Archade's Witch Playtest


Round 2: Summoner and Witch

Dark Archive

I'd like to thank our player Gavin for being brave and taking the plunge -- he was a little dissatisfied with his 2nd level duergar cleric, and when he aske to try one of the new classe, I allowed him to swap out for another character – he took a 2nd level tiefling witch with a viper familiar, and the healing and cauldron hexes.

He didn’t exactly outshine the other characters and his actions contributed to the party goal, he identified potions, cast inflict light wounds on a dretch, tried to cast shocking grasp (on a dretch, which is immune to electricity -- oops) and healed the party with his hex and cure light wounds spell. While its too soon to say after one session, the only thing I didn’t like is the fact his familiar was a non-entity. Because his viper only had 8 hp, he was afraid to use it extensively. Healing Hex seemed to function pretty much as a replacement for his former cleric’s channel energy ability (1 use), and he was more effective as a healer than the druid, but not as much as a cleric would be.

My initial feeling from the playtest is a low-level witch should have the option to have their familiar (which strikes me as a key class ability) to be more prominent or useful. I would recommend either allowing automatically, or through a hex, the option of having the familiar have equal hit points to the witch. That would allow low-level witches to use their familiar without fear.

More to come next week -- his witch leveled up to 3rd level, so he'll be trying some 2nd level spells ...

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Then again how many 1st or 2nd level wizards do you know brazned out thier familliar that much. The Order of the Stick webcomic made a reference to that trope in that the wizard character had a raven familliar that only appeared shen s/he conciously thought about it.


However, a familiar is supposed to be more important for a witch then a wizard. As it stands I can see the witch's familiar being little more then a living spellbook. I mean do you really want to risk the depository of a significant amount of your power to destruction by sending it into battle? Things will/may change once the familiar is able to do more things like cast spells.

Maybe add in the ability for the witch to take damage in place of the familiar similar to what the summoner/eidolon can do? Maybe if the familiar is about to take damage enough to kill it, the witch can take the damage instead? Or at least allow the familiar a certain amount of negative hp before it dies.

Just some thoughts,

-Kcinlive

Dark Archive

Kcinlive wrote:

However, a familiar is supposed to be more important for a witch then a wizard. As it stands I can see the witch's familiar being little more then a living spellbook. I mean do you really want to risk the depository of a significant amount of your power to destruction by sending it into battle? Things will/may change once the familiar is able to do more things like cast spells.

Maybe add in the ability for the witch to take damage in place of the familiar similar to what the summoner/eidolon can do? Maybe if the familiar is about to take damage enough to kill it, the witch can take the damage instead? Or at least allow the familiar a certain amount of negative hp before it dies.

Just some thoughts,

-Kcinlive

I would suggest the following, considering the relative lack of power and risk of death in a witch's familiar: 1)Take a toad familiar, place in pocket. 3)Only remove daily to be granted spells. 4)After level 7 take the improved familiar feat and get a pet that doesn't suck. After this has been done, remove familiar from pocket as desired.

IMHO a witch's familiar is no more useful than a wizards spellbook until after a point that they can be upgraded and imbued with spells.


Maybe the witch's familiar should have a sanctuary-like ability to make it less likely to be targeted? If the familiar attacks, however, this ability would be suppressed for the duration of the combat.


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Dire Gnome wrote:
Maybe the witch's familiar should have a sanctuary-like ability to make it less likely to be targeted? If the familiar attacks, however, this ability would be suppressed for the duration of the combat.

I would like to see this. Iconically the familiar is always around, but with a hexing witch around who is paying attention to the cat? In game you are a knowledge check from wiping out a considerable portion of a characters ability with a well placed shot, sword swing, or lightning bolt.

Dark Archive

What I am seeing from my player is not that his familiar (a viper) is ineffective, but that it's fragile at 8 hp for a 2nd level witch. The creatures they faced would be great to throw a poisonous snake at, but they'd kill the familiar dead in one hit.

