Thursday, June 4, 2015

Races of Pathfinder: Tiefling

Tieflings have a demon or other evil outsider in their family history, and this can cause them some social problems dealing with others, as there is the assumption of evil or deciet on their part. However, Tieflings are as varied as humans, as evidenced by their total of eleven different heritages to choose from!
Racial Traits:

Ability Scores: +2 Dexterity, +2 Intelligence, -2 Charisma. Thanks to these bonuses, they make excellent Alchemists, Rogues, Witches and Wizards. They can also make decent Sorcerers thanks to the Fiendish Sorcery ability, which makes up for the Charisma penalty.

Type: Tieflings have the Outsider (native) type, which is actually pretty detrimental, since this means you can’t cast any spells that affect only humanoids on them, such as enlarge person. However, it also means they’re not affected by spells that negatively affect humanoids, such as charm person, so it’s a double-edged sword.

Size: Tieflings are the same size as humans.

Speed: Tieflings move at the same speed as humans.

Fiendish Resistance: Starting off with resistance 5 to three different elements is excellent, and it means that they can go up against spellcasters with a little less worry than some humanoid races.

Skilled: A +2 to Bluff and Stealth are decent, and are obviously very good for a Rogue. For other characters, they’re not quite as useful.

Spell-Like Ability: Tieflings can use darkness once per day, which obviously can be very helpful for a Rogue or other stealthy character. It can also save your butt as a caster in a pinch, so this is a good choice.

Darkvision: I’ve talked about darkvision before, and how I think it’s worth much more than low-light vision is. This is very helpful.

Fiendish Sorcery: A Tiefling isn’t the best with Charisma, but this helps a lot with making a Tiefling Sorcerer a valid option. Of course, if you’re not planning to play a Sorcerer, this is totally useless.

Variant Heritages:

Asura-spawn: This is a great heritage for a Monk, Gunslinger or armor-light Cleric, with the +2 to Dex and WIsdom, and the penalty to Intelligence won’t really affect either of those classes.

Daemon-spawn: With a boost to Intelligence and Dex, a bomber Alchemist or a Rogue are your best options. The racial skill boosts also make sense for a Rogue (Disable Device and Sleight of Hand).

Demodand-spawn: I imagine a Demodand-spawn Tiefling as a Barbarian or Druid, a bit wild and not interested in book-smarts but tough and passionate, due to having bonuses to Con and Wisdom. Having bear’s endurance as a spell-like ability is a huge boost for any non-caster, so I really like this one as a Barbarian.

Demon-spawn: A Demon-spawn is a born Antipaladin, with boosts to Strength and Charisma and a racial bonus to Perception (the best skill in the game). He can also make for an excellent Paladin, and you can role-play it that he is trying to redeem himself in the eyes of a good deity despite his fiendish heritage.

Devil-spawn: With boosts to Con and Wisdom, I imagine a Druid or Cleric would work very well. I find it interesting that one of the racial skill bonuses is Diplomacy, even though there’s a Charisma penalty.

Div-spawn: A bonus to Dexterity and Charisma makes Div-spawn excellent Ninjas, Sorcerers, Summoners and Oracles. Diplomacy and Linguistics probably are more useful for party-face type characters, and the spell-like ability, misdirection, seems perfect for a Ninja.

Kyton-spawn: Bonuses to Con and Charisma make for an incredibly good Paladin, and the Wisdom penalty won’t hurt much since Paladins have some of the best saves in the game. Intimidate will be a useful skill bonus for you, too.

Oni-spawn: Strength and Wisdom bonuses can give you a strong advantage as a melee Ranger or an Inquisitor, though most skills that an Inquisitor need will hurt from the Charisma penalty. I like Disguise and Intimidate as skill bonuses for a Ranger, and alter self will help out even more when you’re trying to infiltrate an enemy group.

Qlippoth-spawn: With the same ability bonuses as Oni-spawn, these Tieflings will also make great Rangers or Inquisitors, and with an Intelligence penalty instead of Charisma, they’ll also make for extremely good Clerics. The skill bonuses lend toward the Ranger, though, and blur is a great spell to have available in a dangerous situation.

