What is Witchcraft?

Witchcraft is a mixture of charms, herbalism and dealing with familiar spirits. Witches themselves range from elderly crones pottering around small villages who can inspire terror simply by squinting at someone to proprietors of discreet little shops for the discerning gentleman or lady, who would like a little helping hand with his love life. Traditionally they are female and common, though both male and noble practitioners are becoming increasingly accepted, even by the Sisters of Hecate, a group notorious for waiting for times to change back rather than bothering to change with them.


Perhaps the easiest way to get a picture of witchcraft is to look at how it could be (and has been) used to deal with some of the problems encountered regularly in the Archipelago of Albion.

City under the waves…or not

Faced with the prospect of a city rapidly about to become part of the Atlantic, a common occurrence during the Flood, a witch would have a few tricks up her sleeve to stop this.

  • Ask nicely. The water doesn’t necessarily need to flow through the city, there are plenty of other places to go, and if the spirits resident in it wouldn’t mind guiding it the right way then the people of the city would be suitably grateful and pick somewhere else to empty their chamber pots, throwing some scented oils into the waters instead.
  • Continue asking nicely. If the waters can’t be persuaded to go around, perhaps the land can be persuaded to go up.
  • And still ask nicely. A dragon would generally be more inclined to listen to a witch than anyone else, and could perhaps carve out the city so it could float and be towed around by whales, or move mountains to avoid as flood barriers.

Sunken Treasure

There is treasure. Unfortunately it is in London somewhere unspecific under rather a lot of water and you are not. So, how might you go about getting it.

  • Scry for treasure in London. Should give you an idea where to look.
  • Ask water spirits, or creatures, if they’ve seen anything gold and shiny.
  • Then take one spirit of air and one seal, and persuade the former to cling to your face to provide something to breathe whilst the latter makes up for your rather appalling swimming.

Why Witchcraft?

This is usually seen as one of the least advanced forms of magic - its spells tend not be flashy, but a great aid in day to day life. Here are some reasons your character might be interested in witchcraft:

  • Land and water There’s not much land in Albion, and far too much water. Witchcraft can get the most out of the land, and make traveling around the waterways rather easier.
  • It's magic for commoners If you can't read or write, getting taken on as an apprentice to a witch may be your ticket to a better life. Of all magic forms, witchcraft is least associated with poring over musty tomes.
  • Profit The spells in witchcraft tend to be relatively easy to perform and, with practice, lesser versions, particularly of potions, can be produced more quickly without tending to explode at random. Witchcraft is also a popular way to have your illnesses cured, as it tends to be less likely to result in extra added blindness from an overenthusiastic angel or getting bled.
  • Helping people Being able to heal is really rather handy given the reliability of surgeons - most people prefer herbal remedies and chanting which probably will work to leeches, which probably won't.

And here are some OOC reasons to choose witchcraft:

  1. You want to play Granny Weatherwax
  2. Flexibility Most of the spells will still have an effect if you use a different token from the one listed, or don't spend quite as much time of the ritual…it just might have a few bonus effects as well, or a twist from what you wanted.
  3. Development through use Cast spells and they get better. No need to take time out for research.

Witchcraft and Religion

The churches tend to look down on most of witchcraft, particularly dealings with familiar spirits, but herbalism is often accepted, to the point that some of the faithful practice it, reasoning that God gave the plants particular shapes for a reason, and so ones which look like ears can be combined to form a cure for ear-ache.

Witchcraft and the Nobility

Witchcraft is regarded as the preserve of commoners. This doesn't stop a few nobles dabbling, and far more turning to a witch when they need a healer. Divination, particularly, has become quite popular amongst a certain set of nobles, which has resulted in a few keeping pet witches to advise them what the tea leaves say this morning.

Progression in Witchcraft

Simply put, the more you cast a certain spell the better you get at it. This means that the next time you cast it it will be more effective, and you can cut corners more safely. It is also rumoured that one with great familiarity with a particular spell would be able to devise a ritual which would be rather more difficult than the normal spell to carry out…but also far more powerful.

Experimental Witchcraft

With an existing spell tokens can be substituted, though trying to use a spoon in place of virgin's tears isn't going to do much. Something mystical which is in some way linked to the goal of the spell would almost certainly be less effective than the token that was meant to be used, but still give enough 'kick' that something along the right lines should happen.

It is also possible to cut corners if in a hurry, using fewer AP than the spell requires. Again, do not expect this to be without effects.

