They say that good things come in small packages. With magic like you’ll find in the world of Dungeons & Dragons, that can be a double-edged sword. Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything, the new D&D rules supplement, is good for mixing a lot more than just metaphors.
In addition to flavorful, in-character exposition and annotations that have become the norm (thanks, Xanathar, Volo and Rick Sanchez), Tasha expands the game with new subclass options for every core character class in the Player’s Handbook — even changing your subclass for an existing player character — along with an entire new class in the Artificer, cut loose here from its original introduction in the Eberron campaign setting.
The book also notably retools character origins from a racial perspective, effectively letting you rewire the game using the basic Ability Score bonuses in a way that isn’t beholden to old stereotypes. It does all this in just a handful of pages that could have been a blog post.
At 192 pages, Tasha’s Cauldron is a slim volume for its hefty $49.95 suggested retail price, especially considering how it was touted as a game-changing expansion of the D&D rules.
Another Eberron artifact, group patrons, is also a big ingredient in Tasha’s Cauldron, providing a new framework with which to mold an adventuring party’s shared story and bonds.
But there are many other features in this book for Dungeon Masters as well as players, from plug-in puzzles of varying difficulty to simple rules for supernatural regions, magical phenomena and natural hazards (cleverly reproduced with familiar spell effects, plus a magical miscellany of new spells and magic items, including an assortment of enchanted tattoos and suggestions for personalizing standard D&D magic spells.
The puzzles for DMs to spring on players include handouts, which is appropriate, but they’re part of the book and not easily detached or copied; a link to download the handouts, or including them as detachable elements like maps often are, would make this feel like a more robust offering. (This is less of an issue if you’re a D&D Beyond subscriber who buys the content on that platform.)
Despite its slim profile and outsized cost, Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything nevertheless remains a worthwhile addition to the D&D library. These additions may feel like little things, but there are a lot of the little things.
Sidekicks, first introduced in last year’s Essentials Kit, offers an easy way to play a game with one DM and one player, or flesh out a smaller PC party. Tasha’s Cauldron gives this option to more advanced groups that don’t have a need for such a beginner’s product.
There are more elements that aren’t original but welcome, such as an exploration of ideas like a “session zero” to set ground rules, house rules and other expectations for a gaming group, and a “social contract” that emphasizes soft and hard limits to set boundaries, avoid harmful triggers and ensure all players can be respected and enjoy themselves. It’s hard not to see this also as an afterthought and “too little, too late” when many independent creators did the heavy lifting and exposed themselves to abuse to bring the important discussion to the surface. Still, it’s encouraging to see these things “codified” in such a prominent expansion of the core rules, and it’s a sign of more mainstream acceptance in future editions of the classic fantasy roleplaying game.
Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything may be a potpourri of existing D&D enhancements with a dash of fresher ingredients, but it’s hard to imagine any group that picks it up not finding inspiration and enjoyment within its pages.
Wizards of the Coast kindly provided materials for review.
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