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D&D 5E 5e witches, your preferred implementation?

Greg K

Legend
I wrote a thread on this referenced earlier. I ended up doing a wizard subclass to bridge the gap for spooky spellcaster. It's a take on the 2e witch kit, and any feedback is appreciated.

Personally, it is not for me. As a wizard subclass, they have access to a lot of spells that to me are are not "witchy" (e.g. flashy direct damage spells) and lack access to several spells that I think a witch should have from other class lists. Then again, I thought the 2e witch kit was terrible and used Mayfair's Witch's back in my 2e days
 

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MGibster

Legend
Except for all the witches who don't do anything of the sort. And all of the people who will get quite upset if you say that a warlock is a male witch.
None of us will come up with a Witch class that accurately covers all the historical and fictional ways in which witches have been portrayed or thought of. And I'm not going to be overly concerned about individuals who get upset if I say a warlock is a male witch. It's not like I made the word up and I'd be happy to point them to a dictionary if they'd like.
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
Bard? Yes, (some) witches should definitely get healing magic, (Witherbloom allows that) but whether they are arcane or divine or whether that's even a distinction that exist is a matter of setting lore.
Bards basic inspiration is not necessarily considered magic but yeh the original Celtic Bard is a branch of the Druids (Priesthood) rather like the hebraic Cantor. Singing/musical priests are a thing LOL. A bard could still make a potentially good witch
 


Whizbang Dustyboots

Gnometown Hero
None of us will come up with a Witch class that accurately covers all the historical and fictional ways in which witches have been portrayed or thought of. And I'm not going to be overly concerned about individuals who get upset if I say a warlock is a male witch. It's not like I made the word up and I'd be happy to point them to a dictionary if they'd like.
As has been pointed out recently to me, there are people walking around today saying they are witches, as their religious identity.

Putting a cartoon Halloween pop culture witch into D&D is a lot different than saying, canonically (in this hypothetical, WotC would finally publish an actual witch class or subclass), that their religion is devil worship. One they can laugh and blow off, the other is going to create some offense.
 

Marandahir

Crown-Forester (he/him)
Some witches are "psychics", Psionic. Especially Nordic witches.

Some witches are shamanic, Psionic, such as various animistic cultures, including shamans and witchdoctors and medicinefolk

Some witches are fay. Especially, Scot witches from the Renaissance and earlier, who interacted with the Elf queen and were often healers. Psionic or Primal or Arcane (In D&D the source for the Feywild is ambiguous.)

Some witches are theistic, Divine, such as Greek Hecate.

Some witches are devilish, Divine or Arcane, such as certain grimoire descriptions from continental Europe.

Some witches are protoscientific, Arcane or Primal, or Divine in the sense of cosmic force such as elementalism, such as Celtic traditions of Druid and Bard potion making, or Roman Period Hellenistic "magi" amuletic use of plants and gems.

Probably, the most important question is whether they themself is the power source internally, such as psychic or a family of psychics, or something else is the power source externally, such as harnessing the magical properties that are inherent in different kinds of plants and gems, or gaining the assistance of a spirit who does tasks.

If it was just power source (like arcane pacts, or divine blessings, or primal spirit mediating, or elemental channelling) I still think it would be fine to consider it a single class.

But Witches are also different in their approach to the nature of magic.

I can think of two classes that scream Witch especially in how they reach out to different power sources:

Warlock just needs to add a few more pacts like The Primal Spirit, The Divine Pairing, The Elements.
Sorcerer is almost good as it is, but could use an explicitly Fey origin, and perhaps a Cosmic Magic source (as well as Frost Sorcery, Flame Sorcery, and Stone Sorcery for more elemental themes beyond Storm Sorcery).

But again, there's Artificers that feel very much in line with historical Euro-American Witches as alchemists and healers that were demonized by a rising male industry of medicine; there's Bards who lean into the ecstatic and performative side of witchcraft and healing, while also being dabblers and seers - there's a reason that Troubadours, Nuns, Witches, & Concubines share a history of countercurrent creation in medieval Eurasia. And there's Druids and Wizards who have each inherited much of the tropes of witchcraft we have in popular fiction today. And of course there's always Clerics and Monks; the lines between witch and faith practitioner is often a line drawn by oppressors. Or, the rising dominant religious communities recasts magical persons as religious ones; Goddesses become Saints or Angels, Witches become Nuns or Priestesses reinforcing the divine right of the heroes they interacted with.

