The witch hunter is a warrior class that specializes in finding and defeating evil spellcasters (and spell-using monsters) and fixing the problems such creatures cause. Though witch hunters are able combatants against any foes, they excel when facing enemies that draw much of their power from cursing, draining, and charming their opponents.
Witch hunters are warriors who have trained themselves to recognize, oppose, and sometimes even undo the effects of magic, especially witchcraft. Much of their power comes from an unshakable conviction that magic powers cannot overcome the willpower of someone trained to confront such forces without fear or hesitation. A witch hunter is powered by devotion to the idea that free will and normal mortal existence are as powerful and precious as the mystic powers of mages and priests.
Many witch hunters work closely with a church or order of knights, seeing themselves as being part of a holy crusade. Others are baser in their motives, hiring themselves out to cursed or bewitched villages to hunt down and destroy the witches that plague them. What unites witch hunters is not their motivation but their dedication. Whether drawn from holy verve, staunch individualism, or naked greed, witch hunters are driven by the conviction that they can overcome such magics because they choose to do so. Many consider magic to be as much mummery and illusions that true power. None are so foolish as to claim fireballs don’t burn, but they do believe that their inner resolve to quell the flames is as powerful and impactful as the force of will a pyromancer uses to ignite them.
Such unwavering resolve aids witch hunters against mundane foes as well. A witch hunter is willing to pit his doggedness against any threat, and will often stand fast where a more pragmatic man would retreat.
Witch hunters are not needlessly reckless and value their own lives, but once they are forced into action they waste no time or effort fretting over the risk of failure. A witch hunter fights shrewdly and with skill, but his true advantage lies in the reservoir of purpose he can call on when these prove to be insufficient to the task at hand.
Role: Like rangers and paladins, a witch hunter is a solid combatant who does best when facing specific situations and types of foes. A well-equipped witch hunter can slice through slavers, kick down the doors of the giant’s hall, and chop through brigands as well as any other sword-swinger can, filling the role of primary combatant in parties without members of other fighting classes. But when facing cultists of the frog god, ferreting out succubi, and opposing hag covens, the witch hunter has advantages over less specialized fighters and barbarians. The witch hunter’s tremendous devotion allows him to land blows that otherwise would miss, clearly identify mystic threats, and even overcome magic through pure force of will. Witch hunters are most effective when dealing with practitioners of witchcraft (see “Which Witch” below), but have an edge over other warriors when facing any type of spellcaster.
Alignment: A witch hunter may be of any alignment, though most are lawful.
Hit Die: d10
Starting Wealth: At 1st level a witch hunter begins play with 5d6 x 10 gp.
The witch hunter’s class skills are Bluff (Cha), Climb (Str), Craft (Int), Diplomacy (Cha), Disable Device (Dex), Handle Animal (Cha), Heal (Wis), Intimidate (Cha), Knowledge (arcana) (Int), Knowledge (local) (Int), Knowledge (planes) (Int), Knowledge (religion) (Int), Perception (Wis), Profession (Wis), Sense Motive (Wis), Spellcraft (Int), Stealth (Dex), and Survival (Wis).
Skill Ranks per Level: 4 + Int modifier.
More than one of the witch hunter’s powers require a GM to determine if a creature counts as a witch. For purposes of this class, it is assumed that witchcraft is a mystic art used by numerous different kinds of creatures and is itself neither good nor evil. Much as “wizardry” can be seen as the base art of both sorcerers and wizards, the witch hunter is built on the premise that “witchcraft” is a specific way of controlling power that can be recognized, identified, and fought.
So, who or what is a witch? First, it needs to be explicitly stated that “witch” refers to creatures of all genders, not solely females. Second, while a GM is always welcome to rule any given creature is a witch, the rules for the witch hunter class assume that “witches” include:
Of course, using this list means that not all witches are evil, something that is included by intention. Witch hunters in fantasy literature are a mix of good-intentioned crusaders fighting evil and bigots with a blind hatred for that which they do not understand (or crave, but can not have). By using the definition of “witch” presented above, the witch hunter class can be used to build both types of characters. It also allows a GM to create adventures that explore the question of an individual witch’s intentions, not to mention the source of the witch’s powers. A witch hunter may be able to determine that a town contains a witch, but not to know if the witch is a priest to a god of love (who has the charm domain), or a rakshasa using illusions to hide among the townsfolk.
