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

Marandahir

Crown-Forester
Here's the scenario all these arguments keep missing:

New player (not a hypothetical -- this is from my own table): "I want to play a Witch."

Me: "Uh, there isn't a Witch, per se, but we can hack one together using Wizard or Druid or Warlock or Sorcerer."

New player, deflating: "Oh, um, never mind."

All of the people saying "we don't need a Witch class, because all of us who don't want one would just use our system mastery to hack one together" aren't getting that you aren't the target audience. The giant world of people who don't play D&D, for whom "Witch" is a much more concrete concept than "Druid" or especially "Cleric," want and expect "Witch" to be a thing in the most popular fantasy RPG around.

If a generally non-offensive Druid can be in the PHB, a generally non-offensive Witch can be. A core class is doable -- there's plenty of mechanical space left in the game for another caster, probably multiple sorts -- but a subclass is undeniably doable, especially if the cross-class subclass system makes it into a future PHB or other book. (And yes, the Witherbloom is a great start at that, but again, when someone says "I want to play a witch," they don't want to be told "just pretend this Witherbloom in a supplement about MTG is a Witch.")
My point was that we need guidance IN THE CHARACTER CREATION SECTION OF THE BOOK so that that new player isn't left deflated.

We need a way to present that witch archetype with the tools already existent, much like how we need to present the Warlord concept.

The term Witch is really popular because it means so many different things. The correct answer of the DM would be to ask "What kind of witch do you want to play?"

And then say "oh, that's called a Druid in this game book, but it's totally the same thing." The book should have that guidance.

What we DON'T need is another class that steps on those classes toes. Maybe in a hypothetical game built from the ground up a Witch class would work, but we're talking about implementation into a roster of current classes where a witch class would just create more confusion regarding the overlap. The classes need to be incredibly distinct.
 

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And so on. If it is possible to officially swap a power source, it goes along way to get a character concept exact.
Power source is not a thing in 5e. You can say that your bard is powered by happy thoughts and mechanically absolutely nothing changes. It is not a rule, it is one fluffbox about how things are in Forgotten Realms.
 

Marandahir

Crown-Forester
Power source is not a thing in 5e. You can say that your bard is powered by happy thoughts and mechanically absolutely nothing changes. It is not a rule, it is one fluffbox about how things are in Forgotten Realms.
Technically it exists in a few non-keywords in the core 5e rules. but they're really not important to the nature of the game, unlike the keyword functionality of the 4e ones.

But that's part of the flexibility of the game and why we have the Path of the Zealot Barbarians now and Divine Soul Sorcerers and Celestial Pact Warlocks. Muddying the water is good when it comes to subclasses.
 

Cadence

Legend
Supporter
Here's the scenario all these arguments keep missing:

New player (not a hypothetical -- this is from my own table): "I want to play a Witch."

Me: "Uh, there isn't a Witch, per se, but we can hack one together using Wizard or Druid or Warlock or Sorcerer."

New player, deflating: "Oh, um, never mind."

All of the people saying "we don't need a Witch class, because all of us who don't want one would just use our system mastery to hack one together" aren't getting that you aren't the target audience. The giant world of people who don't play D&D, for whom "Witch" is a much more concrete concept than "Druid" or especially "Cleric," want and expect "Witch" to be a thing in the most popular fantasy RPG around.

If a generally non-offensive Druid can be in the PHB, a generally non-offensive Witch can be. A core class is doable -- there's plenty of mechanical space left in the game for another caster, probably multiple sorts -- but a subclass is undeniably doable, especially if the cross-class subclass system makes it into a future PHB or other book. (And yes, the Witherbloom is a great start at that, but again, when someone says "I want to play a witch," they don't want to be told "just pretend this Witherbloom in a supplement about MTG is a Witch.")

I confess to not reading the entire thread. Does anyone have which post # defines exactly what defines a witch in a way that covers all the tropes so no one is left out?

Would it essentially be a class that could replaces both druid and warlock in some form, expanding on what part of the trope-spaxw they cover, and having them as sub-classes?
 

Yaarel

Legend
Here's the scenario all these arguments keep missing:

New player (not a hypothetical -- this is from my own table): "I want to play a Witch."

Me: "Uh, there isn't a Witch, per se, but we can hack one together using Wizard or Druid or Warlock or Sorcerer."

New player, deflating: "Oh, um, never mind."

Heh, from my perspective, the solution is, obviously, that you as the DM must build a premade character with all the flavors and mechanics to make the concept work.

Once you get a clear feel for what the player has in mind, it is your responsibility to build it.

And you are the DM, you can tweak stuff.

Does it become apparent that the player is asking for a "Halloween witch"? (Which I suppose ultimately derives from Shakespeare, but is its own archetype.) The build it. You can even be creative like giving a broomstick or a magical hat as a kind of a Find Familiar. Maybe at level 1, the broom can fly by itself, and maybe by level 5, the broom can support a human rider.

You are the DM!
 

Zaukrie

New Publisher
Heh, from my perspective, the solution is, obviously, that you as the DM must build a premade character with all the flavors and mechanics to make the concept work.

Once you get a clear feel for what the player has in mind, it is your responsibility to build it.

And you are the DM, you can tweak stuff.

Does it become apparent that the player is asking for a "Halloween witch"? (Which I suppose ultimately derives from Shakespeare, but is its own archetype.) The build it. You can even be creative like giving a broomstick or a magical hat as a kind of a Find Familiar. Maybe at level 1, the broom can fly by itself, and maybe by level 5, the broom can support a human rider.

You are the DM!
I couldn't disagree more that a DM should take on this much work all the time. Certainly not our responsibility.
 


What we DON'T need is another class that steps on those classes toes. Maybe in a hypothetical game built from the ground up a Witch class would work, but we're talking about implementation into a roster of current classes where a witch class would just create more confusion regarding the overlap. The classes need to be incredibly distinct.
There are a ton of ways to insert more casters in the game without stepping on anyone's toes.

The discussion of a constitution-based caster mentioned earlier (which wouldn't be a standard witch, for the record) is a great example. It's an incredibly common trope in CRPGs and absent in D&D and could be created as a subclass or full class without much trouble.

It's a matter of will, not because it's an especially challenging problem.
 

Cadence

Legend
Supporter
I am running five different campaigns, plus a play by post one.

I don't think it's unreasonable to wish WotC would support one of the most iconic fantasy character types that's been conspicuously missing from the game since 1974.
I've been playing since 1981 and never heard a single person ask to play one, so I'm kind of surprised by the outpouring of love. We had several players in 1e want the Bounty Hunter from Dragon, but none the Witch. Anyone have stats on how popular they were in PF when they had their own class?
There are a ton of ways to insert more casters in the game without stepping on anyone's toes.

The discussion of a constitution-based caster mentioned earlier (which wouldn't be a standard witch, for the record) is a great example. It's an incredibly common trope in CRPGs and absent in D&D and could be created as a subclass or full class without much trouble.

It's a matter of will, not because it's an especially challenging problem.

So, what's your write up of Witch that doesn't significantly step on any toes in the PhB?
 
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I've been playing since 1981 and never heard a single person ask to play one, so I'm kind of surprised by the outpouring of love. We had several players in 1e want the Bounty Hunter from Dragon, but none the Witch.
In contrast, my brother rolled up a Bounty Hunter, played him once, and that was it. All of our sample sizes are way too small.

I will note that there are a lot of Witch products on DMs Guild, Drive-Thru RPG and Kickstarter. There's certainly a lot of people perceiving a demand for them.
Anyone ave stats on how popular they were in PF when they had their own class?
Does PF have anything comparable to D&D Beyond? Or do any of the virtual tabletops track how many of a character class are played?
So, what's your write up of Witch that doesn't significantly step on any toes in the PhB?
I'm supposed to be working, but off the top of my head:

