Introduction

The Witch’s patron is much like the Sorcerer’s bloodline: it adds new spells which may not otherwise be available to the Witch, and can define a major portion of the Witch’s spell list.

Many patrons provide one or more Polymorph spells. Polymorph is not normally on the Witch spell list, and polymorphing is something that you need to be built for if you want to be good at it. See my Practical Guide to Polymorph for suggestions.

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not covered here, please email me and I am happy to provide additional assistance.

RPGBOT uses 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. Nearly never useful.
  • Orange: OK options, or useful options that only apply in rare circumstances. Useful sometimes.
  • Green: Good options. Useful often.
  • Blue: Fantastic options, often essential to the function of your character. Useful very frequently.

Patrons

Agility

The Agility domain provides some good buffs and a splash of polymorph. The spells are a great selection, and provide some excellent options. Unfortunately, because you only get a few polymorph spells, its hard to justify devoting your character to polymorphing with this archetype.

  • jump: Very situational. Not on the Witch spell list.
  • cat’s grace: A useful buff, but many characters who need dexterity will invest in items which provide it.
  • haste: One of the best buffs in the game. Not on the Cleric spell list.
  • freedom of movement: Excellent buff, but situational.
  • polymorph: Extremely versatile, but don’t plan to use it on yourself often unless you built for polymorph.
  • cat’s grace (mass): You will rarely need to enhance the dexterity of more than one or two characters in the party.
  • ethereal jaunt: Great for a variety of purposes, including infiltration, spying, escaping, or killing etheral creatures.
  • animal shapes: Very slightly better than Polymorph.
  • shapechange: The best polymorph spell in the game. You can assume a dizzying number of forms, including that of a dragon.

Ancestors

The Ancestors patron introduces several essential buffs from the Cleric spell list, giving the Witch a lot of excellent Support options. If you have a Bard or Cleric in the party, skip this option.

  • bless: A solid low-level buff. If you don’t have any other morale bonuses available, this stays good forever.
  • aid: Mostly useful for the temporary hitpoints.
  • prayer: The bonus is a luck bonus, so it stacks with Bless, and Prayer simultaneously applies a penalty to enemies.
  • blessing of fervor: Almost as good as Haste, but allows your allies to choose different bonuses every round.
  • commune: Expensive, but very powerful.
  • greater heroism: Great if only one person in your party needs buffs to their attack rolls. Doesn’t stack with Bless.
  • refuge: Situational and very expensive.
  • euphoric tranquility: Like a high level version of Charm Monster.
  • weird: Excellent AOE save or die, and if they succeed on the save they are still stunned and take strength damage.

Animals

The Animals patron adds some animal-related spells, but because animals are such a small subset of encounters, it’s largely useless. If you like animals so much, play a Druid.

  • charm animals: Very situational.
  • speak with animals: Very situational.
  • dominate animal: Very situational.
  • summon nature’s ally IV: Witches can learn Summon Monster, which is almost always better.
  • animal growth: What are you going to use this on? Your familiar?
  • antilife shell: Great area control.
  • beast shape IV: One of the best Polymorph spells in the game, but you only get two polymorph spells, so you’re almost definitely not built for it.
  • animal shapes: Worse for you than Beast Shape IV, and it’s unlikely that your allies will need to be turned into a dinosaur.
  • summon nature’s ally IX: Witches can learn Summon Monster, which is almost always better.

Death

While the low level spells are situational, the high elvel spells are excellent save or die spells.

  • deathwatch: Situational.
  • blessing of courage and life: A weird combination of Remove Feat and Cure Light Wounds.
  • speak with dead: Situational, but very powerful.
  • rest eternal: Situational unless you’re in a campaign with necromancer enemies.
  • suffocation: Excellent save or die spell. The 3 round duration may seem like a handicap, but it means the target must save three times to avoid being dropped to 0 hitpoints and unconcious.
  • circle of death: Expensive, but it’s hard to say no to an AOE save or die spell.
  • finger of death: A huge pile of damage. Typically this should be enough to kill enemies of your CR, especially at high level when enemies are less dependent on hit dice to survive.
  • symbol of death: Symbol spells are very expensive and hard to justify without Permanency, which isn’t a Witch spell.
  • power word kill: The ultimate save or die spell.