All of the following are class features of the witch hunter.
When the witch hunter takes an attack action to make a single attack as a standard action, he may focus all his zeal and ardor to make that attack a devoted strike. This may be a melee or ranged attack. The witch hunter makes two attack rolls for a devoted strike, and uses the better of the two results. If the attack hits, it also gains a bonus to damage equal to the witch hunter’s Wisdom modifier. A witch hunter may use this ability a number of times per day equal to 3 + his Wisdom modifier, to a maximum number of times per day equal to his class level.
After a witch hunter spends time in a terrain, wilderness area, or community, he can determine if a witch has been in the same area recently. A witch hunter must be in a specific terrain, wilderness area, village, town, or city for 24 hours in order to use witch sense. After that time, the witch hunter makes a Perception check with a DC of 30 – (level or hit dice of the highest level witch present in the area within 24 hours) – (number of witches in the area currently). On a successful check, the witch hunter is aware that one or more witches have been present during the past day. The witch hunter does not learn any further information about the witch or witches other than the certainty of their recent presence.
The witch hunter may use witch sense twice per day.
As a witch hunter gains levels, he learns new ways to use his devotion in the cause of locating and confronting witches. A witch hunter gains a devotee talent at 2nd level and again at 4th, 6th, and 8th levels. A witch hunter cannot select an individual talent more than once.
Talents marked with an asterisk add effects to a witch hunter’s devoted strike. Only one of these talents can be applied to an individual attack and the decision must be made before the attack roll is made.
Bias Against the Arcane (Ex): The witch hunter gains a +4 bonus (type?) to all saving throws against arcane spells and spell-like abilities. (Unless otherwise defined, spells drawn from arcane spellcaster class lists are considered arcane spells, and the spell-like abilities of creatures able to cast arcane spells are considered arcane spell-like abilities.) If a witch hunter gains a bonus from an arcane spell, spell-like ability, or a supernatural ability from a class that grants arcane spells, he received only half its numerical value (minimum +0).
Bias Against the Divine (Ex): The witch hunter gains a +4 bonus (type?) to all saving throws against divine spells and spell-like abilities. (Unless otherwise defined, spells drawn from divine spellcaster class lists are considered divine spells, and the spell-like abilities of creatures able to cast divine spells are considered divine spell-like abilities.) If a witch hunter gains a bonus from a divine spell, spell-like ability, or a supernatural ability from a class that grants divine spells, he received only half its numerical value (minimum +0).
Burly (Ex): The witch hunter is immune to reductions to his Strength from any poison, disease, curse, spell, spell-like ability, or supernatural ability. If the Strength drain is caused by a power or ability that deals other kinds of damage or causes some other penalty, the witch hunter suffers those additional effects normally. The witch hunter still suffers the normal penalty to Strength from being fatigued or exhausted as a result of non-magical exertion.
Canny Eye (Ex): Whenever the witch hunter sees a creature use a spell, spell-like ability, or supernatural ability he may make a Perception check (DC 10 + creature’s level or hit dice) to determine what ability score modifier of the creature adds to the save DC of the spell, spell-like ability, or supernatural ability.
Casterbane (Ex): The witch hunter gains a +4 bonus (type?) to all dispel checks made with the spellbane or cursebreaker abilities. A witch hunter must be at least 5th level to select this talent.
Confining Blow* (Su): If the witch hunter hits a foe with a confining blow, he immediately makes a single dispel check (1d20 + class level) against all transmutation (polymorph) spells or spell-like abilities and abilities that function as transmutation (polymorph) spells (including the change shape supernatural ability) the target has in effect. On a successful check, the polymorph abilities end and the target cannot change form again through any means for 1 round per witch hunter level.
Dedicated Smite (Su): If the witch hunter also has levels of paladin, he may add some witch hunter levels to his effective paladin level for purposes of the smite evil ability. He may add a number of witch hunter levels he possesses no greater than the number of paladin levels he has. Thus a 4th level paladin/4th level witch hunter has an effective paladin level of 8 for smite evil, but a 1st level paladin/8th level with hunter has an effective paladin level of 2 for smite evil.
