Witch Character Advice


I'm sort of new to Pathfinder and I was hoping to get some advice on creating a character idea I had.

I wanted to play a Witch who uses darts and poison. I know that I'm going to need a good Int and decent Dex for using the darts but I'm not sure where to go from there. Any kind of advice would be greatly appreciated.

Poison is generally consider a suboptimal focus for a character, since poison doses are expensive and you'd be using one for each hit. even if you craft them yourself (which would halve your costs), it's still very expensive, specially for the early levels. At later levels, where cost is no longer a concern, you'd find that your opponents' high saves make the use of poison less efective.

I'd recommend flavouring your hexes as poison efects: sleep could be the efect of an exotic toxine, or the penalties from evil eye might be caused by the sickness the poison induces. If you want to enhance the poison flavour, maybe your DM would allow you to have your hexes target fortitude save (the one poisons use) instead of will.

If, however, you end up going the poison route, take a look at this archetype:
http://www.d20pfsrd.com/classes/base-classes/witch/archetypes/paizo---witch -archetypes/veneficus-witch-archetype

Witches aren't the best for darts or poison since they have a chance to poison themselves when they apply the poison to the darts. And low BAB so you're not that likely to hit.

Also as a side note, poisons generally aren't a good idea because if you use them in fights the enemy is likely dead before the poison does anything and the DC is low so they are more likely to save against it and not be effected by the poison. Your Evil eye does a lot of the same effects and has a better DC.

now, If you're still interested we can see what we can come up with.

If you're willing to sacrifice darts for cards, there's an archetype that allows the witch to throw cards as ranged weapons. She can also deliver touch spells by throwing cards (for example Poison).

Then I would get the Cauldron Hex and maybe Poison Steep, though I would advise against using the latter as a regular tactic during encounters (with the spell Beguiling Offer).

The general consensus seems to be that this isn't a great idea. Do you have any suggestions for a magic user built around illusions? Not necessarily a witch.

Illusions is a lot different than what you originally posted.
Gnomes, bards and any full arcane caster can do illusions. But make sure to talk with your GM about how he runs illusions. here is a thread it'll probably answer some of your questions.

Thank you. I realize illusions are pretty different but it seems like poison wasn't a wise way to go.

There is a witch archetype that uses poisons.

Alternatively, if you want to go with illusions, I often play a witch with trickery patron who makes frequent use of illusions. Not as focused as a dedicated illusionist, but a good back up.

If you want to use poison after all and be into witchcraft but actually hit your target decently often, you could be a Hexcrafter Magus, although you would need to pick up poison use from something else, and Magus isn't particularly great for the Illusion focus you are alternatively considering. Alchemist has the poison use down, but doesn't do the Hexes or Illusions; on the other hand, Alchemist Discoveries can give you enough really weird stuff that you might not mind. Note that you could also get Sneak Attack by being a Vivisectionit Alchemist (replaces Bombs); this doesn't get you Stealth in class, so you will need a trait for that.

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Illusions have a few problems:
1. People disagree on how they work, so if you frequently change GMs, your performance might be inconsistent.
2. Many of the Illusion spells require concentration.
3. Any character with ranks in spellcraft can identify the spell as you cast it, so they might not be effective against enemy spell casters.
4. Certain spells, such as True Seeing, negate illusions
5. Almost all Illusions allow Will saves.

But if you're creative, illusionists can be versatile and powerful. More importantly, because their signature spells are so open-ended, they're a blast to play.

The first problem is one you can deal with easily if you're in a home game. If your GM likes to reward creativity and focus on fun and story rather than strict adherence to the rule, you'll be fine.

If you play in Pathfinder Society and have a new GM each week, talk to the GM before you play to make sure his thoughts on illusions line up with yours. If case they don't, bring backup characters.

In either case, consider reading Rules of the Game: Illusions and its second, third and fourth parts. It was written in the 3.5 days, but it's probably the closest thing we've got to an official guideline on how to interpret the rules governing illusions.

The Need to Concentrate
But what about the reality that the signature illusion spells–Silent Image, Minor Image, and Major Image–require concentration if you want the effect to persist for more than a few rounds? This may not be much of a problem, for the rounds built into the higher-level spells might be enough in combat and it's unlikely you'll need to maintain concentration on more than one illusion outside combat.

