Last Updated: March 21, 2022
The Witch is a spellcaster granted power by a mysterious Patron. DnD 5e players might justifiably see thematic similarities to 5e’s warlocks, but the similarities end there. The Witch’s core features are very close to the Wizard, and their spellcasting works very similarly, but your choice of Patron Theme allows you to select the spell list of your choice similar to the Sorcerer, and the theme of the class’s features have a distinctly less scholarly bent.
Similar to the Wizard, the Witch’s ability to learn any number of spells from their spell list makes them a magical tool box with a tool for every specific problem one might encounter. Beyond that excellent foundation, the Witch’s ability to select their own spell list allows them to fill nearly any role in the party by selecting your Patron Theme and spells. Like the Wizard, the Witch’s high Intelligence gives you a lot of trained skills at 1st level, making it easy to play your party’s Librarian or to pick up skills to support other skill-based capabilities.
Beyond their spellcasting, the Witch is the uncontested master of familiars, and their Focus Spells (called “Hexes”) are truly fantastic, and include powerful Hex Cantrips which can often define your character’s best tactical options.
Table of Contents
- Witch Class Features
- Subclasses – Patron Themes
- Witch Lessons
- Ability Scores
- Skills and Skill Feats
- Witch Focus Spells – Hexes
RPGBOT uses the color coding scheme which has become common among Pathfinder build handbooks.
- : Bad, useless options, or options which are extremely situational. Nearly never useful.
- : OK options, or useful options that only apply in rare circumstances. Useful sometimes.
- : Good options. Useful often.
- : Fantastic options, often essential to the function of your character. Useful very frequently.
Witch Class Features
Key Ability: Intelligence is the Witch’s primary ability score, and like any spellcaster it’s used for your Spell Attacks and for your Spell DCs. Those are two of your most important stats, so keep your Intelligence as high as you can get it. Intelligence also grants you additional Trained skills at 1st level, allowing you to easily invest in numerous skills, including Lore options which other classes often need to ignore in favor of more important skills.
: 6+Con hit points. Fortunately you have plenty of room to boost your ability scores so your Constitution bonus can compensate.
: The Witch’s proficiencies are terrible. Your saving throw progression is very slightly worse than the Wizard’s, which you make up for by having better weapon proficiencies which you’ll almost certainly never use. Like the Wizard, your high Intelligence will give you an abundance of Trained skills at first level, but that’s the best part of your proficiencies beyond spellcasting.
- : Trained at 1st level, and it maxes out at Expert at 11th level. Expect to rely on allies for Perception checks, and strongly consider Incredible Initiative if you don’t want to go late in the turn order in every fight. You might also consider Canny Acumen to boost your Perception proficiency, especially if you take it well before 11th level.
- : Only one good saving throw. Will is a great option, but only one good saving throw is still a serious handicap, and it never improves past Master. Your other saving throws will also increase to expert, but no further. You can take the Canny Acumen feat, but that won’t get you past Expert until 17th level, so you’ll spend most of your career with absolutely dismal saving throws compared to your allies.
- : One skill from your Patron, then 3+Int additional Trained skills for a total of 4+Int. That’s slightly more than the standard of 3+Int, which combined with your high Intelligence will result in a nice number of starting skills.
- : Simple weapons and unarmed attacks. You might make Unarmed Attacks if you take certain Witch Class Feats, but mostly you’ll rely on spells instead.
- : No armor proficiencies, and your proficiency in Unarmored Defense never increases past Expert. Expect to rely on spells like Mage Armor, and be sure that you have nice sturdy friends to hide behind.
- Spells: Standard progression for every spellcaster with the exception of the Warpriest Cleric.
Patron: See “Subclasses – Patron”, below.
Witch Spellcasting: The Witch’s spell list is determined by your choice of Patron. Since spellcasting is the Witch’s primary feature, that’s a major choice that impacts your character very heavily. Witches also have Focus Spells called Hexes, including Hex Cantrips. The Witch is a prepared caster, so you need to prepare a spell in each of your spell slots during your Daily Preparations.
- Heightened Spells: Heightening spells is an important mechanic in Pathfinder 2e. Important spells like Mage Armor scale with spell level, allowing them to stay relevant long after you learned them. Since witches don’t use a Spell Repertoire, you only need to learn a spell once, then you can prepare it at any level that you can cast.
- : Fantastic every time, on any character, in any amount. Witches can prepare 5 cantrips, and they start with a familiar which knows 10 so you have lots of room to customize your arsenal every day. Witches also gain “Hex Cantrips”, which are a type of Focus Spell. See “Hexes”, below.
