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Witch Class


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Celebrim

Legend
I don't know a lot about 5e and so can't evaluate balance on the class, but I do suspect that with bless, fairy fire, and sleep on their 1st level spell list, this is probably the class with the best selection of 1st level spells in the game. I would from a power gamer perspective put a Fate Tradition Witch up against any other low level caster. Evil Eye is also basically a win button and probably the best low level debuff in the game, were it not for the fact that a metagaming DM can always insist that the 'stressful time' is not now (rendering the spell the biggest source of table arguments I can imagine).
 

Redthistle

Explorer
bmcdaniel,

You put a whole heck of a lot of work into this, and I am highly impressed with the final result. I wish I could award you more than a single XP.
 

Erik42

First Post
Very nice work. I've always loved the concept of the Witch as a PC or NPC class. Back in the day, I used to use the Witch NPC class presented in an old Dragon Magazine (The issue number escapes me; might have been reprinted in Best of Dragon one or two) pretty frequently. I've thought of creating a 5E Witch as a separate spell-casting class - you beat me to the punch. Great job with it.
 

Redthistle

Explorer
After reviewing the class more deeply, it does seem to me that Bestow Curse and Bestow Major Curse are more powerful than the respective levels you have assigned to them (3rd and 5th, respectively). This is primarily because of "Duration: Permanent until removed".

This Bestow Curse is more powerful than the spell of the same name and level in the PHB. For my own gaming table, I've simply increased their respective levels by one level (to 4th and 6th), and added the designation "Witch" in each of the spell names (Bestow Witch Curse and Bestow Major Witch Curse).

Otherwise, I'm liking this class even more than when I first read it over.
 
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bmcdaniel

First Post
Thanks for the feedback. A few thoughts and responses:

* I hadn't considered how powerful bless is. (It hasn't seen any use in my game so far.) I think I'll remove it from the common spell list (although I'll keep it for the fate tradition).

* Regarding the power level of the evil eye and the bestow curse/bestow major curse spells. I've tried to balance them by delaying the effect, so that they would rarely (if ever) be useful in combat. They would be very useful to set up a later combat... but (a) the victim knows that they are cursed and should take appropriate precautions, and (b) I'm OK with that because I want to encourage my players to set up advantages for future combats.

* Along those lines, I'll insert the following text which appears elsewhere in my campaign guide describing curse magic:

Curse Magic
Curses loom large in the imagination of [people in this campaign]. Curses are a special type of magic that doesn’t follow the determinative rules of standard magic. Whether or not a spell counts as a curse will be noted in the spell description.
Curses are very flexible, but their efficacy depends on the symbolic appropriateness of the curse to the target. Moreover, most powerful curses can be broken if the target meets conditions that are (again) symbolically appropriate. For example, a pickpocket cursed with palsy until he returns everything he’s stolen to its rightful owners; a beautiful princess cursed with eternal sleep until kissed by a prince; a demonologist cursed with fear of fire; a graverobber whose possessions crumbles unless he returns all stolen items to a grave; or a drunken fool who is polymorphed into a boar until he can cross a desert (symbolically overcoming his alcoholism). Finally, most curses have a delayed onset, can have permanent or long-lasting effects, and can’t be dispelled like ordinary spells (although a high-level remove curse spell can end a curse).
Because of these elements, curses are not terribly combat-effective, and they are not meant to be. However, curses can be powerful PC (and NPC) motivators outside of combat.

* I should add that one of my few disappointments with D&D 5e is what they did with the bestow curse and remove curse spells. Bestow curse is now simply yet another in-combat spell, and remove curse automatically works. Bestowing a permanent curse requires a 9th-level bestow curse spell (!) which, per RAW, can be dispelled with a 3rd-level remove curse
 

peterka99

First Post
Your class has a niche quite close from a cleric. Not as useful to the other players as the Bard or thge Cleric, can heal; curses are great as you said to tacticians planning postponed attacks, with is great. The combat spells are alike clerics and bards, your stick can cause damage (but only 1 attack at high levels is low). Sanctuary is great then to keep witches out of melee. Very good balance!

Potions: The brewing rules are scarce. Herbalists and alchemist can brew minor potions, as well as spellcasters (with was skill or tool) ? Correct my assumptions is you get better knowledge. I don't think it should be a feat, because downtime activities are quite a tricky and optional rule most of the time. Lets say witches are the only major potions makers in the campaign... Plus maybe NPCs experts...

I think you got the 1st rule for D&D 5e for brewing potions... Seems fine. Need to know the spell, selling prices should be 110-130% of raw costs ( I did not compare your price and DMG prices...) ? If brewing is fail-proof, the benefits should not be so high because otherwise witches will be full-time potions makers...

Time: I think the brewing time should be exponential. I level 1 potion (like cure wonds) should takes an hour, a 9th potion nearly a year...

time = level * tier multiplier
tier 1 (level 1-4): hours
tier 2 (level 5-9): days
3 (level 11-15): weeks
4 (level 16+): months

(tiers levels from memory)


By the way, feel free to review my own classes options and races !
 
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steeldragons

Steeliest of the dragons
Really great stuff, and kudos for the boatload of work. I really like the "true to life" feel and flavor of traditional/historic witchcraft.

My only alteration/houserule might be to move the archetype choice to 2nd or 3rd level to put it more in line/another balancing measure with the other classes.

You could keep Familiar on 2nd or move it to 3rd [wherever you put the tradition choice] with the Shawl, as both are dependent on the tradition choice.

Also, given all classes have their own archetype title, and "tradition" is already the Wizard's, I might come up with a different term. As, per your fluff, witches are "practical magic users/casters", might I suggest, simply, "Practices." Which Witch's Practice do you follow?
 

bmcdaniel

First Post
I made a few more changes, including fixing an embarrassing duplication error in one of the spell lists, added a new tradition (winter) and a few more spells. I still appreciate feedback.

peterka99, the prices for the potions are either strictly from the DMG (where the price is given, such as the poisons and the potion of healing) or within the DMG guidelines (other potions). I didn't intend for the witch to have any monetary advantage to crafting, but merely better/more sure access. While in general, I like D&D 5e's permission-required approach to magic item crafting, I wanted to loosen it up a bit for the witch. But note that the DM can still control the availability of non-gp ingrediants.

steeldragon, at one point, I actually wanted to follow both your suggestions, but ultimately didn't. The problem with choosing the late archetype, is that the witch depends on them to get tradition spells. I think this is the same reason why the cleric also starts at 1st level with its domain. At one point, I did delay the acquisition of the tradition, and instead of having tradition-based cantrips and 1st-level spells, I made them prerequisites for entry into a tradition. But at the end of the day, I decided it wasn't worth the additional complexity, and abandoned that approach.

With regard to using "tradition" as the class archetype, I felt kind of stuck. I wanted to contrast the witch's "passed-down" folk wisdom spellcasting as compared to the theoretical/book learning approach of wizards and the faith-based spellcasting of clerics. Really, I'd feel best if wizards went back to "schools"; but since WOTC probably won't honor that request, "tradition" was still the best I could come up with.

This is as good a place as any to note that the witch has substantially more spells known than the cleric or the wizard. I'm aware of it, but i think its balanced against the fact that clerics and wizards can switch spells much more easily (pray/study overnight to memorize a new spell), while witches take a whole month to switch out a spell.

PS to the mods: any chance of getting an upgrade to the resources database to allow posting of full classes?
 

steeldragons

Steeliest of the dragons
I'm with you on Wizard schools being schools...which they call them in the PHB, yet for some reason the archetypes are "traditions". Doesn't make a lot of sense to me. So, I see why that is. Maybe if we both asked reeeeally nicely? ;)

As for the traditions at later levels, why can't they just gain the cantrips/1st level spells when they take on the tradition?...if they don't already have them. Kinda of an "initiation" thing. When you devote yourself to a tradition, these certain magical mysteries/lore come/get passed to you...this includes the simplest spells of that tradition.
 


WebWarlock

First Post
This is really cool. I have not yet thought about 5e witches yet, but I am going to give this one a spin.

Great job.
 

steeldragons

Steeliest of the dragons
Just a thought/idea bubble/burst for possible future adventure/big baddies...coven of hags with levels in this Witch class (fate or death, I would guess)..."the Fates/Norns" style trio, themselves...or maybe a "Hocus Pocus" 3 sisters style 1 Veil, 1 Nature, 1 Death or some such...Yes, indeed, the possibilities for NPC use are a-flowin'.
 

bmcdaniel

First Post
I've got one more tradition I'm going to add: a fiend-trafficking diabolist type. I'm still thinking about some of the features, but should haev it up in a day or two.

