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Old Hat Monsters: Tribal Shaman

Old Hat Monsters: Tribal Shaman

Illustration of a scene in Robert E. Howard's "Red Nails": this picture was first published in Weird Tales (July 1936, vol. 28, no. 1).“Every man is a quotation from all his ancestors.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson

In many tribal societies, the chieftain leads the social hierarchy (along with sometimes a council of elders), the hero leads war parties, and the shaman serves as spiritual leader. The tribal shaman is sometimes the only member of a tribe with magic, and he or she often serves a conduit to the spirit world.

Given the debate that preceded this week’s article (and its rebuttal), I reiterate once more that gaming is at its best when we mix familiar elements with new—use nostalgia with a twist. My gaming table is happiest when they expect the same old encounter and instead face something similar but different. Make your players respect the old hat monsters again, and I assure you your gaming table will be better for it. Join me after the jump for my last tribal template the tribal shaman (CR +3).

Serving as a conduit to the arcane and divine requires an understanding of the world, a sharp wit, and the ability to lead others, so add +4 to Wisdom, +4 to Intelligence, and +2 to Charisma. The power to channel and commune with spirits from the other side takes a toll on health, so the shaman receives –2 to Constitution. Despite the cost in terms of health, tribal shamans are still a bit hardier than the average member of the tribe, so +2 BAB and +2 to natural AC.

What little arcane knowledge the tribe has is passed down from shaman to shaman. Furthermore, while the shaman is an arcane caster, matters of the divine are also under his or her auspice, so add +6 to Spellcraft and Healing, and add +4 to all Knowledge skills.

Tribal shamans gain the following feats: Leadership*, Skill Focus (perception), and 1 exotic weapon proficiency. In this case, the shaman need not be 7th level for the feat, and in place of a cohort, the shaman gains an animal companion as an equal level druid. The followers, animal companion, and any tribal chieftains or heroes in the tribe are the only ones that can benefit from the shaman’s share spirits ability.

Spell-Like Abilities: The monster shaman gains all the following spell-like abilities as a cleric with a caster level equal to the shaman’s HD. The save DCs are Charisma-based.

At will—bane, guidance, haunted fey aspect, jolt, mending, message, spark

3/dayburning hands, cure light wounds, darkness, jump, ray of sickening, scorching ray, snap dragon fireworks

1/dayhold person, lightning, speak with dead, stinking cloud, summon monster 2

Defensive Abilities

Shield of Flesh (Ex) Any creatures of the shaman’s base type and any of the shaman’s summoned creatures within 10 ft. can sacrifice a move action to take damage that would have hit the shaman from any source requiring an attack roll.

Dread Sanctuary (Su) Any creature attempting to engage in melee with the shaman must make a Will save equal to 10 + 1/2 the Hit Dice of the shaman or become shaken. Subsequent failures indicate frightened and finally panicked conditions.

Special Abilities

Channel Spirits (Su) For every 3 Hit Dice possessed by the shaman, the shaman gains a familiar spirit that can be channeled by the shaman in a manner similar to demon possession. When the shaman utilizes the familiar spirit, it gains the ability of that spirit. This can be done for 1 minute per Hit Dice + Wisdom modifier.

Ancestor Spirit—Double the positive statistic modifier of subject race and gain +2 BAB, +2 to saves, and the ability to channel energy as a cleric equal to the shaman’s Hit Dice.

Animal Spirit—The shaman may take the form of the animal he or she has chosen, and the shaman may utilize aspects of the animal even in human form. The shaman may, for example, fly like a bird or borrow the strength of a bear. The shaman may also communicate with animals of that type.

Elemental Spirit—The shaman gains an elemental domain as though the shaman were a cleric equal in level to his or her Hit Dice.

Guardian Spirit—The tribal shaman gains great protective powers and grants all tribal allies a +2 to AC and saves as well as the ability to cast dispel magic as a cleric equal to his or her Hit Dice.

Share Spirits (Su) Any direct follower of the shaman’s, any tribal template character, or an animal companion of the shaman may receive a blessing that causes it to be possessed by the shaman’s familiar spirit as though that character were a shaman that is two levels lower than the shaman. When the shaman gives this sacred gift, the magic comes with a trigger, and that familiar spirit may not be accessed by the shaman again that day.

4 thoughts on “Old Hat Monsters: Tribal Shaman”

  1. Didn’t mention it in the article but I still take smaller requests here…

    @Darkjoy, miss your articles- my series was in part inspired by your success here at KP.

  2. In my current adventure, I’m using animals that were infected by a disease/magic that makes them more plant-like. In its later forms, it gives those who are infected the ability to control plants. Does that spark any creative ideas for a tribal shaman whose “animal” companion is actually some form of plant? That would be an interesting twist.

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