The PF1 Witch, what do you want to carry over?


Witch Playtest


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Don't think we've approached the topic from this angle so I thought I'd bring it up.

To me the witch was one of my fave classes. Which is quite surprising as I don't like Vancian magic!

I realize that 2e is different enough from 1e that there's no direct mapping possible or even desirable but here is my personal rundown of some of their features, why I liked them, and hope it'll inform the designers as they update it to 2e!

A. Loved

* Hexes, slinging hexes around on a round by round basis as my main combat thing is/was fun as hell. It's a tactical minigame for me, do I spread my hexes around? Do I try and really lock the bad guy done? In what order? Can I get away with cackling to extend it or am I forced to do something else? Errating out Cackling twice in a round made me :_(. The Hexes themselves were flavorful too! Evil Eye, Misfortune, Hair Strangle! And I know that players with cursed dice ironically liked this as they didn't have to roll, they made their VICTIMS roll.

* Creepy spell list. I'm glad overall the custom class spell list of 1e are gone but they were really great for the witch. You had Creepy, You had debuffs, You had creepy debuffs (Cackle into Vomit Swarm all day err day), plus healing! Made perfect sense and there was a lot of useful stuff.

* Basically it was the premier debuffer which is a great mechanical niche for all the kids to enjoy.

B. Meh

* Patrons, never came up unless I made them in the backstory in a way that was easy for the GM to incorporate.

* Familiar, I always gave my familiars personalities but there wasn't anything I could do with them as they were too precious and fragile.

* Potion Brewing, not a crafter focused player.

And there was nothing I disliked really.

So what about everyone else?


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Pathfinder Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
GM Stargin wrote:

A. Loved

* Hexes, slinging hexes around on a round by round basis as my main combat thing is/was fun as hell. It's a tactical minigame for me, do I spread my hexes around? Do I try and really lock the bad guy done? In what order? Can I get away with cackling to extend it or am I forced to do something else? Errating out Cackling twice in a round made me :_(. The Hexes themselves were flavorful too! Evil Eye, Misfortune, Hair Strangle! And I know that players with cursed dice ironically liked this as they didn't have to roll, they made their VICTIMS roll.

* Creepy spell list. I'm glad overall the custom class spell list of 1e are gone but they were really great for the witch. You had Creepy, You had debuffs, You had creepy debuffs (Cackle into Vomit Swarm all day err day), plus healing! Made perfect sense and there was a lot of useful stuff.

* Basically it was the premier debuffer which is a great mechanical niche for all the kids to enjoy.

Agreed x3.

Their spell list was top notch flavor. And getting healing spells was the icing on the funky cake.

Plus I really liked that it was an intelligence caster. It really locks them in as a good villain or anti-hero class.

Another thing I liked was the archetypes. Winter Witch and Seducer really put a fresh coat of paint on, and I loved pointing them out to other players.

GM Stargin wrote:

B. Meh

* Patrons, never came up unless I made them in the backstory in a way that was easy for the GM to incorporate.

* Familiar, I always gave my familiars personalities but there wasn't anything I could do with them as they were too precious and fragile.

* Potion Brewing, not a crafter focused player.

Agreed x2

Patrons and familiar are take it or leave it for me. I don't mind other people playing with Patrons as a big deal for their character, but I'm totally fine with dumping the whole concept on my characters.

As for potion brewing/crafting, I thought it was appropriate for many witches even though I never really got into it.


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

Interesting thread, and I look forward to seeing what people think. I never played PF1, so all my knowledge is just browsing Nethys.

So I do think this is a very important question. As spell lists are no longer so simple just to curate, how does the witch achieve mechanical uniqueness among the pantheon of casters?

Hexes as a class function has always intrigued me, well before I knew witch was an announced option. I hope that hexes become significantly more prominent in the class structure here (my vote is at least two tiers, cantrip and focus, if not a third of full spell slot usage), because as it stands they're pretty fliffy.

