Author Topic: [Pathfinder] Rolling on the Floor Cackling - The Witch Handbook  (Read 106249 times)

Offline StreamOfTheSky

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Witch Handbook

"I put a spell on you!  And now, you're mine!"

This guide will cover the new Witch class in Pathfinder (PF) in detail, from class features, to feat choices, to the spell list.  The guide will be limited to only Pathfinder sources, namely:

  • Core Rulebook (CR)
  • Advanced Players Guide (APG)
  • Ultimate Magic (UM)
  • Ultimate Combat (UC)
  • Bestiary I (BI)
  • Bestiary II (BII)
While there are other Paizo sourcebooks galore, these are by far the most “mainstream” and likely to be used in a given game.  While 3E is frequently allowed in various sizes and forms into Pathfinder games, there is simply too much additional rules, and of tremendous variance in power level, to make a comprehensive, yet concise guide trying to accommodate for different “levels” of 3E book allowance.  In any case, as a spell caster new to PF, it is in a Witch’s best interest to not have 3E material in the game.  Every extra spell the wizard and sorcerer get to pick from due to legacy support is another reason to play one of those classes instead of Witch.

Contents:
  • Introduction
  • Race and Ability scores
  • Class Features (Familiar and Patron)
  • Hexes
  • Spells (split between 2 posts)
  • Feats and Equipment
  • Sample Builds
  • Archetypes, Multiclassing, and Miscellaneous
Ranking
This guide will use a ranking system using the color spectrum to rate the class features and options, as follows:

Red: Absolutely terrible.  Almost never worth considering, let alone a good idea.
Orange: Subpar.  May have occasional use and isn’t crippling to take if you like the flavor.
Green: Average.  There may be more powerful options instead, but this is fairly solid.
Blue: A good choice, above average.
Purple: Among the best in its class, possibly a no-brainer pick.  Outstanding!


Note: Please post in the discussion thread to comment on this handbook.
« Last Edit: January 15, 2014, 07:58:28 PM by StreamOfTheSky »

Offline StreamOfTheSky

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Ability Scores

Strength: You’re a feeble arcanist, and unlike a wizard your “spellbook” carries itself around.  Dump this.
Dexterity: It adds to so many useful things, this is definitely an important attribute.  AC, Reflex saves, some important skills like Fly, and most importantly…Initiative!
Constitution: You have a d6 HD and poor Fortitude saves.  Need I say more?
Intelligence: Your casting and hexes both feed off of this.  Put it as high as you can without utterly crippling your other important scores.
Wisdom: You already have good base will save.  Perception is nice, but a small penalty won’t hurt that much.
Charisma: No one’s going to like you for being a witch anyway.


Race Selection

I won’t list every possible choice, only those in the CR and specific choices from Bestiary I and II that would be well suited for witchery.  None of the core races are outright terrible choices for a Witch; a race would need a penalty to intelligence for that moniker.

Core Races:
Elf: Bonuses to Int and Dex, but a penalty to Con.  APG offers the Dreamspeaker variant racial feature, which will boost the DC of Slumber and your divination spells, which likely makes Elf the best Witch race.  The other racial abilities are alright, not great.  If for some reason your strength isn’t negative, you can use a longbow if you want.
Human: They’re seriously great at everything.  Stat boost goes to Int.  The favored class option to learn extra low level spells is not worth it.
Half-Orc: Half-Orcs are decent witch doctors.  The darkvision is always nice to have, Orc Ferocity is actually handy when you can heal yourself, and the favored class option to give a skill rank (NOT point!) to your familiar means your familiar can end up exceeding the normal limit on skill ranks.  Of course, a skill point spent on yourself benefits both of you, so the only reason to do this is explicitly to break the skill rank ceiling.
Half-Elf: Like Human, but not quite as good.  The best choice if you want to multiclass, but why would you?  Same favored class option as Human.
Gnome: Small size is a boon to casters, and Gnomes come with some spell-likes and an illusion save DC boost.
Halfling: Also small sized and no Int boost.  The save bonuses are nice, but I think gnome is slightly better.
Dwarf: Despite not boosting Int, Dwarf is still a decent choice just because of how many amazing racial features it grants.  The low speed isn’t as large a problem when you have flight magic available.  Also, has Honeyed Words trait for +1 Slumber DC.

