Why do this? Well the news came out yesterday that the 5e SRD is now released under the OGL. While I had not really seriously contemplated the idea of a 5e witch. I had been playing around with an idea I was calling The Coven for 5e. Where I took established classes and tried to make them more "witch like" by working within the rules. I am still going to do that since it informs my own play and how the rules work for the various magic using classes.
I want to start by looking back to these posts, What Should an OSR Witch Do or Be? and Tom Moldvay on Witches. Why? Well, this post represents my thought process when I was working on The Witch. I like to walk through the same exercises for each version. Start with the assumptions and then add in the game specific assumptions and see where that takes me.
Let me start by looking at the Moldvay Criteria again for 4e, Pathfinder and my Basic witch. Why keep 4e? Well if WotC does their own witch it will be informed by the work they did in 4e.
|Ability||4e Witch||Pathfinder Witch||Basic Witch|
|1. Ability to use Herbs||skills||skills||ability check|
|2. The Power of Fascination||powers||spells||spells|
|3. Clerical and Magic-User magic||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|4. Sympathetic Magic||limited to powers||limited to spells||new spell mechanic|
|5. Worshipers of forbidden religions||yes||yes||yes|
|6. Powers based on natural cycles||"Moon" builds||no||spells|
|7. Covens||Yes||only with hags||Yes|
|8. Ritual Magic||In PHB I only||limited||Yes|
All 8 of these points must be met in order to create a new witch class. Thankfully, this can be done in 5e.
So the ability to use herbs can be a Medicine or Nature check, depending on how it is used.
Fasicnation can be a power or spell or some combination (which also puts a vote in favor of Charisma as the prime stat).
Clerical & Magic-user magic. Not an issue. I have a well-established list of spells.
Same with Sympathetic magic.
Covens, Powers based on the natural cycles, and worshippers of forbidden religions will need to be dealt with.
Ritual magic is well covered by D&D5.
Ok. So the framework is there and I have some ideas how to put the witch class on this framework. Time to start thinking about how 5e plays.
Covens as Builds/Archetypes
Each class has a "build" involved with it. The Druids have Circles, the Sorcerers have their Origins, Warlocks have their Pacts and Wizards have Arcane Traditions. Witches could have Covens. In other books and games I have used "traditions" to cover this same basic idea. But Wizards have that word now. The Druid Circles struck me as being very coven like in truth. Though the Warlock pacts could also be redone slightly to reflect some of the same ideas I have about covens and traditions.
What ability score should I use? I have, over the years, used Wisdom, Charisma and Intelligence.
The Witch uses Charisma. Eldritch Witchery uses Wisdom and Inteliigence. Pathfinder uses Intelligence and Charisma. I used wisdom for both my 2nd and 3rd edition witches. I can come up with reasons or justifications for any of them to be honest. I prefer Charisma with Wisdom in a close second. Trouble is D&D 5 already has two magic-users that use these abilities each.
I think I want to take a look at the 5 basic magic using classes in terms of how well they address the Moldvay Criteria.
|0. Ability Score||Wis||Wis||Cha||Cha||Int|
|1. Ability to use Herbs||Med||Med/Nat||No||Nat||Med|
|2. The Power of Fascination||spell||spell||spell||spell||spell|
|3. Clerical and Magic-User magic||Clr||Clr||MU||MU+Pact||MU|
|4. Sympathetic Magic||spell||spell||spell||spell||spell|
|5. Worshipers of forbidden religions||no||yes/no||NA||yes||NA|
|6. Powers based on natural cycles||no||yes||no||no||no|
|8. Ritual Magic||yes||yes||no||yes (pact)||yes|
Looking at the list is seems that the best "witch" is either a druid or warlock. This actually tracks with my playing of these two classes as wtiches.
In fact. The Warlock is very much like what I would want for a witch, but only less "blasty".
Maybe a "Witch" is a warlock that has a "Goddess/God" Patron and instead of evocations there are spells. I will have to experiment more to be honest. And certainly more time with the 5e Warlock.
I like the idea of of some powers (Occult Powers in previous editions) and spells.
I think IF I were to do a witch I would have to be very, very selective of her spells and make sure they balance out compared to the other classes. It is possible, even liekly that the Witch and the Warlock have similar lists, but who knows right now.
5e players. What do you think a 5e witch should do?