The Witch Doctor
“Use those brains o’ yours, boy, before I finds a use for ‘em!”
Sivrin Stitchlips, to his apprentice.
To many of the more ‘civilized’ cultures, Witch Doctors are distasteful practitioners of primitive, ineffective magic – a barbaric substitute for a proper wizard or sorcerer. For their part, the Witch Doctors don’t mind this prejudice, because they know the truth; they are the heirs to magic both primal and strong, with lush, deep roots in both the land beneath their feet and the souls within their bodies. With it, the Witch Doctor can cast curses more harrowing than any wizard’s cheap tricks, blessings more potent than those cast by kneeling, fawning clerics, and brew potions more cunning than any devised by an alchemist. Primitive they may be, but the Witch Doctors are powerful, and those who confuse ‘primitive’ with ‘stupid’ are in for a most unpleasant surprise.
Intelligence and Charisma are the most important abilities for a Witch Doctor, as they affect his brews and curses. Wisdom is useful for a Witch Doctor who wishes to gather his own materials for brews, and Dexterity is useful for Witch Doctors who wish to hurl their creations with any degree of accuracy. As always, a good Constitution will increase his hit points (and therefore odds of survival).
Witch Doctors enhance their party, curse their enemies, and serve in a smattering of other ways using their potions. Witch Doctors, while not a substitute for a more traditional spellcaster, certainly compliment them well, freeing their counterparts up for more lethal spells in place of utility or enhancement effects. In battle, a Witch Doctor of sufficiently high level can also serve as a controller or even a mage-slayer, using abilities such as Witch’s Mirror and Stir the Spirits.
Most Witch Doctors were trained as the apprentice of another Witch Doctor, who may have even been their father, mother, or grandmother. Many Witch Doctors are from tribes of savage humanoids, such as gnolls or orcs, or among barbarian tribes of humans. Quite a few, however, hail from small rural villages that know nothing of “proper” arcane or divine magic, serving as wise man, priest, healer, and protector all in one. A very small but growing number of Witch Doctors may be found in cities, selling their services to the jaded nobility or giving aid to the poor and unfortunate – for a price, of course, as custom dictates. Whatever the case, most potential candidates to be Witch Doctors have something unusual about them – eyes of different colors, webbed toes, a dead twin, and strange birthmarks are all examples of something that would catch a Witch Doctor’s attention in an apprentice.
Witch Doctors don’t usually have a formal organization, but there is a pervasive sub-culture around the entire practice. Witch Doctors give each other courtesy, gossip with one another, inquire about apprentices, and so on. Unwritten but highly respected laws govern their interactions with one another, and should two Witch Doctors find themselves at odds, they will try to resolve the dispute without resorting to violence or their powers unless doing so seems utterly impossible; at this point, the two formally challenge one another according to ancient rules of mystical combat. Even then, only rarely do such contests end in death.
Any. Witch Doctors hold to many philosophies, but they do share a tendency to be laid back and relaxed about their alignments. Witch Doctors know that there are many kinds of magic and spirits, all of which are perfectly natural, and they don’t see the point in judging someone just because they decided to stick to a different part of nature. Witch Doctors do
have a very slight tendency to chaos over law, mostly because many of them come from very loose, tribal societies, but this is far from the rule.
Most Witch Doctors hail from the savage races, such as gnolls, orcs, half-orcs, and humans. Tribes of more feral elves sometimes boast a Witch Doctor or two, and rumors persist of ogres, trolls, and giants lead by Witch Doctors. Halflings, gnomes, and dwarves almost never have Witch Doctors, and a Witch Doctor hailing from an Outsider race is literally unheard of (though the occasional Aasimar or – more commonly – Tiefling Witch Doctor does surface from deep within magic-scarred wildernesses).
Most Witch Doctors are spiritual animists. This is not to say that they doubt the existence of gods – most Witch Doctors are keenly aware of their existence – but rather that many Witch Doctors simply don’t see the point in praying or worshipping a deity rather than going out and solving your own problems. Many Witch Doctors are wary of formalized churches, especially those of lawful deities, because they tend to encourage conformity instead of innovation, but all in all, Witch Doctors treat religion like they treat philosophy – with a laid back, ‘live and let live’ attitude.
Most Witch Doctors get along pretty well with everyone, on a general basis. They tend to be most comfortable around barbarians, rogues, and other martial characters, especially those from more primitive backgrounds, but they hold great respect for magical classes who gain their power through personal discipline and perseverance, such as paladins, sorcerers, and wizards. Many Witch Doctors secretly pity clerics – who really
wants to be down on their knees that often? – and most are at a loss what to think about druids, who seem so similar to the Witch Doctors in theory, but so vastly different in practice.
