Witch Class Concept Overview

Friends! If you have been paying attention to my Twitter feed you know that I have been working significantly on a new witch class. Originally I wanted to make a hag coven wizard, but the idea expanded a lot since then. This class stems from a couple key ideas about the witch that I have been thinking about lately. Today I want to go over what those are and how the class is coming along. Given all the thought I have been giving to it, I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a draft preview a week from today. Until then, let’s talk concepts.


Old Magic

Okay so let’s start with one of the major things that prompted this build: my setting’s cosmic elements. You can go back and read some of my thoughts on that using the link, but the main point is that most things can be categorized into one of or some combination of those 5 cosmic elements. Sorcerers are arcane magic users, druids use nature, monks use will, etc. etc. There are few exceptions such as aberrant creatures and cosmic horrors. Another exception, I came to realize, are witches. These folks use and old magic, something all-encompassing. Those things that are part of the whole concept of witch might lean one way or another, but its different from that used by traditional class concepts.

From WotC’s Curse of Strahd Adventure

 

Because of this there are a few core things that all witches will get. The first is a familiar, but one improved from the norm. As a conduit to some elder power, the familiar grants the witch the knowledge they might need. There will be different options which help guide the type of witch you might play and direct some of the special features. Two other abilities all witches will get is the ability to bolster magic and cast cooperatively. The idea is that the old magic of witches can stretch the rules that normally apply allowing the same spell to stack in some way with another casting of it. Cooperative magic will have to be planned a little bit, but the idea is that casting the same spell as another caster at the same time can turn two lesser spells into one greater one. This might not be “efficient” spell slot usage for some spells or situations, but under some circumstances maybe getting a level 9 fireball for two level 5 slots is the right choice.


Covens As Archetypes

Bards have their colleges, wizards have schools of magic, sorcerers have bloodlines, and witches have covens. The full concept should leave room for plenty of ideas to be developed but my initial design is looking towards 5 different covens. One for each of the cosmic elements to be leaned towards. They will be the Ghostcaller, Spidersilk, Whisperwood, Heartwell, and Bramblethought Covens (names might change of course). Two of these I have already begun to design as per the Twitter poll last week.

The Spidersilk Coven leans towards the faith/belief side of the cosmic elements, but not in the traditional way you might think. Witchcraft is older than traditional deities and powers and one of the oldest and firmest beliefs is that in fate. As such the special abilities of this coven will focus on tweaking the fortune of the witch and their party. Rolling some dice ahead of time and switching those out at the right times, denying success or failure in emergencies, and stuff like that.

The Ghostcaller Coven, the other voted on option to be included in the first version, focuses more on the spiritual side of things. This is the persistence of the world, ghosts lingering on longer than they should. This coven’s abilities will focus around ghosts, phantoms, and spirits. They will have an ability to ask the spirits of the world questions and not just those of people but also the spirits of animals, monsters, rocks, trees, practically anything. It will also include abilities to avoid difficult terrain and phase through small barriers as ghosts do as well as draw on the life force of the dying to bolster themselves.


Traditions of Witchcraft

Okay so there is still a lot to be filled in for features, but I wanted there to be even more room for mix and match abilities. I wanted to let players evoke the feeling of whatever witch that they wanted to build and there are lots of examples out there. In order to do that with the class, some of their abilities are going to come from traditions of witchcraft. Each tradition will have 3 tiers of abilities and they will be selected one at a time over the 20 levels. Tier one of any tradition is available to all witches, tier two requires having tier one, and tier three will require having tier two. There is still a need to balance out how many total tradition features that they will get by level 20.

From Paizo’s Advanced Player’s Guide

That being said another aspect of the traditions is that a decent amount will be written with a design that they are based off spells or other witch features. For example on potion ability will allow you to bottle up a spell as a potions or, given an appropriate feature, a witch ability will be able to be bottled up. I want players to be able to make crazy combinations and come up with synergies I didn’t think of or intend. Hopefully the rules will reflect this creativity initiative rather than a way to break the game.

The current traditions I am thinking about / planning are the following with the initial release ones starred.

  • Hexes*
  • Necromancy
  • Masks
  • Charms
  • Sympathy Magic*
  • Potions*
  • Divination
  • Runes
  • Poppets
  • True Names*
  • Summoning

There is a lot of work to do here, but I have a good headway going. If you want to know more comment below or feel free to tweet me. Also be sure to watch out for a draft next week or the week after.

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