Deception

The Deception domain has some very good spells, but most are very situational.

  • ventriloquism: Very situational.
  • invisibility: Fantastic buff for you or your party’s Scout.
  • blink: Great defensive buff, but poor duration.
  • confusion: Very difficult to use, and the effects are not guranteed to be useful.
  • passwall: Situational, but very useful.
  • programmed image: Situational, but very cool.
  • invisibility (mass): Fantastic buff for your whole party.
  • scintillating pattern: No save, but the limited number of hit dice affected really handicaps this spell.
  • time stop: One of the best spells in the game.

Elements

The Blaster Witch’s go-to option. With the exception of Wall of Ice, every spell in the list is a damage spell, and the list includes many of the best Blaster spells around.

  • shocking grasp: Excellent damage for such a low level spell, and you can cast it and let your familiar carry it around until its time to taze something.
  • flaming sphere: Good, not great, but it’s a good way to stretch one spell slot over several rounds of damage output.
  • fireball: If you have one third-level spell, prepare Fireball. If you have two third-level spells, prepare Fireball twice.
  • wall of ice: Excellent area control, and you can use it as a save-or-suck by encasing a target inside the hemisphere option.
  • flame strike: Like Fireball, but with a higher damage cap and half of the damage can’t be resisted.
  • freezing sphere: Like a bigger, colder fireball. It has the same damage cap as Flame Strike, but it also freezes water.
  • vortex*: Situational. How often do you fight on a body of water big enough to use this?
  • fire storm: Fire damage in a huge area which you have a lot of control over, and if they fail a reflex save they take 4d6 damage each round until they die or pass a fairly difficult reflex save to put themselves out.
  • meteor swarm: It totals 24d6 damage, which is nice, but allowing 4 saves makes it more likely that the target will pass one or more saves. The best option is to target one creature with touch attacks for the bonus 8d6 bludgeoning damage and the penalty on the saving throws.

Enchantment

The Enchantment school is one of the most powerful schools of magic, and includes some very powerful save or suck spells. The first few spells aren’t great, but you get several fantastic high level options.

  • unnatural lust: Like a hillarious version of Command. You get it a level early, which is good because this would be a horrible 2nd level spell.
  • calm emotions: Very situational.
  • unadulterated loathing: Very situational.
  • overwhelming grief: The target gets almost all of the penalties of being Stunned. Hold Person might be better for humanoids, but this will work on monsters until you can cast Hold Monster.
  • dominate person: Perhaps the most iconic Enchantment spell around, and for good reason.
  • geas: Situational, but insanely powerful.
  • euphoric tranquility: Like a high level version of Charm Monster. You get it a level early.
  • demand: Send this to your enemies’ unintelligent minions, and tell them to steal the macguffin and bring it to you.
  • dominate monster: Save or Suck, and you get a really powerful pet for a little while.

Endurance

The Endurance patron provides a collection of defensive buffs, Greater Restoration for some reason, and finished with Miracle. Altogether it’s a passable support patron, but it doesn’t have anything especially exciting.

  • endure elements: Very situational, and almost everyone has it on their spell list.
  • bear’s endurance: Ability enhancement spells are always nice, but this one is hard to use because of the small risk of dropping dead when the duration ends.
  • protection from energy: Always handy.
  • spell immunity: It is very hard to predict what spells to pick.
  • spell resistance: If you’re going to fight other spellcasters, there is no reason not to cast this. Unless they have Spell Penetration, this makes you 60% immune to the spells of spellcasters of your level.
  • bear’s endurance (mass): Same issues as Bear’s Endurance, en masse.
  • restoration (greater): You rarely need this spell, and it is very expensive to cast.
  • iron body: Interesting buff, but the effects which it protects you from are usually biger problems for your front-line party members.
  • miracle: Basically Wish for divine casters. The best spell that Witches can get.

Healing

Despite the name, the Healing patron provides surprisingly little actual healing. If you have access to hit points from a wand or something, this patron allows you restore other status conditions which hit points alone won’t fix.

