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A witchdoctor was a rare distinct variation of shaman, which combined the divine abilities of shamanism with a limited use of wizardly arcane magic.[2][3][4][5]

Culture[]

Witch doctors most commonly arose in rural, humanoid cultures with tribal affectations.[3][5] Witch doctors were almost never found in the same tribe as standard shamans,[2][3][5] some exceptions being neanderthal tribes[2] and the Nubari tribe the Wise Ones.[6]

They typically held positions of great influence in their tribes. They often acted as advisors to their chiefs, giving counsel and support.[7] Among orc communities, they were often the most powerful members, rivaled only by orc shamans.[8] Having a retinue of guards and being counted on to give the chieftain advice on matters of warfare and inter-tribal relations. It was not uncommon for them to inherit the position of chieftain themselves[9] or to usurp their chieftain.[10] How witch doctors of any race usurped their chieftain varied, with some being overt in killing them or being subtle through use of charms.[11]

Witch doctors were often secretive, going to great lengths to preserve their power, usually by means of deception or trickery.[11] Despite this, they were known to take up one or more apprentices,[7] passing down the arcane spells that they knew.[5] Only one of a witch doctor's apprentices would inherit their mantle upon their death or retirement, however, the others being either banished from their tribe or killed.[7]

Racial Practitioners[]

Besides orcs,[2][4] the humanoids that practiced this tradition included bullywugs, dakon,[12] fire trolls,[13] the various standard goblinoid races,[2][5][4][14] gnolls and flinds,[2][5][7] grimlocks,[12] half-ogres, half-orcs,[7] hybsils,[15] koalinths,[16] kobolds,[2][5][7] lizardfolk,[2][4] minotaurs,[7] ogres[2][5] and Ice Spire ogres,[17] orogs,[4] vegepygmies,[12][18] wemics,[7][19][20] and xvarts.[12]

Witch doctors were extremely rare among giants,[21] though ones could be found among fire giants, frost giants,[22][21] fog giants, and mountain giants.[12][note 1] And beyond humanoids, humans and neanderthals could be found practicing this tradition.[2]

Practition by Region[]

Orc communities that practiced this tradition could be found in the North,[23] the Thousand Fists tribe in the Nether Mountains,[24] the Goblin Marches, and the Storm Horns.[25] Also in the North, the tribal humans known as Ice Hunters practiced this tradition, with the most ancient of them having limited use of powerful ice, snow, and cold magics.[23] In southwest Faerûn, witch doctors could be found among tribes on the Chultan Peninsula, where they often purchased mined materials from the local Chultan dwarves.[26]

Beyond Faerûn, witch doctors could be found in parts of the continent of Kara-Tur. In T'u Lung, witch doctors were locally referred to as kio ton mu and were typically members of cults,[27] such as the Black Leopard Cult.[28] On the Malatran Plateau, witch doctors could be found in the tribes of the various races that inhabited it,[29][30] but were rarer and more powerful compared to the Plateau's shamans.[31] The Plateau's shu tribes for example, those with five or more families typically had a witch doctor.[32] And in the Southern Ocean, witch doctors could be found among the Island Kingdoms.[33]

In the land of Zakhara, the maskhi had male witch doctors that typically specialized in the arcane provinces of sand and wind.[34] And beyond surface worlds, they could be found on goblinoid spelljammers.[35]

Practition by Faith[]

In terms of religions, humanoid witch doctors could be found in service of evil-aligned demihuman or human deities,[5] such as Auril[36] or Bhaal in the case of the orcs of the Trollmoors.[37] Among the humanoid deities, witch doctors were in service of the Goblinoid pantheon,[4] Kurtulmak,[38] the Orc pantheon,[4][39] and Vaprak.[4] The Giant pantheon did not have witch doctors, though a few unusual cults among giants did.[40]

Much like warlocks,[41] witch doctors could also be servitors of powerful non-deity entities. In terms of fiends, witch doctors could be found in service of archdevils, demon lords,[11][42] and greater daemons,[42] like the demon lord Yeenoghu.[4][43] Rarely, good-aligned witch doctors were patrons of modrons or solars.[42] And on the Malatran Plateau, human and humanoid witch doctors were servitors of the spirits of the land.[29][30] The witch doctors of the Plateau's saru led their people in ancestral worship.[32] And witch doctors of the Ice Hunters were in service of their people's beast totems.[44]