Devout Training: The witch hunter may take one of the following feats as a bonus feat. The witch hunter must meet all the feat’s prerequisites. Alertness, Armor Proficiency, Heavy, Bleeding Critical, Blind-Fight, Blinding Critical, Critical Focus, Deafening Critical, Diehard, Endurance, Exhausting Critical, Extra Devotion, Greater Weapon Focus, Improved Iron Will, Improved Vital Strike, Iron Will, Self-Sufficient, Sickening Critical, Staggering Critical, Step Up, Stunning Critical, Tiring Critical, Vital Strike.
Distracting Wound* (Ex): If the witch hunter hits a target with a distracting wound, it becomes more difficult for the target to cast spells. The target must make a concentration check with a DC of (10 + witch hunter’s level) to cast any spell. This effect lasts for one round per three full witch hunter levels. A witch hunter must be at least 4th level to select this talent.
Dauntless (Ex): Though the witch hunter feels fear, he does not allow it to prevent him from pressing forward. When the witch hunter is under the effects of the frightened or panicked conditions, he acts as if he was only shaken. The witch hunter never suffers fear penalties more severe than shaken, no matter the level of fear he suffers.
Liberating Blow* (Su): If the witch hunter hits a foe with a liberating blow, he immediately makes a single dispel check (1d20 + class level) against all enchantment (charm) spells or spell-like abilities the target has cast on other creatures. On a successful check, the enchantments end.
Magic Resistance (Ex): The witch hunter takes 2 hit points less damage from all spells and spell-like abilities (minimum 0). Additionally, when the witch hunter is the target of an ability drain or ability damage, he takes 1 point less drain or damage (minimum 0).
Revealing Blow* (Su): If the witch hunter hits a foe with a revealing blow, he immediately makes a dispel check (1d20 + class level) against any illusion spell or spelllike ability on the target. On a successful check, the illusions end.
Scorpion Strike* (Ex): If a scorpion strike hits, the target must make a Fortitude save (DC 10 + the witch hunter’s level + the witch hunter’s Wisdom modifier) or have its base land speed reduced by 5 feet for a number of rounds equal to the witch hunter’s Wisdom modifier (minimum 1 round).
Shrewd Defense (Ex): A witch hunter in light armor or no armor may add his Wisdom modifier (to a maximum of half his class level) to his AC and his CMD. This bonus (type?) to AC applies even against touch attacks or when the witch hunter is flat-footed. He loses this bonus when he is immobilized or helpless, if he carries a shield, or if he carries a medium or heavy load.
Witch Bane (Ex): The witch hunter gains a +1 bonus (type?) to weapon attack rolls made against witches, and a successful attack deals an additional 2d6 hit points of damage.
The following feats are designed exclusively for use with witch hunters.
You have more dedication than a typical witch hunter.
Prerequisites: Devoted strike class ability.
Benefits: You gain two additional uses of the devoted strike ability per day, to a maximum number of times per day equal to your witch hunter level +2
Special: You may select this feat more than once. Its effects stack.
You have more anti-magic skill than a typical witch hunter.
Prerequisites: Spellbane class ability.
Benefits: You gain two additional uses of the spellbane ability per day.
Special: You may select this feat more than once. Its effects stack.
At 3rd level a witch hunter gains detect curse. This functions as the detect magic cantrip, except the witch hunter detects and receives information about curses rather than magic. If the curse is also a spell (such as bestow curse), the witch hunter gains exactly the information detect magic would reveal. If the curse is not also a spell (such asMummy Rot), instead of learning the spell’s level he learns the curse’s save DC and instead of learning it’s school of magic he learns its frequency.
Once a witch hunter has focused this ability on a cursed creature or object for 4 rounds, he may make a Knowledge (religion) check to determine the effect of the curse. The DC of this skill check is 10 + (curse’s save DC).