Look at Morgan le Fay from the Arthurian cycles. She's been cast as a witch, a sorceress, a depraved nun, a misunderstood priestess of an old religion, a misunderstood nun or priestess of the current religion, a goddess taking human form, a demigod, a fairy queen, or a female magus of some kind with powers similar to Merlin (himself a character that has been expressed in a multitude of ways and could be represented by the D&D Wizard, Bard, Sorcerer, Warlock, Cleric, Artificer, or even Fighter or Paladin or Ranger if we're talking Emrys or Ambrosius).

Magic in stories don't necessarily comply with each other. Maybe it's an argument for combining magical classes and calling it all just Mage with different flavours, but I think 5e resolves this best of any D&D edition: it's able to provide us with tools to enact classic character archetypes and then to finetooth it with subclasses. The answer thus would be to give us 5 different Witches that all have different flavours of Witch and sit within different classes, or to find the witchiest of witch ideas and make it a Strixhaven-style subclass that thus can combine with various classes to form the best idea of what a witch is to a given player. But doing so would also require guidance to figuring out the systems mastery, and I recognise that some people just want to be a witch and be done with it (much like some want to be a champion fighter and be done with options paralysis). In that case, I would want chapter 1 or 2 guidance directing them to classic archetypal characters, and witch could be one of them, saying if you want to play a witch of that classical variety, choose the Warlock class, etc.
 

Yaarel

🇮🇱He-Mage
I mean, I know reskinning is a thing, but having a default option of blasting with a magic laser doesn't feel very witchy. I want a witch to be debuffing and spreading around illusions and such. Although I guess you could get some of that feel with some of the XgtE invocations.
The Warlocks blast is a "beam of crackling energy", nevertheless this energy is magical, perhaps raw magical energy (whatever "magical energy" means). The magical energy is of an unspecified nature and the beam itself might even be invisible to observers, or more like a spacial distortion. It is within the rules to visualize this energy and characterize it in whatever makes sense for the character concept.

It is "eldritch" magic, literally meaning the more unsettling aspects of elf or fay, thus probably not "flashy" magic. And it deals "force" damage ... which itself is an unspecified kind of mystical damage type, perhaps telekinetic or gravitational or perhaps pure arcane energy (whatever "arcane energy" is). It might be a connection to the fifth element of ether. This "energy" could be damage from a timewarp associating with the dissimilar flow of time of the Feywild. Perhaps the damage is part of a curse unraveling the tapestry of fate. Or so on.

Even within the rules themselves, there is latitude for how a player or a DM can characterize an Eldritch Blast, and some flavors can be appropriately more "witchy".
 

TwoSix

"Diegetics", by L. Ron Gygax
The Artificer says 'sup.
Which only proves the point. 1 class in 7+ years means expecting a ton more, enough to start blurring niches and boundaries between classes, is pointless. Which is why I said this conversation is really only about homebrew and personal campaign implementation of the witch concept. Worrying about official implementation of the witch is a waste.
 

Marandahir

Crown-Forester (he/him)
The same argument, of course, can be made about a number of D&D classes. The D&D wizard has almost no relationship to many of the other wizards in fiction and myth. Bards and druids differ greatly from their inspirations. Warlocks and sorcerers likewise are a very gamist specific take that doesn't necessarily line up with myth and legend.

"Witch" is not somehow a harder nut to crack than any of these others, especially when they can be modified and branched out with subclasses.

The reason we don't have it is almost certainly that TSR was first sexist (the attractive witch in the little white booklets wears a translucent top, because of course she does) and then scared of stirring up the Satanic Panic further.

