Sunday, January 10, 2021

Holmes Expanded: The Witch

Here is my writeup of the witch class for Holmes, as described in "Another Look at Witches and Witchcraft in D&D" by Ronald Pehr, from The Dragon #20 (November, 1978).  (The article includes rules for advancement to 18th level and 1st to 8th level spells).

Illustration of a witch, from Dragon #114 (October, 1986)

Witches may be considered to bear the same relationship to druids as a magic-user towards a cleric of his own alignment.  The witch uses her harmony with nature to increase her knowledge and power.  Witches are neutral, dedicated neither to good nor evil as humans know the terms; however, an individual witch may have either good or evil tendencies.

Witches need at least 13 in both Intelligence and Wisdom.  Working in harmony with nature and exerting influence over people requires a Charisma of at least 9.  Witches have the same restrictions on weaponry and armor as magic-users.

At 1st level witches can brew poisons, narcotics, and hallucinogens.  These cannot be used to coat weapons, the victim must imbibe them — perhaps mixed into his wine.  For each experience level, a witch can brew a 1 die draught/day.
Poisons do actual damage, a Save vs. Poison giving only half damage.

Narcotics are sleep drugs.  If the drug ratioed over victim’s hit points is 1 or more, it acts as the Sleep Spell.  If less than 1, it is the percentage effect on Dexterity and Movement.  Save vs. Poison halves the duration and percentage effect.

Hallucinogens cause Confusion, as the Confusion Spell.  The percentage chance of Confusion each turn is the ratio of the drug over the victim’s hit points.  Save vs. Poison halves time of effect and percentage each turn.

At 2nd level witches can make a bag of holding.  The witch puts her essence into this, so there may be only one bag of holding per witch in existence at any one time.  It can be used by no other person and if lost or destroyed it takes a month to make another.

At 3rd level witches can brew love potions.  For each experience level, the witch can brew a 1 die draught/week.  The victim is not actually charmed, the potion instead beguiling the victim into believing the witch is their most trusted friend or respected mentor.  If the ratio of points of brew to hit points of the victim is 1 or greater, the effect lasts one week with a 15% chance/day cumulative thereafter of wearing off.  Lesser percentage is the chance each day it will wear off, never lasting more than a week in any event.  Save vs. Poison negates the potion entirely.

Witch Spells:

Book of First Level Spells
1. Control Vapour
2. Cure Wounds
3. Detect Evil
4. Detect Illusion
5. Detect Magic
6. Detect Poison/Disease
7. Faerie Fire
8. Reflected Image

Book of Second Level Spells
1. Bless
2. Detect Invisible
3. Detect Trap
4. ESP
5. Locate Object
6. Pacify
7. Purify Food and Water
8. Read Languages
9. Speak in Tongues

First Level Spells:

Control Vapour – Range: 10 feet x level of spell caster; Duration: 1 turn
Gas or vapour may be controlled and moved about, with a movement of 60’/turn. A gas with intelligence, such as an Air Elemental, saves vs. magic.

Cure Wounds - Range: 0
The witch can heal from 1-6 points of damage by touching another person.

Detect Evil - Range: 120 feet; Duration: 6 turns
Same as the magic-user’s spell except for duration and range.

Detect Illusion – Range: variable; Duration: 3 turns
Same as the illusionist’s spell except the range is whatever distance can be seen.

Detect Magic - Range: 60 feet; Duration: 2 turns
Same as that for magic-users.

Detect Poison/Disease – Range 0
The witch can detect the presence of poison or disease by touching the poison or diseased creature.

Faerie Fire – Range: 60 feet; Duration: 6 turns
Same as that for druids.

Reflected Image – Range: 40 feet; Duration: 1 x level of spell caster in days
The witch may form a picture on any reflecting surface.

Second Level Spells:

Bless - Range: 60 feet; Duration: 6 turns
Same as that for clerics.

Detect Invisible – Range: 10 feet x level of spell caster; Duration: 6 turns
Same as that for magic-users.

Detect Trap - Range: 30 feet; Duration: 2 turns
Same as the clerical spell “Find Traps”.

ESP – Range: 0; Duration: 12 turns
Same as that for magic-users, except that the witch must be touching the one whose mind she wants to read.

Locate Object – Range: 60 feet + level of spell caster in 10s of feet; Duration: 2 turns
Same as that for magic-users.

Pacify – Range: 60 feet; Duration: 4 + level of spell caster in turns
The witch can make a hostile foe feel friendly, although he will in no way be charmed or subject to her will. The spell will affect from 1-8 creatures of 6 hit dice or less.

Purify Food and Water - Range: 10 feet
Same as that for clerics.

Read Languages – Range: 0 feet; Duration: 2 turns
Same as that for magic-users.

Speak in Tongues – Range: 0; Duration: 2 + level of spell caster in turns
This spell enables a witch to understand the language of any intelligent entity and communicate with that entity in its own language.

Evil Witch Spells:

Witches with evil tendencies have basically the same spells as do those with good tendencies.  However, spells in italics are reversed for evil witches.

Give Wounds
Detect Good
Contaminate Food and Water


  1. Very cool! Holmes is one of m favorite versions of D&D. I have all the Dragons that cover witches, so I'll give this one a go.

    1. It's a really fun version of the class!

      Back on the OD&D discussion boards, we even talked about witches mixing potions using the same game mechanics in Holmes that magic-users use to make scrolls. That way, they could make "potions of healing" for 100 gp. However, I could see witches and clerics not wanting to be part of the same party, as a result...

      Here's the link to the thread: