Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Tiefling Sorcerer: New B/X Class

[funny story; I had every intention of writing a post about the Drow -- don't ask -- and instead I ended up reading up on the whole damn tiefling species. To be blunt, the idea of a devil-blooded line of humanity only makes sense in an astral plane-hopping setting, and one that doesn't take itself too seriously (something akin to the late Robert Asprin's humorous MythAdventures fantasy series, for example). Looking back at the origin of the tieflings, I do see that they first appeared as part of the Planescape campaign setting, and that jives, but they take themselves O SO SERIOUS in a way that tries to copy the pseudo-edginess of early 90's World of Darkness. And why would they not? Planescape was published in 1994, and probably wanted to cash in on some of that angsty role-playing vibe.

[however, the "morph" that occurs between 3rd and 4th edition, making the tiefling a part of the Core character classes, is Not Good and I can only see it as having been directly influenced by the World of Warcraft, a popular MMORPG whose influence is all over 4E. Even the new look of the tiefling species in 4E (since carried over to 5E) directly apes the draenei character race of WoW, while keeping the blood elf character template's wardrobe and style sense. Is this any wonder when both the draenei and blood elf were released as a WoW expansion pack in January 2007 (WotC first announced the development of 4th edition D&D in August of that same year)? Is their any chance that the 4E brain trust looked at financial returns from the uber-successful WoW and said, hey, we need to put something like THAT in the new edition? Maybe? Regardless, the race has been part of the "core races" ever since, and has gone from a character who might have a single infernal stigmata (or even NONE!) to an obviously inhuman creature with fucking horns and flexible tail and pupil-less eyes. 

[oh, yeah...and so in writing this up for folks who want tieflings in their B/X game, I have to admit I really don't know how you'd use it. I mean, the idea that there are just small pockets of infernal-descended creatures hanging out in human towns (on the Prime Plane) is just so utterly ridiculous. It's a box of stupid. I can only imagine it working in some sort of gothic-horror fantasy world, where vampires, werewolves, and necromancers are accepted parts of society. Something like planet Nostramo (home of Primarch Batman) in WH40K, or some other world where "it's always twilight and/or foggy" (Ravenloft?). Still, I'm sure someone will figure out a way to do it. I mean, why not, right?]



Tieflings are demihumans whose distant ancestors consorted with demons, devils, or similar creatures from the nether planes. Though they appear outwardly human, all tieflings bear some physical mark of their infernal ancestry: small horns, a vestigial tail, a cloven hoof, or oddly colored eyes, perhaps. Lawful creatures feel uncomfortable in their presence. Tieflings tend to be sneaky and underhanded; the world never gave them a fair shake so why should they return the favor? They are innately magical although their sorcery (described below) is different from that of a magic-user or elf. A tiefling's prime requisite is Intelligence; they earn a +5% bonus to experience points if their Intelligence is 13-15, and a +10% bonus if it is 16 or better.

RESTRICTIONS: Tieflings use four-sided dice (d4) to determine their hit points. They may advance to a maximum of 13th level of experience. Tieflings may wear leather armor, but do not use shields. Because of their slight build, they may wield only one-handed melee weapon and cannot use long bows. Tieflings use the same attack and saving throw tables as a thief of the same level. A tiefling character must have a minimum Charisma score of 9.

SPECIAL ABILITIES: Because of their infernal nature, tieflings have fire resistance (like the magic ring). Lawful characters are distinctly uneasy around tieflings, and reaction rolls with lawful NPCs are always made with a -2 penalty. They have infravision like elves and dwarves, allowing them to see 60 feet in the dark.

All tieflings are innately magical, automatically learning spells as shown on their advancement chart; these spells are chosen from the same list as magic-users. Unlike magic-users, tieflings need not memorize their spells; they draw their power from their own infernal nature and their sorcery is limited only by what their life-force allows, as determined by their level of experience. For example: a 5th level tiefling knows only seven spells, but may cast up to ten spells per day (a maximum of four 1st level spells, four 2nd level spells, and two 3rd level spells). Tiefling sorcery is powerful, but they lack the versatility of a magic-user.

