Why witches should have one spell list


Witch Playtest

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Changing your spell list should and will have even more effect than those subclasses.


Rysky wrote:
What you’re asking for “to make the Witch they want” is more relegated to and handled by Patron/Lessons and Class Feats.

Why not both? There's no reason you can't have a flexible tradition and be able to pick up bonus spells.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Salamileg wrote:
Rysky wrote:

That’s not really comparable since those are sub classes (or whatever we’re calling those options), not casting Traditions.

No matter which you pick Cleric is still a Wisdom based Divine caster. Druid is a Wisdom based Primal caster. Wizard is an Intelligence based Arcane caster. Bard is a Charisma based Occult caster.

Sorcerer is the odd one out.

What you’re asking for “to make the Witch they want” is more relegated to and handled by Patron/Lessons and Class Feats.

What makes the differences between subclasses that much different than a variable spell list? Both things are going to in many cases drastically change your playstyle. A warpriest and cloistered cleric play very differently, as would an animal barbarian and dragon barbarian. To me, that difference is comparable to changing your spell list.

Both Clerics keep the same spell list for starters.

As for spell lists, what does Occult plus bonus spells from other Traditions through Patrons/Lessons cut off?

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Squiggit wrote:
Rysky wrote:
What you’re asking for “to make the Witch they want” is more relegated to and handled by Patron/Lessons and Class Feats.
Why not both? There's no reason you can't have a flexible tradition and be able to pick up bonus spells.

That’s not really an argument since pretty much anyone can apply that to all casters due to its openness and vagueness.

Or rather that’s an argument for a different discussion.

Why does Witch in particular need multiple Traditions and also the ability to pick up bonus spells and not just 1 Tradition plus bonus spells?


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Rysky wrote:
As for spell lists, what does Occult plus bonus spells from other Traditions through Patrons/Lessons cut off?As for spell lists, what does Occult plus bonus spells from other Traditions through Patrons/Lessons cut off?

Very few. I'd argue that it makes it even easier to support the idea of a divine witch, since a prepared occult caster with a handful of divine spells added to the list is a lot more divergent from the cleric than a witch who casts with the full divine tradition. And a prepared occult caster with a handful of primal spells added to the list is a lot more divergent than the druid than a witch who casts from the full primal list.


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Rysky wrote:
That’s not really an argument since pretty much anyone can apply that to all casters due to its openness and vagueness.

Well, the difference is that right now the Witch does have multiple traditions and we're talking about taking them away. It's not a hypothetical. The multi-tradition Witch exists right now, so I don't think it's really fair to talk about nebulous situations with other casters.

Quote:
Or rather that’s an argument for a different discussion.

I think it's the heart of the discussion. The argument being made is that somehow telling people who want to play Primal or Arcane witches that they're not welcome anymore makes the rest of the class better and I don't see how.

Ultimately I guess it's really just a matter of preferences more than anything else, between people who like the highly flexible, robust Witch we have right now and people who'd rather have a much more specific and cleanly defined class instead (especially since a lot of the people here are also the ones asking for highly specific Patrons too).

From my perspective though, if the OP gets their way I'll no longer be able to play a character I've really enjoyed building in PF2, while if I get my way the OP can still play their Occult witch just fine.

cavernshark wrote:
And a prepared occult caster with a handful of primal spells added to the list is a lot more divergent than the druid than a witch who casts from the full primal list.

But a lot more similar to the Bard than a Primal caster with a handful of Occult spells added to the list instead.

Whatever spell list you pick, there's going to be something they're similar to, so this isn't really an argument for anything.

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

@cavernshark *nods*

Paraphrasing something JJ said once before for the current situation, you define a Class not only by what it does but what it can’t do.

Barbarian and Wizard don’t have access to the Divine Tradition, that cuts off options and focus others. That’s not a bad thing.

An Occult Witch being able to use normally Divine only magic and select spells is a much more interesting concept and visual to me than a Witch that just picks 1 of the Traditions to cast from.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Squiggit wrote:
Rysky wrote:
That’s not really an argument since pretty much anyone can apply that to all casters due to its openness and vagueness.

Well, the difference is that right now the Witch does have multiple traditions and we're talking about taking them away. It's not a hypothetical. The multi-tradition Witch exists right now, so I don't think it's really fair to talk about nebulous situations with other casters.

Quote:
Or rather that’s an argument for a different discussion.

I think it's the heart of the discussion. The argument being made is that somehow telling people who want to play Primal or Arcane witches that they're not welcome anymore makes the rest of the class better and I don't see how.

Ultimately I guess it's really just a matter of preferences more than anything else, between people who like the highly flexible, robust Witch we have right now and people who'd rather have a much more specific and cleanly defined class instead (especially since a lot of the people here are also the ones asking for highly specific Patrons too).

From my perspective though, if the OP gets their way I'll no longer be able to play a character I've really enjoyed building in PF2, while if I get my way the OP can still play their Occult witch just fine.

cavernshark wrote:
And a prepared occult caster with a handful of primal spells added to the list is a lot more divergent than the druid than a witch who casts from the full primal list.

But a lot more similar to the Bard than a Primal caster with a handful of Occult spells added to the list instead.

Whatever spell list you pick, there's going to be something they're similar to, so this isn't really an argument for anything.

It’s a Playtest so of course it’s fair. Saying nothing it allowed to be taken away or altered is rather detrimental to the process.

“ The argument being made is that somehow telling people who want to play Primal or Arcane witches that they're not welcome anymore”

No one is saying that so that’s needlessly defensive and needlessly combative against those disagreeing.

