Pathfinder - Witch Hexes Breakdown
I will use content from the core rules, but will intentionally omit any content not published on the official Pathfinder SRD due to the unmanageable volume of non-SRD content, and the wildly varying quality of non-SRD content. If you would like me to write handbooks for specific content not published on the official SRD, please email me and I will consider it on a case-by-case basis. I will use the color coding scheme which has become common among Pathfinder build handbooks. Also note that many colored items are also links to the Paizo SRD.
- Red: Bad, useless options, or options which are extremely situational.
- Orange: OK options, or useful options that only apply in rare circumstances
- Green: Good options.
- Blue: Fantastic options, often essential to the function of your character.
Temporary Note: Pathfinder Unchained and Occult Adventures were both recently added to the SRD. I'm excited to explore them, and I am actively working on adding their contents to my collection of handbooks. I appreciate your patience while I make these changes.
Hexes are a great way to customize your Witch. Similar to Rogue Talens or Barbarian Rage Powers, you get one at every even numbered Witch level. However, unlike Rogues, Barbarians, and many other classes with similar customization mechanics, Witches get a Hex at first level in addition to the typical every-even-level progression. This makes single-level class dips into Witch very appealing for many Hexes which don't depend on a DC or scale with level.
Unless otherwise noted, Hexes can be used an infinite number of times in a day, which really extends the Witch's usefulness beyond its spells per day.
Beast of Ill-Omen (Su): Bane isn't very good, and the penalty doesn't scale with level. However, this can be thrown on your familiar long beforehand, and gives you a free single-target debuff, which is cool.
Blight (Su): Hugely situational, and not very good even in situtions where it would apply.
Cackle (Su): Cackle's effectiveness is defined entirely by the effectiveness of the Hex you are extending. Agony is the only applicable Hex from the Major Hex list, but it isn't the best option. Evil Eye and Misfortune are the best options: their durations are short, but their effects are crippling. Extending the duration of these effects functionally multiplies the usefulness of those hexes.
Cauldron (Ex): The Witch gets access to a fantastic list of spells, including Cure spells, so potions can be an excellent choice. You can also take this at first level and start pumping out potions of Cure Light Wounds right off the bat. The +4 bonus to Craft (Alchemy) is just icing on the cake.
Charm (Su): The duration is very short, and improving a targets disposition by one step isn't much. Casting Charm Person will yeild much better results. This can be extended with Cackle, which can lead to you standing and cackling like a mad man while your new friend stares at you uncomfortably.
Child-Scent (Ex): Unless you are playing pedo-bear or stealing puppies, this is not useful.
Coven (Ex): Potentially useful for NPC witches or for cool roleplaying, but otherwise not very useful for players.
Disguise (Su): Excellent for infiltration, but somewhat situational. Disguise Self isn't on the Witch spell list, so this can add an extra option otherwise not available to the Witch.
Evil Eye (Su): Adding a -2 to attacks or saving throws can be very debilitating. Even with a successful save, the target still takes the penalty for 1 round, which can really help weaken a tough enemy. Rules as written, you can extend the duration with Cackle even if the target passes the initial save. Increasing the penalty to -4 makes this even better. However, you may find that you are often better served by casting a spell.
Feral Speech (Su): Animals very rarely have anything interesting to discuss.
Flight (Su): The bonus to swim seems a little but out of place, but makes sense as flavor because you are supposedly lighter. Fly is not on the Witch spell list, and flight is crucial for spellcasters, especially at high levels. Splitting the duration into one-minute increments helps to stretch the usage throughout the day more than you could expect from a single Fly spell. Keep in mind that you can still use Feather Fall at will to save any falling allies.
Fortune (Su): Because it costs your standard action to use this, don't expect to use this in combat. Instead, use it for skill checks on things like disabling traps, and on saving throws against ongoing effects outside of combat.
Healing (Su): This provides a bit of free healing every day. While this is incredibly useful at first level, it will quickly be eclipsed by a Wand of Cure Light Wounds. The scaling at 5th level is a nice nod, but not enough to keep this relevant as your level increases.
Misfortune (Su): Pick the biggest enemy in the fight, and drop this on them in round one, then extend it with Cackle. Rerolling every attack will greatly improve your party's chances of survival, and rerolling saving throws will make the target considerably more vulnerable to effects of all kinds.
Nails (Ex): You really shouldn't be spending a lot of time in melee combat. However, this can be a good choice for class dipping or for the Hexcrafter Magus.
Poison Steep (Sp): Getting access to the Poison spell as early as 2nd level is great, but this is very difficult to bring into play. You need to find some way force your enemies to eat whatever you poison. Granted, this could work pretty easily by throwing poisoned meat into rooms with unintelligent (and hungry) monsters or animals.
Prehensile Hair (Su): This is fantastic for class dips for Rogues or characters focues on natural weapons. I can't think of any other source which adds a Hair attack, so this is a great way way to add an extra attack to your full attacks. However, a typicaly witch will have trouble using this for anything but flavor.
