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D&D 5E So Where my Witches at?

Remathilis

Legend
Tasha's Cauldron got me thinking, where (or what) is the Witch in D&D (5e)?

Tasha is stated to be a witch. Commonly, "witches" are represented by the warlock class. There are "witch" invocations (such as witch sight) that back up the theme, and their spells are witch-y with things like hex and witch bolt. However, Tasha comes off sounding much more like a traditional wizard from her commentary, speaking of spell research and wizard academies. Seems to me WotC missed an excellent opportunity to have a "witch" wizard subclass (with all the potion-brewing, hexing, and toad-making that comes with it) but then again, isn't that the warlock's domain? And that mostly just covers the classic Halloween witch, which is to say nothing about the more traditional "nature mage" that the Pathfinder witch and 4e Witch classes filled. Again, you might argue a fey warlock kindasorta fills that niche, but there is probably some design space here (especially as a subclass for druids or sorcerers) that could have been used.

I guess I kinda feel that if you are going to make a product that features an important D&D witch, you ought to, ya know, put some witch-stuff in the book?
 

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Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Witch classes have been tried for ages - I remember one or two going by in early Dragon magazines - and have for whatever reason never caught on.

Further, using Witch as a class name risks offending parts of the sometimes-quick-to-take-offense neo-Pagan movement if there's anything the least bit negative about the class; and I very much suspect WotC are well aware of this.
 


Remathilis

Legend
Witch classes have been tried for ages - I remember one or two going by in early Dragon magazines - and have for whatever reason never caught on.

Further, using Witch as a class name risks offending parts of the sometimes-quick-to-take-offense neo-Pagan movement if there's anything the least bit negative about the class; and I very much suspect WotC are well aware of this.
I'm not sure about the latter; neo-paganism hasn't bothered them enough to remove the Druid.

But yes, there hasn't been a true "witch" class that truly took off. There was an NPC class (1e), a wizard kit (2e), and a 4e wizard subclass, (I don't think there was ever a proper 3e witch, though PF made one) but I think its a strong enough archetype that it could at least warrant a subclass with the "samurai and knight" treatment.
 



Lanefan

Victoria Rules
I'm not sure about the latter; neo-paganism hasn't bothered them enough to remove the Druid.
Only due to timing: Druid was in as a class before the neo-Pagan movement really got up any steam and thus had/has precedent on its side.

Were they to try and introduce 'Druid' as a new class today it'd get shot down for both this reason and that it's too tied to one specific culture and thus could be seen as non-inclusive.
But yes, there hasn't been a true "witch" class that truly took off. There was an NPC class (1e), a wizard kit (2e), and a 4e wizard subclass, (I don't think there was ever a proper 3e witch, though PF made one) but I think its a strong enough archetype that it could at least warrant a subclass with the "samurai and knight" treatment.
Pretty sure there was more than one proposed Witch class in Dragon during the 1980s. Maybe one was the NPC class and another was a trial balloon for a PC class?
 

Witch classes have been tried for ages - I remember one or two going by in early Dragon magazines - and have for whatever reason never caught on.

Further, using Witch as a class name risks offending parts of the sometimes-quick-to-take-offense neo-Pagan movement if there's anything the least bit negative about the class; and I very much suspect WotC are well aware of this.

No, males in the real world who consider themselves witches are much more offended by being called a warlock, and it's negative meaning, whether the modern meaning was once historically not accurate. Don't ever label someone who takes this seriously as an oath breaker. As for Witch, you have to deal with the stereotype that only females can be witches, so in the early days of D&D, when the vast majority of players were male, of course a Witch class failed.
 

Alzrius

The EN World kitten
As others have noted, official D&D has always had a hard time getting a witch character role off the ground; it's not that there haven't been attempts (there've been many), it's just that none have really caught on. Conceptually, the niche remains unfulfilled, which is why the community keeps trying with everything ranging from new classes to warlock patrons to wizard traditions.

Please note my use of affiliate links in this post.
 

Witch as a class is more a Pathfinder type deal since its in it.(On the other side of the coin, the Pathfinder 2E Witch is more like the Warlock in the fact that both the Warlock/Witch has/deal with a Patron.)

Plus the Witch brings up the image of the Hag. Which is its own buckets of apples in DND.
 

Blue Orange

Explorer
There was a semi-official version in the 3e DMG that consisted of just a spell list as I recall, in addition to the 2e kit, Pathfinder, and the 4e wizard subclass and the various Dragon magazine, third-party, and homebrew versions produced throughout the various editions. (Where was the 1e NPC class? There was a witch-doctor for goblinoids that had some cleric and mage spells...)

The warlock in D&D is a little different, though--it's much more offense-oriented, and is actually closer to the older idea of the witch as someone who made a pact with the devil. The idea of "potion-brewing, hexing, and toad-making" rural spellcaster, which could be good or evil, is more of a 'hedge mage', someone who lives in the country and doesn't have access to the complicated scholastic training of the wizard but does minor magics for (or against) their local community, has become somewhat separate. Somewhere between wizard and druid.

