Posts Tagged ‘Tieflings’

It’s a new year! Here’s hoping it brings you gaming goodness.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and running games in Exploration Age since this blog started. I feel I have enough material to publish a book, but it need a lot of work – editing, layout, development, and it’d be great to get some playtesting feedback. The book will most-likely be a massive endeavor unlike any I’ve taken on. I’ve never even created a print product on my own!

To that end, I’ve decided to switch my focus for a while to a smaller world so that I can get my feet wet. Exploration Age will not go away. I’ll still be playing games in that wonderful world, but it may be some time before consumers get their mitts on it. So with that in mind, I want to focus on the smaller, but evocative world of Enora the Bound Sky.

What is Enora?

I’ve already written about this world in two different posts, One-Hour Worldbuilding and 5 Campaign Worlds for Your Next D&D Game. If you want a quick summary, read on below!

Six floating cities hover above the darkness of Enora in Bound Sky. Once a prosperous nation, Enora was home to humans, elves, halflings, gnomes, and dragonborn. The country was run by the Dordune, a council of mage governors, each acting as the leader of one of Enora’s thirteen major cities. Beneath Enora’s surface, the nation’s dwarf and tiefling allies lived happily in the kingdom of Drakefire. Except for the occasional marauding gnoll pack or angry dragon, all was well in Enora. Any threats which appeared were dealt with swiftly and efficiently by the Dordune.

Fifty years ago Governor Kira Vae, an elf wizard, was nearing the end of her long life. Some say fear of death gripped the governor, others say it was an unsatiated lust for power. Whatever the reason, Vae transformed herself into a lich. The transformation warped her mind, seeding a dark hatred of all life in her heart. The lich declared herself Empress of Enora. Empress Vae turned the citizens of her city, Cambor, into an undead army. The rest of Enora tried to stand against the threat, but so sudden and severe did the undead strike that seven of Enora’s cities fell to Vae.

Every victory added more soldiers to her undead ranks. Messengers were sent to Drakefire, asking for military against the undead legions, but the underground kingdom was already over run by Vae’s minions. Any survivors from Drakefire had already fled even deeper underground by the time the messengers arrived.

As the armies of Empress Vae closed around Enora’s six remaining cities, the Dordune made a decision to enact a powerful ritual which raised the cities and their people into the sky away from Vae and her undead. Away from a fight they knew they could not win. As the cities rose, Vae swore to eradicate the rest of Enora’s living. She is eternal as is her hate for all people who defy her.

Now the six floating cities of Deldoroth find themselves safe from Empress Vae’s undead, but they have their own troubles. With limited land to produce resources, the six cities have begun treating each other more like separate countries than one cooperative nation. The Dordune have disbanded and each governor acts as a city’s monarch. As competition for food, water, and shelter grows each day, many less fortunate turn to a life of crime or legal savagery to survive. Airships transporting goods from one city to another are wary of pirates, and many make a killing or die trying in the cities’ gladiatorial arenas (which were introduced by the governors to help control population growth).

Beneath Deldoroth, dead Enora can no longer be seen. Thick layers of black clouds hang between the floating cities and the surface. The undead built massive stoves and constantly pipe ash into the sky to blot out the sun they hate so much. Sometimes at night the victorious howls of the undead can be heard through the blackness by the people of Deldoroth. It is an unsettling reminder that Enora is no longer their home and what drove them out long ago still hungers for them.

The situation underground is no better. Resources are scarce in Redwind, the last remaining city of Drakefire. Plenty of unsavory beasts that burrow made their way underground when the undead took the surface. Everyday the hoard bangs on Redwind’s doors and it is only a matter of time before they break through and devour the residents… if disease or starvation doesn’t take them first.

Screen Shot 2015-03-11 at 12.24.28 PM

This map of Enora before the fall made on Roll20 using Russ Hapke‘s Old World Style Maps

So in the coming weeks, prepare to hear more about the world of Enora. In the meantime, may I present for your consideration…. the dwiefling PC race. This is in its rough stages, so take a look and let me know what you think!

Dwiefling

In the crowded city of Redwind, some dwarves and tieflings have married, producing dwiefling offspring. Dwieflings walk in multiple worlds like other mixed races, but because they grow up in a densely packed city from which there is no escape, they cannot run from odd looks, name-calling, and occasional violent reactions. Though most know taking on a dwiefling mano a mano is a dangerous idea, since they have the toughness of dwarves, the suspicious nature of tieflings, and the self-reliant values of both parents. They are versatile and dangerous adventurers who dare to wander the unsafe halls of Drakefire’s fallen cities. The boldest dwieflings make trips to the surface to scout for more resources and spy on the undead legions of Empress Vae.