- : Hexes are the Witch’s Focus Spells. They have a variety of interesting effects, many of which are really powerful. Notably, many Hexes (including Hex Cantrips) have a 1-minute duration and must be Sustained, making the Cackle Hex a powerful option (though expensive since it is itself a Hex and therefore consumes a Focus Point) until you can get Effortless Concentration at 16th level.
- : Hex Cantrips are a Hex so you’re still limited to one Hex per round, but they’re Cantrips so you can use them without other limitations. Many Hex Cantrips have a 1-Action casting time, making them a great way to spend an Action before casting a 2-Action spell. Hex Cantrips also notably don’t count against your limit of 5 Cantrips prepared or against the 10 Cantrips which your Familiar knows at 1st level.
Skill Feats: Standard for everyone except the Rogue.
Witch Feats: See Witch feats, below.
General Feats: Standard.
Skill Increases: Standard for everyone except the Rogue.
Ability Boosts: Standard.
Ancestry Feats: Standard.
: More saves is always great, but this is as high as you ever get.
: Standard and essential for spellcasters.
: More saves is always great, but this is as high as you ever get.
: Perception is absolutely crucial, but this is the best you will ever get without spending General Feats.
: Most witches will should never need this.
: More AC is great, but this is the best you will ever get.
: You should never need this.
: Standard and essential for spellcasters.
: Fantastic, but it comes online very late the game.
: Standard and essential for spellcasters.
: 10th-level spells are great.
Subclasses – Patron Themes
Your choice of Patron Theme gives you your spell list, a skill, a Hex Cantrip, and a free 1st-level spell that your familiar knows (remember that you get 5 more of your choice at 1st level). Every one of the skills is taken from Arcana, Nature, Occultism, and Religion, and while Nature and Religion are harder choices because they’re Wisdom-based, all four skills are still good choices for the Witch since you’re likely your party’s Librarian, and unless someone else in the party has better Wisdom you’re likely to pick up several or all of them.
The Spell List is likely your most mechanically impactful decision, because while the Witch is more than just spellcasting your spellcasting is still your defining function in the party. Different spell lists have different strengths, but they’re all roughly equivalent in power.
Probably the closest thing to a “vanilla” witch, the Curse Patron Theme grants Evil Eye, a powerful single-target debuff which you can rely on for your whole career. Ray of Enfeeblement isn’t a great spell, but you also don’t have to cast it.
- : Occult
- : Occultism
- : Evil Eye. See “Hex Cantrips”, below.
- : Ray of Enfeeblement. This is not a great spell. The effects are minor, only some enemies will care about them, and you have to make an attack the target gets a save so it has a high probability of failure.
Nudge Fate is basically a better version of Guidance. You should use it as often as possible outside of combat. True Strike is situational, and you likely won’t use it until you’ve gained several levels and amassed several more spell slots.
- : Occult
- : Occultism
- : Nudge Fate. See “Hex Cantrips”, below.
- : True Strike. You’re only going to use this with important spells that require attack rolls, and even then at low levels you can’t justify spending one of your spell slots on this.
Stoke the Heart is great on a blaster or if you have martial allies who like to make large numbers of attacks, allowing you to be an effective Support character with little further effort.
- : Divine
- : Religion
- : Stoke the Heart. See “Hex Cantrips”, below.
- : Command. Tactically versatile and easy to use in a variety of situations, and it works on targets of any level. However, it has the Auditory and Linguistic traits so the target needs to be able to hear you and understand the language you’re using, so you can’t use it on unintelligent creatures like animals or zombies. Forcing an enemy to move can provoke Reactions from your allies, or could force enemies who avoid close quarters to move close to you and your allies. Forcing an enemy to drop an item or a weapon can handicap them in combat, and retrieving it may provoke Reactions or your allies might prepare an action to snatch up the item when it falls. Stand in Place just tells the creature to spend an action doing nothing, so skip that one in favor of commanding them to drop prone because they must spend a second Action to stand again.
There two other Occult options that both have better Hex Cantrips. Sleep is already on the Occult spell list, and if you like Sleep enough to put a major decision point into it you should look at Lesson of Sleep instead.
- : Occult
- : Occultism
- : Shroud of Night. See “Hex Cantrips”, below.
- : Sleep.
The Witch’s only Arcane option, this brings you closest to the Wizard of any other Patron Theme, and starts you with some excellent support options. Discern Secrets will boost Recall Knowledge checks which you’ll likely be making frequently, and Magic Weapon is a spectacular buff if you have martial allies in the party who can benefit from it.
If you’re having trouble deciding between the Witch and the Wizard, this is a great option. If you want to play a witch but don’t want to deal with using Hex Cantrips in combat, this is a good option too since Discern Secrets is so frequently useful outside out combat. But that’s not to say that you won’t be able to use Hexes in combat: you absolutely can. You just aren’t locked into a Hex Cantrip which is primarily useful in combat.
