The rules for Dungeons & Dragons are receiving some of the biggest shake-ups yet, as the upcoming Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything will give players more options than ever for creating characters.
Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything is the latest rulebook for D&D. The titular Tasha is a powerful sorceress from the Greyhawk setting, who comments on the various aspects of the book. Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything will include new options for character races, class features, subclasses, spells, magic items, and much more.
Screen Rant recently spoke to Jeremy Crawford, one of the Lead Rules Designers of the current edition of D&D about the content in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything, and how it adds new options for DMs and players alike.
We’re here to talk about Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything, which is a new rulebook for D&D that is available today. I think it’s fair to say that Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything adds more new content to the game than any other book so far. Could you give us a brief overview of some of the new things that DMs and players can expect to see in the book?
Tasha’s Cauldron provides new additions for every part of the game. Dungeon Masters will be able to come to this book and find new magic items. new rules for NPCs in the form of sidekicks, guidance on creating different supernatural regions, puzzles that can be dropped into any campaign, among several other new options. Over on the player’s side of the DM screen, they can find new class features for every class in the game, new subclasses for every class in the game, new feats, new spells, new ways to customize their characters origin, new magic tattoos that their character might have imprinted upon themselves, and also those magic items I mentioned that the DM might be handing out. The player’s will be the beneficiaries of said magic items.
One of the biggest changes in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything is the new rules for crafting a character’s ability scores through racial modifiers. To what extent can players change the existing races from the Player’s Handbook?
Using the origin customization option in the book, you can take any ability score increase in any race in the game and move it to a different ability score, giving you tremendous flexibility to create the character you want to create. The idea here is adventurers are unique, they are special, and those ability score increases that have traditionally been included within D&D’s various playable races have really been there to enforce classic archetypes in the game. But the thing is, adventurers almost always go against the mold and we wanted to make sure that people could pair whatever class they wanted with whatever race they wanted, and not feel bound by the ability score increase that was there. Because even those increases were a positive. If that increase didn’t happen to align with the class that the person wanted to play, it could lead to some feel bad moments. We wanted to open things up and let people have even more liberty to create the characters they want to play.
Volo’s Guide To Monsters introduced playable races with different types of movement, like aquatic characters that could swim and flying characters who could fly. Are these included as part of custom lineages? Could you make these kinds of characters?
So, you’re referring now to the custom lineage option, which is separate from the origin customization. The custom lineage option allows you to forego choosing any race in the game and instead create a character whose lineage might be mysterious, it might have magical origins. Whatever the story you come up with for this lineage, we’ve given you a package of options that you can use to gather together different traits, to represent who your character is. Now, some of the more dramatic abilities that some of the D&D races have, especially those that rely on certain anatomy, like wings – you mentioned being able to fly like the aarakocra – those are not included inside this custom lineage option. Really, our thinking is, if you really want to play a character like an aarakocra, your best choice is to choose aarakocra, and then use the origin customization option that’s right here also in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything to then customize the aarakocra. People who are familiar with the human variant in the Player’s Handbook will recognize the skeletal structure of the custom lineage option, because it’s very similar to the variant human, in that you have pretty wide open customization options. You get to choose a feat, you get to choose these different elements. You get to choose if your character has darkvision, or instead, has a particular skill proficiency. That sort of thing.
Would these new rules make it easier to create your own races?
These rules definitely highlight for you which parts of the existing races we view as highly flexible. What we’re doing with this origin customization option is we reveal to you, the reader, under the hood, that we’ve always considered things like the ability score increase, your skill proficiencies – part of the customization is if your race gives you a particular skill proficiency or weapon proficiency or armor proficiency, that you can take that and apply it to certain other things defined in the rules. What we’re revealing under the hood is that these have always been, for us, things that are flexible, they’re not a core part of a particular people’s identity. What we consider to be core to a particular people’s identity is things like the Dragonborn’s breath weapon. Which is a part of their physicality. The fact that dragonborn might have gotten a bonus to a particular ability score, that for us is not core, to what it means to be a dragonborn. I think now seeing that information in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything will be easier for homebrewers to design new playable races, and then also they could use the custom lineage option as the skeleton for new races that they create.
