The first thing I noticed about the witch character class in Pathfinder is that “Coven” is a hex that can be chosen. While decent if the entire adventuring party is a group of witches from the same coven, it is otherwise fairly useless, or at the very least, very situational. It didn’t, and still doesn’t, make sense to me why it would be a hex. A witch’s coven is more about their background/story than a power that they wield.
Here is how the hex “Coven” reads in Pathfinder:
Coven (Ex): The witch counts as a hag for the purpose of joining a hag’s coven. The coven must contain at least one hag. In addition, whenever the witch with this hex is within 30 feet of another witch with this hex, she can use the aid another action to grant a +1 bonus to the other witch’s caster level for 1 round. This bonus applies to the witch’s spells and all of her hexes.
To me, in the midst of all the other more functional hexes, this sticks out like a sore thumb. Also, the requirement of a Hag seems ridiculous to me. A bunch of witches can’t get together and form their own coven without a Hag? Really? Why? There is no explanation given, or justification for this requirement.
Also, why be a part of a coven at all if the only benefit is a +1 to your caster level with an ‘aid another’ action? All of it seems very arbitrary and under-powered, as does the class in general.
It should not be a hex, but rather a brand new kind of Archetype – one that makes the most out of the idea of having a group of like-minded witches that work together toward a common goal. What that goal is hardly matters, but every reason to gather in numbers basically boils down to one thing: Power. One could argue ‘friendship’, or ‘safety’, or any number of other reasons, but boil those reasons down and it all comes back to power; the power to defend yourself, the power to help a friend, power, power, power.
So, how do we make covens more viable? Well for starters, why do we choose the friends we do? and what makes them ‘friends’ as opposed to acquaintances?
- Common interests
- Simple enough right? But just because they are all witches, that may not be enough common interest to bind them into a coven – just ask any witch in real life. So in this case, we will say they have the same Patron. (replacing the Hag requirement).
- Personal disclosure
- Typically, this means sharing personal information. In the case of witches, we will say it is sharing powers.
- A witch in the coven needs to give as much as she receives. Since what we are sharing is power, a witch must sacrifice something of herself to the coven in order to get something from it.
Notice that a proximity of thirty feet is not listed there. The range also makes no sense to me. Friends don’t stop being friends at 31 feet. However, if we don’t see friends for a very long time, the bonds of friendship will weaken. So, at the very least, a witch must return to her coven at least once every lunar cycle. If not, they lose all coven abilities and must rejoin their coven and spend at least one full lunar cycle with them rekindling the lost bond. During that time there will be rituals, feasting, and sacrifices to the coven.
That being said, I present:
The Coven Witch Background/Archetype
(At the DM’s discretion, this can be a background, or a witch can have more than one Archetype to enable things like an “Alley Witch Coven” (See: Alley Witch))
A Coven Witch may borrow new abilities and skills from other members of the coven, or enhance current abilities during their once per lunar cycle gathering. Each time the witch returns to her coven she may choose one of the following. Even if the witch travels with her coven, the trade lasts until the next new moon.
The number of witches in the coven is at the discretion of the DM.
Bonus Hex: The witch may sacrifice a point from an ability of her choice to gain one Hex, 2 ability points from any one ability for a Major Hex, or 3 ability points from any one ability for a Grand Hex. The witch must be appropriate level for the Hex gained.
Ability Score Bonus: The witch may sacrifice a Hex for a bonus ability point to any one ability, or a Major Hex for 2 points in any one ability, or a Grand Hex for 3 points in any one ability.
Caster Level Bonus: The witch may sacrifice one of her spell slots (to another coven member) to gain a bonus to her caster level. (See chart below)
Bonus Spell and Slot: The witch may gain a bonus spell and an extra slot for it (casting per day), but effectively casts all spells as if they were a lower level. (See chart below) Details of spells affected by this change are: Duration, Range, Damage, Opposed Caster Checks, and Target Saving Throws.
|Level of Bonus or Sacrificed Spell||Caster Level Reduction/Bonus|
Coven Familiar: The coven places hexes on each member’s familiar enabling the familiar to maintain a direct connection to all members of the coven. Every familiar of every coven witch is accessible by the other witches. In other words, when within the normal 1 mile range, any coven member may empathically request access to the witch’s familiar. If the witch grants access (free action) the requesting member of the coven may use the familiar as if it were their own. (ie cast, deliver touch range spells, sight share…)
This power is a two-way street. The witch may, if within range, ask for access to another witch’s familiar. This way, the witches of the coven can watch over one another and help one another from a far greater distance than 30 feet. The possibilities are virtually limitless.
(ie If there are 20 members of a coven, each a mile apart, every inch of an entire mountain pass, city, or forest could be watched over by a coven with each member able to assist at least 2 others.)
Feel free to comment, make suggestions, or contact us. What class, ability, spell, feat or what-have-you do you think needs a fix?
Until next time!