Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Character Class: Witch

Summary: A custom character class for B/X D&D, Lamentations of the Flame Princess or any other  similar retroclone/OSR-adjacent system. There are a few other Witch classes out there, but for some reason none of them were to my complete liking, thus I resorted to brewing my own. Mostly inspired by medieval witchcraft and various similar "dark" arts of Europe.

The Witch

"The Three Witches" by Gustave Doré

Lv Exp. HP Paralyze Poison Breath Device Magic 1 2 3 4 5
1 0 1d6 14 12 16 14 13 1

2 1,750 +1d4 14 12 16 14 13 2
3 3,500 +1d4 14 12 16 14 13 2 1
4 7,000 +1d4 14 12 16 14 13 2 2
5 14,000  +1d4 14 12 16 14 13 3 2 1
6 28,000 +1d4 12  10 14 12 11 3 2 2
7 56,000  +1d4 12 10 14 12 11 3 3 1 1
8 112,000 +1d4 12 10 14 12 11 4 3 2 2
9 224,000 +1d4 12 10 14 12 11 4 4 3 2 1
10 336,000  +2  12 10 14 12 11 4 4 3 2 2

The first thing a witch must do is choose a path that they will follow, each path defining their way of practicing magic and what kind of spells they cast.

The Paths of the Witch:
- The Pacts of the Blackened Soil (The Black Path) - dabbles in curses, brewing poisons and deals with malignant entities 
- The Traditions of the Evergreen Ouroboros (The Green Path) - healing and purification of the body, herbal potions and dealings with nature and animal spirits 
- The Practices of the White-Feathered Trail (The White Path) - focus on protective spells and charms, divination and banishment rituals 

"The Magic Circle" by John William Waterhouse

Skill bonuses:
The Witch receives a +1 bonus (in addition to the already existing 1 in 6) on the following Skills based on the chosen Path:
- Black - Languages
- Green - Bushcraft
- White - Luck

Additionally, starting from level 2 and following every other even level (4, 6, 8, 10, etc.), the Witch receives +1 Skill point to spend on any of the following Skills, again based on Path:
- Black/Green - Brew Potion
- Black/Green/White - Craft
- White - Divination

Spell casting:
- Spellbook - the Witch uses a spellbook known as the Book of Shadows (regardless of Path). The book is simply a collection of spells known to the Witch, otherwise they do not need to have it on hand in order to cast spells. However, if the Book of Shadows is destroyed or specific spell pages are torn out, the Witch looses the knowledge to those spells permanently.

- Components - the Witch needs to use various components in order to cast spells. The potency of the components dictates the level of the spell. For instance, level 1 spells require only a pinch of basic components, while level 5 spells might not be cast at all using basic ingredients.

Some basic components for each path would be:
- Black - rat's whiskers, a drunkard's toe nail clippings, pig blood...
- Green - chamomile leaves, dried apple seeds, antler splinters...
- White - dust, candle wax, a dove's feather...

Certain extremely powerful components can enable the Witch to cast spells of a level higher than her allowed level, despite those not being in her Book of Shadows! (for example, a single Gorgon scale might enable a level 9 Witch to cast Flesh to Stone)

Spell slots and preparing spells: These work exactly as for a typical Magic User.

Beginning spells:
All witches start the game with "Read Magic" and one random level 1 spell of the appropriate Path. 
Modifiers to Wisdom give bonus/penalties to potential bonus spells.

Path level 1 spells:
- Black - Unseen Servant, Summon, Charm Person, Cause Fear
- Green - Cure Light Wounds, Purify Food/Drink, Faerie Fire, Sleep
- White - Detect Evil, Detect Magic, Protection from Evil, Remove Fear

Leveling up to a level that would grant a spell level upgrade (e.g. from 2 to 3, or from 4 to 5), the witch gains a number of new spells of the appropriate level equal to her Wisdom modifier. The witch must spend an equal amount of days undisturbed, as they write down the spells and appropriate sigils and components needed in their Book of Shadows.
This is by no means completely finished, but is instead just a solid outline for the class with a focus on level one. I've mostly been prompted to write this by an upcoming game that I'm preparing, so as the game goes on I'll further develop the class. Rules for the new Skills, spells for levels beyond the first and expanded higher level spell components will probably come in a future post.

And that would be it, for now! Definitely let me know what you think, since I'm not that savvy when it comes to mechanical game design.


  1. Seems pretty solid to me :). I especially like the three different "Paths" to provide to represent the different Witch archetypes. Have you considered how you'd handle a Familiar?

    You might also find my Herbs & Plants Generator useful for potentially generating some specific/interesting botanicals for The Traditions of the Evergreen Ouroboros

    1. Hey, thanks a lot for reading, quite appreciated!

      Familiars are on my mind, but not sure how to tackle them yet. Biggest "issue" is that I'm trying to think about what the Familiar would actually "do" for the Witch. I'm currently thinking about giving the Witch a mundane animal at level 1 and then have it "upgraded" to a proper Familiar on level 2 and then figure out their purpose. Not sure.

      One other thing that I'm thinking about are Covens. Which I think might be a good idea to introduce at around level 3.

      Anyway, the generator you made is fantastic! Will be using it in game for sure, thanks!

    2. No problem! I like to see how others try to tackle the archetypes :). I appreciate the kind words about the Generator, I've found it really handy for any Class/Character that wants some more interesting plants to play with :).

      One take I've always enjoyed is making the Familiar the Witch's source for spells. Treating it kind of like their Spellbook. Whispering them in her ear while she sleeps, catching a mouse that when skinned and tanned reveals a scroll, or even "teaching it" by selecting specially carved Ashen rods, etc.

      This makes them want to protect them and treat them carefully (instead of risking them in battle). A common trope is "seeing through the familiar's eyes" which can be very handy, but learning to speak to the animal type, or helping deliver messages/spells can also be pretty useful.

      I did some dabbling with Familiars here in my First Level Spell Features (this might give you a few ideas), and I also did a more demon-driven "Diabolist"for Beyond The Wall (which is also pretty B/X based) here that might have something useful for you in it.