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D&D 5E So Where my Witches at?


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cbwjm

Hero
Another witch "class" was the from the Glantri gazetteer. One of the secret crafts that could be added to a magic-user, it let them charm, create a potions, create a doll curse, disguise her appearance, summon imps and other familiars, perform a multi-target curse, change her shape (including into several similar creatures at once), and finally gain a magic jar type ability. It was similar to the 2e kit, though with a greater amount of powers as you gained greater mastery of the craft.
 

Asisreo

Archdevil's Advocate
Also, I've played a witch character in 5e and have had alot of fun with her. The stereotypical boil-boil toil and trouble type. Her build wasn't all that optimized but it worked out alright.

Basically I was a fiend Warlock with chain pact. My background was Hermit and I spent my downtime creating magic items like potions to give that extra flavour oomph with some mechanics behind it.

Its funny because she was ugly but also charismatic so she helped the other players see the difference between high charisma and attractive person.
 

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.
It is quite easily possible to make a warlock that doesn't use Elrdritch Blast - making use of cantrips like Toll the Dead or Infestation for example. Or making melee attacks with a pact weapon (possibly in the form of talons). They will inflict less damage than other casters, sure, but that's appropriate for a character that focuses on debuffs, mind-control, and misdirection rather than direct attacks. No patron locks you into using specific spells; and the fiend patron has some pretty decent "witchy" spells as well - Command, Blindness/Deafness, Stinking Cloud. Save-based debuffs do kinda suck for a PC warlock-witch, though, particularly if you're going to forgo Eldritch Blast; the warlock has so few spell slots that it's seriously painful when an enemy makes its save.

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).
Nearly every single wizard subclass fits the witch fantasy archetype VERY well. Pointing out dire omens (diviner) is very much a classic witch thing (c.f. Macbeth). Charm is one of THE most archetypical witch powers. ("Burn the Witch! She MADE my husband commit adultery"). Illusion works great, necromancy works great, conjuration is suitable for a "consorts with dark powers" type as well as "appears in unexpected places", transmutation fits brewing / supernatural personal abilities / changing people into newts. Wizard subclasses don't lock the caster into doing anything; they augment existing spelltypes or abilities.

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!
I've yet to read TCoE...but I have to agree that there probably is room for some darker-themed druid spells or abilities; and/or a more unseelie-inspired subclass. Circle of the Land - Swamp or Underdark work decently well for witches. As can Shepherd with insects/wolves/spiders and the like and maybe a reskinned or improvised totem type.
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.
It may surprise you to learn then that the vast majority of sorcerer spells are NOT evocations. Shadow Sorcerer is almost tailor-made for witch archetypes. And both Twin Spell and Heighten spell are incredibly useful for save-based debuffs.
The issue though is that right now, no single class/subclass mix really represents the concept well.
Sounds more to me like you don't want a class that represents the witch archetype; you want one that locks or enourages you into fitting the archetype. I respectfully think that it's better to have broad and inclusive classes. Even subclasses, which very frequently carry some degree of pre-flavored fluff, should be broad enough to encompass multiple archetypes. They should be scaffolds on which the -character- builds their own particular flavor. Not molds for a single idea.
 
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Teemu

Adventurer
To me the 5e witch is found in the warlock class. Take the archfey, fiend, or celestial patron, and the tome or chain pact. You can get rituals like augury and beast bond; you can get a familiar; you can take thaumaturgy or druidcraft; you get hex and polymorph; you can heal. Basically you can cover all the witch archetypes with a warlock, and most importantly you retain the concept of making deals with supernatural powers, unlike a wizard witch, which while also a good fit, doesn’t quite achieve the full witch fantasy in my opinion.
 

vincegetorix

Jewel of the North
I'll try my hand at it:

Wizard archetype: School of Witchcraft
- blurb: old magic before it was codified, learned from spirits beyond time, distrusted but useful and helpful, covens instead of formal academies yadayada.

level 2:
Cauldron of Creation
Starting at 2nd level, you can produce magic potions. You gain proficiency in your choice of Herbalist kit or Poisoner's tools. Furthermore, you spend 10 minutes focusing your magic on a vial of mundane water and expend a spell slot to transform it into a potion. Once you have expended a spell slot to create a potion, you cannot regain that slot until the potion is consumed or after 1 week, at which time the potion loses its effectiveness. You can create up to three potions at a time; creating a fourth potion causes the oldest currently active one to immediately lose its potency. If that potion has been consumed, its effects immediately end.

