Investing In: Player Core Witch

You command powerful magic, not through study or devotion, but as an agent for an otherworldly patron that even you don’t entirely understand. This entity might be a covert divinity, a powerful fey, an ancient spirit, or any other mighty supernatural being—but its nature is likely as much a mystery to you as it is to others. Through a special familiar, your patron grants you versatile spells and powerful hexes to use as you see fit, though you’re never certain if you’re merely serving your patron’s larger plan.1

Oh you think Halloween’s just over and so now I’m going to forget all about that spinner of fates, that dealer of deals, that creepy crafter, the bad-cast witch? Oh no, the season of the witch just started. On November 15th, Pathfinder Player Core becomes available and it’s got that sweet, sweet remaster Witch ready to enchant, hex, and delight! Well, actually I’ve been lucky enough to have the book for a couple weeks and I am loving the changes. You’ve no doubt seen some lovely things to come from NoNat and Stephen & Mark over at Roll For Combat. I’m eager to break down all that I love from Core, but I really had to give the witch my love and focus. And I thought to myself how best could I do so other than by updating my lovely witch Ateran for Roll for Combat’s Three Ring Adventure!  And well, can’t help but dig into some other updates too!

But first let’s look at the changes from a general lens! It’s important to note that Witch wasn’t included in the core rulebook. We didn’t see the witch until a year later with the Advanced Player’s Guide. However, it’s now part of the core class offerings with this Player Core 1 release. Player Core 2 will contain the rest of the classes like Champion and Alchemist. Anyway, we’re still getting 6 hit points per level, still using a key attribute of intelligence. We’re still trained in perception, fortitude, and reflex while an expert of mental will. We still get training in 3 + intelligence skills and one determined by our patron. We get training in simple weapons, unarmed attacks, unarmored defense but as discussed on the Paizo blog spellcasting has changed. Now we start trained in spell attack modifier and spell DC, as well as the witch class DC. It’s really in the spellcasting, where you use your familiar as a conduit to your patron, where things have changed.

Your Patron, Your Familiar

Ateran’s original patron was that of Curse, granting them the occult spell list, training in occultism, the powerful Evil Eye, and the spell ray of enfeeblement. As I think about it, I don’t know that Ateran ever cast it. The related patron for Remaster is that of Resentment. In hindsight I’m not quite sure that fits the patron’s identity that was eventually revealed – and I won’t spoil it in case you’re watching – but it does mention that a patron of Resentment “is likely far from the upper echelons of its kind” so perhaps it is fitting. Ateran would still gain the occult spell list, training in Occultism, and the evil eye hex while the spell gained is enfeeble, the changed spell name for ray of enfeeblement. However, now when you choose your patron your familiar also gains an ability. This is in addition to the extra familiar ability you gain at first level in the APG, along with more abilities at 6th, 121th, and 18th level. Apparently a familiar of Resentment is one of ongoing misery, seeming hostile to others. That fits Csillagos well. Now whenever Ateran casts or sustains a hex, Csillagos will be able to curse a creature within 15 feet, prolonging the duration of any negative conditions affecting that creature by 1 round!

Perhaps it’s the right time to note that familiars have changed for the better, an extension of the new Pet feat. There’s a more diverse selection of abilities available, including options to change the familiar’s creature trait. You’re only limited to one but you can choose construct, dragon, elemental, fungus, or plant. You can also choose abilities from that new 1st level general Pet feat like amphibious, darkvision, flier, scent… A few of them are familiar to 2E originally but Remaster is really growing the options and customization while maintaining balance. That Pet feat basically let’s anyone pick up a tiny animal with the minion trait. I’m interested to see if specific familiar types are replaced altogether because now you can really build up the pet, or familiar, you want just like crafting up your character.