Patrons are a great concept but I don't know why they should be limited to witches. I've mused elsewhere that perhaps patrons do not need to be a function of the witch but for some future class, to differentiate. I think witches will maintain the patron scene but I expect them to become more specific and less just miasmic fluff.

Strongly hoping familiars get some love before this book is done.


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I'll break my personal list down:

Carry Over:

- Strong hexes with all day functionality in some form

- Strong customization of spells cast, which was provided with Patrons

- Major themes being conveyed through class features, but not mandatory to the class itself

- Familiars

- Proficiencies

Fix:

- Lack of Patron relationship at all outside of spell list dictations

- Lack of value or interesting mechanics of the familiar

- Hexes being too binary

Witches in PF1 had a spell list that covered everything from Cure Light Wounds to Teleportation, and Patrons helped expand it even more. This was one of the leading identities of the witch outside their hexes, their ability to expand into magic that was "forbidden".

Familiars should matter, Patrons should matter, hexes need to be the highlighted class feature, and spell lists need to be highly versatile/customizable.

If they nail those on the head, I'll be satisfied.


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Tatterdemalion, Gingerbread Witch, Ashiftah... Witch had a ton of great archetypes, probably the coolest selection. (Or at least, the highest percentage of cool, thematic archetypes.) Is love to eventually see stuff for stitching people, swallowing people, quick invisibility, and a lot of the other nifty archetype signature abilities.

Definitely keeping the familiar, but making it easier/less punishing to have them around; I don’t want to spend two or three of my three abilities just so I don’t have to keep my familiar in an metal box.

Liberty's Edge

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Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Great :

Casting hexes as the primary contribution to combat.

INT-caster

Debuffer

Using the familiar for out of combat purposes (scouting mostly)

Picking relevant spells across the traditions.

Would be great if improved :

Patron having a real influence on the powers of the Witch. As we could see in PF1 and even more in this playtest, too much potential ends up in little characterization.

Familiars being less squishy and contributing to combat in non-attack ways.

Paizo Employee Designer

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This is a super helpful thread - thank you for starting it!

Sovereign Court

Love:

High-Impact Unlimited Hexes! The fact they could be your primary form of contribution to combat and your spells actually took a backseat to them often made the witch feel like it was more than just another Int-caster.

Eclectic but also Focused Spell List! Spooky flavor abound (Lipstitch was my favorite spell in 1e, hands down) as well as a number of different focuses that also managed to avoid being as diverse as the wizard/sorcerer.

Off-list Patron Spells! A natural addition to the last point, patron spells let you choose another area or two that your spell list didn’t naturally cover to give you extra options.

Indifferent:

Familiars. They’re pretty neat, but they also felt like a liability. I often just had my scorpion/dodo/cursed teddy bear sit in a bag or nest in my hair so it wouldn’t get targeted. This led to me often forgetting they were there other than a +4 initiative on my sheet.

Oddball Hexes. Some hexes were clearly there for flavor and no other reason. If you were to make a character who could reliably use their hexes, you generally didn’t take stuff like cauldron or coven.

Dislike:

On-list Patron Spells? These always bugged me. A number of Witch Patrons gave you mostly spells already on your spell list, which always felt like a waste. It’s not that there’s no benefit to getting them added to your familiar for free, but it’s certainly less interesting than new spells you don’t normally get to access.

Lack of Patron Mechanics? Patrons felt like a list of spells, and that’s all they ever really were. I never even considered making them mean more to my character in their backstory.

Familiar Death Punishment? The main reason why I never really wanted to play with my pet. Having your character be actively harmed for trying to use their familiar in combat is pretty lousy (and it only feels worse in the playtest
unfortunately).


Hexes as the main combat contribution is the defining aspect of 1e witch I feel. Whether debuffs or the alternate natural weapon options (which are fine being class feats, though I don't know that the playtest version supports it well). This is what I want when I think witch.

Familiars are nice and flavorful but punishing to lose. I do like having one, I just wish it wasn't such a risk. In 1e I rarely get to use it as more than a stat stick (glorious massive perception)

I have no real attachment to the spell list, it was certainly flavorful. The limits on it feel like they got blurred in later supplements a bit.

