Last Updated on January 22, 2023
The world of D&D is full of magic and monsters, and it’s easy to get caught up in the grand reality-bending aspects of the game, but the mundane can be just as interesting to explore, and D&D 5e has lots of infrequently used rules that can let you make use of the mundane, like the rules around artisan’s tools.
The All-Purpose Tool is a magic item that can let your artificer make excellent use of these rules along with a few other useful abilities.
The item is one of the better utility items, despite its focus on mundane tools rather than magical control of one’s environment. While it can be easy to dismiss, it’s worth learning about artisan’s tools and what they can do. If you love coming up with non-standard solutions to problems or enjoy using real-life technologies in D&D 5e, then the All-Purpose Tool is for you.
Let’s start with what the All-Purpose Tool can actually do.
First of all, depending on the rarity of your version of the All-Purpose Tool, the item grants a varying bonus to the spell attack rolls and saving throw DCs of your artificer spells. If the item is Uncommon, the bonus is +1; if Rare, +2; and if Very Rare, +3.
The item takes the form of a simple screwdriver. As an action you can touch it, transforming it into any type of artisan’s tool you wish. Whatever tool you choose, you are automatically proficient in it, which makes the tool very convenient.
Additionally, you can use the item to learn any cantrip you don’t know, retaining the knowledge for 8 hours. You can use this ability once per dawn.
Finally, it’s worth mentioning that the All-Purpose Tool requires attunement by an artificer, and so will take up one of your precious attunement slots.
Source: Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything
The All-Purpose Tool is not a magic item brimming with devastating combat potential, and its inability to win any fights for you can make it seem like a subpar option compared to a flaming sword or a javelin made from lightning. Even as a utility option, access to any of the 17 artisan’s tools or the ability to temporarily learn a cantrip might not appear to be a powerful ability.
However, the All-Purpose Tool can create a lot more options than you might think, and with the right application of custom cantrips and unlimited tools, you can solve a surprising number of problems.
Of course, the item also provides a nice bonus to Spell Attack rolls and Saving Throw DCs, but while ability can be quite nice, it’s a passive effect without the power or utility of the item’s other two powers. It’s really the shapeshifting tools and swappable cantrips that make this item an excellent choice for artificers.
Artisan’s tools are relatively simple. There are 17 of them, and each of them covers a different kind of activity. With them, you can make various kinds of checks to accomplish the usual tasks you can do with the relevant tools.
When it comes to any specific set of tools, they can provide a situational but useful advantage in a given situation, or they can potentially solve a problem. However, an artificer with the All-Purpose Tool has access to every kind of tool along with proficiency. To understand the potential here, let’s look at what the artisan’s tools are.
- Alchemist’s Supplies
- Brewer’s Supplies
- Calligrapher’s Supplies
- Carpenter’s Tools
- Cartographer’s Tools
- Cobbler’s Tools
- Cook’s Tools
- Glassblower’s Tools
- Jeweler’s Tools
- Leatherworker’s Tools
- Mason’s Tools
- Painter’s Tools
- Potter’s Tools
- Smith’s Tools
- Tinker’s Tools
- Weaver’s Tools
- Woodcarver’s Tools
You can read more about artisan’s tools and what they can do here, but for now, let’s just explore the possibilities.
These tools are mostly self-explanatory, but it’s worth noting that Alchemist’s Supplies contain what you need to not only make alchemical substances but also identify substances, neutralize poisons, and maybe even do some regular chemistry.
With this suite of tools at your disposal, you can do a lot. Cut through walls, identify jewels, cut through glass, create traps, generate poisons, barricade doors and other ports, disable mechanical devices or sabotage them, chisel away stone, and much more.
While, yes, it’s possible that your DM will only create situations that can be solved by combat, magic, or persuasion, that can usually be avoided with a conversation or two. Besides, limiting obstacles in this way is usually less fun.
Artisan tools usually don’t get a lot of attention, and that’s because any one of these isn’t particularly useful, but with the All-Purpose Tool and all of these tools at your disposal, what is mildly effective individually becomes a formidable tool.
Cantrips are a spellcaster’s staple. While some are objectively better than others, there are still a lot more good options than a single character could ever learn. That’s why it’s always useful to ensure that the party has a variety of cantrip picks.
But when that’s not possible, the All-Purpose Tool steps in. There are two main ways to take advantage of the ability to have on-demand cantrips.
Firstly, if you know what kinds of creatures you might be facing, you can ensure that you have damage cantrips tuned to the damage resistances and vulnerabilities of your foes. Of course, damage cantrips are not the best ways to deal damage, though access to Eldritch Blast can be fun to have.
The better way to make use of the All-Purpose Tool’s cantrip-swapping ability is for utility spells. It can be risky learning spells like Shape Water or Mold Earth if you don’t have a use for manipulating blocks of water or are not going to be spending a lot of time on the ocean. With the All-Purpose Tool, you can singlehandedly fill the utility cantrip needs of your entire party.
I recommend using the All-Purpose Tool as you need the cantrip. It only takes an action to get the extra cantrip, so it’s pretty much always better to wait until you definitely need it. You don’t want to risk assuming you need one cantrip only to find out that a different one would be much better.
Finally, don’t forget to make use of the ability to grab cantrips from other spell lists. There are many excellent cantrips (like Mind Sliver and Mold Earth) that aren’t otherwise accessible to single-classed artificers.
The All-Purpose Tool is not a magic item for simply increasing modifiers or doing more damage. While it does technically increase some modifiers and you could learn additional damaging cantrips, these are just nice features of the item.
The real reason to grab this item is the suite of proficiencies and tools it brings.
With a little creativity and the right kind of opportunities, the All-Purpose Tool can literally open doors and let you build whatever devices you can design and build with the medieval resources at your disposal.
It’s a tool for tinkering and building, creating and destroying, analyzing, and studying. If that appeals to you, the All-Purpose Tool is a must-have.
- About Author
- Latest Posts
Growing up I spent most of my time reading, so when I first started playing RPGs in middle school and got a copy of DnD 3.5’s rules I loved their collaborative take on storytelling. These days I like to use RPGs to develop my creative problem-solving skills as well.