Devilish Dwarves

Dwieflings have the basic body structure of dwarves, but stand a bit taller. They are just about 5 feet tall, stout, and compact, weighing 200 to 300 pounds. Many share the blunt tongue of their dwarf ancestors as well. Yet there is no hiding the infernal blood of this race. They have the horns and pupil-less eyes of a tiefling, though they lack a tail. Their skin is often purple, red, brown, or black. Perhaps the most unique feature of dwieflings is complete hairlessness. They do not have a single follicle on their heads, faces, or bodies, including eyebrows.

Reliable and Short-Tempered

A life as outcasts in a city they cannot leave makes dwieflings suspicious of everyone they interact with at first. Most people find them closed off, or even cold. A dwiefling’s trust is difficult to gain, but once it is won, there is no greater ally. They place great importance on the bonds shared with their few close friends, and fiercely defend those allies with a passionate tenacity. Those closest to a dwiefling can even engage their friend in a reasoned debated, something that many fear to attempt with good reason.

The temper of dwieflings is legendary. Most carry an innate anger and explode with words, fists, or spells when provoked, particularly when their heritage is mocked. This causes many closet racists to just give a passing dwiefling a funny look, while other bigots ignite that infamous temper to start a fight for amusement. The latter often regret this decision, since the sturdy dwieflings rarely lose.

Outcast Artists In Crowded Tunnels

Because dwieflings and their parents are often shunned by others in Redwind, most try to keep to themselves. They lurk in dark corners or small alleys, pursuing artistic crafting hobbies, reading ancient lore, or practicing with steel or magic. Dwieflings sometimes pursue these self-taught skills to the point of obsession and become experts in these crafts, though no one else may know it.

Dwiefling Names

Dwieflings usually have a dwarf or tiefling name, given to them by one of their parents.

Dwiefling Traits

Your dwiefling character has the following racial traits.

Ability Score Increase. Your Strength, Constitution, and Intelligence scores each increase by 1.

Age. Dwieflings mature more slowly than humans and are considered adults at around age 25. They can live for 150 years.

Alignment. Dwieflings tend to trust in themselves and are very loyal to the few friends they make. They often favor a neutral alignment.

Size. Dwieflings stand about 5 feet tall and weigh around 250 pounds. Your size is Medium.

Speed. Your base walking speed is 30 feet.

Darkvision. Your infernal heritage and dwarf blood grant you superior vision in dark and dim conditions. You can see in dim light within 60 feet of you as if it were bright light, and in darkness as if it were dim light. You can’t discern color in darkness, only shades of gray.

Expanded Knowledge. You gain proficiency in one set of artisan’s tools or melee weapon of your choice or one of the following skills: Arcana, History, Nature, or Religion.

Hellish Bind. When a creature hits you with an attack that deals damage, you can use your reaction to force that creature to make a Wisdom saving throw as your pain imparts psychic visions of torture to it. The DC for this saving throw equals 8 + your Constitution modifier + your proficiency bonus. On a failure, the creature is stunned until the end of its next turn. After you use Hellish Bind, you cannot use it again until you finish a long rest.

Menacing. You gain proficiency in the Intimidation skill.

Languages. You can speak, read, and write Common, Dwarvish, and Infernal.

If you like what you’re reading please follow me on Twitter, like World Builder Blog on Facebook, check out my podcasts, find my products on the DMs Guild, tell your friends about the blog, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!

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Thanks to the inspired RPG Blog Carnival theme of “Unusual Dungeons” (chosen by Nils Jeppe over at Enderra) this month I’m going to be building you a dungeon for use in your home game. In my last post I described the general history and layout of Exploration Age’s dragon prisons, one of the world’s many types of aberrant ruins. Today I’m going to get specific and write about a single dragon prison. Hopefully when all is said and done the dungeon will be appropriate for PCs of 12th level.

World Map of Canus

World map of Canus

Shuzal and surrounding area

Shuzal and surrounding area

Prison Overview

Deep in the halls of Shuzal a sinister force warped by corrupt aberrant magic has gained control of the prison’s lowest level. While many prisoners have been turned by this evil, Maxathaltros, a silver dragon, cowers in his cell, waiting for a savior or death to come his way.

History

Shuzal was an important prison for the aberration forces. During the war many important metallic dragons, their allies, and weapons were contained within its walls including a pair of silver dragon twins who were ancestors of the architects of the tiefling race. Maxathaltros and his sister, Kerrinalastraya, were well into adulthood when they were thrown into Shuzal. The aberrations mistakenly believed the twins knew a secret to unmaking the tieflings, who were the metallic dragons’ allies. For thousands of years the twins were tortured at the hands of aberrations for information that did not exist.

