OSR: Witch Tradition- Voodoo

Mami Wata, 1880’s Snake Charmer Print

This is a Tradition for the Witch Class by Monsieur Le Battlier.

While your average Wizard invites spells into their skull to be fired out of their head-meat cannon, a practitioner of Voodoo opens their entire being to be possessed by spirits. Through bribes and sacrifices the practitioner of Voodoo may entice the spirits to grant them boons or disable their enemies. The spirits or Loa come in numerous categories, the most common of which are the helpful Rada, the violent Petro, and the ancestral Ghede. Being possessed by a Loa is called being “mounted” and the possessed person is known as a Cheval, or Horse as their are rode by the loa. While Mambos and Houngans (priestesses and priests respectively) usually work with the spirits only for a nominal good, Voodoo Queens and Kings tend to be more lax in their definition of “Good.” The most dangerous of practitioners are Bokor, so called sorcerers who “work with both hands” and are willing to work with the darkest and most malicious of spirits. Only a malicious Bokor would raise zombies and thus true zombies are missing from this list.

When working as a “Coven”, the pooled Working affects the most senior caster. When making a Craft, it usually takes the form of a doll, gris-gris, or paquet congo representing the power of the Loa being invoked. They can also carve or draw out Veves, which are sigil-like symbols that act like beacons to attract the Loa.

Practitioner: Practitioners know enough to interact with the Loa but are not knowledgeable in the deeper workings of Voodoo.
Perk: Fresh in mind, body, and soul, a Practitioner is resistant to machinations of spirits and undead. The Practitioner receives a 4 bonus on saves against forceful possession and against disease (which we all know is a type of spirit anyways.)
1. A Practitioner can use any alcohol in place of lamp oil for light, creating a heatless blue will-o-wisp
2. A Practitioner can speak to other Practitioners though the language of drums, louder drums being capable of being heard farther away.

Mambo/Houngan: A Mambo or Houngan is literally a priestess or priest of Voodoo, often having a community that they serve in that role for.
Perk: The Mambo is both an experienced worker and an experienced teacher. She may invest up to [template] WD in a target creature capable of language and teach them one Working that must be used within 24 hours. Any WD used by the target are exhausted regardless of their roll and the exhausted WD return to the Matron the next day.

Disadvantage: The spirits demand additional sacrifice from the Mambo to do her bidding. Any Working must include a libation of alcohol or sacrifice of tobacco (2cp in either case) or the WD are automatically exhausted.
1. A Mambo can walk through swampy terrain as though it were a paved road.
2. A Mambo can ritually protect a corpse against possession by unwelcome spirits. Alternatively, you can deliberately invite spirits to possess a corpse. The ritual takes 10 minutes. The most dangerous time is between death and dawn; after that, the corpse becomes less appealing to wandering spirits.*

Queen/King: A Voodoo Queen or King has delved deeply into the secret rites of Voodoo and carry great power but risk corruption.
Disadvantage: The Queen’s body is an open gateway for the Spirits and they are used to her acting as their Cheval. Every time a Queen does a Working, there is a 1-in-6 chance she is possessed by a loa, and take a -4 to Attack and Defense for 1d6 rounds as she dances, sings, and writhes under the loa’s influence.
1. A Queen can touch an object or person and immediately know if it has any sort of possession or spiritual affliction. Because Diseases are Spirits, this means she can diagnose disease as well.
2. A Queen always knows the general direction of the closest graveyard or crossroads.

Voodoo Alter by Louis Maistros


R: T: Summon D: [sum] Rounds
Djab are a group of mercenary spirits who take the jobs that other spirits feel below them. Djab appear differently every time summoned, but are usually ethereal impish and wicked looking creatures. A Djab acts as a 1 HD creature with 1 Strength and will act in accordance to the summoner’s wishes. They prefer to be malicious and can harass a target and give them a 1 penalty on all rolls for as long as the harassment continues. The Djab will expect payment (1 CP per round active) and will remain after the time limit is up to harass you until it has been paid. For any work that isn’t explicitly mischievous or malicious, a Djab may double their fee.

R: Touch T: Willing Creature D: [sum]/2 rounds
Krabinay are violent petro spirits associated with rebellion and can almost be seen as an advanced form of Djab. A willing creature can become the Cheval for a Krabinay, causing their skin to flush red and their mannerisms to become cynical and rude. While being ridden by the Krabinay, a creature is capable of great feats of acrobatics with their movement and dexterity improved by [Dice]. They can furthermore release all the power of the Krabinay at once to do a vertical or horizontal leap equal to [sum] feet. 

Bade and Sogbo

R: 10′ T: Caster and a Willing Creature D: [sum]/2
Bade and Sogbo are the inseparable spirits of Wind and Lightning respectively. When cast, the caster and the other target must remain within 10′ of one another or the working ends prematurely. Bade and Sogbo are loud, energetic, and boisterous Loa making Stealth impossible while they are active. The target acting as Cheval for Bade is able to call a gust of wind once per round that can knock prone anything in a 30′ cone that doesn’t succeed a Strength check at a [dice] penalty. The target acting as Cheval for Sogbo can call a bolt of Lightning on a target within 60′ once per round that deals [dice]d6 damage Save vs. Dex for half. Bade and Sogbo can release all their power at once to call up a torrential downpour (only works outdoors) that lasts for the remainder of the Working’s duration. 