The spell slot you expend determines the type of potion you can create.
Spell SlotPotion Created
1stClimbing, growth, or healing
2ndMind reading or greater healing
3rdInvisibility, superior healing, or water breathing
4thResistance

Level 2:
Old Magick
You can bend ancient magic to hinder creatures. The bane and hex spells are wizard spells for you, and you add them to your spellbook. You always have them prepared, yet they don't count against the number of spells you can prepare.

You can cast either spell without expending a spell slot. You can cast the spells in this way a number of times equal to your proficiency bonus, and you regain all expended uses when you finish a long rest.

Level 6:
Echoes of the Moons

Echoes Known. When you gain this feature, you learn two Echoes of your choice, which are detailed below. Each time you gain a level in this class, you can replace one echo you know with a different one.

Using an Echo. You can use one Echo when you cast a wizard spell with a spell slot and the target is affected by your Bane or Hex spells, or another spell of the Enchantment or Necromancy school. You can use Echoes a number of times equal to half of your wizard level (round down), and you regain all expended uses when you finish a long rest.

Drain. When you cast a spell that deals damage of the target, you gain 3d6 temporary hit points. The number of temporary hit points you gain increases by 1d6 when you reach 10th level (4d6) and 14th level (5d6) in this class.

Doom. If the spell requires the named creature to make a saving throw, that creature has disadvantage on the first save it makes against the spell.

Woe. The first time the named creature takes damage from the spell, that creature takes an extra 2d8 force damage. The extra force damage increases by 1d8 when you reach 10th level (3d8) and 14th level (4d8) in this class.

Fortune Inversed. If the target is affected by any other spells, you know what those spells are, and you can attempt to end one of your choice by succeeding on an Intelligence check with a DC equal to 10 + the level of the chosen spell.

Puppetry. The first time the creature takes damage from the spell, you can knock the creature prone or move it up to 10 feet, either directly toward you or away from you.

Sympathy. If the creature is within range of the spell, you can target the creature with the spell even if you can't see the creature or it has total cover against the spell.

Level 10:
Inexorable Hexer

You learn two new Echoes of your choice from your Echoes of the Moons feature.

Level 14:
Year of the Witch
You can cast Disguise self at-will. When you spend a spell that would cause a creature to be charmed or frightened, the one creature affected makes the initial saving throw against the spell with disadvantage.

Furthermore, you add the Augury, Contact other Plane and your choice of Commune or Commune with nature to your spellbook. When you spend a spell slot on those spells, you can ask 2 more questions.
 

SkidAce

Hero
Supporter
Another witch "class" was the from the Glantri gazetteer. One of the secret crafts that could be added to a magic-user, it let them charm, create a potions, create a doll curse, disguise her appearance, summon imps and other familiars, perform a multi-target curse, change her shape (including into several similar creatures at once), and finally gain a magic jar type ability. It was similar to the 2e kit, though with a greater amount of powers as you gained greater mastery of the craft.
That supplement had a great influence on my early campaign.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
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.
Call a class like that a Witch and the neo-Pagans will jump all over you, and in this case I think they'd have a point.
 