I also suspect that it's usually seen as more of a minor character and people aren't as familiar with what the epic endgame would look like--we have a pretty good idea of the legendary warrior, high priest, or archmage, but nobody's really sure what a 20th-level witch would look like.

You could clarify that it's open to any gender and have art examples. And there's no reason it has to be evil-only. Even warlocks can be any alignment, and they've sold their souls to something.
 


but nobody's really sure what a 20th-level witch would look like.
The mythological Baba Yaga I'd guess.

'Witch' would be best implemented as a wizard subclass in 5e I reckon. Give them special abilities to do with potion brewing, cursing, effigy-making and so on. Maybe the chain pact warlock's improved familiar, and possibly the ability to learn some druid spells. But hitting the archetype thematically would be more dependent on spell selection rather than class mechanics. Polymorphs, enchantments, hexes etc rather than big damage-dealing evocations and the like.
 

Tasha is called a witch as a title, but yes, she is a traditional wizard. There already is a fair amount of witchy-type stuff in the book.
You don't have to have levels in the assassin subclass to be called an assassin, you don't have to have levels in the samurai subclass to hold a title of Samurai. You can call someone a witch even if they do not have levels in a class or subclass called witch.
 


I think the basic problem for making a witch it 5e is that Warlock has mined a lot of the lore of witches (particularly the core warlock lore of a pact with the devil or whatever) but doesn't quite fulfill the promise of witchdom. It takes a specific pact boon/invocation combination just to get them ritually casting, which seems like the most basic qualifier to be a witch, and then they don't get access to Polymorph so they have to wait for True Polymorph at 17th level before they can do anything so fundamental to what I expect out of a witch as turning someone into a newt.

Of course some people's ideas of witches run more druidy, Wizard's get the most ready access to familiars and extensive ritual casting, and Bards may well have the most witchy spell list.

Which all serves to put them in a hazy and liminal enough space between classes that I'd say they should get their own class in the alternate universe version of 5e that has like 20 different classes.
 

Remathilis

Legend
I think the basic problem for making a witch it 5e is that Warlock has mined a lot of the lore of witches (particularly the core warlock lore of a pact with the devil or whatever) but doesn't quite fulfill the promise of witchdom. It takes a specific pact boon/invocation combination just to get them ritually casting, which seems like the most basic qualifier to be a witch, and then they don't get access to Polymorph so they have to wait for True Polymorph at 17th level before they can do anything so fundamental to what I expect out of a witch as turning someone into a newt.

Of course some people's ideas of witches run more druidy, Wizard's get the most ready access to familiars and extensive ritual casting, and Bards may well have the most witchy spell list.

Which all serves to put them in a hazy and liminal enough space between classes that I'd say they should get their own class in the alternate universe version of 5e that has like 20 different classes.
Personally, I would like to see a wizard subclass (for the classic curses-and-polymorphs type), a druid subclass (for the green witch type) and a warlock patron (for a more coven/dark take). Assuming we only get one, I think the wizard one has the strongest pedigree, but I'd take a warlock pact if they want to keep it confined to warlock.

Still, in an era where subclasses and feats allow for lite-multiclassing, the witch as a wizard/warlock hybrid isn't out of the realm of impossible.
 


GSHamster

Adventurer
I think you really have to define the difference between Witches, Warlocks, and Wizards.

I think the defining restriction is that Witches cannot conjure. They cannot create something from nothing. But they can control and craft.

I don't think a Witch could cast a Fireball, but she might be able control a fire in the area. Similarly, a Witch could call a bolt of lightning out of the sky, but not from her hands.
 

FrozenNorth

Adventurer
I prepared a one shot for witches with 6th level pregens. The pregens were:
  • Athanasia, the witch of the wilds (Moon druid, shapeshifting witch)
  • Faustus the Demonologist (GOO Pact of the Chain Warlock, "consort with fiends" witch)
  • Fiona the Brewmistress (Transmuter Wizard, Celtic-inspired, potions and transformations witch);
  • Grandmother Night (Hexblade, shadows, night and terrors witch);
  • Lorelei the Enchantress (Divine Soul Sorcerer, mind-controlling vampy witch);
  • Teresa the Seer (Lord Bard, prophecy witch);
  • Esmeralda (Grassland druid, class nature witch);
  • Gerda the Ice Queen (White Dragon Sorcerer, Ice Queen witch);
  • Maenor the Keeper of the Seals (Abjuration wizard, not a witch, but I needed someone to tank).

Honorable mention goes to Tristan, Undying Pact of the Chain Warlock, with his familiar (an alebrije), more of a Mexican guide of the dead than a traditional witch.

The witches were around the entire time. But like all good witches should, they prefer not to draw attention to themselves.
 

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