Tiefling 5e Guide

Published on January 25, 2021, Last modified on May 6th, 2021

What is this guide?

This guide is meant to give you an idea of whether or not the Tiefling will be right for your character build.

The color code below has been implemented to help you identify, at a glance, how good that option will be for your Tiefling. This color coding isn’t a hard and fast rule; there are plenty of sub-optimized options out there that will be viable to your party and will be fun to play.

  • Black is a trait shared by many races and or will not impact the effectiveness of your character build
  • Red isn’t going to contribute to the effectiveness of your character build at all
  • Orange is an OK option
  • Green is a good option
  • Blue is a great option, you should strongly consider this option for your character
  • Sky Blue is an amazing option. If you do not take this option your character would not be optimized

Tasha's Cauldron of Everything Update

Tasha's Cauldron of Everything has added the "Customizing Your Origin" option that may affect the ability score increases, languages, and proficiencies in this guide. To read more about this, visit our D&D Race Guide.

What are Tieflings?

Tieflings are a race of humanoids, descended from demons and devils who had bred with humans long ago. While they are not inherently evil, their appearance likens that of their ancestors, with horns, tails, sharp teeth, and a wide array of eye colors and skin colors. Due to their ancestry, Tieflings make great thieves and criminals, but are also strong leaders and are fiercely loyal.

Tiefling Traits

Ability Score Increase: A CHA bonus is the bread and butter of several classes. Where Tieflings really shine is the sheer number of different subraces available, all of which come with various secondary ASIs and abilities, making them a passable option for nearly any build.

Size: Medium size doesn’t come with any drawbacks or benefits.

Speed: The Tiefling’s walking speed of 30 feet is standard.

Darkvision: Darkvision is always great, but its advantage can be ruined if your party members do not also have it.

Hellish Resistance: Fire damage is extremely common, whether from enemy spellcasters or monster abilities. Having fire resistance baked into the Tiefling race works wonders for survivability.

Tiefling Subraces

Bloodline of Asmodeus

Source: Player’s Handbook

The standard Tiefling. ASIs are not synergistic but the Asmodeus Tiefling comes with useful spells.

Ability Score Increase: Adding an INT bonus to the Tiefling’s CHA isn’t very helpful. Most casters typically rely on one and dump the other.

Infernal Legacy: 

  • Thaumaturgy: Not quite as versatile as Minor Illusion, but can get the job done when trying to intimidate or trick an NPC.
  • Hellish Rebuke: A great use of your reaction with good damage, especially at lower levels.
  • Darkness: A useful spell to aid your escape or confuse enemies. Cutting off the enemies’ Darkvision can also render them helpless.

Bloodline of Baalzebul

Source: Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes

Very similar to the Asmodeus Tiefling, but comes with less effective spells.

Ability Score Increase: Adding an INT bonus to the Tiefling’s CHA isn’t very helpful. Most casters typically rely on one and dump the other.

Legacy of Maladomini

  • Thaumaturgy: Not quite as versatile as Minor Illusion, but can get the job done when trying to intimidate or trick an NPC.
  • Ray of Sickness: This isn’t a bad ranged spell attack, but its effectiveness will fade at higher levels and poison is a pretty common resistance. 
  • Crown of Madness: Crown of Madness has too many hoops to jump through to be effective. It requires you to use your action on each turn to maintain concentration, the enemy can make Wisdom saving throws, and the creature must use its action before movement for you to control it.

Bloodline of Dispater

Source: Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes

Bloodline of Dispater is a great choice for sneaky characters who want to infiltrate and deceive, but the Bloodline of Glasya comes with better spells for that purpose.

Ability Score Increase: While most CHA casters don’t have access to Heavy Armor, DEX is a natural option for an ASI to help boost AC, Stealthiness, and DEX saves.

Legacy of Dis:

  • Thaumaturgy: Not quite as versatile as Minor Illusion, but can get the job done when trying to intimidate or trick an NPC.
  • Disguise Self: A good spell in the right hands, but is limited by roleplaying ability and the DM’s discretion. 
  • Detect Thoughts: Useful spell for interrogations, or to determine if there are any hidden creatures near your location.

Bloodline of Fierna

Source: Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes

The Fierna Tiefling is the only one that comes with a WIS bonus. The package of charm spells can be useful and work in tandem with the massive CHA boost for a very persuasive character.