Remathilis

Legend
It is quite easily possible to make a warlock that doesn't use Elrdritch Blast - making use of cantrips like Toll the Dead or Infestation for example. Or making melee attacks with a pact weapon (possibly in the form of talons). They will inflict less damage than other casters, sure, but that's appropriate for a character that focuses on debuffs, mind-control, and misdirection rather than direct attacks. No patron locks you into using specific spells; and the fiend patron has some pretty decent "witchy" spells as well - Command, Blindness/Deafness, Stinking Cloud. Save-based debuffs do kinda suck for a PC warlock-witch, though, particularly if you're going to forgo Eldritch Blast; the warlock has so few spell slots that it's seriously painful when an enemy makes its save.
My issue is that warlocks have too few spell slots (due to how they structured Pact Magic) and they end up relying on cantrips and invocations, and that creates the illusion of doing 1-2 things constantly and a few "whammo" effects ever-so-often. I think the class is fun for certain playstyles, but I think warlocks are really geared toward an "attacker-with-tricks" playstyle moreso than a dedicated spellcaster (so much so, I tend to thing of them more like the magic-equivalent to rogues than akin to wizards or sorcerers).

I think there is room for a subclass that adds some warlock elements to a full spellcaster.
Nearly every single wizard subclass fits the witch fantasy archetype VERY well. Pointing out dire omens (diviner) is very much a classic witch thing (c.f. Macbeth). Charm is one of THE most archetypical witch powers. ("Burn the Witch! She MADE my husband commit adultery"). Illusion works great, necromancy works great, conjuration is suitable for a "consorts with dark powers" type as well as "appears in unexpected places", transmutation fits brewing / supernatural personal abilities / changing people into newts. Wizard subclasses don't lock the caster into doing anything; they augment existing spelltypes or abilities.
For me, a witch dabbles a little in all those things, but doesn't specialize in any of them per se. A witch does read omens, but they also lay hexs, cast charms, brew potions, summon monsters, and turn people into toads. The schools of magic kinda assume you're going to focus on one of those aspects, rather than touch on several.

Furthermore, if a "witch" is just a wizard specializing in a normal school of magic, there is nothing "witchy" about their magic and you've gone to the Harry Potter school of "witch is the feminine of wizard" rather than make witch something unique.

It may surprise you to learn then that the vast majority of sorcerer spells are NOT evocations. Shadow Sorcerer is almost tailor-made for witch archetypes. And both Twin Spell and Heighten spell are incredibly useful for save-based debuffs.

I built a shadow sorcerer. My biggest problem is that anything I wanted to do with them, I tended to find there wasn't enough spells to support the concept. They are lousy necromancers, have no summonings, not a lot of illusions, and very few debuffs. Coupled with their low spell selection, I found that they ended up still heavy on blast magic with a few key utility spells scattered through. But that's a topic for another day.
 

Faolyn

Hero
To me the 5e witch is found in the warlock class. Take the archfey, fiend, or celestial patron, and the tome or chain pact. You can get rituals like augury and beast bond; you can get a familiar; you can take thaumaturgy or druidcraft; you get hex and polymorph; you can heal. Basically you can cover all the witch archetypes with a warlock, and most importantly you retain the concept of making deals with supernatural powers, unlike a wizard witch, which while also a good fit, doesn’t quite achieve the full witch fantasy in my opinion.
It probably wouldn't be too hard to create a Pact Boon that replicates a cauldron, poppet, or other "witchy" tool and get an even stronger feel as well.
 

For me, a witch dabbles a little in all those things, but doesn't specialize in any of them per se. A witch does read omens, but they also lay hexs, cast charms, brew potions, summon monsters, and turn people into toads. The schools of magic kinda assume you're going to focus on one of those aspects, rather than touch on several.
I gotta agree with this. What a witch is isn't represented in any one class, but its strewn about through others. Its got some warlock thematics to it per the pacts, but also some drudi stuff, but also a bit of wizard stuff (Albeit probably less in how wizards handle it and more just old folklore and the like)

There's parts of it in a few classes but no one class that encapsulates the lot. I'd almost say taking a more druidy approach to the warlock may be the way to look at it, but how'd you do that? I dunno
 

Sakuglak

Villager
I liked the Witch class from Monte Cooke's Arcana Evolved. It had some spell casting but also special abilities (blade, armor, song) that tied on with your theme(wood, mind, iron, fire, wind, ice).
 