That's why I suggested the option for extra hit points for the familiar. I would personally like to see a witch's familiar be more than a living spellbook.


Archade wrote:

What I am seeing from my player is not that his familiar (a viper) is ineffective, but that it's fragile at 8 hp for a 2nd level witch. The creatures they faced would be great to throw a poisonous snake at, but they'd kill the familiar dead in one hit.

That's why I suggested the option for extra hit points for the familiar. I would personally like to see a witch's familiar be more than a living spellbook.

I agree a wiz does not have to dwell over a familiar, its not all that expensive to replace, a witch does and it would be nice for their familiars to be hardier to compensate for that.

Dark Archive

Honestly the familiar needs to be a lot more durable in order to be of any use. While wizards don't necessarily put there familiar in harms way, they can use them to scout and whatnot and if they die, they are inconvenienced. If a Witch's familiar dies, they lose their spellbook. When they get the familiar back, they have to start all over again. Any spells they gained from other witches are gone. That is a /huge/ detriment. it isn't like the wizard has any reason to send his spellbook into harms way. And if he wants to he can keep 2 spellbooks just in case his primary book goes up in flames. Not a huge fan of this part of the witch class.

Dark Archive

Yeah i was hoping for a bit more from the familiar and for it to be more durable. More of a class feature, not for combat, have the druid and Summoner for that but for other stuff. Like using it for touch based spells and hex's tough enough to survive combat to do it. Maybe allow the witch to soul ride a familiar. Aka let the player take direct control of the familiar and use it to scout or what not, with the witch seeing and hear all the familiar does as if she herself was there. Things like that is what I was hoping for from the witch familiar.

Right now it seems like a a wizard familiar and spell book rolled into one ability. Which means the witch won't risk it anymore than a wizard would their spell book. Which is a shame.


I had hoped that the Witches familier would be a little more in keeping with folklore.

An entity, that although it "looked" like an animal, was actually more along the lines of an Outsider, and could even choose to manifest as a humanoid when it chose to.

If the familiers type was switched to outsider, then instead of "killing" it, it would simply be banished elswhere, and would reform after a set amount of time.

Dark Archive

When I think of a witch's familiar, I think of the weasel-creature in 'Ill Met in Lankhmar'. Something that ventures forth to do bad things for its' master/mistress.


I agree with nighttree. It sounds like a good idea to me to give the witch's familiar the ability to return to the game after it has been destroyed, by 'coming back to life' or 'returning from being banished' or whatever fits the flavor best. If you want to impose a game penalty, then say that this restoration process takes 24 hours (or until the next dawn/dusk/full night's sleep/etc.), and during that time period the witch cannot replenish spells or use her hexes; a serious but nonpermanent penalty.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Rulebook Subscriber
Firewind42 wrote:
I agree with nighttree. It sounds like a good idea to me to give the witch's familiar the ability to return to the game after it has been destroyed, by 'coming back to life' or 'returning from being banished' or whatever fits the flavor best. If you want to impose a game penalty, then say that this restoration process takes 24 hours (or until the next dawn/dusk/full night's sleep/etc.), and during that time period the witch cannot replenish spells or use her hexes; a serious but nonpermanent penalty.

I think losing hexes and spells is a bit much. Spells yes, but not hexes. Its like her familiar was both her spell book and lozenge dispenser for those long cackling sessions.

Dark Archive

Galnörag wrote:
Firewind42 wrote:
I agree with nighttree. It sounds like a good idea to me to give the witch's familiar the ability to return to the game after it has been destroyed, by 'coming back to life' or 'returning from being banished' or whatever fits the flavor best. If you want to impose a game penalty, then say that this restoration process takes 24 hours (or until the next dawn/dusk/full night's sleep/etc.), and during that time period the witch cannot replenish spells or use her hexes; a serious but nonpermanent penalty.
I think losing hexes and spells is a bit much. Spells yes, but not hexes. Its like her familiar was both her spell book and lozenge dispenser for those long cackling sessions.

