And after a week of Avengers: Endgame (no spoilers in this post), we’re finally getting back to some D&D. This time we’re looking at the Character Race of Dragonborn. Dragonborn, are a bit like tieflings or other races where they get some heritage from something […]
Now we’re getting towards the edges of the races you can play in Dungeons and Dragons from the main Players Handbook. There are additional races or race options in other books. I’m going to call out some Tiefling things are from Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes.
Tieflings, for those not familiar, are tainted in their bloodline somehow by demons. Mainly, the lord of the nine hells. In the players handbook you get the rules for creating a character who has some influence of Asmodeus in their bloodline. In Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes, you get it for the rest of the Lords and Ladies of the nine hells. All Tieflings are generally charismatic as they all get an improvement to that stat, that generally makes them good at being Warlocks which makes a ton of sense. However, Bard and Sorcerer are also Charisma casting races. Most interestingly, the Paladin is also Charisma based, so that could make a really interesting role playing experience. As you’d expect, the main feature for a Tiefling is that they are resistant to fire.
Now, how that infernal influence gets into your bloodline is going to be up to you as a player. You could have had a relative that screwed one of the Lord of Hell, but that isn’t the only way. If your family worshiped one of the Lords of Ladies of Hell for a long time, it’s possible that they just became tainted through that and spawned the PC. I think that either of them provide some interesting role playing opportunities, but the biggest thing that the Tiefling provides for role playing is the fact you look different and that tells people that somehow your family consorted with someone evil.
Tieflings, themselves, don’t have to be evil, but might lean towards that alignment. And even if you don’t, again, people aren’t going to trust you, because you are very different. In the PHB (players handbook), you feel like most likely a Tiefling came from a human line, but there is no reason that your Tiefling couldn’t be based size wise off of some other race. But, back to my main point, the distrust of your character is going to be something that you are going to have to role play out with your DM. Maybe even your party doesn’t fully trust you because you are a Tiefling, and I find this interesting, because as a charismatic humanoid, you are not just naturally magnetic. It’s more of a situation that you can just sit down and win people over if they give you the time and aren’t running screaming when they see your horns and tail.
So what are some backstory ideas for playing a Tiefling?
When you were born, there was a lot of shock in your community, and you were tossed aside and left to die. However, the old Priestess in your town wouldn’t allow that to happen and went and took you from the woods where you had been left. She, in secret for several years, raised you and taught you the ways of the church. When you reached the age of ten, a new priest came to town as the priestess was getting old and frail. He didn’t treat you as well, but he promised the priestess he wouldn’t kick you out or abandon you. When you were old enough, he told you it was time to go on a mission and spread the word of your god to others and help where you could. So you went out and found a group that seemed to be doing good.
Alignment: Neutral Good
Note: I would play some into the tension between the infernal and the divine.
Your parents told you that the village you had been born in burned when you were young, and that’s why you lived all alone with only a few close family friends who had been able to survive. You found out later that might have been the case. As you grew to know more, you found out that your parents and their friends were worshiping a devil. And it turned out, as you overheard, that the village had burned because the village hadn’t wanted your family there when you were born, and your family and their friends had burned it to the ground while everyone was trapped in the temple. That didn’t sit well with you, so when you were a teen, you escaped and started wandering the woods, hunting and gathering as you needed. Then, one day, there was a tug on your heart and you went into a village, in disguise to see the humans as thralls and your family and their friends controlling them. You knew they had to be stopped.
Alignment: Chaotic Good
Being a Tiefling is generally looked down upon, but you were bred to be that way. Your kingdom is very pragmatic living in the shadows of a Red Dragon. Tieflings really make good firefighters being able to handle the heat and flames better than any humans. So each generation, a few women are selected to be part of the ritual and give birth to Tiefling children. However, your mother had told you that when she was carrying you a seer had told her that you were going to be important at a time when the world was in flames and that you could bring on the end of the world. You didn’t want to do that, but as compared to other Tieflings, it quickly became obvious that you had more power and that whichever Lord of the Nine Hells had sired you was helping keep you alive. Now you’re running, hoping that will protect you from what the seer foretold.
Alignment: Lawful Neutral
Note: What I like about this idea is that your character has a different feeling Warlock patron because they were given it as a way to defend themselves and stay alive, not because they made a deal, could offer some interesting role playing options.
So, what about you? Have you played a Tiefling before? How easy are they to play in your opinion? How hard are they to fit into the group?
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I figured I’d go next for playing Dungeons and Dragons and talk about playing the different races. Previously I’ve done series on classes and backgrounds, but there’s another piece to your character creation, and that is picking your race. For this series, I’m going to […]
So one thing when playing a D&D game or any RPG where religion is involved is figuring out the pantheon that you want to use in the game. This can be as simple as grabbing one from the rule books or using the Greek or Norse mythological pantheons. But a lot of the time, people want to have their own deities, they don’t want it to be the same god’s as the Forgotten Realms, or they don’t want it to be like the real worlds pantheons. So how do you go about creating your own pantheon of deities?
