Path of Exile witch from the intro

Crystal Nekranne van Riss

(Sample Path of Exile Witch)

The sevenfold witch kills with the dead


Path of Exile is an Action-Adventure Computer Role-Playing Game, like the Diablo series. It is chiefly aimed at hardcore gamers. While playing just means clicking on stuff, playing well is no small endeavour. The game has lots of complex depths.

One of the character types playable in Path of Exile is the Witch. Here’s a possible, fleshed-out version of the Witch with a made-up background as an example.

For an introduction to the setting, one should first read our sample Path of Exile Marauder profile.


The illusive generic witch

Player Characters in Action-Adventure Computer Role-playing Games are usually more character classes than actual characters. But there’s something of a spectrum.

For instance the characters in Diablo II, such as the Amazon or the Assassin, are almost wholly classes. Those in the first Torchlight are even less fleshed out. But those in Borderlands, such as Lilith, are almost characters. Especially if one takes into account additional material such as comics.

The Path of Exile character classes are in the middle. They are classes, but they have distinctive lines and voice acting, a smidgen of background, a generally set appearance that includes a character portrait, a handful of reaction lines from Non-Player Characters, etc.


Thus, we’ll use the same approach as we used for Torchlight example characters (such as Shivangi, Ksenia and Rae):

  1. Use a common build for the class.
  2. Include a recap of what little is known in-game.
  3. Add made-up details to present a possible fleshed-out version of this proto-character.

In Crystal’s case, we use something resembling what was once a standard Summon Raging Spirit  build.


  • Real Name: Crystal Nekranne van Riss.
  • Marital Status: Single.
  • Known Relatives: Mother (Deceased).
  • Group Affiliation: None.
  • Base Of Operations: Mobile across Wraeclast.
  • Height: 5’4” Weight: 102 lbs. Age: 15
  • Eyes: Grey (glowing blue) Hair: Brown

Powers & Abilities

Originally, the witch had some minor magical talents involving fire and the evil eye. Upon landing on Wraeclast, these rapidly grew stronger. But they soon were overshadowed by her quickly-developing necromantic puissance.

Though she doesn’t look like much, Crystal is surprisingly intelligent. She also has a strong intuition when it comes to thaumaturgy, and is *way* better at planning her actions than you’d expect given her dismal background.

Lost legions

Most necromancers on Wraeclast do the usual, such as zombies, or ghosts. The soil and air are so permeated with necromantic energy that it is even feasible to conjure skeleton-shaped constructs out of thin air. Generally, it’s more a matter of animating corpses *before* they will rise by themselves. For the dead seldom remain still on Wraeclast.

Path of Exile - Summon Raging Spirits - Witch - Beach

Crystal could do this sort of necromancy. But instead, she has made a pact with a specific army of burning spirits of the dead. These manifest as flying, burning skulls. These creatures resemble the Lost Souls in DooM video games.

The witch conjures them one by one. But she can do that rapid-fire and be surrounded by a cloud of these raging spirits within moments. These will swoop as a swarm on most everything that moves.

Even with all of the witch’s power, the skull spirits last for less than a dozen seconds… but she can bring in more in the meanwhile. Thus, her most common tactic is to quickly summon a mass of burning skulls and let them devastate all opponents, real or imagined, nearby. Crystal seldom enters the fray herself.

Legion of super-skulls

Crystal is a gemling (as explained our sample PoE Marauder profile). She carefully developed the gems she had implanted into her body to bolster her burning skulls. Making them fiercer would be difficult, but she can make them faster, stronger, burning hotter, infuse their bites and headbutts with stronger energies, etc..

A swarm can thus ravage most forms of opposition, even on Wraeclast. The only hope when facing the witch is to come after her to stop the summonings at their source.

Arcing toward balance

However, Crystal can defend herself even without the skulls. Using implanted gems and her understanding of thaumaturgy, she can emit powerful electrical arcs. This lightning can arc through multiple opponents, and it is pretty powerful. Another advantage is that it doesn’t quite have to be aimed.

There’s a further trick. The implanted gem was tweaked with an elemental balance principle. This means that those hit by the arc will mystically acquire a resilience to electricity… balanced by a weakness toward fire. Which makes the burning skulls horde even deadlier for those shocked by the witch’s lightning.

Thus, surviving van Riss’ electrical fury actually makes things worse.