Which I think makes sense. She is gaining her powers from an extra-planar source. The familiar is the conduit to this source. Lose the familiar and you lose your hexes. You'd still have the spells you haven't cast.


Draeke Raefel wrote:
Galnörag wrote:
Firewind42 wrote:
I agree with nighttree. It sounds like a good idea to me to give the witch's familiar the ability to return to the game after it has been destroyed, by 'coming back to life' or 'returning from being banished' or whatever fits the flavor best. If you want to impose a game penalty, then say that this restoration process takes 24 hours (or until the next dawn/dusk/full night's sleep/etc.), and during that time period the witch cannot replenish spells or use her hexes; a serious but nonpermanent penalty.
I think losing hexes and spells is a bit much. Spells yes, but not hexes. Its like her familiar was both her spell book and lozenge dispenser for those long cackling sessions.
Which I think makes sense. She is gaining her powers from an extra-planar source. The familiar is the conduit to this source. Lose the familiar and you lose your hexes. You'd still have the spells you haven't cast.

All the more reason for it to be more hardy, eh?

Shadow Lodge Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 8

Draeke Raefel wrote:
Which I think makes sense. She is gaining her powers from an extra-planar source. The familiar is the conduit to this source. Lose the familiar and you lose your hexes. You'd still have the spells you haven't cast.

But by flavor, Hexes are magical tricks the witch learns, not powers they channel from some outside source.

Losing your hexes because your familiar died would be like losing the ability to tie your shoes when you're parents pass away.

Dark Archive

Benchak the Nightstalker wrote:
Draeke Raefel wrote:
Which I think makes sense. She is gaining her powers from an extra-planar source. The familiar is the conduit to this source. Lose the familiar and you lose your hexes. You'd still have the spells you haven't cast.

But by flavor, Hexes are magical tricks the witch learns, not powers they channel from some outside source.

Losing your hexes because your familiar died would be like losing the ability to tie your shoes when you're parents pass away.

That completely depends on where you see the Witch's arcane power coming from. If you see the familiar as a conduit allowing an extra-planar creature to grant the witch a portion of their power, then it makes perfect sense that the witch would lose their hexes. What good are magical tricks that you've learned when you don't have any magic? What good is knowing how to tie your shoes when they burned up in the fire that killed your parents?

Basically without the familiar the Witch doesn't have the raw materials( arcane power ) to perform her tricks.


Draeke Raefel wrote:

That completely depends on where you see the Witch's arcane power coming from. If you see the familiar as a conduit allowing an extra-planar creature to grant the witch a portion of their power, then it makes perfect sense that the witch would lose their hexes. What good are magical tricks that you've learned when you don't have any magic? What good is knowing how to tie your shoes when they burned up in the fire that killed your parents?

Basically without the familiar the Witch doesn't have the raw materials( arcane power ) to perform her tricks.

Interesting point.

In folklore, the most traditional interpretation of the witches familiar, was that of a "demon" that teaches the witch her art.

If the witch looses her familiar, either due to letting it get killed, offending it in some fashion, etc....etc....then the Witch no longer had a teacher to further her power, however she still new all the tricks she had been taught.

I think the basic "killed" by an opponent during combat, should count as a banishing of the familiar, which returns after a set amount of time, and possibly some penance from the Witch for letting him get hurt.

However I think there are fun role play opportunities for the familiar having an agenda of it's own.....something that the Witch and familiar have to negotiate at times (like having a symbiont).

If the Witch looses her familiar because it truly is destroyed in some fashion, or if they have a disagreement that causes the familiar to abandon her.....then she can't progress any further in the witch class until she replaces her familiar with a new teacher.

Shadow Lodge Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 8

Draeke Raefel wrote:

That completely depends on where you see the Witch's arcane power coming from. If you see the familiar as a conduit allowing an extra-planar creature to grant the witch a portion of their power, then it makes perfect sense that the witch would lose their hexes. What good are magical tricks that you've learned when you don't have any magic? What good is knowing how to tie your shoes when they burned up in the fire that killed your parents?

