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Class Acts: Witch Archetypes (PFRPG) PDF

***½( ) (based on 3 ratings)

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The Class Acts PDFs introduce new class options for the base classes and core classes featured in the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. Every PDF contains two full pages of high quality content (no fluff or filler)!

Class Acts: Witch Archetypes includes three new witch archetypes: the Desert Witch, the Grisly Fetishist, and the Maleficium.

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Product Reviews (3)

Average product rating:

***½( ) (based on 3 ratings)

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Absolutely terrible

*( )( )( )( )

This book is even worse than the Witch Hex one from the same author. Again, we see the same problem : Rules based on the "rule of cool" with little to no regard paid to practicality.

It's obvious the author is not very well versed in the rules given that the Desert witch archetype adds flare to the class spell list, which is a level 0 spell, but specifically says the spell is not automatically known. Witches automatically know all cantrips in the first place. And hexes are being written as spell like abilities for some reason.

The desert witch itself is yet another terrain based archetype that is of little use unless your DM sets an entire campaign in that particular terrain.

Even then a normal witch would fare better. I mean one of their hex options is seek water, which does exactly what it sounds like. Or you could ask the party cleric to cast create water, a level 0 spell with infinite uses a day. I'm confused as to how they somehow made a hex that is worse than a level 0 spell, and i'm pretty sure your DM wouldn't mind letting you buy a 3/day magic item to cast create water for cheap.

In return for familiar and patron restrictions, you do get (eventual) free fire resistance, which is potentially useful. So you don't really lose anything if you were planning to restrict your familiar/patron anyway...but other than that, just avoid this archetype.

The grisly fetishist is basically a heavily nerfed gravewalker witch.

You get a familiar that is worse than a standard witch familiar AND gives you none of the actual familiar bonuses (such as a handy +3 initiative). Terrorize is an ability that only intimidates opponents who can hear, but not see the witch. I'm trying to picture an adventurer sneaking around and trying to intimidate monsters with this...the strangest part is that this grants a bonus on weapon damage rolls.

Witch. Wielding a weapon. And trying to melee something. Note that this archetype still restricts you to no armor and does not grant you any improved BAB, hit dice, or anything that makes her decent in melee. The ability to use a pick or scythe does not count. To top it off, this ability REPLACES a hex.

You then have an ability that replaces the 4th level hex, and all it does is help you intimidate a flat footed opponent. Wow, really?

Maleficum : Can no longer cast healing spells, but can cast inflict/harm spells at one higher caster level. So from the start, this is a pretty huge downside unless you have an all undead party.

The signature abiltiy is a 60 ft hex that causes 1d4 non lethal damage to targets with a fort save for half. Maximum of 10d4 at 19th level. Targets that fail the saving throw convert some non-lethal damage to lethal damage.

Its useless for both killing an enemy or knocking them unconcious. And this replaces a hex.

At 8th level, you lose a hex but get a free wrackling blight against any target that fails to save against a hex. Note that the target still gets to save against the wrackling blight, and there is the usual 1/24 hour restriction. Still pointless.

At 16th level you can stack a free harm spell onto any target currently affected by one of your hexes, ending all hexs on that target immediately. So its a potentially free 150 damage, which is good, except that this replaces one of your grand hexes, most of which are far more powerful than this.

It is obvious that there was little to no playtesting involved when designing the options here. For example, the maleficum archetype might have been a decent option if all the wracking blight options had been free abilities attached to any hexes the witch used, instead of giving up THREE hexes for them. Being able to deal extra non-lethal damage is honestly a moot point when the rest of the party are dealing full lethal damage to the target and most combats ends in 3 rounds or less.

Given that the other witch hex PDF from the same author has shown the same lack of effort in designing the rules, i would strongly suggest staying away from any products released by this author entirely, as they are likely to be of the same low standard.


Some classy witch-archetypes

****( )

EDIT: The Problem with the Maleficium has been rectified - +1.5 stars since its the coolest of the archetypes. :)

This pdf is 4 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, leaving 2 pages of content for 3 new witch archetypes, so let's check them out!

The first new archetype has me fearing it would be one of these boring environment-based ones: The Desert Witch. And at first, she seems likely to fall into the trap, limiting the selection of available familiars, patrons etc. and granting only an improved [fire]-descriptor spell DC and a constant endure elements as well as improving fire resistance that turns to immunity at 14th level. So far, so bland. However, the archetype also gains access to two rather interesting hexes that save the archetype from mediocrity: The first not only grants a modified version of the goodberry-spell, but also enables the witch to brew a potion from this berry and at higher levels, expend all her uses for the equivalent of a hero's feast. The second hex lets her find water in the desert, but omits e.g. corrupted or tainted water - quite a vital power in the desert. While still not the apex of ingenuity, this archetype serves its niche thanks to these two hexes.

The second archetype is the grisly fetishist, who gains the Knowledge (Religion) and Stealth class-skills as well as proficiency with picks and the scythe. This type of witch replaces the familiar with an inanimate corpse poppet made from a deceased tiny being or from some sort of humanoid remains - rather creepily, this witch's poppet also communicates exclusively with the witch. It's rather interesting to note that, while the text refers to an evil will communicating with the witch, no alignment-restriction is provided, meaning that essentially, it could be easily reskined as some form of semi-benevolent, albeit creepy ancestral worship. Witches of this archetype may also add their class level as bonuses to attacks, intimidate and sense motive checks against foes suffering from some kind of fear-based condition and can demoralize foes without sight contact. They may also get these bonuses at 4th level against flat-footed opponents. This archetype feels, at least to me, somewhat akin to a twist on the voodoo priest introduced in an earlier class act, just with slightly less panache - the poppet per se as a concept is cool, but the archetype does not really provide a sufficient benefit for losing the familiar's mobility and abilities. Fluff-wise nice, but crunch-wise a tad bit too weak for my tastes.