Only people on ENWorld seem confused about what constitutes a pop culture witch, something any 7 year old can describe to folks in detail, if they want clarification.
Except for all the witches who don't do anything of the sort. And all of the people who will get quite upset if you say that a warlock is a male witch.
Sounds to me like your asking for a general caster class called Witch that includes Wizard, Warlock, Sorcerer, Bard, and maybe even Druid as subclasses. I don't think that's necessarily a fruitless effort - it's something D&D pursued in 2e, 3e, and 4e with various class groupings.

But I do think that the easiest way to work with 5e would be to do something like what TCoE did for the Battle Master maneuvers: show archetypal characters that can be built with various packages of ability choices so people can understand how things work together. I feel like everything you need to make the Witch you want is already there in 5e, but we need a better way to helping entry-level players find their Witch.

I also think there's many other archetypal concepts that could work this way. The "4e Warlord" was the big one and that's why it's like that above. But I imagine that some of the people calling for "Shamans" on this board would agree that while the game CAN model what they want pretty well, it's not intuitive because it doesn't use the terms they like or are familiar with. And I imagine that the same guidance would be useful for making Jedi, or Magic Knights, or Psions, or Spirit Mediums or Ninja, etc. Concepts that have been in D&D before, or are popular in the modern pop culture of fantasy, but aren't their own class in D&D and may have multiple avenues for creating them. I think that's a robust part of the system, but it needs to be highlighted.

Even subclasses that don't have a central character archetype but share a theme could be highlighted in groups together. Jeremy Crawford has said that it was very much a design intention that the Horizon Walker Ranger and the Way of the Astral Self Monk share flavour, and he's said the same about the the Fey Wanderer Ranger and the Oath of the Ancients Paladin. There are various ways to group subclasses into genres, and I feel that witch is far more of a genre than a class in and of itself, even though it being a monosyllabic single noun word, Witch lends itself to good class name design (as opposed to nounverbers like Blood Hunter).

Which only proves the point. 1 class in 7+ years means expecting a ton more, enough to start blurring niches and boundaries between classes, is pointless. Which is why I said this conversation is really only about homebrew and personal campaign implementation of the witch concept. Worrying about official implementation of the witch is a waste.
Agreed. Past editions would role out classes a dime a dozen and the classes would rarely be filled out or given splatbook options once they were out the door if the options weren't in the same book or the class wasn't in the PHB.

Modern 5e class design is very big tent to have a lot of different ways of expressing the classes' big idea. But some big ideas are better suited to being the venn diagram between classes rather than being a class in and of themselves. The problem is drawing attention to the venn diagram so that new players can navigate the jargon of the game.

I mean, Kate Welch quit over the jargon and access issues in D&D. The game is not friendly enough to new players without an "older cousin" to teach them the legacy elements and help them find the character they want to build and understand that Spell level ≠ Class level, what spells or maneuvers make sense for their character, etc. They need to do a lot more work on this.
 
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Before 6th level I'm swinging 2d6+Cha damage with a greatsword and dealing Cha mod to a nearby enemy or blasting one target at range for 1d10+Cha.

After that point it's 2d6+1d8+Cha in melee if they won't let me war-magic it. Or 2d6+Cha twice with Thirsting Blade. And if they do let me war-magic, 2d6+1d8+Cha and 2d6+Cha. Or 2d10+Cha at range.

Oh. And Hex is up, of course. So add a d6 to each of those hits. And probably Hexblade's Curse for another Proficiency Modifier in damage and wider crit range.

Eldritch Blast does pull back into the lead for maximum damage at level 11, but the average damage of the 2d6+2d8+Cha is going to be higher. And it won't pull into the lead if War Magic was made available through some method.
I think some of the maths might be off here: Remember that at 5th level, EB+AB damage isn't 2d10 + Cha mod. Its 2d10 + (2x Cha mod)
Level 11 is 3d10 + (3 x Cha Mod).
(Assuming no Hex. With Hex it is 3d10 + 3d8 + 3xCha mod. Add 3x Prof mod for Hexblade's Curse.)

It is Eldritch Blast's unique rules that allows it to be considered multiple separate hits that make it so powerful. They mean it scales with any addition to damage, or effect on hit, unlike other cantrips.
 

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