Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Shaman (Alternate Class for Pathfinder)

The Shaman is the one archetype of fantasy that I most miss in my D&D/Pathfinder games (the Oracle nicely satisfies my need for a “sword-and-sorcery” priest), in part due to the impression that the Druid isn’t broad enough to simulate all primordial spellcasters. I also think that neither the Adept nor the Cleric fulfill the concept.

My view of the Shaman is that of a spellcaster that act as a protector against the supernatural and as an intermediate between mortals and spirits. His power and purpose lies in dealing with otherworldly creatures.

What are spirits?
Borrowing and expanding from the Shaman’s Handbook, from Green Ronin, “spirits” consist of the following creatures: fey, outsiders, incorporeal undeads and all creatures in ethereal form (i.e. in the Ethereal Plane). In fact, you can assume that fey are the spirits bound to the Material Plane, while outsiders are spirits from the Outer Planes. Depending on the cosmology used in your campaigns, other creatures can be considered “spirits”, like aberrations (when they originate in the Far Realms, the Outer Dark and other pleasant otherworldly locations) or even shapechangers (in some myths these creatures are actually spirit-possessed).


The Shaman (an alternate druid class)
Use the BAB, HD, skills and class features of the Druid, except for the modifications below.

Remove these class features: 
Nature Bond, Wild Empathy, Resist Nature’s Lure, Wild shape, Venom immunity, A thousand faces.

Add the following features:

Detect Spirits: This ability is similar to the paladin’s detect evil, but limited to spirits. The shaman can detect spirits at 1st level.

Spirit Ward: at 1st level, a shaman can summon power from the Invisible World to rebuke spirits or to protect his allies against spirit aggression. A spirit ward can be used a number of times per day equal to 3 + her Charisma modifier.
There two uses to this ability: rebuke or guard. Both uses are burst effects that affect all targets of the selected type in a 30-foot radius centered on the shaman.
Rebuke: This spirit ward deal damage against all spirits inside the area. The amount of damage dealt is equal to 1d6 hit points of damage for every two shaman levels beyond 1st. This damage affects even incorporeal and ethereal targets. Creatures that take damage from spirit ward receive a Will save to halve the damage. The DC of this save is equal to 10 + 1/2 the shaman’s level + the shaman’s Charisma modifier.
Guard: This spirit ward grants a number of special temporary hit points, called spirit points, to both the shaman and a number of allies (equal to shaman’s level) inside the area. Spirit points work only against attacks delivered from spirits. For example, before facing a demon, a shaman raises a spirit ward (guard); later he is hit by the demon’s claw; the respective damage is taken first from his spirit points.
Until all spirit points are totally depleted, the target is immune to any secondary effect of a spirit attack (like poison from a natural attack or half damage from an area attack). Targets also gains a bonus on saving throws against a spirit’s abilities equal to one third of the shaman’s level (maximum +6 at 18th level).
Spirit points aren’t cumulative with other spirit points or temporary hit points. Use the higher value, by the normal Temporary HPs rule. A target with spirit points that receives temporary HPs can choose to ignore the latter and thus keep the secondary benefits of the former.
Once bestowed, spirit points last a number of rounds equal to 3 + the shaman’s Charisma modifier (minimum 1).
The amount of spirit points gained is equal to 1d6 hit points for every two shaman levels beyond

Totem Spirit: At 1st level, the shaman is bonded to a spirit companion. This creature is selected from the Animal Companion’s list. At first, this totem spirit acts like an invisible presence around the shaman and can only be sensed by him. In this vestigial state, the totem spirit grants Alertness as a bonus feat and allows the shaman to make Perception checks as a free action, without any penalty due to darkness, fog or deafness (even if asleep), to detect ambushes and the approximation of other beings. The totem spirit only detects creatures in the Material Plane and only protects the shaman.
At 2th level, the shaman can speak with animals associated with its totem, as if using speak with animals. I suggest a simple division, for example: birds, reptiles, fishes, mammals and insects. Use your own discretion and peculiar divisions of your campaign setting.
At 4th level, the totem spirit works more like the nature bond (animal companion) ability from the druid. While its natural state is still immaterial, the totem spirit and can now be summoned, as a full-round action, to help the shaman.  A totem spirit can remain manifested for a number of rounds per day equal to 4 + the shaman’s level.
At 6th level a shaman can assume the form of his totem once per day. This ability works like the druid’s wild shape. The shaman can polymorph an additional time at 9th level and every three levels thereafter (12th, 15th and 18th).

Spirit Tongue: At 9th level, a shaman can speak with any spirit.

Spirit Touch: At 13th level, a shaman automatically bestows the ghost-touched quality to any weapon or armor he’s using. All allies of the shaman affected by a spirit ward (guard) also gain this ability.

Spirit Awareness: At 15th level, a shaman gains the continuous ability to see into the Ethereal Plane. Every time he cast a spell he can choose it to affect also (or only) ethereal targets. This ability doesn’t affect spells whose effects traditionally interfere with ethereal targets, like wall of force.

Between Two Worlds: At 20th level, a shaman can spend one daily use of spirit ward to enter or leave the Ethereal Plane, as a full-round action. He can spend 3 extra spirit ward uses to take with him a number of willing targets equal to his class level.