“But you do see the way people look at you, devil’s child.”—D&D Player’s Handbook
It is said that Tieflings are descended from both humans and devils, or demons, their ancestors having made a pact and then interbred to create a race that was not quite one or the other but a striking combination of the two.
What are Tieflings in 5e DnD?
They are not inherently evil, but their sinister appearance — horns, tail, strange skin coloring, and viciously sharp teeth — meaning that they are often judged to be so, even on a first impression by the other races. Particularly humans.
Because they are often shunned by society, they have developed skills suitable for more nefarious careers and make great rogues, assassins, and criminals.
Tiefling Racial Stats 5e
Their strange ancestry means that Tieflings have some unique and exciting bonuses and abilities inherent in their make-up.
Ability Score Increase: Their demonic demeanor endows the Tiefling with a charisma bonus. Where the Tiefling stands out from the other races is the sheer number of variant sub-races associated with them. All of these come with their own secondary Ability Score Increases and abilities, making them good options for most classes.
Size: Their medium size confers no real drawbacks or benefits.
Speed: The Tiefling’s walking speed of 30 feet is standard.
Darkvision: Darkvision is always great, the ability to see better in dim light and even total darkness. It means Teiflings make good party scouts on any given adventure, no matter their class.
Hellish Resistance: Fire damage is widespread, whether generated by a spell or comes from a natural ability. Having fire resistance built into the Tiefling race gives them a survival advantage.
Tiefling Bloodlines (sub-races)
One of the great things about choosing the Tiefling race for your character is the number of subraces available to you means that even before you have chosen a class and other ability and skill options, you can start making your character unique. It is doubtful that two Tiefling will ever be that similar, making playing the race both unpredictable and rewarding.
Bloodline of Asmodeus
This is the standard Tiefling base. If you don’t choose one of the sub-races, then it is assumed that you are of this bloodline. It may be the standard setup, but it has some fantastic spells.
Ability Score Increase: Having an Intelligence bonus alongside the already inbuilt Charisma increase is as useful as it might first appear. Most casters opt for one and dump the other anyway.
- 1st level — Thaumaturgy: Perhaps not as good as spells such as Minor Illusion or Prestidigitation, but still fairly useful in scenarios where roleplay and reasoning are paramount.
- 3rd level — Hellish Rebuke: A great spell to use for your reaction and one which scales up as you increase in level.
- 5th level — Darkness is a great way to leave your opponent in the dark. However, it isn’t advantageous unless at least one of your fellow players can see through magical darkness.
Bloodline of Baalzebul
Similar to the Bloodline of Asmodeus option but with, on the whole, less effective spells.
Ability Score Increase: As above, having an Intelligence bonus alongside the already inbuilt Charisma increase is as useful as it might first appear. Most casters opt for one and dump the other anyway.
Legacy of Maladomini:
- 1st level — Thaumaturgy: As with Asmodeus Tiefling, it could be better than minor illusion or prestidigitation but can still be effective in certain scenarios.
- Ray of Sickness: The damage isn’t significant, but the poison is nasty. That said, saving throw proficiency and immunity to poison is the most common form of resistance, and it doesn’t work on many non-worldly creatures.
- Crown of Madness: It may have limitations but is powerful even at a low level.
Bloodline of Dispater
This is a great choice for the sneaky Tiefling, especially if infiltration and deception are high on your list of priorities.
Ability Score Increase: Most Charisma-based casers don’t favor heavy armor, so the Dexterity boost adds to Armor Class, Stealtiness, and Dexterity-based saves. It’s the art of not being where the intended blow lands.
Legacy of Dis:
- 1st level — Thaumaturgy: As with Asmodeus Tiefling, it could be better than Minor Illusion or Prestidigitation but can still be effective in certain scenarios.
- 3rd level — Disguise Self: A great spell to have and available as a 1st level option.
- 5th level — Detect Thoughts: Great for interrogation and finding out if any creatures are hiding nearby waiting to ambush you.
Bloodline of Fierna
The only option is to come with a Wisdom bonus. Access to a range of charm spells works well with a naturally high Charisma.