  • remove fear: Situational. Fear effects tend to be fairly gentle, so very few people bother to cast this.
  • lesser restoration: Excellent way to remove ability damage.
  • remove disease: Situational, but nice to have when you eventually need it.
  • restoration: You can generally get away with lesser restoration, but sometimes you need a little more power.
  • cleanse: Like a combination of Cure Critical Wounds and a bunch of status effect removal.
  • pillar of life: A combincatin of healing and area control against undead.
  • greater restoration: You very rarely need this, which is good because the cost is so high.
  • mass cure critical wounds: Not worth such a high level spell.
  • true resurrection: Sometimes people die at high levels, and it’s good to be able to handle it.

Insanity

The Insanity domain contains a lot of bad options, and only a few truly good options.

  • memory lapse: Very situational, and if you fail you might make things worse.
  • hideous laughter: Save or suck that will take one target out of a fight for several rounds.
  • distracting cacophony: This is very rarely a better option than just killing the other spellcaster.
  • confusion: Very difficult to use, and the effects are not guranteed to be useful.
  • mind fog: Interesting area control effect, and great for laying an ambush. I really wish that this spell could be made permanent.
  • envious urge: Great way to disable groups of enemies. Even if some of them pass their save, they still need to deal with their allies attempting to disarm or rob them.
  • insanity: Permanent Confusion.
  • symbol of insanity: Symbol spells are very expensive and hard to justify without Permanency, which isn’t a Witch spell.
  • overwhelming presence: Excellent crowd control, but there are several 9th level spells with the same DC that will outright kill things.

Light

The Light patron is difficult to assess purely due to the inclusion of Sunbeam and Sunburst. The other options are generally good.

  • dancing lantern: Just cast light on something that you’re wearing or carrying.
  • continual flame: You will probably only cast this once or twice.
  • daylight: Nice to have, but situational.
  • rainbow pattern: Good crowd control, but it requires concentration so you will need your party to handle anything that isn’t affected.
  • fire snake: Like a very precise fireball.
  • sirocco: Nice area control effect. A little bit of damage, knock things prone, and make them fatigued.
  • sunbeam: This spell is poorly written. How long does the blindness last? Does the blindness end when you run out of rays? Or does it continue until the rounds/level duration expires? It affects “fungi, mold, oozes, and slimes” as though they were undead, but of those four only Ooze is a defined creature type. The wording regarding undead also makes it unclear if they are blinded in addition to the extra damage. The Pathfinder Rules Questions forum has several threads about the spell, all expressing similar concerns. I would interpret the spell as follows: Normal creatures take listed damage (4d6) and are permanently blinded. Undead take the bigger damage instead of the regular damage, and are blinded as normal. Oozes, and plant creatures which could be defined as “fungi, mold, or slime” (such as shambling mounds or mushroom creatures) are affected like undead. Consult your GM to be sure.
  • sunburst: Though it suffers many of the rules interpetation issues of sunbeam, sunburst is slightly easier to interpret. Because the duration is instantaneous, the blindness effect is permanent. The damage dealt to undead is still unclear (do they take damage twice?), and the additional list of things affected like undead is still confusing.
  • fiery body: Excellent buff, but not quite as good for the Witch as it would be for a more combat-oriented class like a Cleric.

Moon

Despite a very strong start, the Moon patron is mostly a collection weird situational spells chosen solely because they are vaguely moon-related.

  • darkness: You get this a level earlier than anyone else, but won’t be able to use it much until your get Darkvision.
  • darkvision: With an hours per level duration, you can eventually afford to throw this on all of your allies so that you can all fight within the area of Darkness.
  • owl’s wisdom: This is barely useful, and you get it a level late.
  • moonstruck: Turn a weak-willed enemy into a scary, confused almost-werewolf.
  • aspect of the wolf: You are almost certainly not built to take advantage of this, and a Witch is not a tripper.
  • control water: Get it? Because the moon affects the tides? Right? Pretty clever. Very situational.
  • lunar veil: Very situational.
  • horrid wilting: Decent single-target damage, but at this level you can use save or die spells with the save DC.
  • meteor swarm: It totals 24d6 damage, which is nice, but allowing 4 saves makes it more likely that the target will pass one or more saves. The best option is to target one creature with touch attacks for the bonus 8d6 bludgeoning damage and the penalty on the saving throws.

Occult

The Occult patron is a really cool collection of spells. It involves things that are creepy, weird, and generally… well, generally occult. Many of the spells are very good, especially at higher levels.