“ Ultimately I guess it's really just a matter of preferences more than anything else, between people who like the highly flexible, robust Witch we have right now and people who'd rather have a much more specific and cleanly defined class instead (especially since a lot of the people here are also the ones asking for highly specific Patrons too).”

Precisely. And i fall into the latter group (except the highly specific Patrons)

“ From my perspective though, if the OP gets their way I'll no longer be able to play a character I've really enjoyed building in PF2, while if I get my way the OP can still play their Occult witch just fine.”

Why won’t you be able to play yours?

“ Whatever spell list you pick, there's going to be something they're similar to, so this isn't really an argument for anything.”

But is, since as you point there’s going to be similarities in the spell lists you can better define a Class by what you allow.


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Squiggit wrote:
Whatever spell list you pick, there's going to be something they're similar to, so this isn't really an argument for anything.

Prepared Arcane: Wizard

Prepared Divine: Cleric
Prepared Primal: Druid

Spontaneous Arcane/Divine/Primal/Occult: Sorcerer
Spontaneous Occult: Bard

The bard's literally the odd one out here, and that's probably more to do with the fact that they've got an entire set of bonus composition magic that no other class has.

Mechanically, how different from a druid is a primal casting witch? Between the stormborn and plant druid orders you can get a familiar / focusing casting character with heavy ties to nature spirits and a primal spell list. They can even pick up feats to represent learning from the Fey.

There is no prepared occult option currently. There are spontaneous options for every other tradition. There's other arguments that the Oracle isn't doing enough to disambiguate from the Divine Sorcerer. The witch should probably be used to fill the very obvious gap rather than dancing around ones that definitely don't exist.


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I don't think any one list contains all the spells needed to emulate witches from lore, original or modern. So Patron spells (et al) are necessary. And couldn't that mechanic (et al) be used to emulate those witches that draw upon other spell traditions?

While mechanically interesting, I don't see witches with complete access to the divine list or primal list, and the arcane list seems to lack some key necromancy aspects.

Yet Occult appears to contain the most "witchiness", so makes a good chassis. Example witches like a Winter Witch or one tied to plants or animals should still have access to the curses and enchantments of the occult list. It feels off that a Primal Winter Witch would have Heal & Fireball, yet not have powerful curses and auguries.
IMO, no Witch should have to take feats in order to gain access to fortune-telling, curses, and such. If they can't do those things, they're simply reskinned Wizards (or whatnot).

The Witch class could have prepared occult (new) w/ a generous ability to steal from other traditions (to cover iconic archetypes) alongside fewer slots (so it doesn't outperform Wizards), while also having reusable hexes to keep it occupied in combat.
Sounds pretty fresh and flavorful to me. And as long as the patrons & other spell unlocks cover the spectrum, nearly all witch builds should be workable.

On a side note, it seems MCD Witch will cover a lot of ground too for those wanting to pick up key hexes for their divine or primal caster.


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Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Lost Omens, PF Special Edition Subscriber
Castilliano wrote:

I don't think any one list contains all the spells needed to emulate witches from lore, original or modern. So Patron spells (et al) are necessary. And couldn't that mechanic (et al) be used to emulate those witches that draw upon other spell traditions?

While mechanically interesting, I don't see witches with complete access to the divine list or primal list, and the arcane list seems to lack some key necromancy aspects.

Yet Occult appears to contain the most "witchiness", so makes a good chassis. Example witches like a Winter Witch or one tied to plants or animals should still have access to the curses and enchantments of the occult list. It feels off that a Primal Winter Witch would have Heal & Fireball, yet not have powerful curses and auguries.
IMO, no Witch should have to take feats in order to gain access to fortune-telling, curses, and such. If they can't do those things, they're simply reskinned Wizards (or whatnot).

The Witch class could have prepared occult (new) w/ a generous ability to steal from other traditions (to cover iconic archetypes) alongside fewer slots (so it doesn't outperform Wizards), while also having reusable hexes to keep it occupied in combat.
Sounds pretty fresh and flavorful to me. And as long as the patrons & other spell unlocks cover the spectrum, nearly all witch builds should be workable.

On a side note, it seems MCD Witch will cover a lot of ground too for those wanting to pick up key hexes for their divine or primal caster.

This post is beautiful and articulates almost all of what I wish I was stating elegantly enough.

Between the classes that already exist and ones that might be yet to come, I think the ability to choose from different traditions at character creation is significantly less impactful than having a stronger core not based on the normal casting. Less reliance on being a broad, heavy casting class and more on major/minor hexes for example would give the witch some actual distinct gameplay beyond being just a prepared sorcerer or an alternate (and likely weaker) variant of the bard/druid/wizard.

I'll probably be happy and fine with whatever they end up with. But I do think it loses a lot of actual purpose within the game to focus more on having deep spellcasting tied to a choice of tradition instead of thinner, more specific spellcasting tied to a theme. Right now, an arcane witch looks like a worse, weird wizard. A primal witch is like a druid without the excellent animal shape/companion features. An occult witch is a more precise but less versatile bard. All of them are just awkward sorcerers.

Using the wizard/bard/cleric/druid as the base spellcasting classes and having all the future casters be less functional via the spell lists but more via specific class features fits a smart design and helps future proof irrelevance.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Occult Witch with multiclassing in Cleric, Druid or Wizard should cover all bases.

Dark Archive

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I'd actually argue for Occult or Primal list witch but no arcane :p

Mostly because occult list has some creepier spells while primal list has nature themed spells while arcane list has only just, umm, magic I guess? I mean, sure lots of elemental themed spells... In terms of dealing damage. I guess I just don't see arcane list really feeling like witch spell list from 1e?

But yeah, having witch be occult prepared caster with lessons giving them spells from other schools to do witchy stuff would work as well nicely.


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Pathfinder Lost Omens Subscriber

since the first character i ever hope to play in pf2e is a primal list witch with the mwangi group archetype that gives you a mask familiar, i'd say i'd really hope it doesn't get locked into 1 list since i know i won't be able to play for a while.


Sporkedup wrote:
I'll probably be happy and fine with whatever they end up with. But I do think it loses a lot of actual purpose within the game to focus more on having deep spellcasting tied to a choice of tradition instead of thinner, more specific spellcasting tied to a theme. Right now, an arcane witch looks like a worse, weird wizard. A primal witch is like a druid without the excellent animal shape/companion features. An occult witch is a more precise but less versatile bard. All of them are just awkward sorcerers.

Not to nitpick but there are plenty of druids that don't wild shape or have an animal companion and both other druid choices are more of a caster option like the witch and the witch gets more spells per day.


Pathfinder Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Let's not forget that Winter Witch or Nature Witch would both make excellent class archetypes available at level 1.


I always saw the Winter Witch more defined by their hexes and abilities. Just the base Winter Witch had: Improve Cold descriptor spells, gain scaling resistance to cold (eventually immunity), move/climb over snow/ice with little problem, and swift action make touch spells into cold descriptor spells with extra damage.

The prestige class turned then straight up added more cold based abilities.

But I will admit, it helped that the Witch spell list had many cold based attack spells and touch attack based curses/debuffs (damaging Arcane Mark is also great).


Pathfinder Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Also, if we look at it from a new player perspective, I wonder if having a player pick a spell list with a lesson is a good way to go.

With Sorcerers, your bloodline is an integral part of who your character is. It makes sense that if a new player decides "I have the blood of elementals in my veins" future spell choices restricted to the primal list makes quite a lot of sense. They don't necessarily need to know what is in the spell list.

If a new player looks at the first lessons, are they really being adequately prepared for the decision they're making for the rest of their witch's career? There's no strong indicator about what they're getting themselves into. A person playing a Baba Yaga themed witch might start with lesson of snow to match a wintery background, but expect to do a lot more Occult style cursing and buffing in the future which the Primal list is poor for.

I just think it's a cleaner, stronger design to have the baseline witch with the spell list that most embodies the classic, archetypical witch that the majority of people think of when they hear the word, then lean into using lessons/patrons to tailor that list in various ways. Then reserve big, impactful, some-what experienced player type choices like base spell list selection to class archetypes.


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As far as I'm conceconcerned, I think that the witch should only have the occult list, with bonus spells. The occult tradition is the tradition of secret and forbidden lore. I can't think of a more obvious example of that than forging a pact with a mysterious, and possibly malign entity. I know that other entities might give out different flavours of magic, but the witch has few true ties to those lists. While they might be given power over nature it is not the power of nature: rather, it is a secret method by which one can command it.
Thus, all witches may be thought of as occult, acquiring secrets both for themselves and from their patrons, but who, through their patrons gain other kinds of power.

Just an opinion, obviously.


notXanathar wrote:

As far as I'm conceconcerned, I think that the witch should only have the occult list, with bonus spells. The occult tradition is the tradition of secret and forbidden lore. I can't think of a more obvious example of that than forging a pact with a mysterious, and possibly malign entity. I know that other entities might give out different flavours of magic, but the witch has few true ties to those lists. While they might be given power over nature it is not the power of nature: rather, it is a secret method by which one can command it.

Thus, all witches may be thought of as occult, acquiring secrets both for themselves and from their patrons, but who, through their patrons gain other kinds of power.

Just an opinion, obviously.

And while in general, I kinda agree that Witches are inherently secretive knowledge gatherers, that doesn't mean Occult is the answer to providing that "secrecy/mystery" aspect.

The Patron/Familiar relationship can easily be the mode for such things.

That said I would be in favor of a Occult Witch baseline with Patron's granting every spell of a certain trait (Winter Witch - Ice Traited spells, Protection Witch - All Abjuration traited spells, etc.)

Or

You let the Patron offer more flavor and mechanics, and grant all four lists so they can build the type of Witch they want, and you don't have to do any complex list building (which will inevitably leave a spell or two off that realistically might be found on some Witches list).

Occult + random traits/domains/spells is not as user friendly as "pick a list" IMO, and while that shouldn't be the only factor, I do think it should be worth something.


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I want to clarify, I am not against non-spooky witches. Quite the opposite in fact, my two favorite witch types are the friendly hedge witch and the winter witch (okay, winter witches are pretty spooky, but friendly grandmothers with magic wards definitely aren't). My #1 problem with the way things are in the playtest is that I feel I cannot adequately make either of those witches.

For the Winter Witch, I want access to as many cold spells as possible, Cone of Cold, Wall of Ice, Ray of Frost, Polar Ray, the works. However, I also want to have access to spells like Dominate (calling charmed Kellid Warriors to do my bidding) and Fate-altering spells if I'm in any way associated with Baba-Yaga. So neither only the Occult or Primal list gets me what I want.

Building a friendly Hedge-Witch is a mess in the playtest. The tradition that makes the most sense is possibly(?) primal, since you might get your powers from nature spirits. However, almost none of the spells I want, like Protection and Forbidding Ward are on that list. The only appropriate lesson "Lesson of Protection" is arcane and doesn't give me the spells I want either.

Midnightoker wrote:
Occult + random traits/domains/spells is not as user friendly as "pick a list" IMO, and while that shouldn't be the only factor, I do think it should be worth something.

Obviously, user friendliness is going to be highly speculative since I can only base it off what I know from my own table, but I would argue pick-a-list has a number of user-friendliness issues as it stands in the playtest.

