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


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Voadam

Legend
I can see the first three easily, but bard seems a harder sell. What is the witch's type of performance?

I would say performance is fairly easy to strip out of bards for doing non minstrel concepts using mechanics.

I am not sure there is really a classic performance that matches up to either valor bard or knowledge bard colleges in the PH.

Skald poetry for a valor bard maybe?

When I was playing a viking style chainmail and battleaxe 5e valor bard I had storytelling, boasting, and a horn of Gondor style warhorn as the performance/instrument parts on the character sheet, but they were not central to the character.

I've played a 3e elven bard where bardic magic was narratively elven magic and the combo of arcane magic and rapier was very B/X elf narratively and played as such.

I can see charms and healing magics and buffs/curses off the bard spell list working well for a witch concept.
 

Einlanzer0

Explorer
I don't really see a properly done version of witch as a subclass for any existing class, however, it's also a bit of a stretch to make it its own full class.

Rather, my favorite approach is to roll witch as an archetype into a broader general primal caster class that includes other concepts like witch doctors, shamans, oracles, seers, hedge wizards, animists, theurges, charmers, etc. Apart from covering a nice smattering of concepts not nearly covered by a standard class, this also gives us a nice thematic analogue to the barbarian

IThat's why the occultist by kibblestasty is my go-to for something to build off of. What I don't love about the Occultist is the lack of a single unifying mechanic other than rituals, which makes it feel like a dumping ground for things rather than a cohesive class concept. My version of this would include something like a Trance-based mechanic to mirror the Barbarian rage.
 
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Remathilis

Legend
I would say performance is fairly easy to strip out of bards for doing non minstrel concepts using mechanics.

I am not sure there is really a classic performance that matches up to either valor bard or knowledge bard colleges in the PH.

Skald poetry for a valor bard maybe?

When I was playing a viking style chainmail and battleaxe 5e valor bard I had storytelling, boasting, and a horn of Gondor style warhorn as the performance/instrument parts on the character sheet, but they were not central to the character.

I've played a 3e elven bard where bardic magic was narratively elven magic and the combo of arcane magic and rapier was very B/X elf narratively and played as such.

I can see charms and healing magics and buffs/curses off the bard spell list working well for a witch concept.
The thing is, all bards are performers of some type, the base game mechanics inform that. I just don't see bards as the kind of performer a bard typically is. The closest I could see is something based on the Dance of the Dead, but that's still a bit of a stretch.

However, warlocks, druids, and wizards seem prime candidates. Sorcerer might be too with a kinda blood magic focus. Each class could address a different type or archetype of witchcraft.
 

I don't think a proper Witch class will ever exist, so long as there is also the Warlock class. Too much confusion connecting to what people know of them in real world history. Change the Warlock to a non-Good NPC subclass of Witch and it would be alright.
 

I'm likely repeating what others have said in some fashion.
If Witch means a caster who evokes primal forces which while divine are not specifically tied to a singular deity, I go with Druid. Witches often read as nature-centered. Druids can shapechange, which is a classic witch trick in folklore. I think a dedicated Witch subclass of some sort would be a great take on a Druid. Give em "find familiar" and you are halfway there.
If Witch means a caster who makes some sort of pact with an otherworldly, possibly malign being, then Warlock.
If Witch is just a term for a divine caster of a specific faith, Cleric.
If Witch just means a spellcaster, Wizard or Sorcerer.

If I were to get a Witch class, I'd think some sort of Druid/Wizard hybrid would make the most sense.
 

If Witch means a caster who evokes primal forces which while divine are not specifically tied to a singular deity, I go with Druid. Witches often read as nature-centered. Druids can shapechange, which is a classic witch trick in folklore. I think a dedicated Witch subclass of some sort would be a great take on a Druid. Give em "find familiar" and you are halfway there.

Witches are not Druids, but Druids are Witches.
 

I'd argue the witch is the intersection between wizard, druid and warlock. They're able to be put in any of those, but have their own archetype just different enough to each its not a perfect fit.

Just one of those hard things to codefy.
 


