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Tasha's Cauldron of Everything includes optional class features for every class from the Player's Handbook. Barbarians, for example, can choose to gain an extra skill proficiency at 3rd level, and/or choose to gain a small bonus move as part of the action they take to start raging at 7th.

These features are listed as optional, but they don't seem to have any drawbacks attached, besides a note that you should consult with your DM about taking them. Given DM approval, is there any good mechanical reason not to take an optional class feature, or should they essentially be considered upgrades over the base class?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Hi Huw! Welcome to RPG.SE, please take the time to take out tour. This is a great first question, thanks! \$\endgroup\$ – AncientSwordRage Dec 15 '20 at 16:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ If you are going to play in adventure league you are limited to PHB + 1 other source book, so there is that to consider (I have also seen several GMs use this same rule). \$\endgroup\$ – CaptianObvious Dec 16 '20 at 13:10
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"Optional" refers to DM and group approval.

You have observed correctly: there are no drawbacks to taking the optional class features. Optional here means that the feature can optionally be added to the game by a DM. The intro to Tasha's, in the section It's All Optional, says:

Each group, guided by the DM, decides which of these options, if any, to incorporate into a campaign. You can use some, all, or none of them. We encourage you to choose the ones that fit best with your campaign’s story and with your group’s style of play.

These features just add more things on top of the base classes. In particular, the optional class features descriptions for all the classes says:

This section offers additional features that you can gain as a [class]. Unlike the features in the Player’s Handbook, you don’t gain the features here automatically. Consulting with your DM, you decide whether to gain a feature in this section if you meet the level requirement noted in the feature’s description. These features can be selected separately from one another; you can use some, all, or none of them.

So discuss it with your DM, and use what works for you and your group.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Would you say these features represent a sort of correction or fix to the original classes, only posed in such a way as to give DMs the power to disagree or "play vanilla" without being accused of doing it wrong? \$\endgroup\$ – Darth Pseudonym Dec 15 '20 at 19:49
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    \$\begingroup\$ I don't think it's a "correction" or "fix" in any general sense. The idea I got from Wizard's commentary on class feature variants was something like "If you are having one of these particular problems with an existing class, here are some playtested variants that might address that issue for you." \$\endgroup\$ – Thomas Markov Dec 15 '20 at 19:55
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    \$\begingroup\$ Some of these options also act as replacements for existing class features, like some of the Ranger's optional abilities, IIRC. \$\endgroup\$ – nick012000 Dec 16 '20 at 3:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ As a DM I very much run a rule of thumb of limiting the number of options available to my players. WOTC itself suggests that in league play a rule of PHB plus 1 other source book is applied. Therefore sometimes the downside is simply having to manage so many resources and player choices. \$\endgroup\$ – Richard C Dec 29 '20 at 9:32

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