The most important one is that the player is making a choice level one that they can't change and may not understand the full consequences of. A player who wants to play a spooky fairytale witch and picks up the "lesson of curses" may be shocked to learn they will not ever be able to transform someone into a frog.


Henro wrote:

The most important one is that the player is making a choice level one that they can't change and may not understand the full consequences of. A player who wants to play a spooky fairytale witch and picks up the "lesson of curses" may be shocked to learn they will not ever be able to transform someone into a frog.

You mean like they would with Sorcerer or any class that has an immutable spell list?

Lessons as they stand provide additional spells, regardless of initial spell list, so if they want to turn people into Toads, sounds like a Lesson should exist, but that's a very specific problem.

"I want to play a Witch, but I want to be like Morgan La Fey"

"Pick the Primal spell list!"

"I want to play a Witch, but I want to be spooky!"

"Pick the Occult spell list!"

"I want to play a Witch, but I want to be like Malificient or Hermione"

"Pick the Arcane spell list!"

"I want to play a Witch like Melisandre from Game of Thrones"

"Pick the Divine Spell list!"

"I want to play X"

"Well, pick X trait which will give you X spells. You get all these occult spells that don't fit the concept, so maybe just go Wizard or Druid. Not sure."

I have a sorcerer at my table now, she has yet to have issue with her Divine list (angelic) or complained about not having specific spells.


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Rysky wrote:

“The argument being made is that somehow telling people who want to play Primal or Arcane witches that they're not welcome anymore.”

No one is saying that so that’s needlessly defensive and needlessly combative against those disagreeing.

But that IS what people are saying. Right now, the rules allow me to make a witch with the primal spell list. If the witch becomes occult only, which is what some people want, then I can't play my witch. My primal witch is no longer welcome. I have to make an occult witch. And this needs to be understood! If you are advocating for a single list, you are telling everyone who wants a different list, "no, you can't have that."

There are times when saying "no" is good. However, as "yes" is currently the default answer, I think there should be more reasoning than "I don't like it" to ban players from playing a character they want. Reasons like: class niche protection, class balance, future proofing, etc. But flavor reasons are completely subjective and, in my opinion, not strong enough to warrant restricting everyone's games. Remember, this is about the rules available to the world, not just your home games.

The idea that a witch gets tons of bonus spells is good in concept, but I think people are worried about the execution. What if a couple spells you really want on the primal list don't ever get options to transfer over? What if you want more winter spells than there are feats available to get them? At what point would it have been easier to just give them the primal list than try to make sure there is always enough lessons to get all the spells the witch needs?

I'm fine with people wanting to restrict the witch to a single spell list. Everyone is welcome to their opinion. But I do think it is disingenuous to pretend that that opinion doesn't restrict other people from choices they might prefer. Which ever choice is made, it will have consequences down the line. And making the witch occult only does tell primal witches "they are not welcome."


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Pathfinder Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Jedi Maester wrote:
Rysky wrote:

“The argument being made is that somehow telling people who want to play Primal or Arcane witches that they're not welcome anymore.”

No one is saying that so that’s needlessly defensive and needlessly combative against those disagreeing.

Right now, the rules allow me to make a witch with the primal spell list. If the witch becomes occult only, which is what some people want, then I can't play my witch. My primal witch is no longer welcome. I have to make an occult witch. And this needs to be understood! If you are advocating for a single list, you are telling everyone who wants a different list, "no, you can't have that."

I think it's important to conduct playtests with the appropriate understanding that absolutely everything is up for change, and therefore it's not "Right now, the rules allow me X", it's "Right now, there are no rules for a witch."

If you start with the assumption that the first pass playtest rules put out by Paizo are the standard, then you're locking yourself out of important options. Like dialing things back. If you don't have the ability to avoid becoming emotionally attached to a first pass of playtest rules, you probably aren't suited to participating in a playtest.

What's more, no one is arguing that different types of witches can't exist. That is fertile ground for Class Archetypes, and will give the developers the tuning knobs to make those particular types of witches even better and more thematically and mechanically satisfying.


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WatersLethe wrote:

I think it's important to conduct playtests with the appropriate understanding that absolutely everything is up for change, and therefore it's not "Right now, the rules allow me X", it's "Right now, there are no rules for a witch."

If you start with the assumption that the first pass playtest rules put out by Paizo are the standard, then you're locking yourself out of important options. Like dialing things back. If you don't have the ability to avoid becoming emotionally attached to a first pass of playtest rules, you probably aren't suited to participating in a playtest.

What's more, no one is arguing that different types of witches can't exist. That is fertile ground for Class Archetypes, and will give the developers the tuning knobs to make those particular types of witches even better and more thematically and mechanically satisfying.

I'm not emotionally attached to the playlets rules, I'm emotionally attached to people understanding how their opinions can affect others. I actually would never play a primal witch, but I can totally see why others want to. I prefer the choose a list, but that's because I like options. But to act lack this choice doesn't affect other's choices really bothers me. That's why I picked out the quote I did. Because I think this point is important. Why do you want to tell someone else who is having fun with the design, "no, I don't think that's how it should be." There are good answers to that, but I barely see them over flavor reasons.

Also, timing matters. If you are ok with different lists from archetypes, then why not just bake it into the class from the beginning? That way players don't have to wait for the archetype they want to be published. That seems like better design to me.


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I would argue that witches need "creepy" spells, but that lessons should handle those. After that if there must be one list, arcane seems to fit best due to the learning (and int casting), since the main reason occult was a fit was for the "creepy" spells.

If the APG wants to have a primarily occult caster (big if at this point), well being cursed by power is a primary theme in occult, and only a corner case for divine, so it seems like oracle would be a better thematic fit (and it isn't like oracles do actual mythological oracle stuff anyway).