Was there a concern with giving players so many customization options that they’d use them to try and min/max their characters? Could the custom options be used as an excuse for power gaming?
Not really. We weren’t that concerned about it. We certainly know that people will do it. A number of us on staff ourselves love to min/max things when we play the game. We are always pondering min/max potential when we design something, but in this case, it wasn’t something that gave us concern, even though we know that people will do it, and here’s why. Even though, if you don’t use these customization options, certain playable races start out of the gate with a leg up in certain ability scores. A particular race might start with +2 in Wisdom. What’s easy to forget though is even though certain races start with a leg-up if you use the rules in the Player’s Handbook, everyone ultimately ends up in the same destination, because in D&D, there’s an ability score maximum that everyone can reach and everyone in a particular class gets the same ability score increases. It’s sort of like a journey where all of the characters can end up in the same destination. It’s really just a question of how quickly they get there. So for us, there’s always potential for certain builds to be more powerful at the beginning of the game, but the higher the character’s levels get, they more and more their ability scores converge. Until eventually people just hit the ability score maximum, which is 20, and then they’re forced to start increasing other ability scores.
Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything is adding new subclasses to the game. How many will be featured in the book?
There are twenty-two brand new subclasses, and we also include in this book a number of subclasses that have appeared over the years in other books and we compile those in with the twenty-two brand new ones.
Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything is also featuring new features for the existing classes. Are these for every ability from level 1-20 or are there just a few options for class?
It’s a handful of options for each class and the options we provide are largely targeted at providing alternates for features that people over the years have told us “Hey, we really wish this could have been better”. For instance, the Ranger class gets a number of new features that allows the Ranger player to replace some of the features in the Player’s Handbook with some of the new features in this book, and then we also have options here, if you choose the option, it’s simply a brand new feature, where you get some new ability, that either addresses a weakness we viewed in the class or is just a little bit of fun. As we were looking at each of the classes, we wanted to make sure we were either addressing a weak spot in the class, giving you fun, and preferably both at the same time.
Will the psionic classes from Unearthed Arcana appear in the book?
So, we do have the Psi Warrior (that’s a Fighter subsclass), we have the Soulknife Rogue, the Aberrant Mind Sorcerer, and we also have a few other subclasses in the book, that while they don’t explicitly present themselves as psionic, they definitely have heavy psionic themes. There are subclasses like the Way of the Astral Self for the Monk, and even the College of the Scribe, the new Wizard subclass, there is a very faint hint of psionic ability. This was something we did intentionally, when we started on this book. We knew there was desire in the community for some more psionically-themed options, and so said, “Ok, how can we integrate that into this book.” We presented things in Unearthed Arcana, got feedback, and now people get to see the results in the final product.
How will psionics work? Are they treated like regular spells and abilities or do they have their own separate system, like they did in the older editions of D&D?
We ended up going with a bespoke approach for each subclass, although, the Psi Warrior and the Soulknife do share a common psionic energy die, mechanic. They have a die that represents their psionic energy that they get to roll to add to certain things that they do to boost those efforts with their psionic power. In contrast, the Aberrant Mind uses psionics to wield magic and so the Aberrant Mind is interacting with the game’s spells, but with a sort of psionic overlay and psionic twists. We decided that we didn’t want to take a one-size-fits all approach, but again, you’ll definitely see some commonality between how the Psi Warrior and how the Soul Knife functions. Neither of which relies on spells for delivering their psionic power. It’s much more for them about rolling that psionic energy die and discovering how well they are able to harness the power of the mind to boost their attacks and some of their other abilities.