Ability Score Increase: Most characters choose between WIS or CHA and then dump the other.

Legacy of Phlegethos:

  • Friends: You can get many uses out of this since it’s a cantrip, but the very short duration makes it risky to use. Overshadowed by Charm Person as soon as you get it.
  • Charm Person: Not great during combat, but can be used to gain an ally just before a battle breaks out or for similar purposes as the Friends cantrip. The longer duration makes this spell much more useful than Friends.
  • Suggestion: Suggestion is a worthy spell in many situations. You can use it to get unwilling NPCs to do your bidding, or simply to take an enemy out of combat by suggesting that they run away.

Bloodline of Glasya

Source: Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes

The best choice for sneaky builds of all kinds with a fantastic set of spells.

Ability Score Increase:  CHA and DEX is a great combination for sneaky builds, or CHA-based spellcasters that also fight with DEX melee weapons.

Legacy of Malbolge:

  • Minor Illusion: Minor Illusion is extremely useful if you are creative and your DM allows for some shenanigans.
  • Disguise Self: A good spell in the right hands, but is limited by roleplaying ability and the DM’s discretion. 
  • Invisibility: One of the best spells in the game to sneak into a restricted area or get the upper hand on your foes. Cast Disguise Self on yourself and Invisibility on a friend and you already have two party members ready to attempt an infiltration.

Bloodline of Levistus

Source: Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes

The Bloodline of Levistus is the most defense-oriented of the Tiefling subraces.

Ability Score Increase: Nearly any build is happy to see a CON bonus, outside of those that are heavily multi-ability dependent.

Legacy of Stygia:

  • Ray of Frost: Solid damage cantrip. The speed reduction goes well with the defensive theme of this subrace.
  • Armor of Agathys: A spell that gains temporary hit points and also deals damage provides a lot of utility for one action. Since it is cast at 2nd level, you will at the very least retaliate with 10 damage. If you take less than 10 damage in one hit, you can end up dealing lots more. This means that this spell works very well with ways to reduce damage coming your way. Sadly, you can’t scale this spell as you level and the chances of retaliating with damage more than once become very slim.
  • Darkness: A useful spell to aid your escape or confuse enemies. Cutting off the enemies’ Darkvision can also render them helpless.

Bloodline of Mammon

Source: Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes

Another subrace that comes with an INT bonus. The spells of the Bloodline of Mammon Tiefling are very underwhelming compared to the other similar subraces.

Ability Score Increase: Adding an INT bonus to the Tiefling’s CHA isn’t very helpful. Most casters typically rely on one and dump the other.

Legacy of Minauros:

  • Mage Hand: The only saving grace of the Mammon Tiefling. Every party likes to have a character with Mage Hand to grab hard to reach objects or to open a potentially trapped door or chest.
  • Tenser’s Floating Disk: Very situational.
  • Arcane Lock: Very situational.

Bloodline of Mephistopheles

Source: Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes

Yet another subrace that comes with an INT bonus, and the most damage oriented of those subraces. Flame Blade is not great though, so consider the Bloodline of Zariel if you want to make weapon attacks.

Ability Score Increase: Adding an INT bonus to the Tiefling’s CHA isn’t very helpful. Most casters typically rely on one and dump the other.

Legacy of Cania:

  • Mage Hand: Every party likes to have a character with Mage Hand to grab hard to reach objects or to open a potentially trapped door or chest.
  • Burning Hands: AOE with guaranteed damage. Damage is quite potent at lower levels, but won’t scale because it is always cast at 2nd level.
  • Flame Blade: This is a pretty good spell at really low levels, but you only get access to it at 5th level. By then, you will surely have better damage options and the fact that it needs concentration means this is a pretty weak offering.

Bloodline of Zariel

Source: Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes

The only Tiefling subrace that comes with a STR bonus. Combined with the spells the Bloodline of Zariel is perhaps the best choice for a melee Tiefling.

Ability Score Increase: STR and CHA is an interesting combination that is primarily intended, and ideal for, for Paladins. Other classes likely won’t want this combination.

Legacy of Avernus:

  • Thaumaturgy: Not quite as versatile as Minor Illusion, but can get the job done when trying to intimidate or trick an NPC.
  • Searing Smite: A nice little damage boost to a weapon attack and the potential for damage over time.
  • Branding Smite: As a Paladin, there are much better smite options available. If you are not playing a Paladin, Branding Smite provides a nice boost of radiant damage, but Searing Smite is often better for the damage over time. Preventing invisibility is situationally useful.