Adapting Witch Doctors out of their current role may represent something of a challenge to a Dungeon Master; so many of their abilities are tied into their specific flavor that it may be hard to extricate the two. Still, some ideas might place them as a group of eccentric alchemists, a prestige class, or even as replacements for the more traditional magic system.
3d4 x 10 gold. While this is far from required, most Witch Doctors keep their wealth in semiprecious gems, pieces of jewelry, and other non-coin sources of treasure. Many Witch Doctors, especially those raised in more tribal environments, never really shake this habit, being unwilling or unable to trust in the value of currency (many Witch Doctors, being intelligent and/or wise, end up realizing the fundamental nature of currency – namely, that it is worth only what people believe it is worth – and end up with the half-formed fear that others will eventually realize this and refuse to accept coinage as payment).
The Witch Doctor’s class skills (and the key ability for each skill) are as follows: Appraise (Int), Bluff (Cha), Climb (Str), Concentration (Con), Craft (Int), Craft (Mojo) (Int), Craft (Poisonmaking) (Int), Gather Information (Cha), Jump (Str), Knowledge (Arcana) (Int), Knowledge (Local) (Int), Knowledge (Nature) (Int), Knowledge (Religion) (Int), Listen (Wis), Search (Int), Speak Language (N/A), Spot (Int), Survival (Wis), Swim (Str), Use Magic Device (Cha), Use Rope (Dex).
Skill Points at First Level:
(6 + Intelligence modifier) x4
Skill Points at Each Additional Level:
6 + Intelligence Modifier
NAME OF CLASS
Weapon and Armor Proficiency:
|Level||Base Attack Bonus||Fort Save||Ref Save||Will Save||Special|
|Juju Brews, Poison Use, Witch's Glare|
|Wake the Spirits|
|Improved Juju Brews|
|Stir the Spirits|
|Voodoo Doll, Improved Doctor's Orders|
|Improved Mojo Brews|
|Dead Man Walking|
Witch Doctors are proficient with all simple weapons, nets, and shortbows, as well as their own brews (which are otherwise treated as improvised weapons by other characters). Witch Doctors are proficient with leather, studded leather, and hide armors, as well as bucklers and light shields (but not other shields).
Juju Brews (Su):
All Witch Doctors make brews, strange mixtures of magic and alchemy which they use to bless their allies, curse their enemies, transform objects, and other, stranger powers. At first level, the Witch Doctor may craft the most basic of brews (those labeled as Juju brews). At fifth level, they gain the ability to craft Improved Juju Brews, at tenth level they gain the ability to craft Mojo brews, and at level fifteen they gain the ability to craft Improved Mojo brews. Crafting a single brew is a one hour process requiring a Craft (Mojo) roll.
Each brew has its own effects, cost to craft, and craft DC. A Witch Doctor may, instead of purchasing raw materials, forage or grow her own brew ingredients by making a survival check (with a DC dependant on the individual brew). Interrupting the process of making a brew does not harm the brew, but a Witch Doctor may only attempt to make a single brew at a time, as the actual process is an involved one, requiring specific orderings of ingredients, chants, offerings to the spirits, and other, stranger rituals (unlike with normal crafting attempts, a Witch Doctor with the free time to devote to the activity may craft as many brews in one day as he likes). Once a brew is made, it may be used or consumed by anyone (though brews used by the Witch Doctor may benefit from his other class features; see below).
Using a brew is a move action that provokes attacks of opportunity, and is identical to consuming a potion or similar item. Attacking with a brew is a ranged touch attack with a range increment of ten feet (involving throwing the bottle or flask at one’s target) or as a melee touch attack, though smashing a brew flask against a target causes the brew to affect the user as well. Regardless of its container, a brew hurled or smashed against a target deals 1d4 points of piercing damage as its container shatters.
Brews may be mixed with poison without negating their effects. The save DC for any of the Witch Doctor’s brews is equal to 10 + the Witch Doctor’s class level + the Witch Doctor’s intelligence modifier (victims of poisoned brews save separately against the poison).
Poison Use (Ex):
Witch Doctors are trained in the care and use of various toxins and venoms; a Witch Doctor never risks poisoning themselves when applying poison to a weapon or object.