If you dream of creating two illusions at once, a certain race with a knack for illusions has access to Effortless Trickery, which lets you concentrate on illusion spells as a swift action. If you don't want to be a gnome, you can play a human, half-elf, half-orc or Aasimar with the Scion of Humanity alternate racial trait and take Racial Heritage to qualify for Effortless Trickery.

If your concept calls for another race and you're comfortable playing a Bard–an amazing class with a spell list full of illusions–you can use the Spellsong feat to concentrate on an illusion as a move action by spending rounds of bardic performance. A Skald might be able to take the feat as well, but before you play one, make sure its buffs will be useful for your group.

Of course, you could always play a Wizard or School Savant Arcanist to make your "concentration" illusions last a number of rounds equal to half your level after you stop concentrating. In general, I prefer Arcanists for ease of play and their ability to boost the DCs of spells with Potent Magic. However, Wizards get access to the Resilient Illusions arcane discovery, which can make your illusions harder to disbelieve.

If mastering magic in all its forms isn't your cup of tea–or if you share my aversion to classes with 2 skill points a level–consider an Occultist with an illusion implement. They get a power that mimics Minor Image and lasts a round a level, or a minute a level once you hit 7. If that isn't long enough, the gnome favored class bonus can increase the duration by a minute a level (which means a gnome Occultist's implement-spawned figments persist for a minute and six seconds at level 1, a feat no other class can match).

If your GM dislikes Occultists or considers psychic magic inappropriate for his campaign, an Inquisitor with the Relic Hunter archetype can steal most of the Occultist's tricks. Personally, I love the idea of an Inquisitor who uses illusions to make the stories of his faith come alive.

Have a given you too many choices yet? No? Well, if your game allows Variant Multiclassing, you can pick any class with the right spells on its list and still add half your level bu taking the Wizard multiclass variant and choosing Illusion as your school!

If you don't want to concentrate yourself, get a familiar with the School Familiar archetype and have it concentrate for you.

Dealing with Spellcraft (by concealing your casting)
All of these strategies are great when you're facing uneducated fighters and thugs. If you trap them in a fake maze of stone or block their arrows with fake fog, they'll assume you cast the appropriate spells and react according. But what do you when you encounter someone who can use spellcraft to identify your spells and has enough common sense to think that whatever just appeared might not be real?

I know of three ways to prevent people from identifying your spells. The first is Spellsong, which I've already mentioned. In addition to letting you concentration on a spell while performing, it enables you to pass off your casting as part of a performance by spending a round of Bardic Performance and making a Perform check opposed by viewers' Sense Motive or Perception checks.

The second is Secret Signs, which allows you to conceal a spell by making a Sleight of Hand check if that spell only has somatic components. Most illusions have verbal components, so to benefit from the feat, you'll need Silent Spell in addition to Secret Signs.

The final option is Cunning Caster, a feat from the recently-released book Heroes of the Street that allows you to conceal your spellcasting with a Bluff check. Unfortunately, there's a catch: You get a huge penalty to the Bluff check if the spell has a material, somatic, verbal or focus component. All of the image spells have focus, verbal and somatic components, so you'd be making the check at a -12 penalty.

But don't worry! If you're a psychic caster, you use Thought and Emotion components rather than Verbal and Somatic components, so you would only take a -4 penalty. If you're a Mesmerist, a class billed as a master of illusion and enchantment spells, you'll even get a bonus to your Bluff checks equal to half your level and non-spell abilities that count as illusions!

If starting at people to make them believe your illusion isn't your thing, the Psychic, Occultist, and even Medium have access to illusion spells and psychic casting. So do Sorcerers with the Psychic Bloodline, Magi who take the Mindblade Archetype, and Investigators who become Psychic Detectives.

Of course, you could always hide your illusion-crafting the old-fashioned way: Turning yourself invisible and casting a Silent or Psychic spell. I gather there are people who would argue that doesn't work, but I think most GMs would allow it.

Dealing with True Seeing (otherwise known as "having a backup plan")
But what do you do when you roll a 49 on your Bluff check to hide your spellcasting as you conjure a fearsome dragon, only to have the enemy cleric cry, "Fool! I have True Seeing! That is nothing more than an illusion!" You could study the nuances of Shadow Conjuration or its brother Shadow Evocation to replicate a Conjuration or Evocation spell, but those spells can be a pain for the GM to adjudicate.