- : Arcane
- : Arcana
- : Discern Secrets. See “Hex Cantrips”, below.
- : Magic Weapon. A staple buff for martial characters, the effects will provide a massive damage boost at low levels. However, it doesn’t scale with spell level so once your allies pick up magic weapons this will stop being useful permanently.
With the Primal spell list and a thematically-appropriate leveled spell, the Wild Patron Theme closely resembles the Druid. Unfortunately, unless you’re facing animals and plants almost exclusively, Wilding Word is awful. Winter is a better choice for the same spell list.
- : Primal
- : Nature
- : Wilding Word. See “Hex Cantrips”, below.
- : Your choice of summon animal or summon plant or fungus. I recommend Summon Animal because it has a much larger list of options, but both spells offer options at every spell level.
Winter offers two useful offensive crowd control effects in Clinging Ice and Gust of Wind, and with the Primal spell list you’ll resemble the Druid in many ways.
- : Primal
- : Nature
- : Clinging Ice. See “Hex Cantrips”, below.
- : Gust of Wind. While it’s not a great spell at low levels, it’s a spectacular counter to flying enemies even as a 1st-level spell, so you’ll get tons of use out of it once flight becomes common.
Lessons are a collection of benefits which you can get from Class Feats and from “other effects”. Generally they give you a Hex and teach your familiar one spell.
- : Sleep has limited utility in combat until you can cast it at 4th level, but Lesson of Dreams gives you the Veil of Dreams Hex Cantrip which imposes a -2 penalty on saves against Sleep effects. That makes sleep a bit more reliable, which makes it a good save-or-suck option. However, it has the Incapacitation tag, so rather than using it on single high-level targets, try to use it on groups of low-level targets. If you plan to use this, strongly consider Widen Spell to boost Sleep’s tiny area of effect, though you’ll have trouble using Widen Spell and Veil of Dreams with the same casting of Sleep.
- : Elemental Betrayal is a great option for blasters, and the additional spell for your familiar offers one of three suitable options and also Air Bubble. I call out Air Bubble because it’s the only one of the four options which doesn’t deal damage, so while it’s the right element it doesn’t make any sense to combine with Elemental Betrayal. Your choice of the other three spell options largely comes down to personal preference.
- : This is a hard choice. Life Boost can save a creature’s life, but it’s not enough hit points to be a go-to source of healing. Spirit Link is neat, but it consumes your hit points to heal the target, and witches only get 6+ hit points per level so you have very few to spare. This is more appealing if your spell list offers spells to restore your own hit points or if you have some other means of easy hit point restoration, but even then it’s typically more efficient to heal your ally directly.
- : Blood Ward is easy to use and provides a small but reliable defensive boost, and Mage Armor is a staple defensive option for unarmored spellcasters like the Witch and the Wizard.
- : Needle of Vengeance is really good, and Phantom Pain is decent single-target damage and scales well with spell level.
- : Both options are amusing but situational.
- : Malicious Shadow is an excellent single-target offensive option and scales very well with level. Chilling Darkness is neat, but very situational.
- : Personal Blizzard is bad and Wall of Wind is very situational.
- : Curse of Death is a good offensive option, and while Raise Dead is situational by nature it’s a staple spellcasting option and it’s exclusive to the Divine spell list, so this makes it accessible to other witches.
- : Restorative Moment is too situational and Field of Life is slow, expensive, inefficient healing.
The Witch’s ability scores are mostly simple: You need Intelligence for your spells, and you need Dexterity, Constitution, and Wisdom for your defenses. However, the Witch has some interesting melee options like Living Hair and Eldritch Nails which place more reliance on ability scores to support melee combat.
Most witches just need Intelligence for spells and enough in other Ability Scores to keep them alive. You might adjust these based on which skills you select, but the suggestions below are a good starting point.
: Dump. You’re not carrying heavy equipment, you’re not wearing armor, and you shouldn’t be using weapons.
: AC and Reflex saves. You’ll eventually want at least 16, but don’t bother getting more than 20.
: Hit points and Fortitude saving throws.
: Your Key Ability Score.
: Perception and Will saves.
: Probably a dump stat unless you want to use your numerous skills to play the party’s Face. Unlike the Wizard, using your third Action every turn to Demoralize foes isn’t a great choice for the Witch because so many Hex Cantrips have a 1-Action casting time.
The Witch’s proficiency in simple weapons and Class Feats like Living Hair and Eldritch Claws make melee combat a possibility. However, with no armor proficiencies this is still a very dangerous option that you’ll need to approach very cautiously. If you go this route, look for ways to boost your AC and your hit points.