Rakshasa-spawn: Rakshasa-spawn get bonuses to Dexterity and Charisma, so they are obviously meant to be Ninjas or Rogues. The Wisdom penalty will hurt your Will saves, so you might consider investing in the Iron Will feat to make up for that. The skill bonuses are also perfect for a sneaky Ninja, and detect thoughts can come in very handy when scouting.

Alternate Racial Traits:

Beguiling Liar [Skilled]: This is a pretty good option for a diplomat-style character who needs to tell a little while lie (or a whopper) every once in a while. However, this is still a +4 situational bonus as opposed to two +2 all-the-time bonuses, so I don’t recommend it.

Fiendish Sprinter [Skilled]: A 10-foot bonus to base speed is nothing to scoff at, though this one only works when charging or sprinting. For a Scout Rogue, this is an incredibly good choice.

Maw or Claw [Spell-like ability]: This option can give you either a bite attack or two claws. Of the two options, I find the bite to be more useful since you can still wield weapons with both hands.

Prehensile Tail [Fiendish Sorcery]: I like this option for an Alchemist (to carry a weapon, a bomb, and a shield, for example) or for a Cleric (you can use the tail to brandish your holy symbol). Most characters won’t find this extremely useful, though for any non-Sorcerer this is still better than Fiendish Sorcery.

Scaled Skin [Fiendish Resistance]: This is a decent choice, especially for a Rogue who will be gaining Improved Evasion eventually, since those characters will usually not take damage from energy-based spell damage anyway. The +1 to AC from natural armor is helpful to pretty much any character, however. I like this one.

Soul Seer [Spell-like ability, Fiendish Sorcery]: For a non-Sorcerer character, anything’s better than an ability you can’t use, but deathwatch isn’t very exciting in general, so I’d generally suggest sticking with darkness and grabbing the Prehensile Tail over this one.

Vestigial Wings [Skilled]: For a Witch, Wizard, or Sorcerer, a +4 to Fly is likely going to be better for you than the normal racial skill bonuses, so I like this one for an arcane caster.


Alchemist: With the Alchemist’s reliance on Intelligence, either the standard Tiefling or the Daemon-spawn will do quite nicely, and both of them also boost Dexterity, so your bombs are going to be hitting more often. Really, it’s just up to you whether a penalty to Charisma or Wisdom would make the most sense for your character. I would suggest picking up the Prehensile Tail alternate racial option in place of Fiendish Sorcery, as having an extra limb to retrieve things like potions and extracts can be very handy, especially for a bomber Alchemist. Make sure to pick up the favored class bonus, which adds +1/2 damage per level to your bombs!

Barbarian: There are lots of good options for a Barbarian Tiefling, basically any heritage that gives you a boost to either Strength or Con will work. To also help with Intimidate checks, I would personally choose the Kyton-spawn, as the web spell-like ability can also come in very useful in a pinch. I also like the Demodand-spawn for a free casting of bear’s endurance once per day. You’ll definitely want to replace the skill bonuses with Fiendish Sprinter, since a fast Barbarian is usually a more deadly Barbarian. Scaled Skin may also be a good choice for you, as starting off with a natural armor bonus can help offset the penalty to AC from your rage.

Bard: The only really decent option for a Bard is the Rakshasa-spawn, but it’s a very good option. The skill bonuses are great for a party-face style Bard, detect thoughts for free once per day is excellent, and Rakshasa are charming so it fits thematically too. You may consider the Beguiling Liar alternate racial option, as a +4 to Bluff is pretty huge. You also may as well pick up Prehensile Tail.

Cavalier [Samurai]: None of the Tiefling heritages really jumps out at me as being great for a Cavalier or Samurai, so I would say go with a different race for them.

Cleric: Qlippoth-spawn Tieflings fit for a Cleric better than the others, with a bonus to Wisdom and no penalty to Charisma. You might want to consider the Soul Seer alternate racial option, since knowning if your teammates are about to die can be very helpful. The favored class option would only be useful in an outsider-heavy campaign, so if you plan to fight a lot of angels or demons, this is the way to go.

Druid: Any of the heritages that boost Wisdom will work well for a Druid, though you probably won’t want to have a penalty to Charisma so that you can use Handle Animal on your companion. The Maw or Claw alternate racial option could work well to give your Druid a more bestial feel and to have some natural weapons available outside of Wild Shape. The favored class option is alsmost useless, so ignore it.

