From the Forgotten Realms Player’s Guide (p. 19)
Plagued by a dark and sinister heritage, tieflings walk through the shadows of their race’s past, savoring the darkness or trying to escape it. Tieflings are scattered throughout Faerûn, littered geographically in a reminder of distant times when devils and demons exerted an active influence over the lands. As a race, tieflings have prospered despite prejudice and preconceived notions of their evil nature. They have arisen from obscurity and darkness to become active participants in the affairs of Faerûn.
With the fall of Mulhorand, the disintegration of Unther, and the transformation of Thay into a land where the dead walk, many tieflings have been forced to search out new homes. Although some have turned to their former dark practices, others have learned to enjoy the freedom and morality of their new homelands.
Description and Homelands
Tieflings are widely dispersed throughout Faerûn. In the east, tieflings are common in Narfell and southern High Imaskar. In Tymanther, the dragonborn accept their presence openly. Many of these eastern tieflings have continued to practice the fell traditions of their former homes of Unther and Mulhorand.
The tieflings in the west have become an integral part of Calimshan’s ongoing war. Memnon’s faction eagerly absorbs any migrant tieflings whom it can put to military use. Not all tieflings choose this path, however, and many live in the west and north, along the Sword Coast, the Dragon Coast, and in the environs of Baldur’s Gate. Tieflings have prospered there and risen to positions of minor authority, allowing them to shirk their dark reputation.
Even Aglarond, an enemy of Thay, begrudgingly tolerates tieflings. Tieflings, who comprised much of Thay’s population, now work in service to Aglarond, defending against the undead that overwhelmed Thay and made them refugees. Regardless of location, though, tieflings face the traditional prejudices associated with their race. Although assumptions of the race’s evil nature have lessened in recent decades, these attitudes nonetheless persist.
A tiefling can escape the taint of his background, but he cannot escape the skin and physical features that indicate his heritage. Tieflings’ tails and horns, not to mention their reddish skin and sharp teeth, suggest evil progenitors. As such, many members of other races balk at the sight of a tiefling. At the same time, tieflings have a wide range of views regarding
their appearance—some are ashamed of how they look, and others are steadfastly proud.
Playing a Tiefling in Toril
Tieflings either embrace their dark heritage or try to escape it, and consequently two distinct tiefling archetypes exist. Regardless of how tieflings feel about their ancestry, they are proud but secretive, bound by the inherent mystique that surrounds their creation.
A tiefling who embraces his or her past is preoccupied with the dark and sinister events of the world, whether in an effort to learn more about such occurrences or out of a desire to thwart them. Tieflings are found throughout Faerûn in part because they are undaunted by the dangers of the world. Few settlements consist entirely of tieflings because members of the race are rarely content to lead provincial lives. Whether because of their ancestry or cultural values, tieflings are ambitious and pursue fame or infamy with determination.
On the other hand, some tieflings deny their ancestry, making their only ambition to escape the darkness of their distant past. This feeling leads members of the race to try to accomplish good in the world, as if to compensate for some vague terrible deed of the past.
Other tieflings, ashamed of their heritage, want no more than to pass through the world unnoticed.
Tiefling adventurers are common, though their motivations are varied. Tieflings’ dark demeanor and natural attributes lead many to become rogues and thieves or else give them cause to pursue the black arcane arts. However, some tieflings find that their ambitions are
well suited to positions of leadership, and stories tell of tieflings who have become mighty paladins and warlords. Ultimately, for many tieflings, the greatest battle they will ever face is the challenge of reconciling their own existence, whether for good or evil.