Dungeons and Dragons
Heirs to an ancient, infernal bloodline, tieflings have no realms of their own but instead live within human kingdoms and cities. They are descended from human nobles who bargained with dark powers, and long ago their empire subjugated half the world. But the empire was cast down into ruin, and tieflings were left to make their own way in a world that often fears and resents them.
Hundreds of years ago, the leaders of the human empire of Bael Turath made pacts with devils to
solidify their hold over its enormous territory. Those humans became the first tieflings, and they governed their empire in the name of their infernal masters. In time, Bael Turath came into conflict with Arkhosia, the ancient empire of the dragonborn, and decades of warfare left both empires in ruins. Bael Turaths grand capital was thrown down in ruin.
Tieflings are the heirs of the surviving noble dynasties that ruled the empire. Their bloodline is tainted by their diabolical connections, passing to their descendants through all generations. In many ways, they are human; they can have children with humans, for example, but their offspring are always tieflings.
Centuries of other races distrust and outright hatred have made tieflings self-reliant and often too willing to live up to the stereotypes imposed on them. As a race without a homeland, tieflings know that they have to make their own way in the world and that they have to be strong to survive, and they are not quick to trust anyone who claims to be a friend. However, when a tieflings companions demonstrate that they trust him or her, the tiefling quickly learns to extend the same trust to them. And once a tiefling gives someone trust and loyalty, the tiefling is a firm friend and ally for life.
Although the nobles of Bael Turath subjugated themselves to devils, most present-day tieflings give little thought to gods or patrons, preferring to look out for themselves. Therefore, they do not often follow the path of the divine; tiefling clerics or paladins are rare.
Tieflings are not numerous. Sometimes a tiefling merchant clan that is descended from a Bael Turath dynasty settles as a group in a land where wealth can purchase safety and comfort. But most tieflings are born outside such hidden dynasties and grow up in the roughest quarters of human cities and towns. These tieflings often become swindlers, thieves, or crime lords, who carve out a niche for themselves amid the squalor of their surroundings.