Tieflings are solitary wanderers by nature. They never build strongholds or establish dominions, and they do not have clans like other demihuman characters.

Spells Cast Per Day
LevelExp. PointsHit DiceSpells Known123456
* Constitution adjustments no longer apply.

***EDIT: Had to change the table color because it wasn't showing up on the mobile device.***


  1. Please please please tell me you are not going to post a dragonborn B/X class.

    1. Dude. No. NoNoNoNoNO!

      Look, I may not talk like it, but I do respect other folks’ desire to play other game...even games with Dragonborn.

      But aren’t D&D players supposed to be killing and looting dragons? I have a lot of um “reservations” about the Dragonborn concept.

    2. Please don’t feed the awful modern PC races, please

  2. I like that. Realy fits in with the B/X concept of planes as defined by contact other plane spell. Elemental rising from the singularity, forest and lower life forms, men and beasts (where teiflings would be with men), higher planes...

    1. I’m just glad I was able to find an image that didn’t look like Hell-Boy.
      ; )

  3. I like it, it's a simple version of the 3E/5E Sorcerer (which is what I used for Flying Swordsmen by the way).

    I'm also not a big fan of tieflings, dragonborn, goliaths, genasi, and all the other multitude of Mos Eisley Cantina races that WOTC likes to add to their games, but out of deference to my players who do (my son is the big dragonborn fan), I have my versions I posted on my blog yesterday.

    If I were going back to race-as-class in my house rules, I'd yoink this.

  4. Tangential: I played in a short 4E campaign that posited the established setting was well after an empire that involved demon-worship (like The Great Kingdom in Greyhawk) fell due to a combination of barbarian invasion (orcs, leading to half-orcs scattered around) and internal revolts. Dragonborn were descendants of magically created troops and Tieflings were descendants of the corrupt nobility. The DM gave the Tiefling/Dragonborn dynamic that of the Membari and Narns in Babylon 5. It went a long way towards explaining why they were there and provided role-play hooks for the players.

    1. @ Patrick:

      That’s not terrible. Only issue I’d have with it is the obvious infernal nature of tieflings would give away their heritage leading (presumably) to superstitious or resentful lynch mobs wherever they wandered. Much more interesting to me to have the fallen nobility indistinguishable from the general populace (i.e. looking like humans)...but maybe the issue doesn’t come up in a 4E campaign, where the focus (I presume) is on confrontation and combat.

  5. I'd like to see something with more randomness in terms of abilities. Although the campaign never saw fruition, I once considered creating a tiefling character. It was in the context of Planescape and 2E. I don't remember the supplement but there was a random table to determine your tiefling's abilities. It was basically a demonic/diabolic version of creating an AD&D version of a Gamma World mutant so, yeah, I thought it was cool. Strictly, as an empirical observation, female gamers who I have been acquainted with preferred elves, half-elves, Drow & tieflings as PC races. Drow & tiefling being the choice for those wanting something edgier. Given that observation, it makes me wonder whether the churn you see online about tieflings and, more frequently, elves has less to do with legitimate gaming concerns and more to do with the he-man woman haters club. I'm not saying that is what is happening here but it is something that creative forces within the gaming community need to consider.

  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. ???

      Looks okay to me, as far as the formatting goes...or are you talking about the spell numbers?

  7. Good job with this! I think it has a great B/X feel, it isn't over or under powered, and is cool enough that someone would definitely want to play one.
    While the idea of a part infernal PC might seel silly to you, it's well represented in the swords and sorcery literature and something that fits well in a lot of campaigns. Dragon born, tieflings, and other unusual races might not be for everyone but they do have their fans.
    I started playing D&D in 1979 and even then there were some gonzo homebrew floating around. I get really annoyed at these gatekeepers who decide that because they don't want something in their game, no one should have it.

    1. Mmm.”Demon blooded” protagonists are not terribly unusual to fantasy fiction, but in nearly every instance I can think of they are singular, unique beings, not members of a (mildly) prolific species.

  8. Replies
    1. @ Kingjemnai:

      Mmm. I'll consider it. But only because you said "please."