1) Full Wisdom-based spellcaster with a unique, mixing enchanting, debuffing, shapechanging, a sprinkling of nature spells, scrying, minor healing spells
2) Find Familiar as a level one freebie, costing no material component for the first familiar they start off with. Material component required after that, so we don't get into the weird strategy of resummoning your familiar over and over again as a tactical measure
3) Robust potion-creation abilities
4) Perhaps a weaker version of Wild Shape
5) Debuffing specialist whose debuffs hit harder, last longer and are harder to resist. This might be as simple as the equivalent of getting Expertise on Debuff DCs. Fighting a witch should mean your barbarian might eventually be crawling over to them, trying to stab them in their black boots
6) The ability to create iconic witch-related magical items, like the Broom of Flying, which I've never seen anyone actually use in preference to the Carpet of Flying

That's just a basic write-up and, although I'm sure it'll be promptly torn apart by folks, it's all I have time for at the moment. While there are currently spellcasters who have access to debuffing, it's generally not the focus of any of them. I've played several CRPGs and MMOs where debuffing has been made extremely strong for certain character classes and it's a very potent approach and has a very different feel from being a blaster or crowd-controlling enchanter.
 

Yaarel

Legend
I agree the Paladin can rename as Knight. This might also open the class up to both magical and nonmagical knights, including was is currently D&D Warlord, Cavalier, Samurai, especially Eldritch Knight (!), as well as the White Knight (Devotion), Green Knight (Ancients), Black Knight, and Red Knight of the current Paladin, plus Psi Knight and so on.

Knight corresponds to heavy infantry and formal education, as Fighter might specifically be a skirmisher, corresponding to light infantry, and relying more on agility and sometimes stealth. (I could even see the "Athlete" gymnast brawler, and the Monk, as archetypes for a more skirmishy Fighter.)



I'd argue that the Sorcerer discovered its identity in 4e when it could no longer be the Nonvancian mage. I think that the mechanics could better push this by making its casting all via Sorcery Points (which stack relatively nicely with the variant rule: Spell points in the DM's Guide, fi you want to combine them with house rules. But narratively the Sorcerer fills a niche that other casters do not, that of a character that did not "earn" their powers but came into it and now has to figure out what they're going to do with it. The inheritors of magic. The results of a science experiment gone horribly right. "Everything special about you came out of a bottle." Who is Mewtwo and why does he exist?

I also think that Psions are essentially Sorcerers in this way, but we'd have to be more liberal with letting players swap out their primary ability scores to make a full on Int-focused Psion be represented by a spell-points variant Sorcerer with the subclass of Aberrant Mind.
Yeah, Sorcerer fills a mechanical space better if it is only about spell points.

Regarding flavor, the Sorcerer concept that the character does magic by instinctive nature rather than by learned nurture, contradicts the mechanic that a Sorcerer must use spell components, which inherently require learning and formulas. It is difficult for me to get past the dissonance.

For me the flavors of Psion and Sorcerer differ saliently. A Psion is the mind only. A mind is something that everyone (and everything) has. It might be that some minds are stronger than others, and training and disciplining ones mind matters. But a mind is something fundamental and normal, that everyone has.

By contrast, the flavor of a Sorcerer feels more like an exotic superhero origin.

Both the Psion and the Sorcerer should lack spell components, casting innately, but for different reasons. Also, where the Psion is about a powerful mind, the Sorcerer is about a magical body. This feels significantly different. Even the new Aberrant Mind Sorcerer is only psionic because the body itself is of Aberrant origin.

I forget that other D&D players associate the Psion class with the Intelligence key ability. We mostly use psionics for the Nordic region. Reallife Nordic magic (historically) is the opposite of memorizing formulas. In Nordic magic, the person strives to focus ones mind to become one with the target. Any techniques to focus the mind, silence, stillness, chanting, commanding, even sometimes rune-carving, are all improvisationally spontaneous. Thus songs and words, if any, are NEVER the same thing twice. For this reason, our Nordic Psions use the Charisma key ability. Likewise, Telepathic mind-manipulation involving enchantment and phantasm works better with Charisma. And Shapeshift in the sense of self-expression, works well too.



I think the tribulations are a big part of narrative. Enduring despite the odds or with love and grief co-mingled.
Of course, the historical ordeals are important. For me it is painful to dwell on reallife suffering. At the same, I appreciate the good that these unique cultures do. I feel that who they are is vastly more important than what other people have tried to do to them.
 

