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D&D 5E So Where my Witches at?

The way I see a potential witch class, it is a class that has access to a selection of cleric, druid and warlock spells, but without most of the special abilities that those classes have. They cannot use wild shape for example, and get their powers through some sort of patron: a nature spirit, a demon, a deity. They tend to lean towards a neutral aligment of sorts, but there are pure good witches and evil hags. Some of the special abilities often given to rangers, such as an animal companion, fit the witch better I think. They would also be specialised in brewing potions, making healing salves, crafting wands and performing powerful rituals. Witches can work together in a coven to cast more powerful magic than when they are alone.
 

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So here are my brainstorm thoughts on this. They are a little raw...

Witches are spellcasters who learn their magic from some alternate way, and that alternate is a little... unsettling... to others. It could be magic from fiends, hags, deities, or the like, or some manner of folk "old" magic. Their magic is a little bit strange, even if the effects are like what a normal spellcaster produces.

As far as effects go, a witch's magic focuses on charms (robbing people of agency), curses (robbing them of ability) and polymorphs (robbing them of identity). There are secondary themes of nature (a witch is often rural and has some ability over the land), divination, and summoning (fey, fiends, shadows, the like). Tertiary, healing/herbalism and a touch of necromancy and general spellcasting (flight, etc.) round out the package. The thing I feel is that a witches magic is a little more subtle than traditional wizardly magic; some have said closer to a bard's list mixed with some of the spookier parts of the warlocks, but lacking the raw evocation damage that warlocks, wizards, and sorcerers are known for.

Part of the problem with warlock is most of the current warlock patrons that thematically fit tend to focus on damage (fiend is pure blaster, hexblade is about melee weapons) with only the archfey feeling like the subtle trickster in the mix (and that feels more Midsummer Night's Dream than Macbeth). Whereas wizard feels more at home with spellcasting, but none of the current subs really feel they nail the mix of witchy and instead focus on one aspect (divination, enchantment, transmutation) rather than give a general kit of witchy features.

There is a good argument to be made for a proper twenty level class to capture all the essence of the witch, but I think you could probably still fit it into a subclass or two (akin to how shadow mage is spread out among a few subclasses, or how divine/celestial magic is primarily clerical but also a sub-option for warlocks and sorcerers). I just don't feel the archetype is well served under the warlock's mechanics at the moment.
So what is desired is probably 6e warlock then?
 

The witch is an interesting concept, but as class it needs its own gameplay. Nerfer powers may be useful in the battlefield but as storytelling element too boring. I imagne the D&D witch as a arcane+primal spellcaster focused into crafting single-use magic items(talismans, runes, tatoos, scrolls and potions) in her "sactum" (special place, like a laboratory) and with a book of shadow. The familiar also would be different, with a special game mechanic like the vestige pact magic from the 3.5 binder class.

How would be the subclasses, covens or patrons?
 

Remathilis

Legend
So what is desired is probably 6e warlock then?
I believe what I said was...
But since D&D isn't exactly keen on adding whole new classes, I think it could've been an area subclasses might have filled the niche. Again, I point to the celestial warlock or divine soul sorcerer as an example of taking another class's main theme (cleric/paladin) and giving a taste of it to another class to expand the options of the class without diluting the original. A Witchcraft wizard tradition could mix in a few druidic and/or warlocky abilities to give the wizard a natural and/or sinister option. A Circle of the Coven could likewise give druids access to some necromantic or cursing abilities from the warlock or necromancer.
What I'd ideally like to see is that some other full spellcaster gets some of thematic elements of the warlock mixed in with some support for more "witchy" elements like curses and potions. Warlocks tend to focus on a small selection of effects and uses them ad nauseum thanks to pact magic, where I feel a witch should be closer to the normal spellcaster. Both could co-exist.

You don't need a new edition to do that.
 

NotAYakk

Legend
The reason why there isn't a Witch class is that none of them where all that good.

Every version of D&D up to 5e has had a Witch class or subclass.
 

Let's talk about class versus title.

So on the one hand, I've bounced around the idea of a setting element where adventurer society is organized enough to have its own jargon, which includes tagging adventurers with class titles based on their demonstrated skill set. Something akin to military designations, but more informal. It's faster and easier to organize temporary parties when you can summarize someone's skillset concisely.

But the thing is, they can't see character sheets. So that Dex Fighter with the Criminal background? Yeah, he's going to get tagged as a "Rogue". The Warlock trying to pass herself off as a "Sorcerer"? She can probably pull it off, as long as she sticks to the boonies and avoids people with a high enough Arcana to tell the difference. Someone with a rare and unusual subclass? No one knows what that is, they're just going to get lumped into the closest general category based on observable traits.