The final archetype in this pdf would then be the Maleficium, who eliminates all (healing)-spells from her spell-list, but casts her inflict and harm spells at +1 caster level. The Maleficium is essentially a negative energy-based blaster, they gain a scaling supernatural ability called "Wracking Blight", which deals painful non-lethal damage to foes and, if applicable, could turn non-lethal, pre-existing damage into lethal one. Unfortunately, the ability is called a hex in the text, but does not follow standard hex-formatting, making me wonder which of the two it's supposed to be. Furthermore, it does not specify what action it requires to use and how often it can be used per day. Even cooler, at 8th level, she may add this ability as a free action to a creature that has failed to save against a hex of the witch. At 16th level, the Maleficarium can add a harm effect to a creature that is affected by one of her hexes -OUCH! This probably is the most powerful of the three archetypes and apart from the ambiguity in the wording of the ability, it is also the one I'd personally would like to play. Wracking Blight is just a cool ability with nice mechanics to back it up.

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are good, though the formatting/wording inconsistency in the Maleficium is a painful blunder that hopefully will be rectified soon. Layout adheres to a 2-column, no-frills standard and the pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length. All right, I'll come right out and say it: The first archetype is not too exciting to me and while the hexes are nice, they can't really save it. Scavenge the hexes, ignore the rest would be my approach. The second one has a cool fluff, but the crunch backing it up is rather weak - I wish we had got more content and abilities to make the archetype feel more distinct. The final one is a nice, cool archetype, though the ambiguity/formatting glitch here is a major bummer and the lack of information regarding what action it takes to activate makes this unusable as written, which costs this pdf massive points on my scale. Since at the moment only two of the archetypes are functional, my final verdict will be 2.5 stars, rounded down to 2. As soon as the Maleficium has been cleaned up, I'll happily add +1 or +1.5 stars to the verdict.

Endzeitgeist out.


Three Awesome Archetypes

*****

As always, I just want make it known I was offered (and did accept, obviously) a review copy of this product, if anyone finds that relevant. Now on to the review.

.
.
.

Formatting, layout, spelling and grammar are all spot-on, as all the Class Acts PDFs typically are.

Yay! More witch stuff - my favorite class. Let's do this.

We get three new archetypes for our dollar. The first is a desert witch - a clear and obvious counterpart to Paizo's winter witch archetype. Mostly, this archetype does what you'd expect it to do (fire resistance instead of cold resistance, flare instead of ray of frost, etc.), but it does include two unique, nifty, and very appropriate and well-written hexes that are unique to the desert witch (and they aren't copies of the winter witch hexes, either - they're completely different). The familiar and patron options are also appropriate and well-chosen. All in all, not the most original archetype in the world, but that's more than made up for by...

...the grisly fetishist! This is a damned cool archetype, and I badly want to run one as the villain for a one-shot adventure. First of all, it's clearly a horror-movie inspired. Witches + horror movies... this archetype is already pressing all the right buttons for me. The grisly fetishist gains Stealth, proficiency with some "gruesome" weapons (the scythe, the pickaxe, the sickle), and its familiar is a tiny preserved head that it can "talk" to (or some other preserved part of a corpse). In exchange for the proficiencies and the extra class skills, her familiar loses a lot of its abilities. What really makes the archetype work is the implied "fighting style" of the fetishist. See- this witch gains an ability that allows it to make Intimidate checks while hidden. It also gains a pretty damn huge weapon damage bonus against shaken or flat-footed opponents. It's a pop out and "gotcha!" bonus. The implied tactics for the witch would be: buff up, sneak around, scare everyone with Intimidate, and the pop out of the shadows and land a powerful weapon attack with your scythe, or heavy pick, or whatever. Classic horror-movie style. I love it.

Unfortunately, I see a little less use in this archetype for a player. In a traditional campaign, a "melee witch" that doesn't get to set up the battlefield and milk the Stealth advantage probably won't last long. Still - what a great theme and powerset this is for GMs.

Lastly, we've got the maleficium - a word that I'm pretty sure that the author made up. The maleficium specializes in inflicting pain, and in the inflict and harm spells. She also gains a really gruesome and awesome unique hex that causes two effects: first - the victim takes some nonlethal damage. Second - the victim has an equal amount of preexisting nonlethal damage (such as the damage you received when the witch hit you with this hex in the last round) converted into lethal damage instead. Once a creature saves against this ability, you can no longer use it against that opponent for 24 hours. I enjoyed this archetype a lot - it worked out a way to build a "blasting" witch that still feels suitably witchy. This archetype also gains the ability to deal decent damage to people affected by other hexes, thus necessitating that the witch keep a suite of "hexy" hexes on hand if you want to deal a lot of damage. You're kind of prohibited in this way from focusing your build on nothing but damage, damage, damage (though the damaging options that you do gain are quite good). Like I said... a suitably witchy damage build.

In conclusion: The grisly fetishist is awesome. The whole product is awesome. I give Class Acts: Witch Archetypes five stars. *****

- Sara McLean


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