Why are tieflings so popular? How did they manage to outcompete all the other wacky races to win their place in mainstream D&D?

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
What ruined them for you?
In 2e Tieflings were fairly rare and very individualized, with multiple traits that marked them as descended from the lower planes. 3e minimized that and turned them into, "some of them have a minor trait marking them." 4e brought back multiple traits, but normalized them in society, listing them as heirs to an empire that used to be theirs, and all the traits were the same for the entire race, further changing them from what 2e had. 5e continued that idea, getting rid of the physical variations and rarity that made them cool. Now someone can just point at a tiefling and say, "That's a tiefling. I can tell, because they are all physically similar." In 2e you couldn't do that. There was no real way to know if the person was a tiefling, half-demon, demon, other lower planar creature, or some other sort of monster. They were unique.
 

Laurefindel

Explorer
In 2e Tieflings were fairly rare and very individualized, with multiple traits that marked them as descended from the lower planes. 3e minimized that and turned them into, "some of them have a minor trait marking them." 4e brought back multiple traits, but normalized them in society, listing them as heirs to an empire that used to be theirs, and all the traits were the same for the entire race, further changing them from what 2e had. 5e continued that idea, getting rid of the physical variations and rarity that made them cool. Now someone can just point at a tiefling and say, "That's a tiefling. I can tell, because they are all physically similar." In 2e you couldn't do that. There was no real way to know if the person was a tiefling, half-demon, demon, other lower planar creature, or some other sort of monster. They were unique.
At least they came back with a charisma bonus instead of the 3e charisma penalty...
 
In 2e Tieflings were fairly rare and very individualized, with multiple traits that marked them as descended from the lower planes. 3e minimized that and turned them into, "some of them have a minor trait marking them." 4e brought back multiple traits, but normalized them in society, listing them as heirs to an empire that used to be theirs, and all the traits were the same for the entire race, further changing them from what 2e had. 5e continued that idea, getting rid of the physical variations and rarity that made them cool. Now someone can just point at a tiefling and say, "That's a tiefling. I can tell, because they are all physically similar." In 2e you couldn't do that. There was no real way to know if the person was a tiefling, half-demon, demon, other lower planar creature, or some other sort of monster. They were unique.
I mean, you can still do that. There's a thing in SCAG that has the old style tiefling (it has +2 DEX and +1 INT for stat boosts), but it has a little thing for different things for your tiefling to look like, and if you want to, you could still use the appearance table thing I think they have in 2E. If your a play you could ask your DM to use it, and since it's cosmetic, any good DM will go with it, and if your the DM, well, just use those ones.
 

Aaron Litz

Visitor
I have to say I actually really liked the original Tieflings, before they transformed them all into a uniform race of gaudy red-skinned, horned, and tailed "devil-people." Back when they were individual humans with a fiendish taint somewhere in their ancestry that left them some kind of individual deformity and a whiff of infernal or abyssal magic they were genuinely interesting, but now they're just way too blatant and gauche and I seriously can't stand them anymore, especially since they were included as a main PC race in the Player's Handbook.

In short, they've become the new Drow (so passé and '90s); an entire race of "exotic" misunderstood noble rebels struggling to overcome the burden of being judged for the misdeeds of their (conveniently off-screen) evil kin. Players nowadays are more likely to encounter Good-Aligned "rebels" of either race than they are the supposed Evil majority of their kin. (One wonders if there are actually any Evil Drow left at all, or if all Drow PCs are actually just edgy adolescents and all their talk of the "evil culture" they are "rebelling" against is really just a smokescreen because they're embarrassed of the fact that they actually just come from a society of moderately staid, well-to-do underground merchants.)

Plus, I seriously prefer some restraint in my fantasy; when devil-people and dragon-people are apparently as "rare" as Gnomes and Half-Elves it robs them of any kind of specialness and renders them mundane. When magic is commonplace it is robbed of its exotic mystery, rendering it mundane and boring. "Familiarity breeds contempt" isn't just an empty cliche.
 

Riley37

Visitor
I was born with a deep-seated antipathy for Paladins....

...only Paladins can truly feed hate.
Sounds a LOT like you're a Paladin with an Oath of Vengeance.

If you can mystically sense their presence, and if you can do magical extra damage against them, then that's definitely what you are.
 

Advertisement

Top