This is a follow-up question for this one:

How can I preserve the long term cooperation of a witch coven?

All people in this world are born with some degree of magical power, which increases through training and age. There are different schools of magic, one of them being ritual. This form of magic is formed in groups of nine, called covens. To be able to join a coven a witch must undergo a ritual promise that they will be loyal to the coven. Otherwise the witch is not welcome into the coven. The terms of the contract state that the witch must always help the other members to the best of their abilities, and cannot hurt other members directly. This pact is reinforced by magic, and cannot be broken.

There are those who wish to take a shortcut to power, or to achieve it more quickly than others for their own ends. These people often have a disregard for life and are ruthless enough to do anything it takes to get power. The people often join covens of like minded individuals. Covens dubbed "evil" by the establishment often meet to perform this ritual of stealing the life force of others to make themselves stronger. Ultimately, their purpose is to transcend their physical form to a higher state of being through apotheosis. These godlike beings are a reflection of their inner self and have unique forms. After this state is reached, they ascend to another plane of existence, as gods cannot remain on the mortal plane. The problem is that since one of their members as ascended, the coven is short a sister. Ritualized magic requires a group of nine individuals, otherwise this spell and other types of its kind will not work.

These renegade covens must operate in secret to avoid being discovered and wiped out by society. "Good" covens, the ones considered legitimate, are on constant lookout for their fallen sisters to prevent their goals. This makes finding new members difficult and time consuming. How can these individuals organize their covens in a way that allows them to recruit new members after one has achieved godhood, and at the same time operate under the radar?

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    $\begingroup$ The same way gangs recruit police officers to work for them. $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 7, 2018 at 12:54
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    $\begingroup$ several points remain unclear: ---- if they want to leave this plane, why is their goal also world domination? ---- what do recruits need to be? is the pool of possible replacements factually the entire world population, or a small number of easily (also for the goodies) identifiable people? ------ are they gods, or do they leave this plane (i.e. not gods, or at least only gods in another plane? ---- is a pre-recruitment person clearly differentiable from a post-recruitment person? (by whom? - tattoos et al: everybody; aura et al: only mages) $\endgroup$
    – bukwyrm
    Commented Dec 7, 2018 at 12:57
  • $\begingroup$ right now they have to hide from the government and good covens, naturally world domination would allow them to limit their requirement to hide. to the second part, it stands to reason that the coven is looking for a certain kind of person, a kind of person the other covens are also looking for to stop them joining. Not everybody is into ritual sacrifice (or whatevs) $\endgroup$
    – Giu Piete
    Commented Dec 7, 2018 at 13:25
  • $\begingroup$ All aspects of this are covered comprehensively in Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series. However you'll have to a lot of reading! $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 8, 2018 at 21:32
  • $\begingroup$ You haven't accepted an answer from the question you link, but it seems that you've included this answer worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/a/131990 in your new description, rather than the answer you actually linked. Could your link be mistaken? $\endgroup$
    – Alexis
    Commented Dec 9, 2018 at 20:35

6 Answers 6



You didn't state here or in the other question the origin of a witch's power. You said that they can get stronger by the ritual, but you never really said if magic is something you are born with (and that gets stronger by absorbing victims) or that you can learn.

In any case, interns are a viable answer.

If witches are born witches, I can only assume they are weak and get stronger by performing rituals. Since they require a circle of eight, I can clearly see covens having some form of hierarchy. This means that a young witch will join the coven in the hopes that, onde day, she will be promoted high enough to start performing such rituals to eventually become a goddess.

If they have to learn it, it's an even greater reason. You could easily say that the process of being versed in enough occult knowlegde to perform spells takes decades (the equivalent of obtaining multiple PhD's, for example). So a simple human would have to study REALLY hard (while also being a servant for the older witches), a lifetime, in order to eventually get to the point where the other witches will grant her the opportunity to start taking part in the ritual.


Dummy corporations.

