Enjoy 5E D&D Quality of Life with Optional Class Features from Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything
Over at Nerdarchy the YouTube channel Nerdarchists Dave and Ted ponder the implications of a quantum leap forward in character options for fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons ushered in through Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything. Chapter 1 of the latest official sourcebook for 5E D&D introduces optional class features for all 12 character classes from the Player’s Handbook. (Artificer appears in the book as well making a debut outside Eberron: Rising From the Last War as a 13th class option.)
Make those optional class features mean something
Lead rules designer of D&D Jeremy Crawford shared insights into the design process for the optional class features in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything back when they appeared as Class Feature Variants in Unearthed Arcana. It made perfect sense then and in context with other content in the newest book makes as much sense now. Quality of life material like these optional class features provide support for different styles of 5E D&D play emergent since the launch of this edition.
Before you take this the wrong way and get all hipster — “I’ve been playing this way before it was mainstream” — I feel like the valuable contributions of longtime players, accepted wisdom and common practice absolutely reflects in this fresh material and that’s kind of my point. Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything illustrates the adaptability of 5E D&D to account for lots of different kinds of players and games. The book does a wonderful service of introducing these kinds of ideas to those who maybe haven’t developed a bunch of their own house rules tailored to their experiences yet.
At any rate there’s a ton of fantastic optional class features for all the classes. One of the things I dig the most about all of them collectively is the potential for deeper collaboration between players. Imagine you’re playing a monk and you come across the Quickened Healing optional class feature. You could certainly consult with your Dungeon Master about incorporating this into your character but how about earning it in your campaign instead? A monk character in my Spelljammer campaign wondered if he could manipulate his ki in different ways and it became a personal quest. Eventually he learned to channel ki to create a sort of calm emotions effect after seeking out wisdom, practicing esoteric techniques and meditating. This was a much more memorable experience than simply slapping a new feature onto the character sheet!
One last thing before getting into the optional class features themselves. If you’re using D&D Beyond for character management (recommended at the highest order!) you’ll need to toggle Optional Class Features on when you’re at the home page for the character. You’ll find it beneath the Sources toggles.
Optional Class Features
Barbarian. Primal Knowledge gives you more skills and Instinctive Pounce makes you more mobile
Bard. Additional Bard Spells expands your spell list, Magical Inspiration expands your versatility and Bardic Versatility…also expands your versatility.
Cleric. Additional Cleric Spells expands your spell list, Cantrip Versatility makes your magic more flexible and Blessed Strikes sorta combines the existing two 8th level features
Druid. Additional Druid Spells expands your spell list, Wild Companion makes Wild Shape more flexible and Cantrip Versatility makes your magic more flexible
Fighter. Fighting Style Options expands your repertoire and Martial Versatility makes you way more flexible
Monk. Dedicated Weapon makes you a martial arts weapon master, Ki-Fueled Attack gives you MOAR ATTACKS, Quickened Healing lets you heal using ki and Focused Aim can turn a missed attack into a hit
Paladin. Additional Paladin Spells expands your spell list, Fighting Style Options expands your repertoire (paladin cantrips!), Harness Divine Power turns Channel Divinity into spell slots and Martial Versatility makes you more flexible
Ranger. Ready? Deft Explorer greatly expands your skills, languages, speed and self healing, Favored Foe makes you deal more damage, Additional Ranger Spells expands your spell list, Fighting Style Options expands your repertoire (ranger cantrips!), Spellcasting Focus makes your magic more flexible, Primal Awareness grants you free spellcasting, Martial Versatility makes you more flexible and Nature’s Veil makes you super sneaky. Oh, and Primal Companion makes Ranger’s Companion way better. Now are rangers cool enough for you?!
Rogue. Steady Aim lets you use your bonus action to avoid asking the DM if you do your Sneak Attack damage
Sorcerer. Additional Sorcerer Spells expands your spell list, Metamagic Options adds two new choices (woo!), Sorcerous Versatility makes you more flexible and Magical Guidance turns sorcery points into luck
Warlock. Additional Warlock Spells expands your spell list, Pact Boon Option adds Pact of the Talisman (I’ll be playing with this in our next Nerdarchy Live campaign!) and Eldritch Versatility makes you more flexible
Wizard. Additional Wizard Spells expands your spell list and Cantrip Formulas makes your magic more flexible