humans, but not dramatically so. Essentially, red and blue get added to the possible tones human skin can have (as opposed to the natural shades-of-orange color of human skin.) Hair mostly follows suit.
Limbs: Most tieflings have plantigrade feet and do not have claws or other unusual hands, but a few (particularly if they have more of a "throwback" look) may manifest either of these traits. Extra limbs are not a tiefling trait; they might come from somewhere else, but not because of being a tiefling.
Eyes: Tend toward yellow/gold, red, purple, or white/silver, but might have human colors instead. Some of them have heterochromia.

There's no special hatred for tieflings because my setting is low on "racism" in the usual sense and more (relatively mild) xenophobia. That is, someone native to the Tarrakhuna region would be traditionally understood to be "one of us," while someone from outside the Tarrakhuna would be seen as a suspicious outsider. These attitudes have grown much weaker as international trade has grown, but it's still there somewhat. A native Tarrakhuna tiefling would be treated to essentially zero crap, but a human or elf from Yanxia (the faraway East Asia melange) might deal with some discriminatory treatment, especially the lower class (who are the most likely to see foreigners as either rich jerks or immigrants TERKIN AR JERBS!!) But by and large even that is relatively uncommon, the Tarrakhuna has something of a "pan-mortal" perspective due to mortal solidarity being one of the main reasons the enslaving Genie-Rajahs were driven out of the mortal world.

Basically, our Bard could possibly pass for human if seen exclusively from the front (or keeping his tail well-hidden), but his elder brother couldn't except perhaps at a distance, and some of his relatives in ages past definitely couldn't even at a distance.
 

billd91

Not your screen monkey (he/him)
I haven’t played a tiefling yet, but when I DM, I generally depart from the 4e-based conceptualization of them and shift back to their prior one: often indistinguishable from humans. I do require some form of infernal characteristic that the player can choose for themselves.
 

DMZ2112

Chaotic Looseleaf
I always start with a different humanoid because IMHO the best tiefling lore has always been the original Planescape lore, where tieflings and genasi are magical mutants.

I’ve had a tiefling who was a human-descended scion of a long time demonic foe of Kostchtchie who was tall and attractive, covered lightly in faintly tiger-striped white fur with an ice-blue high-and-tight. He had long, thin ears perpendicular to his head, cross-shaped pupils in blood red eyes, and a perfect, gleaming grin, and he suffered from blackout rages.

I’ve had a Mammonite mountain dwarf tiefling with fiery eyes and golden skin who passed themself off as a duergar because no one else had ever seen one.

I’ve had a tortle fire genasi inspired by an alligator snapping turtle, black as basalt, whose shell joints glowed like lava vents and who could snort fireballs. They hated plumbers.

I had a second fire genasi, of human descent, who was extinguished in a mudslide while he was cleansing a pagan temple. He had been walking glory, and was now all ash grey skin and charcoal hair, white at the tips and faintly trailing smoke.

My favorite, though, thus far, has been a Levistan moon elf tiefling with long, straight, sea-green hair that flowed like water and faintly bluish skin that was always cold to the touch. Their breath misted in the air no matter the ambient temperature. When they usurped Strahd von Zarovich, they became a terrible cross between a fae princess and a gelugon, with compound eyes, elegant antennae, and scintillating moth wings of ice crystals.

But anyway, I start with a different humanoid. I find that having an established culture to either cleave to or reject helps greatly to define a tiefling.
 

Mad_Jack

Hero
I haven’t played a tiefling yet, but when I DM, I generally depart from the 4e-based conceptualization of them and shift back to their prior one: often indistinguishable from humans. I do require some form of infernal characteristic that the player can choose for themselves.
But anyway, I start with a different humanoid. I find that having an established culture to either cleave to or reject helps greatly to define a tiefling.

This has always been my take on them as well - As a fan of the original Planescape tieflings, I've always gone with the idea that both individual tieflings/aasimar/genasi* and genetically stable groups of them exist in my worlds, and each individual or group has their own unique look - the type and severity of the outsider influence on the character's appearance generally depends on how far from the original outsider ancestor the character is, but players are free to decide their character's looks any way they want based on the character's backstory. And I have no problem with them defining whether their character gets their outsider characteristics from actual familial descent, as part of a pact they or their ancestors may have made with an outsider, or simply some kind of extra-planar magical exposure (aka Fantastic Four style).