For me, a witch dabbles a little in all those things, but doesn't specialize in any of them per se. A witch does read omens, but they also lay hexs, cast charms, brew potions, summon monsters, and turn people into toads. The schools of magic kinda assume you're going to focus on one of those aspects, rather than touch on several.

Furthermore, if a "witch" is just a wizard specializing in a normal school of magic, there is nothing "witchy" about their magic and you've gone to the Harry Potter school of "witch is the feminine of wizard" rather than make witch something unique.
What makes a spellcaster "witchy" is their motivation, methodology, and personal style. Not their base skillset. What differentiates an hunter or soldier from a villain in a slasher movie is their choice of prey...plus maybe some scarring, deformity, and history of inbreeding. You have all sorts of creative control of your character even as a player. For example:

Character A: Studied and in her off time still teaches at a well-known College of Magic. Absent-minded, always buried in books, shies away from physical confrontation. She likes big, flashy spells like fireball but tries to avoid the squickier forms of magic like necromancy. She's mostly concerned with learning new things, ostensibly for the benefit of society; and seeks out other (civilized) wizards or ancient libraries from which to learn new spells, outside of her experiments in clean, climate-controlled laboratories. Somebody roleplaying this character might describe her spellcasting with fumbling for scrolls (to read incantations from) and other components from enormous sheafs tucked into her backpack, not because this is mechanically necessary but because it's the way the character learned how to practice magic; maybe she uses the classic wizard's wand as a focus.

Sound very witchy? How about this:

Character B: An embittered, crass, and cynical recluse who lives off in the woods alone. Once a famous beauty from a wealthy family, she squandered her youth; and has now come to hate the society that scorned her as youth faded and wealth was wasted (or maybe even stolen by a faithless suitor?). She now looks like an old and weathered hag, with stringy, balding hair and sagging skin. Having no formal education, she taught herself magic by seeking out supernatural creatures and bargaining with or threatening them for secrets; some were nature spirits, but some were undead and/or fiends as well; and that's still how she tries to gain knowledge outside of some experiments on captive animals and people that she believes no one will miss. As survival rates aren't too high, frequent replacements are needed. Her goals are to find some magical way to restore her beauty and youthful vigor; she's not too particular on what the cost might be to others. She favors magic that makes others suffer, helps her learn secrets that others don't want her to know, helps her change how things appear; but disdains evocations and flashier magic as brutish and insubtle (also: secretly because she feels unsatisfied when enemies just die). Somebody roleplaying this character might describe her spellcasting using bloodletting or sacrificing small animals and/or their organs ("Eye of newt, a dog's liver"); or sometimes drinking some foul-spelling brew or applying greasy ointment - not because this is mechanically necessary but because it's the way the character learned how to practice magic; maybe she uses a spell component pouch filled with dried herbs and dripping animal organs as her arcane focus.

Even if you don't like the idea of "witch as merely the feminine version of wizard", there are undeniably characters within the Harry Potter-verse that fit the classic "witch" archetype. An once again, there's nothing whatsoever that keeps members of the wizard class from practicing different forms of magic. Their subclass specialization might merely represent inborn talent in a particular area or extra secrets uncovered while they were learning magic rather than the focus of their career. A specialist wizard might not even LIKE the school they are technically focused on, choosing very few of them.
My issue is that warlocks have too few spell slots (due to how they structured Pact Magic) and they end up relying on cantrips and invocations, and that creates the illusion of doing 1-2 things constantly and a few "whammo" effects ever-so-often. I think the class is fun for certain playstyles, but I think warlocks are really geared toward an "attacker-with-tricks" playstyle moreso than a dedicated spellcaster (so much so, I tend to thing of them more like the magic-equivalent to rogues than akin to wizards or sorcerers).
Yes, warlocks rely frequently on invocations and cantrips when their spell slots run out. However, one might spend most of their time using Misty Visions to confuse and misdirect enemies, and/or the Frostbite spell to inhibit counterattacks; another might focus on adding debuffs to Eldritch Blast; a third might primarily be interested in raw damage (which doesn't seem very "witchy" to me personally).