I'm likely repeating what others have said in some fashion.
If Witch means a caster who evokes primal forces which while divine are not specifically tied to a singular deity, I go with Druid. Witches often read as nature-centered. Druids can shapechange, which is a classic witch trick in folklore. I think a dedicated Witch subclass of some sort would be a great take on a Druid. Give em "find familiar" and you are halfway there.
If Witch means a caster who makes some sort of pact with an otherworldly, possibly malign being, then Warlock.
If Witch is just a term for a divine caster of a specific faith, Cleric.
If Witch just means a spellcaster, Wizard or Sorcerer.

If I were to get a Witch class, I'd think some sort of Druid/Wizard hybrid would make the most sense.
I don’t know if I care about the underlying rationale for their magic. I’m just thinking “witch” from fiction/fantasy. You know, cackling laugh, bubbling cauldron, turning people into frogs or newts.

And while it’s quite easy to replicate that with existing archetypes, it’s enough fun that I’d love to see some new subclasses that add just a bit more flavor.

I don’t see the purpose of subclasses to be filling holes in the design space as much as giving extra support to cool/popular concepts.
 

Zaukrie

New Publisher
I think this thread makes the argument for MUCH NARROWER classes.....which I get will never happen. Like an archer is different than a sword fighter (and could be different classes), so a witch is different than all the other caster classes.
 

steeldragons

Steeliest of the dragons
Epic
For 5e, I've done a Druid subclass Witch and a Wizard subclass Witch. They each covered some basics. Neither did everything. And neither offered the real breadth of archetypes different kinds/tastes of witches could be.

I played a Pathfinder Witch for quite a while, into high levels. Loved it. Loved the options. Wasn't crazy about the dependency on a familiar, but it fit some folklore/imaginings of witches and was little more than some flavor in play. Loved the supernatural "Hex" powers. Covere a lot of permutations of "witchy" type/creditted abilities.

My own homebrew is what I call a "League" class, classes that are a "league" of their own. Among other things, these are archetypes of the Class Category (Warrior, Wizard, Mystic, Rogue) that are separate and apart, their own special abilities, unique features, often an organizational affiliation in the game setting, different/multiple ability dependencies, and other mechanical differences from the Base archetypes (Fighter, Mage, Cleric, Thief), that require/deserve/delineate them as a separate class archetype.

Think of it as a "third tier" or "tertiary" class...not in "power level", certainly. But in a tree that begins with the Base "foundational" classes. Then a second "tier" of Specialist classes, those classes that are a specific kind/flavor of the Base class, usually defined with a single "special" feature that supplies features the Base class can not duplicate (or do as well): a Cavalier {fighter}, an Illusionist {mage}, etc... The League classes are the third level, branching/different archetypes from the Base classes that still fall within the Class Category. i.e. Barbarians are in the Warrior category. But they are not a "specialist" Fighter. They are their own Warrior archetype, with their own special abilities and secondary choice point to dictate the kind of Barbarian you will be.

So a Witch is a League class. There are a suite of foundational features that all witches can do. You get your spell use/list (beginning as a combo of nature magic, illusions/enchantments, some minor conjuring and transmutations), a supernatural Hex power (ranged attack to bonus/penalty to rolls), eventually potion making, and a choice of starting Witch's Crafts, and some other things.

EDIT: Here's the write-up/blurb description for my homebrewed class:

"The Witch​

There are more, and more ancient, ways to harness and activate arcane energies, commune with occult powers, and produce supernatural effects than to be found in the magic tomes of mages. The Witch has access to mastering them all. Tapping into the natural world, learning secrets of dragons and titans, and opening their own powerful minds, the first witches formed the first magic-using traditions. The witch faces the challenges of adventure with a diversity of magical powers and supernatural "crafts," many unknown to even the most powerful archmage. "
/EDIT


The origins of your witchery, where you learned/began your skills/knowledge/crafts is up to the player at start of play. But by 3rd level, either by happenstance, seeking out further training, or sought after recruitment, the witch must choose a Coven to continue their advancement. I believe I originally created 3. Think we're up to 5 now. Your choice of coven expands your options for spells and dictates a series of supernatural powers that other witches and Wizard category classes can not, necessarily, know/learn.

Ex.: The witches of the Silver Moon coven gain access to more clerical spells, abjurations, etc... They can eventually channel positive energy and Turn Undead. Your "white witch" archetype. The Green Glade coven (you can probably guess) focuses more on druid/nature spells, more fae flavor: more/greater illusions and enchantments than other witches, more "fairy" witchy flavor. The coven of the Indigo Dragon involves psychic powers, raw magic/force energy spells, an eventual transmutation into draconic form, etc... There's also the Blood Flame: conjurers/demon-users, and the Ebon Eye: your general curse-uttering "wicked" witches, heavy on the shadow and necromantic magics. Considered "evil" by nearly all, including other witches/covens.