Before you go any further with this option: Strongly reconsider. Give this a real good think. The options built into the Witch do not make melee a good idea. If you go this route, it will be hard and you will need to build your witch very carefully in order to be successful. You will likely need a level of insight into the game which goes beyond what I can cram into a single article. You will almost certainly need to consider a number of archetypes and feats not covered in this document. If you do it and it goes well, please email me to brag about it because honestly it looks really hard and I would be very impressed. If you try it and it goes poorly, email me anyway because sometimes failure is a good learning opportunity.
: While Living Hair has the Finesse trait, Eldritch Claws does not, and if you’re going for a melee build you’ll probably be using Eldritch Claws rather than a Finesse weapon or Living Hair. However, having a higher AC is more important than a good attack bonus, so I strongly recommend investing more in Dexterity than in Strength unless you can make armor viable and can de-emphasize Dexterity.
: AC and Reflex saves. This is especially important if you plan to be in melee, but if you can make armor a viable option you may be able to put less into Dexterity.
: Hit points and Fortitude saving throws.
: Your Key Ability Score.
: Since you need good stats in every physical ability score plus Intelligence, Wisdom will need to be largely disregarded.
: Unfortunately there’s no room to make Charisma a priority.
An Intelligence boost is crucial, but since Free Ability Boosts are part of every Ancestry that’s easy to accomplish. Bonuses to other important ability scores are helpful, but not crucial, so Ancestry Feats are often as important as an Intelligence Increase.
: Put the Free ability Boost into Intelligence and you have all that you need, but none of the Catfolk’s feats directly support the Witch’s capabilities. The Cat’s Luck feat chain will help you with saving throws, but that’s no more applicable to the Witch than to any other character. Interesting but unhelpful: you could take the Clawed Catfolk Heritage and the Eldritch Nails Witch Class Feat and have two totally independent sets of claws/nails with mostly identical stats.
: The Dwarf’s Ability Boosts work great if you put the Free Ability Boost into Intelligence, but Dwarf Ancestry Feats offer very little for the Witch. Strongly consider Adopted Ancestry.
: The Elf’s Ability Boosts are great, but a Constitution Flaw is really problematic, so you may want to use the Voluntary Flaws rules to offset the Constitution penalty. Seer Elf gets you Detect Magic for free, and Otherwordly Magic gets you an extra Arcane cantrip (though it’s an innate spell so it’s still Charisma-based), so you can expand your cantrip options, but the Gnome can get cantrips from other spell lists, which dramatically expands your options.
: Despite the lack of a fixed Intelligence increase, the Gnome works surprisingly well if you put your Free Ability Boost into Intelligence. Gnome Ancestry Feats can get you automatically-scaling Lore skills, extra cantrips, and a few other excellent options. Two of the Gnome’s Heritages give you additional cantrips, but since they’re innate spells they’ll be Charisma-based, so look for utility options rather than offensive ones, especially from spellcasting traditions other than the one provided by your Patron Theme.
: With your Free Ability Boost in Intelligence, the Goblin’s ability increases look similar to the Gnome’s. Burn It! is a great option for blasters, and you could make good use of Very Sneaky and Very Very Sneaky, but those don’t specifically supplement your capabilities as a witch so I’m not sure if they’re better than what you could get from Adopted Ancestry.
: Put the Free ability Boost into Intelligence and you have all that you need, but a Constitution Flaw is always hard, especially on a race with 6 hit points (Elfs and Kobolds share this drawback). The Kobold Breath feat chain offers a fun option for AOE damage that works great with the Stoke the Heart Hex Cantrip, but one novel build possibility doesn’t make this a good go-to option.
: Workable ability boosts, and Halfling Luck is good on literally every character. Cultural Adaptability can get you Burn It! from the Goblin Ancestry Feats, too. Unfortunately, none of the heritages look especially helpful.
: Take the Voluntary Flaws to dump Strength and Charisma, and you can do +2 to Dex, Con, and Int (or switch Dex or Con to Wis if you’d like). There isn’t anything you need from Versatile Heritage, so consider other options. If you take Half-Elf you can easily take multiclass archetype feats for other spellcasting classes. Adapted Cantrip looks tempting, but it’s only useful for offensive options.
: Strength and Intelligence is a really hard combination for the Witch, but if you use the Optional Flaws rules you could dump some stats to get an additional Boost to put into Dexterity or Constitution. Nearly all of the Orc’s racial feats are about being strong and hitting stuff, but you could consider the Orc Ferocity feat chain, especially if you have the Divine spell list and you’re serving as your party’s healer.
: The ability boosts are perfect, and while you still only get 6 racial hit points you don’t get a Constitution Flaw like the Elf and the Kobold. Unfortunately, none of the Ratfolk’s Ancestry Feats cater to the Witch’s capabilities. Consider Adopted Ancestry.