Abilities[]

Witch doctors were often proficient in the fields of astrology, herbalism, agriculture, dancing, singing, winemaking,[45] the brewing of crude alcoholic beverages, and alchemy. Humanoid witch doctors skilled in alchemy were capable of brewing potions with the effects of cure blindness, cure disease, cure light wounds, neutralize poison, resist fear, resist fire, and spell immunity. Those most skilled in alchemy were capable of constructing a homunculus.[46]

Witch doctors drew their clerical spells from up to three spheres,[47] while their arcane spells were limited to a single school of magic.[45][48] The arcane spells of a witch doctor were kept within a spellbook,[48][5] though those on the Malatran Plateau did not.[29][30] They liberally utilized their spells in order to maintain their tribe's confidence in their power.[11]

The spells wielded by humanoid witch doctors of evil deities were typically offensive and defensive, rather than curative. Some favorite spells of theirs included cause light wounds, chant, and dispel magic. The few curative spells they had were kept for use after battles or for use by a tribe's chieftain. Those who were servitors of good or neutral deities had more balanced spell selections and were more likely to use their powers to directly benefit their tribe as a whole. Evil humanoid shamans could typically control skeletons and zombies, but almost never had access to necromancy spells, while good and neutral ones could turn them.[49]

Like any spellcaster, they could man a spelljamming helm.[35]

Possessions[]

Much like a wizard, witch doctors never wore armor.[45][48] The spellbooks carried by humanoid witch doctors were often crude and bulky tablets of poor-quality paper or wood. This was due to the difficulty of obtaining expensive parchment,[46] their inability to afford improving them, or lack of skill necessary to improve them.[49]

Witch doctors often had magical items, including cursed ones like a necklace of strangulation, and scrolls.[49] They could even wield items that were usually restricted to wizards.[48] Much like spells, a witch doctor liberally utilized their magical items in order to maintain their tribe's confidence in their power.[11] Because of this, they often seized and hoarded all such suspected magical items brought into their tribe.[11]

History[]

Before the rise of Netheril, witch doctors were among the few human spellcasters on Toril.[50]

In the Year of the Blue Shield, 400 DR, witch doctors of Gruumsh were among the orc forces in the Dark Alliance that assembled to assault Northkeep.[51] Orc witch doctors were a part of the Legion of the Chimera that besieged the Ten Towns of Icewind Dale in the Year of the Griffon, 1312 DR.[52]

Notable Witch Doctors[]

Appendix[]

See Also[]

Notes[]

  1. This core source also mentions fomorians and verbeeg as being capable of being witchdoctors. However, the Realms source Giantcraft says otherwise.

Appearances[]

Novels
The Radiant Dragon
Video Games
Pool of Radiance: Ruins of Myth DrannorIcewind Dale II

References[]