Patrons were at best a build theme, being a very bare bones version of the bonus spell options of domains and bloodlines. No real attachment here.


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Lukas Stariha wrote:
Familiars. They’re pretty neat, but they also felt like a liability. I often just had my scorpion/dodo/cursed teddy bear sit in a bag or nest in my hair so it wouldn’t get targeted. This led to me often forgetting they were there other than a +4 initiative on my sheet.

That's why my excel-based sheet had it baked in. I had a toggle field I could check/uncheck when the situation changed.

As for things I liked:

Hexes. I was very down with the all-day every day hex-and-debuff oh you made your save? HAHA that's funny <Cackle>.

My base spell save DC was 14. I did end up making a few poor choices when leveling up, as I didn't have a way to filter for things that didn't rely on saves.

But my bread and butter was Infernal Healing and Evil Eye or Protective Luck + Cackle. As such, PF2's hexes disappoint me. They're both less powerful, less frequent, and more restrictive. Cackle is basically gone (yes, I know that there is an ability by that name, but it doesn't do any justice to the original) and so few things work the way I expect. Seriously, none of the witch hexes have a duration other than instant or sustained. No more "they ruled bad, your Evil Eye lasts six rounds" "oh goodie, I can move without worrying that it will expire and I can hex someone else."

I was definitely planning on taking Cook People and not telling my party where I got the cookies. I even have an audio clip I was going to use when they found out. "I'M A SCAVENGER! I'm not going to let perfectly good power go to waste when I can use it!" (Thanks to Raven, from the Heartstrikers series, him best bird)

I basically was playing an insane (birdly) cleric. My familiar was, of course, a raven. It could speak tengu and I imagine that the two squawked at each other all the time talking about whatever was important at the time and no one could understand a lick of it. I also ended up leaning heavily into the Linquistics bonus that tengu got and by level 5 I had 7 additional languages.

Patrons I never really paid any attention to (beyond picking one for some juicy off-class flexibility) and want them to mean something more. I don't think they need to be class-defining, but if I can black-marker the word "patron" out of the book and still have a grammatical correct sentence, then it may as well not be there. Don't tell me my patron matters only for it to have zero mechanical effect. (Reminds me that I showed up to 5e organized play once and was asked why my character was in <city> and I replied, "I'm a lizard." Because, frankly, I couldn't be bothered to justify my out of character decision to join a game. I used that line for out five times that session; "So, introduce yourself..." "I'm a lizard .")

Though going "patronless" might still make sense. Call it the universalist wizard choice for witches, if you want. I just want to be able to look at my character and go "yes, this is why this is this way, my patron made it so." I know some people desire that path and I might be one. Just that the sheer meaninglessness of how it was written in the playtest document felt wrong.

Grand Lodge

I like hexes all day, but real spells being infrequent. Witch != Wizard.

I never had much patron interaction as one of my witches was PFS and the other was Skull & Shackles. Premade stuff doesn't encourage the GM to adapt. :-( I'd like for patrons to matter more, but I'm not not sure how.

Potions are cool, but need to be optional. In S&S our ship was a floating chemical factory as that was a potion focused witch. And it pissed me off that alchemists could do it better. Most witches might not care about potions, but those who do should be among the best.

That witch also had flight and water breathing, so really was into utility abilities. I never thought that it felt witchy, but it was useful in play.

Dark Archive

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Lukas Stariha wrote:

Love:

High-Impact Unlimited Hexes! The fact they could be your primary form of contribution to combat and your spells actually took a backseat to them often made the witch feel like it was more than just another Int-caster.

This is my number one. I loved hexes the way a Warlock loved his Eldritch Blast, back in 3.5 D&D, because I never cared much for Vancian spellcasting, and so loved that I could play a magical character who didn't entirely revolve around prepared 'fire and forget' spells.

Indeed, if there had been an archetype that abandoned spellcasting entirely, and buffed up the number and capability of hexes to compensate for that big sacrifice, I'd probably have been all over it.


