Character Options: Witches (PFRPG) PDF

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Character Options is a series of short PDFs that present new options for a single character class.

In this volume:

  • 10 New Witch Patrons: Aberrant, Beauty, Celestial, Chaotic, Divine, Draconic, Fiendish, Nature, Orderly and Sin
  • 10 Patron Hexes: Touch of Filth, Fairest One of All, Angelic Boon, Tentacles of the Abyss, Divine Strike, Eye of the Dragon, Dark Blessing, Blessing of the Green, Merciful Touch and Guilt Trip
  • 3 Witch Archetypes: Devoted Witch, Green Witch, Storyteller

Author: Russ Brown
Artist: Graeme Cunningham
Pages: 7

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An Endzeitgeist.com review

3/5

This pdf clocks in at 7 pages, 1 page front cover, 1/2 a page editorial/SRD, leaving us with 5 1/2 pages of content, so let's take a look!

We begin this little pdf of witch-options with new witch patrons, 10 to be precise, though you quickly realize that the respective patrons differ from what you'd expect in a witch's patron - or at least, did so for me. This is particularly apparent in 4 patrons, the Celestial, Fiend, Chaotic and Orderly patrons - in case you're not immediately aware of that by the names, they represent one extreme of the two alignment axes, smething that, flavor-wise, was up until now rather the providence of sorcerors, wizards and divine casters. On a plus-side, the respective patrons can be considered to be rather well-crafted, with a fitting spell-dispersal for the respective levels, though personally, I couldn't shake the feeling of them being "un-witchy" - then again, that's my own issue and will not feature in the verdict of this book. Beyond these two, there are two more that fall into such a general theme: Nature and Divine. Where nature provides basically a druid-y patron spell list, the Divine patron actually is a deity and thus provides Domain spells - both being interesting concepts that actually make sense in a lot of ways. While personally, I'm not a fan of the draconic patron, I know that some of you will like it - ultimately, it's, again, a personal preference and not something I'd fault the pdf for. On the plus-side, there are a couple of patrons I really liked: Beauty and Sin in particular feel very witch-themed to me and have a solid array of fitting spells at their disposal.

The pdf then goes on to provide 1 exclusive patron hex for each of the new patrons provided herein. Aberrant witches may cause a nauseating touch (at level 10+ with an accelerated slimy doom) to annoy their foes. The Beauty patron has a concept-wise cool hex: A fascination-causing gaze attacks, which can be used for level minutes (which is frankly, rather long) that can be activated as a swift action (though the wording here is a bit rough). At higher levels, the witch can utilize suggestion and mass-suggestion in conjunction with this ability, but alas, the hex does not specify the type of action both are, nor their CL - imho, these should be SPs, not the base SU of the ability. Celestial and Fiendish are mirror images of one another and grant scaling DR and bonus damage versus outsiders of the opposing alignment to the creature touched, lasting for 3+Int-mod rounds, usable 1/day per creature. Similarly, nature provides a touch that temporarily grants natural AC and fast healing to the target.

The orderly patron's hex is pretty overpowered, allowing a witch to eliminate an increasing array of negative conditions at touch - sans limits. One level 8 witch alone could, as written, end a pandemic since she could just touch all afflicted, ending diseases before they even start. This needs a daily cap. On the plus-side, chaotic is no mirror of orderly and instead conjures forth a spectral tentacle that auto-grapples foes in close range, later also constricting. While generally rather solid in craftsmanship, this is basically the "you lose"-button for nearby spellcasters - auto-grapple is nasty...so why not go for a scaling CMB akin to black tentacles instead? The Divine patron hex has an issue - it conjures forth a spectral weapon with scaling damage that strikes a target within 60 ft., but it does not specify whether the witch needs to direct the weapon or not - I assume she does not have to expend actions to direct the weapon, but I'm not sure since there are precedence-cases for either. Draconic nets darkvision with scaling range and later blindsense, though the latter has a daily cap...and lacks an activation action that distinguishes it from always on darkvision. The Sin patron's hex makes it possible to nauseate and render targets shaken- nice, though the logic behind SIn patrons causing remorse is a bit strange.

