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Spells + Rituals

In the spirit of October-For-People-In-Denial, I've been working on a few spooky things that probably should've been posted in Actual-October. One thing that I really enjoy is witches, in fact, I love them so much that all of my recent campaign's quintessential four classes includes them (Fighter, Thief, Witch, and Warlock, in my case). So far while GMing GLOG, the four have worked very well together. I've never quite written down solid rules surrounding the witch, so I guess now's the time.

Just so we're all clear on what I view as "witches" and what this class will entail, I think that covens are like giant magical conspiracy-networks. Veteran witches live in this constant state of nightmare where complex rituals must be done, subtle games must be played, and horrible deeds must be completed for some final goal you would never understand. That being said, you can learn the game they play and participate if you're willing to risk a little humanity and sanity.

To put it another way, warlocks and witches encompass two different kinds of very ordinary paranoia with magic injected into it. Warlocks fear debt and what will happen if they test their luck too far. Witches fear conformity and what will happen if they don't go along with the insane mind-bending coven that they're a part of.

If you are an entry-level witch, the new rhythm of your life goes something like this. Bargains are struck at midnight. You have vivid prophetic dreams that feel like they should mean something but never come up again. There are laws and codes that you cannot parse. Strangers give you wry and knowing nods. You wake each morning feeling different. Other members of the coven know you're a part of it, but not to what capacity. There is a grand plan, it's long and elaborate, and you're now collaborating. Some of the signs of collaboration are clear, others are utterly bizarre. Everything feels like a play, you just can't follow the plot, and if you hesitate you will surely die.

As a GM, it's important to explain none of the weird stuff that goes on in this grand conspiracy. The players will make their own theories, neither confirm nor deny anything. Throw unexplained shit at them. Have fun.

So, here's my take on witches:

Swamp witches
The Witch
(Martina Fackova)

Template A: Coven, Rituals, 1 Max Occult, 2 Spells
Template B: +1 Max Occult, +2 Spells
Template C: +1 Max Occult, +2 Spells
Template D: Coven's Child  +1 Max Occult, +2 Spells

Coven: You belong to a coven, a vast network of witches who are working towards some odd (and likely cataclysmic) goal in return for arcane power. You can cast Witch spells from your Coven's list using the Coven Casting rules. Your coven also gives you three Omens, minor magics you can use at-will. As you cast spells you will get weirder, more powerful, and less human. Each coven has a list of Corruptions that you will be affected by if you cast carelessly. Early Corruptions will make you stronger, but later ones will likely turn out to be detrimental until you are more hag than human.

Coven Casting Rules: When casting a spell, you may cast it with a number of Occult Dice (D4s) up to your maximum Occult. Whenever you roll the maximum 2 numbers on an Occult Die (3-4 on a D4, 5-6 on a D6, and so on...), step up the size of your Occult Dice and check out what Corruptions you now have. Once your Occult Dice reaches a D20, you turn into a monstrous hag that is utterly obsessed with achieving the coven's goals, humanity and morality be damned. Roll up a new character. You can step down your Occult Dice by doing Rituals. Corruptions are cumulative, you keep all previous Corruptions whenever you step up your Occult Die.

Rituals: Once per week, at night, you may go to an isolated area such as a hilltop, copse, basement, etc, and commence a ritualistic dance. Here you will find 2D6 other witches. This dance must include some boundary-pushing/clearly-not-o-fucking-kay act for all witches involved. This ritual takes an hour to complete, and if successful, you step down your Occult by one die (can never go below a D4) and choose one more benefit below:
- You make a new witch contact. They live pretty close to the ritual site. They're vague, but helpful. They seem to know more than you, but they veil their knowledge with smiles and nods.
- You hear of a rumor relating to something close to the ritual site. It's cryptic, but completely true.
- You wake up with a groggy head and a gift. Roll for a random item on a starter equipment table. It comes with an odd note attached, possibly directions, possibly a warning, possibly a thanks, GM decides what will be most mysterious.
If the 2D6 rolled for the amount of witches lands on doubles, there is some sort of complication surrounding the ritual or the benefit you gained, GM decides.

