Introduction

Thanks to the variants presented in Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide and the subraces presented in Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes, the Tiefling has the longest list of subrace options of any published race, totaling an impressive 14 individual subraces and variants. These options make tieflings diverse, flexible, and viable in an impressively large number of builds. However, because the subraces all shuffle around the Tieflings ability increases and spellcasting, it can often feel like they’re all the same race with a pallet swap rather than subraces which differ in theme and personality.

Regardless of your choice of variant or subrace, Tiefling is a very strong race option. Their ability score increases are good, they have resistance to one of the most common types of non-weapon damage, and their innate spellcasting offers a variety of useful options depending on your subrace. If you use the custom origin rules, things get even better because you can mix and match your innate spellcasting to suit your build.

Table of Contents

Disclaimer

RPGBOT uses the color coding scheme which has become common among Pathfinder build handbooks, which is simple to understand and easy to read at a glance.

  • Red: Bad, useless options, or options which are extremely situational. Nearly never useful.
  • Orange: OK options, or useful options that only apply in rare circumstances. Useful sometimes.
  • Green: Good options. Useful often.
  • Blue: Fantastic options, often essential to the function of your character. Useful very frequently.

I will not include 3rd-party content, including content from DMs Guild, even if it is my own, because I can’t assume that your game will allow 3rd-party content or homebrew. I also won’t cover Unearthed Arcana content because it’s not finalized, and I can’t guarantee that it will be available to you in your games.

The advice offered below is based on the current State of the Character Optimization Meta as of when the article was last updated. Keep in mind that the state of the meta periodically changes as new source materials are released and this article will be updating accordingly as time allows.

RPGBOT is unofficial Fan Content permitted under the Fan Content Policy. Not approved/endorsed by Wizards. Portions of the materials used are property of Wizards of the Coast. ©Wizards of the Coast LLC.

Variants and Subraces

Tieflings are the only race with both variants and subraces. The mechanics were essentially “retconned” to make the Player’s Handbook Tiefling into a subrace.

The interactions of variants and subraces for Tieflings can be confusing. The Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide states that the Feral variant is compatible with the other published variants, and Jeremy Crawford has clarified that you can use any of the variants with DM permission, so you could use a variant alongside a subrace if your DM allowed it. Of course, if you’re using the custom origin rules in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything, the Feral variant has no effect.

Personally, I think that the variants presented in Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide should be treated like subraces, and therefore shouldn’t be combined with other Tiefling subrace options, including those contained in Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes. Even combining the Feral variant with other variants seems like a complicated and problematic option.

While that’s wonderful from a character optimization perspective, it also means that you can cobble together a Tiefling for essentially any build which really defeats the purpose of having numerous, diverse races. If building a Tiefling allows three individual choices within the race (feral or regular, subrace, and potentially another variant), the Tiefling quickly becomes one of the most powerful races without using the custom origin rules.

The custom origin rules in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything level the playing field in a lot of ways, so the Tiefling is no longer an easy build choice in nearly every class by combining some set of subraces/variants. Now that every race gets flexible ability score increases, the Feral variant is totally irrelevant. You can now also pick any tiefling subrace exclusively for its spell selection, which offers many exciting optimization options. The winged variant becomes a go-to option for any build that can’t already fly easily, supplanting the aarakocra as the best option for racial flight.

Tiefling Classes (Customizable Origins)

This section assumes that you’re using the option “Customizing Your Origin” rules presented in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything. If you’re not using those rules, scroll down to the next section.

Artificer

Because the innate spellcasting is Charisma-based, you want to avoid subraces with spells which allow saving throws. Glasya is great for a sneaky artificer, Levistus is good for front-line builds, and Mammon has some utility options (not amazing ones) which fit the theme of the Artificer. The winged variant is an easy option for any ranged build.

Barbarian

Spellcasting is hard for the Barbarian, so innate spellcasting is difficult. Your best bet is the winged variant, which conveniently allows you to fly in medium armor.

Bard

With Charisma-based spellcasting, basically any tiefling subrace works for the Bard. You might also consider the Winged variant if you can’t find innate spells that appeal to you.