The pdf also provides 3 new archetypes, the first of which would be the devoted witch, who receives a modified skill-list and must choose the divine patron. Additionally, she gets the first and second domain power instead of hexes at 2,d and 8th level. The Green Witch must choose a nature-themed patron (or a divine patron with a nature-themed domain) and gain woodland stride at second level instead of a hex. Similarly, at 6th level, she gains a wild shape-like ability that scales and replaces the hexes gained at 6th, 10th and 14th level. The final archetype, the storyteller, once again receives a modified skill-list and uses Charisma instead of Intelligence as the key-attribute for class abilities and spellcasting, though, oddly, she still has to prepare spells in advance. Instead of the hexes gained at 2nd, 8th and 16th level, the witch receives limited bardic performances and 4th level and higher storytellers add the bard spell-list to their arsenals at the cost of but one hex - which seems a bit lenient.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good on a formal level. On a rules-level, there are some wordings herein that feel a bit cumbersome and clunky, though barring minor issues, the content is functional. Layout adheres to a two-column full-color standard and the pdf sports a damn nice piece of artwork. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience, which is neat.

Russ Brown's witch-options proved harder for me to review than anticipated. Why? Because I have pretty specific ideas about the witch-class. You see, I think of the witch as the scalpel to the sorc/wiz's hammer - the subtle caster, the rebel with the uncommon themes. This pdf makes many more streamlined themes (cleric/druid-stuff, for example), work for the witch - so, as a reviewer, I had to swallow my own preferences and try to judge this book on its own merits. Now the respective hexes may not be precisely my cup of coffee, but for the most part, they are solid - though some can use minor clarification/whacks with the nerf-bat. Similarly, the archetypes, while crafted solidly, will not particularly rock your world - they adhere very much to the "exchange class ability x of class 1 with y of class 2"-scheme and do so in a pretty solid manner - though one that e.g. does not provide patron/domain-specific benefits.

Even when separated from personal taste, though, this pdf does have some flaws that weigh rather heavily...but also some neat options I thoroughly enjoyed. How to rate this, then? Well, the issues can't be ignored, but the low price makes me round up from a final verdict of 2.5 stars for a solid mixed bag with some flaws.

Endzeitgeist out.


New patrons, hexes and archtypes for witches

2/5

This is a review for 'Character Options Witches', a supplement by Rusted Iron Games. I'm not a native speaker (I'm German), so I may have fumbled my language skill checks from time to time. Give me a note if I wrote something wrong and I'll try to make myself more clear.

Character Options Witches has about 5.5 pages with three nice pics (and a cover, table of content and so). It contains 10 new witch patrons, aberrant, beauty, celestial, chaotic, divine, draconic, fiendish, nature, orderly and sin. With a few introducing lines, patron spells and hexes unique to that patron. There also are three new witch archtypes which combines the witch with the cleric, the druid and the bard respectively.

The spell lists for each patron are good to okay in my opinion, I especially like the patron of sin, which is a nice addition to the sin-series of Rogue Genius or the Thassilonian sin magic Paizo offers. The divine patron is somewhat odd, since the witch has to chose a domain or subdomain and her patron spells are those domain spells. This pushes the witch strongly toward a cleric in my eyes, but that needn't be bad per se. The draconic patron could fit into Dragonlance nicely.

The hexes have a few minor glitches, like spells not presented in italics, or the missing fluff in the new disease, for it would be interesting to know the symptoms of a disease called 'accelerated slimy doom'.

Contend-wise the hexes are sometimes nice, but most of the time they come with question marks.

The aberrant patron hex for instance can be used the usual once per day on any creature, but it causes the aforementioned disease which has a frequency of once per day and it is contact with two consecutive saves. I see low level witches going through normal villages and killing almost every commoner. Also I'm not sure about the synergy with the disease triggering an additional time and the once-daily part of using the hex. A clarification for this hex would be nice.

The beauty patron hex has the ability to suggest, but I'm not sure if that works like the bard ability or the spell. The idea behind this is nice, though, and reminds of fairy tales.

The chaotic patron hex grapples with a will save to counter that. While this is odd as written with a save instead of CMD, and a will save to escape tentacles instead of a reflex save, its also unclear how far the grapple goes. Does it pin? Also, without the once per day limit on a given creature it seems to be a very strong hex.

The draconic patron hex is underwhelming. I have a dragon patron, one of the mightiest creatures in the world, and he gives me the power of – darkvision and blind sense. Yes. Maybe I should take that tempting and better offer that friendly (nonexistent) mole patron suggests?

