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I gave up explaining it years ago. Just put the hat on already!
- Marin Marikoss, Memetic Witch and Dean of Psychological Arcana at the University of Redhill Castle, in the middle of encouraging a young Memetic Witch-in-training.
Magic Related Memetic Disorder is a magical mental malady that exists, albeit rarely, in many types of arcane spellcaster - almost always female. Similar to the classic phenomona of Science Related Memetic Disorder, it basically causes the caster - often otherwise an exceptionally intelligent individual - gets the odd idea in their head that witches gain their peculiar arcane abilities from behaving in certain ways. Then doesn't do the research, getting their ideas from local pop culture, adopting a few of those
tendencies, and, oddly, finding interesting new ways to use their existing magical talents based off of those tendencies. Most of the time, they eventually learn how real witches operate, if they exist in the worldsetting in question; oddly, this doesn't seem to stop the memetic take from working. Occasionally, the results even produce real knowledge usable by other arcanists!
About the only dedicated (or at least dedicated-ish) arcane spellcasting types that aren't
prone to this are actual Witches - since they darn well know better. Experiments in erasing their knowing-better somehow and seeing if they then become prone to Magic Related Memetic Disorder, resulting in recursive witchcraft, have not yet been executed, in part due to a peculiar lack of volunteers. The entire disorder confuses witches, but since anyone capable of making this work is at least a decent arcanist in their own right, they're more or less tolerated (especially since they can do some pretty neat things all their own).
The closest theory as to how the entire phenomona works, is that someone who already has some power, and goes off the deep end enough, basically subconsciously applies their existing knowledge or innate talent, forcing their will on the universe, which just kind of shrugs and accepts this because the results are often really entertaining. The weird part is that when the Memeticist almost inevitably figures out that it shouldn't
work... It keeps on working anyways. The trick at that point is just to not think about it and put the hat on already.
In game terms, Memetic Witches are a medium-length full progression Prestige Class for Arcane spellcasters, particularly ones in urban areas where pop culture exists to a real extent. They gain spellcasting power as normal, but also take special "Memes" - a pop idea thatg grants them a related power, but usually at an odd cost.
BECOMING A MEMETIC WITCH
Bards, Sorcerers, and Wizards more or less tie for being the most common folk to be prone to MRMD - perhaps Bards most of all, given they are often the most common source of pop culture about witches. Witches (if they exist as an extant class in your setting) never experience MRMD - since they literally gain their Arcane power from knowing better, it’s essentially impossible for them to not know better hard enough for their not knowing better to grant them power.
Note that, if you are starting a campaign at a higher level, it is potentially an option for the Memetic Witch to be a Child Witch.
Spellcraft 10 ranks, Craft(Alchemy) 5 ranks, Knowledge(Arcana) 10 ranks
Must not have levels in the Witch class.
Must be able to cast 4th-level arcane spells.
Must be able to look good in a witch's outfit. Technically, this doesn't MANDATE being female, but exceptions are few and far between, to say the least.
The Class Name's class skills (and the key ability for each skill) are....
Skills Points at Each Level:
x + int
|Level||Base Attack Bonus||Fort Save||Ref Save||Will Save||Special||Spellcasting|
|Witch’s Meme, Quirk Of Madness||+1 level of existing spellcasting class|
|Witch’s Meme||+1 level of existing spellcasting class|
|Witch’s Meme||+1 level of existing spellcasting class|
|Witch’s Meme||+1 level of existing spellcasting class|
|Witch’s Meme, Epiphany||+1 level of existing spellcasting class|
: Memetic Witches gain no new weapon or armor proficiencies.
Spells per day
When a new memetic witch level is gained, the character gains new spells per day as if she had also gained a level in whatever arcane spellcasting class she belonged to before he added the prestige class. She does not, however, gain any other benefit a character of that class would have gained. This essentially means that she adds the level of memetic witch to the level of whatever other spellcasting class the character has, then determines spells per day and caster level accordingly.