: Only two increases (though you could get a third with the Optional Flaw rules), 6 hit points, and none of the feats cater to the Witch’s capabilities. There are a few spellcasting options like Storm’s Lash and some limited flight options, but you can solve those problems magically.
All that you need from your background is Intelligence, and since every background includes a Free Ability Boost, you can always get the Intelligence boost. Look for backgrounds with useful skills or which get you a skill feat that you had your eyes on.
If you’re having trouble deciding, here are some suggestions:
- Root Worker
Skills and Skill Feats
You get Skill Increases at 3rd and 5th level to raise skills to Expert, increases at 7th, 9th, 11th, and 13th level to raise skills to Master, and increases at 15th, 17th, and 19th level to raise skills to Legendary. That means that you can maximize at most three skills, and the rest of your skills might not advance beyond Trained.
You get Skill Feats at even-numbered levels, giving you a total of 10 Skill Feats (and maybe another from your Background) by 20th level. Generally, you want to invest these feats in the same skills which you are choosing to maximize, though in some cases you may want to grab feats from skills which don’t require that you be more than Trained.
(Dex): Surprisingly important
because it’s used for maneuvering while flying.
- : Being knocked prone while flying is an easy way to counter flying creatures, and enemies can do it just as easily to you as you can do it to them. Cat Fall will reduce the effective distance you’ve fallen, allowing you to take less damage from a fall. However, the effects of Cat Fall scale based on your Proficiency level, so it may not be worth the skill feat unless you plan to increase your proficiency in Acrobatics.
(Int): Essential, and you get it
- : If you can make Detect Magic free, you should cast it frequently any time that there’s even a remote chance that you’ll encounter magic. You’re going to maximize Arcana anyway, so this will get better as you gain levels. Of course, Detect Magic is a Cantrip which you could get by several means, and normal Cantrip scaling will be faster than waiting to become Legendary in Arcana.
- : Your Intelligence will always exceed your Wisdom, so your Arcana will always exceed your Nature and Religion, so at the very least this is a numeric boost to those skills. More importantly, you don’t need to spend Skill Increases on Nature, Occultism, or Religion.
- (Str): Strength is your dump stat.
- (Int): You’re probably the smartest person in the party, and someone in the party needs it to handle magic runes. Also, Scroll Savant is really good.
- (Cha): Witches are not a great Face since they have no dependence on Charisma.
- (Cha): Witches are not a great Face since they have no dependence on Charisma.
- (Cha): Casting a spell is typically a 2-Action Activity, which means that in many rounds you’ll have a spare Action and not much to do with it. In those situations, Demoralize is a great use of an Action. However, that spare action may also be important for the Sustain a Spell action.
- (Int): You have the Intelligence to back up Lore, so pick up a variety of different Lore skills.
- (Wis): You’ll have enough Wisdom to make Medicine viable, but hopefully you’ll be in a party with someone else who can cover it so that you can focus on Intelligence-based skills.
- (Wis): Despite being Wisdom-based, Nature may be an important skill for the Witch so that you can identify spells being cast by other spellcasters.
(Int): On par with Arcana, and
you have plenty of Intelligence to make it work.
- : Most enemies won’t be able to identify your magic, and the few that can will rarely care.
- (Cha): There is no way for the Witch to make use of this short of things like the Goblin Song feat.
- (Wis): Despite being Wisdom-based, Religion may be an important skill for the Witch so that you can identify spells being cast by other spellcasters.
- (Int): The closest thing you’ll get to a Face skill.
- (Dex): Never a bad choice, but don’t expect to be good at it.
- (Wis): Too situational.
- (Dex): Solve these problems with magic, or leave it to someone who focuses on Dexterity.
General Skill Feats
- : Depending on your campaign, crafting during downtime can be a huge asset. But if your campaign rarely includes downtime in somewhere suitable to crafting, you’ll be fine without this.
: With high Intelligence,
passable Wisdom, and easy access to spellcasting-related skills, the Witch
is perhaps the best-suited character to identifying enemy spells. You also
have access to Counterspell and other means to counteract magic, so being
able to identify spells as a Reaction can be a powerful tool against enemy
- : Using a Free Action means that you can identify spells multiple time between turns, which is crucial against multiple enemy spellcasters or if you need your Reaction for something else.
- : If you have no plans to use your Focus Points for hexes, get Cackle. Otherwise, Cackle will feel much less impactful than spending the Focus Point to cast a different Focus Spell.
- : Item crafting is expensive at first level, but this could be a great option to pick up later. You do gain additional formulas as you gain levels so there is a small incentive to get this early, but the cost to learn formulas later is small, and at low levels you really can’t afford a feat that you’re not actively using.
- : Countering enemy spells is great, but you need to have that same spell prepared just to have the opportunity. It’s hard enough when you have a spell repertoire and can burn an appropriate spell slot, but when you’re a prepared caster your ability to counter spells drops precipitously as you go through the day casting spells.
