Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Another bad guy: Witches

This one took some thought; hedge wizards fill, I think, the niche that I had in mind when originally compiling the list of alternative classes I came up with. They might call the old woman a witch, but really she's just a rural spell caster. This class, however, is much more sinister. Extremely powerful in some ways, limited in others, with essentially no free will. Once the contract is up, the witch is going to Hell/the Abyss to serve their master. The class would work pretty well as a PC in an evil campaign, but it would take a special kind of player to deal with being fucked with by their patron at every turn. Devils might be more easily dealt with, as the player could justify long, drawn out plans to commit mayhem. The downside is that contracts with devils would be nearly impossible to comprehend or get out of...anyway, I don't suggest this as a PC, because much like the Sorcerer, they're probably better left as NPC villains. These guys have no redeeming qualities.

Requirements: None
Prime Requisite: WIS
Hit Dice: 1d4
Maximum Level: None
XP Chart: Magic-User
Saves: Magic-User

Witches purport to be the natural outgrowth of druidism for more civilized cultures, but share more in common with Sorcerers than Druids. Like Druids, they appear to be animistic, relying on nature to perform their magic. However, witches derive their power from a pact made with a demon or devil, and thus have no need for formalized training. Witches can use weapons as Magic-Users and fight just as poorly, but are able to employ leather armor.

The Pact: All witches serve a demon or devil lord, who acts as their deity and patron. This patron provides all of their powers. The terms of such a pact are left to the imagination of the DM, but witches who are anything but completely loyal usually find themselves in Bad Situations. Unlike Clerics, who rarely have direct contact with their deity, witches are intimately (sometimes carnally) familiar with their patron. The DM should be sure to act upon this relationship, especially when inconvenient, to stress not only the degree of servitude, but also the pettiness of demon/devils. Patrons will leave their mark, usually in a discrete place, on the witch's body after the pact is made.

Spell Casting: Witches don't require study to learn spells, do not need spell books and cannot read scrolls. They understand magic about as well as the average peasant, but are able to cast spells nonetheless. Use the MAGIC-USER SPELL PROGRESSION chart on pg. 16 of LL:AEC to determine spells per day. Much like Clerics, witches must petition their patron for spells in the morning (or after 8 hours of rest). The patron will grant whatever spells he feels like (from any spell list, including Magic-User, Cleric, Illusionist and Druid), the usefulness dependent upon how well the witch is furthering their cause. For example, a witch of Juiblex who recently fed some hapless villagers to a green slime (thus creating more green slimes), would be able to pick and choose their spells. If that same witch was actually responsible for destroying the green slime, they would probably be denied spells altogether. A patron will NEVER grant spells he feels might be used against him or his minions. The DM is the final authority on what spells are granted (if any).

Magic Item Use: Witches are able to employ magic items not specific to any character class, such as cloaks or boots, etc. However, witches who amass large numbers of magic items are suspect and held with contempt by their patrons. A witch may own at most 10 magic items in total, with items over this amount causing loss of granted powers.

Summon Patron: As a last resort, a witch can call upon their patron for help. There is a 2% chance (cumulative) per level that the call will be answered, with the patron himself making an appearance. The cost for a successful summoning is monumental and left to the DM to decide. Loss of levels, decrease in CON and destruction of property are all possible, depending on the severity of the threat. A high level witch directly promoting the cause of their patron and in legitimate need of help might only be inconvenienced slightly. A low level witch who called on their patron to dispatch an orc or two would be killed outright. This ability can be used at most 3 times during the lifetime of the witch; unsuccessful summons do not count toward this limit.

Reaching 3rd Level: If the witch has been a faithful servant, at 3rd level their patron will grant a special familiar, an imp if devil, quasit if demon. This familiar is ultimately loyal to the devil/demon lord, and essentially keeps tabs on the witch, reporting back as necessary. Witches who act contrary to the wishes of their patron may find themselves at odds with the familiar.

Reaching 5th Level: A faithful witch is granted an immunity at 5th level. This immunity is dependent upon the patron's sphere of influence. For example, a witch of Orcus would most likely be granted immunity to the effects of undead (perhaps undead will never attack the witch), a witch of Juiblex would probably be immune to slimes, molds and jellies. Other examples include fire, cold, acid, charms or arrows. The DM should decide the possible immunities available and either assign or randomly determine which one a witch receives.

Reaching 9th Level: Witches who reach 9th level will attract a coven (2D6+1) of 0-level commoners who will serve the witch as loyal followers. These followers will become witches themselves in 1d12 months.

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