I built a shadow sorcerer. My biggest problem is that anything I wanted to do with them, I tended to find there wasn't enough spells to support the concept. They are lousy necromancers, have no summonings, not a lot of illusions, and very few debuffs. Coupled with their low spell selection, I found that they ended up still heavy on blast magic with a few key utility spells scattered through. But that's a topic for another day.
Limited spell selection is a classic problem with or feature of the sorcerer class. Careful spell and metamagic choice is the answer to this; and frequently you'll have only ever have maybe one or two spells for an entire category of magic; which is a different mindset than many other casters. It's still quite easy to support a witch concept - I can provide an example if you're actually interested in one. It's true that that they can't do summoning - but that's not a critical part of the "witch" archetype IMO. They don't have some of the highest-end illusions like Programmed Image or Mirage Arcane, but they have plenty of low-level stuff that works just fine. Phantasmal Force is a very good candidate for twinning btw. They have enough debuffs to make the category functional. Keep in mind their limited spell selection has expanded power and utility due to metamagic. A low or mid-level debuff that inflicts disadvantage on the save via Heightened Spell is frequently more effective than a higher-level spell.
 
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Warpiglet-7

Adventurer
Yeah I agree, Tasha's did miss a trick.

I like the Bard as a witch. Just swap out the instrument for components, and you have a good illusion, de-buffing based class with access to hold person, polymorph and a lot of nature based spells. Magical secrets lets you cherry pick the more iconic spells not on their list. Sure Warlock and Wizard are more obvious but I would do a Bard or maybe a Druid. (especially now with their wild shape familiar).
The more I think above it this option, the more I like it. This is the most effective parsimonious solution for the issue, period.

some time ago I thought of playing college of whispers with a pan flute as a swampy witch.

but think about it: charm person, illusions, bane and any inspiration could be a creepy witch tune that he/she hums.

we often forget to roleplay what we want. Play a bard as a witch and see how close you get.

take background and or feats as appropriate.

back in 2e which my group skipped, I lamented the need for rules for every concept vs. playing the concept. now there is a line. If you want to be a spell caster but don’t have spells you have a problem.

but I don’t think witch falls into this category: bard role played as witch = witch. I mean add feats and background as desired.

spell selection matters too. You do not have to take spells that don’t fit just because they are on the list! Take what is creepy and fits the concept.

I may just do this after saying it out loud...
 

Remathilis

Legend
What makes a spellcaster "witchy" is their motivation, methodology, and personal style. Not their base skillset. What differentiates an hunter or soldier from a villain in a slasher movie is their choice of prey...plus maybe some scarring, deformity, and history of inbreeding. You have all sorts of creative control of your character even as a player.

To a degree. The point of subclasses through WAS to give methodology and style to the otherwise base class. Take something like War Mage (wizard); what makes it different than an evoker or conjurer or any other mage who focuses on attack magic? Not a whole lot, except some neat abilities that focuses on them being good at attack magic (and some timely defensive effects). Can you play a champion fighter, a hunter ranger, or a devotion paladin as a samurai? Yes, but that doesn't mean the samurai subclass didn't give tools for that kind of character in a convenient package. You can do any of those options and refluff it to be a samurai, or you can pick the samurai option. Mutliple paths to the same end.

Not every possible options deserves its own subclass, but you'd think something as iconic as witch might warrant something.
 




Bard works well: they don't need to use an instrument, but flutes, rattles and drums are there if you want them. You can definitely try to make a performance out of "maniacal cackling".

You could make a pretty good witch out of an Alchemist Artificer. In fact I think that most spellcasters could be successfully flavoured as witchy, with maybe the exception of Paladin (but even so, you might be able to pull it off with the right oath.)
 

Bard also works well because music could be replaced with ritual dancing, and the bard's charming and buffing fit a witch class quite well. But in my mind, a witch should also have a strong connection to nature. But perhaps that is where a druid subclass fits in.
 

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