A few technical notes for PoE players

This profile is based on a life-based, quad-aura SRS as it existed in version… gosh, I think it was back in build 2.4.x of POE. Many patches ago. The build actually had a spectre and a golem, but that was simplified here.

The build was angled to be simple, with few actions to take and low requirements in terms of aiming and dodging. This lack of fiddly bits means it translates fairly well to a tabletop, with a simple character sheet . And the visuals are fairly cool, I must say.


Here is a short setting video :


These are the ruins of Sarn, which used to be the capital of the Eternal Empire. The current non-monstrous inhabitants are a small community living at the edge of town to avoid the horrors therein. These are typical visuals for a community in Wraeclast.


Crystal is a peasant wench from a random village in Oriath. Her young life has been a rotten one. Her mother died in childbirth along with her second child. Then her father just vanished, allegedly to dodge gambling debts.

She was thus essentially the village’s kid beggar. The locals gave her meagre leftover food in exchange for performing whichever miserable chores they sought to avoid.

Trudging angrily through her bleak existence, the orphan wished she were a witch. As she understood it back then, witches live alone in magical arboreal huts and nobody bothers them because they are scary and cast spells. When she was about 12, she started pretending that she was a witch to intimidate adults.

That was a poor idea. And it became much worse when she actually manifested minor fire magic. The villagers wrecked her crude, tiny log cabin. Then a band of teenage boys drove her away in the woods as they attempted to lapidate  her.

A very young hermit

The kid’s “evil eye” could transfix small creatures (such as hedgehogs) long enough to brain them with a stone. And her “magic flame” could reliably start a campfire. This considerably facilitated survival.

However, survival was no longer her goal. Beside herself with juvenile rage, she swore that she would make the entire village pay. Crystal made up a “magical rule”. It stated that any harm inflicted on her was to be paid back sevenfold using her “evil witch spells”.

Though that was fantasised bullshit, her fire magic developed over the following months. She came back to the village during the next, unusually dry summer. Falsely claiming that the drought was her curse, she set fire to much of the village at night.

It was a disaster. The conflagration raged through the entire place. Nearly half the children in the village died from smoke inhalation, which also left many of the adults with permanent respiratory problems.

Fear the withfinder

The survivors called for guards and a witchfinder from the capital, Theopolis. Crystal was found within a few days, and the guards prepared for a fight.

However, none of the kid’s spells could be used in a fight. These were innate abilities, not something powered by genuine thaumaturgy. For instance, her flame was about that of a makeshift torch.

Medieval woman in ragged clothing standing in the dust

Thus, the little girl just charged the guards in incoherent anger, armed with but a stick. She soon passed out from malnourishment and being too furious to breathe as the guards pinned her.

Unsure that the unbalanced teenager was the big bad witch that had been described to him, the witchfinder had two guards take her to a cell in Theopolis. Meanwhile he searched for another suspect.

Exile to the fatherland

After a week of not finding anybody else, the witchfinder gave up. He declared that Crystal Nekranne van Riss was indeed the child-murdering witch he had been looking for.

But there was a huge queue for executions that month. Thus, he got rid of the problem by having her put on the next boat and exiled. A vessel was leaving in but two days.

The corrupt nobility of Oriath sends its exiles to the cursed isle of Wraeclast. And they exile hundreds per year, often for flimsy reasons. Wraeclast is the cradle of the Eternal Empire, of which the island Oriath used to be a colony.

Long since fallen and ravaged, Wraeclast is now an evil place. None among the dead stays still. The very wind brings rage and insanity to the ruins of several great civilisations.

Ashore the good bad place

A freak storm sunk the boat van Riss was on. She only narrowly managed to reach the beach of Wraeclast. While she wasn’t the only survivor, the body of the drowned rose as they washed ashore, and attacked the living.

Fascinated by this ghastly phenomenon, Crystal armed herself with flotsam for defence against the undead.

A bare-footed Path of Exile witch

As it turned out, the girl was absorbing the evil magics of Wraeclast like a sponge. Every step in the sand of Wraeclast’s beach was making her a stronger necromancer. Her evil eye and fire magic tricks became stronger.

By the time she reached a settlement, her eyes were glowing with the distinctive cold blue light called Witch’s Eyes, denoting genuine mystical puissance.