-Brian
 

Ace

Adventurer
Very impressive, interesting content , well formatted with a nice PDF with credits to boot. Well done and have some XP.
 

RufusDaMan

First Post
IMO the 3 path options is very few, especially since the first one is at 1st level. I would add at least one on 3rd level. Also, some of the powers seem very specific.
 

Redthistle

Explorer
Brian,

Re curses, your observation that the RAW curses are short-term and only suitable for combat, whereas many legends about witches put curses in a much more foreboding context, has led me to these proposed revisions:

1- Change your more powerful curses to Ritual only, representing the extra work the witch puts in to cast a longer-lasting spell at a much greater range. The RAW Bestow Curse would remain as is, and the ritual version would be renamed Greater Bestow Curse.

2- Bump Greater Bestow Curse to 4th level, and Bestow Major Curse to 6th level.

3- Using RAW about ritual versions of spells, change the casting time to 10 minutes.

4- Change the range to Witch level x Slot level x 1 mile.

5- From the Contact Spirit of the Dead spell, use an adapted version of the strain test and the Relationship and Connection requirements.

6- Add these pre-requisites: Cauldron, link(s) with target.

Below are the proposed changes:

Greater Bestow Curse
4th-level necromancy (ritual only)
Pre-requisites: Cauldron, possibly link(s) with target
Casting Time: 10 minutes
Range: Witch level x spell-slot level x 1 mile
Components: V, S, possible M (see Connection in the spell description)
Duration: Permanent until removed

You magically reach out to attack a specific creature within range. You must know at least the name of the creature you are trying to attack. Cursing a creature can strain, or even injure you physically. When you cast this spell, make a DC 20 Constitution saving throw, modified as below.

Relationship (at most one modifier applies) Save Modifier:
Someone present whose testimony you trust adequately describes the target and its alleged wrong-doing: +2
You witnessed the target commit the wrong-doing: +4
You have successfully cursed the target before +6

Connection (at most one modifier applies) Save Modifier:
Likeness or picture +2
Possession or garment +4
Signature/prized possession or body part, lock of hair, etc. +6

On a failure, you take 4d8 necromantic damage and are stunned until you finish a long rest. While stunned, you can’t take actions, can’t move, can speak only falteringly, automatically fail Strength and Dexterity saving throws, and attack rolls against you have advantage. A greater restoration spell cast on you ends this effect.

On a successful save, one creature of your choice within range must succeed on a Wisdom saving throw. If the target fails, then beginning on the next dawn and continuing until the curse is removed, the target is subject to one of the following effects (chosen by you at the time the spell is cast):

• Choose one ability score. The target has disadvantage on ability checks and saving throws made with that ability score.
• The target has disadvantage on attack rolls against you.
• The target must make a Wisdom saving throw at the start of each of its turns. If it fails, it wastes its action that turn doing nothing.
• Your attacks and spells deal an extra 1d8 necrotic damage to the target.
• The target cannot regain hit points by any means other than natural healing, and natural healing recovers only half as many hit points as it otherwise would.
• The target falls in love with the next gender-and-species appropriate person it sees.
An effect of similar power that is appropriate for the target and approved by the DM.

At the time the spell is cast, the caster must announce an appropriate condition that will allow the curse to be broken. In addition, a remove curse spell ends this effect as described in the remove curse spell, but this spell cannot be dispelled.
At Higher Levels. If you cast this spell using a spell slot of 5th level or higher, there is no difference in the effect, but it will become more difficult to remove.
___________________________________________________________

Bestow Major Curse
6th-level necromancy (ritual)
Pre-requisites: Cauldron, link with target
Casting Time: 10 minutes
Range: 60 feet
Components: V, S
Duration: Permanent until removed

You magically reach out to attack a specific creature within range. You must know at least the name of the creature you are trying to attack. Cursing a creature can strain, or even injure you physically. When you cast this spell, make a DC 20 Constitution saving throw, modified as below.

Relationship (at most one modifier applies) Save Modifier:
Someone present whose testimony you trust adequately describes the target and its alleged wrong-doing: +2
You witnessed the target commit the wrong-doing: +4
You have successfully cursed the target before +6

Connection (at most one modifier applies) Save Modifier:
Likeness or picture +2
Possession or garment +4
Signature/prized possession or body part, lock of hair, etc. +6

On a failure, you take 4d8 necromantic damage and are stunned until you finish a long rest. While stunned, you can’t take actions, can’t move, can speak only falteringly, automatically fail Strength and Dexterity saving throws, and attack rolls against you have advantage. A greater restoration spell cast on you ends this effect.

