Thursday, June 5, 2014

Witch Archetype: Voodoo Witch (Pathfinder)

I talked a lot about Voodoo this past year.  I have been thinking about what a "Voodoo Witch" might be like.  So here is stab at a voodoo witch (a Voudounista) for the Pathfinder rules and Strange Brew.

Marie Laveau, Voodoo Queen

Description: The Voodoo witches (also known as Voudounista) are probably among the most mistrusted and misunderstood of all the Traditions, save for the Malefic witches.  These  witches, however, are usually not evil. Their area of specialty is that of enchantments and the creation of items dealing with enchantments, both good  and bad.

Voodoo witches are feared because they work in secret using strange, unknown rituals, and they often catch the blame if anything bad happens (such as a flood or a bad crop season).  It is rare that a Voodoo witch would be responsible for such acts of nature, but there have been times when a Voodoo witch was banished away from a village, and managed to cause some real trouble but this behavior is looked down upon by Voodoo covens as it only justifies people’s fear of Voodoo.

There is no style of dress directly related to the Voodoo witch.    Some Voodoo witches choose to dress very plainly, often trying to hide the fact that they are Voodoo.  Other Voodoo witches cease caring about what the average person thinks of them, and freely advertises what and who they are.  In either case, the Voodoo witch will have many different ceremonial clothes for the performance of various rituals. Typical ritual garb includes a simple linen robe or dress tied with a purple sash.
Voodoo witches are not most common among  any particular race.  Many races distrust them, dwarves outranking any of the other races in  terms of fear of the Voodoo witch. Gnomes, elves and half-elves tend to be more tolerant to Voodoo’s mysterious magic than the other races.  Humans and halflings often view the Voodoo witch as the source of most problems.

Role: The Voodoo witch will often stay within their own home devising new enchantments and creating other devices.  They also perform many rituals, more so than other witches.  On occasion, people may come to the Voodoo witch seeking help, charms or wards against evil, or something to attract a certain someone.
Because local governments and religious authorities fear the Voodoo witch, she has a hard time dealing with paladins and clerics.  On the other hand, she has no problems working with druids and rangers (though the occasional Voodoo witch has caused enough trouble in the wilderness to attract the attention of the often zealous druids).  The Voodoo witch also tends to get along with wizards and sorcerers fine, since much of her time is spent working on the creation of arcane magical items.  Fighters, bards, rogues and barbarians are usually viewed with indifference, though the feeling may not be mutual.
There are many sub-traditions of voodoo.  These particular ones have shared many of the same roots, but then evolved in isolation from each other. GM’s will want to use whichever sub-traditions work[tb1]  best with their campaign world.  The examples here are from our own history.

  • Bocur: One of the very few purely evil off shoots of Voodoo.
  • Candomblé: (“Kun-don-blair”) A Brazilian sub-tradition related directly to Macumba.  Leans more towards the darker sides of Voodoo.
  • Macumba: A Voodoo sub-tradition of Brazil.  Has much in common with Santería.  Often very neutral.
  • Obia: Also Obeah, common to the islands of the Caribbean, in particular Jamaica.  Most often believed to be evil.  Obia has actually been outlawed in some lands.
  • Quimbanda: Also known as Cuimbanda.
  • Santería: Sub-tradition that began in Cuba and spread to South-east United States.  Origins go back to the Yoruba religion of West Africa.  Despite the stereotype and sacrificing live chickens, a Santería witch is most often good aligned. 
  • Voudou:  A form of voodoo that is common to the peoples of Haiti.  Comes from the French words “vo” introspection, and “du” the unknown. Also known as “Haitian Voodoo”.

Voodoo witches can be of any alignment or temperament. Good Voodoo witches often accuse Evil ones of serving the “False Loa”, and visa versa.

Skills & Feats
Voodoo witches prefer craft based skills that can aid them in their normal lives and their worship. They receive a +2 bonus to single craft skill of the player’s choice.

The Voudounista can replace any of her Patron spells with a spell from the Portents Patron.

Orishas & Ghedes
The familiar of the Voudounista is a spirit being known as an Orisha or a Ghedes.  Orishas have always been spirits, the Ghede is the spirit of a long dead ancestor.  The spirit is bound to the witch like any other familiar but it has no physical form.  The Voudounista gains the ability to see incorporeal undead that might be invisible or shifted into the ethereal plane.  She may attack such undead as if they were on the same plane.

Powers and Hexes

Learned Voodoo (Sp)
Replacing her 2nd level Hex, the Voudounista adds +1 to any Spellcraft check that involves magic from the Enchantment school.  This increased by +1 every other level.