The orderly patron hex can remove conditions like dazed and so on. Nice to have, but I can't see the connection to an especially lawful patron in this. Shouldn't this be a feature of a helath patron or something like this?

Finally, the sin patron hex invokes guilt in its victims. So your sin patron suggests that sins are wrong? Shouldn't his witches promote sin and enhance them instead?

Finally we get three new archtypes, the devoted witch, the green witch and the storyteller.

The devoted witch gets the first and second domain power of clerics for the price of hexes, Here I miss the normal rule-language like 'witch levels instead of cleric levels', which is a bit sloppy. Also, since they must chose the divine patron, they are more like clerics then they are witches any more, just the spells are different and they can't channel.

The green witch has some fitting patrons or can use the divine patron, but here the author tried to fit too much under a hat. Woodland stride doesn't fit with fire domain or water, and winter is there without some thoughts about spring or the other seasons with fitting powers. And no benefits like no tracks in the snow or something like this for winter patrons? The animal shape ability is without synergy with the different patrons and domains also, its just the druids ability.

While the first two witches dive (it more than a dip, really) into cleric or druid, the storyteller replaces hexes with bardic abilities. I like the idea of having witches work with charisma instead of intelligence, but I'm not sure if the result of this archtype is just a weaker bard.

Conclusion:
There are nice ideas in this supplement, but some things are a bit sloppy and I don't get the reason behind some of the choices, like darkvision for a draconic patron, the sin hex or the orderly hex. If you want to have your witch combined with a cleric, druid or bard you should take a look at this supplement. I'll settle for 2.5 out of 5 stars, rounded down.

Have fun!


5/5

So at 7 pages this product is short but it actually gets a lot done. It's a difficult kind of product for me because I'm not a fan of witches. Hexes often amount to a spell with an annoying frequency and patrons are just flavorless piles of bonus spells. After that they're just wizards with a different spell list. So I'm never too excited about witch books expecting more of the same.

This book starts off with more patrons. (yawn) just new piles of themed spells... Wait a minute. There's one patron called 'Divine', where you choose a Cleric domain or subdomain and you get the bonus spells the same way you would get patron spells. I don't know if that's lazy or genius. On one hand its just another pile of themed bonus spells, you're just slapping on half a cleric class feature to produce pseudo-patrons. On the other hand, they made one patron that single-handedly quadrupled your patron options. The rest of the patrons have bonus spells that don't seem overpowered or underpowered at their level but after the the Divine one they seem pointless.

There are new hexes specifically for the patrons in the book. These are a bit more interesting. Earlier the book mentions Super Genius Games' Patron Hexes as inspiration for this, and I think it works out. The hexes are mostly okay-but boring or hilariously fun. They certainly give a bit more meaning to the patrons in the book.

Then there are archetypes. Essentially a Cleric-Witch, Druid-Witch, and Bard-Witch in that order. Again, can't tell if lazy or genius. The Cleric-Witch gets to play with domain powers instead of two hexes and like the Divine Patron it opens up a ton of options and themes, moreso than a normal Witch. The Druid one gets a wild-shape variant. Lazy because, you just slapped on some class features from another class, Genius because 1/2 BAB Druid's and Clerics have been on the list of thing people frequently beg for, for a while. You're stuck with the Witch Spell list but you have a lot of range of options within the archetype. Then there's the Bard-Witch, a more charming witch that does another thing on the begging list, a charisma casting Witch. And honestly it doesn't look bad and it has a nice flavor to it.

Despite my somewhat negative comments, particularly about suspected laziness, this product brings a lot to the table. In less than seven pages it changes what I can do with a witch by a LOT and stands in for options I know people really like to see. Plus, nothing was confusing or weirdly written. It doesn't go high concept the way I prefer witch options to be but it gets the job done without any typos or rules arguments from me.

Inspiring use, granting variety and being clear and easy to use are the hallmarks of five stars for me. For a buck fifty you can dramatically change assumptions about witches in your games.


Community Manager

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RPG Superstar 2015 Top 16

Malwing,

Thanks for taking the time to provide a review!


Reviewed. Have fun!


Oliver, thank you for the review.


The PDF has been updated to fix some minor errors and add bookmarks.


Reviewed first on endzeitgeist.com, then submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted here and on OBS.

Scarab Sages RPG Superstar 2015 Top 16

Thanks for the review EZG!

I will admit, this one does have some rough spots.

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