Basically without the familiar the Witch doesn't have the raw materials( arcane power ) to perform her tricks.

The key word there is "Arcane". What you're talking about is already in the game, as Divine Magic. Piss off your god, and it takes away your powers. That's not what the Witch is.

True, they learn magic from some mysterious source (not necessarily an outsider), but they get knowledge from them, not power. Just like a wizard does with a library/university.

Of course you're free to use a different interpretation for your game, but I think it needlessly penalizes the Witch.

Dark Archive

Benchak the Nightstalker wrote:
Draeke Raefel wrote:

That completely depends on where you see the Witch's arcane power coming from. If you see the familiar as a conduit allowing an extra-planar creature to grant the witch a portion of their power, then it makes perfect sense that the witch would lose their hexes. What good are magical tricks that you've learned when you don't have any magic? What good is knowing how to tie your shoes when they burned up in the fire that killed your parents?

Basically without the familiar the Witch doesn't have the raw materials( arcane power ) to perform her tricks.

The key word there is "Arcane". What you're talking about is already in the game, as Divine Magic. Piss off your god, and it takes away your powers. That's not what the Witch is.

True, they learn magic from some mysterious source (not necessarily an outsider), but they get knowledge from them, not power. Just like a wizard does with a library/university.

Of course you're free to use a different interpretation for your game, but I think it needlessly penalizes the Witch.

*shrug* Just because it is given to the witch by some extra-planar being doesn't mean it is Divine magic. Divine generally means "from the gods". I have no problems with a being imbuing the witch with Arcane energies. It's just a different type of power.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Rulebook Subscriber
Draeke Raefel wrote:
Benchak the Nightstalker wrote:


The key word there is "Arcane". What you're talking about is already in the game, as Divine Magic. Piss off your god, and it takes away your powers. That's not what the Witch is.

True, they learn magic from some mysterious source (not necessarily an outsider), but they get knowledge from them, not power. Just like a wizard does with a library/university.

Of course you're free to use a different interpretation for your game, but I think it needlessly penalizes the Witch.

*shrug* Just because it is given to the witch by some extra-planar being doesn't mean it is Divine magic. Divine generally means "from the gods". I have no problems with a being imbuing the witch with Arcane energies. It's just a different type of power.

I'm with Benchak on this, the witches are taught their power, but not give their power by otherworldly influences. Arcane is always power from within, and divine is power from without.

Dark Archive

Galnörag wrote:
Draeke Raefel wrote:
Benchak the Nightstalker wrote:


The key word there is "Arcane". What you're talking about is already in the game, as Divine Magic. Piss off your god, and it takes away your powers. That's not what the Witch is.

True, they learn magic from some mysterious source (not necessarily an outsider), but they get knowledge from them, not power. Just like a wizard does with a library/university.

Of course you're free to use a different interpretation for your game, but I think it needlessly penalizes the Witch.

*shrug* Just because it is given to the witch by some extra-planar being doesn't mean it is Divine magic. Divine generally means "from the gods". I have no problems with a being imbuing the witch with Arcane energies. It's just a different type of power.
I'm with Benchak on this, the witches are taught their power, but not give their power by otherworldly influences. Arcane is always power from within, and divine is power from without.

The Sorcerer's powers come from within, but the Wizard? I always viewed him as manipulating the energies inherent in the world/multi-verse. He doesn't innately have any power, his mastery of formulae and techniques allow him to bend the energies around him to do what he wants. Everyone has their own ideas of how things work. No one is right or wrong. It is a fantasy setting after all :) My point is that what makes sense depends on how you look at it.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Rulebook Subscriber
Draeke Raefel wrote:


The Sorcerer's powers come from within, but the Wizard? I always viewed him as manipulating the energies inherent in the world/multi-verse. He doesn't innately have any power, his mastery of formulae and techniques allow him to bend the energies around him to do what he wants. Everyone has their own ideas of how things work. No one is right or wrong. It is a fantasy setting after all :) My point is that what makes sense depends on how you look at it.

