Tuesday, January 18, 2011

More thoughts on the Witch

I was thinking about the witch class/archetype over this last weekend.  In particular to D&D4 vs. Old School D&D.
One thing that D&D4 (and even Pathfinder) has is a simple basic magical attack for the witch/warlock.  In D&D4 it is Eldritch Blast, Pathfinder has their hexes and since you can cast 0 level spells at-will there is a great one called Daze.  Stun an opponent from far away so the fighter types can take care of them.

The one thing that magic using classes in old-school games lack is a basic magic attack.  Something that is magic, does a little bit of damage and can be used repeatedly.

The Magic-User/Wizard has the infamous "Magic Missile" spell, but at one use per day it isn't the kind of thing I was thinking of.  D&D4 splits MM into two basically two types, one that always hits and does a small amount of damage (like the older versions) and one that does more damage, but requires a to-hit roll.

In the Buffy RPG witches get a basic TK power, which can be used as a basic attack.  In WitchCraft there is a skill called Magic Bolt that is basically a magical attack.

The issue I am having is that a basic attack like this is not very "witchy". Sure it features in a lot of modern supernatural books like The Dresden Files, but I have been wracking my brain all weekend to think of a time when say a witch from fairy tale or myth used one.  Curses, hexes, evil eyes yes, some sort of blast? Not really.  Harry is also a Wizard, not a witch, a difference that I have quite been able to tell in the books, but it has been mentioned.  Compare that to Rachel Morgan of the Hollows Books.  Rachel has a lot of magical fire power, but if she wants an "attack" spell she mixes up a potion and puts it into the balls of a paint ball gun.

I think if I wanted to add witches to any old-school game an attack spell would need to be of a non-active kind, like a curse, hex or even TK.  Wizards would need something similar, but I think theirs would be more damage causing, sort of like an at-will magic missile.

I suppose this is one of the reason I do like newer games, it does give the lower level magic using types more to do.  Sure the idea is that fighters are your low-level fire power and wizards are the high powered ones and that is great; from a group dynamic perspective.  From an individual perspective it means a lot of time "doing nothing" (not really, but you know what I mean) during combats.

So thoughts everyone?
What do you think of an at-will style magical attack for magic-using types (not clerics though)?  Something like a magic missile, but say does less damage, maybe only 1 pt per level?

Not very Old-School I know, but want to see what people think.


Cross Planes said...

I think having an At Will magical attack is a nice way to separate the Magic User a bit & help them feel like a spellcaster. I generally have allowed Arcane Spellcasters to use a Wand that deals 1D8 damage with unlimited charges, its a Ranged Touch Attack.

I can see letting a Witch maybe cause -1 or -2 to all rolls on a hit with a "Hex".

I've toned this back, however, as I've begun treating Level 1 & sometimes Level 2 spells as "Per Encounter". When I do this, I generally remove Wand as a weapon.

Game Master Rob Adams said...

I'd let them do an at will magic missile and make it a TK attack that does knockback for witches like Buffy. Good article.

I like Sunsword's hex deal. I might check that out for my pathfinder game.

Andres said...

I agree with you... my favorite thing of the PF Witch are the hexes... Their at-wil quality (with limitation) is paired by their "modular" character... You can create many different kinds of Witch with a single class: the curser, the healer, the protector, etc... All of them pretty "witchy", but your player can fine-tune the type of character he or she plays

C'nor (Outermost_Toe) said...

Magic bolt sounds good. I might give mages something like that in my next game as an "at will" thing - not sure though, as 1st level spellcasters are a bit more powerful than average in it. Stuff to think about, anyway.

C'nor (Outermost_Toe) said...

And I'm making a witch class for my AD&D game... Apparently reading this blog and writing fiction on my prove to be hard to resist. Anyway:

@Sunsword: I used your idea of a hex as a first level spell. Kind of. It has a bit more power, as while witches aren't going to have the super-blasty spells like fireball, they need to be tough enough to pose a viable threat to things. Plus it fits better with how I want Hexes to work in my game.

@Tim Brannan:

As you seem to be the expert on witches, could you check out my (WIP) spell lists?

Timothy S. Brannan said...

@C'nor (Outermost_Toe):

Sure. I have been going over dozens of lists of witch spells to come up with a most commonly used list.

Email me.

C'nor (Outermost_Toe) said...

Okay. Wouldn't it be easier to just take a look at the blog post though, as that's what I'll be updating? (Sorry about not providing a link to it before)

Timothy S. Brannan said...

and that works too!