Coven's Child: Your womb bears a magical child, destined to bring the coven success. Your final task for the coven is to bear the child, which will be birthed in 2D6 days, and have a ritual on the day of the birth. You will die horribly, but you child will be glorious. The child's form is different from an ordinary human's, giving it a permanent strong beneficial mutation, described in the coven's entry. It also begins with 3 templates in a class of your choosing.

NOTE. You don't need to have a womb to bear a Coven's Child, or to be a witch for that matter. If you don't have a womb, the next time you wake up you will have a magical womb inside you, child included. (Or the child just rips itself out of your stomach or just replaces your character when everybody wakes up if you're uncomfortable with wombs) Witches are outcasts and won't reject anybody who passes hazing rituals, especially over such arbitrary matters like gender and sex. So go on, be a witch, trans rights.

ANOTHER NOTE. I have a few credits. The Coven Casting Rules are really-really-really inspired by Oblidisideryptch's Warlock and Lexi's simplified interpretation of them. Basically, the witch is like a reverse warlock in a lot of ways, from their progression to how their power-dynamic with magic works. The Rituals ability is pretty similar to Skerples' Witch Coven class, with some of my own added spice thrown in. The idea of the witch class-structure is very inspired by Skerple's Conspiracies.

The Hunt
Coven: The Old Hunt
(Martina Fackova)

Goals
Something beautiful coats the unloved parts of the world, white and sparkling. You've laid in it before and others have seen how much you enjoyed it. They offered you power for more cold, more winter, more of this. You now join your sisters in bringing about a cold age where the lands are blessed with arctic chrome, an age that's more equal, an age of tooth and claw.

Starting Equipment
A robe made of a mutated woodland beast
A set of three knives made from the sharpened finger-bones of notable people
- War-drums (or bagpipes made of a mutated woodland beast's lungs)

Omens
You can instantly summon a visible arrow into your hand if you're given a minute of uninterrupted concentration. Imagine this like summoning Thor's hammer.
You can mimic the sounds of small woodland animals.
You can flawlessly play dead. It always looks like you have died of frostbite when you do this.

Corruptions (Occult Dice Size)
D4. You feel a constant phantom breeze, like the tundra calling, even when there should be no breeze.
You can smell fear. It smells like burning books. Your nose looks like it has frostnip.
D6. The breeze picks up, it's cold constantly now, you chatter your teeth and shudder.
D8. You hear voices like windchimes in the breeze, they tell you about where to go in the wilds, they sound so beautiful...
Your skin takes on a translucent icy tint.
D10. The voices in the wind sing now, there's a pattern to it you swear, and the chants say something important and true in their alien language.
D12. There is a constant blizzard that obscures your vision, there are beautifully emaciated figures in the distance that beckon to you, the voices in the wind scream when you get close to certain things.
Your eyes have frozen over and you constantly cry icicles. You can't see past 30 feet.

Coven's Child
Your child is a pale and icy blue, with icicle daggers for eyes and a mass of melting snow for a tongue. Roll three spells from your spell list. Your child can cast one of these spells once per day at 3 DICE. When they do this, their skin looks horribly frostbitten for the rest of the day.

Spells
1. Icy Touch
Range: Touch | Target: DICE creatures/objects | Duration: SUM rounds/minutes
The targets are covered in a thick layer of ice. While in the ice, they cannot take damage and cannot think properly. They thaw after SUM rounds if in a stressful situation or after SUM minutes if in a calm situation or caught by surprise. 

2. Blizzard
Range: 30 Feet | Target: Yourself | Duration: SUM minutes
A blinding blizzard covers an 30-foot area targeted around yourself. Conversations cannot be heard, vision is limited, and people are hellishly cold while inside.

3. Snowball
Range: 60 Feet | Target: Yourself | Duration: DICE rounds
SUM snowballs shoot from your hands over the course of DICE rounds. Each snowball deals 1 damage. You drop anything that you're holding as the sheer amount of snowballs overwhelms your hands.

