Saturday, May 2, 2015

30 Days of D&D Day 2: Favorite Playable Race

My favorite playable race, hands down, is the Tiefling.

They aren't straight up half demon or devil, just....a little off. Something wrong in the family woodshed, as it were. Or right, depending on your alignment.

One reason they're interesting is yeah, they can be evil. You could be evil willfully, or as the product of your environment, whatever. But. They can be good too (or chaotic neutral, frequently a fun one). But their appearance is an immediate count against them. Walk into a room or down the street as the one with horns, and there's going to be whispers and opinions immediately formed. And that can bring an interesting dynamic to the person you're playing. 

There's a D100 table you can roll on from the Planeswalker's Handbook for all kinds of nifty qualities they can have. It's more for flavor than game rules, but seriously cool and interesting stuff, ranging from having vestigial wings to too-long fingers, to a prehensile tail. Oh yeah, and those Planescape books were illustrated by Tony DiTerlizzi, who's seriously awesome.

In 3rd edition, they were in the Forgotten Realms setting book, and a playable race, but at an experience disadvantage, essentially, because they were also considered a more powerful race (darkvision, the spell Darkness once a day, and a small handful small elemental resistances'll do that, I guess). Same with 3.5.

Pathfinder didn't really keep with the experience penalty thing, and also added a level of customization. So, you don't ever really use that 1/day Darkness ability? Have that prehensile tail you always dreamed of!

(what, you never dreamed of having a prehensile tail?)

I skip 4th edition D&D because, well, we didn't like it at my table. We bought the initial box set of core books, we all read through them, we played around with it a bit, but it was too much like playing a video game on the table. The abilities, and usages thereof, were far too similar across the classes. It didn't feel like Dungeons and Dragons anymore. Pathfinder didn't either, to a degree; it bothered me less than some people, though. But, 4th edition also made Tieflings a straight up playable race, while making gnomes monsters with lairs, which was hilarious and kind of awesome.

5th edition, Tieflings are right there in the core book again. They kind of have an expected streamlined appearance, of horns that I don't quite like the look of necessarily, and a weird meaty tail. But, at my table, things like acceptable parameters of tiefling appearance tend to be discussable with your DM. And really, stuff like that is kind of important, that you can talk to your DM if you have a cosmetic thing you want different, backstory for your character, etc.

I've made a lot of tiefling characters. Enough that people roll their eyes when I suggest that's what I want to make, sometimes. Which is fair; why keep doing the same thing? What am I looking for with that sort of character, that angle?

In a way, I've gotten something different out of it each time. Found different levels of acceptance. Of family. Of belonging. Of utility. I had a tiefling monk who spoke only in whispers and who made practice of "reading" labyrinths. I had a tiefling ranger who was the only living female descendant of a local powerful family which was historically magical (or magically influenced).  A wizard, a rogue (more on those two on the 8th). Just tiefling doesn't make them the same; I've played any number of humans. Far fewer elves and half elves. Never a gnome or halfling; something about the little guys just doesn't personally appeal. But I guess I like that edge of darkness, that implied danger, of what people ought not know. The adversity one must overcome, right from the get-go.

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