Ability Score Increase: Most caster characters choose between Wisdom and Charisma and reject the other.
Legacy of Phlegethos:
- 1st level — Friends: It gives a great advantage on charisma checks when trying to get your way, but the spell is very short-lived. Best to use it fast and be on your way before the target has realized that they have been manipulated.
- 3rd level — Charm Person: A great option when dealing with people in non-combat situations but has the disadvantage that the target will be aware that they have been duped after the event.
- 5th level — Suggestion: Always good to get NPCs to do what you want them to do.
Bloodline of Glasya
Arguably the best choice for those who want to be sneaky and combine it with a great range of spells.
Ability Score Increase: Charisma and Dexterity is a great combination for the more nefarious types and Charisma-based casters who fight with Dexterity-inclined weapons.
Legacy of Malbolge:
- 1st level — Minor Illusion: If used imaginatively, this small cantrip can be the most versatile spell in the book.
- 3rd level — Disguise Self: A great, low-level spell for deception and infiltration.
- 5th level — Invisibility: Again, another great spell for infiltrating and avoiding normal detection.
Bloodline of Levistus
One for the more cautious player, as this option is the most defensive of all the Tiefling choices.
Ability Score Increase: Nearly every class will benefit from a constitution bonus.
Legacy of Stygia:
- 1st level — Ray of Frost: A good solid cantrip, useful for slowing your enemies down.
- 3rd level — Armor of Agathys: A great defensive spell, able to confer magical protection on the character.
- 5th level — Darkness is a great way to blind your opponents but not so useful if your party can’t counter the spell’s effects.
Bloodline of Mammon
The intelligence bonus is useful, but the spells aren’t perhaps as great as some other sub-race choices.
Ability Score Increase: The usual problem is that having an Intelligence bonus on top of Charisma bonuses isn’t that advantageous, as casters usually opt for one or the other.
Legacy of Minauros:
- 1st level — Mage Hand: A useful spell that allows the caster to extend the range they can manipulate or interact with objects.
- 3rd level — Tenser’s Floating Disk: The ability to carry 500lbs will be useful in those very specific situations – such as when you have defeated a large monster and need to carry away their horde as quickly as possible.
- 5th level — Arcane Lock: Useful, especially if you are paranoid about someone breaking into your home while you are away adventuring. Even if someone defeats it with a knock spell, you will often still be able to hear them.
Bloodline of Mephistopheles
Another Intelligence bonus-based build.
Ability Score Increase: Again, the problem is that having an Intelligence bonus on top of Charisma bonuses isn’t that advantageous, as casters usually opt for one or the other.
Legacy of Cania:
- 1st level — Mage Hand: A beneficial spell that allows the caster to extend the range they can manipulate or interact with objects.
- 3rd level — Burning Hands: A good Area of Effect spell, especially for the first level, but there are better ones. Useful, though, if you catch a group of enemies close together.
- 5th level — Flame Blade: Delivering more damage than Flaming Sphere but comes with many caveats. You have to be in melee range to use it so it can be attacked, causing loss of concentration. Also, it takes up your whole attack action to cast. It does have a decent duration but does combat ever last that long? Take Flaming Sphere if it is available to you.
Bloodline of Zariel
This is the sub-race choice that comes with a Strength bonus. Add to that some useful spells; this is the best option for a melee-orientated Tiefling.
Ability Score Increase: The Strength and Charisma bonus that comes with this option makes them ideal Paladins.
Legacy of Avernus:
- 1st level — Thaumaturgy: As stated before, not as effective as the likes of Minor Illusion or Prestidigitation, and as this is a melee-drive option, a bit of a waste.
- 3rd level — Searing Smite: As this causes fire damage on successive turns, the potential damage could quickly mount up.
- 5th level — Branding Smite: You need to be able to hit an invisible target for this spell to earn its place in your spell selection, so it is only effective for the Oath of the Watchers who can see invisibility.
Final Thoughts on Tiefling Race 5e
The great thing about the Tiefling is the variety. You can find a sub-race suitable to almost every class and suited to whatever style of play you prefer.