As the aberrations on Verda found themselves close to ruin at the hands of the dragons and the tieflings, their methods of interrogating the twins became more extreme. Kerrinalastraya was killed in her cell during an interrogation. The aberrations searched her cell for any information she might have hidden away, found nothing, but left her cell door unlocked as they fled the demiplane on which the prison was built leaving active constructs and traps behind to guard the prison itself. The dragons and tieflings laid waste to the citadel on the Material Plane which hid the entrance to the demiplane, but never found the portal.

More millennia passed as the dragon prisoners sat in their cells, sustained by the magic of the aberrant demiplane. The boredom made some insane. Yet other dragons, like Maxathaltros, held onto hope that they might one day escape and rejoin their kin.

On the Material Plane a clan of ogres, the Ox Tribe, moved into the ruins of the citadel once guarding Shuzal. The tribe has a fearsome reputation for devouring the flesh on any living being, preferring to dine on anyone intelligent. Their residence there has remained virtually uncontested for thousands of years.

500 years ago Akros Sepora, a spireless tiefling from the Amber Spire shunned for her practice of necromancy, found the ruins of Shuzal. Using a bevy of powerful spells she managed to evade detection from the Ox Tribe. Luckily for Akros the ogres had a burial ground which provided her with undead bodyguards. She entered the demiplane after uncovering a portal key in the rubble of the ruin. Her undead defeated the construct guardians and traps on the ground floor of Shuzal and she has ruled there ever since. Taking advantage of the agelessness effect in the demiplane, Akros has had centuries to perfect her dark craft. She rebuilt and reprogrammed some of the constructs, ventured back into the Material Plane for more ogre corpses, and became obsessed with the aberrant magic of the demiplane which causes allows her to live without the need of food, water, or aging. Her goal is to find a way to harness that magic and bring it with her to the Material Plane. Akros is getting bored in her small home of Shuzal. The first place she plans to bring her undead army is back to the Amber Spire. Perhaps a destructive display will teach the city which scorned her to respect the art of necromancy.

Akros does not venture down to the cell block floor of the prison for she fears the dragons and even greater terror which she created. 200 years ago her tampering with the aberrant magic of Shuzal corrupted the corpse of Kerrinalastraya, turning the dragon into a dracolich who now rules the cell block floor. Kerrinalastraya abhors anything living and killed all the sane prisoners. Her victims were raised as zombies who now roam the cell block floor, helping her search for a way to exit the demiplane. She kept the insane prisoners alive for they keep her entertained. Her brother also lives though locked in his cell. Maxathaltros hates what his sister has become, but she still loves him. When she finds a way out of Shuzal, Kerrinalastarya hopes her brother’s gratitude will change his mind about her new form.

Recently Akros ran out of fresh ogre corpses from the burial grounds of the Ox Tribe and has begun picking off living ogres to swell her undead ranks. The Ox Tribe knows that some of their own have gone missing in the night and want to punish the person responsible.

Kerrinalastarya has unlocked a vault within the cell block which kept many of the aberrations magic weapons. The aberrations emptied most of the vault when they fled Shuzal, but the dracolich did find enough weapons that she has begun constructing a massive drill, which she believes can slowly dig her a path through Shuzal’s adamantine ceiling to its surface.

Hooks

The following hooks can be used to get PCs into Shuzal.

Ogre Raids

Caravans on the trail between Paqual and Lumberton have been attacked repeatedly by a large group of ogres. The PCs are hired by Falan Neleare, owner of the Neleare Lumber Company, to clear out the ogres. He knows the task is dangerous and will give them 100 gp for the head of every ogre returned to him. If the PCs are members of the Explorers’ Guild of the Society of Seekers this contract may come to them through these organizations.

Portal Key

Datas Lantandra, an venerable tiefling librarian from the Amber Spire, has become obsessed with searching aberrant ruins. The old tiefling has been researching nearby ruins and recently discovered a strange gemstone in the spire’s aberrant collection which he believes to be a portal key to Shuzal. He hires the PCs to delve into the ruins of Shuzal’s entrance citadel, find the portal, and bring back any books, letters, or tomes they might find. Datas agrees to pay the PCs 1,000 gp for every book or letter they find, and can be convinced to pay more for interesting aberrant artifacts.

