Officially revamped for Dungeons & Dragons 5E in "Tasha's Cauldron of Everything," magical tattoos provide creative flair for your appearance and playstyle. Most pack a punch in combat, some even tipping the scales between life and death, but others aren't for everyone.
Magical tattoos are considered "magic items," so almost all the options will need to be attuned to your character. If you're already attuned to three items, getting inked isn't an option, but not to worry: The magic of tattoos is bound in needles, not an artist, so you'll be able to carry these enhancements in your back pocket. Magical tattoos are removable and can be placed back into a needle, providing a Dungeon Master with exciting options (and DMs already have so many that newcomers may find themselves overwhelmed) for how players encounter these rare treasures and a handy way to pawn them when they see something shinier.
The Absorbing Tattoo grants the wearer resistance to a single magical damage type, which your DM either chooses for you or rolls for randomly. On top of that, when you are hit with that specific type of damage, you can use a reaction to become immune to that damage and regain half the damage dealt as HP instead.
Unfortunately, due to the scarcity of some damage types, this power can either be the ace up your sleeve or a bench-warmer. Although you may not come up against your tattoo type often, very little can stand in your way if you do.
If your character has a penchant for secrecy, the Illuminator's Tattoo is perfect. With this tattoo on your skin, your fingertip becomes a working ink pen that will never waste. It also allows you to cause a single page of writing to be invisible to everyone but yourself and one other person of your choice for an entire day.
The limit of this spell is your creativity. If you need to communicate with an NPC across enemy lines, you can do so. If you've been plotting to hire some help from the Nine Hells, but your friends would disapprove, they're none the wiser. It's hardly the most conventionally powerful effect, though.
The Masquerade Tattoo will equip you with ability to blend into the background of any social situation. This tattoo allows you to freely manipulate its size, placement, color, and imagery, an invaluable tool for gaining access to a thieves guild or local gang.
Also, with this tattoo, you can cast the 1st level spell "disguise self" once per day, which inquiring minds will need to beat a DC 13 Check to see through. Even if your character hasn't focused on their Charisma stat, they'll fit in perfectly anywhere with this handy effect.
A Spellwrought Tattoo allows you to cast a single spell predetermined by the DM without the need for material components, upon which the tattoo would then disappear. The spell provided can be from a Cantrip to a 5th level and comes preset with Ability Modifiers, Save DCs, and Attack Bonuses.
This may sound like a spell scroll, but a spell scroll is technically illegible to anyone not belonging to the class from which the spell is derived. The spells of a Spellwrought tattoo may not exceed past 5th level, but anyone can use it.
The Lifewell tattoo makes it that much harder for death to claim you. Right off the bat, you'll receive resistance to necrotic damage. Although situational, several highly damaging spells deal necrotic damage, so it's nice to have them on hand against those formidable undead foes and spell casters. This tattoo also prevents death once a day by dropping you to 1 HP instead.
Having a preventative feature like this during earlier levels is crucial. If you manage to survive being at 1 HP, that's one day more your new character lives to tell the tale.
6 Ghost Step
If you don't believe in ghosts, the Ghost Step Tattoo may have you rethinking. On a bonus action, you can expend 1 of 3 charges from this tattoo to enter into a Ghostly Form until your next turn, giving you resistance to bludgeoning, slashing, and piercing damage from non-magical attacks, freedom from restraints or grapples, and the ability to walk through walls.
There isn't a single danger you can't get away from with this tattoo. Just be sure not to end your turn inside a wall during your Ghostly Form, or you'll suffer some force damage. Another downside to this is that it feels like it should last longer than a single turn of combat.
5 Shadowfell Brand
The Shadowfell Brand grants you abilities derived from the infamous Plane of Shadow, making your ability to conceal yourself as sneaky as ever. If you didn't have it already, you'd receive darkvison out to 60 feet, which is nice, but it's a common trait among many playable races. The tattoo also grants you advantage on all stealth checks and the chance for you to, as a reaction, halve all incoming damage to you once per day.
The Shadowfell Brand's potential depends on how your group handles spying and surveillance. If your class or a racial trait doesn't already have the abilities provided by the tattoo, they can change how a character plays entirely.
4 Eldritch Claw
While on your skin, the Eldritch Claw Tattoo powers up your fists by causing unarmed strikes to not only deal magic damage, but you also receive a +1 bonus to the attack and damage rolls of said strikes. The tattoo also improves your action economy by granting you a new bonus action, which allows your strikes or weapon attacks to reach up to 15 feet away and deal an extra dose of 1d6 force damage for an entire minute.
This tattoo's first ability is redundant if you're playing a monk, but the bonus action is a welcome sight for anyone. The Polearm Master feat is an especially nasty pairing for the Eldritch Claw Tattoo, as your weapons' reach would then be 25 feet away. It also adds another bonus action for you to eke out extra damage.
3 Coiling Grasp
The Coiling Grasp Tattoo allows you to use your action to grapple someone within 15 feet of you. As long as the grapple is successful, it also deals 3d6 force damage and requires a DC 14 Strength or Dexterity Check to escape.
This kind of reach for a grapple creates many opportunities to synergize with your fellow players. For instance, that sorcerer can finally cast an AoE spell on an enemy in your grasp without cooking you. What's nice about this feature is its unlimited use per day, which other magical tattoos do not share.
Like the Spellwrought Tattoo, this tattoo's rarity varies. The Barrier Tattoo provides you with an Armor Class that scales with your dexterity modifier, provided you aren't already wearing armor. The Armor Class goes up with the item's rarity, with the rarest offering an AC of 18, equivalent to plate armor.
The strength of this tattoo lies in the fact that you don't need armor proficiency of any kind to benefit from its defensive capability. Pair that with the fact that you can still use a shield, and the value of this tattoo speaks for itself.
1 Blood Fury
The Blood Fury Tattoo is the only magical tattoo categorized as legendary, and it's plain to see why. This vicious-sounding ink comes equipped with 10 charges, which you can expend for one of two of the tattoo's functions. Its first ability is leech-like: when you hit a creature with an attack, you can use a charge to deal an extra 4d6 necrotic damage, then regain HP equal to the necrotic damage dealt. If you have a reaction, you can expend a charge for the second function, which is a type of counter, letting you make a melee attack with advantage on a creature that just hit you.
Want to be a one-warrior army? Stick this on your fighter with Extra Attack and Action Surge and take a 3-level dip into Swashbuckler rogue.
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