- : Many low-level spells have poor range, and most Hexes have a range of either Touch or 30 ft., so you can get a lot of use out of this.
- : Great for Blasters. If this adds one more target to an AOE spell it’s worth the Action.
- : Too situational.
- : Most of the Basic Lessons are good, and they frequently include excellent Hex Cantrips that can become a go-to option in many situations. You also get a Focus Point, which is great.
- : Consider Multiclass Archetype feats instead. For example: you can take Wizard Dedication and get two cantrips from the Arcane spell list plus proficiency in Arcana. Similar options exist for other spellcaster classes so you can get whatever spell list you want, and if you stick to the same spell list you can get extra spell slots.
- : Situational. Most of the time it won’t matter if other creatures notice you casting a spell. But if you want to remain undetected while casting spells, this is absolutely necessary. You’ll also need to invest in the Deception and Stealth skills.
- Practical Guide to Familiars. : Familiars are really good, and expanding their limited number of abilities can make them even better. The Witch gets more abilities for their familiar than any other class, and this further expands that advantage. However, if you plan to really heavily emphasize your familiar, you should consider Familiar Master Dedication instead because it will give you Enhanced Familiar for free. I think that the Witch’s additional Familiar Abilities are intended to stack with other sources even if they’re not part of the Witch class, but check with your GM to be sure. For advice on what to do with the extra abilities, see my
- : Without this feat, you’re free to pick something interesting as your familiar like a frog or a newt, both of which feel very witchy. But since you get the ability to speak to creatures of the same type, you want to pick something common with a lot of relatives. Rats are great in urban campaigns, and birds are great if you’re outdoors and above ground frequently.
- : An amusing option for other classes taking multiclass feats, but for the Witch it’s basically useless. Cast a cantrip instead.
This feat is awful. You take a feat to force yourself to wander into melee with no armor and 6+ hit points to then cast a spell (which still provokes Reactions), then you add a totally unnecessary gamble to the whole farce where you might get a little damage out of your nails that you have almost certainly wasted a mountain of gold upon (runes are expensive), and if you miss (which again: you probably will) you’re stuck in melee, probably gave your target a free attack, and you’ve wasted a Focus Point, two Actions, plus whatever it took to get you into melee.
Do not take this feat unless you have some very specific and impressive build in which you have found a way to make it useful.
: There are so many things
wrong with this feat. First, the nails don’t have the Finesse trait so
you’re forced to attack using Strength. Second, despite being an unarmed
attack the feat grants the ability to apply weapon runes to the nails even
though Handwraps of Mighty Blows already solves that issue. Third, you can
only use non-cantrip Hexes, so you’re using a Focus Point every time you try
to deliver a spell with the nails. Fourth, you can’t use Hexes that require
attack rolls, so you’re likely using ones which allow saves but you need to
hit with the nails Strike in order to deliver the spell. Fifth, the creature
needs to be within your reach, so you’re taking the Cast a Spell activity in
melee, which provokes Reactions. Finally, if you miss that attack (which you
will because your unarmed attack bonus is likely terrible), the spell (and
your Focus Point) is wasted.
- : There are currently three published Specific Familiars which require a number of abilities ranging from 4 to 8. You get 3 for being a Witch at 1st level, then another for free at 6th, 12th, and 18th levels, and you can get two more from Enhanced Familiar. So at 4th level you’ll have either 3 or 5 abilities. You can get to 6 at 6th level when you get another one from the Witch class thanks to Enhanced Familiar, and you can reach 8 at 8th level with Incredible Familiar. If you’re dead set on getting an Imp, this gets you there earlier and you can spend your 8th-level feat on something beside Incredible Familiar. Otherwise, skip this.
- : Situational, but it’s normally very hard to trade out prepared spells mid-day so this does offer some flexibility which you might enjoy.
- : The Greater Lessons add a few more tempting options, but you can also pick up a second Basic Lesson if you’d like. You also gain a Focus Point. This notably doesn’t require Basic Lesson, so you can go straight to Greater Lesson if you’d like.
- : The Flat Check is too difficult to make this feat an easy choice. You have a success rate of just 30%. If you’re in a situation where you might lose a spell, cast a cantrip so that losing it won’t cost you anything.
- : This is neat for witches who are built as Healers or Support casters, but you can solve the range issue with Reach Spell and the abilities to monitor your charge are situational.
- : This gives your familiar a total of 8 abilities (remember the bonus ones from the Witch class at levels 1 and 6), which is a lot.
- : Too situational.
