The gauntlet witch archetype first appeared in Kobold Quarterly #23, offering a vibrant alternate option for playing a witch. Though gauntlet witches are rare, your players may want to follow a variant path than that presented already. This series offers variant racial archetypes based on the gauntlet witch for humans, gearforged, huginn, kobolds, minotaurs, dragonkin, gnolls, elves, dwarves, tieflings, goblins, dhampir, aasimar, and darakhul as well as two new prestige classes accessible by gauntlet witches. Again, note that the volume of options here should not be taken as an indication of the prevalence of gauntlet witches in Midgard, merely the availability of options you might provide to your players.
Human Gauntlet Witch Variant: Tattooed Gauntlet Witch Racial Archetype
Inked in an arcane ritual of blood and pain, the tattoo gauntlet traps a sentient spark of the essence of a particular patron or sometimes a mote of the soul of an outsider—bonding this essence into a living envelope inscribed onto the body. Tattoo gauntlets were created by inkmages in association with gauntlet witches wishing to both prevent the loss of their eldritch gauntlet and conceal the source of their fearsome power—however the resultant creations, though sentient, were considered brutal caricatures of truly intelligent eldritch gauntlet designs. Thus the “intelligent gauntlet linked with wearer” was replaced by an intimate bond of witch and tattoo—information and versatility traded for raw physical power and protection.
As a relatively new tradition, tattooed gauntlet witches are even rarer than gauntlet witches—the nature of the binding ritual and the lifelong dedication required necessarily limits their numbers. They can be found among the bodyguards of the arcanists such as the Scriveners of Allain in the Western Wastes or occasionally as outcasts from the same—a small number of these took to the Western Ocean seeking adventure and fabled lost Ankeshelian ink-magic. The Despot of Reth-Saal has acquired the knowledge of the blood-binding ritual and has created a small detachment of tattooed gauntlet witches. Finally, it is rumored that a scion of Demon Mountain is also a tattooed gauntlet witch.
A tattooed gauntlet witch’s tattooed gauntlet has the following modifications:
Bound and bonded to the tattooed gauntlet witch, the tattoo gauntlet covers the witch’s arm, shoulder, and part of the upper body on that side. The tattooed gauntlet witch’s tattoo gauntlet takes up the same slots as an eldritch gauntlet, but does not include a spiked gauntlet, nor does the tattooed gauntlet witch receive light armor proficiency or weapon proficiency with a spiked gauntlet.
The tattoo gauntlet confers magical protection to the owner. At 1st level the tattoo gauntlet is a pattern of linework in the shape of armored plates or carapace that affords an enhancement bonus to AC equal to studded leather. Moreover, the owner gains DR 1/slashing—this increases by 1 for every five tattooed gauntlet witch levels. The tattoo gauntlet is capable of being enchanted.
At 5th level the ink spreads to cover the spaces between the plates, increasing the protection to that of scale mail.
Note that armor or shields of any sort are anathematic to tattooed gauntlet witches, and interfere with arcane spellcasting as normal.
A witch’s tattoo gauntlet otherwise functions as and replaces the witch’s familiar and 1st- and 4th-level hexes.
Armored Ink: Starting at 8th level, the tattooed gauntlet witch can receive further tattoo armor—in exchange for the hex ability usually gained. Inscribed plates cover the rest of the witch’s upper body and confers an enhancement bonus to AC equal to banded mail.
At 14th level the tattoo can be completed (again in exchange for the hex ability usually gained), covering the witch and conferring protection equal to full plate.
Sapience: A tattoo gauntlet is still a sentient “item” and has the same Wis, Cha, and Ego scores of a regular eldritch gauntlet. A tattoo gauntlet’s Intelligence score starts at 8, though, and it increases by 1 for every two levels. The tattoo gauntlet begins play knowing the Trade tongue and the tattooed witch’s native human language.
Bloodbond: The tattoo gauntlet does not have the lore, legend lore, telepathy, unbreakable, or teleport abilities associated with an eldritch gauntlet. It communicates via empathic pulses (Empathy [Su]) that only the owner understands or feels. The tattoo gauntlet otherwise shares the owner’s senses and saving throws. Note that the tattoo gauntlet cannot be blinded or deafened in and of itself—these conditions only affect it if the owner is likewise affected.
Armored Fist: At 1st level the tattooed gauntlet witch gains Improved Unarmed Strike as a free bonus feat. At 8th level, he gains Vital Strike, even if the witch does not meet the prerequisites. Both of these feats apply only to attacks made with the tattoo gauntlet.
Scourged Skin: At 1st level the tattooed gauntlet witch gains a +5 resistance bonus to Heal checks against the bleeding condition. At 5thlevel, the witch ignores the first two points of bleeding damage—this increases by one point for every two tattooed gauntlet witch levels the owner possesses. At 15th level the tattooed gauntlet witch becomes immune to the bleeding condition. Note that this only affects hit point loss—not ability damage or drain.
Toughness: The tattoo gauntlet confers this feat upon the owner at 3rd level.
Patron: The following patrons complement the tattooed gauntlet witch: agility, blood*, deception, elements, endurance, ink*, shadow, spirits, strength, protection*, transformation and vengeance. (*KQ#23)
|1st-2nd||+1||8||6||3||Alertness, armored fist, scourged skin|
|3rd-4th||+1||9||7||5||Aegis strike, pain clasp, toughness|
|7th-8th||+2||11||9||10||Improved pain clasp|
About the Author: Morgan Boehringer is a freelance author, graphic designer and illustrator living in the Blue Mountains, Australia. He has contributed to Kobold Press’ Journeys to the West, the upcoming Midgard Tales, Kobold Quarterly and Wayfinder magazine. He is also a contributor to the Multiclass Archetypes (http://mcarchetype.