Witch Glare (Su):
The most basic power of the Witch Doctor is the “evil eye”, or “witch glare” – a stare through which he conveys his ill will and harm towards another. Starting at level one, once per round as a swift action that does not provoke attacks of opportunity, the Witch Doctor may inflict his Witch Glare on an intelligent target (intelligence score 3 or higher) within thirty feet, who must succeed at a will save (DC 10 + ½ the Witch Doctor’s class level + the Witch Doctor’s charisma modifier) or suffer a -4 luck penalty to one physical ability score (strength, dexterity, or constitution) of the Witch Doctor’s choosing, as well as a -2 luck penalty to damage rolls, skill checks, and will saves vs. fear and/or compulsion effects. Witch's Glare lasts for a number of rounds equal to the Witch Doctor's charisma modifier.
Gris-Gris Blessing (Su):
Though the roots of the Witch Doctor’s magics are humble, they are nonetheless extremely potent. At level two, the Witch Doctor gains the option of creating a Gris-Gris bag with which to perform blessings and curses. Creating the bag is simple, requiring only forty gold pieces worth of materials (or a DC 12 survival check) to craft. Thereafter, the bag may be used as a focus for many of the Witch Doctor’s class features.
When the Witch Doctor acquires this ability, he may invoke the spirits of the bag to bless himself or his allies; once per round as a swift action that does not provoke attacks of opportunity, he may grant one intelligent being (intelligence score 3 or higher) a +1 luck bonus to attack rolls, damage rolls, and saving throws. This bonus increases by one for every four levels after second (maximum +5 at level 18). A being who does not desire the blessing is entitled to a will save (DC 10 + ½ the Witch Doctor’s class level + the Witch Doctor’s charisma modifier), though the effect is harmless. This use of the ability requires a Gris-Gris bag to perform, and lasts a number of rounds equal to the Witch Doctor's class level.
Witch’s Intuition (Su):
The Witch Doctor has a knack for telling if something is wrong with those he views; starting at level three, he can see and hear the malevolent spirits and spells that afflict them. A Witch Doctor who sees a living being can concentrate on that being as a swift action and activate this ability in order to discern one fear, luck, morale, and/or profane penalty per class level currently afflicting the target, as well as the penalty’s type (arcane, divine, or mundane) and source (extraordinary ability, spell, or supernatural ability).
Wake the Spirits (Su):
Starting at level four, the Witch Doctor may stir the spirits of objects to wakefulness, gaining certain minor benefits from them. As a move action that provokes attacks of opportunity, the Witch Doctor may call on the spirit of an item, object, or weapon within thirty feet of him, and choose one of the following effects: the target gains a +1 enhancement bonus per four class levels (maximum +5) for one round per class level, the target gains a -1 enhancement penalty per four class levels (maximum -5) for one round per class level, the target gains additional hardness equal to the Witch Doctor’s class level for one round per class level, or the item babbles incessantly for one round per class level, inflicting a -4 circumstance penalty to all concentration, knowledge, and spellcraft checks made within thirty feet of it, as well as a -2 circumstance penalty to ranged attack rolls originated within that area.
An item, object, or weapon can only be affected by Wake the Spirits once per encounter. Magical or sentient items are entitled to will saves (DC 10 + ½ the Witch Doctor’s class level + the Witch Doctor’s charisma modifier) to avoid the effects. An item with non-enhancement abilities (such as [i]flaming[/i) that has its enhancement bonus reduced to 0 or below retains these abilities. Weapons reduced to a +0 enhancement bonus are still masterwork weapons. Wake the Spirits cannot be used on constructs, animate objects
or other, similar beings and effects.
Gris-Gris Curse (Su):
At sixth level, the Witch Doctor’s studies allow him to “put the Gris-Gris” on his foes; twice per encounter as a swift action that does not provoke attacks of opportunity, he may set the spirits of his Gris-Gris bag upon an enemy, who must succeed at a will save (DC 10 + ½ the Witch Doctor’s class level + the Witch Doctor’s charisma modifier) or suffer a -4 luck penalty to all ability scores, as well as a -4 luck penalty to all damage rolls (including those rolled for spells and supernatural abilities), skill checks, and will saves vs. fear and/or compulsion effects for one round per class level. Those under the Witch Doctor’s Gris-Gris curse find that their own magic is less effective against him; he gains spell resistance equal to 15 + his class level against victims who fail their save against his Gris-Gris curse.
This ability requires a Gris-Gris bag to use.
Doctor’s Orders (Su):
By using some of his mojo and entreating the spirits when using one of his other class features, the Witch Doctor can make his blessings and curses last longer. Once per day, when using a non-brew class feature with a duration of one round per class level, the Witch Doctor may declare that the effects are Doctor’s Orders; they instead last one hour per class level if the target fails (or waives) their saving throw. For the rest of the encounter in which the Witch Doctor uses Doctor’s Orders (or for the duration of the next encounter, if the Witch Doctor uses this ability outside of an encounter), his magic is somewhat less potent; his targets receive a +1 circumstance bonus to saving throws vs. his supernatural class features from this class.