This can be a daunting task to figure out all the deities that you might need. Do the Elves, Humans, Dwarves, Halflings, Tieflings, Orcs, etc. all worship their own god’s? If so, now you got to create not just a pantheon, but several of them.
I would go that they don’t all need their full pantheons, you can overlap some of them. If you think about it, a deity of nature might go by different names if they races are separate enough, but why would you have to have a Elven deity of nature who takes care of the forest and makes it grow and the human deity of farming that makes the crops grow be very different? That’s mainly just a lot more work for yourself. Along with that, do you need to know much about the Elven deity of the forest if they aren’t going to be part of the story? Figure out which ones you need at the start of your story and create the information on them, then if you need more, you can always add them in later as they come up.
Let me list out the pieces of advice I’ve already said and what I’m going to be talking about still, so it’s easy to understand the information:
1. Overlap Pantheons to reduce number you have to create.
2. Don’t come up with all of them, just as many as you need right now.
3. Let your players help you come up with them as needed.
4. Combine the areas that a deity might rule over.
5. Put most effort into the ones who are going to talk to your players, however that might be.
So, I’ve generally covered the first two on the list. Both of those are going to help you focus down on the number that you have to come up with, but let’s unpack them a little more.
Overlap Pantheons to reduce the number of deities you have to create.
Now, you might be thinking that your Elves, Dwarves, Humans, etc. are going to be very separate. So they are all going to have their own set of gods to work with, and that seems like a lot of work. You really want to keep them separate, because the Elves, Humans, and Dwarves don’t get along and if they worship the game gods you’re going to have to make them get along. I would still give them a lot of overlap and maybe a unique one or two deities for each race. The way you can have them overlap, though, so that they still won’t be worshiping the same gods is let them have different names for each race. So Etheilien the Elves goddess of the sun, Manakal the Dwarven goddess of light, and Sepheria the Human goddess of the sun can all be the same deity, but all of the races can still deny that they are the same goddess. Or maybe it’s only the Elves who simply refuse to believe that the deity is the same for all three of them because they are Elves and they are special damn it. But this is going to keep your pantheons a whole lot more condensed and easy to work with.
You don’t need to know your full Pantheons at the start.
Unless your player characters are supposed to be demi-gods who interact with the pantheon all the time, you probably don’t need to know them all. If your party is a Dwarven cleric, Human ranger, and a Halfling rogue, you can probably cut down on everything you need to know. In this case, let’s say that all of them are tied in with a deity, and that’s kind of the focus of your game, the Dwarf would need to know about their deity that the cleric follows, probably a god of the forge, the Human who has a farming background would probably know the god and goddess of nature and fertility, and the Halfling rogue would probably follow some trickster god or maybe even a dark god of assassins. But start with the ones that are plot critical and work out from there as you need more.
Let your Players help come up with them.
This can even by tied in to the one above, but you don’t need to come up with everything on your own. Maybe you know that you have a few deities who you are going to focus on who need to be in the story. So spend your time creating those, however, you also know that you want your PC’s (player characters) to be connected to deities as well, just lesser ones. When you are having session 0, let your players know that, and work with them then and help them create their own deities that you can slot into the pantheon. So, maybe the Dwarven cleric still is going to follow the god of the forge, and the rogue follows the goddess of assassins and those are normal. But then you get the Human Ranger who follows the spirit of the great toad in the sky. Now you’ve got a toad in the sky as part of your pantheon, and that’s something that will probably be unique forever to your world, but you didn’t have to come up with any of them yourself, and your players are really able to tailor the deities to their characters backstories.
Give your deities a broad domain to rule over.
The extreme example of this would be to have a goddess of crops who then has lesser gods and goddesses under them for wheat, corn, flax, barley, etc. That’s too much effort, especially if it isn’t critical to the story. Now, if the story is that these lesser gods and goddess are fighting which is destroying crops and sending the lands into a famine, that could be interesting, but normally, you aren’t going to need that. In fact, you probably won’t even need the goddess of the crops, just make her the goddess of life. Now her domain stretches from plants, to fertility and birth, and where ever else makes sense. You’ve probably just saved yourself from having to come up with four or five other deities for the pantheon. So keep the areas broad and that will make your work easier.
Put Your Effort into the ones who are active in the world.
It’s very possible that you will need some elder gods who haven’t been involved with your world in a long time. Maybe they are still worshiped but they are less active. With those, don’t spend as much time on them. You’re going to create some lore for them, I’m sure, but if you also have some newer gods and goddesses who are active in the world, focus on those, because those are the ones that you’re players are going to interact with, not the elder gods in the background. Just focus on the ones who are important for the plot of the story you’re telling and the ones the PC’s are going to be interacting with.