I hate to say this, but it might be time to show off your other skills. Illusions are amazing in the right hands, but sometimes they're not the right tool for the job. Make sure you have others at your disposal.

Or walk up to the Cleric, laugh, and say, "See this!" Then cast Color Spray and watch as he drops his mace and his holy symbol (we'll assume he rolled a 1 on his Will save).

Stopping Successful Saves
Speaking of saves, you might have noticed that most illusion spells allow a Will save. You could take Spell Focus to increase your illusion DCs, but that is often unnecessary. The spells that make illusionists fun, versatile and powerful only allow a save if someone interacts with them. If you create illusions people won't want to interact with, such as walls of flame, they might never get a save.

Having said that, there are ways to increase DCs that are unique to illusionists and enchanters. The most obvious is playing a gnome. The second is the Resilient Illusions Arcane Discovery, which I've already mentioned. The third is the Mesmerist's Bold Stare ability, which allows you reduce the Will save of single enemy by two and eventually three. The final option is the performance granted by the Negotiator Bard archetype, which eventually reduces saves against charm, figment, glamer, and shadow spells by -4.

One other thought: If you play an illusionist, consider investing in Knowledge skills. Being able to ask your GM what goblins fear more than anything before you decide what to create can be priceless.

Dark Archive

Resurrecting this from the dead since I've been away for awhile but Witches are by far the strongest poison based class in the game.
With access to the Veneficus archetype, the Poison Steep Hex, Poison Conversion and the Toxic Words ability this witch is frighteningly dangerous.
About 6th level the build is ready and at 10th and is frighteningly effective.
It all hangs on the way that Toxic Words works with Evil Eye and the poison rules and how Poison Steep and Poison Conversion Work together.

Poison steep overcomes the biggest weaknesses with poisons (Cost and DC) since the Hex is free to use (0 Cost) and ignores the DC of the spell and scales as the Witch goes up in levels (10 +Int Mod + 1/2 Witch Level). This gives you a very potent Con damaging ingest poison that Poison Conversion turns into an injury poison making it legal for Toxic Words to use. Use the Poison steep on a pound of berries or nuts and you have virtually unlimited poison attempts per day.

Now use Evil Eye on your target with Toxic Words (DC 19-2 because of Toxic Words) and target your opponents saves for the -2. Since Evil Eye ALWAYS works for at least 1 round the penalty from Toxic Words is negated and the target effectively needs to make a DC 19 save again or eat 1D3 Con damage (or using the new poison rules from Unchained eats 4 points of HP damage and advances a step on the Constitution Poison track) and a quick cackle to keep the penalties going.

Following round repeat but evil eye the ability checks instead so now they get an additional -1 to the fort save (since saves are considered ability checks) so now they have to make a DC 17 fort save with a -2 from evil eye (saves), a -1 from evil eye ability checks, a possible -1 from con damage (from the poison). Fail this check and the DC's go up by +2 every time you fail and the duration goes up by 50%.

It's even worse if you are using the unchained rules, those rules give an additional -2 to your save AND you take 4 points of damage each time you are forced to attempt this save so it's a DC 17 check with a -5 to your roll and if you fail the 2nd check you are at a -7. Fail it a 3rd time which you probably will since the 3rd round comes with a Misfortune and/or Ill Omen spell on top of that -7 AND a 3rd dose of poison and you become disabled and effectively out of the fight.

Not the fastest takedown since it takes 2-3 rounds to defeat most opponents but it does let you get the biggest bang for the money (ie no cost).
However by 10th level this witch should have added Sticky Poison, Concentrate poison and split hex to their list so not only has the DC gone up by 4 (+2 from the Hex and +2 from Concentrate) they have also treated all their party members weapons with the poison as well and each weapon will get 10 hits (or more if you have archers) before running out of poison. 5-15 doses of DC 23-25 poison every round eating away at your targets CON score is usually a 1 round kill of anything that isn't immune to poison. Depending on the party it's a 1 round takedown of everything you are fighting.

Witches are the nastiest poison users in the game now and if properly optimized can annihilate anything that can't handle poisons.

Dark Archive

The master alchemist feat allows you to treat physics as a tenth I'd the cost for creating. A small level dip in vivisectionist could improve this.