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Jedi Maester wrote:
But that IS what people are saying. Right now, the rules allow me to make a witch with the primal spell list. If the witch becomes occult only, which is what some people want, then I can't play my witch. My primal witch is no longer welcome. I have to make an occult witch. And this needs to be understood! If you are advocating for a single list, you are telling everyone who wants a different list, "no, you can't have that."

I absolutely understand this perspective, and I agree to at least an extent. I absolutely want witch to be a class that can take a variety of shapes - not just spooky halloween witch. The goal of my OP was to suggest a better way to accomplish this goal rather than exclude certain witches.

That said, any different solution obviously changes the class, and I'm not going to claim anyone who prefers the current pick-a-list witch is objectively wrong for doing so. There are pros and cons to both pick-a-list and my suggestion; I believe the pros outweigh the cons but that doesn't mean the solution is objectively better, just better in my eyes.


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Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Lost Omens, PF Special Edition Subscriber

Posted this in the other thread that got locked for reasons unrelated to my post. :)

I've been trying to figure out how to put this into words, but I think there's a basic divide here, among posters, but also somewhere in Paizo maybe.

What is a witch? Is the point of the witch their patron-based magic? I for one would wonder why this would be called a witch and not a warlock or something, but I see no reason to refuse divine casting to such a character.

But the rest of the chassis, with the cackles and the hexes and all that--the parts that actually are specifically "witchy"--doesn't seem to lend itself or at least require the spell list choice.

I would very much rather see the two concepts split, if we had to. So the witch as released this summer would be an occult caster with a smaller focus on their base spellcasting but significantly more centered around hexes as cantrips/focus/full spells. Deal heavily with familiars. Lean into the thematic witches of folklore, allow witch traditions to encourage a curse witch, a potion witch, a polymorph witch, a winter witch, whatever. Give it its truly own corner of the class list.

And take the patron-heavy concept of borrowing spells from a mentor entity, fluff that out in the future into a full choose-a-list prepared caster based on the kind or family of entity they have as a patron, and release that as well. Build it out so it's a broadly capable class with specific uniqueness (as in, not just the "prepared sorcerer"), and let it have some conceptual or thematic overlap with the witch.

As it stands, there are some serious conflicts over concepts of witches and patrons and all that, and I think those long-standing conflicts here might actually indicate that we are cramming a few too many dissonant ideas into one setup. The witch does not need to cover all folktale witches, all modern fantasy witches, all patron-based magics, and strange extra-religious diviners. I love the patron concept and I love the witch concept, but the two are just not marrying in my head. Try as I might.

Again, keep in mind I never got to play PF1 so I don't have the baggage from what witches meant or could do then.


Henro wrote:
Jedi Maester wrote:
But that IS what people are saying. Right now, the rules allow me to make a witch with the primal spell list. If the witch becomes occult only, which is what some people want, then I can't play my witch. My primal witch is no longer welcome. I have to make an occult witch. And this needs to be understood! If you are advocating for a single list, you are telling everyone who wants a different list, "no, you can't have that."

I absolutely understand this perspective, and I agree to at least an extent. I absolutely want witch to be a class that can take a variety of shapes - not just spooky halloween witch. The goal of my OP was to suggest a better way to accomplish this goal rather than exclude certain witches.

That said, any different solution obviously changes the class, and I'm not going to claim anyone who prefers the current pick-a-list witch is objectively wrong for doing so. There are pros and cons to both pick-a-list and my suggestion; I believe the pros outweigh the cons but that doesn't mean the solution is objectively better, just better in my eyes.

Thank you, and sorry that I used your thread as a mini soap box moment. I actually would like to take your idea even further and have the patron lessons grant spells chosen between lists that make up a custom list and have no one list tied to the witch. But that kind of defeats the purpose of having four consolidated lists. And it would be prone to witches missing out on spells that they might really want.


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Sporkedup wrote:
Again, keep in mind I never got to play PF1 so I don't have the baggage from what witches meant or could do then.

The issue is inherent to this edition, unfortunately, because they made the change that instead of everyone get's their own spell list (Witch Spell List, Wizard/Sorcerer spell list, Magus spell list) they conformed the lists to 4 lists.

Witches got spells from a lot of different places.

That's one of the main reasons they likely had the Spell list as a choice, because before, the list sort of cherry picked what made sense, allowed them to learn new ones, and the rest Patrons were meant to cover.

Patron's covered random key words, Dimension, Death, Animals, etc.

The issue is that a lot of people don't think Patron's can cover the lost ground from the Occult list, and to be honest, I kinda agree.

Even Elphaba, one of the most iconic witches, has spells not on the spell list.

To me, Witches are as inherently broad as Wizards, it's the Patrons that give them identity.

Saying "All witches are occult" is like saying "all wizards are X"

The arcane spell list had to even be broader then it's essences simply so Wizards weren't heavily gimped on options compared to the previous edition.

So honestly, the best list to fulfill those concepts if you drop the "pick a list" choice is probably Arcane.

The issue there is there's already an Arcane prepared caster.

It's a complicated issue.

Paizo Employee Designer

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Just popping in to observe that this thread is awfully similar in theme to the thread that I just had to lock, so please keep the discussion civil, respectful, and focused on the game. If you feel like you're getting heated, step away and cool off before posting. I love seeing the perspectives y'all have on this topic, but I don't want to have to keep moderating.


