On The Subject of Tieflings
excerpted from Pheseis Eternal’s Remarks To the Arcanus Assembly, El Astrum Public Library, 2752 M.E.
It is said that all Tieflings can trace their ancestry back to Asmodeus, the god of sin, and Supreme Master of the Nine Hells. Intoxicated by the promise of powers beyond their imagining, these earliest human descendants made a pact with the archdevil. In return, his blood was infused with their own and the Tiefling bloodline was born.
As the Tieflings spread through mortal realms, they enthralled the “lesser folk,” performing “miracles” and dispersing the “wisdom” of their masters. It wasn’t uncommon for Tieflings to seduce and interbreed with other races, and it was quickly discovered that the bloodline always bred true. There were no half-Tieflings, with any intermixing always resulting in a full-blooded spawn. This became commonly known as the Asmodian Curse or the Devilian plague, and was a cunning tactic by archdevils to infest the mortal planes with their influence. If left unchecked, my people would have steadily outbred all other races and unwittingly brought on a horrible fate to the world at the hands of their patrons. For unbeknownst to all, while many had diverged from the stereotype to serve the evil masters, all Tieflings bare the mark of their infernal legacy and are eternally linked to the hellish planes – a link that often easily manipulated.
The apocalypse never came to pass. As the Tiefling population exploded, hostilities grew between us and the other mortal races. Whispers spread and the most pious leaders began preaching to their followers that the Tieflings were a mark of sin and a demonic blight upon the land. This lead to the First Tiefling Crusade and one of the worst genocides recorded. Tiefling society thereafter would only ever be a shadow of its former self, with those of us fortunate enough to survive scattered or forced into hiding.
In the centuries that passed, our once-proud race was dogged by our enemies, pushed farther away from the fertile lands and the riches of civilization. Those that remained were driven to a nomadic lifestyle, seeking a land free from prejudice and unrelenting judgment. To this day, a number of factions maintain this way of life, not content to settle in one place too long lest risk being wiped out like many of our ancestors in the crusades. Others found that their infernal resistance allowed them to endure the harsh climates and settled in lands ill-suited for other races – arid deserts, volcanic fields, and even the badlands of the Dead Expanse to the west.
In time, the enduring fury and resentment towards Tieflings dimmed, and we were relegated to the status of an exotic, mysterious breed. However, old prejudices persist, prejudices fed by ancient stereotypes. In the current era, allegiances are defined primarily by a Tiefling’s stance on their origin: there are those who pridefully embrace their heritage and continue to honor the old pacts, and those repulsed by it seeking to distance themselves from the old ways by any means. For the latter, some even resort to the filing of their fangs, painting of their horns, covering of scales, body wrapping of their tails, or, in extreme cases, self-mutilation in order to conceal their devilish features.
Humans were not the first (nor the last) species to be seduced by Asmodeus’ bargain or other bargains alike. It has long been speculated that the Fey’ri (fey Fiends), Maeluths (dwarven devils), Tanarukk (orcish fiends), and Wisplings (Halfling devils) were all descended from the archdevils through similar pacts. Although these races share a common ancestry, it has been exceedingly rare for them to harbor any kinship. Even amongst our own kind, Tieflings are inherently distrustful, and in many cases will be more leery of other Tieflings than they would be of other races. The one exception to this would be the Aasimar, who are descended from the celestials. While many Tieflings are indoctrinated at a young age to despise the Aasimar, animosity between the two races has been stoked by a deep, primal instinct of fear.
Legend tells of Tieflings that were able to strike a bargain with the dragons. In return, they mingled their blood with that of the Tieflings, starting the draconic Tiefling bloodline. All children spawned from this bloodline were uniquely gifted in the elemental affinity associated with the dragon parent and made great spellcasters. It is also said that with the introduction of draconic blood, particularly those descended from metallic dragons, actually weakened the ties that bound Tieflings to the hellish planes…