At 5th level the witch hunter can attempt to use the spellbane power as a standard action. The witch hunter makes a melee touch attack. If it is successful, the target is affected by the spellbane and this counts as a successful use of the ability. Spellbane functions as the targeted dispel ability of the dispel magic spell. A witch hunter may have a number of successful uses of spellbane per day equal to 3 + his Wisdom modifier.
At 7th level the witch hunter gains the Disruptive feat as a bonus feat. The witch hunter does not need to meet the feat’s prerequisites.
At 9th level the witch hunter can use the cursebreaker power as a standard action. The witch hunter makes a melee touch attack. If it is successful, the target is affected by the cursebreaker, which functions as the remove curse spell. This counts as a one use of the witch hunter’s spellbane power.
The witch hunter is always studying lore regarding witches and, in time, learns their powers and weaknesses better than anyone else. At 9th level the witch hunter gains a +1 bonus (type?) to all attack rolls, Knowledge checks, and dispel checks (including those from spellbane, cursebreaker, and greater spellbane) made in regards to a witch or a witch’s powers, as well as a +1 competence bonus to AC against attacks made by witches. These bonuses increase to +2 at 13th level, and to +3 at 17th level.
At 10th level, the witch hunter chooses one of the following advanced talents. If he prefers, the witch hunter may instead choose a devotee talent (though he still may not choose any talent more than once). He does so again at 12th, 14th, 16th, 18th, and 20th levels. Advanced talents follow the same rules as devotee talents except where noted otherwise.
Grim Determination (Ex): With this advanced talent, the witch hunter can focus his will to overcome the mystic energy of a potentially lethal magic attack to take less damage than he otherwise would. Once per day, when he would be reduced to 0 or fewer hit points by damage from a spell, spell-like ability, or supernatural ability (not a weapon, trap, or mundane affliction), the witch hunter can attempt to suppress the magic damage by sheer force of will. To use this ability the witch hunter must attempt a Will save (DC = damage dealt) as an immediate action. If the save succeeds, he takes only half damage from the attack; if it fails he takes full damage. The witch hunter must be aware of the attack and able to concentrate to use this ability. If the witch hunter is flat-footed or prohibited from taking standard actions, he cannot use this ability (despite the fact that using grim determination is not, itself, a standard action).
Dumbfounding Blow* (Ex): A witch hunter with this ability can deliver blows that baffle and bedevil his targets. A target struck with a dumbfounding blow takes 2 points of Wisdom damage in addition to the attack’s normal damage. A witch hunter must have selected the canny eye talent prior to selecting this talent.
Greater Magic Resistance (Ex): The witch hunter takes 4 hit points less damage from all spells and spell-like abilities (minimum 0). Additionally, when the target of an ability drain or ability damage, the witch hunter takes 2 point less drain or damage (minimum 0). A witch hunter must have magic resistance to select greater magic resistance. The two abilities do not stack.
Perplexing Blow* (Ex): A witch hunter with this ability can deliver blows that bewilder and confound his targets. A target struck with a perplexing blow takes 2 points of Intelligence damage in addition to the attack’s normal damage. A witch hunter must have selected the canny eye talent prior to selecting this talent.
Slippery Mind (Ex): This ability represents the with hunter’s ability to wriggle free from magical effects that would otherwise control or compel him. If a witch hunter with slippery mind is affected by an enchantment spell or effect and fails his saving throw, he can attempt it again 1 round later at the same DC. He gets only this one extra chance to succeed on his saving throw.
Unnerving Blow* (Ex): A witch hunter with this ability can deliver blows that distress and unnerve his targets. A target struck with an unnerving blow takes 2 points of Charisma damage in addition to the attack’s normal damage. A witch hunter must have selected the canny eye talent prior to selecting this talent.
Witch Tracker (Ex): The witch hunter gains the scent ability, but may only use it on witches.
At 11th level the witch hunter gains the Spellbreaker feat as a bonus feat. The witch hunter does not need to meet the feat’s prerequisites.
At 13th level the witch hunter gains the backlash ability. Whenever the witch hunter is the target of a spell from the divination or enchantment schools of magic, the creature casting the spell must make a Will save (DC of 10 + the witch hunter’s level + the witch hunter’s Wisdom modifier). On a failed save, the caster takes 2d6 points of damage. Because the backlash takes effect after the spell is cast, it cannot disrupt the spellcaster.