Fighter: Fighters can be so diverse that it depends on what you want to do with your Fighter when deciding which heritage to pick. My favorite option is a standard Tiefling who focuses on ranged attacks, using the Lore Warden Fighter archetype to get tons of excellent class skills.

Gunslinger: The Asura-spawn Tiefling gives you a bonus to both Dexterity and Wisdom, the Gunslinger’s main stats. The Prehensile Tail alternate racial option is PERFECT for a Gunslinger, since you can use the tail to hold a gun while you reload it, and that gives it the highest rating! I also imagine the Beguiling Liar option could be useful for some Gunslingers.

Inquisitor: Oni-spawn and Qlippoth-spawn should work pretty well as Inquisitors, and the Beguiling Liar alternate racial option definitely makes sense for them also. The favored class bonus is pretty excellent, boosting both Intimidate checks and Knowledge checks to identify creatures.

Magus: The standard Tiefling or the Daemon-spawn would work pretty well for a Magus. You’ll probably want the Scaled Skin and Vestigial Wings alternate racial options, and the favored class bonus is excellent, giving you extra arcane points!

Monk: For a Strength-based Monk, Oni-spawn or Qlippoth-spawn are excellent, and for a Dex-based one you’ll want to take Asura-spawn for sure. Fiendish Sprinter will give you even more speed when charging, so I’d definitely also take that option. There’s no racial favored class option here, so just take the extra hit point at every level.

Oracle: Div-spawn, Kyton-spawn, and Rakshasa-spawn all boost your Charisma, so any of those three will work out well. The Soul Seer alternate racial option makes sense for an Oracle, so you might want that one.

Paladin [Antipaladin]: The Kyton-spawn makes perfect sense for a Paladin or Antipaladin, thanks to the Con and Charisma boosts. You’ll likely want the Scaled Skin option to get some natural armor bonus, and the Paladin favored class bonus is excellent, allowing you to heal yourself for more damage when using Lay on Hands on yourself.

Ranger: Oni-spawn or Qlippoth-spawn make for great melee Rangers, and the Maw and Claw racial option works superbly with the natural weapon Ranger. Scaled Skin probably makes sense too, as does Fiendish Sprinter. There’s no Ranger favored class bonus, so a skill point or hit point at each level will have to do.

Rogue [Ninja]: Daemon-spawn, Rakshasa-spawn, or even standard Tieflings all make excellent Rogues, and Rakshasa-spawn is the clear winner for a Ninja. The Prehensile Tail and Beguiling Liar options both make a lot of sense, and if you’ll be going up against a lot of outsiders you’ll want to take the favored class option, which boosts your sneak attack damage against them.

Sorcerer: Standard Tieflings aren’t made to be Sorcerers thanks to their penalty to Charisma, but if you take Rakshasa-spawn instead you can make excellent use of the Fiendish Sorcery racial trait, effectively getting ANOTHER +2 to Charisma for all your Sorcerer abilities if you choose either Abyssal or Infernal (or the Wildblooded versions, Brutal or Pit-Touched). If you like the 1st-level power of your bloodline, you could pick up the favored class bonus so that you can use it more times per day. Note that if you choose the Abyssal bloodline and want to use natural weapons often, you could grab the Maw or Claw racial option to get a bite attack in addition to your claws. You can also pick up the Improved Fiendish Sorcery feat to apply the benefits of this ability to the Rakshasa or Shadow bloodlines. The Rakshasa bloodline focuses on deceit, allowing you to Bluff yourself out of any situation and keep other casters from knowing what spell you're casting. The Shadow bloodline gives you bonuses to Stealth when you cast a spell with the darkness descriptor and can eventually make areas of deeper darkness that entangle others but hamper you in no way, including that you can see right through them!

Summoner: Either Div-spawn or Rakshasa-spawn will work out pretty well for a Summoner, and I’d like to suggest talking to your GM about the idea of having a non-human-heritage Tiefling (see the sidebar here), either half-halfling or half-gnome so that you can be of small size, and ride your Eidolon from level 1. The Summoner favored class option is nice, allowing you to give your Eidolon an extra hit point per level instead of yourself.

