Double Bubble, Toil & Dragons: Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything D&D Sourcebook in Review
At its core, D&D’s Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything sourcebook is about customization and about your table making the game their own. Sure, there have been “house rules” considerations baked into the game all along, but what Tasha’s does well is provide the grains of sand around which an imaginative pearl of a game can grow. Or at the very least, if you’re a rules lawyer, it gives you an exact page to point to and say, “Yes-huh, I can do it—it says so right here.” Bear in mind that from the very first page, the book makes clear that all the rules and additional info it presents are entirely optional, and your group can pick and choose the best, the weirdest, or just throw it all into the pot.
One of the simplest examples of customization is the new racial-trait option. Traditionally, when a player picks a character race, they’re bound to a specific set of bonuses—but no more. Tasha (of the titular cauldron) says that you can apply those to whatever abilities you want, though you can’t stack them. So, for those of you who’ve been waiting to play that Half-orc Bard but couldn’t stand to give up that sweet, sweet Tiefling +2 to CHA, now is your time. Drop that old STR bonus into your Charisma and switch the +1 CON into your dexterity, and get lootin’. You can even swap that proficiency in Intimidation for one in Performance!
Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything does far more than give a little license to character creation, though. In a move that’s sure to be a headache for DMs everywhere, players can now effectively respec. Yes, with as much or as little effort as the DM wants to make you go through, you now have the option of switching your subclass when you would gain a new skill in your current one. This is fully retroactive and replaces all of your old subclass skills with the replacement ones.
“Bear in mind that from the very first page, the book makes clear that all the rules and additional info it presents are entirely optional.”
For existing campaigns, that trouble to change your subclass may be totally worth it, though, because Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything brings a lot more to your table, namely a whole heap of new subclasses. Each primary class—including the improved Artificer class, which has been updated since its original release in Eberron: Rising from the Last War—has two to three new subclasses. With Tasha’s aim toward customization, these classes give players a depth and ability to really let their fandoms bleed into the Forgotten Realms and beyond.
You wanna be Iron Man? Great. Artificer Armorer. You wanna roll up a Jedi? Awesome. Psi Warrior Fighter. Hankering to play Hermione Granger? Order of Scribes Wizard. Lusting to be Legolas? Any Ranger, except thanks to the Unearthed Arcana that the D&D team included, it doesn’t suck now, and you can do more than pet your tiger/dire wolf/domesticated kobold while you shoot arrows. See, even if a player doesn’t want to change to one of the new subclasses (of which there are 30!), Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything throws every class a sprinkling of new (still optional) class features.
A lot of these are additional class spells, fighting styles or alternatives and expansions on existing features.
“You wanna be Iron Man? Great. Artificer Armorer. You wanna roll up a Jedi? Awesome.”
Though it’s an unassuming, slim manual that clocks in under 200 pages, Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything has a lot to offer both players and Dungeon Masters alike. The section on running a single-player game is notably useful if you’re running a game with your one friend who just got their negative COVID results back, and the section also includes a solid set of guidelines for playing a sidekick to make your little, ’rona-free group feel bigger. But before then, it’s probably worth diving into the robust chapter on Patrons so you can set up a recurring quest-giver (or double-crossing villain?) and then sauntering over to the section on puzzles so that your dungeon will be more than a simple skeleton bash.
Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything is available now at your friendly local game store in both the standard and alternate cover editions. While you’re there, check out the DM’s Screen Wilderness Kit. It’s got a lot of quick-reference info so you don’t have to go digging through your book mid-game to remember, say, how much AC bonus three-quarter cover gives (+5, FYI), plus it’s got a bunch of cool markable handouts and wilderness chase rules. It’ll be indispensable.