Lioneye’s Gate

The young witch established herself in the ramshackle coastal fortress of Lioneye’s Gate. A former stronghold of the Eternal Empire, the Gate had been conquered by the Karui raiders (a Māori -like seagoing culture) during the rebellions that preceded the fall of the Empire.

The Karui in turn had to flee when Wraeclast became a land of evil. Exiles from Oriath thus could occupy the old fort for protection against zombies.

Most of the famished exiles didn’t give a damn about Crystal’s glowing eyes. All that counted was that she could destroy minor zombies on the nearby beaches. This made harvesting nearby flotsam, driftwood, comestible shells and the like much less dangerous.

As she enquired about necromancy, her fellow exiles all too happily pointed her toward nearby reanimators, ghost-haunted maritime graveyards, coastal caverns littered by the corpses of sailors eaten by sirens… or the derelict prison where terrible experiments had taken place.


One of the most important exiles in Lioneye’s Gate ruins was Nessa, the physician. She was a minor gemling, using thaumaturgy to ease the pain of illness of her compatriots. Her father also had told her how to implant gems. From Crystal’s eyes, Nessa could tell that gem implantation would be much easier in her case.

Nessa told Crystal about the gems, and how they were easier to find on Wraeclast. Many simply came from the corpses of gemlings of ages past. To pass the time, Nessa told the fascinated teenager how gem-based thaumaturgy could make people into more than mortals, giving magic powers over the dead, the elements and the like.

The young doctor agreed to implant Crystal with gems if she found some. That would help her destroy the undead, to Lioneye’s Gate benefit.

Using her minor magic to ambush decrepit zombies, van Riss eventually lucked out. She found within a smashed zombie skull a minor gem. Ironically, it allowed for talking with the dead.

Lost legion

After Nessa implanted this first gem, Crystal healed quickly and without complications. Using her new power, van Riss soon found one of the mass graves near Lioneye’s Gate.

Path of Exile - Summon Raging Spirits - Witch - Staff

There had been important battles there, between the Karui raiders and an army of the Eternal Empire. The Kanui had massacred the opposition through entirely unexpected tactics. Then they threw the bodies into pits, pouring flammable liquids in and setting everything on fire. This would avoid the dead rising. This anti-undead measure was reinforced by wards from Karui gemlings and sages.

Crystal found the spirits of the dead still trapped and still burning. But the wards were old. Freeing some spirits for a short while could be done with little power.  The spirits were filled with mindless rage, but could still be convinced to work for her in exchange for getting to kill the living. And destroying the dead. And… attacking most everything that moved, really.

This pact would be her path to power. Her very own legion of the burning dead.


A gaunt, very pale teenager with long tangled brown hair. She wears ratty, somewhat malodorous clothing inexpertly sewed together from leftover hides.

Crystal has Witch’s Eyes. That is, they visibly glow with a cold blue energy denoting alignment with death magic.

Crystal Nekranne often goes barefoot. It’s supposed to be about contact with the earth to absorb mystical energy. But the actual reason is that she’s too poor to have ever worn shoes, and feels uncomfortable with these.

Since she’s usually wearing a skirt, her bare shins are full of minor bruises and cuts from running around in the wilds.


An awkward, battered kid with little understanding of the world and a gigantic chip on her shoulder. Her security blanket is her spooky girl witch act – though it has ceased being an act some time back.

She is clearly fascinated by things associated with death. Corpses, the undead (though on Wraeclast the two tend to be synonymous), necromancers, torture instruments and the like. She wants to see all these things like some sort of unhinged but enthusiastic young tourist.

Sevenfold vengeance

Crystal Nekranne is big on her “sevenfold vengeance” thing. She apparently sees it as a rule of the universe that applies specifically to her. But the grandiloquent declarations that all wrongs done to her will be visited back sevenfold upon the originator is just a rationalisation for her being a maniac.

The Witch player character in the path of exile video game

What it actually means is that she’ll go apeshit upon anybody crossing her, wrecking everything until exhaustion catches up with her.

Since on Wraeclast most everything will try to kill you, she’s on a permanent maniacal revenge trip against it all. This means that people not wanting to kill her are safe. Instead, she’s obsessing over endless lists of things that tried to hurt her and needs to be pounded into gore.

Every week Crystal accumulates several months’ worth of revenge fantasies to carry out. She’s nuts, somewhat sadistic and she has a small army at her beck and call. What could possibly go wrong ?


