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Witch Tradition, Classical

Franz Stuck: Tilla Durieux as Circe, Witch Tradition, Classical
Franz Stuck: Tilla Durieux as Circe

Liber Mysterium

The Netbook of Witches and Warlocks

By Timothy S. Brannan and The Netbook of Witches and Warlocks Team

Description: The word Pagan, comes from the Latin paganus meaning ·country dweller·. Witches of the classic traditions are people who, through birth, choice or some other means, revert to the religion of their ancestors, the ·old ways·, or Pagan. These types of witches are known worldwide and may be one of the most common types of witch. This is because there is no single Classic Tradition, but many sub-traditions that have some similarities.

The witches of the various sub-traditions of Classical witchcraft are known by many names, and each have their own sets of rules, powers, skills and feats. Classical witches are however linked by common cause, often against another, more oppressive and organized religious front, by birth or upbringing, or by a desire for a simpler time and means of communion with the divine.

Any race can become a member of the Classic traditions, and some races even have their own varieties.

Role: Classical witches come in many different types. The key element that separates one sub-tradition from another is geography. Generally you will not find two Classical sub-traditions within the same geographical area. Some of the most common Classical sub-traditions are:

  • Astaru: The pagan beliefs of the Norse. Found in Norway, Sweden, Iceland and the northern tip of Denmark. 1,000 years old or more.
  • Benandanti: Mostly good witches from the central and southern portions of Italy. Contrasted with the Stregheria below. Also used to describe gnome witches.
  • Celtic: found in Ireland and Scotland. These witches most resemble druids.
  • Greek: The ancient Greeks had many religious practices that resembled those of Witchcraft. The Priestesses of Artemis or Hesta are two examples. The Bacche, followers of the God of Wine, Bacchus, are another. It is also believed the Cult of Diana (Amazons) grew from this Tradition.
  • Pictish: A Classic Tradition similar to the Scottish Celts, but on the western side of the country and up into Wales. Possibly an older form of the Scottish Celt Tradition.
  • Saxon: The Tradition of England after the Saxon invasions. Blends many of the ideas of Celtic and Astaru Tradition.
  • Sortilega: Diviners originally from Greece who then moved into Italy.
  • Stregheria: Also known as Strix, or Strega, these are witches from northern Italy. They are sometimes identified with the vampire or Lamia
  • Teutonic: Witches of ancient Germany. Similar in practice to the Astaru Tradition, but with a darker tone.

There are other sub-traditions and the GM is encouraged to define their own for use in your current game world.

Joining this Tradition: Initiates usually join as children or young adults if they live in the area where the Tradition is practiced. Others may join the Tradition by leaving their old faith behind.

The Classical Traditions have the most in common with Family or Craft of the Wise Traditions, but for the Classical Witch, witchcraft is seen as a way of life.

Classical Witches usually meet as a part of larger gatherings during specific solar events, such as the Equinoxes and Solstices, but also during the ‘cross-quarter’ days. These celebrations are conceded to be highly religious holidays that all locals may attend.

Leaving this Tradition: The rare Classic witch that denounces her teachings finds she is in no grave peril from nor shunned by her community. She has however lost all of her powers. To regain them usually requires an act of Atonement. Once performed, the witch may continue, but any levels gained while she was a nonwitch are lost.

Skills & Feats: Classical Witches have one additional Knowledge Skill as a class skill. A Classical Witch also begins with a +2 bonus to a Craft Skill or Profession Skill related to a rural environment, such as Farming, Fishing, Herbalism, or Weaving.

Occult Powers:

  • Minor: 7th Level: Of the Land. Once per day, the Classical Witch can invoke a rite that conceals herself and 1 other person per 2 witch levels from view. This functions as per the spell Mind Obscure, but affects all humanoids.
  • Medial: 13th Level: Visage of Another. The Classical Witch can use the druid ability, Thousand Faces as per the spell alter self once per day. That is they can change their appearance and then back to their own.
  • Greater: 19th Level: Witch’s Blessing. The witch can place on one subject (or herself) the combined effects of Aid (2nd Level Cleric spell), remove
    (3rd Level Cleric spell) and Healing Circle (5th Level Cleric spell, target only). The total benefits are +4 to attack, +4 to saves vs. Fear, +6 to any ability, 19+1d8 additional temporary hit points and heals all but 1d8 hit points. This lasts a number of hours equal to the witch’s level. The Classical Witch can use this ability once per day as a standard action.

Special Benefits: None, other than the free skill above.

Special Restrictions: Because of their simple upbringing the classical witch is often believed to be uncouth or even stupid. Any reaction rolls with another member of the same race suffer a -2 penalty.

Equipment: None required.

The ritual tool of the Classical witch is the cauldron (representing the Goddess) and staff (the masculine tool of the God). If adventuring, the witch can or will use a staff that doubles as a weapon. Both the staff and cauldron may also be used for mundane purposes.

Coven Domains: Any, Fertility

Preferred/Barred Covens: This tradition is suited to all covens.

Relationship to the Goddess/Patron: These will very by sub-tradition. Often the God and Goddess are referred to as the ·Old Ones· or the ·Elder Gods·

Source/Views of Magic: For the Classical witch magic is part of the natural world. It is part of the land. Only by living near the land can one hope to harness the power of magic. These witches also believe in ·Ley Lines· or veins and arteries of raw magical essence flowing through the land, ocean and sky.

Wealth: Classical witches start with the normal amount of wealth allotted to a witch. But the GM may choose to round it down by a significant factor.

Other: Classical witches generally get along well with most classes and other traditions, in particular druids. Classical witches however do not get along well with clerics of any type, even if they have the same alignment and similar world outlook. They do not trust wizards, but get along fine with sorcerers.

Classical witches tend not to multi-class, but those who do often find it beneficial to become rangers. They are also not, as a general rule, interested in prestige classes. Hermetics tend to be a bit too urbane and most Warlocks go against everything the Classical witch was taught. There are always the odd witch who becomes a Witch Knight or even some other class.

In any case, as with most witches, the Classical witch is a witch first and a something else second.

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