At 15th level, when a foe strikes the witch hunter with a melee attack, the witch hunter may affect that foe with his spellbane power as an immediate action. This counts as one of the witch hunter’s daily uses of the spellbane ability.
At 19th level, the witch hunter is immune to all curse afflictions.
At 20th level, the witch hunter becomes an expert at ending magic effects. He no longer has a daily limit to uses of the spellbane, cursebreaker, and greater spellbane abilities.
Instead of receiving an additional skill rank or hit point whenever they gain a level in a Favored Class, some races have the option of choosing from a number of other bonuses, depending upon their Favored Classes. The following options are available to the listed race who have witch hunters as their Favored Class, and unless otherwise stated, the bonus applies each time you select the listed Favored Class reward.
When a character selects a class, he must choose to use the standard class features found or those listed in one of the archetypes presented here. Each alternate class feature replaces a specific class feature from its parent class. For example, the elemental fist class feature of the monk of the four winds replaces the stunning fist class feature of the monk. When an archetype includes multiple class features, a character must take all of them—often blocking the character from ever gaining certain familiar class features, but replacing them with equally powerful options. All of the other class features found in the core class and not mentioned among the alternate class features remain unchanged and are acquired normally when the character reaches the appropriate level (unless noted otherwise). A character who takes an alternate class feature does not count as having the class feature that was replaced when meeting any requirements or prerequisites.
A character can take more than one archetype and garner additional alternate class features, but none of the alternate class features can replace or alter the same class feature from the core class as another alternate class feature. For example, a paladin could not be both a hospitaler and an undead scourge since they both modify the smite evil class feature and both replace the aura of justice class feature. A paladin could, however, be both an undead scourge and a warrior of the holy light, since none of their new class features replace the same core class feature.
Archetypes are a quick and easy way to specialize characters of a given class, adding fun and flavorful new abilities to already established adventurers. Characters may take more than one archetype if they meet the requirements.
It’s easy to color witch hunters as heroes or villains simply by virtue of whether the witches in your campaign are mostly good or evil. Many game groups have built-in assumptions regarding witch hunters based on how such characters have acted in favored literature or other RPG campaigns, and they may use those assumptions to immediately judge any new witch hunter introduced to the storyline. In many ways, these prejudices play to one theme of the witch hunter class—the interconnected relationship between witches and those who hunt them.
This product does not presume that witches or their hunters are uniformly evil or uniformly good. Both witchcraft and the skills used to oppose it are presented from a position of neutrality—skills no different than sword fighting or spellcasting within the context of a Pathfinder Roleplaying Game campaign. Of course, society does not always operate on pure fact and reason, and the witch hunter class gives players and GMs alike a chance to play with themes of paranoia, false accusation, mass fear, alliances of convenience, and the responsible application of power. The class (and its definition of “witch”) does not require such themes be played out any more than the fact a weapons can be made bane against humans requires examination of the good and evil men do. But for groups interested in exploring such ideas, it does lay out an obvious set of tools to enhance such plots.
A GM using this product should decide how the people living in the area the campaign begins in view witches and witch hunters. In lands with generally positive attitudes toward witches, a witch hunter may be known as a “witch slayer” or “inquisitor.” In order to operate within such lands, the witch hunter must garner and maintain a reputation for seeking out and punishing evil, and treating witches as a whole as evenhandedly as they would any other group. Witch hunters may even be presumed to be bigots, and treated as invaders from a foreign culture.
Where magic of any sort is mistrusted (or all but one class of spellcaster is feared or outlawed, as is the case in some theocracies), witch hunters may be hailed as heroes and have a broad range of fond titles such as “mage hound” or “spellslayer.” The witch hunters in such lands often present themselves as champions of the common people, using reason and determination to fight back the frightening supernatural forces that call on powers beyond those of “ordinary” folk. If even divine magic is mistrusted (or too rare from most people to have encountered it), witch hunters may take the place of paladins in the hearts of typical villagers—defenders of the innocent and slayers of the forces of evil.
