Comments on 2020-05-16 Witches

I like the idea of witches being a sort of medieval conspiracy. Wide-reaching witch organizations has been a plot point in a few comics I’ve read recently (Hellboy and Head Lopper), and it reminds me of Dolmenwood, both the actual witches and the secretive (but more conventionally druidic) Drune. It fits with a lot of the typical traits of witches: covens, sisterhood and motherhood, secrecy, informal alliances and relationships, all stuff that’s interesting to talk about and use.

It does veer into the more uncomfortable witchhunter territory you mentioned wanting to avoid, but I also like the idea of many witches being “secret”. They may not have or even want any magic, or not much more than some simple tricks, but people who are a part of their formal or informal network might share information in return for help or just to be a part of something exciting. Which also fits with the idea of witches being manipulators and illusionists: why risk someone passing their charm save when you could ask your contacts for things to blackmail them with?

I think witches are an underused villain in RPGs. There’s a tendency to delineate between social situations and adventure situations: you go to a dungeon and kill monsters, then go to town and socialize with potential allies and patrons. But a powerful witch probably has her own lair and all sorts of monsters and minions, but also a lot of political control: people who’ve gone to her for curses or charms and don’t want to see her gone, other witches who’ll support or avenge her, and settlements who are unwilling to risk antagonizing her and having their harvest cursed (having the party deal with an angry mob that doesn’t want them fighting the witch would make for an entertaining adventure, if you ask me). You can’t just talk your way past her or just kill her - or at least, you have to be careful about how you handle either approach.

Malcolm 2020-05-23 22:51 UTC

Definitely. I try and treat the temples of evil gods this way: sure, they’re evil, but sometimes somebody in power needs those services. At the Orcus temple, you can get a previous relative raised from the dead. At the Set temple, you can hire those assassins you need once in a generation. At the Nergal temple, you pray for deliverance from the plague. So witches that are useful are definitely something I should add.

– Alex Schroeder 2020-05-24 09:05 UTC

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