Classing Tieflings?

1 post / 0 new
Edit Take Two: God, I feel like an idiot... Could a moderator move this to General Discussion? Thanks.

Edit: The topic title should read 'Classic Tieflings' not 'Classing Tieflings'. Sorry for any confusion

[For the record, any similarities with a certain RPG.net post are explained as this post has the same author and is borrowing the best bits from the aforementioned forum. Thank you to Wakboth, Midgardener, Naxuul, Gloombunny, Trickstergod, Fhtagn, et al. if any of you actually bother to read this. :P ]

I'd assume that I'm not the only one rather miffed at the direction WotC has taken with the Tieflings in 4th Edition. So, on that note, I seek your wisdom. What do you think of the changes, and what would be the best way to convert the classic Tieflings to the 4th Ed. setting? Would just changing the ascetics and the background work, or would it require a more involved approach?

For the record, I was always very partial to Tieflings, heck, some of my best characters were of the demonspawned persuasion. If I could hazard a guess why, it's probably because I count Planescape as one of my first big obsessions... So on that note, I was a bit leery when hearing that they'd be a core race in 4th Edition. Regardless of their popularity, in my opinion they should have remained a Monster Manual race. But all that aside, it wasn't a big deal. At least until I finally got my hands on the 4th Edition Players Handbook and cracked it open.

I'm going to come right out and say it, and I apologize if this is a bit blunt. Personally I think they removed everything that makes a Tiefling, a Tiefling... The first sticking point is the ascetics. I cringed when I saw the new artwork. Maybe I was just spoiled by the DiTerlizzi illustrations from the Planescape books and various 3rd Ed publications, but...Wow. Yes, I know that you could make really wierd-looking Tieflings and still have them be within the realm of possibility, especially using the chart from the Planeswalker's Handbook, but these just look rediculous. In my opinion, a Tiefling should resemble a human with several physical alterations that may or may not be noticeable on first glance. Noticeably different from a normal human, but no more extreme in the grand scheme of things then, say, a half-orc. Not so with the new ones. To just come out and say it, they look rediculous. Even with the background of devilish pacts (which I'll cover in the next paragraph) they look less human then the nonhuman species, even ones that originated on another plane. They look less like fiend-touched humans and more like Cambions or half-fiends. Another issue I have is the uniformity. I was rather partial to the range of subtle alterations rather then this whole red skin/giant tail/Metis-style goat horns thing that they have going now... Disturbing aura, small horns (emphasis on the 'small'), pointed teeth, tails if that's really the only deformity (Think Anna from Planescape: Torment). Tieflings (At least the kind being discussed here) are descended from Fiendish beings; ANY Fiendish being. Rakshasa, Night Hags, Demons, Devils, even avatars of an Evil diety... With that sort of variety, of course they would have disparate appearances. They were certainly much more interesting without the rather lame standardized appearance and origin they've given them now. For example (And at the risk of venturing into 'let me tell you about my character' territory...) a Tiefling I played in a recent 3.5 game was at a distance completely indistinguishable from a human. It was only when one got close could they notice the small nub horns hidden under the hair, the red-tinted pupilless eyes, the pointed teeth, and the distinct odor of ashes.

Now, the backstory... I'm guessing that the main idea was to make them their own species, not a variant on human. Making each race more seperate and unique was a stated design goal. Well, they succeeded... Making Tieflings "their own species, and not just another variant on human" is exactly why I'm so disappointed. The appeal, in my mind, of the old Tieflings is that they weren't a race of their own... They were a subgroup of people cursed by the iniquities of their anscestors through no fault of their own. They were just people in whom dear old grandad's ill-advised tryst with a Succubus had come back to haunt them. Tieflings were never half-demons. They were never their own race. They were outcasts who were tainted by a fiendish bloodline. With the new 'heirs of a lost and corrupted empire' background, they lose a lot of that appeal.

Thoughts?