All-Witch Party


Advice


Starting a new campaign soon in which I and the other PCs are playing a coven of witches. There will be 3 or 4 players, all Witches, and I'm looking for advice on how we can best work together to overcome some of the inherent weaknesses of a one-class party.

What Archetypes/Patrons/Hexes/etc best complement one another? We'll be using the Coven hex for sure. That one's obvious.

What we don't want to do is try to build a tank witch, healing witch, dps witch, and all those other roles that are found in a normal mixed-class party. What we're after is some unique Witch-specific ways to be powerful and successful, not just ways to make a Witch into another class.

Thanks in advance for your ideas.


Does it have to be a "witch" class or is having access to Witch hexes enough to fulfill the requirements? Also, if they have to be witches, do they have to have access to the Hex class feature?


Does it have to be a "witch" class or is having access to Witch hexes enough to fulfill the requirements?


So, without a frontline, you'll be heavily reliant on battlefield control to withstand attacks. Fortunately, Witches are great at this.

Witches are also great at doing crazy things. Some suggestions:
White-haired Witch lets you grab and crush opponents with your hair/beard/fabulous 'stache
Beast-bonded with an appropriate familiar archetype can amount to playing a cat with a spellcasting cohort, and at high levels opens you up to possession spam.
If you don't want a familiar, you can take cartomancer to debuff by throwing cards at people.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

At the end of the day, to be effective you will need to cover the roles of striker, controller and support in some manner to be effective. You certainly can cover any of those roles with a Witch.

Battlefield control is of course easy for a witch. That is 'default' witch mode if you will.

Support is pretty easy for a witch as well. They have a good spell list with healing and condition removal and some buffs. Easy to manage.

Striker is more difficult. Blasting is hard to achieve good DPS with and witches are really not great blasters. If you don't want some sort of clever build that turns one witch into a ranged or melee combatant (and I agree that isn't 'witch-like') then you probably need to look at things like summons, mind control and save-or-lose type effects. Since immunitys are going to be a problem you want to have multiple plans (a witch party that counts on mind control is going to have a hard time when they encounter something immune to mind effecting.)

What I would probably do is something like this.

1) Support: I would expect every member of the party to be ready to act in a secondary support role, in particular emergency healing and condition removal, having at least on ok cure spell ready and at least some items like scrolls to deal with conditions on an emergency basis. Since we don't have a dedicated striker, the buffing aspect of support is something we can ignore.

2) Control: I can see two ways go here. One is a dedicated control witch who will always be tasked with the job of reducing the bad guys damage output. The other is rotating controller based on the tactic selected (see below) so every Witch (or at least most) would have control spells prepared and be ready to step in and take over when it was their turn. The second option would be more difficult to make work, but I think it would be more fun.

3) Striker: I would have different plans based on the nature of the enemies, and different PCs would have different jobs under each of them. I'd try to come up with as many different scenarios as possible. For example

The one big bad S-O-L: Facing of against one powerful enemy. PC #1 (controller roll here, prevents big bad from successfully attacking or at least successfully getting off a full attack) PC #2 (debuff saving throw) PC #3 (backup on the debuff, if #2 succeeded then delay to backup on save or lose or else throw an alternate, stacking debuff). PC #4 knockout throwing a powerful hex or spell that will end the fight (sleep hex would be an example.)

The minion swarm: We have a lot of not very powerful foes. PC #1 controller buys us time, in this case we really need a full round so perhaps a wall spell. PCs 2-4 Summon Monster. Good enough to deal with this trash, but we want alternate bodies out their to be absorbing the damage and delivering the hits. Later rounds we will be either summoning more monsters, if things are going pretty well just using easily replenished method that might not do a lot of damage but can help our minions out.

Those are just two, but I expect your group can think of a lot of others.

I would have the party invest as a group in a lot of pearls of power so that you don't run out of the ability to use one particular tactic. I would also want to have some always ready 'tanks' if you will, undead or constructs or the like can hopefully keep our squishy witches from being overrun in the first round. The controller job is a lot easier if their is some sort of front line already in place when combat starts, even if it is relatively weak.

