With respect to the Paladin's ability "Divine Sense" ability in 5th edition, would it be possible to argue that they could sense a Tiefling due to their infernal heritage? Both RAW and RAI points are desired, here.

I imagined that, considering they were Outsiders in 3.5e (the only other one I'm familiar with), they could be argued to be called Fiends...

BUT, as far as I can tell, they're classified as Humanoids. They're certainly not "native to the Lower Planes" like the Monster Manual says. They're just... humanoids that are infused with the essence of a Fiend.

I think it's hard to argue why their human (or whatever) heritage prevents their detection by a Paladin's Divine Sense. The best argument I can think of is that it isn't strong enough of a relation to get noticed, supernaturally. Is there a better argument present in the lore?


First up, the RAW. This is pretty simple: Divine Sense works on celestials, fiends, and undead. Player characters are all humanoids (see page 11 of the PHB), and the Tiefling traits do not say anything about making the character a fiend in any way.

Next, we have the lore. In 3.5e, tieflings were the descendants of actual fiends, whereas in 5e, they are simply a race that has had the essence of Asmodeus infused into their bloodline. So they're a bit less fiendish than they used to be. If we look at the fiend type in the Monster Manual, it says that

Fiends are creatures of wickedness native to the Lower Planes.

Tieflings definitely don't fall under this category lore-wise, because they are a humanoid race native to the Material Plane.

Trying to argue that abilities that work on fiends should work on tieflings is like trying to argue that abilities that work on dragons should work on dragonborn, but what you have to remember is that fiends are the physical embodiment of evil. The differences between tieflings and real fiends are insurmountably greater than the differences between dragonborn and dragons.

The taint in the tiefling bloodline is a devilish one, so if they were fiends, they would be devils. Taking a look at the description of devils in the Monster Manual, we see that

Devils personify tyranny,

and that

Devils live to conquer, enslave, and oppress.

The fact that tieflings are allowed to be any alignment contradicts this, and similarly, tiefling characters are allowed to do things other than conquer, enslave and oppress - they're definitely not devils.

Finally, if another argument is needed, Jeremy Crawford agrees that tieflings are humanoids, not fiends, and can't be sensed by a Paladin's Divine Sense.


By RAW, the Paladin's divine sense gives them the ability to sense celestial, fiend or undead beings (PHB 84, "Divine Sense"). Tieflings are not fiends - they don't have the "fiend" keyword, specifically - and thus are not able to be sensed by the Paladin's ability.



Sources: Jeremy Crawford - Lead designer for the D&D 5e rule books.

I wouldn't. A tiefling is a humanoid, not a fiend, and therefore escapes the notice of Divine Sense. #DnD https://t.co/JXoB4gK7iU

— Jeremy Crawford (@JeremyECrawford) October 1, 2015


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