Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Witch Guardians, 3.x and 4e

Amy stood in the large room with the eighteen other witches. "Witches" she thought, "a wholly inadequate term to describe these sword wielding warrior women; They are Guardians."
They all wore heavy robes and the Flame burned in the center of the room, but despite that Amy felt chill. The wood floor was cold to her bare feet and all eyes in the room were focused on her.
The High Priestess, Mistress Brent, stood in front of her. She seemed slight compared to the others, especially next to the tall dark skinned Amazon she had come to know as Cerriweden, but Brent radiated a power that made everyone else in the room seem small and powerless. In Mistress Brent's hands was a finely crafted sword of Celtic design.
    "Amy Nakkamura, daughter of Hoshi and Deidre Nakkamura. Approach the Circle." Mistress Brent said. She complied.
    "How do you enter?" Mistress Brent asked.
    "With perfect love and perfect trust." Amy answered with words she had known since she was a child. After all the Daughters were still "witches".
    "Do you submit to the Goddess?" Mistress Brent said. Despite the tone it was not a question. Amy lowered her eyes and kneeled. Two other guardians approached and removed her robes leaving her sky-clad and her bronze skin exposed to all.
    "The Daughters of the Flame are a pastoral order. We do not seek violence and pursue paths of peace, love and communion with the Goddess. We follow the path laid out for us Brigit and recorded by the Ban-Drui Bodhmal. Do you accept Peace and Love Daughter of Brigit?"
    "With all my heart." Amy answered, it was more than a litany to her, it was the truth.
    "But there are those that seek to harm us, to destroy us and they will not be tolerated. As Brigit is the Fire of Life she is also the Fire of Retribution. Fire that warms you, sends away the cold, or destroys. The Flame is Life."
    "The Flame is Life!" the other Guardians repeated.
    "As Liath was Guardian to Bodhmal and they found love, the Guard is Guardian to the Daughters.
    "Will you protect the Flame daughter of Brigit?" Again, not a question from Brent.
    "The Flame is Life. I will protect it." Amy asked.
    "How shall you defend it?" Cerridwen then asked.
    Amy stood, her arms outstretched and naked to world. "With only with what I have. My Body, My Mind and My Soul." She said. A nod from Brent and the two guardians returned with new a new robe, one that looked like their own.
    "Then you shall have these robes to signify that you are one of us and to keep you warm." She held up the sword. "To defend your sisters you will have this sword. But this sword is not for Amy Nakkamura. Mistress Brent held the pommel of the blade with both hands pointing the sword skywards, it was, Amy noted, the same position as the Wiccan handfasting rite
    "I give this sword to Brigh nic Brigandu to defend your life, your sisters and the Flame. Accept this Brigh, Daughter of Brigit. Welcome to the Imbolc Guard!"
Brigh, no long Amy, took the sword.
Brent turned her head away from Brigh and spoke aloud to rest of the Guard. "Imbolic Guard. Do you accept Brigh nic Brigandu as your sister and fellow Guardian?"
Their was a collective "We accept her" from the Guard, then cheering as they broke the circle to embrace Brigh.

The Witch Guardians
While the witch is perfectly capable of defending herself and her own, sometimes it becomes necessary for arms to be taken up in defense. This defender of the coven is known by many names but all are generally known as witch guardians.

"Witch guardian" is a broad term used to describe those that devote their lives to defending witches and their faith. They can come from the ranks of the coven themselves, or they may be from another class, called to serve the Goddess in their own way, with arm, sword and spear rather than by bell, book or candle.
While there are a variety of types of witch guardians, they all share some things in common.

The witch guardian defends and protects witches. She is usually the same general alignment as the coven, but many tend to be more lawful. In many ways the witch guardian sees herself as fulfilling the same role as a paladin might. Witch guardians are considered to be part of the coven, but do not take part in coven duties. For example the Imbolc Guard that protects the Daughters of the Flame are not required to tend the sacred flame, though many still do. Some witch guardian groups also are almost a tradition of sorts themselves. The Waelcyrie are one of the oldest groups of witch guardians known and they will protect witches of all traditions and covens.