R: T: Self D: [dice] Rounds
Ayizan and Loco are the Archypal Mambo and Houngan respectively, acting as both spirits of the Earth and as protectors of sacred Voodoo rites. Which one summoned is based upon the gender identity of the caster (or a choice between the two if agendered.)  Ayizan causes the caster to become very stereotypically motherly and Loco causes the caster to take on a doctor-like persona. While being ridden by Ayizan/Loco the caster has a [sum] pool that they can draw on to heal others by touch. HP is healed 1:1 and Fatal Wounds cost 3:1. While under Ayizan/Loco’s influence, the caster cannot take any aggressive actions towards others.


R: Touch T: Creature D: [dice] Rounds
Erzulie is nominally the loa of beauty, however she takes a wide variety of incarnations from the flirtatious Lady Erzulie to the furtive Erzulie the Gagged. When she mounts a target, the target must save or is overcome with tears of: (1. Joy 2. Anger 3. Sorrow 4. Pain) rendering them stunned for the duration. However if the target had previously been affected by any other emotion changing status (fear, charm, etc.) they receive an additional chance to save against that effect with a [sum]/2 bonus.


R: Touch T: creature D: [sum]/2 rounds
The touched creature must save (vs. magic or wisdom or something) or be mounted by Zaka, the bumbling peasant Loa. Chevals for Zaka are exceptionally clumsy and receive a [dice] penalty to attack and movement. Furthermore they are extremely talkative and must save vs. Int each round or spout off some line of local gossip that the creature knows. This does not confer the gift of speech to creatures who cannot otherwise talk.

Marinette Bras Cheche

R: Touch T: creature D: Instantaneous 
Marinette Bras Cheche, or Marinette of the Dry Arms, was said to have been a Mambo who make a pact with Evil long ago for the power to break the chains of slavery. After her death, she became a loa associated with evil but also associated with freedom. The target of this Working is consumed with the vision of a horrific screaming female corpse raking at them with bony claws. The target takes [sum]+[dice] damage. If the target survives they receive a one time [sum] bonus to a roll to obtain freedom (burst a chain, escape a grapple, overcome mental domination.)


R: T: Self D: [sum] rounds
Marassa is actually a duel loa, the twins Mawa and Lisa. When called, the caster becomes hermaphroditic and androgynous, speaking in a male and a female voice overlaid upon one another. At any point, the caster can split into a female aspect and a male aspect and act independently. Each aspect has half the HP of the caster and they do not share any gear except for non-magical clothing. They cannot cast while split. If one Aspect is reduced below 0 HP, the other Aspect must save or die. At the end of the duration, the aspect of the caster’s original sex remains the other Aspect is reabsorbed. If only one Aspect lives, the caster’s HP is permanently halved and they become whatever sex that surviving aspect is. 
Practitioner Emblem: Legba
R: T: Self D: [sum] Rounds
Legba is the Lord of the Crossroads, Master of Boundaries and all things liminal. The Cheval takes on the mannerisms of a somewhat crippled but nonetheless very chipper and positive old man. Legba controls the passage of spirits to and from the moral realm and lends that power to the caster. The caster may “close the crossroads” in a [sum]*[dice] radius area around them. Nothing of spiritual origin can cross the boundary while it is in effect, including but not necessarily limited to spells, disease, spirits, and undead. Such things already in effect within the radius are not dispelled, but cannot leave the area of effect. An exceptionally powerful creature (more than twice the caster’s level in HD) can Save (versus magic or something) to push past the effect. The caster must remain immobile while the crossroads are closed. 
Mambo/Houngan Emblem: Papa Ghede
R: T: Self  D: 10 Minutes
Papa Ghede is not only the Lord of the Dead, but also of fertility, sexuality, and rebirth. When acting as Cheval for Papa Ghede, the caster takes on a gaunt, almost skeletal appearance and becomes incredibly flirtatious and humorous. If the caster goes through the motions of fornicating with an intelligent creature that died less than [sum]+[dice] hours ago, the caster (if female) or the next female the caster has relations with (if male) goes through a supernaturally fast pregnancy over 24 hours. At the end of those 24 hours, the creature is born anew as whatever species/race the mother was and ages back to their previous age was over the course of a week. Ghede lets you do this once for free, any additional attempts at this Working will require rare and powerful ingredients (like really amazing rum, the finest tobacco in the world, and a goat that is black all the way through) that need to be quested for.
Queen/King Emblem: Ayida-Weddo/Damballah 
R: Centered Locally T: [dice] miles radius D: See below
Ayida-Weddo and Damballah are the wedded Serpent Loa who preserve the earth, hold up the sky, and are considered by some to be the primordial creators of all life. When acting as Cheval for these loa, the caster becomes powerfully parental and benevolent in demeanor but can only communicate in snake-like hisses. The power the caster can harness depends upon the [sum] of WD invested as follows:

1-10 sum: Reroll the weather. You must accept the new result, even if it’s identical to the old result. The weather changes in 1d6 hours.
11-20 sum: Choose a basic weather effect, it happens immediately. Ex. Rain, Fog, Sunny, Cloudy, Dust Devil
21-30 sum: Choose a significant weather effect, it occurs immediately- ex. Heat Wave, Cold Snap,  Thunderstorm, Dust Storm, F 0-1 Tornado
31-40 sum: Cause or Prevent a Minor Calamity- ex.  F2-3 Tornado, Hailstorm, Sirocco, Blizzard
41+ sum: Cause or Prevent a random Major Calamity- ex. F4-5 Tornado, Hurricane, Earthquake, Tsunami, Eclipse, Weird Weather
72+ sum: Local weather is permanently altered

There can be limits to the weather chosen, for example a Tsunami cannot occur in a desert. The weather event lasts [sum]+[dice] hours. If the weather is permanently altered, choose an effect (with GM Approval) and that effect is continuous. For any effect, there can be unforeseen consequences that will be up to the GM.

Erzulie Dantor Portrait Painting by Christy Freeman

1. The Loa fight for your attention, causing WD to return only on a 1 for the rest of the day.
2. The Loa you are channeling manifests more powerfully than normal. Random supernatural mutation for 1d6 rounds, then make a save. Permanent if you fail.
3. You’ve attract the wrong Loa. Three Wild Djab (see below) show up and cause mischief for everyone for 1d6 rounds or until they killed/bribed/run off. 
4. The Loa have a mighty hunger! 1d6 rations are consumed from your inventory and any alcohol you have on your person as well.
5. The Loa are busy elsewhere. Cannot cast any Workings for 1d6 rounds as there are no Loa currently listening. 
6. The Loa want to party! Working casts as normal, but the caster is compelled to dance for 1d6 rounds giving them -4 to attack and defense for the duration.

1. The more hedonistic aspects of the Loa begin to take hold on the caster. You must consume twice your normal rations in order to heal at lunch and overnight.
2. Your hunger for power increases. Gain a Djab familiar that takes the form of a black animal of some kind. It will make increasingly malicious requests from you.
3. You are marked in some way by dark loa. Your eyes become snake-like or your breath becomes sulfurous or some other unnerving aspect manifests. Natural animals are unnerved by your presence and you have a 4 penalty to any reaction rolls. Hirelings you control have half normal morale.
4. Kalfu, the Loa of Evil that lurks beyond the Crossroads, claims the caster’s soul. They are now a NPC Bokor, a vile and amoral sorcerer/ess intent on spreading suffering. When the day comes that they finally die, their soul is devoured by Kalfu and their corpse risen as a zombie servant. 

A Voodoo “Witch” can only avoid the Loss of Grip by completely cutting themselves off from the Spirit World (thereby giving up all their magic power) or by travelling to the Witching Hour and defeating Kalfu in a drinking contest.

* Yes, one of the Priestess perks are taken from Skerples’ Necromancer. It is very fitting though.

So first off, you probably notice a distinct lack of Voodoo Dolls. This is because Voodoo doesn’t use “Voodoo Dolls.” This is actually something that originated with European “cunning folk” and was originally meant as a means of combating malevolent witches. I tried to create something of a fusion between Haitian Voudon and New Orleans Voodoo, which while similar have their own unique differences. New Orleans Voodoo tends to be a bit closer to “Hollywood” Voodoo if only because of its spread and dilution. Haitian Voudon is closer to its original West African roots, with the Rada and Ghede Loa often being related to the older African spirits while the Petro are new Loa born out of the Haitian Revolution, literally being spirits of rebellion and the breaking of the bonds of slavery.

Unlike the Orthodox witch that works with Nature/The Cosmos at a broad scale, the Voodoo Tradition works with a pantheon of beings who intercede with the universe on their behalf. Unlike a Wizard, however, they do not bind the Loa to their will, it is more of an act of bartering. Thus the Loa mount/possess the Voodoo “witch” and get to experience a few moments of the corporeal world versus how Wizards stuff spell-ferrets in their brain.


A stereotypical Djab. 

0HD (1HP) Wild Djab
Appearance: A knee height unpleasant looking humanoid with red skin and a wicked grin. 
Wants: To cause mischief
Armour: None
Move: Normal
Morale: 6
Damage: See Below

Stab: Wild Djab often carry around some sort of small sharp object with which they can stab for 1 damage.

Harass: Wild Djab can catcall, curse, annoy and pester so well that any who fail a Wisdom save receives a 1 penalty to all rolls. These are cumulative with other Wild Djab harassment.

Wild Djab are spirits of petty malice that exist for little else but for causing others grief. They often hang around in packs in graveyards, on the boundaries of crossroads, and in abandoned buildings. Religious iconography makes them uncomfortable and they can be bribed for safe passage via spicy food, alcohol, and tobacco. 

Liked it? Take a second to support TheLawfulNeutral on Patreon!
Become a patron at Patreon!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.