Bestiary Races:
Tiefling (BI): Almost perfect ability modifiers, darkvision, immunity to “person” spells, and a few other nice racial features.  Nearly on par with Elf for the best pick (and overtakes Elf if your DM nerfs Dreamspeaker to only benefit spells), and thematically appropriate, too.
Sylph (BII): It’s an Elf that’s immune to “person” spells and trades all the other racial features and variant options for electricity resistance 5, darkvision, and feather fall 1/day.  It’s a step down from Elf, overall.
Hobgoblin (BI): It’s a very boring race and lacks an Int bonus, but it boosts the secondary scores and has darkvision, so you could do much worse
« Last Edit: February 19, 2012, 02:33:30 PM by StreamOfTheSky »

Offline StreamOfTheSky

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Class Features


Witches recieve:
  • Poor BAB
  • d6 HD
  • Good Will Saves, Poor Fort and Reflex Saves
  • 2 + Int skill points
  • Proficient with simple weapons and no armor/shields
Class Skills
Craft: Alchemy is alright.  Basketweaving has been known to destroy campaigns and is often banned.
Fly: You will be flying a lot.  Possibly on a broom.
Heal: A one point wonder.
Intimidate: If you optimize for multiple round duration, shaken is a handy debuff to setup your save or lose spells.  You can demoralize from 30 ft away.
Knowledge (arcana): May as well max it.
Knowledge (history): One point wonder.
Knowledge (nature): See arcana.
Knowledge (planes): See arcana.
Profession: Not even worth a point 95% of the time.
Spellcraft: Int synergy, lets you know what enemy casters are doing, ID items, and is used for item crafting.  Max it.
Use Magic Device: It's one of the best skills in the game, and your spell list is kinda all over the place, you may need this.  Best for a (Improved) Familiar to double your casting per round.

Cross-class Skills
Perception: It's the best skill in the game; it's worth maxing always.
Acrobatics: I think tumble DCs are near impossible, but you'll probably have more skill points than you know what to do with, and when in trouble, some chance is still better than no chance of avoiding an AoO.
Other knowledges: Most if not all are worth dropping a rank into just so you can make checks beyond DC 10.


As a Witch, your class features mainly boil down to spellcasting and hexes.  The only other aspects to decide on are familiar and your patron, which works like a Sorcerer’s bloodline in that it gives you a specific set of bonus spells every other level.  Hexes and then spells are in the following two posts.  This post will cover Familiars and Patrons.

Familiars

(click to show/hide)

Patrons

(click to show/hide)
.
« Last Edit: November 07, 2011, 06:46:55 PM by StreamOfTheSky »

Offline StreamOfTheSky

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Hexes


"What?  Were you expecting an old hag?"

One important thing to note before we begin: unless it states otherwise, hexes do not provoke attacks of opportunity.  Being specific to hexes, this overrides the more general rule of spell-like abilities provoking, so keep that in mind.
(click to show/hide)

Major Hexes
Available starting at level 10.
(click to show/hide)

Grand Hexes
Available starting at level 18.
(click to show/hide)

In conclusion, there is a tremendous amount of trash in the hex choices, but probably enough good options to to fill up your selections from 1-20.  Extra Hex is a decent option for the early hexes, but it's mostly dissapointment in the major and grand hex lists.  The "witches are bad" vibe seems to have gotten way too much of an emphasis in the class design, at least a third of the hexes seem like they were designed for the villain of the week.
« Last Edit: November 08, 2011, 02:00:18 PM by StreamOfTheSky »

Offline StreamOfTheSky

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Spells

Level 0 (Cantrips)
(click to show/hide)

Level 1
(click to show/hide)

Level 2
(click to show/hide)

Level 3
(click to show/hide)

Level 4
(click to show/hide)
« Last Edit: November 14, 2011, 06:05:44 PM by StreamOfTheSky »

Offline StreamOfTheSky

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Level 5
(click to show/hide)

Level 6
(click to show/hide)

Level 7
(click to show/hide)


Level 8
(click to show/hide)

Level 9
(click to show/hide)
« Last Edit: November 07, 2011, 06:55:18 PM by StreamOfTheSky »

Offline StreamOfTheSky

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Feats and Equipment



Feats
I'm not going to list every feat here, only those that pertain to the Witch class and would be potentially helpful, or in some cases to highlight traps for you to avoid.  Thus, this section will not have many feats with very low ranking.