Witch guardians do not actively seek out those who oppose the witch's faith, but are prepared to defend their charges. The witch guardian has both martial weapons and magic at her disposal. The covened witch guardian will stand guard and protect the coven while they perform their rituals and ensuring the safety of all members. The witch guardian will then, either in private or with the coven's high priestess, perform her own rituals. In covens with more than one guardian the high priestess will often perform a second set of services. It is understood by all that the Patrons excuse the guardians from these normal ritual duties because of the important roles they serve.

Witch guardians also will protect places of power from desecration or may even be assigned other duties such as protecting an important artifact or even a single witch in particular. For those who are not part of coven travel around seeing the world and ensure that places of power they find are free of contamination, infestation and desecration.

Witch guardians feel an urge to protect witches and the faith. It might be a calling from the Goddess, but guardians never divulge why they took up their duty. An apprentice witch guardian needs to take instruction from a more experienced one for three months before they are eligible for the initiation into the tradition. The initiate's instructor (known sometimes as an "Advocate") and three other experienced guardians must be present to invest the initiate into the tradition. If a coven does not have four experienced guardians, the required amount are summoned by the Patrons when the rite is to take place, to ensure that another joins the tradition. These guardians usually do not stay with the coven.

During the rite of investment the apprentice decides to join the witch guardians, or continue in their chosen class. The only time a witch guardian leaves this tradition is through death. If they become disillusioned in witchcraft itself, they must also leave the class. All supernatural and spell-like abilities learnt are lost (as they are provided by the Patrons) as well as access to the witch spell list.
First and foremost the witch guardian lives to protect the lives of the witches in her charge. Most would rather die than allow any harm to come to the coven.

3.x and Pathfinder

Hit Dice: d8
    To qualify as a witch guardian, a character must fulfill all of the following criteria.

Base Attack Bonus: +5

Knowledge (Witchcraft): 4 ranks
Spellcraft: 4 ranks
Wilderness Lore: 2 ranks
Feats: Weapon Focus (weapon will depend on what type of guardian they become), may be taken at 1st level of Witch Guardian.
Class Skills
The witch guardian's class skills (and the key ability for each skill) are Climb (Str), Concentration (Con), Craft (Int), Handle Animal (Cha), Heal (Wis), Hide (Dex), Knowledge (Religion) (Int), Knowledge (Witchcraft) (Int), Move Silently (Dex), Ride (Dex), Sense Motive (Wis), Spellcraft (Int), and Wilderness Lore (Wis).

Skill points at Each Level: 4 + Int modifier.

Class Features
All of the following are class features of witch guardian prestige class.

Weapon and Armor Proficiencies: A witch guardian is proficient in all simple weapons, plus 6 martial weapons of her choice. She may choose to swap any 2 martial proficiencies for 1 exotic proficiency.
Proficient in all light and medium armor. Note: The abilities gained by Nature's Gift are only useable with light armor.

Weapon of Choice (Ex): The witch guardian gains a weapon of choice. The type of guardian they become often determines this weapon. The Patron they serve or the coven they protect can also put restrictions on this weapon. This is also the weapon the would-be guardian chooses for her Weapon Focus feat. See descriptions below.
This weapon gains an enchantment of +1 at first witch guardian level and then an extra +1 every other level of witch guardian (+1 at 1st level, +2 at 3rd level, +3 at 5th level, +4 at 7th level, and +5 at 9th level of witch guardian). Unlike magic weapons created by normal means, the guardian need not spend experience points or gold pieces to accomplish this task. However, a guardian's enchanted weapon only functions for her, not even other guardians of the same coven.

Deity's Gift (Su): The witch guardian is the defender of all witches and places of power, and they often come across spellcasters who wish to destroy all they hold dear. Because of this, they are granted a +2 divine bonus to saving throws against magic. This ability increases to +4 at 4th level (and is not cumulative with +2 already granted).

At 7th level this bonus is applied to all allies in a 20-foot radius as well as all inanimate objects, including all items on the body of the guardian and her allies, within the area. The guardian herself still has his +4 bonus. At 10th level the area is increased to 40 foot radius. Note if they are more than one 7th level witch guardian within a 20 foot area, the bonuses do not stack as they are the same type of bonus.

Detect Witch's Foe (Sp): This supernatural ability gained at 2nd level is similar to the Detect Evil ability of Paladins. However it only finds those who wish to harm a witch, a place of power, or the witch guardian herself.

Nature's Gift (Ex): The fighting style of the guardian emphasizes agility and reflexes over strength as well as the duality of the God and the Goddess. As such, when a guardian fights with no armor or in light armor they gain the benefits of Ambidexterity and Two Weapon Fighting feats.
If they already have both these feats, they may instead choose two from the following list: Improved Initiative, Lightning Reflexes, Combat Reflexes, Dodge, Mobility, Spring Attack, Improved Two Weapon Fighting, Run, Point Blank Shot, Shot on the Run, Evasion, Uncanny Dodge.

Favored Enemy (Ex): At 6th level, a guardian may select a favored enemy like that of a ranger. These will be enemies that threaten the coven directly and are generally not class of enemies per se. They might be another coven, a group of evil sorcerers, a local church or even a cult of warlocks. The witch guardian gains a +2 bonus on Bluff, Listen, Sense Motive, Spot, and Survival checks when using these skills against creatures of this type. Likewise, she gets a +2 bonus on weapon damage rolls against such creatures.
At 8th level the witch guardian may choose another favored enemy or choose the same one to increase the bonuses to +4.

Hex Mark of Warding (Su): At 8th level the Witch Guardian can scribe a magical rune onto a door, wall, tree, or other stable object denoting their protection of that area. If any enemies to the Coven or place of power the Witch Guardian is pledged to protect come within level yards of the mark, the Witch Guardian may make a Spot Roll DC 20 – the number of enemies to be alerted to their presence and numbers, but not exact nature. A Witch Guardian may have up to one Hex Mark of Warding per 2 levels in the Witch Guardian class. So a character with 8 levels of Witch Guardian may have up to 4 Hex Marks working at one time. Distance is unlimited as long as the Witch Guardian is still on the same plane as the Hex Mark.

Spells per Day: The witch guardian has a limited ability to cast witch spells. If she came from a spell casting background before (say for example witch or ranger) these spells are in addition to ones she already knows.
The witch guardian uses the same spell list as witches.
Witch Guardians
    There are many types of witch guardians that vary by exact role, traditions raised in, or covens they protect. Each coven could theoretically have their own unique style of witch guardian, but some larger groups are described below.
What sets most apart are their weapons of choice, duties to the coven and their philosophies.

Huntresses of Diana. These guardians are most common among Classical Greek and Amazon traditions. Like the Amazons, they honor Diana and like their Goddess all Huntresses must be chaste and physically fit. They opt for no or very light armor and their weapon of choice is the bow. The Huntresses protect not only their covens but also the natural areas in which the witches live. The huntresses will kill most intruders on sight, especially men. This is not in contradiction with their alignments since this is the interpretation of their Goddess' will. Most good aligned huntresses will attempt not to kill and instead try to get most intruders to leave via magic or trickery.
A related group are the Huntresses of Mabd, who perform the same function for Faerie traditions.

Imbolc Guard. These guardians are assigned by Brigit herself to protect the witches of the Daughters of the Flame coven. The Imbolc Guard are also charged with the task of training and aiding the Imbolc Mage. Their weapon of choice is the sword. Often these are smaller swords designed to be easily concealed, and they will always be of masterwork quality. Like the witches they protect, the Imbolc Guardians number 19. Smaller covens have fewer Guardians. When not charged with protecting the coven or the Imbolc Mage the Guardians will be training or aiding in the tending of the sacred flame.

Waelcyrie. These guardians are one of the oldest groups of witch guardians known. The Waelcyrie can be found protecting any type of coven or tradition. They are also most likely to be found wandering from coven to coven providing their aid or protecting places of power. The Waelcyrie can choose any weapon of choice and wear any type of armor (spell casting restrictions still apply). Waelcyrie will only protect witches of same, or similar alignment.

