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Family Tradition

By Frans Francken the Younger -, Public Domain,, Family Tradition
By Frans Francken the Younger –, Public Domain,

Description: The witches of the Family Traditions are among the most diverse of the witch traditions; but the thing that unites them all is a strong sense of tradition and family.

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

The members of Family Tradition all learn their witchcraft the same way, from an older family member, usually a parent or grandparent (who also learned it the same way). Old witch families can track their ancestors as having been witches for dozens of generations. What each Family Tradition does with their witchcraft differs from family to family.

Not every family member has the potential to be a witch. Children are often observed for years for signs of magical potential. Often the Call is heard not only by the prospective witch, but by the teacher as well. Humans fill the ranks of this tradition, followed by elves, half-elves and Halflings. Elves and Halflings often have their own racial viewpoints on the tradition, but they are essentially the same. dwarves and Half-orcs are nonexistent in this tradition.

Role: Strange and mysterious families, especially those in power, often attract attention and rumor. Some of these families are mundane, and their peculiarities are those of any other, but some others have deeper secrets. Some of these families are involved in generations old practices of witchcraft. To the members of these families there is no difference in being in the family or being a witch.

Family traditions exist because at one time it was more advantageous to keep powerful witches within the bloodline, or because of the feelings of the time, it was wise to trust only your own family. Often the tradition is an oral one, or very little of it is actually written down, thus the rules, laws and even motives of the tradition can change with the passing of the generations.

Witches of the Family Tradition also believe that the strongest magical potential is handed down from one generation to the next along family lines. For them, blood is more important than the Call.

Joining this Tradition: Generally the only way to join the Family Tradition is to be born into a family of witches. Even marring into this family is no guarantee that one could become a witch. If the family is powerful then the prospective mates are usually screened years ahead of time and chosen because they have something to offer the family. Serious prejudice and scorn is often laid upon the family witch that chooses to marry outside of her family dictates.

Weaker or less influential families usually do not share their secrets with anyone who is not of the blood. For the Family Traditionalist the old saying “Blood is thicker than water” is the law.

Leaving this Tradition: If the only way into this tradition is to born into it, often the only way out is death. Not that all families will kill those witches that leave (but some do), but often it is the witch herself that will find herself drawn back into the family.

Skills & Feats: Family witches often have some sort of family business, which is used as a cover for the witch’s coven. As such, they receive a +4 bonus to a Profession skill of their choice.

Occult Powers

Minor: 7th Level: Favored Enemy. At 7th level the witch gains an enemy of the family and may attack them with a +1 bonus to her attack rolls, damage rolls, relevant skill checks, and also her saving throw DC’s. The enemy is usually another family but it may be a race, monster or character class. This bonus increases to +2 at 13th level and +3 at 19th level.

Medial: 13th Level: Detect Bloodline. At 13th level, the witch is granted the ability to detect bloodlines of all types, able to track history one generation (based on the targets race) per level. Essentially, this ability allows the witch to practically smell if someone is related or not, by supernaturally detecting tiny familial features within people. This allows royalty, inherited (but not contagious) lycanthropy, and the creature’s true race to be revealed. This ability might also provide a bonus against those trying to Disguise themselves (say, a half-orc posing as a human, or someone disguising themselves as Royalty). The witch must be within 10 feet of a person to detect their bloodline. The Family witch can also Detect Undead with this ability.

The witch also gains an insight into the targets personality. For each round assessing the target’s bloodline, the Family witch can determine one of the following: One aspect of the character’s alignment (good, evil, chaotic, lawful, or neutral), hit dice, age, or personality. For each round studying the character’s personality, the Family witch gains a +1 bonus to Sense Motive checks against the target. The Family witch can not examine the target’s personality whose level/hit dice are greater than her Family witch level.

Greater: 19th Level: Thicker than Water. A Family witch of 19th level or greater gains a supernatural awareness of her bloodline. She can detect the general well being of any family member she knows, no matter what the distance between her and the family member is.

In addition, once per day, a Family witch can attempt to Gate 1d3+1 Family witches of lesser level than her family with a 35% chance of success. Roll 1d20 to determine the level of each witch gated. Gated witches stay for 10 minutes per caster level or until released, then they return to where they were.

Another Family witch could summon a Family witch the same way once reaching 3rd level. GM’s must carefully judge this.

Family Witch Summoning
1d20Level of Family Witch summoned
1-53rd level
6-74th level
85th level
96th level
107th level
118th level
129th level
1310th level
1411th level
1512th level
1613th level
1714th level
1815th level
1916th level
2017th level

Special Benefits: Family witches have a built in support system of contacts. Often these are other, very high level witches that are usually on good terms with the witch. They can aid in terms of research, providing minor magic items, or even money. The GM must decide the level of aid the family is willing to give.

Special Restrictions: To maintain the above benefit, the witch must stay on good terms with her family. Often donating magic items or money for the younger generations as she increases in personal power.

Equipment: None special. But often the witch will get a ritual tool as a gift that had belonged to a deceased family member.

Coven Domains: Law, Chaos, Good, Evil

Preferred/Barred Covens: This tradition is so closely tied to its family and coven that it is often difficult to separate the three from one another. The leaders of the coven are often the oldest and most powerful witches in the family. Generally there is only one coven per family, though some large families have split into various factions.

Relationship to the Goddess/Patron: The Family witches pay homage to their Patron as the ultimate source of their powers, most often invoking the names of powerful ancestors in this respect. While all witches believe in reincarnation, some spirits select to remain on this plane to aid and guide the new generations instead of moving on to another life in the cycle. Familiars of these witches also Reincarnate from previous Family witches.

Source/Views of Magic: Magic is the Blood. Family witches believe as sorcerers do that magic is in their blood, but that is where the similarity ends. Family witches all believe that magic is part of their blood, mind and spirit. Magic is provided by the Patron and spiritual ancestors, but shaped by the blood, mind and spirit of the witch.

Wealth: Family witches start with the normal amount of wealth allotted to any witch. She may supplement her wealth by adventuring or through her family.

Other: Family witches may be of any alignment and have any number of motivations. They do not get along well with other covens, but generally have nothing against the other Traditions. Family witches are allowed to multiclass to any class that suits their or their family’s needs, but their primary class will always be a witch. Due to some differences in ideologies they usually do not opt for cleric or paladin classes. The Family witch cannot put another organization (such as a church or guild) above the family. Also Family witch/sorcerer combinations generally do not work, as both groups believe their blood is the root of their magic, but each manifests it differently. Families with sorcerers often have quite a few.

Family witches often have some sort of identifying mark, like a birthmark or an odd shaped mole that all members can recognize. This is known as a “Witch’s Mark” and is used as a test to determine if one is a potential witch. The downside to this, of course, is that many witch hunters have also identified this mark.

In a family of witches it would be hard to imagine someone standing out as special, but often someone extraordinary is born. In addition to the Witch’s Mark, these witches have something else: strikingly different hair color (like a red head in a family full of brunettes), two differently colored eyes, or being the seventh son of a seventh son. These individuals are referred to as a Taltos, and they are almost always chosen to become a witch. In some cases, they are believed to be a reincarnated family member who was also a very powerful witch. These special witches are said to have strange gifts and much is expected from them; GMs may wish to award a bonus metamagic or witch feat to these rare individuals.

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