If a character had more than one spellcasting class before she became a memetic witch, she must decide to which class she adds each level of thaumaturgist for the purpose of determining spells per day.
: MRMD is largely defined by the active pursuit of various cultural memes as to what makes a witch, warped through an indirect lens and occasionally producing local oddities. The end result often only has superficial relation to actual witchcraft, but thanks to the wielder’s existing spellcasting capability and sheer persistence, still results in them attaining often unique powers all their own.
At each level of Memetic Witch, the Memetic Witch picks one power from the table below. Which ones are available to her depends on her level plus her primary spellcasting modifier. Each meme also has another requirement; once the meme is taken, the Memetic Witch must follow the requirement to receive the benefits of the meme.
|Level + Modifier||Ability||Requirements||Effects|
|1 || Witch’s Hat || From now on, in order to cast spells, the Witch must wear a witch’s hat - wide-brimmed with a pointy, possibly decorated, top. The details beyond this tend to be flexible. In a pinch, they can cast without the hat, but only after succeeding on a Spellcraft check (DC 15+Spell Level*2). || The Witch’s Hat may be enchanted to serve the purpose of any head-slot magic item by paying a cost equal to that item’s GP cost (or destroying a copy of that item and copying the enhancement over). Further, it may be enchanted additionally to serve the purpose of any single rod by paying a cost equal to that item’s GP cost (or destroying a copy of that item and copying the enhancement over); if this is used for a Metamagic Rod, then the three-per-day limit is removed.|
|2 || Pumpkin Casting || Must acquire and eat pumpkin in some form at least once a week. || The witch’s spells all take on a halloween and/or candy theme. Fireballs might become exploding pumpkins, and Charm Person’s visible energy might resemble cotton candy. While the effects are not changed, this makes spells extremely difficult to identify by other casters, increasing the DC of all Spellcraft checks to identify or counter the witch’s spells by 5. This is an involuntary effect (unless the caster conceals the spell’s effects entirely), and is always on unless it’s been at least a week since they have eaten any pumpkin. (Pumpkin seeds make a great supplement to trail rations, and thus are a common choice.)|
|3 || Catform || Must have had a cat familiar or pet cat for some period of their life, but not anymore. After taking this meme, the witch permanently loses the ability to take a familiar; they cannot have previously traded this ability off via an Alternate Class Feature, Flaw, or similar tradeoff; if they never had the ability in the first place (such as by coming into this class from Bard), they simply cannot gain the ability in the future. || At will, the witch can turn into a cat and back as a standard action. This effect is similar to the spell polymorph, but with a number of key changes. Their size becomes Tiny, granting her proportionate bonuses to armor class and hide checks. They gain a +10 bonus to their land speed. They suffer a -8 penalty to Strength (minimum 3), but gain a +2 bonus to Dexterity. They gain natural claw (1d2) and bite (1d3) attacks, and can attack twice with their claws and once with their bite (the bite at a -5 penalty) as a full attack. Most of the witch’s equipment transforms to become part of their cat body; they lose the benefit of their weapon, shield, armor, and/or robes. Their hat resizes itself to fit on their head, and other items that require a physical apparatus to function shift into forms appropriate for a cat, like an anklet or collar. They cannot speak while in cat form, and cannot cast spells that require verbal or somatic components, use scrolls, or otherwise activate magic items. They gain the scent ability. If slain while in cat form, they revert to their humanoid form after 1 round. Spells that reveal the true nature of a creature under the effects of a polymorph spell show the truth behind the witch’s guise; however, spells that would otherwise reveal magical auras won’t detect anything special about a witch in cat form. Don’t change any abilities or game statistics other than those noted here.|
|4 || Skirt of Deflection || The memetic witch can only benefit from this ability while wearing a skirt significantly shorter than societal norms for the region she comes from. (The exact length varies from culture to culture and even over time. If it wouldn’t be possible to call it a “skirt” while still having it be shorter than societal norms, then the skirt must be unusual in some other way instead.) Further, the memetic witch loses all armor and shield proficiencies upon taking this meme on, and cannot regain them by any means. || The Memetic Witch gains an armor bonus to AC equal to her primary casting modifier.|