Set up cut-outs that have other roles in society commercial, political or criminal groups that do their own thing, but within whom your coven members have temporal power, have the cut-out group present notable members to your coven for review under the guise of promotion or special operations for this group, or just have the witch monitor promising recruits within those organizations.

My enemy's enemy

Good covens are no doubt not simply after your own people, they're after all sorts of different naughty naughty bad guys and they need to use agents to help them find and apprehend/kill them in the name of goodness and light, so you place your own agents working for the good guys who inform you of any interesting groups or individuals the good guys are hunting. No requirement to intervene of course, but even if those don't lead to recruits they can plausibly lead to advanced warnings on good guy operations and potential allies/opportunities to be bad whilst the good guys are being good elsewhere.

Hook, Line & Blinker

Determine the characteristics you want and decide what a person with those characteristics would want, and offer it. Set up non criminal enterprises, competitions, adventures, opportunities that won't attract good coven attention with 'prizes' or potential rewards for enterprise that would attract such a person as you want. You're not looking for a witch, you're looking for the kind of person that would become your kind of witch. Discern by values. Think of it as honey-trapping, if that's not a good enough description. You don't recruit a corrupt policeman by asking every policeman if they're corrupt, you engineer a situation in which a corrupt policeman will act in a corrupt fashion..and take advantage when they do.

A long time ago, in a Galaxy A far far away

The Death Star was built in secret, right? That took quite a lot of physical and social engineering to achieve. But I guess more what I'm pointing as is say The Wheel of Time, a cabal of disciples of the dark lord of juju all meander around one small area waiting to get found and fought by Good Guy, getting in each other's way. One of them has the sense to set sail for a far off continent and manages to take over an entire civlization without any of the good guys being the wiser. Well, sorta two. Point is a world is a big place. You don't need to sit under good guys nose.

etc & gl


Also make sure you're organization is in a cell structure, where a boss might know all of his underlings, but his underlings do not know each other or don't know any leadership beyond there own. The goal is that if one cell is compromised, the entire organization will be protected to some degree. If we assume three tiers of leadership let "L" represent the highest level. L recruits agent Alice and tasks Alice with creating an organization C which forms direct actions in service of L. Alice will recruit agent A1 first, who shall be the point of contact between Alice and C. Alice would first develop methods of secure communications to indicate conditions without detection. Then Alice will send A1 out to recruit agents of his own. If this is the lowest cell, A1 will be peers with all his recruits and might supplement numbers based on the recommendation of his recruits who do business with A1's agents and who have expressed sympathies for the cause, otherwise A1, might himself for sub-cells.

Now if we assume all players have two subordinate agents, such that Alice forms a second cell D with a contact A2 without A1's knowledge and L has a second agent Barry without Alice's knowledge, and Barry has two cells ( E and F) with two contacts in those cells (B1 and B2). Then a compromise of any part of Alice's chain will be isolated from affecting operations of Barry's chain.

So if a member of cell C is captured, the most damage he can do is damage his immediate cell to the level he knows about it... if he names his fellow agents and names A1 as the boss, and the cell is captured. If A1 doesn't know the true identity of Alice, then L has three working unites still operational and able to redistribute the the efforts to Alice's surviving Cell and Barry's cells.

If Alice is compromised, the functionality of A1 and A2 and their cells may be disrupted, but instructions can be sent by L to Barry, who will isolate himself by telling one of his agents to reach out to members of the A1 through their own cell agents... L can even give a coded message developed by A as to how to proceed with the situation that neither Barry nor anyone following his orders know the meaning of, but A1 and A2 do understand. So if the emergency orders are based on weather conditions, L might tell Barry to send one of his agents to A1 and say "The Weather is Stormy. They are calls for lightning." A1 would understand what the message is meant to convey ( could be proceed as last directed, it could be stand-down, it could be messages will be sparce for some time... but no one on Barry's side knows this. Only A1. In fact, A2 may have messages that are based on flowers, so A1 and A2 are given two different orders based on their roles and L's needs. Thus, two cells are reduced in capability and the first two may,after L assesses the situation with Alice, be brought back to full capability by establishing an Alice2.0. If Alice is comprimising the organization, this can also confuse good agents as there is a new player on the field that they have never seen communicating with A1 and A2 they could think it's L, when it's really a lacky of B2.

