Jeremy Crawford Interview: D&D’s Tasha’s Cauldron Of Everything

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?

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.

The Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything sourcebook for Dungeons & Dragons is available now.