Hexes For Good, Or Ill

Hexes have seen changes as well. You start with either Patron’s Puppet or Phase Familiar. Patron’s Puppet is a free action, a literal unspoken Command as you please for your patron to take over your familiar and take its two actions however they see fit. As a GM, I want my players to do this! You can also take Phase Familiar, a reaction to shift your familiar into a ghostly state and protect them from harm. I’d like both for Csillagos. Looking at Evil Eye, that hex cantrip has improved in my opinion. It’s still a 1 action, single target curse that has a 30 foot range and can be sustained for a minute. However now instead of inflicting frightened, it inflicts sickened. It’s nice that it’s no longer a fear effect or have the mental trait, let alone it’ll stack with those demoralizing to cause frightened. It penalizes in the same way to all checks and DCs, but a nice extra detail is the target won’t be able to ingest anything like elixir or potions. At best they’ll stay sickened 1 while you sustain the spell, even if they try to use an action to wretch and get rid of the condition. Also, there’s no more text about someone becoming immune for 1 minute. This is in line with the blog post where it mentioned quality of life changes for the witch. So very thankful for that! Life boost is still one action and still grants a creature fast healing of the same amount, but the formatting now fits the formatting of other spells with the heightened effect (fast healing increases by 2) clearly called out. Ateran uses this in almost all combat encounters, so I’m glad to see it will stay a staple. Then there’s Malicious Shadow (see below), which still does the same 1d10 plus spellcasting modifier damage as it’s not a cantrip. It did gain the Concentrate and Manipulate traits, thus it will be a bit more difficult to use in a tough situation like being grappled. There’s a clear call out about contributing to your multiple attack penalty now, so really if anything this was a good opportunity to do some errata updating.

Feats Of Wonder

Looking to feats you might choose, Ateran has Cauldron though has used it less as potions became easier to find or afford. Well now during your daily preparations Ateran will be able to creation one free temporary oil or potion each day using any formula you know! I love the image of the witch brewing up the day’s concoction. And if you’re a master in spell DC you get to create two, and three at legendary! This is a truly valuable change to the Cauldron feat. Not a feat that Ateran has, but maybe now would want, is the 1st level Witch’s Armaments. Eldritch Nails that deal 1d6 slashing! Iron Teeth that does 1d8 piercing! Or maybe you having living hair that you can grow from your head, beard, mustache to trip, disarm, or do 1d4 bludgeoning! Living Hair was level 2 before and Eldritch Nails level 4, so these options are available far sooner. Also, you can take the Armaments multiple times. Collect them all! The 6th level Witch’s Charge didn’t change, but there is now a 4th level opposite called Sympathetic Strike, allowing you to create a connection with a target you Strike using your Witch’s Armaments. They get a circumstance penalty against your hex saves, setting up a great combination of attacks. Double, Double at level 10 doubles how many items you can make with Cauldron, up to 6 at legendary. However, Ateran will still want Witch’s Communion to protect all their friends as part of Witch’s Charge. Casting touch range spells at 30’ without an extra action is incredibly useful for buffs like Heroism! I absolutely adore they’ve created Coven Spell for level 12, allowing you to use a reaction to empower their spell. The Witch definitely needed things like this to build atop that coven, communal casting idea. Oops All Witches sounds like a fun game to me! Just try to balance that around taking Witch’s Broom at level 12 so you can fly upon it whenever you want. Finally I’ll call out Patron’s Claim, an 18th level feat that Ateran isn’t ready for, but will want. Once per hour you can use two actions to call upon your patron’s power. Ghostly limbs reach out from your familiar’s mouth and attack for 10d10 spirit damage, possibly inflicting drain and getting you a Focus point back! You patron snacks on the victim’s life energy and you gain more power. Equivalent exchange I’d say!

Making Magic

Spellcasting where it’s at and aside from hexes, Ateran loves the occult. Telekinetic Projectile is their cantrip of choice. I can usually chant it on screen and everyone knows what I’m casting. Well as discussed, we won’t be adding spellcasting modifiers to damage anymore and I can see that immediately with this spell. But that doesn’t mean it is staying at 1d6, nope! Telekinetic Projectile will now do 2d6 base instead of the 1d6 + attribute modifier. While it could be less damage sometimes, it’ll average out expectantly and could actually do more damage on occasion. I’m all for standardization to keep things moving smoothly, quickly at the table. Daze changed similarly starting at 1d6 damage instead of spellcasting modifier damage. Grim tendrils? The same except for the previously announced void instead of negative damage. Speaking of void, there’s a new cantrip I think many will want to use: Void Warp. 30 feet of range, targeting a living creature, and doing 2d4 void damage and can enfeeble 1. Haste? Same. Feeblemind? The same, but well Never Mind. Not spells Ateran normally casts but Magic Fang and Magic Weapon are now Runic Body and Runice Weapon, and they have 6th and 9th level heightened versions so instead of +1 striking, they jump to +2 greater or +3 major striking! Also Runic Body affects all of the creature’s unarmed attacks, not just one. Upgrade!

