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D&D 5E So Where my Witches at?

Witches in fantasy cannot be untethered from sexist tropes against working women. That doesn't mean you can't have great fantasy that uses the witch tropes in a healthy, fun, and nonsexist way, but the history is intertwined, and using the witch archetype takes careful judgement in a table-by-table basis. Ultimately, the blowback of implementing poorly is not worth the potential profits to exploit by issuing an official witch class or subclass. And a diversity of options meets the needs and desires of the fanbase far more than a single, simple, WITCH subclass or class like we got in previous editions.
That's one of the major reasons why I didn't name my class the "Witch" and instead named it the "Occultist".
 

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Accaris

Explorer
Publisher
That's one of the major reasons why I didn't name my class the "Witch" and instead named it the "Occultist".
"Using the witch archetype takes careful judgement in a table-by-table basis?" I'm sorry, but this sounds a bit ridiculous. Tell me gaming tables haven't seriously gotten this sensitive. That's like saying you have to be cautious in introducing clerics or paladins because Christians acted nastily hundreds of years ago.
 
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"Using the witch archetype takes careful judgement in a table-by-table basis?" I'm sorry, but this sounds a bit ridiculous. Tell me gaming tables haven't seriously gotten this sensitive. It's a witch for pete's sake. They aren't real. Magic isn't real. That's like saying you have to be cautious in introducing clerics or paladins because Christians acted nastily hundreds of years ago.
Wicca is an existing religion. Imagine if they named the cleric the "Christian" class. That would be a big no-no.

I named my class the "Occultist" to avoid the issues with "Witch" being specific to women, has offensive stereotypes, and shares the name with Wicca (Pagan Witchcraft).

Paladins don't exist anymore. No one calls anyone a cleric anymore. Bards don't exist, and neither do Warlocks. As a general rule, no one names a class after an existing religion.
 
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Accaris

Explorer
Publisher
Wicca is an existing religion. Imagine if they named the cleric the "Christian" class. That would be a big no-no.

I named my class the "Occultist" to avoid the issues with "Witch" being specific to women, has offensive stereotypes, and shares the name with Wicca (Pagan Witchcraft).

Paladins don't exist anymore. No one calls anyone a cleric anymore. Bards don't exist, and neither do Warlocks. However, no one names a class after an existing religion.
My co-writer is a witch and so is his girlfriend and all of her friends, maybe somewhere a truly offense witch stereotype exists (as silly as that seems to me,) but none of the attempts at a D&D conversion have struck them as particularly problematic so far.
 



Remathilis

Legend
140313155_264331261738229_1409864325282164972_o.jpg
 

I named my class the "Occultist" to avoid the issues with "Witch" being specific to women, has offensive stereotypes, and shares the name with Wicca (Pagan Witchcraft).
Except 'Witch' is a well known fictional archetype completely divorced from Wicca. You say 'witch', I think a halloween witch or the like. Like, heck knows everyone knows what side of this I'm generally on, but witch is not one of those words we need to be worrying about. It is well since its own thing and people lean into that.

Plus, witch and occultist have very different definitions. Witches are all about folk remedies, stories passed down, homey and practical magic. Occultists are about expanding magic beyond the norm, exploring ancient tombs and delving into That Which Should Probably Not Be Known. They're two very different archetypes. You wouldn't call Granny Weatherwax from Discworld an occultist, but she sure is a witch

Wicca is an existing religion. Imagine if they named the cleric the "Christian" class. That would be a big no-no.
You uh, know D&D literately did that, right? The Wokani from 1E was originally called the Wicca. There's a reason it didn't survive past 1E. Quite a lot of reasons, in fact.
 

Remathilis

Legend
So I decided to toss my hat in the ring and made a subclass based mostly off 2e's witch kit. Not sure it's balanced per se, but it's a good example of what I'd like to see...

Witchcraft​

Wizard Subclass

Some say there is a tradition of wizardry that is ancient, secretive, and forbidden. Its practitioners gather in small groups and combine herbalism and magic together in unique ways forgotten by other schools of magic. Misunderstood, some believe they are associated with fiends or other evil forces (and often mistaken for warlocks as being bound to serve these beings) but the tradition of witchcraft is more complex than most think they know.