On a successful save, one creature of your choice within range must succeed on a Wisdom saving throw. If the target fails, then beginning at the time described below, the target is subject to one of the following effects which must be appropriate to the target (chosen by you at the time the spell is cast):

• One minute after the spell is cast, the target is polymorphed into a beast whose challenge rating is equal to or less than the target’s (or the target’s level, if it doesn't have a challenge rating). The target’s game statistics are as described in the polymorph spell.
• The next time the target falls asleep, either naturally or by magical means, it cannot be awoken until the curse is ended.
• The target is struck by wanderlust. Beginning the next dawn, it begins to travel to see the wonders of the world. The wanderlust lasts for one decade.
• The target immediately is subject to constant, embarrassing faux pas. This effect lasts until a beautiful person agrees to marry the target.
• Beginning at the next full moon, the target is transformed into a lycanthrope. This lasts until the target sincerely repents for his past murders.
• Starting with the next dawn and lasting until the target solves a riddle posed by the caster, the target has disadvantage on all ability checks, attack rolls and saving throws while in direct sunlight.
• One hundred and one days after the spell is cast, the target must succeed on a new Constitution saving throw. If it fails, then it immediately drops to 0 hit points and begins dying. This curse cannot be broken but it is suspended for as long as the target sincerely foreswears earthly power and possessions, and lives a simple life.
An effect of similar power that is appropriate for the target and approved by the DM.

This spell cannot be dispelled, but a remove curse spell ends this effect as described in the remove curse spell.
At Higher Levels. If you cast this spell using a spell slot of 7th level or higher, there is no difference in the effect, but it will become more difficult to remove.
 

bmcdaniel

First Post
Redthistle,

There's a lot to like about your proposal, but its missing an element that I really want to keep: that the target must actually see and hear the curse pronounced upon him. In addition to the pure flavor aspect, in order for the target to know how to lift the curse, he has to have heard the curse. If the curse is long-range, then this element is missing.

-Brian
 

Redthistle

Explorer
Redthistle,

There's a lot to like about your proposal, but its missing an element that I really want to keep: that the target must actually see and hear the curse pronounced upon him. In addition to the pure flavor aspect, in order for the target to know how to lift the curse, he has to have heard the curse. If the curse is long-range, then this element is missing.

-Brian
Somehow, I missed that salient perspective, which makes much more sense for the basic game. Your version packs a better dramatic punch.

Grazie!
 

peterka99

First Post
A new critic: why life and fate witches teleport ? Any reference ? Fate witches are strong enough without teleport.

Your 20th level nature and death features are original as well as Environmental Effects. The late one is more a NPC feature (like lair actions)- I don't think a PC should get a feature to get boost to her home. They put In D&d 1e and 2e then removed it. You have to consider them as bonus feature, not to be balanced with other classes.


Diabolist typo: Place command fiends at the end and all the rest under "true names" entry since there are not only at 10th and 20th level. Ther eis a type for the spell list: If you are from the Fate Tradition...

life: Real life tradition refer to them as midwifes. Not really D&D focused... You said "growth", maybe you can shrink or enlarge creatures at 10th level (2th level spell) ? the 20th ability is too weak (the paladin has immunity to disease at 3rd level), the Druid has 2 features at 18th, one timeless body). I'll say:

At 20th level, your life force is so strong that bodily hazards have no hold on you. Your body slowly reverts to the form you had at the prime of your life. You are immune to disease, poison, and effects would age you magically. You will still die of old age, but your metabolism is 1/10 of normal. You age only 1 year for every 10 years that pass. Your food , drink and breath requirements are 10% of usual.

veiled tradition: add something like :"This is alike a dominate person spell at will, but with verbal commands only."

Winter tradition: Are you a Frozen fan ?

Death Curse: I don't like to die or let my players die, so this curse is just... troubling.

I don't like the class dependency on objects, too much 3.x, not enough 5e. Compared to the cleric where the divine focus is something that can be skipped totally without much game issues... Can you apply the features to the witch herself and not refer to the implement so much? Otherwise, how long it takes to replace one item ?


I have other names for the witches:

death: Witch doctors
nature: Drui (native word for Druids, I know...)
fate: Strega
life: wise (wo)men
veiled: ?
Diabolist : ?
Winter: Elsa :)
 
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