Of course you are also going to have to come up with some sort of plan for things like locks and traps and scouting. Some can be done with magic (although that will use up spell slots you are counting on for combat) and some can be done with traits, multi-classing or you can just plan on alternate means of dealing with that particular type of out of combat task or ignoring it (we can't open locks, but Bruno our golem can usually bash in doors and such.) but having a plan for those things, however you want to accomplish them, will be pretty important for success.

Grand Lodge

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If you use the pre-errata'd Scarred Witch Doctor half-orc archetype, you could potentially have a tank-like witch. If I recall, they had constitution-based spellcasting.

Your party also has a bunch of options with familiars- while you don't necessarily want them to be in combat all the time (losing your spellbook is awful) but playing around with the various familiar archetypes would be great.

Another option to help with your frontliner problem is to have 1 to 2 members of your party take the nature soul -> animal ally -> boon companion feat chains for a wolf AC or two. Using Totem Beast feat and the half-orc/halfling/human alternate traits to boost the companion's physical stats, too.


Some pieces of advice: As has already been said, coven is very powerful, especially if everybody can participate. With a party of 5 witches you can get spells like Mage Armor to last 5 hours at first level.

And as long as you have coven, you might as well try and get the most of of it. Early on start feeling around to find a hag. If you can get into a friendly position with one at 7th level you should be able to have someone take Leadership and grab the hag as a cohort. Followers could easily be other witches. Being able to throw around a small list of high level spells for free is a lot of incentive to get this to work.

Early on witch healing will work well. Later on, it becomes difficult to do enough for combat healing. It will probably be more productive to focus on ways to prevent damage than heal it. There is also the Healing Hands/Heal Skill Unlock trick to minimize the number of spells that have to be used for healing.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Meirril wrote:
With a party of 5 witches you can get spells like Mage Armor to last 5 hours at first level.

I don't think that will work. The untyped +1 to caster level is coming from the ability: Coven. An additional untyped +1 from that same source is not going to stack.

That isn't to say that it isn't a good ability to take, but perhaps not quite as good as you thought.


The +1 to caster level comes from the aid another action. Those are generally agreed to stack, subject to GM limitations ("too many cooks"-type stuff, e.g. twenty goblins trying to pick a lock with a stick).


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

The standard aid another bonuses to hit or AC certainly stack (as long as they are from different characters), but they are limited in other ways, most particularly by position to attack an opponent in melee etc.

The skills aid another is specifically subject to GM determination of how much aid is reasonable for stacking purposes.

I don't know that I agree that just because some aid another bonuses have rules for stacking (and what is required for them to stack) that all bonuses that use the aid another action stack and that if it isn't defined there are no limitations.

I'm also not sure that I buy that the Coven hex using the aid another action makes the source of this bonus 'Aid another' rather than coming from the Coven hex.


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Someone must take a cat as their beast bonded familiar.


lowericon wrote:

Starting a new campaign soon in which I and the other PCs are playing a coven of witches. There will be 3 or 4 players, all Witches, and I'm looking for advice on how we can best work together to overcome some of the inherent weaknesses of a one-class party.

What Archetypes/Patrons/Hexes/etc best complement one another? We'll be using the Coven hex for sure. That one's obvious.

What we don't want to do is try to build a tank witch, healing witch, dps witch, and all those other roles that are found in a normal mixed-class party. What we're after is some unique Witch-specific ways to be powerful and successful, not just ways to make a Witch into another class.

Thanks in advance for your ideas.

I am currently playing a Witch in a Way of the Wicked campaign, and have done a lot of research into the class. I would recommend the Plague Patron, as it gives access to Animate Dead. You’ll need some minions to act as a meat Shield for your coven. The Gravewalker Archetype is also fantastic for this.

If one of you is a Samsaran, you could add the Summon Monster 5-8 spells from the Summoner Spell list to the Witch Spell list and have access to them at much lower levels; letting you summon some really strong things that can be buffed up with Hexes. Fortune for example is once per day on a particular target. Who cares if you just keep summoning new T-Rex’s?