So what makes a witch? You can have a lot of varieties of "witch" based on existing PC classes, from Warlocks who sign pacts with devils or dance in fairy rings, to Wizards who fill their spellbook with curses and enchantments and transformations, to Druids proficient in Alchemy who brew potions out in the woods. Any of them could style themselves a "witch" and the shoe would fit. You don't have to have the Witch class to be one, just like a swordmaster doesn't have to be a Fighter.

Now, is there a specific mechanical class archetype you're interested in playing that you feel isn't supported yet? That's another question entirely, one that gets into both creative use and reskinning of existing material and discussions of what's appropriate for the 5e environment. But that isn't a requirement for playing a witch PC.
 

G

Guest 6801328

Guest
I've wanted a Witch class or sub-class for a long time, and I eagerly consume every 3rd party witch class/sub-class that I find, and I posted my own Warlock patron ("The Three Sisters") here a year or two ago...

...AND there are multiple ways to build perfectly fine "witches" using existing sub-classes.
 

I believe what I said was...

What I'd ideally like to see is that some other full spellcaster gets some of thematic elements of the warlock mixed in with some support for more "witchy" elements like curses and potions. Warlocks tend to focus on a small selection of effects and uses them ad nauseum thanks to pact magic, where I feel a witch should be closer to the normal spellcaster. Both could co-exist.

You don't need a new edition to do that.

I would love a spellcaster class built all around curses. Ideally these curses would work in tandem with things that other classes can do. For example, a curse that causes an enemy to deal damage to adjacent other enemies whenever it attacks. Or a curse that allows attacks from your allies to steal health from the cursed creature if they hit.
 

Remathilis

Legend
Now, is there a specific mechanical class archetype you're interested in playing that you feel isn't supported yet? That's another question entirely, one that gets into both creative use and reskinning of existing material and discussions of what's appropriate for the 5e environment. But that isn't a requirement for playing a witch PC.

The issue though is that right now, no single class/subclass mix really represents the concept well.

Warlock has all the thematic trappings, but its reliance on pact magic and eldritch blast doesn't invoke the feel for me. A witch doesn't feel like it should be spamming EB with occasional uses of invocations or pact spells, they feel like they should be a regular spellcaster mechanics with proper spell and ability support. Fiend patron is all about the burning, and hexblade is focused on making melee warlocks viable, neither feels like the archetypal witch with curses and spells.

Wizards kinda fit the trope, but the current subclasses feel like they lock you into one aspect of the witch rather than general witchery. Diviners focus too much on the divination, enchanters too much on the charms, etc. Further, it ignores areas that could be bolstered by ideas like improved familiars or curses (both areas they could borrow from warlocks).

Druids grab the nature-mage aspect, but again unless you want to focus on spores or wild-shape, the subs don't feel sufficiently "spooky". There was a druid subclass a while back (twilight) that sorta aimed for that, but I think there is definitely design space here for "nature witch" with mechanical support. Druids need a spooky sub!

Sorcerer? Spell list support is awful for witchery (almost all evocation and flashy magic, very little support spells). Bardic magic is closer but again, bard mechanics emphasize performance and don't quite grab the feel of witchcraft. Clerics feels almost the opposite of what I would want, with magic being very angelic/radiant.

I mean, to me the best fit would be to mix some of the warlock's tone and minor abilities and feel with another full caster (wizard, though druid might work) to create a kit of "witchy" abilities not tied to warlocks. Something akin to wizard/warlock or druid/warlock hybrid.
 

Remathilis

Legend
I would love a spellcaster class built all around curses. Ideally these curses would work in tandem with things that other classes can do. For example, a curse that causes an enemy to deal damage to adjacent other enemies whenever it attacks. Or a curse that allows attacks from your allies to steal health from the cursed creature if they hit.

If 5e's designers weren't afraid of introducing base classes, I'd totally agree. Witch could easily have enough design space to make a unique full class. There are a bunch of 3rd party examples, Paizo's being the most prominent. But right now, we can't convince the design team psionics deserves its own class and set of powers, so I'm not holding my breath for witchcraft as one.
 

GlassJaw

Hero
Start with druid, swap wild shape for the Wild Companion familiar option in Tasha's, customize the spell list a bit with some thematic spells from the wizard/warlock spell lists (Bestow Curse, Hex, etc), take a circle like Land, Spores, Stars, etc.

Voila.
 

The issue though is that right now, no single class/subclass mix really represents the concept well.

Two points. First, what's "the concept"? As I tried to point out, there's a lot of flavors of "witch" possible and it's as hard to get people to agree on which should be the definitive one as it is to get then to agree on a definitive psionics model. Second, there's degrees of escalation and I feel you should start at the bottom and work your way up only as lesser steps fail. First would be using existing mechanics with a flavor reskin, then might be a new subclass for an existing class, and past that a new base class. The last of which, I'll remind you, needs to be able to support at least three or four subclasses to justify being an entirely new base class.
 