True, flavour wise you have a few options, but by raw mechanic, it is handcuff that the witch doesn't need.

Talking flavour which is all opinion and open for discussion, I think I oversimplified my statement. Divine power is granted by the gods, you are a conduit for their power, but boom they can shut you off if they like. For arcane I think it is (at least from an FR perspective) that the weave is pretty much every where, and while sorcerer have an intuitive grasp of how to wield the weave like an art form, wizards wield it like a science. Almost like Architects vs Civil Engineers.

How I read the witch (again opinion) the Witch is studies like a wizard, but her tutors aren't other wizards and books, but her coven, and her familiar (who channels knowledge from the beyond woOOooOooOOoooOO (you have to say it like that ;P))

The work is so complex that no wizard, or witch can possibly hope to memorize all the minutia of all their spells, so they prepare each day, the witch from her familiar, and the wizard from his lab notebook (spellbook). Cut them off from their notes, and they really are just lost until they have time to reconstruct them.

Dark Archive

Galnörag wrote:
Draeke Raefel wrote:


The Sorcerer's powers come from within, but the Wizard? I always viewed him as manipulating the energies inherent in the world/multi-verse. He doesn't innately have any power, his mastery of formulae and techniques allow him to bend the energies around him to do what he wants. Everyone has their own ideas of how things work. No one is right or wrong. It is a fantasy setting after all :) My point is that what makes sense depends on how you look at it.

True, flavour wise you have a few options, but by raw mechanic, it is handcuff that the witch doesn't need.

Talking flavour which is all opinion and open for discussion, I think I oversimplified my statement. Divine power is granted by the gods, you are a conduit for their power, but boom they can shut you off if they like. For arcane I think it is (at least from an FR perspective) that the weave is pretty much every where, and while sorcerer have an intuitive grasp of how to wield the weave like an art form, wizards wield it like a science. Almost like Architects vs Civil Engineers.

How I read the witch (again opinion) the Witch is studies like a wizard, but her tutors aren't other wizards and books, but her coven, and her familiar (who channels knowledge from the beyond woOOooOooOOoooOO (you have to say it like that ;P))

The work is so complex that no wizard, or witch can possibly hope to memorize all the minutia of all their spells, so they prepare each day, the witch from her familiar, and the wizard from his lab notebook (spellbook). Cut them off from their notes, and they really are just lost until they have time to reconstruct them.

Even in Forgotten Realms there are other sources for Arcane Magic. And I believe Mystra( Mystara ) was responsible for the weave. Kind of blurs the God/No God definition of Arcane Magic. The Shadow Weave was also brought about by a deity as a way for people to access arcane energies. :)

Shadow Lodge Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 8

Draeke Raefel wrote:
The Sorcerer's powers come from within, but the Wizard? I always viewed him as manipulating the energies inherent in the world/multi-verse. He doesn't innately have any power, his mastery of formulae and techniques allow him to bend the energies around him to do what he wants. Everyone has their own ideas of how things work. No one is right or wrong. It is a fantasy setting after all :) My point is that what makes sense depends on how you look at it.

I'm gonna skip the FR talk 'cause I only briefly played in that setting, and it's sort of tangential anyway (but definitely a good example).

Basically, I think you nailed it here. The Wizard is manipulating the energies inherent in the world/multiverse. Where I disagree is, I think this fundamentally applies to ALL Arcane casters. That's sort of the definition of Arcane to me (opinion of course).

The Sorcerer has an instinctive knowledge of how to manipulate these energies, passed on to him through his bloodline.

The Wizard learns this knowledge from reading books and studying with other wizards.

The Bard learns how to manipulate this energy through the art of music.

And now the Witch learns it from her Familiar, who is an emissary of some mysterious influence.