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I do think there is an issue of "what is a Witch?" and that makes it hard to readily define mechanically. Although I've never been one to really give much weight to a class' name if I can use its mechanics to represent something else. I've made plenty of witch doctors and shamans who were Occultists or Clerics or whatever

I think Occult tradition + tailored bonus spells through specific Patron and class feats is the most interesting route to create a mechanically interesting and unique class. It lets Hexes and the Patron at the forefront of the basic class identity rather than the choice of spell list, which is at the forefront of the Sorcerer's class identity. A Winter Witch with a Hex Cantrip like Personal Blizzard, a gruesome Hex Spell like Evil Eye, and a few bonus ice spells would be completely different than a Fey Witch who summons faeries and focuses on charms with their Patron's bonus spells. But both still are fundamentally Occult casters who rely on their Hexes

I can see arguments for all spell lists. But I do think "being defined by what you aren't" means a lot in a class-based game, with flexibility built into archetypes and multiclassing to really nail down visions beyond what, precisely, the Witch is for the purposes of the Paizo Pathfinder APG, not a class that's all things to all people


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Pathfinder Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Jedi Maester wrote:
Also, timing matters. If you are ok with different lists from archetypes, then why not just bake it into the class from the beginning? That way players don't have to wait for the archetype they want to be published. That seems like better design to me.

Of course there are always differences of opinion, and some people will get their way and others won't. Anyone participating in the playtest understands that. I don't think many people are trying to go out of their way to hurt those who prefer a different approach, or ignore that others are affected. Most people are just arguing for what they think would be the best design for the class. If, during discussions about what the best design is, we have to constantly defer to people who were attached to the first pass, we're not going to be very efficient.

I can imagine quite a few reasons why class archetypes might be a better approach than free-picking.

1. Balancing the class's kit versus its spell list. Each spell list and casting tradition has its pros and cons. It might be prudent to allow witches to trade in aspects of their kit for others to make sure their specific list is adequately utilized. For example, a divine witch might need improved weapon proficiencies, or a blaster primal witch might need an exclusive blasting hex.

2. New players. A new player who hears witch might not know all the differences between the spell lists, and be disappointed if they choose a lesson that doesn't fit their idea of what a witch is. Clear cut archetypes assist in this.

3. Future design space. Class archetypes are coming, and it might be a good idea to think about what should be offloaded into that system now. Changing the spell list seems like a prime candidate for that system, rather than trying to tack on new concepts later that don't quite fit in with the over-broad base witch.

4. Convenient language and cohesion. When talking with other players about your build, Witches as they stand lack any kind of cohesion or impact. Saying you're playing a Witch is tantamount to saying "I'm playing a caster". You can say you're a Primal Witch, but it's not conveying the same mechanical and thematic weight as 1e's "Winter Witch" (Or a Warpriest Cleric, for example). You can build a Primal Witch who plays almost exactly like an Occult Witch if you select the right spells and hexes.

5. Untying lessons from spell list. Lessons are cool, they could stand on their own without tying them into spell list choice at first level. If I want to be an Occult caster, but don't want the Occult lessons, I'm in a pickle at first level.


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Pathfinder Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

Some thoughts.

The underlying issue here is that PF2 spellcasting is built around four and only four traditions, each of which are thematically tied to specific elements from Pathfinder's source material: arcane is wizard's magic, divine is cleric's magic, primal is magic with a nature/elements feel, and occult seems heavily reminiscent of the PF1 psychic spell list.

This already produces some thematic awkwardness for the game. The bard is the core occult caster but gets lots of spells (magic missile, mage armor, the telekinetic spells) that don't seem that bard-y. The fey sorcerer gets a spell list that natively lets her cast fireballs but requires supplementation to get the enchantment and illusion spells most suited for fey.

To be clear, I think that's fine. The traditions approach has lots of advantages. Aside from the many gameplay-centered ones, one lore-related advantage is that it seems to be a way to develop a deeper in-game explanation of how different kinds of magic relate to each other and the world. It's inevitable that developing this kind of systematic approach will disrupt some assumptions from previous editions of the game and all the more so from the broader fantasy and myth traditions that Pathfinder draws on.

The problem for the witch is that "witch" has pretty thick (if rather varied) meaning out-of-game and it also has lots of association in-game from its Pathfinder and D&D history, and both of those correspond to a "magical tradition" that doesn't match up with any of the four traditions. There are some witchy spells and some non-witchy spells on all four spell lists. (Many people say occult is the best fit, and I think I see why, but spells like hypercognition, zealous conviction, and telekinetic maneuver/haul seem awkward fits there too.) So given the constraint of the magical traditions, the pressure seems to be to (1) break up the witch into different "subclasses" tied to different traditions, which runs the risk of making the overarching concept too broad or (2) make a particular witch's spell list very customizable, which runs the risk of undermining why the game switched to magical traditions in the first place. (One concrete issue with (2) is that older witch options may become less supported over time, since I expect that new spells will be added just to the tradition lists and not to previous packages of patron theme spells.)

I don't have any elegant solution. I guess I think the best approach might be to narrow focus. What is Baba Yaga's magical tradition? What is Feiya's? There's always archetypes to expand and tailor a particular spellcaster's theme, without disrupting the structure of the base class as much; not just multiclass, but also archetypes like the halcyon speaker that seem to be based on the multiclass spellcaster rules.


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Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

I don't know how I feel about the multi-list / singular list debate, but WatersLethe is right about the ethics of playtest feedback, I don't think we should be shaming people for wanting a more restricted class or a less restricted class, both are valid feedback and this is the point where that should be determined, not before the first playtest rules are released.

Thinking about it, I'm inclined to agree with Sporkedup, is Witch the "Hags! Player Edition" class with occult theming and strong on brand witchy flavor with cackles and hexes, or is it more a rural spellcaster who learns a variety of magic from patrons.