Faolyn

Hero
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.

Especially since the witches classes--yes, there were more than one of them in early Dragons--were specifically female only, and had spells like "charm man."
 

Faolyn

Hero
You could make the same argument about paladin, ranger, or druid, not to mention necromancer, assassin, or cavalier.
One could.

But first you have to determine if you really need another caster class. Personally, I don't think so. Look at @FrozenNorth's lovely list of witches to see how well the witch can be done with other classes.

Secondly, each of the caster classes in D&D has a different way of getting their magic. How do witches get theirs? In lore and media, they're show as getting their magic by: being born that way (sorcerer), through channeling minor or "pagan" gods (cleric), through herb lore (druid, possibly even ranger), through study (wizard), by being in tune with the world around them (druid, possibly even bard, who literally tune in), or through pacts with the devil or with spirits (warlock). The only other option I can think of might be for some sort of neopagan crystal-user, but that's something that could either be a druid archetype, since crystals are natural, or something a bit more psionics-like in nature, and 5e has been doing their psionics as archetypes and not a class.
 

Faolyn

Hero
So here are my brainstorm thoughts on this. They are a little raw...

Witches are spellcasters who learn their magic from some alternate way, and that alternate is a little... unsettling... to others. It could be magic from fiends, hags, deities, or the like, or some manner of folk "old" magic. Their magic is a little bit strange, even if the effects are like what a normal spellcaster produces.

As far as effects go, a witch's magic focuses on charms (robbing people of agency), curses (robbing them of ability) and polymorphs (robbing them of identity). There are secondary themes of nature (a witch is often rural and has some ability over the land), divination, and summoning (fey, fiends, shadows, the like). Tertiary, healing/herbalism and a touch of necromancy and general spellcasting (flight, etc.) round out the package. The thing I feel is that a witches magic is a little more subtle than traditional wizardly magic; some have said closer to a bard's list mixed with some of the spookier parts of the warlocks, but lacking the raw evocation damage that warlocks, wizards, and sorcerers are known for.
See, that sounds exactly like a warlock. I'd say that the focus on attack magic you mention later is more because they're built for PCs who are going adventuring, not PCs who are more stay-at-home, like your typical witch.

So to create a witch warlock: pick your appropriate spell list and give them proficiency in the Herbalism and/or Poisoner's kit. Give them a druid-like shapechanger at higher levels. Perhaps, eventually, an ability to create a poppet that they can use to cast spells on a target even when the target isn't at range, as long as they have the poppet. Many of their other abilities already exist as invocations. If necessary, create a few new spells. I've converted tons of spells from 2e to 5e (previously posted on Reddit), and a lot of them are appropriate for witches.
 

Faolyn

Hero
The Warlock trying to pass herself off as a "Sorcerer"? She can probably pull it off, as long as she sticks to the boonies and avoids people with a high enough Arcana to tell the difference.

In the game I'm running, we have a Sun Soul Monk that calls himself a sorcerer (and is absolutely convinced he is one). It makes complete sense with his background: the magic came from his magical (wizard) family, and the martial aspects is because he was a city guard.
 

Remathilis

Legend
Two points. First, what's "the concept"? As I tried to point out, there's a lot of flavors of "witch" possible and it's as hard to get people to agree on which should be the definitive one as it is to get then to agree on a definitive psionics model. Second, there's degrees of escalation and I feel you should start at the bottom and work your way up only as lesser steps fail. First would be using existing mechanics with a flavor reskin, then might be a new subclass for an existing class, and past that a new base class. The last of which, I'll remind you, needs to be able to support at least three or four subclasses to justify being an entirely new base class.
At this point I feel I'm just repeating myself...

1. The concept has been named all over this thread. A spellcaster who focuses on curses, enchantment, potions, subtle magics, and natural or folk magic. Right now, I don't feel the warlock covers this well as they are too focused on EB spam and I feel their isn't a subclass in wizard, sorcerer, druid or bard that grabs that feel either without ignoring or rewriting them.

2. Refluffing something is fine if you and your DM agree on it, but I wanted something a little more concrete as far as archetype support. Refluffing only gets you so far.

3. I've said repeatedly that I'm not in favor of a base class and I'm realistic that there won't every be one. I'm arguing for a subclass which WotC is far more likely to consider.

4. I consider the witch to be as iconic an archetype as samurai, assassin or cavalier; all concepts that CAN be done with other classes and lots of refluffing, but benefits from mechanical support.

There are a number of archetypes that could use some love in 5e besides witch, but WotC has opted for some rather obscure ideas like wild magic barbarian over adding some of the classics. Really makes me wonder...
 




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