|5 || Broom of Flying || The memetic witch must own a broom. (Or improvise one together, they’re not exactly fancy constructs. Collapsible poles plus some good heavy straw make for a dandy subsitute.) || Any broom the memetic witch owns works as a broom of flying, except that the maximum speed is 80 feet (60 feet if over 200 pounds carried, 40 feet if over 400 pounds carried to a maximum of 600 pounds), with perfect maneuverability and no time limit.|
|6 || Stockings And Gloves || The witch must now wear thigh-high stockings and past-the-elbow gloves. || The witch’s stockings may be enchanted to serve as a feet-slot magic item, but are not considered to take up the witch’s actual feet slot for the purposes of magic items or soulbinds. The witch’s gloves may be enchanted to serve as two separate glove-slot items, or as just one while not being considered to take up their actual hand slot for the purposes of soulbinds. Enchanting the gloves in this way costs a number of GP equal to the item’s market value.|
|7 || Candymancy || Eight ranks in two of Profession(Chef), Craft(Alchemy), or Craft(Candy). The witch must also use cauldrons for cooking and brewing magical candies, even where it’s not usually the ideal tool for the job. || The witch can now create highly useful delicious treats. Any spell that can be crafted into a potion can be crafted into a small, quickly-swallowed candy. The resulting candies work identically to potions, except that they can be consumed or put under another’s tongue as a swift action (if that person is willing, restrainted, or unconscious), or as part of the same action it takes to pull them out of a bag. Further, their weight is negligable. They have the same costs to brew as potions, but do not require the Brew Potion feat to create. The witch is also perfectly capable of making highly delicious but mundane candies. Note that potions which are meant to be thrown can still be cooked into candies... But throwing them isn’t going to do much.|
There are seven meme options, because seven is a Prime Number. Witches like Prime Numbers.
Quirk of Madness
: Once a Memetic witch first gains actual power from picking up memetic witch habits, they invariably, though not permanently, become obsessed with exploring the power to its fullest, Magic Related Memetic Disorder fully overtaking their otherwise-rational mindset. They cannot take class levels in any class that is not Memetic Witch until they have attained 5th level in Memetic Witch or otherwise gained the Epiphany class feature. (If playing Gestalt, one side of the gestalt must be Memetic Witch until they have attained 5th level in Memetic Witch or gained the Epiphany class feature.)
: After exploring the power of the memes of a witch to a deep extent, the Memetic Witch finally has an epiphany to the nature of the memes and what they allow her to do, allowing them to take full control of the disorder, even if they never really entirely escape it. A Memetic Witch who has attained an epiphany can, by abandoning a meme for a full week, pick up a different meme. They may only change one meme at a time in this fashion - so to turn over all five memes takes just over a month. The epiphany is also when they break free of the Quirk of Madness, allowing them to freely develop in new classes from there.
PLAYING A MEMETIC WITCH
Memetic Witches aren't like normal witches. Thousands of variations on the memetic take on witches exist, and so thousands of different types of Memetic Witch exist. Put ten Memetic witches and one normal witch in a room, and you’ll get at least fourteen takes on what witchcraft is. In general, your character will still be most useful in a party for their base class' role - most of what Memetic Witches gain makes them more broad, not more powerful, and their spellcasting specializations and spell selections will tend to be more critical to how they play than their class features.
One important detail to consider is that what witch tendencies do what is a knowable quantity. Your character’s power comes from “just knowing” these things thanks to cultural osmosis, so they know the options. Deeply considering them is perfectly normal in character, and each choice’s repercussions do matter.
If you're playing this class, the best thing you can do is ham it up a bit. Your character is reaching new heights of arcane power from looking and acting a part, so describe them doing so. Good role-play is a Memetic Witch's best friend, and is the difference between them being the fun kind of quirky versus being completely annoying.
