Witch Doctor

Base Requirements

  • Races: Any
  • Classes: Shaman
  • Ability Requirements: Reason 9
  • Alignments: Any
  • Starting Cash: 1d4+1 x5gp


  • Weapon Slots: By class
  • Allowed Weapons: By class
  • Allowed Armor: none
  • Bonus Weapon Proficiencies: none
  • Required Weapon Proficiencies: Dagger or Knife
  • Non-weapon Slots: By class
  • Available Categories: By class, plus Sorcerous
  • Bonus Proficiencies: Healing, Intimidation
  • Required Proficiencies: none
  • Recommended Proficiencies: Agriculture, Ancient Languages, Artistic Ability, Astrology, Carpentry, Crowd Working, Dancing, Fishing, Fire-building, Fortune Telling, Herbalism, Mountaineering, Rope Use, Set Snares, Singing, Spellcraft, Weather Sense, Weaving, Winemaking
  • Forbidden Proficiencies: none

Priest Spheres: These replace the standard Shaman spheres.

  • Major: All, Guardian, Healing, Necromantic, Protection, Wards, Weather
  • Minor: none

Overview: Witch doctors are a somewhat rarer version of shamans, combining shamanism with magical ability. A witch doctor is a healer, a bringer of rain, and a protector to his community and party. He uses his powers to serve others in a manner similar to the service he gives his gods. He believes that some men are contaminated with an evil force called m’loa that compels them to perform evil actions. The witch doctor injures his enemies by constructing and damaging clay dolls imbued with their m’loa.

Description: The witch doctor also believes that an evil man’s m’loa persists after his death, taking the form of an invisible ghost. Such ghosts cannot be destroyed or harmed; they can only be frightened away. To that end, the Witchman cultivates a horrifying appearance. He wears demonic masks or paints broad white circles around his eyes, and streaks his arms and legs in red. Stones lodged in his nostrils make his nose flair at bizarre angles. He pierces his earlobes and lips with sharp bones, and allows his fingernails to grow into grotesque spirals. A red tattoo on his chest, shaped like a jagged X, declares his opposition to m’loa.

To keep the m’loa ghosts at bay, thc witch doctor constantly experiments with new ways to make himself more horrifying. He sharpens his teeth to fine points, snarls like a tiger, and imitates serpents by slithering on the ground. He may color his face blue one day, cake his body with mud the next.

Role-Playing: Witch doctors walk within the twilight between wizardry and priestly magic. On one hand, they function as shamans for their tribe. At the same time, they make use of wizard spells, employing magic to defend the tribe and establish their own power. Because humanoids are impressed, awed, and made fearful by magic, witch doctors hold positions of great influence in their tribes. They often act as advisors to the chiefs, giving counseling and support to their leaders.

Most primitive humanoids are very superstitious, and sometimes turn against the witch doctor. A witch doctor who cannot regain his authority must flee or be killed (this is often the case with PC witch doctors.) If a master witch doctor has more than one apprentice, only one will receive the mantle of tribal witch doctor when the master retires or dies. The others are banished or killed to keep the harmony of the tribe intact. Other apprentices leave when there is no more that the master can teach them.

The witch doctor often takes a submissive role in an adventuring party, keeping to himself and rarely socializing with his companions. He is cautious around animals, believing that a m’loa ghost can turn a friendly dog vicious or cause a docile horse to throw its rider. On the battlefield, the Witchman advances with leaps and jumps, shaking his long hair, eyes ablaze. He tramples fallen enemies and shrieks at their corpses. He celebrates the death of a hated enemy by dancing around a roaring fire, long into the night.

Special Abilities:

  • Witch Doctors may use magic items normally restricted to wizards.
  • Witch Doctors may learn the Herbalism non-weapon proficiency for the cost of only one slot.
  • Witch Doctors can cast the Reincarnation spell as a 5th-level spell (instead of a 7th level spell), and may use it regardless of their available spheres.
  • In addition to their priestly spellcasting, Witch Doctors can cast spells as a Wizard of one-half of his Shaman level (round up). Thus a 5th-level Witch Doctor casts spells as a 3rd-level Wizard. The Witch Doctor must abide by all the normal restrictions regarding Wizardly spellcasting, and learns paths at the same rate as a bard. In addition, the Witch Doctor has access to a single school of magic only (player’s choice).
  • Purifying Ground: By dancing a sacred dance wearing a hideous demon mask, the witch doctor may protect a village from encroachment by evil creatures and spirits. This protection lasts until the next season when it must be renewed, the time of the renewal is a time of great rejoicing and sacrificing by the people of the village. This ceremony takes one turn and requires singing and dancing by the witch doctor. If not performed in a village a circle of protection 50’ radius is formed. All evil beings (or good beings for evil witch doctors) or spirits must save vs. spells to enter the warded area. This saving throw is at a -1 penalty if the witch doctor had either the Singing or Dancing proficiency and a -2 penalty if he had both.
  • M’loa Doll: The witch doctor can attempt to harm an enemy by creating a small replica called a m’loa doll. To create a doll, the witch doctor must gather enough mud or clay from his homeland to form a humanoid figure 4-6 inches tall. A fingernail, a lock of hair, or some other piece of organic material from the intended target is embedded in the doll’s chest. Alternately, a piece of an item owned by the target-a shred of clothing, a chip from a weapon-may be substituted for the organic material. A scrap of food partially consumed by the target also works. Once the witch doctor has shaped the doll, he must allow it to dry for a day in the sun. A witch doctor can use only one m’loa doll at any given time.
    Whenever the witch doctor breaks a piece from the doll, sticks a blade in it, or otherwise damages it, the target it represents may be harmed. No attack rolls are needed to damage the doll; the “attack” succeeds automatically. Nor is distance a factor, though the target and the witch doctor must be on the same plane of existence. The witch doctor can take no other actions during a round in which he damages the doll. He can damage the doll a total of four times, but can damage it no more frequently than once per hour. The doll automatically crumbles to dust after the fourth time it’s damaged. Whenever the doll is damaged, the target must make a save vs. spell (with a +2 bonus if the witch doctor is lower level than the target). If the save succeeds, the target is unharmed. If the save fails, the target suffers 3d6 points of damage.
  • Bestow Curse: Once a week, the witch doctor can attempt to curse any creature or character that he can see. The witch doctor must spend one round doing nothing but standing still and staring at the target. He then spends the following round with both hands on his own chest, covering his tattoo; he may not take any other actions during this round. The target saves vs. spells. If the save succeeds, nothing happens. If the save fails, he suffers the effects of bestow curse (as the 4th-level wizard spell). If the save is a natural 20, the attempt backfires, and the witch doctor is affected by bestow curse.

Special Disadvantages:

  • Witch Doctors may wear no armor nor may they carry shields.
  • Witch Doctors use six-sided dice (d6) when determining their hit points.
  • Witch Doctors cannot turn or command undead.
  • Witch Doctors never receive access to the Raise Dead or Ressurection spells.
  • A witch doctor suffers double physical damage from incorporeal undead (such as wraiths, spectres, or ghosts). Special damage (such as aging or level drain) is not doubled.
  • Because of his intimidating appearance and manner, the witch doctor suffers a -3 reaction penalty in encounters with all NPCs not of his home tribe.

Return to Religions.

Witch Doctor

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