Enchantment Specialist (Sp)
The Voudounista can replace any spell she knows for an equal level spell from the Enchanment school.  The witch retains the knowledge of both spells, but may only cast one of the spells per day.
This takes the place of one of her Major Hexes.

Solid Mind (Sp) 
The Voodoo witch is immune to mind affecting magics, and gains a +8 bonus against all saves against spells and spell-like abilities from the school of Enchantment.
This replaces one of her Grand Hexes.

Voodoo is the only Tradition that allows the witch to use a sharpened Athame. This ritual dagger is often used for animal sacrifice, ceremonial bloodletting or for carving magical symbols into fetishes.  The Voodoo witch can use it for combat, with no penalty, but rarely do because they do not wish to damage it.

Voodoo Patrons
The Voodoo witch is more likely than any other Tradition to practice monotheistic religious worship.  This is because the Voodoo witch generally looks at the God and Goddess as all-encompassing and all-present.  Some Voodoo witches may follow patrons of nature or earth, though these may be few and far between.

The main Patron of the Voodoo witch is usually known by the title “Gros Bon Dieu” or “The Great Good God/Goddess,” all other gods honored by the Voodoo witch are lesser and subordinate to the Great God.  While this Patron is the ultimate source of all, the Voudounista has more contact with intermediate spirits known as the Loa.

The Loa are the ones that grant the Voodoo witch her powers. The Loa are powerful spirits of god-like abilities.  They give the Voodoo witch her power.  When the Voodoo witch begins she chooses one of the Loa as her Patron.  She may choose spells from one of the area the Patron controls.

The various Loa are:

  • Mama Aida Weido (female): The mother Goddess, wife (or mother) of Danabala. Goddess of the rainbow.  Patron Spells: Ancestors, Healing, Light
  • Danbala Weido (male): The main god of the Voodoo pantheon. Snake god. Creator of the world. Patron Spells: Ancestors, Animals, Strength
  • Papa LeBas. Papa Legaba (male): The devil. King of black magic. Patron Spells: Deception, Occult, Plague, Vengence
  • Baron Samedi (male): Lord of the crossroads and the cemetery. Patron loa of many voodoo witches. Appears as a skeleton in fancy dress. Patron Spells: Moon, Occult, Shadow, Spirits
  • Erzulie (female): Goddess of love. Appears as a beautiful dark skinned woman. Patron Spells: Devotion, Enchantment, Healing, 

Source/Views of Magic
The voodoo witch’s magic is viewed as the loa’s will being pushed through the witch. The enchantments of a witch are viewed as the goddesses will being enforced.  Magic comes from the Loa.  By serving the Loa and the spirits one can gain magical knowledge and thus knowledge of our world and the next one.
Voodoo witches use magical focuses to cast their spells.  These focuses are known as fetishes.  Every spell or type of spell has a specific fetish.  The Voodoo witch can not cast any spells without the proper fetish.  These typically include a poppet (doll of the victim), an animal part (such as a claw or feather) and blood (typically animal, but sometimes human).
A powerful fetish imbued with the witch’s own power is known as a Gris-gris.

Joining this Tradition
The requirements of joining the Voodoo Tradition tend to vary coven to coven.  Usually, an extensive  ritual is performed to initiate the ones who hear the call.  After the  ritual, the witch is bestowed the title of Houngan (for males) or Mambo (for females).

The Voodoo witch covens seldom meet more than once a year.  However, they also perform more rituals than the average witch.  It’s customary for the  voodoo witch to have an extensive ritual to perform at each full and new  moon.    Large numbers of the participants in these rituals are not witches themselves, but lay people, sometimes referred to as “Hounsi”.  They may share the same beliefs, but are not members of a voodoo coven.

These ceremonies are loud musical explosions of dance, fire and free form religious expression.  It is not uncommon for some of the participants to become overwhelmed as the Loa are communed with.  Participants can be found speaking in tongues, enduring large amounts of pain, and even damage and occasionally having disease spontaneously cured.

Other: As been noted voodoo witches get along well with wizards and sorcerers.  Often a multi-classed Voodoo Witch/Sorcerer is known as a Hoodoo, or even a Hoodoo Man.  These individuals are usually given much respect in the community.

A warlock Voudounista usually follows Papa Legba or Baron Samedi and is known as a Bokor.

1 comment:

Pun Isaac said...

This is fantastic. I can't wait to get my copy of Strange Brew and play a voodoo witch. Should be a great edition to the Freeport Pathfinder game I'll be a part of when I get my book from that Kickstarter.