(Looking at a group of zombies coming from the sea to devour her) “Soon, the dead will rise for me, not against me.”

(Destroying a ghostly mariner) “This is how you die properly, sailor boy. No half-measures.”

(After destroying the same mariner, now apparently for good. Crystal eagerly watches the wraith horribly disintegrate and disperse, with shattered ectoplasmic fragments floating away. Then, with sadistic glee) “Poor sailor boy. Doomed to go wherever the winds blow him.”

(Caressing the ground of Wraeclast) “The very sand shivers with malice. There is a power here that welcomes me.”

(After killing a bandit lord) “It’s… quite disappointing. I usually like rats.”

(In the middle of battle, angrily) “Life is short ! Deal with it !”

“The little girl walked into a dark, dark cave. The little girl met a dark, dark beast. The little girl ate its dark, dark heart.”

Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG

Tell me more about the game stats

Crystal Nekranne van Riss

Dex: 02 Str: 01 Bod: 02 Motivation: Psychopath
Int: 04 Wil: 03 Min: 04 Occupation: Survivor
Inf: 05 Aur: 04 Spi: 05 Resources {or Wealth}: 002
Init: 011 HP: 020

Flame project: 03, Stagger: 02

Bonuses and Limitations:
All Powers are Mystic-Linked.

Gemling Powers:
Jumping: 02, Lightning: 04, Speak with the dead: 05

Bonuses and Limitations:

  • All Powers are Mystic-Linked.
  • Jumping cannot be used if it was used on the previous Phase.
  • Lightning has Multi-Attack 2, but its Range is 02.
  • Lightning has Elemental Equilibrium (see below).
  • Speak with the Dead is just like Speak with Animals, except with dead people.

Occultist: 06, Weaponry (Wands): 04

Familiarity (Forest survival).


Age (Young), Distinct Appearance, Exile, Mistrust, Serious Rage, SIA toward Sevenfold Vengeance, Socially Inept (Minor), Unluck.

Erect Energy Shield [Cold immunity: 02, Damage capacity: 06, Flame immunity: 01, Lightning immunity: 01, Casting time: 5 APs, Special conditions: the user must wear selected clothing with unique embroidering and magical treatments, Bonus: Damage Capacity automatically Recovers 3 APs of Current Condition at the end of any Phase when no RAPs have been scored against the user, Limitation: the Immunities have a Loss Vulnerability, as they cannot be higher than the Current Condition of Damage Capacity].

Evil dead

The swarm of skulls is sort of a Pet, but with distinctive limitations.

SWARM OF BURNING SKULLS MWAHAHAHA [DEX 08 BODY 04, Air walking: 01, Claws: 07, Flame being: 03, Fluid form: 05. Remember that Fluid form provides movement APs].

The SWARM has a Loss Vulnerability – its abilities keep diminishing unless Crystal is spending Actions. The SWARM needs five Actions to have been spent in the previous two Phases to be at full strength. A Dice Action counts as two Actions for this purpose.

If fewer Actions have been spent during the previous two Phases, each missing Action lowers the SWARM’s scores by one AP. This is similar to the effects of the baseline Split Power. Fluid Form is NOT affected by this loss, though.

Elemental Equilibrium

If an attack with Elemental Equilibrium scores a pre-LDD RAP, it confers 4 APs of the matching Immunity Power to the target. Thus, Lightning adds APs of Lightning Immunity. These APs appear as the next Phase begins, and last for 4 APs of time.

On the other hand, it creates a – 1CS Partial Attack Vulnerability (RV) to the other two elements. The elements in this context are “fire” (usually Flame Project), “lightning” (usually Lightning) and “cold” (usually Ice Production).

Genuinely modelling this in DCH would likely require doing unclean things with Enchant and Weakness Detection. A Partial Power Loss on the character’s fire and cold powers would be cleaner, but it can’t work since *other* cold and fire attacks are bolstered as well. So it’s best written as a flat modifier.

Yet even that in wonky – it only makes sense if the list of “elements” is set, and having the pricing work would be problematic.

Since the fitting in DCH is problematic I was tempted to just drop this aspect. But it’s a fun little concept, and losing it would be sad.

By Sébastien Andrivet.

Helper(s): Gareth Lewis.

Source of Character: Inspired by a Path of Exile player character. The witch class is voice-acted by Heidi O’Loughlin.

Writeup completed on the 23rd of November, 2013.