Cleric

Because the innate spellcasting is Charisma-based, you want to avoid subraces with spells which allow saving throws. Glasya is great for a trickery cleric and Mammon offers some vaguely boring wizard-like utility options that feel at home on an arcana cleric. Since most clerics are in medium armor, the winged variant is a great choice. Stay out of reach, turn on Spirit Guardians, and chase your enemies until they run out of hit points.

Druid

Because the innate spellcasting is Charisma-based, you want to avoid subraces with spells which allow saving throws. Glasya and the winged variant are good go-to options.

Fighter

For ranged builds, the winged variant is an easy go-to options. Charisma-based innate spellcasting is hard to work into a fighter build, so glasya and levistus are you best options.

Monk

Glasya tiefling is basically your only good option, but it is a very good option.

Paladin

The Tiefling’s best martial option. Building around Blessed Warrior is great if you really want to lean into the innate spellcasting, but the Zariel Tiefling gets smite spells, so a classic Strength or Dexterity-based build are still excellent choices.

Ranger

For ranged builds, the winged variant is an easy go-to options. Charisma-based innate spellcasting is hard to work into a ranger build, so glasya and levistus are you best options.

Rogue

Glasya gets you early access to spells that feel at home on the Arcane Trickster. Levistus gets you access to Darkness, so that’s an option, too. As always, the winged variant is a solid choice for ranged builds.

Sorcerer

Nearly any subrace will work, but avoid Zariel for its emphasis on smiting things with weapons.

Warlock

Literally any version of the tiefling works as a warlock. Even Zarial works for hexblades.

Wizard

The innate spellcasting is Charisma-based, so your best options are glasya, mammon, and the winged variant.

Tiefling Classes (Default Rules)

Artificer

An Intelligence increase is a great start, and with a long list of variants and subraces you have a lot of room for fun customization. Look for a subrace that offers innate spells that suit your play style, but remember that your innate spellcasting is still Charisma-based so avoid spells which allow saving throws.

Barbarian

Zariel Tiefling is the closest you’ll get to a good option for a Tiefling barbarian, but even that isn’t a great option. You can’t cast spells (including racial innate spellcasting) while raging, so you give up one of the Tiefling’s most interest racial traits while raging.

Bard

Many Tiefling usbraces offer Charisma increases, and a number of the subraces and variants have a lot to offer the Bard. The Tiefling’s innate spellcasting is also Charisma-based, which synergizes well with the Bard.

Cleric

The only Tiefling option with a Wisdom increase is the Fierna Tiefling. The Fierna Tiefling’s spellcasting is all charm spells, so this could be a good option for a Tiefling planning to be their party’s Face, but remember that the innate spellcasting is Charisma-based, so the save DC won’t match that of your cleric spells.

Druid

All of the same issues as the Cleric, but since Druids usually dump Charisma the Fierna Tiefling might not be enough to make the Druid a passable option.

Fighter

Darkvision and Fire Resistance are both great assets for the Fighter, and depending on your choice of subrace your racial spellcasting can offer a variety of useful options.

Your fighter subclass options will vary depending on your subrace, so here are some suggestions for the Tiefling subraces which work best as fighters:

  • Glasya: Consider a Dexterity-based Purple Dragon Knight with an emphasis on stealth. A good fit in a party full of sneaky characters like rogues, trickery clerics, and illusionists.
  • Zariel: An excellent option for a front-line Purple Dragon Knight. The spells include smite spells from the Paladin spell list, offering some great offensive options.
  • Variant: Feral: The only way to play a Tiefling without a Charisma increase, the Feral variant is the best option for any archetype except Purple Dragon Knight. Eldritch Knight is an obvious choice, but don’t feel locked into it solely because you have a +1 Intelligence increase, and remember that the innate spellcasting is still Charisma-based.
  • Variant: Winged: The ability increases won’t be helpful unless you combine this with Feral, but permanent nonmagical flight is a massive tactical advantage. Just keep in mind that the wings don’t work in heavy armor, so you’ll want to build around Dexterity.

Monk

Dispater Tiefling and Glasya Tiefling are both options because they provide relevant ability increases, but I think the Feral variant is your best bet. Glasya can be very sneaky and tricky thanks to their free spells, but the vanilla tiefling spells may be a better complement to the monk’s combat abilities, offering a mix of magical utility and damage that monks can’t replicate on their own.

