Roses of Britain
Ability Scores: +2 Charisma; +2 Constitution or +2 Intelligence
Speed: 6 squares
Languages: English, choice of one other
Skill Bonuses: +2 Bluff, +2 Stealth
Bloodhunt: See Player’s Handbook pg. 48 and Heroes of the Forgotten Kingdoms pg. 270.
Fire Resistance: See Player’s Handbook pg. 48 and Heroes of the Forgotten Kingdoms pg. 270.
Infernal Wrath: See Heroes of the Forgotten Kingdoms pg. 270.
The tiefling race first emerged in the Phoenician city-state of Tyre around 900 B.C., in an era when the riches of the Mediterranean flowed towards that gleaming port. Worship of the pitiless Canaanite deity Melqart had gradually risen to dominate religious life in the city, but this god was merely a false aspect of Satan, first of the rebel angels. Satanic infiltrators had successfully corrupted the city’s powerful priesthood, and ensnared the minds of avaricious merchants with promises of luxury and pleasure. When Satan appeared as Melqart and commanded his most zealous worshippers to submit their firstborn children for an abominable ritual, the faithful eagerly complied with his order. The exact nature of this ritual has been lost to history, but scholars whisper that at its culmination, the chosen children were sealed within a bronze furnace that raged with magical hellfire. These unfortunate souls were reborn as the first tieflings, a race tainted by the Inferno itself.
Satan’s motive for creating the tieflings remains obscure, but most theologians believe the he sought to spawn an elite race that would one day rule over humankind. Indeed, the tieflings eventually came to occupy the most privileged positions in Tyre, where their fearsome forms were regarded as a sign of divine favor. However, the race also spread outward to other Phoenician city-states throughout the Mediterranean, as far west as the colony of Carthage. Some of these tiefling migrants founded Satanic cults in the lands where they settled, often in the guise of other pagan faiths. From the second generation of tieflings onward, however, there were some who turned their backs on their heritage, preferring to find their own way in the world.
When Cyrus the Great and his dragonborn armies finally crushed the eastern Phoenician city-states in the sixth century, B.C., bringing an effective end to both Tyre’s power and the worship of Melqart, tieflings were already dispersed far and wide across the ancient world. They were especially numerous in Carthage, where their race promoted the worship of the god Baal-Hamon, another guise through which Satan demanded ever more depraved offerings from his faithful. Meanwhile, tieflings wanderers of less sinister ambitions had established themselves within human settlements in Greece, Italy, Egypt, Persia, Scythia, and points beyond.
Legend holds that tiefling Satanists succeeded in igniting the Second Punic War between Carthage and Rome in the third century B.C. by whispering honeyed words in Hannibal’s ear. The purpose for such manipulations is not clear, given that Rome eventually emerged the victor in this conflict, but some historians insist that there was long-term planning afoot. Over the next two hundred years, the Roman Republic itself saw a massive influx of tieflings, many from the shattered remnants of the Carthaginian empire. Many sages believe that tieflings were behind the Senate’s declaration of Julius Caesar as dictator for life in 44 B.C. This established the seeds for the demise of the Republic and the beginnings of the Roman Empire, under which the tieflings thrived. Satanic worship began to decline among members of the race, even as they spread even further across the ancient world, often in the wake of Rome’s legions. Tieflings arrived in Britain not long after the Roman conquest of the island in the first century, A.D. For several centuries, the race flourished in Britain under first Roman and then Saxon rule, often amassing great wealth and prestige for themselves and their families.
However, the rise of Christianity in Britain brought an end to this era of relative prosperity for the tiefling race. Tiefling Satanists were exceedingly rare in Britain by the middle of the first millennium, A.D., but in the eyes of Christians, all members of the race were abominations due to their infernal heritage. Increasingly, tieflings found themselves reviled and persecuted, their wealth confiscated at the urging of zealous bishops. With the unification of the Saxon kingdoms into a Christian English monarchy in the tenth century A.D., tieflings were left with no sanctuaries on the island. Some tieflings departed England forever, others attempted to pass themselves off as human, and still others withdrew to refuges in the remote wilderness or deep underground.
Fortunately, hostility to tieflings has relaxed somewhat in England in the past two hundred years, due in part to the profound effect that Thomas Aquinas’s teachings have had on the Church. Aquinas argued that tieflings were as capable of Christian virtue and as receptive to God’s grace as any other race, in spite of their infernal blood. This view eventually became Catholic doctrine under the Avignon Pope John XXII, sparking a widespread re-emergence of tieflings throughout Christendom. Deep suspicion towards the race still persists to this day, especially among the common people, but English tieflings can at least go about in public with minimal fear of official harassment and oppression.
Place in the World
The sting from several centuries of vicious persecution still lingers for the tiefling race. Accordingly, they tend to be reserved and wary in their dealings with other races. Tieflings are accustomed to surviving by their own wits and abilities, and they often assume that all strangers (even other tieflings) are enemies until proven otherwise. This standoffishness can shade into outright hostility on occasion, which only amplifies the generally low opinion that other races have of tieflings. Even tieflings that have forcefully repudiated their infernal heritage carry a whiff of arrogance about them. However, allies who are forthright and honorable in their dealings with tieflings find that they offer abiding loyalty in return.
Tieflings are relatively uncommon in England, but their numbers are growing. They can be found in almost every corner of the Kingdom, but regions populated with old Roman fortresses, villas, and temples seem to have the most significant tiefling populations. English tieflings do not build their own settlements, but instead dwell alongside humans in their communities. That said, members of the race rarely settle in rural areas with especially pious or fearful human populations, lest they find themselves one day pursued by a mob brandishing pitchforks and flame. City life suits tieflings particularly well, as the large crowds and cosmopolitan atmosphere afford them some measure of anonymity. Many English humans still believe that tieflings are intrinsically wicked people, and tiefling heroes must struggle daily with this perception. Officially, the Crown has no position on tieflings, and the Church freely offers them the sacraments. However, authorities are vigilant for signs of Satanic sympathies in the race. Tieflings have no natural allies in English society, although they occasionally partner with half-orcs who feel similarly tread upon.
The great tiefling heroes are usually bards or warlocks, although members of the race also excel as artificers, sorcerers, swordmages, and wizards. Tiefling paladins are exceedingly unusual, but they tend to be remarkably adept at their chosen path. Perhaps surprisingly, almost all English tieflings are nominally Christian. Tieflings have learned to be wary of the appearance of heresy or apostasy, and consequently, most members of the race make a show of their devotion to orthodox Christian faith. In truth, while there are some sincerely devout tieflings, many members of the race simply go through the motions to avoid suspicion, and harbor no real reverence for Christ and his saints. Genuinely pious tieflings venerate a variety of saints, although St. Augustine is often singled out in their prayers. Pagan tieflings are quite rare, and actual Satanic devotees even rarer.