Seen largely as a sequel to Xanathar’s Guide to Everything due to its name and content, Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything brings huge additions to fifth edition D&D through new subclasses, spells, magical items, and rulesets. The addition of new mechanics and its intent as a resource in terms of the lore connected to much of its content makes it worthy of bearing the name of the Witch Queen and it deserves a place in every Dungeon Master’s library. This sourcebook brings together original content, content previously only explored in the Unearthed Arcana, and features and rules from Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide, Guildmaster’s Guide to Ravnica, Eberron: Rising from the Last War, and Mythic Odysseys of Theros, offering them in one ruleset rather than relegating them to single settings.
The new character customization options in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything are crafted to fit within the “rules as written” intent of fifth edition, and they are well balanced against mechanics and established rules and progression of characters. Rather than adding new races or subraces, the option to now customize an origin is the equivalent of opening up Variant Human to all races. New races to choose from are always good additions, but adding all the racial options from other sourcebooks would have been too much to incorporate. Instead, this new feature gives players the option to play a race and a class that don’t necessarily meld well together within the constraints of traditional racial features and traits. This option brings more variety and latitude, allowing outliers to be viable and characters whose traits are not fully defined by their race. Beyond that, the customization options for a player to change a skill proficiency or even switch their subclass are good additions and integrated well. They balanced the timing and frequency for those changes, as well as provided suggestions for making them more significant, such as requiring time, training, and investing resources into the process. It feels like a good optional rule to provide, and the ways they were balanced fit well.
In terms of classes and subclasses, Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything introduces the Artificer class, which had previously only been published in Eberron sourcebooks, along with four subclasses, one of which is brand new. Beyond that, there are 26 subclasses in the book, some previously seen in other campaign sourcebooks, such as the Bladesinger which has seen a rework since its introduction in Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide. In addition to just new subclass options, each class receives their own Optional Features. These vary from class to class, and can replace, augment, or be an addition to the options found in the Player’s Handbook. Spellcasters get expanded spell lists. Martial classes receive new fighting styles to choose from. Warlocks get additional invocations to choose from, and so on. These are there to provide the opportunity to make classes feel more dynamic, to fit different roles, or to tailor them to different adventures or campaigns.
Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything also brings 15 new feats, many of which build upon the early iterations of the Unearthed Arcana feats, replacing the weapon and skill feats. The published feats are simpler and less varied, as the UA feats tried to be highly specialized, but are nonetheless powerful offerings in the listings of feats.
Similar to Renown and Faction mechanics first seen in the Dungeon Master’s Guide and later wonderfully put into practice in Waterdeep: Dragon Heist, Group Patrons can be powerful tools introduced in the beginning of an adventure, or something that developed over the course of the story. This section provides usable mechanics and perks for an adventuring party (or individuals) that find themselves allied with an entity or individual of influence and power. Mechanics include looking at group assistance, perks of having a particular patron, and the assignments that might accompany such a partnership. Patrons can take many forms, and examples such as military forces, crime syndicates, religious orders, and more are explored in this section, both generally and specifically.
Primary in this section is the additional spells for use by Dungeon Masters and players alike. Some spells are thematic, such as those tied to Tasha herself (three new spells in this book are named after the Witch Queen), while there is a heavy emphasis on conjuration spells, and new mechanics for how those work and scale with difficulty. Almost more importantly, this section holds perhaps the single most significant piece of lore in fifth edition, and I think it is largely overlooked. The introduction of the dream of the blue veil spell, and its accompanying subtext and lore, is perhaps the first official (published) reference to the existence of multiple Material Planes existing at the same time. The multiverse is a cornerstone of Dungeons and Dragons, going all the way back to great mages transporting to Ed Greenwood’s living room, but with the inclusion of this spell and the subtext provided, there are mechanics in place for ordinary characters to travel between Material Planes of existence.
Magic items make up the other half of this section, with items of all rarities, including artifacts. They are listed by rarity in the beginning, which makes referencing the nearly fifty items much easier. Several of the new items expand powerful items to multiple classes that previously had none, such as a +1 (and above) spellbooks for wizards that affect both spell attacks and saving throws, amulets for clerics and paladins, a drum for bards, and more. Others are brand new types of magic items, such as spellbooks with spells already inscribed, or magical tattoos that offer differing benefits or abilities. The items in this section are thematically and mechanically sound offerings to the game, and one of the most diverse offerings of magic items in a sourcebook.
Dungeon Master’s Tools
The first resource offered to Dungeon Masters is how to run a Session 0 prior to starting an adventure, and creating expectations for the game. This is massively important for both the Dungeon Master and the players, and this section helps give suggestions for creating an efficient Session 0, as well as providing resources for making a welcoming environment for the game.
The mechanics tools offered in Tasha’s Guide to Everything take a similar track as Xanathar’s Guide to Everything did, though with a different focus. Xanathar’s Guide to Everything focused on traps, additional rules for tools and skill proficiencies, random encounters and downtime. Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything provided inspiration and rules for parlaying with monsters to make encounters feel more dynamic, offerings of supernatural regions, and magical phenomena, which work well regardless of whether the phenomena is a result of a high magic setting, supernatural occurrence, or something else entirely. There are new rules for natural hazards, which supplement those of the Dungeon Master’s Guide very well. The section concludes by addressing puzzles, providing mechanics for several puzzles of their design, as well as the inspiration for creating your own.
Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything is one of the most beneficial resources for Dungeon Masters published by Wizards of the Coast in the last couple years, and depending on the style of campaign you are running, perhaps the most beneficial. It augments information from other sourcebooks and incorporates content previously bound to single settings while remaining true to its theme and sphere of focus. The character creation options and subclasses are great additions, balanced and diverse in their offerings along with the alternate class features. Perhaps one of the greatest strengths of additional resources published for fifth edition Dungeons and Dragons is that all the rules and mechanics are additions, not drastic reworks, contradictions, or replacements, and they can be used to any extent or not at all. As long as the game is played in a way that keeps everyone at the table welcome and valued, there is no wrong way to play.
Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything is published by Wizards of the Coast.
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