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I do not watch Critical Role and know very little about it.

However, whilst looking into different skin colours for tieflings, I discovered the characters Jester Lavorre, who has blue skin, and Lillith Daturai, who has white skin. I am curious to know what in-universe lore exists in Matt Mercer's homebrew universe to explain why these tiefling characters have the skin colour that they do. Searching online, I have been unable to find such information, simply that they are the colours that they are, not why.

I believe the Explorer's Guide to Wildemount book is out now, and I don't know if this is the sort of thing that would be in that book, but I don't know where else such lore might be found besides watching the show (or possibly statements by those involved in the show, such as Matt Mercer, etc). For reasons unrelated to this question/lore that I don't want to expand on, watching the show is not something I plan to do, but I'm still curious about the universe and the lore relating to these tieflings' skin colour.

So, from an in-universe lore perspective, why is Jester blue and Lillith white in the Critical Role homebrew universe?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 17, 2020 at 14:16

5 Answers 5

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Jester's coloration is explained in the narrative.

Critical Role Spoilers: Although Jester's mom is a (red-skinned) tiefling, her father is a

water genasi.

This lends her the blue color, as well as the decidedly non-tiefling resistance to cold damage, instead of fire damage.

Lillith is a bit less clear

No mention (to my knowledge) is made of Lillith's coloration. It is possible that she is simply extremely pale, or has albinism. The 5e player's handbook says that Tiefling coloration can be anything a human could have. Very pale or albino coloration is not out of the question.

As an aside, the world of Exandria, Matt Mercer's world, is quite a bit more varied, and less likely to be concerned about the lore or rules in many ways. The goal of the stream/podcast is to tell a good story, and if a blue or white tiefling is part of a good story, then it'll get in there. Similarly, Matt is often willing to bend the rules to allow something interesting or to add inclusivity to the world (see the blind shakaste, for example, who sees through a hummingbird familiar).

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    \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for this answer, and I understand that the primary goal of the show is entertainment rather than "rules", but it's still good to know the in-universe explanation (the bit in spoiler quotes is exactly what I was after). +1 \$\endgroup\$
    – NathanS
    Commented Mar 17, 2020 at 13:25
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    \$\begingroup\$ For the Jester part: that's a possible explanation, but stated as a fact here like it is would tend to imply this is more than a personal theory, but rather has some basis in canon. That should be clarified. \$\endgroup\$
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Mar 17, 2020 at 21:47
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    \$\begingroup\$ @T.E.D. Someone with lots of time could probably go through the "Talks Machina" after-show streams around when that all was revealed and find a reference. I know they specifically mention the change to her resistance as being an inheritance, though I'm less confident they directly mention her coloration. Are you implying that anything less explicit than Matt or Laura saying directly "Jester is blue because of her dad" makes it a personal theory? \$\endgroup\$
    – Tal
    Commented Mar 18, 2020 at 13:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Tal - Well, that's all of us now that its on hiatus. \$\endgroup\$
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Mar 18, 2020 at 13:24
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    \$\begingroup\$ @PeterCordes My answer provides timestamps and transcripts of all the relevant evidence for both Jester and Lillith. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Dec 29, 2022 at 1:02
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Re: Lillith...

Hi folks! Kit here - Lillith's player. Super simple explanation for Lillith's white colouration: it's due to albinism. She's an albino tiefling :) Hope that clears it up!

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    \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to RPG.SE! Take the tour if you haven't already, and check out the help center for more guidance. Thanks for checking by and happy gaming. \$\endgroup\$
    – Akixkisu
    Commented Mar 19, 2020 at 11:51
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    \$\begingroup\$ Has this been mentioned as part of the show or in supplementary material? It's not that I don't believe you, but it would be very nice to have a verifiable source for this information. \$\endgroup\$
    – Someone_Evil
    Commented Mar 19, 2020 at 12:52
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    \$\begingroup\$ Might it be mentioned in the Cloven: Bloodlines 3-issue comic series? If so, a citation to the relevant bit (possibly with an image of the panel where it's mentioned, if you want) would definitely improve the answer. :) (Otherwise, I've seen it mentioned in others' fanart, some of which you've replied to, and referenced in one line of this Geek & Sundry article: Critical Role Celebrity Playlist: Lillith’s Playlist By Kit Buss.) \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Commented Mar 19, 2020 at 22:12
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    \$\begingroup\$ Also, if this transcript of C1E25, "Crimson Diplomacy" is accurate, then Matt calls Lillith an albino tiefling once in that episode. Someone can find/share the timestamped video link to confirm. ...It's referenced again in C1E91, "Vox Machina Go to Hell": "MATT: You have encountered an albino tiefling before. [...] TALIESIN: Lillith. LAURA: Lillith was an albino? [...] That’s why she was so pale." (Thanks, Critical Role wiki's search function! :P) \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Commented Mar 19, 2020 at 22:23
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    \$\begingroup\$ Additional support on the authenticity of this answer is Kit Buss's twitter twitter.com/AnemoneTea , which includes the line "Drawing comics about horned albino illusionists." \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 7, 2022 at 15:47
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It is not known

I don't know if there is any in-universe explanation in the show but I found something in the Explorer's Guide to Wildemount's section on tieflings (emphasis mine):

Exandrian tieflings have a wide array of skin tones, all of them vibrant and colorful. The most common hue is a deep crimson, but shades of purple, blue, green, and even yellow and pink have been seen throughout the world. It’s not known what causes these variations, as even tiefling parents with the same skin tone can have children of wildly different colors.