- : There are a handful of Hexes which buff the target, but they have a 1-minute sustained duration so if you use this the effects last one round. If you add Cackle (which costs you another Focus Point to use), they get 2 rounds. Exciting. Remember that it takes an Action to consume the potion, so you’re locking yourself out of a Focus Point for up to a full day so that your ally can spend an Action to activate a Hex instead of making you do it. The notable exception is Life Boost, but at that point just buy a healing potion.
- : There are only two Major Lessons, but you could also select Greater or Basic lessons. You can take this feat again later to get more lessons, but remember that your Focus Pool is still capped at 3.
- : Not nearly so exciting on the Witch as it is on other spellcasters, but still pretty good. Witches have lots of 1-Action Hex spells to choose from, so it’s easy to fill three Actions with nothing but spellcasting. You can still use this to cast two regular spells, and the once per day limitation may not be a problem since you can fall back on Hexes the rest of the time.
- : Not a lot of items, but free single-use items can often be very powerful. They do all need to be the same type, which is unfortunate, and they need to be much lower level than you are, but you can still find several useful options that will get used every day.
- : A great improvement to Witch’s Charge, but at this point you’re spending two feats and the primary effect can be replaced with Reach Spell.
- : Your familiar likely has much easier access to flight than you do, and being tiny and able to fly makes them a great scout or messenger. You don’t get to control them, but you can still issue orders. And if they die, it’ll be a minor inconvenience but they’ll be back tomorrow.
- : If you really enjoy Hexes, you likely had a 3-point Focus Pool at 6th level. This only allows you to recharge 2, so your 3rd Focus Point is still a once-per-day resource, but a second rechargeable Focus Point means that you can afford to use Hexes much more frequently.
- : If you’re going to counter spells, you’re probably countering something offensive and dangerous enough to justify spending a spell slot to counter it. If that’s the case, turning it back on the caster is really great. This doesn’t fix any of the problems with Counterspell, but it makes it considerably more exciting to use.
- : Baleful Polymorph is a decent spell, but it’s on two spell lists already and it’s not good enough to justify such a high-level feat.
- : Spectacular. Many spells, including many Hexes, are Sustained so this will frequently mean an extra Action every turn.
- : This is a nice way to get some extra versatility out of your spellcasting, but the benefits improve based on how many Lessons you’ve learned, so you’re expected to have taken several Lessons feats. Most players will likely only take 2, then stop once they’ve maxed out their Focus Pool, so you’re likely picking between two spells. It’s also totally unclear if you get to cast those spells at a level above their base level, so you may be stuck casting a 1st-level spell.
- : Focus Point management is important for the Witch since Hexes are such a central part of the class, and being able to Refocus for all three points means that you can go into almost every encounter ready to Hex everything in sight.
- : Hexes are great, but since they typically only target one creature and must be Sustained, it’s difficult to maintain them on more than one target while doing anything else interesting. This, combined with Effortless Concentration, means that you could Hex two targets, Sustain the spell as a Free Action, and still have a full turn to do other things.
- : Many Hexes have a 1-Action casting time, so you may be able to cast as many as 3 in a turn. If you then use Cackle on the following turn you can Sustain all three of them without spending an Action. If you manage your Focus Points well, you can repeat this combination to great effect.
- : 10th-level spells are very powerful.
- : The most interesting but least useful for the Witch’s 20th-level feats. You’ve likely had spells that make this obsolete for several levels.
- : Witches have poor saves and poor Perception. The only problem with this feat is that you can’t take it more than once.
- : Casting an area control spell or a Hex before anyone else acts can win a fight before it begins, so rolling well on initiative is often crucial for spellcasters.
- : Witches have few hit points, so more never hurt, but you should also be working really hard to avoid being targeted by things that deal damage.
- : Crossbows are expensive, you’re not very good with them, and it takes an action to load so you can’t fire them every round while casting spells in most cases.
- : Your best weapon option, but do your best to never actually use it.
- : Basically just a fancy outfit that you can apply magic runes to. Mage Armor is probably enough if it’s on your spell list, but most witches will go for Explorer’s Clothing.
Witch Focus Spells – Hexes
- : A great option for squeezing a little bit of damage out of a single Action. If the target fails the saving throw, you can Sustain the Spell for up to a minute to maintain the speed penalty. However, the target is immune for one minute once this spell ends so you can’t repeatedly hit the same target.
- : A +1 bonus isn’t huge, but it’s consistently useful at every level and since checks to Recall Knowledge, Seek, and Sense Motive are all very common out of combat you can get a lot of mileage out of this even if you never use it in combat once.
- : Similar in function to Demoralize, but you can Sustain the effect rather than being forced to apply the effect again once the Frightened effect wears off. Frightened is an excellent debuff, penalizing all of the target’s checks and DCs. This is good enough that in many encounters this will be your first Action, especially if you’re facing a single foe.