Set wrote:
Indeed, if there had been an archetype that abandoned spellcasting entirely, and buffed up the number and capability of hexes to compensate for that big sacrifice, I'd probably have been all over it.

The real problem you run into, there, is the lack of feats. PF1 had very very few feats that affected your hexes. There were basically three, and one of them just gave you more hexes. There were a couple more from third party publishers, but even then only two were actually any good.

Lets see...

Paizo: Extra Hex (Extra Hex, Extra Hex, Extra Hex, Extra Hex), Split Hex, and maybe Spell Hex

Third Party: Hex Expertise ("pick a hex, it can affect creatures twice a day"), Hex Focus ("pick a hex, its DC increases by 2), Quicken Hex ("once per day, use a hex as a swift action").

The only ones I actually had interest in were Split Hex (double the Evil Eye), Hex Expertise (why, Healing Hex of course), and maybe Spell Hex (probably Infernal Healing for 3 extra castings?)

But sure, if we abandon spellcasting entirely* and make the witch 110% use hexes, and we get the feat support for it, I could be all-in on that.

*I could see Patrons stepping in and granting specific spells as focus spells or "you can cast Spell Y as if it were a hex, with Z limitations"


Accursed Hex is a feat you missed, though it wasn't relevant if you were building maximum mean.

I don't think we need 1e hexes and cackling again. Evil Eye + Cackle was stupid. Though the playtest evil eye gets partway there anyways it doesnt let you lead into misfortune and slumber like 1e for maximum crippling.

It's a fine line to walk I guess, because "negate one enemy by debuff" is easy to have slip into "instakill enemy". And if its fundamentally save or die effects... well, its either great or useless.


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Dubious Scholar wrote:
Accursed Hex is a feat you missed, though it wasn't relevant if you were building maximum mean.

I used Evil Eye. I didn't care if they succeeded their save. They were just as screwed as if they failed. I practically dump-stat'd my save DCs. No really, the only reason my int wasn't lower was because I needed every skill point I could get my grubby paws on.

Quote:
I don't think we need 1e hexes and cackling again. Evil Eye + Cackle was stupid. Though the playtest evil eye gets partway there anyways it doesnt let you lead into misfortune and slumber like 1e for maximum crippling.

I never used Misfortune, it was too hit-or-miss. A lot of guides over-valued it (and under-valued Evil Eye). Sure, if it worked it wrecked someone's day, but if it didn't, that was it. You practically needed Accursed Hex as a result.

Protective Luck is way better. No save, Cackle still works on it, no 1/day limit, has more or less the same result.

Quote:
It's a fine line to walk I guess, because "negate one enemy by debuff" is easy to have slip into "instakill enemy". And if its fundamentally save or die effects... well, its either great or useless.

That's kind of why I want Evil Eye to be the witchy version of the bard's Inspire Courage.

Which leads me into Cackle.

I despise the playtest Cackle. Not because its basically "sustain, but auditory" but because NOTHING in the witch arsenal has a duration longer than sustained. You don't have a single fire-and-forget ability (ignoring all spell casting, because anything in there other classes have too).

And that might be a 2E problem, not a witch problem. But I find myself looking at the witch kit and going, "meh, meh, garbage, meh, oh this is ni--oh, sustained duration, meh." Ice Tomb is probably the only ability that's actually any good. Curse of Death has a much more...deadly outcome, but seriously, I'm not going to sustain that if they succeed their saving throw. Fatigued is alright I guess, but I got 4d6 damage out of it. If they fail, its basically 1 action for them to keep attempting saving throws for a similar outcome.

But it means that I end up down an action on my next turn. What am I going to do, hit another enemy with it and then do basically nothing on future turns? I'll have one free action, and with the way AoO works now, that means I'll want at least one action to move...

Ice Tomb, on the other hand, just does its thing. Its the only hex that doesn't require sustaining. Nudge Fate on the other hand has a sustained duration for literally no reason. As soon as it triggers, it ends, and the target is immune for 24 hours.