All of these characters are manipulating inherent energies in the world/multivere, they just learned to do so in different way.

Dark Archive

Okay, so we had our next session, where our intrepid tiefling witch tried to deal with a ghoulish cult. A few random notes ...

One incident that happened during the session is when a swarm of undead bats filled a narrow passage and threatened to mulch the party. The witch pulled out a scroll of gust of wind and saved the day ... until we noticed that gust of wind isn't on their spell list. It struck us all as odd that a world-oriented spell such as this wouldn't be available to the witch. We all agreed it should be added. But don't worry, our witch made his Use Magic Device check, so he's okay...

The viper familiar still wasn't brought out, even though the witch hit 3rd level. He's still paranoid about risking his 14 hp spellbook with horrendous penalties for replacing it. But we've all discussed this one to death.

Our witch player complained that he's pretty fragile with no armor to be wading into combat to heal the party. At 3rd level, I can sympathise ... perhaps his healing hex should be allowed at a short range? He also pointed out he doesn't have a lot of direct damage spells, but our player is making up for it with a Ptolus-style dragon rifle.

The other thing that was pointed out is healing hex can be used 1/day per person ... once or twice during the session the players couldn't remember who got healing hexed. Afterwards, we discussed it, and one of my more sinister players postulated a town of 3000 people could all be healed once each by the witch? There should probably be a cap of 3 + Stat mod / day rather than 1/day per target, and avoid bookkeeping headaches.

That's what we had so far ...


Archade wrote:


Our witch player complained that he's pretty fragile with no armor to be wading into combat to heal the party. At 3rd level, I can sympathise ... perhaps his healing hex should be allowed at a short range? He also pointed out he doesn't have a lot of direct damage spells, but our player is making up for it with a Ptolus-style dragon rifle.

The other thing that was pointed out is healing hex can be used 1/day per person ... once or twice during the session the players couldn't remember who got healing hexed. Afterwards, we discussed it, and one of my more sinister players postulated a town of 3000 people could all be healed once each by the witch? There should probably be a cap of 3 + Stat mod / day rather than 1/day per target, and avoid bookkeeping headaches.

That's what we had so far ...

I'm beginning to agree that the Witch's familiar should have more of a constant role in game than just being the spellbook, as of yet I am unsure on how they can benefit a witch.

However I disagree that the witch's hex should be short range or something like that because all healing spells are touch based.

I do believe that forgetting who got the healing hex used on them is more a player problem than a mechanic problem on the witch.

A simple tally sheet could make up for the forgetfulness by having each character's name written down on a piece of paper or a tiny whiteboard and you simply mark who got the healing hex ability used on them.

This doesn't necessarily have to be given for the GM to tally but the person controlling the witch themselves.

So I disagree that the witch be capped at a maximum uses/day because I can see a white witch in a town of 3000 being able to heal a person once each day and getting an offering for it. (witches gotta make a living too you know.) :p

Dark Archive

Well, we had our latest session, with our (now) 3rd level witch. Not a heck of a lot to report.

- in fighting the big bad guy (a ghast rogue 4) after becoming paralyzed, the witch out of frustration sent his little viper to go get the enemy ... and it managed to hit AC 25 and do 4 points of damage! He said he wouldn't have sent it out if most of the party wasn't down to a handful of hit points each.

- feeling braver about his familiar, he sent it out to deliver a healing spell on his behalf in a later combat against 4 morlocks, successfully tumbling with his/its' ranks in Acrobatics giving it a +5 check.

- the witch continues to play the healer in the group. I looked over his spell list, and he has memorized the majority of his spells as cure spells, but that's because the healers of the party are a witch and a bard (?!).

Community / Forums / Archive / Pathfinder / Playtests & Prerelease Discussions / Advanced Player's Guide Playtest / Round 2: Summoner and Witch / Archade's Witch Playtest All Messageboards
Recent threads in Round 2: Summoner and Witch