Either path is valid:

The "Hags! Player Edition" route could see the class restricted to Occult or go for the duality expressed in the Changeling bestiary entry with a choice between Occult and Primal- Dark Occult Witches, and Whimsical Faerie Witches.

The "rural spellcaster who learns a variety of magic from patrons" could see the class open up to include Divine potentially, and see more possible flavors of witch included, with lots of terrains for class feats like 'Swamp Witch' a more generally useful coven mechanic, and a place beside the other casters as "I am defined by how I do magic."

I think I prefer the second, because it can just eat the first and support other concepts beside, and its probably the best take on a prepared counterpart to the Sorcerer we could ask for (which is something I personally want.)


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I think we can all agree it’s a difficult question to answer. You either swing wide and narrow the concept with patrons familiars hexes and class feats or go conservative and then use those same four things to expand.

So ultimately the answer resides on the implementation of patrons familiars hexes and class feats.


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Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Lost Omens, PF Special Edition Subscriber
Midnightoker wrote:

I think we can all agree it’s a difficult question to answer. You either swing wide and narrow the concept with patrons familiars hexes and class feats or go conservative and then use those same four things to expand.

So ultimately the answer resides on the implementation of patrons familiars hexes and class feats.

Exactly. I'm only concerned that too much of the defining traits of the witch will just be "choose your own tradition." As long as they include enough to truly validate their existence in the spectrum of classes, I won't be upset if the actual witch flavor takes a back seat.

Familiars need to do more and be better. Hexes need to do more and be better. I assume that would come at the cost of the heavy spellcasting chassis they have in the play test, at least to some degree, but if that's not the case then I have no complaints.

I still love the idea of splitting it in two, by decoupling the patron and heavy focus on spell lists from the rest, leaving the witch behind. With familiars as spell books, I'd think they could be more flexible with the traditions than any class yet, while also telling heavily on hexes and curses from the class chassis and feats.

I'm also well aware that that's a weird minority vote that won't get picked up for the final. I'm just rather confident that the other three classes will shape up nicely, but I'm still nervous if the final witch will truly improve the class options list in the summer.


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WatersLethe wrote:


If you start with the assumption that the first pass playtest rules put out by Paizo are the standard, then you're locking yourself out of important options. Like dialing things back.

I've seen this a couple times and it's starting to bother me because it feels like people are putting words in each others' mouth.

No one has said nothing can change.

But at the same time, if you want something to change about a class I feel like there should be some compelling reason that that change makes the class better.

Here it feels like the main argument just seems to be that some people don't like a certain option, so they want it dumped so they can get something they prefer squeezed in instead, rather than there being something intrinsically better about the Witch if you strip out two of its spell lists.

It's akin to me saying I'm never going to play an Enchanter Wizard, so I want Paizo to remove it and add a second Transmutation school instead.


I kind of like the idea of of lessons giving access to all spells with a certain description. Give Witches enough lessons choices at lv 1 and as they level up and you can build almost any type of witch without having any 1 spell list.

But this too has drawbacks, mainly in the fact that you would lose versatility by only getting spells of 1 description. It would also end up as a strange version of Arcane Schools, where you are ignoring any spell that doesnt fit your lessons.

So in the end it sounds more like an interesting Wizard homebrew for a Hogwarts type campaign.

***************
@Squiggit

Asking for limits to the number of spell list is not at all similar to asking for more limited access to Arcane Schools (which is the entire purpose of Tassilonian Specialist. Just like it wouldn't be at all similar to ask for more full spell list to adding more Arcane schools.

They just have vastly different scopes.


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Squiggit wrote:


Here it feels like the main argument just seems to be that some people don't like a certain option, so they want it dumped so they can get something they prefer squeezed in instead, rather than there being something intrinsically better about the Witch if you strip out two of its spell lists.

I mean, I've personally given lots of arguments about why I think it's better to have one spell list, and how class archetypes are a better way to handle different spell lists if those are intrinsically required for a concept. If you don't agree with those points, that's fine but don't tell me I'm just trying to take away someone's toys.


So let me bring this up:

The Witch inherently, even in PF1, adds more spells than would typically be on the caster's list.

That's almost as core to the concept as the Hexes, familiar, and patron themselves.

Now, Witches also typically have themes, which their list often corresponds with, to emphasize the primary pieces of their list.

Does it make more sense to reduce a list to one, and add spells back, or simply open a list up to the four traditions, and then narrow down the "feel" of the Witch based on Patron/Hex/Familiar?

To me personally, starting with Occult and working out seems not only more difficult, but more involved in terms of mechanics. It's also a lot less user friendly to learn (IMO of course).

That's what lead me to like the current implementation in some regard, because it takes the spell list issue right out of consideration (it's taken care of by what you select), and the rest of the excellent flavored Witch pieces can all still exist.

That's my big take away. It's not necessarily "taking toys" so much as it is allowing the Witch flavor to be exemplified via their abilities and not by their spell list.

Witches had probably one of the most flexible spell lists in PF1, to me it only makes sense that they're the pick a list caster, because they already sort of did that in PF1 to a lesser extent.


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Midnightoker wrote:
Witches had probably one of the most flexible spell lists in PF1, to me it only makes sense that they're the pick a list caster, because they already sort of did that in PF1 to a lesser extent.

I think PF1 was different because while their spell list was a mix of the core class lists, they also had lots of holes in their base list. They got lots of good enchantments from the wizard list but not the flashy evocations or transmutations. They got healing magic from the cleric list but on a delayed progression and without the best status removers (and also without divine staples like alignment-based attack spells). They had a decent buff/debuff repertoire like the bard but were missing some of the best buffs (like haste). You could pick a patron that plugged these holes but they usually plugged no more than one and often did so incompletely. The choice of class mostly dictated your spell list, with a little customization on top.