Paladin

If you want to play a front-line tank, Paladin is the Tiefling’s go-to option, beating out Fighter because the Tiefling’s ability increases work so nicely for the Paladin. Darkvision is great for facing enemies in the dark where they live, and fire resistance adds to the Paladin’s already fantastic durability. The Tiefling’s innate spellcasting is also Charisma-based, which works very well for the Paladin.

Many Tiefling variants work very well for the Paladin, so you have plenty of options to make your Tiefling Paladin unique. Charisma increases are obviously fantastic, but you likely also want a Strength or Dexterity increase, but if you use the Blessed Warrior fighting style, and you can build your palading around Charisma and barely concern yourself with Strength or Dexterity. You should also consider how your subrace’s spells will contribute to your overall build. Here are some suggestions based on the Tiefling subraces which work best for the Paladin.

  • Dispater: The ability scores line up nicely for a Dexterity-based Paladin, and the spells make for an unconventional character. Disguises and the ability to detect thoughts may help you to locate and defeat enemies by more subtle means than a typical paladin.
  • Glasya: The ability scores line up nicely for a Dexterity-based Paladin, but the spells don’t cater to your typical Paladin playstyle. This could be a fun option for a tricky Oathbreaker Paladin.
  • Levistus: Despite the lack of a Strength or Dexterity increase, Levistus Tiefling is a great option for its exceptional durability, and with Blessed Warrior the lack of a Strength/Dexterity increase isn’t a problem. A Constitution increase is obviously helpful, and you also get Armor of Agathys, which is an excellent defensive option.
  • Zariel: This is your go-to option for Tiefling Paladin. The ability scores are perfect, and the racial spells include smite spells from the Paladin spell list to complement the Paladin’s limited spell slots.
  • Variant: Winged: Permanent nonmagical flight is a massive tactical advantage. Stay aloft and cast Sacred Flame.

Ranger

The vanilla Tiefling’s ability scores are terrible for a Ranger, but subraces and variants offer some better options. If you want a melee ranger, I recommend the feral variant. If you want an archer, I recommend the Glasya subrace.

  • DispaterMToF: Interesting and potentially viable, but Charisma does almost nothing for the Ranger and the innate spellcasting doesn’t directly complement the ranger’s skillset.
  • GlasyaMToF: Legacy of Malbolge provides some useful stealth options not typically available to rangers.
  • Variant: FeralSCAG: Much better than the Vanilla Tiefling, but the Intelligence bonus is till wasted.

Rogue

Darkvision and the free spells offer some interesting options, especially with the numerous Tiefling subraces. Depending on your subclass and whether or not you want to be a Face you’ll find some subraces more appealing than others.

  • DispaterMToF: Good ability spread, and interesting spell options. This is a great option in a campaign with a lot of intrigue, espionage, and social interaction.
  • GlasyaMToF: Ideal for tiefling rogues. Legacy of Malbolge offers useful spell options normally only available to arcane tricksters.
  • Variant: FeralSCAG: Perfect for an Arcane Trickster.
  • Variant: Devil’s TongueSCAG: Tempting if you are building a Face with decent Charisma, but better as a Bard.
  • Variant: HellfireSCAG: If you’re casting Burning Hands then you’re not using Sneak Attack.
  • Variant: VanillaPHB: The ability scores don’t work as well as Feral, but not bad for a Face.
  • Variant: WingedSCAG: On a Rogue I would absolutely take flight over the free spells.

Sorcerer

Tieflings get a Charisma increase, which makes them a good option for Sorcerer on its own. Fire resistance is always welcome, and your choice of subrace allows you to customize your racial spellcasting to suit your needs.

  • AsmodeusPHB/MToF: A perfectly fine option, but the Intelligence is wasted and you can find better spells from Devil’s Tongue.
  • BaalzebulMToF: The Intelligence is wasted, but access to Thaumaturgy could be nice.
  • DispaterMToF: Dexterity means better AC, and the spells are great if you want to be sneaky or tricky.
  • FiernaMToF: The Wisdom is largely wasted, but the spells are great for a Face.
  • GlasyaMToF: Dexterity means better AC, and the spells are great if you want to be sneaky or tricky.
  • LevistusMToF: Constitution means more hit points, and the spells offer a nice mix of defensive, offensive, and utility options.
  • MammonMToF: The Intelligence is wasted, and the leveled spells are highly situational.
  • MephistophelesMToF: The Intelligence is wasted, and sorcerers should rarely be in melee combat enough to use Flame Blade.
  • ZarielMToF: Way too melee-centric.
  • Variant: FeralSCAG: Nothing useful for the Sorcerer.
  • Variant: Devil’s TongueSCAG: The replacement spells are absolutely better than the normal Tiefling spells.
  • Variant: HellfireSCAG: Burning Hands is probably worse than Hellish Rebuke for most Sorcerers.
  • Variant: WingedSCAG: Flight is a massive advantage, especially without requiring Concentration.

