Guide to Witches in Pathfinder

Sorcerers, Wizards, Druids, Oracles, Clerics… that seems to cover most of the magic-casting options – except one, one that’s been covered rather extensively in popular culture in the last few years: the Witch. Yes, thanks to the Advanced Player’s Guide, Pathfinder players can now try out the Witch – and it’s a fun class indeed.

Witches are a little like a combination of Sorcerers, Wizards and Oracles, wrapped up in an arcane magic coating. Like Sorcerers, they learn spells automatically, without the aid of a spell book; like Wizards, they use another object – in this case, a familiar – to store their spells; and, like Oracles, they get a bevy of other abilities, called Hexes, that can be used a few times a day each to help and hurt other characters. The Witch is a spell caster, have no doubt, though one with more options than usual.

Statistically, Witches need to be heavy in Intelligence, which also makes them fairly good when it comes to skill points. (This further makes them good at Knowledge checks, of which they possess several as class skills.) Like other spell-casting classes, Witches also need a fair amount of Dexterity and Constitution to make up for their inability to wear armor and their low HP scores. Strength, Wisdom and Charisma should be of secondary concern, since the Witch’s primary abilities make little use of these stats.

The Witch is, and should always be, a back line fighter. There’s little reason for a Witch to move up to the front lines, even for delivering touch attacks, and that’s thanks to the Witch’s familiar. Witches draw their spells from their familiars each day, and consequently can send those familiars out to deliver attacks at a range that would normally require the Witch to get in the line of fire. This this can include status spells that help friends (Bull’s Strength, for example) as readily as spells that hurt enemies, this capacity is great for keeping a Witch safe…

… assuming the familiar doesn’t get in trouble. Always keep in mind that a Witch must be 500 gold per level when they lose their familiar, an expensive trade off for one attack. The Witch should be especially careful since their familiar can learn spells from both scrolls and other familiars, much like a Wizard would learn a spell from a book, and those spells are lost to the Witch if the familiar dies.

Aside from patron spells, which grant Witches some additional choices depending on their role in battle, Hexes are the Witch’s second major weapon of choice. Typically usable once per day per target, Hexes range from minor – a bit of bad luck – to medium – restoring hit points, similar to a Cure Moderate Wounds spell – to major, like forcefully resurrecting a slain creature. It is best to look at your spells then choose Hexes that do not fall within the effects of your spell list, thus broadening your Witch’s capacity for destruction and support.Hexes run off Intelligence for their save DC, make bolstering that stat all the more important.

Choosing feats for a Witch typically consists of metamagic choices, as well as the usual physical feats that bolster AC. There are, however, two other feats Witches should consider: Improved Familiar and Extra Hex. The first can improve the familiar’s overall chances of survival by making it tougher, while the second grants the Witch an extra range of Hexes – particularly useful when the Witch gets into the Grand Hex range.

Because they’re spread all over the place, Witches never get as good at any one area as Wizards or Clerics. That said, they have the capacity to excel in a variety of areas, making them the jack-of-all-trades of the magical world, particularly if they can buy a lot of scrolls and keep their familiar alive. A Witch is never a bad addition to a party of adventurers in Pathfinder.