Dreams of Maxathaltros

Maxathaltros has been trying to reach the Material Plane for thousands of years by creating a powerful version of the dream spell. When the PCs are resting within 1000 miles of the ruins of Shuzal’s citadel they receive a vision of Maxathaltros begging them to come and free him from his prison. He offers to take them to his treasure hoard on the northern most cliffs the Harpy Mountains if they free him. Should they free him, Maxathaltros is true to his word. Much of his hoard has disappeared in the millennia he was trapped, but he did keep a chest of hidden booty. The gems, coins, and art within the chest are worth 50,000 gp. The chest also contains 3 rare magic items of the DM’s choice.

Servitor

While searching another aberrant ruin, the PCs find the journal of an aboleth general for millennia ago. The journal is written in Deep Speech (which is a written language in Exploration Age) and has mostly been lost to the ravages of time. There is a legible passage which mentions receiving spoils of war from allies across the sea including a magic war pick of extreme power liberated from the corpse of a dwarf. The ruby-headed pick was sent to Shuzal for safekeeping. A PC who succeeds on a DC 15 Intelligence (History) check knows this weapon could be Servitor, one of the Tools of Order. Any dwarf PCs from Bragonay or PCs who have done research about the Tools of Order know this automatically.

Coming Soon!

Does Kerrinalastarya have a phylactery? If Akros is so obsessed with living forever why doesn’t she just become a lich? You probably have a lot of questions about this dungeon and its inhabitants, but do not worry. Answers are coming your way.

If you like what you’re reading, please check out my podcasts on The Tome Show, follow me on Twitter, tell your friends and share this blog post, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!

A new episode of my podcast, The Round Table, is up on The Tome Show’s site.

I sit down with Rudy Basso, Alex Basso, Joe Lastowski, and Vegas Lancaster to talk about the latest fifth edition D&D news. We cover the announcement about extra pages in the Monster Manual, the previews for the tiefling race and hermit background, and kickstarters for fifth edition material before the OGL has been released. This podcast was recorded on July 20, 2014.

Links:
Philly N Crowd
What the Average Joe Thinks
dungeonsmaster.com

If you like what you’re reading please follow me on Twitter, tell your friends, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!

If you do a Google image search for “tiefling” the images you get run the gamut of character archetypes. Bards, wizards, warriors, thieves, and impractically clothed, sexy women appear in a crazy number of artistic styles. This is a clear indication that this PC race has captured the imagination of many players. Here’s one of my favorites from Dragon Magazine 368 illustrated by Steve Argyle.

Step off me, bro.

Step off me, bro.

And here’s some others I like.

by Matthew Batchelder

by Matthew Batchelder

by Dave Allsop

by Dave Allsop

by Mirana Reveier

by Mirana Reveier

All of these artists have different styles, but you can see the one thing that shines through in all of the tieflings – their devilish nature. It’s not just the horns and tail. The eyes of these tieflings seem to burn red or gold, their expressions display moody emotions like anger and sadness, they dress in darker colors, and when magic is involved it is of a fiery variety.

What makes  tieflings interesting to me is that they have to either embrace or deny the devil within their very soul, and it’s a constant battle. They can’t just deny or embrace their inner devils once and be done with it. Rather, they must keep the devil bottled up until the time is right to release it or, perhaps even more interesting, visa versa.

Tieflings in Exploration Age

On Verda, tieflings are the descendants of part of an army of devils summoned to Verda by metallic dragons to fight the aberrants. In many ways this move by the dragons was a mistake, as some of the devils formed alliances with the aberrants, and even produced offspring with these creatures creating horrifying devil-aberrants who are still a threat today (more on that in a later post). However, many devils did choose (or were bound) to serve the metallic dragons. After many generations on the material plane, these devils evolved into tieflings. They aren’t humans with a little bit of devil ancestry, as in most settings. They are what devils became after hundreds of thousands of years on the material plane.

Tieflings have lived through a lot in their time on Verda. They’ve driven the aberrants underground, experienced plagues and wars, seen the rise and fall of The Tarrasque, and the creation and desolation of other races. For the most part, Exploration Age’s tieflings try to hold back their devilish nature, remaining mostly isolationists, studying the world, and always trying to better themselves.

Culture

Almost everything the tieflings in Verda do is about bettering themselves. They believe that overtime they will lose their devil urges altogether as a people if they continue to resist them. The tieflings may be right, after all look what millennia of living suppressed has done for them so far.

To that end tieflings are constantly at work to better themselves individually and as a society. As young children, they are constantly taught lessons in science, magic, history, planar lore, literature, arts, philosophy, and skill at arms. The last is an especially important discipline to tieflings, for they must learn to control their devil bloodlust in battle and how to harness and focus those urges when necessary for their own survival.

