Welcome to Part 2 of our ongoing crossover with Dungeons & Doodles: Tales from the Tables. While Angie the paladin is busy pissing off the gods, it looks like the rest of her party are relaxing at the King’s Arms. Unfortunately, it would appear that Highlander rules are in effect. When you’re the specialist snowflake, there can be only one!

I’ll admit that this original-character-do-not-steal business is foreign to me. Like we talked about way back when, I tend not to think about my characters in visual terms. When I roll up a PC I’m more concerned about elements like backstory, character voice, and quest hooks. As a words guy, it takes a special effort for me to pause and consider my appearance. That’s partly due to temperament, but I also think this may have something to do with “official art.”

When tieflings were introduced way back in the day, they were a diverse bunch of weirdos. Just check out the original Tiefling Appearance tables from Planescape. They’re pretty wild, with elements like feathers for hair, Etrigan ears, and extremely long noses. But when you imagine a tiefling, I’m betting that the first thing that springs to mind is “horns + tail.” That’s because those big, bold elements make for visually striking silhouettes. In other words, they look good on a book cover. That’s not necessarily wrong, but that particular style of tiefling appears so frequently that the wonderful weirdness of plane-touched PCs gets reduced to “pick your color.”

We all know that chasing the Questing Beast of originality is a fool’s game. This comic is a testatment to tropes, as dungeon bash fantasy is itself built from some pretty basic building blocks. But if you do have the freedom to invent, why would you limit yourself to such a small palette of the fantastic? I want to see more tieflings that spit acid when they get mad. I want more aasimar with the green skin of planetars. I want fire genasi that wonder wistfully what ice cream tastes like (“It’s always soup by the time I bite down.”).

So for today’s discussion question, what do you say we update those old Planescape tables? Pick a race, then invent an idiosyncratic quirk. With any luck, by the end of today’s comic we’ll have more options than “slightly different lavender.” All clear? Then I’ll see you down in the comments!


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