Let’s talk about Dungeons and Dragons! The worlds most famous and popular tabletop roleplaying game, it has endured for decades and will continue to endure, these days it seems bigger than it has been in quite some time. With shows like Stranger Things and Harmonquest dragging attention to tabletop gaming back into the mainstream, and virtually every youtube gaming channel making their own D&D show recently, it is growing in popularity (not to mention that the archaic controversy and fear surrounding it has virtually vanished from our modern culture.)

I personally have a few… Issues with the game, I certainly love it, but what I do not love is the abuse of traditional fantasy races. It drags down the work in my opinion, but I do not think it is really worth arguing to much about, instead I am going to focus on some things that D&D does very right!

Specifically I want to talk about the various races and creatures that are a part of the identity of Dungeons & Dragons, things created by the franchise, for the franchise. Things that are a part of what D&D has brought to the Fantasy genre of fiction instead of having just borrowed from it.

Specifically today I want to talk about Tieflings!

Zales - Tiefling Druid

Why Tieflings? When I could be talking about Mind Flayers, Beholders, or the Great Demogorgon? Well first and foremost Tieflings are a playable race,the second reason is they represent and amalgam of many traditional fantasy ideas while still having their own identity and niche in the worlds. More so than Half-ORcs or otehr evil races, tieflings are representative of our cultural perception of what an evil being should look like.

They are outsiders, they are discriminated against, and feared. I love playing them because I love that interaction with people, being able to push onward despite what others think abotu them is a fun roleplaying experience.

shaxAnother thing I find interesting is that they tend to lack a cultural and racial identity in most settings. In fact for the most part Tieflings are technically human, just humans with heritage of a demonic entity, or even just having been cursed by a demonic entity. New sources even suggest that this heritage can be dormant in people and spring up unexpectedly in children of human couples, essentially making them the Dungeons and Dragons version of a Ginger.

Because of this, Tieflings can be whatever they want to be… they arent bogged down by any tiefling culture, or the culture of their human parent(s), as that culture usually rejects them. And because of all the connotations associated with their status theycan provide an experience that many people can relate to and enjoy.

maz-cPlus they are just so dang cool looking, and they can have extremely varied appearances because of their heritage, depending on the demon/devil they are descended from, how they are descended from them, and how strong that is. You could play a Satyr-like tiefling that is a musician or a forest dwelling hermit, you could play a more bull-like one that functions as a barbarian, you could even play someone with very minimal traits.

They offer, simply put, a little more in the way of customization options than most of the races in D&D. So what is there not to love? A very modern race, that appeals to modern sensibilities, that can be used to tell more modern stories, with tons of versatility in appearance and story. Well yeah there is the whole “they look like the devil” thing, but I submit to you a truth… at least I think it is a truth.

Our modern perception of “evil beings” is often based on misremembering statues and images meant to ward off such beings, as being those beings themselves.