  1. Bill Slavicsek (1993). The Complete Book of Humanoids. (TSR, Inc), pp. 79–80. ISBN 1-5607-6611-5.
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 Gary Gygax (1979). Dungeon Masters Guide 1st edition. (TSR, Inc.), p. 40. ISBN 0-9356-9602-4.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Bill Slavicsek (1993). The Complete Book of Humanoids. (TSR, Inc), pp. 77, 79. ISBN 1-5607-6611-5.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 4.7 4.8 Carl Sargent (May 1992). Monster Mythology. (TSR, Inc), pp. 13, 43. ISBN 1-5607-6362-0.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 5.6 5.7 5.8 5.9 Roger E. Moore ed. (January 1989). “Orcs Throw Spells, Too!”. Dragon #141 (TSR, Inc.), p. 24.
  6. Uncredited (December 1994). “Tribes of the Nubari”. In Jean Rabe ed. Polyhedron #102 (TSR, Inc.), p. 11.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 7.6 7.7 Bill Slavicsek (1993). The Complete Book of Humanoids. (TSR, Inc), p. 79. ISBN 1-5607-6611-5.
  8. Jennell Jaquays (1988). The Savage Frontier. (TSR, Inc), p. 11. ISBN 0-88038-593-6.
  9. Gary Gygax (August, 1985). Unearthed Arcana (1st edition). (TSR, Inc.), p. 122. ISBN 0880380845.
  10. James Butler, Elizabeth T. Danforth, Jean Rabe (September 1994). “The Stonelands and the Goblin Marches”. In Karen S. Boomgarden ed. Elminster's Ecologies (TSR, Inc), p. 14. ISBN 1-5607-6917-3.
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 11.4 11.5 Roger E. Moore ed. (January 1989). “Orcs Throw Spells, Too!”. Dragon #141 (TSR, Inc.), p. 26.
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 12.4 Roger E. Moore ed. (January 1989). “Orcs Throw Spells, Too!”. Dragon #141 (TSR, Inc.), p. 27.
  13. Alec Baclawski (November 1993). “The Dragon's Bestiary: Those terrible trolls”. In Kim Mohan ed. Dragon #199 (TSR, Inc.), p. 199.
  14. Bill Slavicsek (1993). The Complete Book of Humanoids. (TSR, Inc), pp. 22, 35, 37. ISBN 1-5607-6611-5.
  15. Gary Gygax (August 1983). Monster Manual II 1st edition. (TSR, Inc), p. 77. ISBN 0-88038-031-4.
  16. Mark S. Harcourt (December 1982). “What's in the Water?”. In Kim Mohan ed. Dragon #68 (TSR, Inc.), pp. 39–40.
  17. Ray Winninger (September 1995). Giantcraft. Edited by Karen S. Boomgarden. (TSR, Inc.), p. 87. ISBN 0-7869-0163-2.
  18. Teos Abadia (April 2021). “The Ecology of the Vegepygmy”. Dungeon #201 (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 3, 5.
  19. Gary Gygax (August 1983). Monster Manual II 1st edition. (TSR, Inc), p. 127. ISBN 0-88038-031-4.
  20. David Cook, Steve Winter, and Jon Pickens (1989). Monstrous Compendium Volume Three Forgotten Realms Appendix (MC3). (TSR, Inc), p. 17. ISBN 0-88038-769-6.
  21. 21.0 21.1 Carl Sargent (May 1992). Monster Mythology. (TSR, Inc), p. 74. ISBN 1-5607-6362-0.
  22. David "Zeb" Cook et al. (1989). Monstrous Compendium Volume One. (TSR, Inc). ISBN 0-8803-8738-6.
  23. 23.0 23.1 Jennell Jaquays (1988). The Savage Frontier. (TSR, Inc), p. 6. ISBN 0-88038-593-6.
  24. Eric L. Boyd (2002-01-30). Part 10: Chronicler's Compendium. Mintiper's Chapbook. Wizards of the Coast.
  25. James Butler, Elizabeth T. Danforth, Jean Rabe (September 1994). “The Stonelands and the Goblin Marches”. In Karen S. Boomgarden ed. Elminster's Ecologies (TSR, Inc), pp. 14, 19, 26. ISBN 1-5607-6917-3.
  26. James Lowder, Jean Rabe (1993). The Jungles of Chult. (TSR, Inc), p. 40. ISBN 1-5607-6605-0.
  27. Mike Pondsmith, Jay Batista, Rick Swan, John Nephew, Deborah Christian (1988). Kara-Tur: The Eastern Realms (Volume I). (TSR, Inc), pp. 47, 49, 59, 64. ISBN 0-88038-608-8.
  28. Brian R. James, Ed Greenwood (September 2007). The Grand History of the Realms. Edited by Kim Mohan, Penny Williams. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 39. ISBN 978-0-7869-4731-7.
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  30. 30.0 30.1 30.2 Uncredited (July 1996). “Living Jungle Character Generation”. In Scott Douglas ed. Polyhedron #121 (TSR, Inc.), p. 18.
  31. Uncredited (June 1995). “Living Jungle Q&A”. In Duane Maxwell ed. Polyhedron #108 (TSR, Inc.), p. 14.
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  50. Jennell Jaquays (1988). The Savage Frontier. (TSR, Inc), p. 3. ISBN 0-88038-593-6.
  51. Brian R. James, Ed Greenwood (September 2007). The Grand History of the Realms. Edited by Kim Mohan, Penny Williams. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 87. ISBN 978-0-7869-4731-7.
  52. Black Isle Studios (August 2002). Designed by J.E. Sawyer. Icewind Dale II. Interplay.
  53. Uncredited (December 1994). “Tribes of the Nubari”. In Jean Rabe ed. Polyhedron #102 (TSR, Inc.), p. 9.
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Connections[]

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