As you may (or may not) know, a Tiefling has often a "Virtue" name that embodies the Tiefling willingness to find a place in the world.

Among those "Virtue" names the following are suggested in the 5e PHB (Tiefling Names section in the Tiefling race description - p. 43): Art, Chant, Despair, Fear, Excellence and Carrion.

Since one player of our party has a Tiefling named Carrion and since I am not a native english speaker, I didn't know what Carrion means or calls for. After checking it out, it seems that Carrion "refers to the carcass of a dead animal." (Wikipedia).

I was quite stunned, because I don't see how it embodies any idea, virtue or ideal. Does someone has an explanation (that could be phylosophical), or another definition of the word "carrion"?


2 Answers 2


OK so let's be honest - these "Virtue Names" are basically like choosing Smurf names, and tieflings are way more emo than Smurfs. So listed "Virtues" include normal positive things we'd normally think of as virtues, but also things we wouldn't necessarily pick for a brainstormed list of virtues IRL, like torment, weary, creed, and despair. And, as you noticed, "carrion."

In English a "carrion bird", for example, is shorthand for a "carrion-eating bird", not a dead rotting bird. So you might interpret Carrion as Carrion[-eating]. Though if you're emo enough, both are fine interpretations as a tiefling name. "Eating carrion" can be seen as a virtue in terms of cleaning up the world, not preying on the living, recycling needed things back into the ecosystem, etc. "Being carrion" can be seen as mortification of the flesh, not valuing your lives above others, being emotionless/needless, etc. Or it might be as simple as "I like to KILL and leave bodies lying around." Don't be literal, be artistic and channel the impression the name gives you, that's enough.

But in general these are left to the PC to get all philosophical about, there's no "right interpretation." In reality it's a list of Emo Smurf names to pick from (and to let you know you can pick pretty much anything as a Virtue Name) because you think it sounds cool for a devil person.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I was going to say my next character is going to be named Tieflette. \$\endgroup\$
    – chif-ii
    Commented Jan 10, 2017 at 15:08

It appears that an inspiration for Tiefling Virtue names is the Puritan practice of abandoning traditional Germanic (eg. Alfred, Abigail) or Romance (eg. Anthony, Julia) names in favor of more literal or abstract inventions. Some of these are more positive, like Prudence or Makepeace. Others represent the extreme humility or even abasement that some Puritans felt was due by sinful mortals. Some notable examples of this listed in Joseph Norwood's article "A Boy Named Humiliation: Some Wacky, Cruel, and Bizarre Puritan Names" include Fly-fornication, Anger, and Forsaken.

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    Commented Dec 11, 2023 at 0:09

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