Starting at level fourteen, once per day, when using a non-brew class feature with a duration of one round per class level, the Witch Doctor may instead declare that its lasts for two hours per class level. This ability is otherwise identical to the earlier function of Doctor’s Orders (and the Witch Doctor may use even them both in one encounter, though not on the same ability, if he wishes).
This ability requires a Gris-Gris bag to use.
Bad Juju (Su):
A skilled Witch Doctor of eighth level or higher may use his juju to inflict truly dire curses upon those who anger him; as a move action that provokes attacks of opportunity, he may curse one of his Juju or Improved Juju brews. If the brew so cursed would normally apply bonuses, it instead applies equivalent penalties to those rolls or scores. If the brew so cursed would normally apply penalties, it instead applies half-again as much penalties (rounded up). If the brew so cursed normally deals damage, it also inflicts a luck penalty equal to the Witch Doctor’s charisma modifier to the victim’s attack rolls, damage rolls, and skill checks for a number of rounds equal to the Witch Doctor’s class level if the victim fails their save vs. the brew.
A Witch Doctor of eighteenth level or higher may use this ability on Mojo and Improved Mojo brews as well as his Juju and Improved Juju brews.
A being who succeeds at their save vs. a cursed brew is immune to the effects of further cursed brews by the same Witch Doctor for 24 hours, though not to those of normal brews that inflict penalties.
Witch’s Mirror (Su)
A Witch Doctor of ninth level or higher knows how to twist negative energy and curses back upon their senders; if the Witch Doctor succeeds at a saving throw against a spell or ability that would inflict a fear, luck, morale, and/or profane penalty upon him, he avoids that effect completely. Furthermore, the originator of that spell or ability suffers its full effects (no save) for a number of rounds equal to the Witch Doctor’s class level. The Witch Doctor benefits from this ability while helpless, but not while unconscious.
Big Juju (Su):
As a Witch Doctor grows more skilled, he learns to re-awaken the spirits mixed into his juju brews to make them more potent; as a move action that provokes attacks of opportunity, a Witch Doctor of eleventh level or higher may turn one of his Juju or Improved Juju brews into a Big Juju brew. Big Juju brews have their durations doubled, and those that deal damage deal an additional amount of damage equal to the Witch Doctor’s class level. Big Juju brews that bestow bonuses instead bestow half-again the same bonuses (rounded up). Those attempting to make saving throws against Big Juju brews suffer a -2 circumstance penalty to the save.
A Witch Doctor of twentieth level or higher may use this ability on Mojo and Improved Mojo brews as well.
A Witch Doctor may only have a number of Big Juju or Big Mojo brews in any combination active (that is, made by him but unused) equal to his charisma modifier. One brew cannot be affected both by Bad Juju and Big Juju.
Stir the Spirits (Sp):
A Witch Doctor of twelfth level or higher can rouse the spirits of objects and items to do battle for him; once per encounter as a standard action, he may cast animate objects
as a wizard of his class level.
Spirit’s Curse (Su):
A truly dire proclamation, a Witch Doctor of thirteenth level or higher can afflict an intelligent being (intelligence score 3 or higher) with the Spirit’s curse. Once per encounter, as a swift action that does not provoke attacks of opportunity, he may force a victim within thirty feet to succeed at a will save or suffer a -6 luck penalty to all ability scores, attack rolls, damage rolls (including those rolled for spells and supernatural abilities), and saving throws for one round per class level. Furthermore, the shrieking of the spirits in their ears renders the victim deaf for the duration of the ability.
A victim who succeeds on their save is immune to further uses of Spirit’s Curse on their person for the next 24 hours.
Voodoo Doll (Su):
Using sympathetic magic and subtle manipulations of power, a Witch Doctor of fourteenth level or higher may create a voodoo doll of an intelligent creature. In order to craft the voodoo doll, the Witch Doctor must either know that creature’s birth name, or possess of piece of its body (fingernail clippings, hair, tooth chips, and other similar fragments will do just fine), as well as raw materials worth three hundred gold pieces (survival check DC 30 to forage) and roughly four hours of work. Upon the voodoo doll’s completion, the victim of the doll feels a shudder down their spine and knows that someone, somewhere, has power over them.
A voodoo doll confers a number of benefits to the Witch Doctor. Firstly, the Witch Doctor knows whenever the victim of the doll speaks of the Witch Doctor, and to whom, as well as his victim’s location when he does so. Additionally, by destroying the voodoo doll and whispering curses and invective against his victim, the Witch Doctor may force the victim to succeed at a will save (DC 10 + ½ the Witch Doctor’s class level + the Witch Doctor’s charisma modifier) or suffer an accident within the next 24 hours that deals them 1d4 points of damage per class level. A Witch Doctor may only destroy one doll per victim in this fashion in a one week period.