Scar (Su): This has some interesting options. The most obvious is to scar a recurring enemy, but a better option is to scar your allies. With the ability to cast Hexes on your allies from up to a mile away, you can use Hexes like Healing, Fortune, or Ward while you are off doing other things. Heck, you could sit outside while your party goes into the dungeon and support them with Hexes at long range.
Slumber (Su): Single target save or suck. The DC scales to keep pace with your spells, and affects creatures of any hit die. There is no Witch for whom this is not a fantastic option.
Swamp Hag (Sp): Hugely situational.
Tongues (Su): Comprehend Language and Tongues are situational, but come up frequently. Having both always available is nice, but both are already on the Witch's spell list.
Unnerve Beasts (Su): Hugely situational, and will probably hurt you more than anyone else.
Water Lung (Su): Hugely situational, but Water Breathing isn't on the Witch spell list.
Ward (Su): Throw this on your party's Defender before and after every fight. Losing the bonus every time it is bypassed is annoying, but this can hugely reduce the subject's need for a Ring of Protection or a Cloak of Resistance.
Agony (Su): Nauseated largely disables the target, and makes them very vulnerable. However, Slumber puts things to sleep and will have the same save DC.
Beast Eye (Su): Conceptually very cool, but Arcane Eye is probably better. You do gain the animals senses, which is nice for Scent, but you don't get control of the creature.
Cook People (Su): A one-hour duration is pretty great for spells like Bull's Strength, which typically have durations in minutes per caster level. This duration makes it possible to replace ability enhancing items, assuming you have enough bodies to keep your cookie jar full. Age resistance is already on the Witch spell list and has a considerably longer duration than one hour, so don't waste your time on that effect. You might consider keeping cookies of Neutralize Poisong and Cure Disease hand because they don't cost anything to create. Keep in mind that cooking and eating a sentient creature is generally considered an evil act, so check with your GM if your character is not evil.
Hag's Eye (Su): Arcane Eye is a very solid divination, but it's already on the Witch spell list.
Hidden Home (Sp): Very cool for NPC witches or for campaigns where you spend a lot of time in one place, but otherwise not useful for a typical adventurer.
Hoarfrost (Su): Horrifying and deadly, but because the damage only ticks once per minute, this is totally useless in combat.
Ice Tomb (Su): This can serve as either a save or suck effect to disable and capture enemies, or as a suspended animation effect to protect and preserve your allies. For strict combat purposes, Slumber is better.
Infected Wounds (Su): Totally useless in combat, and disease effects can be removed very easily, so this won't be very effective.
Major Healing (Su): Free healing is always nice, but by this level, a Cleric will have Heal available, and you will get it before this Hex scales up to Cure Critical Wounds.
Nightmares (Su): Hugely situational. If you dislike someone enough to curse them with this, it's generally better to just kill them.
Retribution (Su): This is great for big damage-dealing monsters. It's unfortunate that you or your allies need to take damage for the Hex to take effect, but the reality of combat is that your allies are going to take damage at some point.
Speak in Dreams (Sp): Situational, but very cool.
Vision (Su): Entirely dependant on your GM.
Waxen Image (Su): This is a cool way to control or debuff a target. The individual effects aren't super powerful, and spending a standard action to activate them is probably not as good as casting a spell, but the effects could be very powerful if used well. Consider making the target move in combat to draw attacks of opportunity, or making your enemy staggered before he can charge.
Weather Control (Su): Situational, but potentially very powerful.
Witch's Brew (Ex): By this level, potions are usually not relevant. Also, many GMs allow the creation of multiple items in a day as a house rule because spening 8 hours to create one potion which takes up 5% of the gold worth of magic items that you can create in a day seems completely ridiculous.
Death Curse (Su): By this level you have much more effective save or suck effects which don't allow three saves.
Dire Prophecy (Su): Good debuff; adds all of the potential penalties of Evil Eye simultaneously.
Eternal Slumber (Su): Like Slumber on steroids. This is an absolutely fantastic save or suck effect. Because you can uses Hexes as often as you like, you can just spam this against enemies until it works.
Forced Reincarnation (Su): Hillarious, but very unpredictable. You could just keep hitting your allies with this until they are the race which they want to be, or your could just go around reincarnating people into badgers.
Life Giver (Su): No big deal, just Resurrection as a Standard Action with no material component.
Natural Disaster (Su): Storm of Vengeange and Earthquake are both big, flashy spells, but they are complicated to use without doing just as much damage to yourself and your party.
Summon Spirit (Sp): Ghosts are very powerful, and if your GM is open-minded this can let you gain a very powerful ally.
Witch's Hut (Su): Very cool. Great way to carry your loot around, and a great way to gurantee that you always have a comfortable place to sleep. However, not particularly powerful compared to other Grand Hexes.