Hopefully this has made what could be a very daunting task less daunting. I would really recommend just stealing from an existing mythological pantheon. If you don’t want it to be as obvious, change up a few abilities and rename them, you could keep everything else the same, and you’ve made it yours enough that your players aren’t going recognize it easily, and even if they do, that doesn’t really matter.
Have you run an epic game about the gods and goddesses of a realm. What tips do you have for creating a pantheon?
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A lot of RPG characters and D&D characters seem to come from humble backgrounds and work their way up into a more favorable position by gaining money and fame from their adventuring. But what if it’s the other way? What if adventuring is a step down for a character, but still seems better to them than any other option? That’s where this background slots in to Dungeons & Dragons for me. These characters are bored with life, have been kicked out of nobility, or possibly are just undercover seeing how the poorer of their lands live. Whatever reason, you have a character who has taken a step down in life.
Now, it’s very possible the noble doesn’t consider it a step down. Maybe they consider it to be more exciting or interesting to be an adventurer than to be doing whatever they were doing before. Regardless, I do still think there are some key differences between your standard adventurer and one who is or was a noble. The noble is often going to care or know more about the history of the locations they and their party are going to. A noble gets the skills of history and persuasion from their background, so they are going to look at situations differently than just another chance to kill monsters in a dungeon; they will care more about the history of the dungeon or at least know more about it. It is also probable that a character with a noble background will expect to be more in charge. They’ve had people waiting on them for much of their life, and camping out in the woods might not be quite their thing.
Before I give away all my story ideas while talking about the background, let’s get to them. Here are some suggested backstories for your D&D Noble.
I was only a child when my uncle killed my father and took over his lands. I was supposed to have been killed myself, but my father gave his life to give my mother and myself time to escape into the woods. We walked for days before we were taken captive by a native tribe living deep in the woods. I was young, and my mother says she was terrified for both our lives, but they didn’t kill us. They saw how hungry we were, and they fed us and taught us to live off the land. I honed my skills as a hunter, and my mother instilled a hatred of my uncle in me by telling me stories of a father whom I could barely remember. Much later, we were forced to run again as my uncle tried to clear his lands of all the natives. The tribe used me as a scout, and I realized I could integrate myself back into society and get my revenge. I said goodbye to my aged mother and my spouse from the tribe, promising to return. Now I am trying to get revenge on my uncle, take back my lands, and let the tribe return to their lands. But taking down my uncle won’t be easy — I’ll need help.
Alignment: Lawful Neutral
I put the last of my money down onto the table. It’s not that I’m a bad gambler, I just have bad luck when it comes to games of chance. I felt the weight of my signet ring in my pocket and thought about putting that on the table. Or maybe I could sell it if I found the right vendor. It might get me enough money to get back to my lands. I didn’t really want to come back to my parents as a beggar. I had run away from home several years ago, and I had a decent amount of money with me. It’s amazing how much things you don’t own will sell for when they come from a noble’s household. If I don’t come back with some money, it’s going to go very poorly for me. I have a sword still, and I can fight; maybe that will be my plan, since I just lost the last of my money.
When you come from a large family, you can’t always get what you want. In my case, I wanted to just live an easy life. My parents are rich — what would you expect for someone who is nobility? I was given a few options. I could marry into another family to strengthen an alliance, I could join the military, or I could join the temple. Those were the only positions that were good enough for me; anything else was too much of a step down. Ideally, I’d choose one of the last two and still do the first anyway. I might be ready to settle down sometime, but it is going to be on my terms, and I am not much of a fighter. So my option was to join the temple. That life was a little bit boring for me, but I found ways to make it interesting, much to the chagrin of the temple. Turns out, that might not have been my brightest plan, because they have decided I would be a good person to start an offshoot of the temple in a small town. I need to travel there, but maybe I’ll do it in a roundabout way and have some fun as I go. They can’t complain if I say I’m spreading the good word, right?
Alignment: Chaotic Good
There are expectations for every child born into my family. You had to look a certain way, you had to behave a certain way, and you could not be connected to magic at all. Magic is evil — that is what I was taught from a very young age. I believed that too. But a voice came to me in the middle of the night, and took me away from my bedroom. According to my parents, I was gone for less than a day, but to me it seemed like a week. They could tell that something had changed when I came back. There was magic running through my veins. The doctors said that my blood had been tainted, and my parents believed them, and I believed them. They kicked me out even though I cried. I said that I wouldn’t use the power, but the law of our land is clear — I’m an outcast. I want to find out how I got these powers to see if I can get rid of them, but they have helped me, so I need to know more to see if they are evil or not. I don’t know much about the world, so I probably should find someone to travel with.
Alignment: Neutral Good
What sort of Noble have you played before? Is it a background that has interested you, or does it seem too simple/straightforward?
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