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I would like to add magical tattoos for a D&D campaign in 5th edition.

In 3e (The version that exposed me to D&D), there is the option to add tattoos with magic; They are permanent and can never be lost, but cost twice as much as an item with the same abilities.

However, there are no such rules for magic tattoos in 5e. I am only using the PHB, DMG, MM, XGTE, VGM, GGR, and MTF.

Are there any guidelines for magic tattoos in D&D 5e?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Are you also looking for guidelines on how to hombrew magical tattoos in addition? \$\endgroup\$ – Akixkisu Dec 14 '20 at 16:29
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Tasha's Cauldron of Everything has rules for magic tattoos under Magic Items in Chapter 3 (p. 118) for use in D&D 5e.

The needles (which confer the tattoos) may be traded or purchased using normal rules for magic items. The tattoos themselves usually require attunement1 (requirements vary based on the nature of the tattoo.) Once the tattoo is inked, its magic persists despite any defacement or damage to the surrounding skin.


1 The exception is the spellwrought tattoos, which work mechanically like a spell scroll and is thus more like a consumable.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to RPG.SE! Take the tour if you haven't already and see the help center or ask us here in the comments (use @ to ping someone) if you need more guidance. Good Luck and Happy Gaming! \$\endgroup\$ – Someone_Evil Dec 14 '20 at 16:31
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If you don't mind using Unearthed Arcana material ...

... you can try out some of the tattoos in this playtest document for free, and see how you like them. These were a rough version of what @JHowell refers to in his answer, and I'd suggest that you make any tattoo require attunement as was decided in the published supplement: Tasha's Cauldron of Everything.

When we first examined them at one of our tables, I took our findings and provided feedback to WoTC during the feedback time window. We felt there were too many loopholes. With the exception of tattoos that function more like a spell scroll - the tattoo is a 'one time use of the spell' that vanishes once the spell is cast - we found that unless each tattoo requires attunement, and counts againts the attunement max of 3 items, the potential to stack tattoos could lead to some out of balance situations. The material in Tasha's is an improvement, and I've cleared them for games that I DM.

If your table (combined group of players + DM) are interested in adding Tasha's to the approved materials you all use, perhaps the whole group can get it (all chip in to defray cost) and you all can apply the more polished version of the magical tattoo feature.

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