Unearthed Arcana returns for October with a more in-depth exploration of the tiefling’s origins. Wizards of the Coast has dabbled on the idea previously with an Abyssal tiefling, but most iconic tieflings are spawned from devils from the nine hells. Often times, an entire bloodline of tieflings have a strong connection with a Lord of the Nine Hells even. Like their ancestral progenitor, these tieflings are as unique as their fiendish parents, taking on some of their traits. Additionally, these Devils also have their own cults, this playtest introduces new features and abilities for NPC cultists, namely their cult leaders. These are great ideas if you plan to have the Lords of the Nine Hells play a part in your campaign. Finally, for those Abyssal tieflings out there, there are new demonic boons for them too. Granted those benefits are more for NPCs than PCs, but such gifts are at the whims of the Demon Princes, given or easily taken. There are lots of love for the tiefling this time around.
Click on the link for the Fiendish Options UA material here.
Children of the Hells – So many subraces!
Wow. Lots of subraces, one for almost every Infernal Lord. Asmodeus is mostly the core Player’s Handbook tiefling.
Tieflings of Baalzebul gain ray of sickness and crown of madness which fits well with the idea of a corrupting influence both physically and mentally. A tiefling that follows or channels the Lord of Flies is a sickness and blight that plagues the land. Even if they do not destroy or taint nature, their presence is toxic in groups, causing well-mannered individuals to become deranged and frantic.
Tieflngs of Dispater relies on stealth and subterfuge, valuing secrets as both a treasure and currency. Granting disguise self and invisibility definitely fit with the stealthy parts. Additionally, the ability score bonuses are targetted more to Dexterity with +1 and Charisma with +2. A great pick for a Roguish tiefling character. Going invisible to gain advantage on their next attack roll, great for a Sneak Attack.
Tieflings of Fierna deal with social manipulation, namely seduction. We have a +1 bonus to Wisdom and the consistent +2 to Charisma. The spell list is completely changed around compared to the standard tiefling. We have the friends cantrip, charm person and suggestion as spells granted by their legacy. It thematically fits, this sort of tiefling has a lot of roleplaying potentials and can work with any class.
Tieflings of Glaysa have a cunning Machiavellian complex, the materials state they have a more criminal oriented mentality. Perfect for mob bosses and thieves. It grants a +1 bonus to Dexterity and +2 bonus to Charisma. Honestly, I’m happier with the original +1 to Intelligence and +2 Charisma, it aesthetically fits for a “cunning” criminal. Now Glaysa is also an entity about coups since the Archduchess of Malbolge overthrew the Hag Countess. The spell selections for their legacy is a copy of Dispater tieflings. I think we can do a little bit better here. Probably something like message for the cantrip, followed by illusory script at 3rd level and suggestion at 5th level. While we kept suggestion as a more subversive element, the illusory script is an exciting intrigue tool.
Tieflings of Levistus are all about brokering deals and has an ice-based subtheme as the archdevil is encased in a frozen block of ice. The +1 bonus to Constitution fits with the fact such tieflings, the spell selections grant the ray of frost cantrip, the armor of Agathys and darkness spells. Lots of themes for the cold and darkness that feel on point.
Tieflings of Mammon are all about being covetous and greedy, favoring wealth and coins. Granting a +1 bonus to Intelligence and +2 bonus to Charisma. The spell selections feel really on point with mage hand as a cantrip, followed by Tenser’s floating disk and arcane lock, as it fits with someone trying to pull all the treasure out of a dragon’s lair and then finding a way to secure it. I enjoyed this aesthetic, it’s not massively combat oriented and just expresses the flavor of their Archdevil’s quirks.
Tieflings of Mephistopheles are all about arcane knowledge and power. They are blessed with a +1 bonus to Intelligence and a +2 Charisma bonus. No surprise, they gain more arcane oriented spells for their infernal legacy, mage hand as a cantrip, followed by magic missile and web as iconic arcane spells. Thematically, most tieflings tend to be powerful warlocks and wizards.