Yaarel

Legend
Power source is not a thing in 5e. You can say that your bard is powered by happy thoughts and mechanically absolutely nothing changes. It is not a rule, it is one fluffbox about how things are in Forgotten Realms.
I am noticing chatter from designers where they actually say the phrase "power source", and if I recall correctly, including with regard to Arcane, Divine, Psionic, Primal, and "other power sources".

Plus it is such a useful way to coordinate mechanics and flavor. This 4e-ism will inevitably resurface.
 

I am noticing chatter from designers where they actually say the phrase "power source", and if I recall correctly, including with regard to Arcane, Divine, Psionic, Primal, and "other power sources".
It's fluff. They're talking about themes.

Plus it is such a useful way to coordinate mechanics and flavor.
You mean an awkward straitjacket that tries clearly categorise fuzzy mythological themes.

This 4e-ism will inevitably resurface.
I hope not.
 

Yaarel

Legend
I hear the complaints. I am the DM but I am too busy to build a character for a player. Fair enough. If there are cases where one might need to, Enworld has many skilled people who are happy to help put it together quickly.

There are a ton of ways to insert more casters in the game without stepping on anyone's toes.

The discussion of a constitution-based caster mentioned earlier (which wouldn't be a standard witch, for the record) is a great example. It's an incredibly common trope in CRPGs and absent in D&D and could be created as a subclass or full class without much trouble.

The Constitution mage works excellently for the Sorcerer, whose body is magical. The bodys constitution is literally magic. Plus investing in Constitution makes the Sorcerer tougher in combat, which is great. And if there is a mechanic that has magic drain the body, it is because it is actually draining the body.
 


I am noticing chatter from designers where they actually say the phrase "power source", and if I recall correctly, including with regard to Arcane, Divine, Psionic, Primal, and "other power sources".

Plus it is such a useful way to coordinate mechanics and flavor. This 4e-ism will inevitably resurface.
While it might have been a mistake to put the game design elements forward so prominently in 4E, I think, at least behind the scenes, 4E had a very robust chassis to build upon. I suspect the best 5E designs work with a (possibly reverse-engineered) similar chassis, while the ones that don't quite click aren't doing so, since their designers don't necessarily have a sense on how everything fits together the way it was easy to do so under 4E.
 

The Constitution mage works excellently for the Sorcerer, whose body is magical. The bodys constitution is literally magic. Plus investing in Constitution makes the Sorcerer tougher in combat, which is great. And if there is a mechanic that has magic drain the body, it is because it is actually draining the body.
I agree it's a good fit. I might even make blood magic a core class element of a Constitution-based sorcerer, rather than locking it away in a subclass. (A blood mage subclass could go into gorier further detail.) D&D no longer needs to have sorcerers be based on Charisma, as there are multiple classes that won't use it as a dump stat now.
 

Power sources are just themes: tags. They dont have mechanics in themselves, but other mechanics and other settings can refer to them.

In one setting, the "Shadow" power source might be Shadowfell, and in an other setting, something else.
They don't need to be. It wouldn't be hard to line up various damage types and categories of spell by theme. It's not necessary to do so, of course, but it makes things easier from a design standpoint to create a world that "feels" like it all fits together logically, even if it's magic realism logic.
 

Yaarel

Legend
They don't need to be. It wouldn't be hard to line up various damage types and categories of spell by theme. It's not necessary to do so, of course, but it makes things easier from a design standpoint to create a world that "feels" like it all fits together logically, even if it's magic realism logic.
There are different ways to do this, but I tend to associate the following:

Psionic: psychic

Various (Ether): force

Elemental
(Fire-Ether): radiant
(Fire-Earth): fire
(Fire-Air): lightning
(Water): cold
(Earth): slashing, bludgeoning, piercing

Primal (Plant-Beast): poison

Shadow: necrotic
 

Yaarel

Legend
I agree it's a good fit. I might even make blood magic a core class element of a Constitution-based sorcerer, rather than locking it away in a subclass. (A blood mage subclass could go into gorier further detail.) D&D no longer needs to have sorcerers be based on Charisma, as there are multiple classes that won't use it as a dump stat now.
Heh, I find this approach redeeming the 5e Sorcerer in my eyes. Making everything spell points would help too.
 

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