War Witch. These guardians are always women. They began as a group of warrior women known as Wild Women that protected druid groves and many still do, even though the Wild Woman predates the druids by millennia. A fair number have also lent their spears to protect witch covens. Consequently they tend to be associated most with Celtic Classical and Craft of the Wise traditions. Their weapon of choice is always the spear. Often they are recognizable by the black leather breeches they opt to wear. Not only do they disdain the use of armor, but also most will enter battle either topless or completely nude. This is done for the same reason that Celtic men will paint their bodies, to distract and incite fear in their opponents.
Table: Witch Guardian Level Progression
Spells per day 
Weapon of Choice (+1),
Deity's Gift (+2) 
Detect Witch's Foe, Nature's Gift 
Weapon of Choice (+2) 
Deity's Gift (+4) 
Weapon of Choice (+3) 
Favored Enemy 
Weapon of Choice (+4), Deity's Gift (+2 20' rad) 
Hex Mark of Warding 
Weapon of Choice (+5) 
Deity's Gift (+2 40' rad) 

4th Edition
Witch Guardian Paragon Path
"No one dares harm my brothers and sisters!"
Prerequisite: Warlock (or Witch) (or alternately any Arcane Class)
You have traded the implement of your choice for that of a sword. You protect the members of your coven using magic and sword.

"Witch guardian" is a broad term used to describe those that devote their lives to defending witches and their faith. They can come from the ranks of the coven themselves, or they may be from another class, called to serve the Goddess in their own way, with arm, sword and spear rather than by bell, book or candle.

While there are a variety of types of witch guardians, they all share some things in common.
The witch guardian defends and protects witches. She is usually the same general alignment as the coven, but many tend to be more lawful. In many ways the witch guardian sees herself as fulfilling the same role as a paladin might. Witch guardians are considered to be part of the coven, but do not take part in coven duties.

Witch Guardian Path Features

Weapon Expertise (11th level): You gain the feats Weapon Proficiency (longsword or weapon of the coven's choice), Weapon Focus and Implement Expertise (longsword or weapon of the coven's choice). This allows you to use a sword as a melee weapon and as your implement when casting. You gain the following, proficiency in that weapon, +2 to damage caused by that weapon in melee attacks, and +2 to attack rolls when using the weapon as an implement. These both increase to +3 at 20th level.

Pact/Coven Gift (11th level): When adjacent to a member (or members) of the coven or group you are sworn to protect you confer a +2 to all their defenses and attack at +2.

Witch Guardian Spells

Enemy of the Pact/Coven 
Witch Guardian Attack 11 
You single out an enemy that threatens the members of your faith and burn them with your fire.
Encounter wArcane, Implement, Fire, Weapon

Standard Action
Close Blast 5
Target: Each Enemy in Blast
Attack: Charisma or Constitution vs Reflex
Hit: 2[W] + Charisma or Constitution modifier damage + 1d8 Fire damage
Miss: 1d8 Fire damage


Against the Coven's Foes
Witch Guardian Utility 12 
You have been charged with the protecting your Coven, they in turn empower you to find their enemies.
Encounter wArcane, Psychic

Immediate Interrupt

Trigger: A melee attack hits you
Effect: You gain a +2 power bonus to AC and Fortitude against the triggering attack and become invisible to enemies until the end of your next turn.

Hex Mark 
Witch Guardian Utility 20
You cast a rune of warding and fill it with your power to protect.
Daily wArcane, Implement, Psychic

Standard Action
Close Burst 10
Target: Creature entering the zone making an attack.
Effect: Any creature that enters the zone and makes an attack against yourself or an ally triggers the Hex Mark.
Opportunity Action
Close Burst 10
Trigger: A creature making an attack roll against you or an ally.
Target: The triggering creature
Attack: Charisma, Intelligence or Wisdom vs. Will
Hit: 1d8 + Charisma, Intelligence or Wisdom modifier psychic damage
Effect: The creature is dazed (save ends)
Sustain Minor: The zone persists but is fixed to the starting square.

1 comment:

LoneIslander said...

Seems like a pretty balanced set up. Don't know if I would play it personally, but I have a few friends who would love to get their hands on this.