So, I think that's my favorite implementation. But I've seen a number of homebrewed or other system witches I'd love to try.
 
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doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
I've been thinking about changing the name of my Binder class to "Witch", as it is a ritualist who uses and must master specific ritual tools, is initiated into progressively more complex and powerful mysteries, has a special familiar, and has a strong flavor of conjuring and binding powers, often using specially prepared vessels like animal skulls and hand-made containers inscribed with runes.

The first draft was very much an alternate warlock/wizard hybrid, but iteration moves it further into it's own territory over time.
 

CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing
The last time I had a "witch" in the group, she was a human druid (Circle of the Land) with the Ritual Caster feat (keyed to the Wizard class, in order to get the Find Familiar spell). The player asked if she could start the game with a Broom of Flying, and I said no--but I let her start with a treasure map to a place where she might find one.
 

Azuresun

Adventurer
I'd argue the witch is the intersection between wizard, druid and warlock. They're able to be put in any of those, but have their own archetype just different enough to each its not a perfect fit.

Just one of those hard things to codefy.

I'd say all of those are a perfect fit for one interpretation of the word or another, the problem is that it sees so many different uses in pop culture that there is no one definition.

Hammer horror: A sinister spellcaster who makes a pact with evil beings and acts as their agent. Warlock.

Some neopagan interpretations: Attuned to nature, healing and elemental magic, as well as an affinity with plants and animals. Druid.

Modern urban fantasy: Person with inborn magical powers, who refines them through work or study. Sorcerer.
 

Einlanzer0

Explorer
Witches are not Druids, but Druids are Witches.

This is the fundamental problem that exists at the core of many of these discussions. D&D's core classes are a combination of really broad concepts and really narrow ones when ideally they would all be broad. Druid is really too specific a concept to apply to entire class IMO, and druids should have been carved out of a broader animist-theme class which would include other primal caster types like witches and shamans. WotC really should have put more effort into rethinking and re-concepting certain classes in 5e instead of just copy/pasting all of the legacy classes the way they did.

The same problem exists with several other classes, even including clerics, which push too hard into a "crusader" theme when they should be more generic to allow for a broader range of priestly/devoted concepts to fit inside it.
 

Einlanzer0

Explorer
I'd say all of those are a perfect fit for one interpretation of the word or another, the problem is that it sees so many different uses in pop culture that there is no one definition.

Hammer horror: A sinister spellcaster who makes a pact with evil beings and acts as their agent. Warlock.

Some neopagan interpretations: Attuned to nature, healing and elemental magic, as well as an affinity with plants and animals. Druid.

Modern urban fantasy: Person with inborn magical powers, who refines them through work or study. Sorcerer.

This is the common argument, but I see it as more of an after-the-fact rationalization on why we don't have a witch class. When thinking in terms of fantasy, witch calls to mind some fairly specific themes and concepts that do not neatly fit inside any of the core classes without significant alteration of some of their existing themes. The reality is that we either should have a witch class, or we should have a primal caster class that is broadly themed enough that the witch can tuck into nicely. We have neither - hence why this discussion pops up pretty regularly.
 

Frozen_Heart

Adventurer
This is the fundamental problem that exists at the core of many of these discussions. D&D's core classes are a combination of really broad concepts and really narrow ones when ideally they would all be broad. Druid is really too specific a concept to apply to entire class IMO, and druids should have been carved out of a broader animist-theme class which would include other primal caster types like witches and shamans. WotC really should have put more effort into rethinking and re-concepting certain classes in 5e instead of just copy/pasting all of the legacy classes the way they did.

The same problem exists with several other classes, even including clerics, which push too hard into a "crusader" theme when they should be more generic to allow for a broader range of priestly/devoted concepts to fit inside it.
DnD 5e as a whole is absolutely awful at dealing with those concepts which are too much for a subclass, but redundant as a main class. Swordmage, witch, shaman, psion, and numerous others all fit into this weird place there if you the to make them a subclass it's an unsatisfying mess, while if you try to make them a full class they heavily overlap with something which is already there.
 

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