That Poison Steep + Poison Conversion trick seems pretty cool though I've always wondered how Poison Steep is supposed to work. If you make a pound of food poisonous does somebody have to eat the entire pound to be poisoned or just a bite?

I was recently thinking about a build which uses the Hoaxer archetype for Bards. The character would put the Evil Eye on a flask of poison with the Bad Deal ability and then get an enemy to take it using Buyer Beware, which works like Beguiling Gift (but with hex-like DC and uses instead of as a spell). If the enemy accepts the flask they'll get a -4 on saving throws from the Evil Eye before drinking the poison. I was thinking that the PC would take the Witch variant multiclass to pick up a familiar (poisonous snake of course!) and the Cackle hex, but if Bad Deal could work on the fruit from Poison Steep that might be a better hex overall (especially since you can get Cackle from a magic blouse)

I'm not sure what the rules are for milking poisonous snakes such as familiars or animal companions for poison are, but the thought of having such creatures bite the target of Evil Eye did come to mind. If we had an actual Witch to cast Pernicious Poison these attacks might be pretty nasty even with the less than impressive DC for snake poisons. I guess spiders might work too though the mini I want to use has a couple of snakes. This isn't supposed to be the most effective build ever, just a "snake oil salesman"...

Dark Archive

The biggest issue with poisons are the horrifically low save DC's. The only familiar type I've run across that can actually scale their poison DC high enough to be useful is the Homonculus. With the rules for actually increasing it's con score and bumping up it's actually DC. Using it's poison and the Poison Concentration discovery would make it worth investing in but overall Poison Steep is really the only truly effective DC poison I've found.

As for the milking rules I do believe I read it somewhere in one of the official splatbooks but will need to find it. But for poison amounts the rules are so vague that's going to be up to your GM. In general though a poison berry is a poison berry it shouldn't take more a couple at MOST to be effective.


I'm going to re-necro this thread too since I have some questions.

Mathwei ap Niall wrote:

Use the Poison steep on a pound of berries or nuts and you have virtually unlimited poison attempts per day.

Since Evil Eye ALWAYS works for at least 1 round the penalty from Toxic Words is negated and the target effectively needs to make a DC 19 save again or eat 1D3 Con damage

First part : I agree the wording is unclear, but my interpretation would be that Poison steep allows you to create a single dose of ingested poison.

That is, you have to eat the whole 1 pound of fruit to received the dose of poison. If that wasn't the case, the ability could quickly get incredibly overpowered.
Since ingested poisons "stacks", and if you assume each berry to be individually poisoned, then eating a handful would mean exposing you to 20+ doses at once, then having to make a Fortitude save at DC+20, duration x 10. Only a roll of natural 20 will save your life, otherwise you are guaranteed to die.

Another valid and more lenient interpretation (from my point of view) would be that the "pound of food" contains a single dose of poison, but you don't have to consume it all for it to work. How frustrating would it be to offer that whole basket of poisonous berries, only to see your enemy pick a handful and leave the rest there? Ability wasted. I would rule "any creature eating the poisoned food must save as affected by the poison spell. Upon having affected a single creature (the first to taste the food) the rest of the poisoned food becomes inert".

Second part : About evil eye and Toxic words, the wording from toxic words goes like this :
if the creature fails its save against the hex, the poison is expended and the creature must succeed at a Fortitude save against the poison or become poisoned

So regardless of the fact that a successful save on evil eye still means the creature is affected (by evil eye) for one round, that's still a successful save. So the poison doesn't go into effect. To have to save against the poison, the target must fail its save against the Hex, not be affected by it.

And, lastly, a question :

assuming your target fails it's will save against Evil eye + toxic words, and you choose to apply a Save debuff using evil eye. Does the save penalty from evil Eye applies on the fortitude save against poison? Or are the two effect simultaneous, and it doesn't ?

if the creature fails its save against the hex, the poison is expended and the creature must succeed at a Fortitude save against the poison or become poisoned

In the first case, the two abilities combo well together.
In the second, it means that in order to maximize your chances, you first have to make your opponent fail its save against Evil eye (targeting saves debuff) and without using toxic word to avoid nerfing the DC by -2.
Then on the following round, you use toxic word (in combination with your Hex of choice) to deliver the poison to benefit the Saves penalty delivered by Evil Eye.

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