Check your base class’ recommendations for combat, and take them seriously. Memetic Witches tend to be just as fragile as their base class, and require preparation and planning in the same way, even if they take mitigation memes.
That said, some of your meme choices may allow you to do things otherwise not available to you. A Memetic Witch with the Crazy Cat Lady meme can get the drop on enemies in pretty awesome faction, while Candymaking allows you to carry consumable buffs far more easily than most carry their potions.
The Memetic Witch’s power comes from a strange, warped understanding of the nature of magic and ritual - the nature of cause and effect, normally one of the most critical rules of magic, skips a few beats when it comes to their memes. However, it’s still in full effect for everything else - a Memetic Witch, just as much as any ordinary member of their class of choice, has to remember to keep their primary casting ability up, to keep their Spellcraft and Knowledge (Arcana) skill up to snuff, to choose their spells judiciously, and to otherwise be ready to adventure.
That said, Memetic Witches are also just as free to choose their path as their base classes - perhaps moreso, depending on what memes they take. Consideration and choice are the keys to power for Memetic Witches, and no choice can be made lightly.
Keep in mind that it’s very possible your character will start exhibiting MRMD symptoms well before they’re powerful enough to start benefitting from it - and many spellcasters, especially wizards, won’t even notice until they’ve taken their first level in the class. After all, pointy hats are standard wizarding fashion, and you might as well make yours nice, right?
While getting funny looks from the magical establishment is very, very much the norm for Memetic Witches, they remain spellcasters - and highly capable ones at that, often preeminent experts in their specializations of choice. Many arcane universities (which may play host to Mages of the Arcane Order, offering a potential next Prestige Class to follow up on) actively pursue proven Memetic Witches as professors and deans... Especially because no one’s better at teaching a Memetic Witch than another one.
That said, orders specifically suited to
Memetic Witches are rare - because of the wide variety of takes on pop mythology of witches, let alone the reality of them, Memetic Witches tend to be a little reclusive and lonesome when it comes to their unique abilities - viewing the “gift of knowledge” they have “discovered” as uniquely theirs, for no other to replicate except incidentally while taking their own path.
Women-dominated organizations tend to be a notch more accepting of Memetic Witches, simply by virtue that the majority of those who take the path and attain the power of one are female. In cities where higher-level folk are the norm, a Memetic Witch may be exceptionally popular among these circles.
There is one odd-woman-out even among Memetic Witches: Child prodigies (those who take the Stardorable meme in particular) learn quickly to use their cuteness and young age to their advantage. Getting favors from people becomes much easier the more adorable they can act... But on the other hand, few things are quite as frustrating as being glomped by squeeing fangirls (or fanboys, yeech!).
MEMETIC WITCHES IN THE WORLD
We are fully aware of the increasing percentage of our students who have taken preference to wearing short tunics, long socks, and pointy hats as an aid to spellcasting. While this only works due to the placebo effect for most, we're okay with this in the privacy of student's personal labs and dorm rooms, as long as they aren't making others uncomfortable by doing so. However, we must remind all students that the full dress code of the University is mandatory at all lectures and in all formal common areas. It isn't difficult to keep a robe in your backpack and toss it on before going to class, and is important to university reputation. A policy exemption has been granted for interscholastic sporting events, on condition that you wear the school colors, in response to Greenton Academy's recent cheerleading policies. The use of spells, including illusions and especially including disguise self and derivatives, by the audience at such events remains verboten.
- Dean of Students' Memo to Redhill University Seniors, giving up on trying to fight MRMD.
Most Memetic Witches follow an adventuring path very similar to that of their base class - other than the odd mode of dress, unusual pride in their hat, and other odd-seeming tendencies. Most have a few distinct evening rituals, and their memes may cause minor but visible changes, but usually the fundaments are the same. (That said, those who have the cat meme regularly insist that cats get better sleep than humans.)