When a tiefling comes of age, he or she is brought before the individual’s Spire Council. The Council and the tiefling together discuss the individual’s best possible career path and how the young tiefling may better serve the community as an adult. The tiefling is assigned a discipline and leads his or her life in that trade. At anytime a tiefling may appeal to The Council to change careers.

As adults tieflings mainly value discovery and invention. A sound mind and body are important to bettering oneself, so soldiers still spend time studying and meditating while scholars still find themselves training and exercising.

Some of Canus’ most beautiful music, most powerful spells, most informative tomes, and greatest arms and armor are made by tieflings and some of its greatest warriors and mages come from that same race since they are always training, discovering, and inventing in the name of betterment.

The Spires

Tieflings live in settlements that spiral up into the sky. These Spires are surrounded by walls on the lowest levels and the private tieflings often keep their gates closed.

If travelers are allowed into the city, they are often confined to the lower half of the Spire, where most of the shops and services reside. The upper half of the Spire are the residences, military, academic, and government housings. The very top of the Spire houses The Council Chambers and a magically enhanced lookout post which allow a tiefling mage known as The Spire Guardian to look out 50 miles in all directions, day or night.

The Seven Spires are spread up and down Verda’s West Coast and connected to each other via linked teleportation circles and crystal balls. Each Spire is governed by an elected council of seven tieflings. Elections occur every ten years. Each council chooses a tiefling from their Spire to serve a ten-year term on The Grand Council, which gathers in times of crises to determine the best course of action for its people.

The Seven Spires are each named for a different gemstone. Each tower specializes in a different school of magic and fighting style.

  • Amber Spire – Specializes in Abjuration Magic and Great Weapon Fighting
  • Amethyst Spire – Specializes in Evocation Magic and Sword and Shield Fighting
  • Emerald Spire – Specializes in Enchantment Magic and Archery
  • Jade Spire – Specializes in Transmutation Magic and Two-Weapon Fighting
  • Moonstone Spire – Specializes in Illusion Magic and Polearm Fighting
  • Ruby Spire – Specializes in Conjuration Magic and Thrown Weapons
  • Sapphire Spire – Specializes in Divination Magic and Unarmed Fighting

Dragonborn

Only since the recent discovery of Verda have the dragonborn learned of the tieflings’ existence. The tieflings, however, have long known about the dragonborn. The dragonborn race is a creation of the metallic dragons, who were once close allies of tieflings. When they created a humanoid race in their image, the tieflings felt threatened and misplaced. They prepared for war against this new race and the metallic dragons. The metallic dragons, knowing they had hurt their old allies, sent the dragonborn across the sea to make amends, but the damage was done and the relationship was irreparable. The metallic dragons stopped meddling in the affairs of the mortals of Verda and retreated deep into their lairs.

Now that the dragonborn have returned to Verda the tieflings are less than happy to see them. The dragonborn often come to Verda, seeking out metallic dragons and books in the libraries of the tieflings to learn more about their roots, but they will find that in The Seven Spires they are at the very least unwelcome.

Exceptions

Not all tieflings fit the description above. Here are two groups that break form.

  • The Spireless – It is rare, but when some tieflings come of age, they are deemed undisciplined and a danger to the community. It is believed they will embrace their devilish nature and succumb to the evil and immoral temptations of their ancestors. These tieflings are sent out of the community and forced to make a life for themselves in Verda. They are known as The Spireless. Many of these tieflings will give into the darkest parts of their souls, profiting through evil schemes and manipulations. Others will try to find a more righteous path and hope that they can be accepted back into the society of their people.
  • Bloodstone Spire – The Seven Spires were once Eight. The Bloodstone Spire still stands, but during the day it’s gates and windows are shut tight. The Spire of tieflings that specialize in Necromancy and Stealth Tactics experienced a vampiric scourge a little over three hundred years ago. Now every tiefling within Bloodstone Spire is a vampire. At night they pour forth from the city, looking for tribes of humanoids to feast upon and bring back as slaves and livestock.

Tiefling Adventurers

Tiefling adventurers can be found in Verda and parts of Findalay and Parian. Though often isolationist in their actions, tieflings like to keep tabs on the other folk of Canus. Many are sent into the world when they come of age, to observe and learn more about a culture, or map uncharted lands, or serve as a diplomat.

A tiefling adventurer could also be one of The Spireless. For some reason he or she was deemed unfit for society and has to earn his or her way back in. Or perhaps a Spireless tiefling has forsaken his or her people and is now out for personal glory, wealth, or darker intentions.

Or perhaps a tiefling has become an adventurer of his or her own free will, despite a lucrative opportunity and career path back at home. This could be an interesting back story for a character indeed…

If you like what you’re reading, please check out my podcast on The Tome Show, follow me on Twitter, or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!