More complex arrangements are also possible, combining these one-sided views and possibly twisting them. In a kingdom run by disguised hags, witches might be said to represent the nobility and claim to rule with wisdom and justice, but actually be evil tyrants. This turns witch hunters into outlaws, feared by common folk and decried as zealots while actually fighting against the forces of darkness. By the same token, an overzealous order of witch hunters might have once served a role in the defense of the good, but have gone too far in the persecution of anyone practicing witchcraft slaying the benevolent with the malignant. A campaign can be subtle and complex, with the truth and perception of witches changing significantly in various locations. Perhaps the Band of Wolves, witch hunters who operate in the Baron Kingdoms, are grim but needful warriors hunting down necromancers and demonic cultists; but the Sunrise Brothers, witch hunters who dwell in the nearby Orogone Empire, are mad with power, persecuting anyone who dares to cast spells without paying the Brothers a hefty fee for a letter of magical dispensation. The most important thing for a GM is to make sure the campaign’s standard assumptions regarding witch hunters are made clear to all the players, and particularly any player interested in running one. It can be fun to play the lone rational witch hunter, having to fight both the bigotry of your fellows and the forces of evil that seek to destroy you, but only if you know that’s what to expect when you make the character.
Of course, how a GM uses witches is going to have a major impact on the opinion PCs form about a witch hunter. Witchcraft is not presented as inherently evil in this product, but it is a path that can easily lead to evil. Much as skill with a knife can be used to cut the ropes binding a hostage or to assassinate a noble ruler in a dark ally, witchcraft can be used for good and ill. Sadly, wicked deeds are often more discussed and better remembered by society, and thus witchcraft may gain a reputation it has not truly earned. Even though hags and rakshasa are not the only practitioners of witchcraft, good witches may be forced to operate underground because of the public’s general perceptions.
The definition of witches used throughout this product intentionally paints with a broad brush. It includes many creatures with innate spell-like abilities, which are sometimes called the “original witches.” Character classes that fall under the category of “witch” can be thought to use techniques developed from observing how natural witches work their powers. In some cases, these classes may have only a superficial connection based on their selection of spells (such as clerics and wizards who have chosen a “witchy” domain or school of magic), but the magical effects are closely enough related that a witch hunter’s powers can affect them, too. It’s easy to see how the existence of a class of dedicated hunters might affect the development of witch societies. Banding together for mutual support, some covens might felt driven to seize political power if only out of a sense of self-preservation. After infiltrating the ruling class, the covens might act openly or could prefer to remain a hidden power behind the throne. The more hidden their actions, however, the more witch hunters are likely to be convinced the covens are acting in some dark fashion. Even a coven that originally meant no harm might find itself pushed to perform evil acts to defend itself from the constant threat of witch hunters. Others might take oaths to never even sample dark magic specifically to ensure that they are never tempted into evil.
Witches may even exist in secret societies that directly oppose one another on ethical or political grounds—“dawn witches” swearing to do no harm and “dusk witches” seeking to enslave the weak. Witch hunters could even become the militant arms of such groups, actually fighting for one group of witches against another. But proof that such groups exist would be a far cry from proof that they mean harm, leaving witch hunters who care about justice (rather than merely victory) to take signs of witchcraft as just the beginning of a hunt for truth, rather than a cue that retributive action is required.
Ultimately, in a game where dragons are often color-coded and outsiders easily revealed as good or evil, witches make an excellent group to represent shades of gray. While any group may have individuals that act against the usual proclivities of their kind, witches carry less baggage of player expectation. Fiction is rife with examples of both good and evil witches, and few players will be surprised to discover the same is true in a campaign. This provides the GM many avenues to use good, evil, and neutral witches to create roleplaying opportunities and pose complex questions about who to trust—and who to hunt.
Section 15: Copyright Notice – The Genius Guide To: The Witch Hunter
The Genius Guide To: The Witch Hunter. Copyright 2010, Super Genius Games. Author: Owen K.C. Stephens
Section 15: Copyright Notice – The Genius Guide To: Expanded Favored Class Options
Genius Guide to: Expanded Favored Class Options. Copyright 2011, Super Genius Games. Author: Michael Kenway