Make 5E D&D Spells Your Own with Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything
When the titular wizard of Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything first learned magic from Baba Yaga she couldn’t help but add spectral chicken legs to all her spells. Other spellcasters in fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons incorporate their own style and flair into spellcasting too. Whether those spells come from the Basic Rules or any other source like the 21 new spells in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything remains the purview of each individual spellcaster.
Personalizing spells in 5E D&D
Some spells in 5E D&D include visual details in their description while many others do not. From the ghostly skeletal hand created by chill touch to the blazing orbs of fire plummeting to the ground via meteor swarm there’s no shortage of visual detail included throughout the 520 official 5E D&D spells.
“As you hold your hands with thumbs touching and fingers spread, a thin sheet of flames shoots forth from your outstretched fingertips.” — Burning hands as described in the Basic Rules
Along with the new spells in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything to book includes a wonderful section in chapter three encouraging players when it comes to Personalizing Spells. Players can achieve a tremendous amount of customization for their characters through cosmetic expression by compartmentalizing mechanical qualities. A longsword makes a terrific representation for a katana for example just as an eruption of burning clouds illustrates a Storm Sorcery sorcerers fireball equally as well as a bright streak flashing from their pointing finger then blossoming with a low roar into an explosion of flame.
The Personalizing Spells section reinforces a strong theme in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything — incorporating things players often do into an official source. This theme shows up throughout the book through things like Session Zero, Parleying with Monsters, Magical Phenomena and so on. In this instance encouraging players to customize the cosmetic effects of their spells fills me with delight because it speaks to something I find vitally important in 5E D&D game play — immersion. Even for players with no interest in personalizing spells the way Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything suggests it nevertheless plants an idea in a reader’s mind to describe their characters’ actions.
One of the best examples of personalizing spells I can think of happened at Origins a few years ago when Nerdarchist Dave and I played an Adventurers League preview for Tomb of Annihilation. One of the players at the table case blade ward and described how her character knelt down and extended their hand to trace a sigil of warding in the air, which created a shimmering spectral shield in front of her. It was a small thing and took only a moment but everyone at the table thought it was really cool and set the tone for the rest of the session. Everyone got into it!
Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything gives several examples for customizing your spellcaster’s magic. The book suggests developing a theme for your character to help inform how personalizing spells manifests. I love this sort of stuff and the Origins experience inspired me to do this much more often whenever I play any tabletop roleplaying game whether it’s 5E D&D or not. Playing a psychonaut in our Tuesday night Moon Rises live play campaign at Nerdarchy Live illustrates this and my time playing a Circle of Spores druid leaned very heavily into this too. The book includes a wonderful Magic Themes table with great suggestions to get players started on personalizing spells for their characters’ magic and the new subclasses incorporate this concept as well. The Clockwork Soul sorcerer springs to mind.
New spells in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything
Not all of the spells in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything are brand new. Probably because of the inclusion of the Bladesinging Arcane Tradition in the book a few cantrips from other sources see reprinting here while many other spells emerge through various class features that conjure creatures into existence. There’s no spells with the ritual tag, which I’m sure disappoints Nerdarchist Ted because he’s a freak for those. Yet there are plenty of spells to weave into spellcasting.
Blade of Disaster. A 9th level conjuration that’s basically spiritual weapon on steroids dealing more damage more often and also passes through any barrier — including wall of force!
Booming Blade. An evocation cantrip incorporating a melee weapon attack into a spell with the potential to cause additional thunder damage.
Dream of the Blue Veil. A 7th level conjuration to transport the caster and up to eight willing creatures to another world entirely! There’s a great sidebar about Traveling to Other Worlds too. I love this stuff.
Green-Flame Blade. An evocation cantrip incorporating a melee weapon attack with the potential to cause fire damage to a second creature.
Intellect Fortress. A 3rd level abjuration shielding a creature’s mind against mental assaults.
Lightning Lure. An evocation cantrip causing lightning damage and pulling a creature closer.
Mind Sliver. An enchantment cantrip causing psychic damage and weakening the target’s overall defenses.
Spirit Shroud. A 3rd level necromancy causing extra damage whenever the caster attacks with a flexible damage type plus it prevents targets from regaining hit points and reduces their speed. I’m vacillating on this one for the Undying warlock I’ll be playing in Ted’s upcoming Dungeons & Delving campaign.
Summon Aberration. A 4th level conjuration calling forth an aberrant spirit taking the form of a Beholderkin, Slaad or Star Spawn. Super cool!
Summon Beast. A 2nd level conjuration calling forth a bestial spirit taking the form of an Air, Land or Water version.
Summon Celestial. A 5th level conjuration calling forth a celestial spirit taking the form of an Avenger or Defender.
Summon Construct. A 4th level conjuration calling forth a construct spirit taking the form of a Clay, Metal or Stone version.
Summon Elemental. A 4th level conjuration calling forth an elemental spirit taking the form of an Air, Earth, Fire or Water version.
Summon Fey. A 3rd level conjuration calling forth a fey spirit taking the form of a Fuming, Mirthful or Tricksy version.
Summon Fiend. A 6th level conjuration calling forth a fiendish spirit taking the form of a Demon, Devil or Yugoloth version.
Summon Shadowspawn. A 3rd level conjuration calling forth a shadow spirit taking the form of a Fury, Despair or Fear version.
Summon Undead. A 3rd level necromancy calling forth an undead spirit taking the form of a Ghostly, Putrid or Skeletal version.
Sword Burst. A conjuration cantrip manifesting spectral blades striking at all nearby creatures.
Tasha’s Caustic Brew. A 1st level evocation kinda like Melf’s acid arrow causing persistent acid damage.
Tasha’s Mind Whip. A 2nd level enchantment causing psychic damage and severely limiting the target’s actions.
Tasha’s Otherworldly Guise. A 6th level transmutation transforming the caster with power from the Lower or Upper Planes.
All of the summon spells include a stat block with appropriate variables and can all be upcast using higher level spell slots, which affect various portions of the stat block.
*Featured image — In her lab, Tasha confers with the demon lord Graz’zt through a magic mirror as seen in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything for 5E D&D. [Image courtesy Wizards of the Coast]