So a pause on my Cortex/Savage Worlds magic discussion for something that has been in the back of my mind for a while now.
Witches in D&D 4.
I go back and forth a lot on this. Part of me feels that i don't need to do this, the Warlock sorta does what I would want in a witch, but not everything. I am also of the frame of mind that characters in D&D4 play a certain role in the game and maybe the witch is not a good fit.
But then I come to the point where I am combing classes as hybrids, multiclasses and very specific feats to get what I want, and that is not what I want either.
So I am left with the conclusion that I come to time and time again in D&D.
If I want a witch I am going to have to make her myself.
I am currently doing that now for Spellcraft & Swordplay and looking to do it for Basic D&D clones and Advanced ones as well. I already did it for 2nd Ed AD&D and 3.x D&D and each one felt a little different.
A witch in 4th Ed would have to feel different too.
Like the effort I went through for these previous editions I have to think about what role the witch would serve in this new game. Here are my thoughts.
1. New Warlock pact
This is the easiest. I come up with a new Warlock pact that is "witchy" enough for me. The pros are there are already some very witch-like elements to the warlock and I am not inventing something new, just modifying something already out there. I could call it something like an Occult Pact. The would be warlock makes a pact with ancient Occult (hidden) beings that can be good, evil or otherwise. The pact is something like a devotion so I have the "religion" angle and there are still reasons for clerics and wizards to mistrust them. One of the criticisms of my 2nd ed witch book was there were really no wicked witches in it. This I felt, after some reflection on my part, was a reasonable criticism. With 4e then I have my cake and eat it too with the Dark, Infernal and even the Star pacts covering the wicked and/or mysterious witch.
While there are a lot of pros to this solution, there are some cons as well.
First, the warlock-as-a-witch is stuck in the striker role. Not too bad really, but the witch in my mind has always been more of a controller. Yes, yes I am using the new terms from the new game in the past tense. It is easier to say that than say I have always seen the witch employing certain techniques like charm, mass blindness, controlling others, and polymorphs, all powers that the current Arcane Controller (wizard) does now.
It is enough of a mismatch that I am considering option 2.
2. Witch as her own Class
I have been thinking of the witch as her own class for some time now. There are a lot of reasons to do this. First it allows me to do what I want with her. I can make her a controller for example. Would I keep her Arcane? I am thinking not, we have an arcane controller, the wizard, so maybe she should be something else. The 4e Blackmoor book has the Wokan, which is an update of the old Wokanni class witch had been called the witch in previous editions of Basic D&D. It has it's own power source. So taking that as an example, maybe what I really want is a new power source. The Occult Power source sounds cool. Either that or Eldritch. In any case these are ancient magics that bridge the gaps between Arcane, Divine, Primordial and Shadow.
The witch then is an Occult Controller.
I can also move the warlock over to become an Occult Striker. We already have two Arcane Strikers, the Sorcerer and the Warlock. This would limit the Paragon paths for the Warlock though.
I would still need an Occult Leader and an Occult Defender. The Witch Knight from my 2nd Ed book and the Witch Guardian from my 3rd Ed book would combine to make an armor wearing, sword wielding Occult Defender. No ideas yet on an Occult Leader.
The Pros are obviously I get exactly what I want. The cons now though are pretty big. Not only do I need to create a new class, but a whole new set of classes, paragon paths and associated magic items, feats and rituals.
Do I really want to do all that work?
Well. Chances are I am going to eventually. But I don't need to do everything. I am not planning on publishing this, so I am free to borrow what I need.
I have looked at several other witch classes for 4e and while they are ok, they don't really work for me.
But the 4e Blackmoor book seems to cover some of my bases.
I already decided that the Monk comes from Blackmoor, I guess I will be using the other classes as well.
The Arcane Warrior is perfect (nearly) as my Occult Defender, Witch Knight. So I can use him as is.
There are two controllers, the Elderkin and the Idolater that also could work. But that makes three controllers. The Wokan is an interesting witch-like character, but it is also not perfect. It is a "hybrid" role, which I don't care for, but I see the logic in.
I do have this other product, The Witch, from Svalin Games by Richard Lewis. It's not a bad product, it's not perfect either. But it does something rather interesting. It makes the witch a Leader. I could live with that. A lot of her powers are Intelligence based, I would change that Charisma or Wisdom to be honest. Most likely Wisdom. While I can live with her in the Leader role, the Controller is still my preferred choice.
So where does this leave me now?
Well I can use all the above classes as part of an Occult Power grouping. Each would need tweaks and edits to make them work well together. And I might end up rewriting the witch all-together anyway. But this is not a bad place to start I guess. It does allow me to get more bang out of my Blackmoor buck and I like that.
Think I am going need to print out my PDFs and do some edits in pencil for these. That's the other thing. None of this (except the warlock) in in DDi and that is a pain.