Benefits For All!

I think an overall large change for every class is that now you can Refocus as much as you want to regain up to your pools maximum in focus points without high level feats allowing you to gain more than one point. This is great for when you use more focus powers in a combat, though it does mean you’ll spend more time refocusing, possibly up to 30 minutes. Yet even that has a 12th level feat option in so far as that with one Refocus activity you refill your focus pool. For witches, that feat is Hex Focus, which used to allow you to regain 2. For Bards, it’s Inspirational Focus, Cleric’s get Domain Focus, and so on. There’s also the multiclass benefit of training in spell attacks and spell DCs. You might see – as I did – the call out to improvements by magical tradition in the Spellcasting Archetypes section, but I have it on very good authority that this is in error and will be errarated. Probably wise of me to also call the known change to all spells in that spellschool will no longer be used as a trait, except for Illusion as that has rules implications like Summoned or Polymorph. I really dig the Subtle trait – found on spells like Charm and Invisibility – which are noted as being able to being cast “without incantations” and don’t have obvious manifestations. Far more useful for those tricksy characters! There’s also the Spellshape trait though I only noted that on two Bard compositions, basically allowing you to modify a spell you cast afterward. Wizards have many feats that can do this, but a good example of a Witch feat is that Coven Spell reaction I mentioned above. I love the trait to rules methodology, though I’ll admit I’m biased in loving an object-oriented standardized rules system as I’ve a programming background. Still, as I noted above, unifying abilities, feats, spells to work the same way under a standard architecture just makes the good faster to play, and easier for all to enjoy while still presenting many options.

There’s a ton more options to dig through too! I’ll be investing time in the Remaster for quite a while. I’m pleased we’re getting things under the ORC (referenced on page 463!) and using this time of change to update the rules based on all we’ve learned in the last four years. Let me know what you’re most excited about as you read through the Player Core! The hardest part of the next few weeks is whether to next discuss more Player or get into that GM Core! Happy gaming! Oh and if you’re going to PAX Unplugged, be sure to let me know! I’ll be there with utter excitement.

Investing In:

I wasn’t quite sure what to name my article series when I first started but the idea of showcasing or discussing things that make me excited, that I find new and interesting, or maybe I’m otherwise passionate about seemed to fit with the idea of Investing In something like the Pathfinder 2E mechanic. To use some magic items you have to give that little bit of yourself, which helps make these things even better. I like the metaphor of the community growing and being strengthened in the same way!

I also want to hear what you’re Investing In! Leave me a comment below about what games, modules, systems, products, people, live streams, etc you enjoy! You can also hit me up on social media as silentinfinity. I want to hear what excites you and what you’re passionate about. There’s so much wonderful content, people, groups (I could go on) in this community of ours that the more we invest in and share, the better it becomes!


Banner – Witch main image with added title, Paizo, art by Wayne Reynolds

  1. Witch description, Pathfinder Player Core, Paizo
  2. Witch feats banner, Witch Feats, Pathfinder Player Core, Paizo
  3. Winged cat image, Familiars, Pathfinder Player Core, Paizo
  4. Malicious Shadow, Witch Hex Spells, Pathfinder Player Core, Paizo
  5. Feiya the iconic witch and her familiar Daji, Pathfinder Player Core, art by Wayne Reynolds

Rob Pontious

You may know Rob Pontious from Order of the Amber Die or Gehenna Gaming's first series of Monster Hearts 2. He currently writes Know Direction's Investing In blog as well as a player for the Valiant podcast and Roll for Combat's Three Ring Adventure. He's been a lover of TTRPGs for over three decades, as a gamer, and a GAYMER. You can find him on social media as @silentinfinity.