Today is a class archetype for 5th Edition that has been a bit of a conundrum for me. Where to start, what to do, what features to utilize, etc. The hag coven wizard was put on the Twitter poll because it sounded like a fun idea. People must have agreed because it did quite well in the running. Keep in mind that there is a poll up until tomorrow for the next entries into this series. You can find it here. For now I am going to start with the direction I am taking the class and then will be the specific class features for this build.
A Different “School” Of Magic
Okay, so the main idea behind this wizard sub-class is that the mage has learned the art of spell casting from a hag or coven of hags. If this sounds like a witch to you, well, it did to me too. So the idea behind it is that this is going to be a witch-adjacent wizard build. For the purpose of this article I want to focus on the core idea of that and establish how the class will work. That being said I acknowledge that there are different types of hags and thee might have different abilities they could teach their followers. There are also different styles of witch that we could go with (including an earth witch that heals).
But what is important here is creating a wizard school that encompasses this style of magic and, hopefully, has enough room to be expanded upon.In order to do that I have a few things that I want to focus on: hexes, potion/fetish making, familiars. Hexes are big because they are a common way in which witches of various stories harm others. For me the hex lies somewhere between a spell and a curse. Curse implies something specific, long lasting and a spell requires some kind of preparation. A hex can lie somewhere in between, much like the invocations of the warlock. Free access to a variety of non-wizard spells once per rest and other effects can enhance the style of play that an individual wants allowing them to increase on-the-fly versatility or enhance their specialty roles.
Potion and fetish making is something of a visual I really want to instill and links the class to hags in a big way. I always thing of hags making things: snacks, potions, poison apples, amulets. These have abilities that aren’t permanent and have only one use when we talk PC, despite the power of hags and witches from stories. Balancing here will probably take a few attempts but the idea of a witch handing another player a dried newt and telling them to eat it to breath water is worth it.
Finally we have familiars. There is not a ton I want or need to do with the familiar. Simply, I think all witches should have one and the hag coven wizard is no exception. I would even go so far to say that perhaps we can add advanced familiars for them, much like certain warlocks.
Hag Coven Wizard
At 2nd level, the coven you are beholden to has granted you a companion to accompany on your adventures. Added to your spell book is the find familiar spell. You can use this spell as a ritual without the need for material components. Additionally the range of effects that involve your familiar extend from 100 feet to 300 feet.
A Hex Upon you
Starting at 2nd level you come to know the arcane arts with an intimacy most wizards do not understand. You are capable of hexing opponents in a variety of ways. You gain one spell from the Hex list and learn an additional Hex at 5th, 9th, 13th, 16th, and 20th levels. In order to learn a Hex you must be able to cast spells of the same level as the Hex, and a Hex is cast at it’s minimum level. You may hex an opponent a number of times equal to your proficiency modifier each day. This number is replenished after a long rest.
Level 1: Hideous Laughter, Inflict Wounds
Level 2: Blindness/Deafness, Heat Metal, Hold Person, Suggestion
Level 3: Tongues
Level 4: Banishment
Level 6: Harm
Level 8: Feeblemind, Power Word Stun
Level 9: Power Word Kill
Beginning at 6th level you are able to create potions, edibles, and small trinkets that store spells. A hag coven wizard must have a fire for the ritual and something to store the spell in. This might be a strange brew, a dried chicken’s foot, or a stick doll that must be broken. The process takes 30 minutes to set up and 10 additional minutes per spell level. The wizard may store a number of spells equal to 1/3 their level at any time.
You may have noticed that there isn’t a full build here. There is, however, enough to get up to level 9 without wondering what to do next. My main problem right now involves a couple things. First I am unsure how well balanced the above abilities are and how to add to this class. I want to have some greater hexes that include more powerful versions of the spells involved, but this might also be the way one unlocks high level hexes in general. Additionally, given the idea that a witch of dark arts and an earth witch might utilize similar mechanics, I am wondering if this should be its own class. I have ideas on how to do this but I am also unsure if it is needed. Is it too much to have selections within a selection such that witchcraft might be the wizard school, but there are three types that work mechanically the same way? Or would this work better if separated from the wizard more fully? It is a difficult decision with potential in both directions.
A couple other tidbits to think about. Hexes are definitely something with more options than above, but I also believe they should target just one person. Perhaps even with a specific range unrelated to specific spell, but the requirement that the target must see or hear the wizard/witch. For the dark gifts, I like the idea of the imbued item lasting a while, but am unsure how to limit it.
I think I have an idea, a skeleton, to work with here. I need your help though. What looks good? What sounds good? What doesn’t? What other aspects might we dive into and directions might we take? Input will be extremely helpful! Please, leave a comment below!