With both of the above the more experience you have with the spell in question, the more likely it is they will work, if you accept a drop in the effectiveness of the spell. Try to cast the spell at full power, however, and there probably will be consequences. It should be noted that casting a spell with the corners cut will not give you the same kind of experience working with it that casting it properly would, and so will not cause you to progress.

Modifying a Spell - 2AP base

If there is a particular spell you want to cast a lot, however, it may be worth spending more time with it, and working out a way to shorten the ritual, modify it to produce more of the product, or change the token to something similar but more or less powerful to make the spell more or less effective.

Aquiring New Spells


The most common method of aquiring a new spell in witchcraft is simply to ask around. Trading is quite common, spells for spells or favours. It might not work quite right the first time if you are inexperienced, but once you have cast it the first time it should work reasonably well.

Research - 4AP base

This could involve anything from asking around about what works in similar spells to create a more specific one, just trying various things until they work or looking through old grimoires.


All witches have access to a starting set of spells, which they are considered to have little experience with. Those with Magical Adept or Expert quirks have cast spells 3 or 6 times respectively without cutting corners. Simply pick which spells.

What follows is what can be readily picked up about the most common spells of witchcraft from asking around. Well, asking around with the caveat that this should be something which should not have happened to a friend of a friend, and indeed be what you could expect a normal witch to be capable of.


Bottle fame, brew glory, even stopper death. Ahem. More or less. The potions in witchcraft tend more towards those for healing and the various aspects of relationships. Potion making is one of the most popular forms of witchcraft, and least feared and persecuted.

Healing Salve

Gets scrapes better pretty quick, mostly just stops them going bad. It would be wonderful if it weren't for the fact that they have to dance around…naked for it to work. See, you think that's a good thing, but the pretty ones always make you wear a blindfold when they're doing it.

Love Philtre

I've found some of the stuff our Mistress Silva makes works wonders on my wife. Well, if I can get back in the house to give it to her I'm allowed to stay in, and I get a great meal that night. Pity next morning she's back to normal.

Sleeping Draught

Nightmares getting you down? Got a husband who just won't stop snoring? Pox keeping you awake at night? Fear not! Sweet-Dreams will send you into a sleep as deep as any baby. One dose, one week of perfect sleep - how can you not take it?

Spells of Calling

These spells call a creature or spirit to the witch, or a token. Good if you like fluffy bunnies or want to send them leaping off the edge of a cliff.

Call Creatures

Damned creepy, the way the sheep come in when Gammer Hess calls 'em. No need for a dog or anything, she just whistles.

Call the Dead

When our David died, and him having said no goodbyes nor said whether he wanted our Jason or our Sam to have the forge after him, on account of not expecting to get run down by that cart or anything, we didn't know what to do, as Sam's the eldest but Jason's the only one who's shown the slightest bit of talent. Anyway, the midwife said she could fix it, and it was like she was talking with his voice, it was so strange, but it all got worked out.

Call Spirits

I hear witches can call those things, the spirits what live in trees, and houses and stuff, and they has to answer them.

Spells of Changing

These spells actually change what something is, for a while.


So, there was this old woman in Kent, and everyone said there was something off about her, and…well, practising archery on crows got a whole lot less popular after one of them turned into her.


So, there was this noble who'd been practising witchery, and his family weren't too happy about it. Not at all. So they shut him up in this tower. They really shouldn't have left him with his broom to sweep it up, he just went out of the window, never seen again. Not by them, at any rate.


You do not want to annoy a witch. See, they can make these little dolls and put a bit of your soul in them, and then if they want…bang. Our Elsie had headaches for a week.

Spells of Seeing

Witches do tend to be curious, and so this set of spells is usually rather useful for spying, as well as seeing a little way into the future.


I hear tell witches can see through the eyes of animals. So be careful, you never know who's watching you.


All the fashion these days. It does seem to come up trumps most of time…just not always in the way you'd expect.

Far Sight

Spying. That's all it is, just rather safer, for all you loose out on.

Spells of Seeming

Illusions and other tricks of the trade to bewilder villagers or customers.


The girl down the road, she seems to have turned twenty and stayed it for, what, the last decade? Creepy, it is. Not that I wouldn't mind knowing the trick, o'course.


Tis lyke unto having an heade alle full of bees. - Mistress Sarah Glover, A Herbal


Never notice witches, do you. Not until you need them, and they aren't there. Well, how'd you think they manage it?

witchcraft.txt · Last modified: 2007/10/15 22:17 by adam