Tasha’s Cauldron Of Everything Is Full Of Fun, If Obvious, Ideas For D&D
After much anticipation, Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything has hit the Dungeons & Dragons fandom. Players were looking forward to a wealth of new options that let them customize their character in greater detail – not unlike what Pathfinder has been doing for some time. Tasha’s has over 20 subclasses, feats that allow players to dip their toes into multiclassing without much drawback, and the all-important modifications to the dated concept of race.
Dungeon Masters were not forgotten either, with Wizards of the Coast teasing plug-and-play puzzles, guidance on supernatural regions, and tips for running session zero. But can a 192-page book really do it all? Mostly, although it doesn’t always go as deep as it could.
First and foremost, I have to say that Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything is a must-buy for both longtime and new players alike. Veteran D&D players have been chafing against their relatively limited options for some time. While it would probably take a very long time to play every combination of race, class, and subclass the basic Player’s Handbook and previous expansion books offer, many of these combos just fall flat. The optimal builds, the “cool” flavor builds – you name it, dedicated players have tried it. So here comes Tasha’s with all kinds of subclasses ranging from cool to weird and new features that open the door for deeper customization. It’ll take a while for players to try every novel thing Tasha’s has to offer.
New players will also benefit from these options, of course, but could also feel overwhelmed by the 80 pages of character options. Thankfully, Wizards seems to be on a kick of streamlining D&D books, as I noted in my Rime of the Frostmaiden review. A lot of the guidance is laid out in very simple terms. For instance, the fighter class section of Tasha’s tells you exactly how to build specific warriors like a gladiator, duelist, or fist-fighter. Other considerations that might baffle new DMs – what if a player wants to suddenly change subclasses, what if the party adopts a goblin and wants it to fight? – are explained with both gameplay and narrative justification.
So yeah, someone in the group is going to need to have a copy of Tasha’s handy. Whether it’s for all the character-building tools or for the DM inspiration, the tome has made itself essential to the 5E canon. More so, one might argue, than even Xanathar’s Guide to Everything.
Which leads to the question: what does Tasha’s lack? That depends on your expectations as you crack open the book (or click on your digital copy). I’ll admit I got caught up in the hype from the moment the book was announced. It sounded like a lot. An Iron Man-style artificer subclass? Say hello to my next character – Gnomey Stark! New spells? What kind of fresh havoc will my players wreak on my homebrew world now? Wait, there’s even a section on puzzles for DMs? Good! I need help with that.
Like many other D&D fans, I followed interviews and events where Tasha’s was discussed. In doing so, I learned that many of the sublcasses and spells would be pulled from Unearthed Arcana. This essentially meant that I knew everything that would be in Tasha’s, as Unearthed Arcana is posted online as free content for everyone. So when I finally got my hands on a copy, it was a little underwhelming. There’s not a lot of new here.
The touted racial rework is a lot simpler than many were imagining. The idea ends up being that you can just swap skills or stat boosts to other skill or stat boosts. The Custom Lineage, or make-your-own race, rules fill up one small text box. Homebrew players have been delivering more detailed content for years. Simple isn’t bad, but this particular effort could have used more work considering how race in D&D became such a hot-button issue.
The spells section is largely dominated by summoning and psychic magic. That’s awesome because those were needed, but it feels like the caster classes aren’t as equally served as they were in Xanathar’s. The new magic items are geared towards casters. Which, yes, there are only so many takes on a magic sword, but there’s still a small sense of “wait, where’s the rest?”
Same goes for the “Dungeon Master’s Tools” chapter. Guidance for running Session Zero is brief and comes down to “establish boundaries and tone ahead of time.” There’s a very short section on customizing spells which similarly reads as “of course you can make your magic missiles look like chickens! Get weird with it!” If you’ve been playing for some time, or ever read/watched tips from influencer DMs, you know this already. I fully admit that I could have followed Tasha’s to the point of ruining it for myself. But I still have this notion that the book scratches the surface at times. It could’ve offered some deep creative insight from D&D’s best, but likes to settle for “do whatever you want!”
There’s an alternate take to this. Twitter user @alyssavisscher points out that D&D 5E is exploding more than any previous edition. This means that tons of players are taking up the mantle of DM for the first time, or have two years at most under their belt. How to actually start running a campaign, how much reflavoring of spells is okay – these seemingly surface-level explanations are a huge help for beginner DMs. Just having an official book declare “yes, you are free to get creative in D&D” goes a long way.
Bottom line: every D&D player I know is excited to get their copy of Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything. Not just to collect it, either, but to actually use it. Those who have followed the book’s pre-release already have builds in mind, and more casual players just want to read it in hopes of sparking ideas.
They’ll get those ideas thanks to the sheer amount of content in Tasha’s. The art will also help, as it features a stunning array of diverse characters and evocative scenarios. Wizards always gets great artists for D&D books, but the team outdid itself for Tasha’s. From chicken missiles to dragonborn sheriffs to a mimic homestead, something is bound to get your wheels turning.
Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything doesn’t go as deep as some might expect, but it is bubbling with possibility. Go ahead, have a taste, and let yourself fall under Tasha’s spell.
A copy of Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything was provided to TheGamer for this review. It’s available now through online retailers, digital TTRPG services, and your favorite local game store.
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Sergio is the Lead News Editor for TheGamer. But usually he asks people to call him “Serg” because he wants to sound cool like the guy from System of a Down. He began as a convention reporter for FLiP Magazine and Albany Radio’s The Shaw Report to get free badges to Comic-Con. Eventually he realized he liked talking to game developers and discovering weird new indie games. Now he brings that love of weird games to TheGamer, where he tries to talk about them in clickable ways so you grow to love them too. When he’s not stressing over how to do that, he’s a DM, Cleric of Bahamut, cosplay boyfriend, and occasional actor.
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