Marin Marikoss is the preeminant scholar of MRSD alive today. A respected dean of Psychological Arcana - loosely translated, the study of the mind and how magic can aid that study - who was savvy enough to recognize both herself and her daughter Mara as cases, she probably knows more about MRMD than anyone - and has explored it thoroughly as one who experiences it daily, using herself as a case study in several cases.
Almost organizations specifically for Memetic Witches exist in the world - ordinary witches’ covens and associations don’t quite match up, and while other arcane study organizations are appropriate, they can’t do much to explain or explore MRMD. The Memetic Witch’s path is ultimately largely one of one’s own choices and discoveries, an odd reflection of their inner psychology.
CLASS NAME IN THE GAME
This is a good place to provide a quick note on how your class will effect game play statistically.
One very popular option for Memetic Witches is to have them start as children. This is not suited to games where characters start at a level below 7th (the minimum level one needs to take the Memetic Witch class under normal circumstances). Such children are invariably absolute prodigies - emblems of how MRMD is usually only found in powerful casters - and use statistics appropriate for adults of their race. Child witches have usually come into their power ludicrously rapidly - in terms of history (but not in terms of any mechanics on their character sheet), their first witch meme brought with it an abnormally deep and rapidly-picked-up understanding of their field of magic... Without (necessarily) a lot of maturity to go alongside. More or less tagging along with older adventurers (possibly even their own parents), they nonetheless are ultimately just as useful to a party as any adult spellcaster... If a lot more aggravating to deal with sometimes.
Memetic Witches can be found in any circumstance where a wizard, sorcerer, or bard might be found. As they tend to be a more whimsical class even when they’re evil, encounters with them tend to start off being more friendly - and can easily end that way. That said, if provoked, they tend to have a lot of tricks up their sleeves that can be difficult to deal with, and are easily capable of being a serious threat to a party, the same as any spellcaster.
Mara Marikoss, daughter of the famous Memetic Witch and scholar Marin Marikoss, unsurprisingly began to experience MRSD at the age of nine. Now fifteen years old, the loud, brash, and confident Mara has become a good bit of a rebellious teen - not helped by the fact that her power seems to be intuitive, rather than learned like her mother’s.
Mara is very, very fighty, and also well-known in the university town. She regularly walks up to a group of adventurers in her black cat form, poofs into her human form, and challenges them to a fight. This is always well-witnessed, because fighting in anything except broad daylight on a busy street just seems boring to Mara. Killing her would draw her mother’s wrath (if anyone considers this seriously, the DM is encouraged to say “CR 20” to dissuade them), and she will chase down a party that tries to flee. Knocking her out and handing her off to the city guards - who will usually show up five rounds after she challenges the party - is one option, but defusing the situation in other ways may be possible. Inevitably, her mother will show up to apologize for her daughter’s rash behavior soon after the encounter concludes.
N Female Human Sorcerer 6 / Memetic Witch 3
: Listen +0, Spot +0,
: Common, Cat
11, touch 11, flat-footed 10
: 30 ft. (6 squares)
: Dagger 1d4 (crit 19-20/x2)
: Dagger +4
: (The DM should select a set based on their setting. Mara favors highly aggressive spells as a rule.)
: Str 8, Dex 12, Con 14, Int 13, Wis 12, Cha 17
: Witch's memes (Witch's Hat, Pumpkin Casting, Catform)
: Cattalk, Spell Focus (Evocation), Spell Penetration, Greater Spell Penetration, Still Spell
: Concentration +12, Intimidate +6, Knowledge (arcana) +12, Spellcraft +12
: Dagger. (Mara does not carry items when attacking adventurers.)
Mara will openly challenge adventurers on a city street, then immediately shift to her cat form, using Stilled spells (particularly stilled fireball
s) to harass a party while being too small to easily hit.
Memetic Witch feats
: Catform Meme
: You can speak any language you know while in catform, and cast spells that require verbal components.This does not allow you to cast spells that require somatic components.
: Cats can’t talk, even when they have a silly hat on.