Within Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything there is an optional rule that allows you to create a character that shifts their proficiencies around. No longer is every Dwarf a brewer, mason, or smith. No longer will every Elf know how to use a sword.
The ability to swap these out lets you tell new stories through new mechanics. But the change to the game mechanics are quite minor. Half the classes already allow the weapons that the Dwarf and Elf start with in the Player’s Handbook, in this case many optimizers will take Tools in order to expand their skills.
Yes, this expands the powers of certain combinations Race and Class. Frankly, ignore that tiny tic up in power.
This optional rule in Tasha’s grants you the ability to expand the story of your character.
Since your Dwarf didn’t grow up knowing masonry, but instead was a woodsman, what does Woodcarver’s Tools mean for them? Were they part of the crew that regularly left the caves of the fathers to harvest the massive trunks that became reinforcement for the great halls? Or were they just not raised among their people, instead taking their mother’s stone carving tools but applying those to the softer structure of wood to create art?
Your High Elf that did not learn the sword and bow, maybe instead they have Coffee Gear and Insight, because they founded a cafe where they interacted with wizards, nobles, and adventurers. You aren’t a warrior by nature, instead you are someone who understands the people who go out and see the world beyond the city.
Like so much of Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything, the mechanics by this decision do not create power creep – they fashion story creep. There are 25 tools, plus Gaming Sets and Musical Instruments. Your character that has more of these than typical or usual has reasons for these.
As you generate new ways that your spells manifest (one of my favorite suggestions in Tasha’s) you should generate the reasons for your differing skill set from the classical presentations within your race. Whether it is all in your head, or a single line on your character sheet, a hint in the art you commission or draw, or an entire blog entry is up to you, the player.
But it should be there, because the 1000 thousands of stories that can be told in any game session originate in the mechanics, but the mechanics aren’t the point – the story is.
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