So it is not inherited and there is no further explanation where the color originates from. But at least this part states that there are blue-colored tieflings in this world.

There is also a part in the Player's Handbook and Basic Rules about tieflings, but it also just states the different color variations and does not explain where they come from:

Their skin tones cover the full range of human coloration, but also include various shades of red.

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    \$\begingroup\$ This answer is unfortunately incorrect. The reasons for both Jester's and Lillith's colorations are known. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Dec 28, 2022 at 20:29
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Jester was blue because....

Her father, The Gentleman, is a water genasi.

The above relationship is well known, but as the cause for Jester's coloration and resistance to cold damage, Jester concludes that it is the reason for her color in episode 34, "Encroaching Waters":

LAURA: (gasps) My dad is from islands! At least he was. Did you know my dad might be The Gentleman?
ASHLEY: You mean–?
TRAVIS: Yeah, that happened.
SAM: The moist guy.
ASHLEY: The guy that sweats all the time?
TRAVIS: Has all our blood.
LAURA: (whispering) That’s why I’m blue!
ASHLEY: Jester!
LAURA: I know!
LIAM: It’s probable. It has not been verified.

While Liam (in character as Caleb) says it has not been verified, Matt and Laura would later confirm this on Talks Machina discussing the events of episode 34 (timestamped youtube link):

BRIAN: When coming up with this iteration of Jester, you modified some of her tiefling racial traits. Did you intend for these to be tied to jesters father when making Jester [...]?
[...]
LAURA: Before I had decided on Jester, I had thought about making a water genasi character. And, I was thinking of doing a water genasi warlock. Maybe she's got some of that in there and she just doesn't know it or something.
MATT: We were at your house working on the specifics of Jester, and you were like "well is there like a possible crossover between the two bloodlines", and I was like "sure, it would change and adjust things a little bit." Skin tone would make sense, resistance wise, I like to think that it wouldn't be one or the other, it would kind of go in a different direction based on that shift. And so that's why she has cold resistance over fire resistance. [...] And the fact that when you do Hellish Rebuke it's cold damage as opposed to fire damage. So it's all just kind of this unique merging of those two bloodlines.

Lillith had albinism.

Kit Buss, Lillith's player, stated in her answer that Lillith had albinism. This was confirmed on stream by Matthew Mercer in episode 91 of campaign 1, "Vox Machina Go to Hell" at around the 1:50:11 mark (youtube link, episode transcript):

MATT: You have encountered an albino tiefling before.

TALIESIN: We have.

MARISHA: Have we?

LIAM: Smartypants.

TALIESIN: Lillith.

LAURA: Lillith was an albino?

MARISHA: Lillith.

LAURA: That’s why she was so pale.

MARISHA: She was so cute!

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    \$\begingroup\$ Man goes in with a deep cut to get to the truth. Admirable. But, and I know that we'd be retreading ground on other answers, I think it would be wise to have a brief mention of Jester's coloration for this answer as well for completeness sake. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Dec 28, 2022 at 21:32
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    \$\begingroup\$ @GuidingOlive Fair enough, I'll see about getting a more specific quote from the stream for Jester. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Dec 28, 2022 at 21:33
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    \$\begingroup\$ @GuidingOlive Try it now. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Dec 29, 2022 at 1:00
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There is a precedent for blue, and a stretch for white, neither with lore explanations

Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide (p. 118) mentions a variant of tiefling with dark blue-tinted skin:

Rather than having the physical characteristics described in the Player's Handbook, choose 1d4+1 following features: small horns; fangs or sharp teeth; a forked tongue; catlike eyes; six fingers on each hand; goatlike legs; cloven hoofs; a forked tail; leathery or scaly skin; red or dark blue skin; cast no shadow or reflection; exude a smell of brimstone.

But that seems to be the only 5e material that mentions a different skin color for tieflings and no direct connection between their appearance and any in-universe explanation, though some parallels can be drawn between tiefling features and certain D&D creatures.

SCAG explains Jester's blue color, but Lilith's is a bit more complicated. According to the 5e Player's Handbook's section on tieflings (p. 42):

[Tiefling] skin tones cover the full range of human coloration, [...]

Which, in theory, can cover an extreme case of paleness, but a pure white Tiefling has no official precedent I know of. However, SCAG also mentions the Imaskari, a human variant with white, smooth skin, setting a precedent as part of the full range of human coloration.

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    \$\begingroup\$ This answer is unfortunately incorrect. The lore reasons for both Jester's and Lillith's colorations are known. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Dec 28, 2022 at 20:29

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