Veneficus Witch is an awesome Archetype. With access to minor and major Creation, you can create some really nasty poisons at virtually no cost, then distribute them through your Hexes. My Favoite is Spell Hex: Ill Omen. There is no save for it, which means they are automatically effected and it functions as a Misfortune Hex. If you send the poison along with it, they have to save vs the poison and in doing so roll twice and take the lower.

There is also a Patron that gives you all the good Evocation spells if you want a Blaster in the party.

Bouda Witch has a much stronger version of Evil Eye. You sacrifice your Major Hex at 10 for the ability to Wild Shape into a Hyena or Dire Hyena, which could be cool but with a d6 HD You would want to use it more for scouting I think.


pre-errata Scarred Witch Doctor or possibly a Hexcrafter magus would really be welcome here. Make sure at least one witch grabs the healing patron. The familiars will all be able to freely teach each other spells known, so effectively the entire party gets 2x (number of members) spells known every level.


Other classes that can join a coven:

Accursed bloodline sorcerer
Hex crafter magus
Shaman

If you're eyeing the item you need to make a hag-less coven you'll need exactly 1 witch. The sorcerer can round out the spell list, or you can go with two full witches for extra hex throwing, and the shaman can take the battle spirit, That plus the magus means you'll have a decent front line.

Or really any combination of the four classes.


You can round out a Witch a bit by using the Evangelist Prestige Class. You effectively drop only one Witch level in exchange for more skills, hp, AC, BAB, and abilities. An Evangelist of Nethys Witch gains a couple Mirror Image castings a day and a big concentration bonus.

The Synergist Witch can pick up pounce with Improved Familiar: Sylvanshee, and also gets flight and natural attacks from it. A Strength Patron Witch gets Divine Favor and Divine Power along with Heroism. So a Strength Patron Synergist Witch can actually be quite deadly in a flying pounce. Starting a Synergist Witch with one level of Urban Barbarian makes them much tougher, and means that if they have to fight they're way more capable.

For survival, Arcane Armor Training lets a Witch wear a mithral kikko, which is eventually a lot better than Mage Armor. The feat Shielded Mage grants the ability to use a heavy shield and still use that hand for casting, so with the Shield Focus prerequisite, it's a huge AC bonus.

If I had to construct a 4 Witch party, I'd make at least some of them effective hybrids. Or maybe just have 4 maenad-style pounce-monsters who can suddenly obliterate anything in a frenzy of pouncing death.


One strong option for making a group of Witches more capable in defensive combat would be to give each Witch Strength Patron and one level of Inspired Blade Swashbuckler. Each Witch could then wield a rapier with Fencing Grace, while carrying a Swordmaster's Flair: Blue Scarf in their offhand - this still allows spellcasting with that hand, and grants the rapier reach.

Each Witch would then have the ability to make reach AoO's against enemies, parry/riposte attacks, and use Dodging Panache to step away from attackers. Using Dodging Panache and 5-foot steps, you can actually stay out of full attack range and set up repeated reach AoO's even if you cast a spell or use a hex every round. Using Heroism, Strength Patron for Divine Favor or Divine Power, and Fencing Grace to base rapier damage off of DEX actually makes a Witch pretty effective with attack and damage rolls. Four Witches in formation with their reach rapiers would be like fighting a highly mobile spearwall.


strike witches.......
see if the GM would throw you a bone and grant cloak of wings.....( whatever that cloak was that turned into wings....) and keep your enemies at reach.....


If you're going to be an all-witch party, you're going to need a meat wall to keep baddies off you. I'd recommend doing this with summons and minions. Witches also have almost nothing that helps against undead. I think one of you should become a Gravewalker Witch because now you'll have an army and you'll have an answer for dealing with Undead.

Gravewalkers make great necromancers, especially if they start picking up levels of Agent of the Grave PrC around lvl 7-10ish.


