D&D: You Ain’t Never Had A Fiend Like Me

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There are a ton of new fiendish options–subraces for Tieflings, cults for the DM, and demonic boons for kids of all ages–in this month’s Unearthed Arcana.

Are you tired of all that meddling by those infernal fools who can’t possibly understand the forces with which they’re meddling? Well get ready to do some infernal meddling of your own with this sweet new suite of options up for playtest through Unearthed Arcana. This month, we’ve got Fiendish options for every seat at the table. On the player side of things, there are a grand total of 8 new Tiefling subraces (one for each of the Nine Hells–and if you’ll recall Asmodeus, ruler of Nessus–is already responsible for the baseline Tiefling), but now your Tiefling can be associated with Glasya, the criminal mastermind of hell, or with Zariel, the more melee-minded master of Avernus. We’ll go through each of these in a moment, but they add a cool new twist on custom Tieflings.

On the DM side of things, we mention there are new fiendish cults. These take the form of abilities that you can layer on to existing cultists/cult fanatics/etc. These extra powers provide you with signature spells and some spicy new abilities that let your generic cultists do things like gain temporary hit points and not drop to 0 the first time they’d be dropped. And they give you some extra suggestions of what NPCs would make good cultist type foes for each of these archdukes.

Finally there’s the Demonic Boons, again these are powers that a demon lord grants to a monster or NPC–these can take the form of ability score increases, signature spells, and themed abilities that are granted at the whim of a demon lord. These blasphemous boons could theoretically be applied to PCs as well, but this act is damning and will corrupt their very soul. So. Probably a bad idea.

Let’s dive in and check them out, shall we? Just…stay close to the Paladin.

via Wizards of the Coast

First of all, the Tiefling subraces are amazing. They add character to the Tiefling, and provide that much more of an infernal connection to be tempted by/struggle against/never acknowledge/pick cool powers from. But besides that, they’ve done a good job of differentiating them mechanically. Each subrace is associated with one layer of the Nine Hells–they all get the same +2 Charisma that makes Tiefling Warlocks/Bards/Sorcerers so appealing, but depending on what you choose, your +1 to a secondary stat is variable. And each association comes with its own spells that replace the Tieflings usual racial spells.

You might play a Tiefling of Glasya, and be a master manipulator/criminal with a , +1 Dex and access to invisiblity 1/day, disguise self, and the minor illusion cantrip. Or conversely a Tiefling of Zariel, who is beefier with a +1 Str and access to a couple of Smite spells for added melee might.

As you can see, there’s a pretty wide variety that gala under the purview of “being touched with infernal power.” Even if the underlying structure is the same: +2 Cha/+1 X, bonus cantrip, free 1st level spell 1/day at 3rd level, free 2nd level spell 1/day at 5th–there’s still a fairly wide swath you can customize with. Similarly, if you feel inspired to create Tieflings from another source, you’ve got a baseline for designing your own.

Speaking of designing your own stuff, DMs get some love this go round as well. The Devilish Cults and Demonic Boons are these handy tools to tweak your encounters up and make them more specific and surprising to your players. The mechanics also represent narrative elements–now you have a tangible ‘gain’ to show players who wonder why anyone would be a devil cultist or a demon worshipper.

It grants you these tangible benefits that give you a leg up in combat. Plus it makes them feel like themed enemies. What I really find useful though is that each entry lists typical monsters you can give the powers to–and it gives you handy guidelines for tweaking existing monsters.

It’s pretty easy to just tack on an effect–the whole thing feels wonderfully modular–I could just as easily see the servants of a lich gaining similar benefits, though with different, undead/arcane themes.

We can even see a similar principal in action here in the firm of Demonic Boons, which often represent a more direct investiture of power by one of the other extraplanar big bads, the Demon Lords.

These are much more individually powerful gifts. Great for customizing a boss/miniboss encounter, these powerful boons can up the ante in a pitched battle. Demon Lords can typically grant a creature as many ‘boons’ as it has hit dice, which can lead to some powerful combos out there. But it really hammers home the idea of ‘these people are scrambling for a shortcut to power’ pretty nicely.

At any rate, there are plenty more options where that came from. Check out the whole pdf below, and be sure and check back for more D&D news, stews, and previews.

Check out Unearthed Arcana – Fiendish Options

How do you customize your monsters? What do you think of the new options?

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