Background of my Tiefling

So I made a pretty in-depth background for my warlock that intertwines deeply with the bard in the party. Their family has a long-running pact with Graz'zt and due to this, every other generation or two, a tiefling born; a 'blessing' from Graz'zt for the family's service and devotion.

We decided we wanted our characters to be twins who have a good relationship. Originally we were both making tieflings, but he decided that he wanted to make his bard a human, and I still wanted my warlock to be a tiefling, the DM didn't seem to have an issue with it and approved the characters. (Honestly, it was nice to already have them know each other and have no trust issues with half of the party)

So fast forward to when the characters meet, introduce/describe themselves (Human Bard, Tiefling Warlock, Elf Ranger, Half-elf Barbarian)

Once it is established our characters are not of the same race but are fraternal twins, the barbarian (who is an outlander from a plains tribe and has never seen tieflings before and has an INT of 7) immediately goes off about the logistics of how that can't be possible, and denies that they can be anything more than half-siblings. And then got out of character to tell us that tieflings are their own race and can't be derived from two human parents.

So here's what the PHB says on pg. 42:

"Tieflings are derived from human bloodlines, and in the broadest possible sense, they still look human. However, their infernal heritage has left a clear imprint on their appearance."

I understand that they are their own race and tiefling + tiefling = tiefling, human + tiefling can = tiefling, and in some cases devil + human = tiefling.

But especially this scenario, with a blessed (or cursed) bloodline, can human + human = tiefling?

I'm only interested in lore from D&D 5e.


1 Answer 1


Yes, a tiefling can have two human parents

Borrowing from my question What's the difference between a Tiefling and a Cambion?

From Xanathar's Guide to Everything, we have this table on page 62:

Tiefling Parents

d8      Parents

1-4      Both parents were humans, their infernal heritage dormant until you came along.

5-6      One parent was a tiefling and the other was a human.

7          One parent was a tiefling and the other was a devil.

8          One parent was a human and the other was a devil.

Option 1-4 suits your purposes, although it must be said that what is presented in Xanathar's Guide to Everything is considered optional, but it is at least evidence that the designers thought it was at least plausible. In fact, the opening on page 61 explicitly states:

Ideas, Not Rules

Even though these pages are full of tables and die rolls, they don’t make up a rules system — in fact, the opposite is true. You can use as much or as little of this material as you desire, and you can make decisions in any order you want.

As always, check with your DM to see if they're happy with this.

As an aside, the fact that option 1-4 says "their infernal heritage dormant until you came along" could be thought of as being comparable to dominant and recessive genes in real-world biology, which implies that, if two humans were to have a tiefling child, there's no reason to believe that all of their children would necessarily be tieflings, either before or after their tiefling child (but at the same time, they may well all be tieflings after all; whichever is more interesting for the narrative).

However, this is not actually supported by or contradicted by the rules in any way (beyond what one may interpret from "dormant until you came along"), so any DM may interpret this how they wish (they may interpret it to mean that all of their children must be tieflings, or all children after their first tiefling child must be tieflings, etc), but that's at least how I would interpret this as a DM.

  • 36
    \$\begingroup\$ This suggests that not only is it possible that a Tiefling has two Human parents, but that it actually is by far the most common situation. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Nov 12, 2019 at 17:56
  • 24
    \$\begingroup\$ I wonder why "both parents were tieflings" isn't listed. \$\endgroup\$
    – mdrichey
    Commented Nov 12, 2019 at 20:36
  • 6
    \$\begingroup\$ @mdrichey I know, seems like a glaring omission. A lot of people agree with this thought, if this comment is anything to go by... \$\endgroup\$
    – NathanS
    Commented Nov 12, 2019 at 21:12
  • 6
    \$\begingroup\$ @Jammin4CO: If that were the case, options 5-6 and 7 wouldn't be possible. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ahndwoo
    Commented Nov 13, 2019 at 18:05
  • 5
    \$\begingroup\$ @Ahndwoo Since 5, 6, 7 do not specify the gender, it might still be the case that Tiefling females remain fertile, but Tiefling males don't (or the other way around). This would explain why reproducing with a different race is possible while reproducing with the same race isn't. But this is only a theory, I don't know of anything in the rules that could support it. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Nov 14, 2019 at 12:19

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