Native to the Demiplane of Dread, Bruja are an all-female race who resemble ancient, and usually hideous, old human women. These wretched pseudo-crones have long, ratty black hair and skin that varies in color from chalky white to ash gray. Their skin has the texture of a hard-crusted forest-dwelling fungus, and is usually marred with warts and/or sores. Their teeth are typically yellow, jagged and often rotten, whilst the dull, milky hue of their eyes makes them look blind. Typically, they dress in simple peasant-like clothing. Weirdly, whilst they are usually frightfully ugly, they radiate a profound sadness, evoking as much pity as they do terror.
Those who might be moved to violence against them, however, will find their arrogance punished; bruja are incredibly strong, tough and agile, with a powerful array of innate mystical abilities. Their strength and talonlike fingernails lit them literally tear grown men asunder with their bare hands, and they are masters of stealth.
Unlike most creatures native to the Dungeons & Dragons setting of Ravenloft, which tend to be evil versions of normally good creaturers (such as the infamous Shadow Unicorn), bruja are the reverse. These beings are hags that have turned to good - a rare thing indeed, but which is said to stem from a curse that befalls some hags, which shows them the time and manner of their own death. This haunts them so badly that it leads them to develop a sense of compassion, and to seek to aid others in order to atone for their own misdeeds.
Other stories instead claim bruja are the results of hags deciding, for whatever reason, to pursue a more positive maternal side, rearing their daughters with full awareness of what will happen to them when they come of age, instead of leaving them to make their way through the trauma of their transformation into hags on their own.
Regardless, bruja are reclusive beings who tend to establish small cottages in the wilderness, where they practice their mysticism and keep company with animals. Bruja usually act as wise women, offering various small blessings or healing magics to assist those in need; they tend to fight only when threatened.
That said, bruja do retain the typically haggish arrogance, and their propensity for socializing only with animals also makes them prone to blowing their cover. This mostly tends to stem from impulsive displays of power, whether physical or mystical, especially if a person is acting too boldly for the bruja's own ego to bear.
Voracious eaters, bruja do retain a hag's love of fresh meat, but sate their appetites almost exclusively on animals, plants, herbs, nuts and berries either grown in a garden or foraged from their wilderness homes. That said, an intelligent creature who wrongs a bruja may end up on her menu.
Bruja first appeared in Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, where they were first mentioned in a sidebar in Van Richten's Guide to the Witch, before receiving stats in the Ravenloft Monstrous Compendium III. They were updated to 3rd edition in Denizens of Dread.