Tieflings of Zariel favor brute strength, many are skilled, brutish warriors and anti-paladins. These tieflings gain a +1 bonus to Strength and +2 bonus to Charisma. While they do learn the infernal cantrip of thaumaturgy, it gains excellent combat-oriented spells like searing smite and branding smite that rewards being combat and being better at it. I would even have considered enlarge person as a spell option here, but overall I think the two smite spells really fit the idea of a tiefling blackguard.
Most of the tiefling subraces are thematic and fit well with the legacy of their devilish progenitors. While it’s quite a daunting list, these are intriguing options for tiefling characters and NPCs with a robust hellish origin. Whether we see these ideas in a future supplement remains to be seen, but overall, I like the thematic ties to the various archdevils of the nine hells.
Cult Benefit Plans – Does not offer retirement or dental
So you have a compelling infernal champion of an Archdevil of Hell, now what? Why not become a cult leader? It comes with benefits and abilities granted by the very devils themselves. Looking for a cult to toss at your adventuring party? Need to find out if an NPC is a good fit for a particular cult? Well, this portion of Unearthed Arcana tries to match your NPC with the right cult.
The individual cults have features and abilities that can be added to their existing monster statblock entries, which is great when you just want to build a quick cult leader or chosen on the fly. I enjoy the Signature spells section for each brand of cult, it sorta feels like a domain for a cult leader that can cast spells.
I honestly want to tact on some of these new cult features onto a cult leader and try them out for an adventuring party. Many of the features involve having allies, so it’s positively encouraged for large-scale battles. In fact, some of these ideas might even work for other types of NPCs, but for now, we’ll keep our review within the confines of the intended creatures. These features give a lot more depth and variety, plus the abilities almost display a specific playstyle that a respective cult leader would undertake.
The Spell Leech feature for a cult leader of Mephistopheles is quite potent, and I really want to abuse it, not just a cultist leader. I will say that these features are a great source of inspiration for monster generation.
Demonic Boons – the Abyss wants love too
I really like the idea of Demon Boons as something granted by a demon or a demon lord. A demon can impart this boon to a creature or NPC, each boon is associated with a demon lord within the Abyss. Demons that work as envoys and emissaries can confer a number of boons while demon lords can do so freely with no limits. These are Dungeon Master tools to empower creatures and NPCs that have made either a pact, proven loyal, or acquired them. The stat boosts are quite substantial, usually a +4 bonus to one or two ability scores. The exception being Jubelix, where it can be up to a +8 bonus to Constitution with an equal penalty to Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma.
The features are thematically aligned with their respective demon lords, like a boon from Demogorgon can grant advantage to Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma saving throws due to the whispers of madness from the Prince of Demons. The boon from Orcus is excellent for an undead lich or death knight NPC villain, the aura of death is a great effect for an army of undead that often spawns in their lair for example. Let’s not discount the stat boost to Intelligence and Wisdom either, great for liches.
While these boons are more intended for monsters and NPCs, a DM can easily cater them for player characters too. Especially if the players decided to make a deal with a demon, or even better, a player character in an evil campaign. It does require some tuning, but otherwise, a demon boon is a great reward to bestow. While powerful, this power can quickly be taken away or create a bond with the PC in a way that becomes inconvenient. As the saying goes: “the price for power.”
Overall, the fiendish options present some great variety for the tiefling character’s story. The cult features is a great way to add variety and depth to a cult instead of the vanilla stats. It makes the encounters and group distinct and unique. The demon boons are really interesting, and while they are intended for monsters and NPCs, I can see it being toned down to fit for player characters too. Remember that making deals and pacts with demons and devils often come with a price, whether or not the character deems the price acceptable for the power gained, well that’s up to them to decided. You as the DM are just playing devil’s advocate and granting them an offer they will have a hard time refusing. This Unearthed Arcana definitely was targeted more for Dungeon Masters and honestly served its purpose well of inspiring new ideas and thoughts for devils and demons. Great job Wizards!
Click on the link for the Fiendish Options UA material here.
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