Witches often form small covens on the outside of civilization. While some may deal in otherworldly entities, they are not bound to them and learn magic much as any other wizard does. However, they also learn secrets to call special familiars, create special potions, beguile the mind, and curse their foes with ill-luck. Though many legends paint them as evil, witches use their gifts for good or evil as they see fit.

Witch’s Familiar​

2nd-level witch feature

You learn the find familiar spell. When you cast the spell, you can choose one of the normal forms for your familiar or one of the following special forms: imp, pseudodragon, quasit, or sprite.

Herbalist​

2nd-level witch feature

You become proficient in the Herbalism kit and Poisoner’s kit.

Brew Calmative​

2nd-level witch feature

Once per day, you can brew a special potion using ingredients found in any forest. This potion puts a single creature who fails a Constitution saving throw into a magic slumber (as per the sleep spell), with a duration of 1 hour unless awoken. The potion must be brewed for an hour (which can be done as part of a short or long rest) but loses its potency in the next day at dawn.

The potion is colorless and odorless and can be added to food or drink without notice, though it can be detected by detect magic or detect poison.

Beguiler​

6th-level witch feature

You can use your magic to beguile a creature you see that is a challenge rating equal or lower to your wizard level. This takes an action to do and the target must make a Wisdom saving throw or be charmed for 1 hour. If the target is engaged in combat, it gains advantage on the save. The charm is broken if you or any of your allies take hostile action towards the target.

Once you use this ability, you cannot do so again until you’ve finished a long rest.

Brew Flying Ointment​

10th-level witch feature

Once per day, you can brew a special ointment using herbs and ingredients found in any forest. This ointment gives you (and only you) a flight speed equal to your walking speed for 1 hour. The ointment requires brewing for an hour (which can be done as part of a short or long rest) but loses its potency in the next day at dawn.

Witch’s Curse​

14th-level witch feature

You can invoke a witch’s curse on a target. As an action, you point the creature, which must make a Charisma saving throw. If it fails, it has disadvantage on attack rolls, ability checks, and saving throws for 1 minute. The target can repeat the save each round, success ends the curse’s effects.

Once you use this ability, you cannot use it again until you’ve finished a long rest.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Except 'Witch' is a well known fictional archetype completely divorced from Wicca. You say 'witch', I think a halloween witch or the like.
While many Wiccans would think "me".

There's certainly been some effort put in to reclaiming the word 'witch' away from the Hallowe'en stereotype, but it's generally met with limited success.
You uh, know D&D literately did that, right? The Wokani from 1E was originally called the Wicca. There's a reason it didn't survive past 1E. Quite a lot of reasons, in fact.
Never heard of this - what book was it in?
 

Accaris

Explorer
Publisher
There's certainly been some effort put in to reclaiming the word 'witch' away from the Hallowe'en stereotype, but it's generally met with limited success.
Every wiccan I know loves the Halloween imagery and spooky goth imagery. They are totally cool with it. And these are people with the most serious, esoteric books on the subject, people who actually know what they're doing. Wicca is just like Satanism. It's more of an anti-establishment movement than an actual functioning religion with a historical precedent. Some beatnik guy invented it in 1954. It's kinda like the dudes who wear mjolnir necklaces and listen to Amon Amarth and say they're into Asatru. Nobody actually knows what the real Norse religion was like, or even if it was a religion at all. All of our historical sources are heavily twisted and Christianized; it's become a meme.
 

Never heard of this - what book was it in?
Basic. There were early references to it in... Master I think? For non human casters.

Main place I know mentions of it from is Tall Tales of the Wee Folk as it was specifically called out as centaurs could become 'em.
 



Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Every wiccan I know loves the Halloween imagery and spooky goth imagery. They are totally cool with it.
You know different Wiccans than I, then. :)
And these are people with the most serious, esoteric books on the subject, people who actually know what they're doing. Wicca is just like Satanism. It's more of an anti-establishment movement than an actual functioning religion with a historical precedent. Some beatnik guy invented it in 1954.
Dunno where you're getting your info but you might want to try again.