A Witch Doctor may also use one of his supernatural class features upon the doll or pour a brew upon it; doing so causes the victim of the doll to be affected by the ability or brew, regardless of their actual distance from the Witch Doctor (they are still entitled to saving throws). Using the voodoo doll in this fashion destroys it, however; the doll unravels into its component pieces and becomes useless, requiring that a new effigy be created.
A Witch Doctor may have a number of active voodoo dolls (that is, dolls that he has made that have yet to be destroyed or consumed) equal to his intelligence modifier. He may give the dolls away and still benefit from their powers, but a voodoo doll unravels into rude cloth, herbs, and other raw materials if taken more than one mile from the Witch Doctor.
Shadow’s Curse (Su):
A Witch Doctor of level sixteen and higher may perform truly terrifying curses; once per encounter, as a standard action that performs attacks of opportunity, he may harm the shadow of an intelligent being (intelligence score three or higher) within thirty feet of him, dealing that being 2d4 points of damage to strength, dexterity, intelligence, and charisma (will save DC 10 + ½ the Witch Doctor’s class level + the Witch Doctor’s charisma modifier for half damage). A being whose shadow has been harmed in this fashion casts a very weak shadow that seems to limp, stumble, and collapse independently of them, and they become fatigued and exhausted at double the normal rate until they have healed their ability damage. At any rate, a creature targeted by Shadow’s Curse (regardless of their failure or success on the save) is immune to further uses of Shadow’s Curse for seven days and nights afterward.
Dead Man Walking (Su):
Invoking spirits of wrath and malediction, a Witch Doctor of eighteenth level or higher may declare that one of his foes is a dead man walking; once per encounter, as a swift action that does not provoke attacks of opportunity, he may inflict this ability upon any intelligent being (intelligence score three or higher) within thirty feet. The victim must succeed at a will save (DC 10 + ½ the Witch Doctor’s class level + the Witch Doctor’s charisma modifier) or go into a suicidal frenzy. A victim who fails his save seeks the closest, most efficient method of taking his own life and attempts to do so for a number of rounds equal to the Witch Doctor’s charisma modifier. If restrained, the victim will attempt to free himself and continue his suicide, and the victim will always harm himself in preference to another being if capable. The victim retains his ability to distinguish friend from foe during this time.
A victim who succeeds their save or manages to survive the effects of a failed save is immune to further uses of this ability for one month. A victim who survives the effects of a failed save suffers 1d4 points of wisdom drain from mental shock, despair, and guilt.
Dead Man Walking is a mind-affecting ability.
Cheval Dance (Su):
The greatest manipulation of spirit a Witch Doctor may learn, a Witch Doctor of level nineteen or higher may fragment his own spirit, possessing his foes and using their bodies for his own ends. Once per encounter, as a standard action that provokes attacks of opportunity, the Witch Doctor may target a number of beings up to his charisma modifier (minimum one) with this ability. His victims must succeed at will saves (DC 10 + ½ the Witch Doctor’s class level + the Witch Doctor’s charisma modifier) or fall under his influence; as an immediate action, the Witch Doctor may change the target of one of their actions. A Witch Doctor is always aware of his targets intentions and is thusly immune to bluff checks originated by his targets (as well as other attempts at mundane or supernatural deception by his targets), flanking attempts that include one or more of his targets, and fear, morale, or compulsion effects originated by his targets. If his target uses a spell, spell-like, or supernatural ability, the Witch Doctor is automatically aware of the spell’s effects, origin (arcane or divine), school, and target. The Witch Doctor is always aware of his targets’ locations; invisibility
, hide attempts, and concealment used by his targets are completely ineffective against him.
Example: Sivrin Stitchlips, a twentieth level Witch Doctor with an eighteen charisma (+4 modifier) uses Cheval Dance on a group of brigands, targeting an archer, two fighters, and a mage. The archer succeeds at his save, but the mage and fighters fail. The fighters flank him, but gain no bonus, and Sivrin is immune to the bluff attempt one of them makes to feint. As the mage begins to cast a finger of death spell, Sivrin is instantly aware of its effects and uses an immediate action to cause the mage to target the archer instead.
Cheval Dance is a mind-affecting, compulsion effect. A being who succeeds at their will save against Cheval Dance is immune to further uses of Cheval Dance by any Witch Doctor for 24 hours thereafter.
Sidebar: Serious Mojo