General
(click to show/hide)


Item Creation
(click to show/hide)


Metamagic
(click to show/hide)
« Last Edit: November 07, 2011, 06:57:53 PM by StreamOfTheSky »

Offline StreamOfTheSky

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Witch sample build:

"The Stay at Home Hexer"

(click to show/hide)
« Last Edit: January 17, 2012, 10:50:23 AM by StreamOfTheSky »

Offline StreamOfTheSky

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Archetypes

Generally, for a full class, archetypes in PF are weaker than the normal class.  But sometimes the pain doesn't hit until a level past where you'll be playing or you really want a certain class feature the archetype grants.  So ratings may not be too helpful, but I will try to give a detailed review of each.

Beast Bonded (UM): You gain a nice cost-free option right away and most of the other abilities are good in the long run, though painful in the immediate term.  Worth considering.
(click to show/hide)

Gravewalker (UM): A great choice to deal with one of the toughest enemy types for a witch.  Unfortunately, won't fit in with most parties.
(click to show/hide)

Hedge Witch (UM): Pretty weak, but you don't lose much, so it isn't that crippling if you want to be more healing-focused.
(click to show/hide)

Sea Witch (UM): Even if doing a fully aquatic campaign, I think you're better off without this.
(click to show/hide)


Multiclassing

Don't do it!  Seriously, though...don't do it.  Not only are you a full-caster, your hexes are heavily level-based.  You lose more than even a wizard does from multiclassing.  But if you insist (these are NOT rated based on comparison to Witch 20, otherwise they'd all be red)...

Spellslinger Wizard (UC): This archetype is certainly tempting.  You sell away most of your wizard class features, to use your gun(s)'s enhancement bonus as a bonus on the save DC of many of your spells, basically.  +5 save DC for 50,000 gp market price (25 if you craft it yourself) and -1 CL and hex progression is not terrible.  This is as good as multiclassing can possibly get for you.


Prestige Classes
None.  The only reason to play a witch over other casters is hexes. No prestige class currently aids your hexes. Thus, there is no reason for a witch to take a prestige class.


Traits
  • Honeyed Words (Religion; dwarf-only): Bonus on Slumber, Diplomacy, and some other stuff.  Can use adopted trait to pick it up as a non-dwarf if you want.
« Last Edit: February 20, 2012, 09:10:20 AM by StreamOfTheSky »

Offline StreamOfTheSky

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Ok, think that's all the space I'll need.  The spells section exceeding the max characters per post caught me off-guard, guess I'm verbose.  ;)

Still a work in progress, but I've gotten through most of the handbook.  Still to do: Rating Improved Familiars, Equipment, Sample Builds, Archetypes, Multiclassing and Prestige Classes, and other advice.

Please give me your input, I'm not set in my rankings if you can explain why something is better/worse than I think.  Nifty tricks, combos, and builds are also appreciated.

Offline Prime32

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There is a reason to take the Coven hex.

Take Leadership. Get a bunch of followers who are lv1 witches or Accursed sorcerers. Have all of them use aid another at the same time for enormous caster levels. Someone with 10 levels of bloatmage can pick up the Accursed bloodline arcana by drinking your blood.
« Last Edit: November 07, 2011, 07:16:59 PM by Prime32 »

Offline StreamOfTheSky

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There is a reason to take the Coven hex.

Take Leadership. Get a bunch of followers who are lv1 witches or Accursed sorcerers. Have all of them use aid another at the same time for enormous caster levels. Someone with 10 levels of bloatmage can pick up the Accursed bloodline arcana by drinking your blood.

So...basically like circle magic?  I'll put in a note, though that's the kind of stuff I don't think is practical optimization advice for actual games.

Offline Prime32

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There is a reason to take the Coven hex.

Take Leadership. Get a bunch of followers who are lv1 witches or Accursed sorcerers. Have all of them use aid another at the same time for enormous caster levels. Someone with 10 levels of bloatmage can pick up the Accursed bloodline arcana by drinking your blood.

So...basically like circle magic?  I'll put in a note, though that's the kind of stuff I don't think is practical optimization advice for actual games.
Well you don't need to take it that far. Your party can help you by taking 1-level dips, or being a themed party in general.

Offline StreamOfTheSky

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Noted that Coven is situationally useful and moved it up a ranking.

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I am surprised your handbook does not go in depths into ways of acquiring fire resistance or immunity.
"I am the Black Mage! I cast the spells that makes the peoples fall down."

Offline StreamOfTheSky

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I am surprised your handbook does not go in depths into ways of acquiring fire resistance or immunity.

Good point.  I was mostly concerned with getting the mechanical optimization info out there, but protecting yourself from burning at the stake is also a handy life skill.  I should probably also mention Water Lung as being invaluable for surviving trials by drowning.

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