If you want crowd control, I'd suggest swamp hag and swamp grasp hexes. You can slow down entire battle fields and use your hair to rip the enemy to shreds as they try to get close, only to have you 5 foot step away over and over.


Dave Justus wrote:

{. . .}

I would have the party invest as a group in a lot of pearls of power so that you don't run out of the ability to use one particular tactic. {. . .}

Ley Line Guardian is another option (but if you want to use the less-than-stellar 1st/6th level Hex substitute, crank your Fortitude Save and make friends with a Paladin who has the Staggered Mercy).

Ryze Kuja wrote:

If you're going to be an all-witch party, you're going to need a meat wall to keep baddies off you. I'd recommend doing this with summons and minions. Witches also have almost nothing that helps against undead. I think one of you should become a Gravewalker Witch because now you'll have an army and you'll have an answer for dealing with Undead.

Gravewalkers make great necromancers, especially if they start picking up levels of Agent of the Grave PrC around lvl 7-10ish.

Note that if you do go Gravewalker, you DON'T want the Plague Patron, because the Gravewalker Patron spell replacements duplicate many of the Plague Patron spells, but in some cases at a lower level.

If you don't want to be a Gravewalker, Hex Channeler is an option, with the further option of including Variant Channeling. Note that although the damage you do by Channeling doesn't go up unless you invest more Hexes in this, the DC does, so you could build around rider effects such as Turn Undead. Unfortunately, the Channeling Variance feat (to add more options) requires you to get a Domain, which is possible, but highly suboptimal unless you needed to dip into a Domain class/archetype for some other reason.

You could even be a Gravewalker/Hex Channeler, although this is expensive in Hexes for the first several level.

Oh, and by the way, R. I. P. pre-Errata Scarred Witch Doctor. This Errata killed some interesting gish builds, and made otherwise conventional Half-Orc Scarred Witch Doctors super-powered.


Meirril wrote:
And as long as you have coven, you might as well try and get the most of of it. Early on start feeling around to find a hag. If you can get into a friendly position with one at 7th level you should be able to have someone take Leadership and grab the hag as a cohort. Followers could easily be other witches. Being able to throw around a small list of high level spells for free is a lot of incentive to get this to work.

Lowest level hag available for Leadership it at level 16, so you cannot get one till you are level 18. :-(

However, the Iron Collar of the Unbound Coven can get you past the need for a hag.

Meirril wrote:
Early on witch healing will work well. Later on, it becomes difficult to do enough for combat healing. It will probably be more productive to focus on ways to prevent damage than heal it. There is also the Healing Hands/Heal Skill Unlock trick to minimize the number of spells that have to be used for healing.

The coven boost really helps the healing hex and the major healing hex.

You can also use the coven boost on other hexes like the flight hex. I suggest your flier be a ranged attack build, like an archer.

Evil eye is a great single target debuff. Stacks with other witch's evil eyes, and with itself if for a different effect.

Summons are great for absorbing enemy attacks. If you choose this path, try to get standard action summons, as full round ones are much weaker in terms of action economy.

Mage Armor is a great spell for the coven +1 CLs, as is Greater Magic Weapon.

/cevah


or see if the GM will house rule it so that you dont need that item or the hag.


If you're all planning to play witches and you're worried about blasting, why not consider the havoker archetype? Losing hexes hurts but you've already got a lot of hexes being thrown around.

That and for RP purposes there can be some friendly ribbing directed towards the witch who 'keeps doing it wrong'.


A Dark Sister can summon a shadow hag 1/week for some rounds.

Besides the Havoker Witch, I think a Winter Witch (that takes the prc) is a great blaster with the whole "bypass 75% of cold res".


Hey, this thread again! I wonder how it turned out. Did the party run amok, amok, amok, amok, amok?


I'm curious too.


blahpers wrote:
Hey, this thread again! I wonder how it turned out. Did the party run amok, amok, amok, amok, amok?

A-M-O-K


blahpers wrote:
Hey, this thread again! I wonder how it turned out. Did the party run amok, amok, amok, amok, amok?
Hocus Pocus

/cevah

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