And all that said, L may not be the top of the food chain... there may be other peer agents working at L's level for an even high organization than L. And for each Agent L leveled structure, there will exist 4 fully operational cell level units of various sizes and skills and missions. And L has very limited knowledge of all of his peer level, so he cannot compromise the whole team.

Each level you descend is given less and less of the strategy but more and more overt actions. This in turn isolates each upper cell from problems caused by a compromised cell and allows them to live to fight another day. As the cells are the only part of the iceberg visible to the public, it also frustrates law enforcement because those they bring in know very little of who is in the upper levels and barking the orders to them


there could be some sort of coven school were magic is taught... like a private school were you need interviews tests and everything to get in. or the school could just watch out for possible coven members and offer scholarship like colleges do. the school will reveal the truth slowly and if you reject the coven and start telling the secret to the world the would immediately forget with some sort of magic. like you have to make an oath. and once you take it your part of the cove and you cant share the secret without coven wide approval. also the coven members can be spread by blood. children of coven members would automaticaly be part of the coven. but they still have to take an oath to make it official. if a coven member wants to leave they can. but they still can't tell the world.


Lessons from Other Evil Masterminds

1. Work the Feeder Teams

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Darth Sidious started grooming Anakin Skywalker when he was 10. Count Dooku was a long-time groomed useful pawn, who got promoted when Darth Maul lost his lightsabre fight on Naboo.

Even when the promoted Count Dooku lost his head, Darth Palpatine had backups in the wings: General Grievous, and who knows how many others?

Likewise, each competent member of your coven can be expected to be investing in and watching several useful pawns who show talent, have developed the will to be "evil" and, in the right circumstances, would be a good addition to the coven.

2. Take Advantage of Alignments

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Makes a lot of sense that lawyers might have above average security, hold midnight meetings, and travel unexpectedly around the country.

It stands to reason that "good" coven members are working rituals to find the "bad" guys. It also makes sense, if everyone is magical, that some means of foiling such measures have been invented.

If your coven members have day jobs in industries where privacy is expected (finance, law, politics, medicine, therapy) no one will question them being in possession of such security. Maybe even teachers, provided they work on classified grants or something. This day job alignment keeps people from asking prying questions about behavior that would be suspicious in many other people.

Having your "useful idiot" feeder team in day jobs that expose the coven to inside information (police officer), or provide leverage (grain broker), or provide some other useful asset to the coven (custom's inspector).

The aligment between Palpatine (the politician) and Darth Plagueis (banker) was broad and beneficial to their coven.


You use magic to bind them to your coven. Why not use magic in the process of finding them? You are witches after all, and what is magic for, if not to do what is in real life impossible to do?

In the coven, You are constantly consuming the life force of your prey. Why not use magic on them that reveals anybody they know that might be a good match for your coven?

When one of your coven ascends, they will be god-like, and leave the mortal plane. Can't it be a part of their magically binding contract that the last act of their ascension is to name their replacement? Give them god-like powers of perception at that point, and still loyalty to the coven that helped them ascend, so surely they can identify a new adult (however your story defines that) with talent most likely to fit in with your coven. Call it their parting gift.

Or if you want something more dramatic and less easy, then before a witch can ascend, the coven as a whole must perform a costly locator ritual to identify a possible successor somewhere in the world, and it is then the mission of the witch about to ascend to go and secure that witch before her ascension ritual can take place. It is at the ascension ritual that the recruit's contract becomes binding, at the moment the ascending witch has ascended (and cannot turn back). Magically, if the recruit is not willing, the ascending witch cannot ascend.

That last could be an entire story in itself, the ascending witch's quest to find her replacement and ascend! Or a sub-plot within an existing story line.


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