- : Basically a better version of Guidance, which is already good. The target only becomes immune if they use the effect, and they only use the effect if the +1 actually makes a difference. Even then, the immunity is only for one minute rather than an hour. The only disappointing part is that you can’t turn a Success into a Critical Success.
- : A lot of things have Darkvision, so they’re immune to this. For things that don’t they still get a Saving Throw and even if they fail Concealed is only a 20% miss chance. There are simply too many points of failure for this to be effective.
- : A nice, reliable buff. At low levels where you might be doing 1d8+4 damage with attacks, +2 damage is a nice boost. At high levels you’ll want to use this for brief periods when you need a big spike of damage, but you likely won’t have it running all the time. As far as I can tell, this applies to spell damage rolls so this is a great option to cast right before casting a big AOE spell against numerous targets.
- : Too situational and the effect isn’t good enough to be a significant deterrant if you’re still the easiest target for their attacks.
- : +1 or +2 to saving throws and AC. It’s against a single creature type, but typically you can pick the most problematic creature type in the encounter and slap this on your party’s Defender. The Action cost of this spell may seem steep, but compare it to the Raise a Shield action, which doesn’t boost your saving throws, can’t be applied to an ally, and provides a more common Circumstance bonus.
- : Sustain a Spell as a Free Action. This is a powerful capability that most casters can’t get until very high levels, but you get to do it with a 1st-level spell at the cost of a Focus Point. The biggest problem with Cackle is managing your Focus Points. Every Witch starts with 1 and you can have 3 by 2nd level, but there are no options built into the Witch to recharge more than one Focus Point until you can get Hex Focus at 12th level. That makes Cackle an expensive prospect since your 2nd and 3rd Focus Points are essentially usable once per day until levels 12 and 18. In most cases, using Cackle will either be a rarity or it will be your only usage of your Focus Points.
- : A small but notable amount of additional damage, especially if multiple people in your party can deal additional damage of the right type. Look for sources of ongoing damage and pile on as many small sources of damage as you can find, especially if the target is already Vulnerable to that damage type. Unfortunately, Air and Earth damage are uncommon, and cold and fire damage are commonly resisted. You are also likely to be the person in your party most capable of dealing elemental damage of various types, so your allies may have difficulty contributing to make Elemental Betrayal worthwhile.
- : Not a lot of healing, but it’s a single Action and any amount of healing will save an ally who is Dying.
- : This triggers any time the target takes a “hostile action” against the target, so it’s hard to sneak around this by doing things likes grappling instead of attacking. The save is notably a “basic save”, so like with many Reflex saves the target might take double damage, regular damage, half damage, or none at all, and it appears to be based on a single save made when you cast the spell. Targets don’t get temporary immunity after the spell ends like they would with many Hex Cantrips, so if the target succeeds on the save, you can try again the next round and Sustain the spell once you’re happy with the result. The damage scales well with spell level, allowing you to continue relying on this for your whole career.
- : You get this for free, and considering how much the Witch relies on their familiar it’s nice that you have a way to protect it even if you’re caught by surprise. However, since it’s a Hex you can’t use it if you’ve another Hex in the same round. If you cast a Hex during your turn, it’s wise to hide your familiar somewhere safe until your next turn starts.
- : There are many Actions with the Concentrate trait, but unfortunately most of them are used by humanoids with class levels. Sure, you’ll face humanoid enemies but they’re the minority compared to various dragons and trolls of the world. The penalty against Sleep effects is neat, especially since it still applies even if the target rolls a Success on the save, but Sleep effects are rare. The most accessible is the spell Sleep, and since you get both from the Lesson of Dreams you get a ready-made combo from one feat. Unfortunately, beyond that combo you’ll get very little use out of Veil of Dreams.
- : Illusory Disguise is on both the Arcane and Occult spell lists, so if you took either there is little reason to learn this. If you did take a different spell list, this is still a situational option at best.
- : A great offensive option, and the damage scales well. If you’re not already making attacks on your turn (rely on saving throw spells instead), the Multiple Attack Penalty isn’t a big problem for you. Sustain this once or twice per turn and use your remaining Actions to cast other spells which don’t require attacks.
- : Not much damage, and while it’s good that other creatures are Concealed to the target, the target is also Concealed to other creatures so the storm offers them a small amount of protection against attacks. The spell level scaling is terrible, too. Since this makes it hard for your allies to target the creature, expect your party to focus on attacking other creatures instead, and try to rely on AOE effects when target creatures affected by Personal Blizzard because AOE effects don’t care about the Concealed condition.
- : A bit slow perhaps since it takes 3 rounds to kill the target in your best case scenario, but the damage is good and scales reasonably well with spell level. If you just need to kill someone and not worry about it too much, you could do a lot worse.
- : Too situational. This can help with some nasty effects, but they’re uncommon in most campaigns.