A Review of the Role Playing Game Supplement A Necromancer’s Grimoire: Secrets of the Witch

A Necromancer’s Grimoire: Secrets of the Witch by Alex Riggs, Joshua Zaback and Justin Holloway is a role playing game supplement published by Necromancers of the Northwest for use with the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. As such, it is covered by the Open Game License and parts are considered to be Open Game Content as a result. This supplement provides various witch-related options, and not just for the character class.

This is a 41 page PDF which is available from RPGNow at the regular price of $2.49 but was purchased as part of a special bundle with each supplement costing approximately $0.07 each. Two pages are the front and rear covers, one page is the front matter, one page an ad for other products and one page the Open Game License.

A Necromancer's Grimoire: Secrets of the WitchThe supplement starts with an in-character witch-related short story that is slightly over two pages long, which is followed by the Foreword, which takes up most of a page. In the Foreword, it’s stated that the intent of the supplement is to tie the witch (which is in the Advanced Player’s Guide as a class) more into folklore, in particular expanding the use of the coven.

The first section is on the Green Hag as a racial or monster class which allow players to play monster races, whereby the race’s benefits are gained as a character advances in level until they reach the monster’s normal full ability, at which point they start gaining new abilities. This follows a standard class setup, with their skills and features, as well as notes on playing and GMing them, their relationship with other classes and their place in the world. This takes up just under nine pages.

Next is a selection of new feats, nineteen in total, related to witchcraft. Many of these are related to covens and are marked as such, which do things such as cooperative casting and allowing a coven member to meet the other members in spirit. There are two lists of coven-related spells, one of which references spells from Advanced Arcana, Volume 1, also from Necromancers of the Northwest. There are a couple of potion-related feats, which are thematically appropriate. There is a sidebar in this section which considers covens, hags and witches.

Hexes provides four new hexes, three new major hexes and two new grand hexes, all also thematically appropriate for witches.

Alternate Familiar Abilities has 12 new abilities which can be used to replace existing ones.

The final section, Spells has 30 new spells, all of them aimed at witches but some of which can be used by other classes. Many also have the ritual descriptor, which makes them more powerful when cast by a coven.

A Necromancer’s Grimoire: Secrets of the Witch in Review

The PDF is very well bookmarked, with nested bookmarks going down to individual feats and Green Hag class abilities. There isn’t a contents though, which would have been appreciated. Navigation is above average. The text maintains a two column format and seemed largely error-free; the only error noticed was where a couple of words at the bottom of one page were duplicated on the next. A rather larger problem is that in quite a few places the text appears to be blurred for some reason, which makes it hard to read and somewhat headache-inducing. There are a few full-colour computer-generated images that appear to be stock but which are generally appropriate to the subject matter.

The Green Hag as a player class seems a bit overpowered in some ways although it doesn’t have hexes (and this is a class that is rather tied into the witch concept, which as a class has hexes), or spells, it does have unlimited, at will spell-like abilities. Such as invisibility at 8th level, constant tongues at 4th, magic resistance at 5th which then increases and more. This, rather extensive, list of at-will unlimited abilities has the potential to be massively unbalancing. The Green Hag is quite dangerous in up close and personal combat, as their touch drains strength (which could potentially be a headache for a GM; this is considered but mostly dismissed under the expectation that NPCs generally don’t survive combat with players), and these abilities greatly increase their likelihood of getting up close and personal unnoticed in order to do this. Green hags can also have a much larger familiar than normal. All of which contributes to a class that really shouldn’t be used by players, especially once they reach 11th level and can then multi-class as well.

The new feats, hexes, alternate familiar abilities and spells are all very nice. They are thematically appropriate and have give some interesting new abilities and formats, such as being able to restore creatures to life using a cauldron.

The supplement seems a little unfocussed at times, and the Green Hag really doesn’t seem suited for the rest. Truthfully, it doesn’t seem suited for any game. It might have been nicer to stick that class in its own supplement and spend a little more time on covens; there are some interesting things to do with covens in the feats, spells and hexes, but there could have been more.

Apart from the Green Hag, this isn’t a bad supplement, but whatever is wrong with the text really could do with fixing. A Necromancer’s Grimoire: Secrets of the Witch is let down by the Green Hag, which takes up a goodly chunk of the supplement, and the text problems, but there is still some decent stuff in it and it can be found by clicking here.

 

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