Witch: Standard Tieflings or Daemon-spawn can both work very well for a Witch, and the Soul Seer alternate racial option is thematic for a Witch, so I’d pick that one up. The Vestigial Wings alternate racial option also makes sense for a Witch. The Witch favored class option is pretty nice, giving your familiar resistance to an energy type, up to 5 for all four energy types at 20th level.

Wizard: Standard Tieflings or Daemon-spawn can both work very well for a Wizard, and given how much Wizards like to fly, the Vestigial Wings alternate racial option would make a lot of sense. If you like the first-level arcane school power for your school, then you’ll probably want to take the favored class option to add to your uses per day of that power.

Racial Favored Class Options:

Alchemist: Adding to your bomb damage is a great choice (unless you’re going for a melee Alchemist, in which case this is useless).

Cleric: If your campaign will include a lot of fights against outsiders, you’ll want to pick this one up, but in a campaign that doesn’t involve a lot of outsiders (like PFS) you will want to ignore this.

Druid: +1 on Wild Empathy would be cool if it worked on all animals, but this bonus only works on fiendish animals, which you just won’t run into very often.

Inquisitor: Inquisitors are basically made to Intimidate and know information about creatures they’re fighting, so a favored class bonus to both of those things is really good.

Magus: More arcane points means more spell recall and more enhancement bonuses to your weapons, so this is a great option.

Paladin: This option is sort of self-obsessive for a Paladin, but more healing on yourself is always good. You can combine this with the abilities from the greater mercy class feature and the Fey Foundling feat to heal large amounts of HP each time you lay your hands on yourself. Note that this option doesn’t work for an Antipaladin, as they get Touch of Corruption instead.

Rogue: Like the Cleric favored class bonus, this one only works against outsiders, so if you’re going to be seeing a lot of them, it’s great, but otherwise it’s useless.

Sorcerer: The corrupting touch and claws powers aren’t that great for a casting-focused Sorcerer, but for a melee-focused sorcerer this can let you use them more often, which can be a decent choice.

Summoner: Summoners generally don’t want to get into battle themselves, so adding hit points to your Eidolon is generally going to be more useful than adding them to yourself.

Witch: I like this option, because generally the only way to get energy resistance for your familiar is to take the Improved Familiar feat, and this ability will in fact work on any type of Familiar, not just celestial or fiendish animals.

Wizard: Arcane school powers are variable and can be pretty useful, so if you like your 1st-level power you’ll want to get extra uses per day of it using this favored class option.

Racial Archetypes:

Fiend Flayer: This archetype lets you do a few interesting things, including taking Constitution damage to add to your arcane pool. You can also create a weapon using his arcane pool points, and can also ignore an outsider’s DR by using those points. There are actually no negative repercussions to taking this archetype, since the Infernal Mortification power doesn’t replace any class features, and the other powers are optional magus arcana, so I see no reason at all not to choose this archetype. It’s like getting a free class feature!

Fiendish Vessel: This archetype makes a lot of alterations to the standard Cleric, but overall for an evil character I really like it. You must choose either Asmodeus or a Demon, Daemon, or Devil as your patron deity, and in exchange you can channel evil instead of positive or negative energy, and you gain a fairly powerful fiendish familiar, which is a great bonus! This archetype has a few restrictions that it adds, but overall it’s pretty cool.

Prestige Classes:

Arcane Trickster: I like the Arcane Trickster for a Rakshasa-spawn Tiefling who takes levels in Sorcerer and Ninja, since the Infernal Sorcery racial trait will boost his Charisma for all Sorcerer spells and abilities, making the decrease in caster level from multiclassing less painful.

Aspis Agent: A standard-heritage Tiefling Rogue can make for a really sweet Aspis Agent, taking advantage of the Beguiling Liar alternate racial option. I really like the Aspis Agent’s class abilities for a party-face, scouting character. He can deal with traps with the best of them, and can mask his alignment from those around him.

Blackfire Adept: The fluff for this archetype just screams Tiefling Master Summoner to me, with its ability to make pacts with outsiders and summon more powerful creatures of that type. This archetype is only open to non-good characters, but it’s powerful and thematic, so I like it a lot.
Racial Feats:

Ancestral Scorn: This is an excellent feat for a Tiefling Paladin, Cavalier or Inquisitor, causing an evil outsider to be sickened (or even nauseated) instead of just shaken when you demoralize them.

Armor of the Pit: For a Tiefling without the Scaled Skin racial trait, this is an excellent choice, giving you a +2 bonus to natural armor. However, if your Tiefling does have the Scaled Skin racial trait, it instead leaves him or her with just the +1 natural armor bonus from that trait, and reinstates some of the energy resistances she gave up for that trait. Optimization-wise, it actually makes more sense to NOT take Scaled Skin and take this feat, which will give you the same energy resistances but a higher natural armor bonus.

Banner of Doom: This feat is meant for Cavaliers, obviously, and for a Cavalier that uses Intimidate to demoralize his enemies, it can be a huge boost. A -2 to saves against fear effects will let you demoralize those enemies a lot more often.

Blinding Sneak Attack: For a Tiefling Rogue or Ninja, this is an excellent option. You can cast your darkness spell-like ability the first round of combat, then deal some sneak attack damage that blinds your opponents, denying their Dex to AC.

Expanded Fiendish Resistance: If you really don’t want to take energy damage, this feat could be useful, however I feel like it’s not worth a feat when you can instead buy an enhancement on your armor that gives you better energy resistance for 18,000gp.

Fiendish Darkness: Being able to use darkness more often could be useful, especially if you have the Blinding Sneak Attack feat, but is it really worth a feat when you could get a wand of it or some potions instead?

Fiendish Facade: A +5 bonus to Disguise is pretty situational, and this only works for impersonating one type of race. For a sneaky Rogue or Ninja, this might be worth looking into, but otherwise I’ll stay away.

Fiendish Resilience: For a Rogue or Ninja, this could be a pretty excellent choice. A bonus to Reflex saves when using your evasion ability is REALLY good, so take this.

Fiend Sight: At first, this feat looks fairly low-powered, just adding low-light vision and extending your darkvision. However, if you take this feat twice, you gain the see in darkness monster ability, which means you could cast have deeper darkness cast around you and you can still see perfectly well through it!

Fury of the Tainted: This is a feat meant for a Barbarian, and it gives him a bonus to saves with the [good] descriptor. Obviously, this is best for an evil character who fights a lot of good spellcasters or outsiders, and so I don’t find this the most useful feat for most characters.

Grasping Tail: This feat essentially gives you the same ability as the prehensile tail racial ability, and if you already have that, it allows you to pick up unattended items within 5 feet, which can be useful but isn’t the best ability out there.

Improved Fiendish Darkness: This feat is a strange one, giving you a +2 to your effective caster level for your darkness spell-like ability. This isn’t going to come up often, and I don’t think that adding your darkness as a swift action to an [evil] spell you cast is that exciting, so I’d stay away from this one.

Improved Fiendish Sorcery: This feat opens up two more bloodlines for tiefling Sorcerers as viable options, both of which are very good. Rakshasa is amazing for anyone who is into disguising themselves as other people, as you eventually get an at-will alter self spell-like ability, and you can keep other casters from easily determining what spells you are casting. The Shadow bloodline obviously focuses on stealth and subterfuge, allowing you to see through areas of darkness, and eventually to create darkness that also entangles others. These are both great options for different types of characters, so it's a good candidate for a level 1 feat.

Improved Fury of the Tainted: Obviously an upgrade for Fury of the Tainted, I think it’s just as useless for most characters as the un-upgraded version is.

Monstrous Mask: This is an excellent option for a Tiefling Paladin, Cavalier, or Inquisitor, and can be combined with Ancestral Scorn and Banner of Doom, so I like it.

Terrifying Mask: This is a cool ability that builds off of Monstrous Mask and lets you use Intimidate in place of Sense Motive for some checks. For an Inquisitor who builds up Intimidate anyway, this could be very helpful.

Wicked Valor: This feat lets you gain extra hit points when you rest for the night, but there are other ways to get this ability, and honestly a wand of cure light wounds is better than waiting around to heal damage without magical healing, so it’s really not worth wasting a feat.

1 comment:

  1. Might be worth mentioning that per the race-specific splat books, both tieflings & aasimar have the option(with GM approval) of being Small, Medium, or Large, depending on heritage(say, small for a gnomish hellspawn, or Large for a fire giant peri-kin)