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Not really needing feats was one of the great parts of Witches. Even if you did take Extra Hex 7 times (leaving 3 for Accursed, Split, and Split Mayor feats) you would be able to do great.

And PF1 had way more hex feats like: Blood Hexes (alternate hexes), Coven Hexes (Boosted the ability of coven witches, Ex Familiar Link), then there is Spirit Talker (1 per day get any hex for 1 hour) and Patron Hexes (which were nice options). Besides, the real way to boost hexes were through all the magic items.

Liberty's Edge

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I think the OP's list sums up my own Witch preferences pretty much perfectly. Witches are largely cool mechanically because of the ability to Hex and debuff all day every day. That's great, and a very distinct mechanical niche that I'd hate to see them lose.


Deadmanwalking wrote:
I think the OP's list sums up my own Witch preferences pretty much perfectly. Witches are largely cool mechanically because of the ability to Hex and debuff all day every day. That's great, and a very distinct mechanical niche that I'd hate to see them lose.

*nods* seems about right.

I'd like to see hexes be like bard's composition cantrips: something you can do all day, even if that means the affect is lessened. Then make their focus spells be add-on affects to those cantrips.

Spell list: don't need it's own list IMO, but it'd be nice to have a few spells per level that the witch could take no matter the list they have to fill out the theme.

Patrons were always in the background with little interaction past character creation unless the player and DM went out of their way to do so. IMO they make a fine way to patron seem like they can be integrated into lessons [like have both grant access to spells they can take] but it's most likely going to be in the background again.

Familiars/potions: both seem like they should be OPTIONS you can take like class feats or subclasses. The only time the familiar has to be their now is during preparation so it could easily be any link to the patron and it only has to last long enough to prep. So it could be a form of summons and doesn't have to be controlled: so maybe a tiny elemental shows up recharge the witch or an imp, or whatever fits the patron then leaves on it's own.


Similarly, Witch was probably my favorite class in PF1.

Love:

  • Patron (theme): The idea of being connected to a mysterious entity is cool and opens up so many potential plot hooks for the GM to play with. It also helps open up a niche the Cleric doesn't cover since a Witch isn't limited to selecting a deity-type entity & doesn't have to be completely subservant to their Patron like a Cleric does (or else Cleric loses powers). It also opens up the ability to have a Witch/Patron whose goals do not align and/or a Witch who actively tries to work against their Patron after realizing what really happened.

  • Hexes: Having an all-day option was really appreciated at low levels in PF1, when Wizards became glorified crossbowmen as soon as they ran out of spell slots. Evil Eye was my personal favorite, as it gave a swiss army knife of debuff options that could almost always be relevant in some way.

  • Coven: Personally, I loved the idea of Witches taking a more communal-style approach to learning magic compared to the more independent-Wizards. Things like familiars sharing spells with each other (& thus being able to be backups in case one died) helped to build on this. One of the first things I tried to do with my first Witch was figure out how I could found my own Coven (Leadership+Iron Collar of the Unbound Coven), just for RP sake without being overly concerned about the mechanical benefits.

    Meh:

  • Familiars: Honestly, having a familiar has never been a large part of Witch fiction I've seen - with many either just having the ability to speak or not being present at all. Either way, they never really do much in stories & I can't say I fully enjoyed how mechanically beneficial they became (improved familiar+wand=power). While they had some cool bits in games I played (loved when GM took over my familiar to have it do something according to its sense of humor/secret obligations to Patron), I overall don't see them as something that needs a lot of mechanical benefits. Also, the amount of punishment for losing a familiar just seemed excessive.

    Dislike:

  • Patron (mechanics): As much as I loved the potential theme of Patrons, their mechanics seemed to fall flat and drag that potential down. A single word description + granted spells isn't much to build off of thematically (especially my original Deception patron, saying a mysterious being is deceptive really doesn't narrow anything down). Many Patrons also gave spells which were already on the Witch's spell list, which made them even less impactful and their Witches harder to differentiate from every other Witch. While Blood of the Coven improved this, it still felt like Patrons weren't very important or influential to the class, which was a huge disappointment to me.