Yeah, I was having nightmares of the old psionic rules from the old editions and I was thinking “Thank god that they’re just streamlined now.”
Yeah, we experimented with potentially going with a whole new parallel system but the playtest feedback that we received over the past six years continuously steers us away from that. We have not seen a desire in the broader D&D community for such an effort. Even though we know there are some passionate fans of older editions approaches to psionics, but even one of the issues there is, each of the previous editions actually approached that psionics system in a different way. So there’s not even a common system we could have gone back to, which is why we decided to, we’re going to go in a direction that feels natural for the current edition of the game. That also will, we hope be exciting for people who in the past, might have just walked on by psionics. We’re hoping now someone might see how cool the Psi Warrior is, for example, and say “I just want to give this a try because it looks like a fun subclass” and it not be about “Is it a new subsystem?” It’s just… “I want to play a Fighter who has mind powers.”
Two of the elements in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything actually debuted in a different book. The Artificer class and group patrons first appeared in the Eberron campaign setting book. Now, Eberron is quite different from regular D&D settings because it has more advanced technology. How have the Artificer and group patrons been adapted for the other D&D settings?
So the Artificer appears in this book now without its Eberron specific framing. In Eberron: Rising from the Last War, where the Artificer first appeared, we put into the class description a number of Eberron-specific world details. Also, the list of magic items that the Artificer could create included a number of things that were technological in theme and that appeared in that book. So, adapting the class for Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything, we made its story text more applicable to the whole D&D multiverse. We also modified the magic item list, those things that the Artificer can easily create so that it too was more broadly applicable to the whole D&D multiverse. And in the process, we also introduced a new Artificer subclass, the Armorer, which is the Artificer who can clad themselves in this magical armor that’s crackling with supernatural energy, and they can modify that armor to accomplish various extraordinary feats.
The group patrons in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything, we have modified so rather than being deep dives into different parts of Eberron lore, because each of the group patrons in the Eberron book was very much about the newspapers in Eberron, the universities there, etc. Here, instead, we have taken the notion of group patrons and generalized it so, here you’ll find patrons that could appear in any D&D world. A sovereign, an academic institution, a military, a criminal syndicate, that kind of thing. And we also provide a number of perks that your characters can get from those group patrons, that are appropriate for any D&D world. There is also a new cooperation option that appears in this book that did not appear in Eberron. This new option gives the ability to a group that adopts a group patron, to each day, each member of the group to give Advantage to another member of the group when they make a particular roll. This is representing the heightened level of cooperation that characters have because of the unity brought to them by having this patron.
Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything is fleshing out the rules for sidekicks, which are quasi-characters that can be used for groups that are low on players. These originally appeared in Unearthed Arcana as well. How have they been updated in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything?
The sidekicks originally appeared in Unearthed Arcana and then an implementation of them appeared in the D&D Essentials Kit. Now people are getting the full, final rules for sidekicks, showing you how you can take a sidekick from level one all the way to level twenty. Probably the main thing that has changed if anyone has read the Unearthed Arcana version of sidekicks is, we simplified the levels for the sidekicks. We got two main pieces of feedback when we released the sidekicks for Unearthed Arcana. A) People loved them and wanted to see more of them, but B) We kept being told, please make these even simpler. There was some concern, and I think it was warranted, that if a group is going to introduce sidekicks, they don’t want those sidekicks to overshadow the player characters in either complexity or power. And so what we did is, we took that feedback very much to heart and made it so that the sidekicks typically as they level up are getting only one thing. There are some exceptions, they have a few levels where they get more than one thing, but we really wanna make it so that leveling up a sidekick would be a very elegant process and we also made sure that their abilities were extremely straightforward. One example of that is the Spellcaster sidekick, who now knows a very tight selection of spells, whereas before, when we first introduced them, the spell selection was much closer to what you would expect for a player character. We brought that way down and provided them with a starting list of spells, three different starting lists so that the DM decides to introduce a Spellcaster sidekick, the DM can just pick that selection of spells and Bam – ready to go and play.
Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything is adding magical tattoos to the game. So, how does a character get a magical tattoo? Is there a magical tattoo artist? How do they work in comparison to other magical items?
So, the magic tattoos… the biggest design challenge with them was coming up with a way for them to be portable magic items, obviously, it’s a challenge when the thing we’re talking about is ink that is normally, permanently upon your body. And so, the solution that we settled on was, each of these magic tattoos actually starts as a magic tattoo needle. If you apply that needle to the skin, the tattoo transfers from it onto you, and then you attune to that tattoo, just like you would attune to any other magic item. If your attunement ever ends to the magic tattoo, it actually slinks off your body and that needle reforms and the tattoo goes back into it. Now people can apply these tattoos to themselves and potentially, eventually say, unlike the real world, where you might regret a tattoo you got in your youth, it might be challenging to have covered up or removed. Here you can safely break your attunement to it, and the tattoo returns to the magic needle. It can then be applied to somebody else. This was something that we introduced in Unearthed Arcana and playtesters really enjoyed it. And so, they’ll now get to play with these officially in the game.
Do the tattoos count toward the number of magic items you can be attuned to?
Yes, they do.
Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything is going to discuss rules for parleying with monsters. Now, most D&D groups are of the “shoot first, ask questions later” persuasion, so it’s not going to be to everyone’s taste. How is parleying dealt with in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything and why should DMs consider using it in their game? Or is it more a thing for players to read?
So, the guidance to parleying with monsters is in the DM’s section of the book and our goal here was to really show how fun parleying with monsters can be. We created this section really with a sense of fun, so that, when you go to this section, you will find tables that tell you “This is what a beast, or a monstrosity, or an aberration might want to receive” and if you offer it to them, they’re going to be more likely to give you a listen. So, one component of the parleying rules are lists of gifts that are appropriate for different types of creatures. We then paired that with some rules of how you can research in advance what a type of monster might actually enjoy or desire, so that you can arrive at an interaction with a particular type of creature, ready to talk, rather than to shoot.
Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything is going to include a section on running a Session Zero. I’d love to hear your thoughts on what a Session Zero is, why it’s important, and why it’s now being officially discussed in a D&D book.
The concept of Session Zero has been in the D&D community for decades actually, and we, while working on Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything had this funny realization that the community has talked about Session Zero for years. We have talked about Session Zero for years, yet we don’t officially highlight it in our books. We’ve talked about having a preliminary session before a campaign starts to lay ground rules, to talk about the type of campaign that it’s going to be, but we haven’t officially embraced this term Session Zero in the current edition. We thought, this is a great time for us to do that and to really walk people through what this preliminary game session is. The session that occurs before the first session of play (hence Session Zero) is where you talk about, as a group, what kind of game are we playing? Is this epic heroism, is this gothic horror, are we going to incorporate some science fiction elements. So first, it’s really just “Hey let’s talk about the type of campaign we’re going to play.” This is also a great time to decide questions like “Are we going to have a group patron”, the Session Zero section of Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything talks about, if you are going to have a group patron, well then figure out who that patron is going to be. It’s also a chance for the group to lay some ground rules together on what they’re comfortable with socially. Are there topics that individual players might be uncomfortable experiencing with in the upcoming D&D campaign? Since D&D is a co-op game that’s all about everyone at the table having a great time, this is of course a really important thing to establish. What would compromise a person’s good time? Let’s make sure as a group in this Session Zero we can zero in on those things that are really going to bring the most joy to this particular group of people over the course of this particular campaign. The key is that every D&D campaign is different, every group is different, and that’s why it’s important, I think, to have these discussions before launching into a campaign, to make sure everyone has a shared understanding of what it is they’re about to embark on.
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The Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything sourcebook for Dungeons & Dragons is available now.
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