Tiefling Variants

Source: Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide

The Tiefling Variants provide the only ASI spread without a CHA bonus.

Ability Score Increase (Feral): Good if you want DEX and INT as an ASI instead of the usual CHA.

Tiefling Variant – Devil’s Tongue:

  • Vicious Mockery: This is the best Bard cantrip that deals minor damage and gives disadvantage on an enemy attack roll on a failed save.
  • Charm Person: Useful to get a reluctant person to help you out or to get an extra ally before starting combat.
  • Enthrall: Enthrall is bad. The only thing this spell does is give disadvantage on Perception checks against your party, and they get advantage on the save if you are in combat. The only good thing about this spell is that, unlike most verbal spells, the creature doesn’t need to speak your language for it to work.

Tiefling Variant – Hellfire: Replacing Hellish Rebuke with Burning Hands for the Asmodeus Tiefling is mostly a matter of personal preference as they are about on par with each other. Use this subrace if your character prefers the Feral ASI spread over the original one.

Tiefling Variant – Winged: While you lose the free cantrip and spells, gaining fly speed is incredibly powerful. If playing a character that likes INT and DEX, such as a Bladesinger Wizard, choosing this subrace is amongst the best options available. Even if your character doesn’t need both stats, having a fly speed is good enough to be worth it.

Which Classes Work With Tieflings?

Because there are so many subraces and variants for the Tiefling, you will find a suitable option for nearly any class. Choosing a Tiefling subrace or variant with a relevant ASI is a good start to your character.

Artificer: Many of the Tiefling subraces come with an INT bonus, although ideally an Artificer would like +2. As a spellcaster, having more spells at your disposal is always welcome.

Barbarian: While the Zariel Tiefling gets a STR bonus, you can’t cast spells while in a Barbarian rage, making the smites useless a lot of the time.

Bard: Bards love CHA so Tieflings are a great choice. Take Levistus for some survivability or any of the DEX subraces if you want to do some sneaking or melee combat.

Cleric: Fierna Tieflings do get WIS, but Clerics typically don’t want to waste precious ASI on CHA. It’s passable and will make for an interesting character, but won’t be particularly optimized.

Druid: Druids also have the option of the Fierna Tiefling, but won’t be nearly as strong as they could be by choosing another race.

Fighter: Fighters are very versatile, so any of the DEX or STR Tiefling subraces, as well as the variants, will perform well depending on your chosen weapon. Levistus, while not boosting your attacks, will make a fantastic tank character. If playing an Eldritch Knight with DEX weapons, the variants become very appealing because they come with both DEX and INT.

Monk: The DEX subraces offer a nice infiltration package to the Monk, who isn’t typically focused on that area. Variant Tieflings get the biggest DEX bonus and will also work quite well.

Paladin: Consider any of the DEX or STR Tiefling subraces for a Paladin, depending on which weapon you want to use. Also of note is the Levistus subrace for incredible survivability.

Ranger: The Glasya Tiefling has an appropriate ASI and offers some stealth options to make you more akin to a Rogue. Variant Tieflings provide the best DEX bonus for Rangers, although the INT is useless.

Rogue: CHA and DEX subraces are a perfect start for Rogues, especially because those subraces come with some built-in sneaky spells. The variant Tiefling stats also work nicely with Arcane Trickster builds.

Sorcerer: Sorcerers excel with CHA, so any of the subraces will do fine. Ideally, pick one with DEX for AC or Levistus for survivability and CON saves.

Warlock: Warlocks excel with CHA, so any of the subraces will do fine. Ideally, pick one with DEX for AC or Levistus for survivability and CON saves.

Wizard: INT bonus subraces will work just fine with Wizards, although +2 would be preferred. Access to more spells is never a bad thing, and you have the choice of which spells best suit your playstyle. Using the variant option to get DEX and INT ASIs is perfect for Bladesinger Wizards.

Roland Drews

Roland Drews

Roland Drews is a content creator and editor at Arcane Eye. When he isn't watching basketball or noodling on his guitar, you can find Roland reading, writing, or playing D&D. He currently lives in Bonn, Germany with his girlfriend Jess.