  • Overreliance on Hag Theme/Connection: While I appreciate the ability to build an evil fairy tale Witch, there were times when it felt like this was the only aspect of Witches which was continuously getting dev support. Having to get a hag to found a coven also felt like too much to tap into a such a popular stereotype of Witches (the Witch's Coven).

  • Spell List: While I loved some aspects of the list, there was a bunch of strange omissions for me. It seemed weird that a stereotypically evil class lacked several magical anti-divination spells (i.e. Undetectable Alignment, Misdirection, etc.) which meant that any evil Witch villains would be instantly discovered by many PC groups. I also learned to hate how Mask Dweomer was basically a variation of the more common Magic Aura - especially when Ultimate Intrigue introduced greater versions for Detect Magic and Magic Aura, but seemingly forgot the Mask Dweomer existed and Witches didn't get Magic Aura as a result. Even Occultist & Psychic got Greater Magic Aura despite using the the Witch's Mask Dweomer, but the Witch somehow didn't.


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    I think one of the main reasons people are neutral-against Familiars for the witch is that familiars (in PF1) were inherently useless. Not to say that PF2 fixed that (they became a grab bag of "pick some abilities for free every day, whatever's useful" only all the abilities are garbage and anything your familiar gets naturally--like flying--counts against that limit), but the witch leaning heavily into it (you get FOUR abilities!) doesn't add anything. There's really only about two good abilities anyway (for a witch: Familiar Focus and Spell Battery; Spell Delivery is how you get your familiar killed and Damage Avoidance is only useful if your GM actively targets your familiar).

    Silver Crusade

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

    Love

    Patrons - being able to select a pretty open theme to build around and getting suitable spells outside your list was really cool. Also they added to their eldritch flavor.

    Hexes - THESE WERE AWESOME, and they all did a bunch of different things. And you could use them pretty much all day. This is what people mostly remember about the Witch, it's rather vivid and prominent.

    Archetypes - Ashiftah, Demon-Sworn, Seducer, Winter Witch, Wyrm Witch, Witch had some of the snazziest Archetypes among the classes, martial and caster alike.

    Spell list - Witch had probably the coolest spell list in P1, being a thematic blend of Arcane and Divine that led them to having a nice deck of debuffs and healing, which I think translates to Occult rather well, which also fits them being on the spookier side.

    Indifferent

    Familiars - I don't hate having your little buddies, they can be awesome and well loved party members themselves, it's the forced to have one that is kinda meh (Ranger and Cavalier I always picked options/Archetypes that did away with ACs). An option to have a Witch specific Grimoire would be a neat alternative, and thematic as well. Heck, a Cauldron to commune with and think over could work too.


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    Rysky wrote:
    Familiars - I don't hate having your little buddies, they can be awesome and well loved party members themselves, it's the forced to have one that is kinda meh (Ranger and Cavalier I always picked options/Archetypes that did away with ACs). An option to have a Witch specific Grimoire would be a neat alternative, and thematic as well. Heck, a Cauldron to commune with and think over could work too.

    I'd agree completely with it being beneficial to have the option to use certain objects instead of familiars. In PF1 there were options like the Spell Poppet for Gravewalkers, the Fetish Mask for Scarred Witch Doctors, a Bonded Item for Half-Elf Bonded Witches, and even sleeping on a big pile of money & treasure for Wrymwitches. All of these were interesting & I'd love to see some type of option like them return.

    The important thematic part seems to be that it serves as an indirect connection to the Witch's Patron. Having something like a book where writing appears on its own or a hand mirror that occasionally reflects a shadowy figure and whispers to the Witch would easily serve the same thematic purpose while being interesting and cool.

    Silver Crusade

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

    Yessssss.

    And hehe, Wyrm Witches were kickass.


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    Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

    Don't forget my personal favorite, The Mirror Witch.

    Who does not love a classic, " Mirror, Mirror on the wall!"

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