4. Brain-freeze
Range: Touch | Target: DICE Creatures | Duration: SUM minutes
Targets cannot form new short-term memories for the duration.

5. Cold Curse
Range: 60 Feet | Target: 1 Creature | Duration: DICE days
The target cannot feel warmth, no matter where they are. Their skin takes on a frostbite-like tone. They feel the need that they cannot stay in one place for more than a day, otherwise they'll freeze.

6. Invisibility
Range: Touch | Target: Object/creature | Duration: SUM minutes
Target becomes invisible. Save to stay invisible when attacking. The only sign that the target is around is that the air gets colder.

7. The Cunning
Range: 30 Feet | Target: DICE animals | Duration: DICE days
The animals either gain human intelligence or a human appearance.

8. The Culling
Range: 30 Feet | Target: DICE creatures | Duration: SUM rounds
Targets gain a horrible hatred for just about everything in their sight. They also gain +1 to hit, and must take outwardly violent actions each round.

9. Snow to Flesh
Range: Touch | Target: Yourself | Duration: DICE rounds
Turn a DICE times 10 foot patch of snow or ice into flesh. The flesh has any orifices or appendages you want it to have, such as grasping arms or blabbering mouths. You cannot control the activities of the orifices or appendages you make, all you know is that they're hungry and violent.

10. Protection from Nobility
Range: Touch | Target: DICE creatures | Duration: SUM minutes
No nobility or anybody decently well-off in civilization's eyes can touch you willingly. You have advantage on defense rolls against nobility's attacks.

10. Frostbite Flay
Range: 60 Feet | Target: DICE creatures | Duration: Instantaneous
Creatures with HD less than or equal to DICE must make a save or else have their freezing flesh rapidly slough away. They take DICE plus SUM damage from this.

11. Wall of Ice
Range: 10 Feet | Target: Surface | Duration: SUM rounds/minutes
Conjure a wall of ice 10 feet high, 1 foot thick, and SUM times 5 feet in length. This wall must start at a surface. Any creatures this is created under get a save to avoid being pushed around by the wall. This lasts SUM rounds if in a stressful situation, and SUM minutes if in a relaxed situation.

12. Corrupt
Range: Touch | Target: DICE creatures | Duration: DICE hours
The creatures see the same corruptions you see. You can all experience insanity together.

NOTES. Playtesting this was great. It's very fun to throw unexplained magic stuff at the players and watch them try to parse what the hell just happened. That slow descent into madness and doubt is what I live for. The witch also has a lot of emergent gameplay with the Rituals mechanic, along with the Corruptions.

I would recommend that you don't mess too hard with players until they reach their third Corruption. Let the witch's weirdness infect others as well. Like, the witch is clearly batshit insane, but occasionally the rest of the party can see what the witch is seeing, and it's odd and compelling. Make there seem like there's some sort of pattern where the truly isn't. I'd say that the Coven as a whole didn't take too much time to make. Be sure to make things weird, but don't constantly barrage them with weirdness, otherwise your audience dies and chaos reigns.

The most time-consuming thing about it is writing up 12 thematic spells (although, the Corrupt spell can probably be used for any witch template). It basically takes the same amount of time as making a warlock Patron. If you want to know the template for making corruptions, follow this:
Corruptions
D4. Something really minor that messes with the senses. 
A good mutation, too.
D6. The previous result intensifies. There's something up. 
No mutation here.
D8. Something that could potentially screw with the players and lead them odd places or give them adventure hooks. REALLY fucks with the senses. 
An aesthetic mutation, too.
D10. The previous result intensifies. It starts to get concerning, possibly impairing the senses. 
No mutation here.
D12. You've done it. You've gone batshit insane. Whatever is leading you is utterly convincing and utterly unexplainable to others. 
A really, really, really bad mutation, too. Everybody should be able to physically tell that you're a witch from the mutation alone.

Comments

  1. I've missed your posts! It's wild to think it's been over 2 months since I've heard from you. Hope you have a great winter :)

    ReplyDelete

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