Warlock

Tiefling warlocks work well for all the same reasons that tiefling sorcerers do.

  • AsmodeusPHB/MToF: A perfectly fine option, but the Intelligence is wasted and you can find better spells from other subraces.
  • BaalzebulMToF: The Intelligence is wasted, but access to Thaumaturgy could be nice.
  • DispaterMToF: Dexterity means better AC, and the spells are great if you want to be sneaky or tricky.
  • FiernaMToF: The Wisdom is largely wasted, but the spells are great for a Face.
  • GlasyaMToF: Dexterity means better AC, and the spells are great if you want to be sneaky or tricky.
  • LevistusMToF: Constitution means more hit points, and the spells offer a nice mix of defensive, offensive, and utility options.
  • MammonMToF: The Intelligence is wasted, and the leveled spells are highly situational.
  • MephistophelesMToF: Flame Blade is tempting for blade pact warlocks, but Zariel is still a better option.
  • ZarielMToF: Strength is wasted, but that doesn’t matter much. The big draw is the smite spells.
  • Variant: FeralSCAG: Dexterity is normally fine for a melee build, but for Warlocks you’ll be using your Charisma thanks to Hexblade.
  • Variant: Devil’s TongueSCAG: Arguably better spell options for a Warlock.
  • Variant: HellfireSCAG: Burning Hands is about as good for the Warlock as Hellish Rebuke, but doesn’t require you to be hit to use it.
  • Variant: WingedSCAG: Flight is fantastic, especially for a class so dependent on ranged combat.

Wizard

+1 Intelligence makes Wizard an option, but if you’re going for an arcane spellcaster you’ll do better with either Warlock or Wizard since they’re Charisma-based spellcasters and will benefit more from the Tiefling’s Innate Spellcasting. Of course, if you’re going for the Winged variant that doesn’t really matter.

  • AsmodeusPHB/MToF: The ability scores don’t work as well for a Wizard as a race with a +2 Intelligence bonus, and as nice as the free spells are they’re also on the Wizard spell list already.
  • BaalzebulMToF: Intelligence and access to Thaumaturgy.
  • MammonMToF: Bonus intelligence, but the spells are really situational.
  • MephistophelesMToF: Bonus intelligence, but using Flame Blade is dangerous for a wizard.
  • Variant: FeralSCAG: Marginally better because Wizards get more from Dexterity than from Charisma.
  • Variant: Devil’s TongueSCAG: Changing the spells doesn’t really improve the Tiefling for Wizards.
  • Variant: HellfireSCAG: Burning Hands works better for Wizards than Hellish Rebuke.
  • Variant: WingedSCAG: Permanent flight without concentration. You don’t need the free racial spells on a Wizard, so this is a great trade. If you can combine this with Feral, that’s basically the perfect choice.

Feats

Flames of PhlegethosXGtE

This works best for full spellcasters like Sorcerer and Wizard, but other spellcasters might still be interested. The ability score increase caters to any arcane spellcaster.

Rerolling 1’s on damage rolls is one of those things that sounds really nice, and it’s emotionally reassuring, but the actual math isn’t great. This adds just 0.33 damage per die on average. It will feel nice if you emphasize fire damage very heavily, but it’s not very effective.

The final portion of the feat works best for tiefling spellcasters who spend a lot of time in melee, such as an eldritch knight fighter. Cast Green-Flame Blade and dare enemies to retaliate. Of course, it’s only 1d4 damage and it doesn’t scale, so it’s not much of a deterrent.

Infernal ConstitutionXGtE

Resistance to two more types of damage, and +1 Consitution. This is feat for front-line characters who draw a lot of fire, but unless you’re tanking don’t bother with this.