It could work to have witches as the "patron magic" class, just as sorcerers are the "blood magic" class, and make patron/hexes/familiar the defining class features independent of spell list. But I think it would feel and play pretty differently from the PF1 witch--just like a PF2 demonic sorcerer compared to a PF1 abyssal sorcerer.

Silver Crusade

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Midnightoker wrote:

So let me bring this up:

The Witch inherently, even in PF1, adds more spells than would typically be on the caster's list.

How so?
Quote:

Does it make more sense to reduce a list to one, and add spells back, or simply open a list up to the four traditions, and then narrow down the "feel" of the Witch based on Patron/Hex/Familiar?

To me personally, starting with Occult and working out seems not only more difficult, but more involved in terms of mechanics. It's also a lot less user friendly to learn (IMO of course).

I feel like it would allow more design space and room to play, having a default list and then Patron's granting spells thematic to them (Winter granting all the ones Winter Witch might need), whereas if you have 4 lists that will probably result in a lot of cases of "close, but not quite" for people going for themes.


Hmmm well I guess what I’m trying to say is they had the following things that give me the impression their spells have a wide reach.

They got patron spells, which added to their lists, they got spells across a lot of different vocations (Cleric Wizard Druid), they were able to learn new spells from both wizards and witches (sorcerers got bloodlines spells like patrons but lacked learning), and then of course hexes were basically spells on steroids.

This wide array of casting talent and versatility gave me the impression of an expanded list of vocations they could be called to.

Not that other classes didn’t have things like this at times, or even that their list is the largest (I think wizard/sorcerer still has the most) but the different flavors and types of spells seemed wider.

Ultimately that might just be my take away, but patrons adding spells to their list along with the rest of it was the core of my mentality. Others probably feel differently.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Their spell list was nice but it had pros and cons (how could they learn wizard spells?), Patron spells were basically the same as Cleric Domain spells and Bloodline spells, and Hexes were a lot of things.

Liberty's Edge

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Again, I'd like to stress how much can be solved simply by giving Occult as the base Spell list and opening the Patron ability up to grant a whole new Tradition would open up the variety of different Witch characters you could make right off the bat without appreciably making them any more powerful than any other spellcaster since their casting will be tied to their singular set of Spell Slots and Class DC.

It also enables them to abandon the trap that is tying specific spells to specific Patrons requiring cross sourcebook spell references and the insane balancing act of weighing the power of the "Blaster" Patron versus all the other options.


Pathfinder Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Themetricsystem wrote:
Again, I'd like to stress how much can be solved simply by giving Occult as the base Spell list and opening the Patron ability up to grant a whole new Tradition would open up the variety of different Witch characters you could make right off the bat without appreciably making them any more powerful than any other spellcaster since their casting will be tied to their singular set of Spell Slots and Class DC.

I think it would make a difference to power to be able to cast spells from two lists instead of one. Occult has good force spells, enchantment spells, divination spells, buffs, and debuffs. It doesn't have the powerful evocations and transmutations on the arcane and primal list, and it doesn't have the healing capacity of the primal and divine lists. Giving access to two lists is a substantial increase to the versatility and therefore the power of the caster. (Multiclass casters get this but with more constraints and at a substantial price to class feat slots.)

I wonder if there are other ways to accomplish something like this, though. One thought is to build an additional tradition choice into the class feats, making it sort of an in-house spellcasting archetype, though that would leave less space for the witch-y class feats.


Pathfinder Lost Omens Subscriber
Henro wrote:


The most important one is that the player is making a choice level one that they can't change and may not understand the full consequences of. A player who wants to play a spooky fairytale witch and picks up the "lesson of curses" may be shocked to learn they will not ever be able to transform someone into a frog.

just going to point out this is a pretty bad argument that seems good at first glance.

anyone with the level of knowledge suggested will end up just as stuck if they pick literally any caster as they don't know what any of the spell lists have given him being confounded by the choice of spell list.

they may pick even pick just a bard expecting the same thing because they have an "occult" list.

Liberty's Edge

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Any spell that comes in later books will have for sure a Tradition, a School and some traits.

There is zero chance that it will be listing a Patron.

So locking the Witch class to a single Tradition has a huge impact on the possible builds. One that I feel is downplayed by many posters who favor less than 4 lists.

What might be interesting would be the Witch as the prepared Occult caster, which TBH many people had already adapted to ever since the 4 traditions were mentioned in the PF2 playtest. But with feats helping a multiclass in other prepared casting classes. Or archetypes that replace Occult with another Tradition.

That said, the larger problem IMO lies with trying to bind the Patron and the spells available to the Witch.
Because unless Winter becomes a spell trait, your Winter Patron will only provide access to the already released Winter spells and to no such spell that will come later.

Clerics and deities have had a similar conundrum for years. Maybe the Witch can borrow their current solution.


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I want to add that if Patrons give spells and Witches can choose any spell list, then it's of little benefit to choose a Patron which suits your theme if it's not going to add anything to your spell list.
If I can get all my ice & cold spells from the Primal list, then why would I want an ice & cold Patron?
Wait, of course I want such a Patron for my Winter Witch, don't I?

I think having Occult works best as the base Witch list since it has all the spells a generic Witch should be able to cast, whether spooky, tribal, or in a caravan.
Then, with all Patrons built around that premise, the expanded spells can always be new spells.
Plus, you can futureproof by adding language like "add 1 common spell with the Darkness or Cold trait for every spell level you know to your list of class spells." (It doesn't necessarily need to be common either, since it's just putting it on your list, not giving you access.)

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