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Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything is a positive sign that Dungeons & Dragons is working on its problems - preview

Iggwilv you read it?

Some players might be disappointed to hear that the next Dungeons & Dragons 5E sourcebook focuses on providing behind-the-scenes options over an exciting new setting, but Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything represents a step in the right direction for D&D - one where players are given the option to create characters free from the problematic and restrictive rules of the past.

Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything is a sourcebook in the same vein as Xanathar’s Guide to Everything, released in 2017 as a supplement that offered both players and dungeon masters rules for subclasses, spells and items. As with the upcoming sourcebook, Xanathar’s Guide to Everything provided players with new options to create character backstories and content focused on racial traits.

However, the racial trait content in Xanathar’s Guide Everything came across as perfunctory additions, because they were simply elements such as new feats and randomised backstory tables - nothing that actually changed what was fundamentally flawed about the race system in D&D. The difference with how Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything appears to approach the new rules around racial traits is that players will now have the opportunity to create characters entirely devoid of them.

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Tasha's Cauldron of Everything is billed as a spiritual successor to Xanathar's Guide to Everything. Image: Wizards of the Coast

There will be a chapter in the sourcebook that will enable players to either alter the traits of their chosen character race - by changing any bonuses granted to ability scores, for example - or create a character with traits unrelated to their race. Dungeons & Dragons’ principal rules designer Jeremy Crawford said during the press event for Cauldron of Everything that the inclusion of these new character creation rules was driven by publisher Wizards of the Coast’s current initiative to address the problematic elements of the RPG.

Crawford also confirmed to Dicebreaker that the racial trait options will also be made available in other locations apart from Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything - suggesting that players won't necessarily need to purchase the book in order to access them.

"It’s important to us that these new options for customising your character’s origin be made accessible to as many Dungeons & Dragons fans as possible," Crawford said. "For that reason, they will appear in multiple locations, including the Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything book and our Adventurers League organised play program.”

Introducing these rules in the sourcebook and making them accessible is a positive move for Dungeons & Dragons toward phasing out the racially insensitive and problematic aspects of the roleplaying game.

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The book allows players to adjust the racial traits of their characters - or ignore them entirely. Image: Wizards of the Coast

While the new options for character creation are the most exciting part of Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything, there are other aspects of the sourcebook that are sure to spark an interest in fans.

It’s nice to see a character previously feminine-coded in her immorality finally be able to tell her own story.

As with Xanathar’s Guide to Everything, Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything is a sourcebook written in-character by an inhabitant of the Dungeons & Dragons universe. In this case, the narrator of the book is the titular Tasha - otherwise known as Iggwilv - a powerful wizard who has been part of the RPG’s lore since the 1980s.

According to Crawford, the depiction of Tasha in this sourcebook leans much more into the character being a neutral party, rather than her overtly evil portrayal in the past. Making Tasha the narrator of the book means there will be a bias towards her viewpoint - however, it’s still nice to see a character who was previously feminine-coded in her immorality finally be able to tell her own story as an incredibly intelligent and powerful spellcaster.

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While Tasha's depiction in D&D has been problematic in the past, the new book is said to portray her in a far more neutral light. Image: Wizards of the Coast

The sourcebook’s content is much more suitable to players and dungeon masters wanting to dabble in things like spellcraft, magical items, strange environments and powers. Which isn’t to say that Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything will be entirely devoid of features that aren't magical. But it adds the nice touch of subtle worldbuilding that - being a wizard - Tasha is mostly interested in covering things of arcane nature in a book she’s supposedly written. Crawford teases that the sourcebook will contain various comments and citations made by Tasha in-character that will give readers better insight into her character and history, as well as helping give the book its own unique charm.

Much of what’s featured in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything won’t be entirely new to those players who regularly visit the Unearthed Arcana section of the D&D website - a collection of content with rules still in mid-development and requiring feedback from the community. All of the subclasses included in the upcoming sourcebook were featured in Unearthed Arcana at some point and have been curated in response to comments and criticism from fans. Examples include the Aberrant Mind sorcerer subclass, which grants the bearer strange psionic powers thanks to the disturbing influence of an alien being.

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A number of subclasses previously released as in-development Unearthed Arcana material will be fully detailed in the sourcebook. Image: Wizards of the Coast

Players can also expect to find classes that have already been featured in other sourcebooks, but have since undergone tweaks and gained new additions. One of these is the artificer - originally introduced in last year’s Eberron: Rising from the Last War - alongside its subclasses, such as the Armourer.

Players can expect to find classes already featured in other sourcebooks, but have since undergone tweaks and gained new additions.

When it comes to content for dungeon masters, Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything will have an entire chapter specifically for those running sessions. According to Crawford, much of this section of the sourcebook will focus on providing DMs with puzzles that are designed to be dropped in wholesale to a campaign as a way of breaking up combat and roleplaying. These puzzles have supposedly been devised by Tasha herself, at least in the narrative of Dungeons & Dragons, and will apparently be easy for DMs to implement into their dungeons or adventures.

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Cauldron of Everything focuses on player character options and DM content over a new setting. Image: Wizards of the Coast

Dungeon masters will also find curated rules for creating sidekicks for player parties: custom non-player characters that can be used to fill in the gaps of smaller groups - even single-player ones - as well as several pre-generated examples. In addition, Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything includes several new group patrons, a concept first introduced in Eberron: Rising from the Last War that provided a set character for players to get quests from. Whereas those group patrons were very specific to the setting of Eberron, the ones featured in this sourcebook will be suitable for any campaign setting the DM decides to use or create.

There’s sure to be more information revealed on Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything in the run-up to its November 17th release date. For now, players and dungeon masters can expect a sourcebook that should provide some nice little additions to their campaign - but more importantly, a set of long-awaited options for making racial traits less problematic in Dungeons & Dragons.

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