*insert outsider-influenced heritage here

I'm also a fan of letting dragonborn characters define their own physical characteristics - horns/fins/ridges/spikes/tails of any sort/wings (functional or otherwise)/those goofy 4E tentacle-dreads... It's all up to the player.


On a general note, I'm a big fan of creative reflavoring for pretty much anything, as long as it's interesting and makes narrative sense - my personal characters over the decades have included:

  • a 4E (mechanically) dragonborn poison-themed sorcerer/assassin who was narratively a magically-experimented-on yuan-ti who was much more snake-like than dragon and had the coloring of a coral snake.
  • a 4E pixie druid reflavored as a shape-shifting fey were-crow with four crow feathers as his wings, whose class powers were just the innate magical abilities of his people.
  • a warforged druid who was an extension of a genius loci... an ancient battlefield that grew some vines up through an old suit of armor, picked up some abandoned weapons, and set out to avenge itself on all the humanoids that had despoiled it over the centuries.
  • one warlock who gained his abilities by eating his patron (an immortal Tinkerbelle-style fairy who grew back inside him as a symbiotic second nervous system and sometimes takes over his body) and another who comes from an entire lost village of hereditary warlocks.
 

cbwjm

Legend
I have an area in my campaign world where the elite are made up of tieflings descended from Grazzt, 6 fingers and toes, ash coloured skin, small horns on their heads.

Otherwise, I'd let my players come up with how their tieflings look.
 

Depends entirely on the DM. If the DM allows normal interaction with other humanoids if you are purple and have giant horns, then that's my choice. I'll tone it down if purple and giant horns means I get disadvantage on every roll in a social encounter.
 

DND_Reborn

The High Aldwin
Tieflings are portrayed as the half-fiends they are in essence. Obviously not human. Most folk initial reactions will be fear or distrust.

Anything less "fiendish", and you're basically just human--there is not enough "other" in you to represent the "tiefling" race.
 


Clint_L

Hero
I like mine to be super colourful, with tons of variation when it comes to colour, hair, horns, and tails. Mostly I let the players decide, so it they want a really subtle look, that would be cool, too. I almost always defer to the player when it comes to what their character looks like, as long as it fits the broadest parameters of the chosen species. Look at actual human beings - there is a pretty vast range of cosmetic variation.
 


Weiley31

Legend
Fellow Tiefling Players, how do you design YOUR Tieflings?

Personally I prefer a more subtle approach to designing them, I give them human skin tones, 0 horns and white hair, no hooves or digitgrade legs and leave the rest of their bodies your stereotypical tiefling design, pictured below are what I'm trying to get, they're a rough estimation,

Also please don't mind my crappy Photoshop skills or my crappy Camera skills
As a fellow Devil May Cry fan, I approve!
 

Vaalingrade

Legend
Tail: Mandatory. Doens't matter if it's thick (Thicc?) or thin with a little spade end. Like with dragon people, if there's no tail, what are you even doing?

Horns: Yes. One minimum, but go nuts. Give me a styracosaurus lady. Again, if you're making a devil person, what are you doing not having horns?

Legs and feet? I can give or take the digitigrade legs and hooves. Either is fine.

Skin: If a human can have it, a tiefling can't. Give me colors like a rainbow on psychedelics. Red and purples and blues, obviously, but can I interest you in yellow?

I don't go for the random mutations. Especially not that table where the terrible, hellish mutations you could roll up are things actual humans have/do.

Generally, I like the 4e standardization coupled with 'yes, and'.
 



Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
Yeah this.

The 4E approach made sense in 4E where it was a specific curse, but makes zero sense after that, because Tieflings are supposedly descending from literally dozens or hundreds of different beings, and thus should be extremely variable in appearance. Yet sadly most art apes the 4E approach.
Yeah, I love 4e tieflings, but their design was tied closely to their lore in that edition. Ditching the lore and keeping the design in 5e was a weird choice.
 




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