  • detect undead: Situational.
  • command undead: Great for acquiring new undead minions. Because the duration is days per level, you can stagger daily castings to control huge numbers of undead. Also note that there is no save for mindless undead and no hit die limit, so you can use this to control the skeleton of an ancient wyrm at level 4. Your GM would be a fool to allow it, but it’s technically possible.
  • twilight knife: This spell is really cool, scales well with level, and does force damage. However, the spell description leaves out some very crucial information. How does the knife pick a target? How fast can it move? Does it threaten? Can it provide a flanking bonus to allies even if it doesn’t threaten? You also need to attack a target to keep the knife attacking, but it’s not clear if the knife attacks the same target that you did and at what point during your turn it attacks.
  • black tentacles: One of the best area control spells in the game.
  • snake staff: Conceptually cool, but it;s only really useful if you carry around wagons full of garbage.
  • create undead: Create some scary undead. The spell is more expensive than Animate Dead, but the difference between a ghoul and a zombie is pretty huge.
  • waves of exhaustion: Exhausted is very gentle as far as status conditions go. -6 Strength and Dexterity sounds scary, but anything that needs strength and dexterity will still have enough to ruin your day.
  • trap the soul: Despite being insanely expensive to cast on anything of reasonably high level, this allows a permanent save-or-suck effect with no save if you’re clever. Once your target is inside the gem, they never die, so they can never be resurrected. Though the spell doesn’t state it, you likely need crazy magic like Wish or Miracle to get someone out of the gem if you don’t have the gem in hand.
  • gate: The ultimate summoning spell.

Plague

“Rot” might be a more appropriate name for this patron since only two spells (Contagion and Giant Vermin) could be considered plagues. This patron centers mostly on the creation and control of undead.

  • detect undead: Situational.
  • command undead: Great for acquiring new undead minions. Because the duration is days per level, you can stagger daily castings to control huge numbers of undead. Also note that there is no save for mindless undead and no hit die limit, so you can use this to control the skeleton of an ancient wyrm at level 4. Your GM would be a fool to allow it, but it’s technically possible.
  • contagion: Blinding sickness is a great combination of strength damage and permanent blindness. Because it’s a touch attack you can cast it well ahead of time and have your familiar deliver the touch attack.
  • animate dead: Time to build an army. If you create more undead than Animate Dead allows you to control, you can use Command Undead to control the ones that fall out of control.
  • giant vermin: With minutes per level duration, this is a bit like a longer version of Summon Monster.
  • create undead: Create some scary undead. The spell is more expensive than Animate Dead, but the difference between a ghoul and a zombie is pretty huge.
  • control undead: Unintelligent undead still get a save, and the duration is shorter than Command Undead.
  • create greater undead: Create some very scary undead.
  • energy drain: Begative levels can really mess up your enemies.

The Portents patron provides a list of useful Divination spells, combining some good buffs with information-gathering spells.

The Shadow domain is largely defined by the Shadow Conjuration/Evocation spells. By preparing these spells, you open up huge portions of the Wizard spell list, which adds a lot of versatility to the Witch, who otherwise would be required to guess which spells they will need at the beginning of the day.

Many of the spells provided by the the Spirits patron are very good, but they are also very situational.

An excellent mix of good, bad, and situational spells. Several great options for handling invisibility.

The Strength domain would be really fantastic if you were something like a Cleric, which makes sense because most of the spells are from the Cleric spell list.

Almost every option provided by the Time Patron is great, including the more situatinal options.

The Transformation patron is a polymorph spell list. You get all of the best self-polymorph spells, which is really all that you ever need. Beast Shape gives you all of the good animal forms, and Dragon Shape fills out your high level polymorph options.

The Trickery patron is primarily devoted to illusions. Illusions can be very powerful in the hands of a creative player with an equally creative GM, but if your GM tends to be uninpsired or rules lawyer-y, your illusions may not work as well as they probably should.

Like most water-themed options, the Water patron is mostly useful when in, on, or around water. Otherwise, you will find that many of the spells are useless.

Most of the spells are weak or situational. The only good options are very high level.

Despite a couple of poor low-level open, the Winter patron provides a nice mix of damage and area control spells, making it a good choice for a Witch who needs to succeed in a variety of roles.

The Wisdom patron provides several excellent defensive buffs.