It's a revival, to be sure, and perhaps not accurate to whatever the true old ways might have been, but neo-Paganism goes back somewhat farther than 1954. (though I don't know exactly at what point the 'Wicca' name became attached to a major branch of it)
It's kinda like the dudes who wear mjolnir necklaces and listen to Amon Amarth and say they're into Asatru. Nobody actually knows what the real Norse religion was like, or even if it was a religion at all.
I wouldn't say this in Iceland if I were you, where the religion still exists and has continuously since the days of the Vikings; though (as one might expect) much morphed over the intervening thousand years.
All of our historical sources are heavily twisted and Christianized; it's become a meme.
Yes, the early Christians (say, about pre-1000) were very adept at taking what was already present in a society such as major celebrations and folding those elements into their religion. It's a major factor in the religion's success.
 


Marandahir

Crown-Forester
"Using the witch archetype takes careful judgement in a table-by-table basis?" I'm sorry, but this sounds a bit ridiculous. Tell me gaming tables haven't seriously gotten this sensitive. That's like saying you have to be cautious in introducing clerics or paladins because Christians acted nastily hundreds of years ago.
It's not just hundreds of years ago.

Witch hunts continue to this day around the world, with devastating consequences. These are as painful and blood-soaked tropes as depictions of central Asian or African peoples as violent barbaric tribes and races. Sensitivity is not a bad thing. Nobody's taking your game and tropes away. Full stop. Some of us ARE discussing why WotC is avoiding the class in name only and thus answering the OP's question, "So where my witches at?" Literally nothing changes if you want to rename the Warlock the Witch class, or use another class to tell a story about witchcraft. But please don't try to pretend the history here isn't laced in violent, sexist, toxic masculinity that led to the murder of countless women (and other persons) across the world, and STILL IS HAPPENING.
 

Remathilis

Legend
It's not just hundreds of years ago.

Witch hunts continue to this day around the world, with devastating consequences. These are as painful and blood-soaked tropes as depictions of central Asian or African peoples as violent barbaric tribes and races. Sensitivity is not a bad thing. Nobody's taking your game and tropes away. Full stop. Some of us ARE discussing why WotC is avoiding the class in name only and thus answering the OP's question, "So where my witches at?" Literally nothing changes if you want to rename the Warlock the Witch class, or use another class to tell a story about witchcraft. But please don't try to pretend the history here isn't laced in violent, sexist, toxic masculinity that led to the murder of countless women (and other persons) across the world, and STILL IS HAPPENING.
At the risk of opening a political can of worms...

There is a lot of D&D language that can be viewed as problematic. Druid does in fact refer to a religious title that is in use today. Barbarian is a class that carries a lot of racial baggage. Monk is bordering on cultural appropriation. Paladin, assassin and samurai can have historical baggage. Should these be removed from game? Do we opt for some made up terminology the rageborn or oathbound? Can these tropes be used in a positive way (all of them are PC classes and typically viewed as heroic, even the darker ones) or must these archetypes be removed due to their overbearing connotation?

It's not a conversation this thread is looking for, but I feel this path is going to lead to a lot of elements of the game removed or radically altered.

I'd like to proceed under the assumption that witch in a fantasy setting is no more problematic than barbarian, monk, druid, cavalier, or samurai are.
 

cbwjm

Hero
Witch has, and still does, show up in various media throughout the world, it's become so commonly used that anyone that complains about it claiming that it infringes upon their religious beliefs is going to have a hard time changing anything. It's like a trademark for something that has become the common term for a product which prevents the trademark being able to be upheld in court.
 

G

Guest 6801328

Guest
I'd like to proceed under the assumption that witch in a fantasy setting is no more problematic than barbarian, monk, druid, cavalier, or samurai are.
Where I think "witch" differs from those other names is that it was a label used in the cause of torturing and killing people, usually women, and as such it is still used today as a pejorative for a woman who, well, doesn't conform to behaviors some men prefer. Upthread I linked to an example where feminists have (somewhat humorously) tried to re-claim the word, but in my mind that just emphasizes its loaded meaning.

So it's not that "witch" has historical meaning that we might get wrong, thereby offending people who follow certain religions, but that "witch" is specifically a word used for oppression, not just in history, or even in near memory, but in the present day.

I'll leave you with this, which I find quite funny and yet it illustrates the negative connotations of the word:

dilbert_witch.jpg
 

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