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The Many Spirits of the Shaman: Archetypes for the Shaman Class (Part 1)

The Many Spirits of the Shaman: Archetypes for the Shaman Class (Part 1)

Norsemen landing in Iceland, by Oscar Wergeland (1909).
Again, the woman stood in front of the dhampir, her wooden armor beautifully carved with fish and flower motifs. Her blonde hair danced as she shook her head at him.

“I told you,” the dhampir said to her. “I’m not changed.”

“So you say,” she answered. “And I can see what you’re doing. I can’t approve it. Neither can I be a part of it. But I know that you’re doing it not for evil, but for love.”

He shrugged. “That’s what you think,” he said. “Remember: I was born corrupted, and corrupted I am still. You had hopes for me. When will you admit that you were wrong? I still relish in inquity. And I always will.”

“So you say,” she repeated. “But I know you lie—even to yourself. May the One be with you, because I will always be.”

Then she was there no more. Only a blue wavelet flowing away in the nearby river indicated her receding presence.

The ragged houngan smiled darkly and resumed his work, closely watched by the quasit on his shoulder. The tribe needed defense: the dead warriors he was exhuming would have provided that. It was an evil job. But it was necessary. And someone had to do it.

Shamans are varied in their powers as in their manners and clothing, each with a unique way of relating to spirits and their fellow mortals. No two shamans look or act the same—and we can only try to describe some of their infinite and bizarre ways. In this web series, we present four shaman archetypes, each emphasizing an aspect of this mysterious class: the relationship with ancestral spirits, plants, beasts, or the frightful world of the dead.

Ancestor Caller

Shamans of warrior tribes bond with the spirits of late fighters, which accompany their fellows in battle.

Ancestor Spirit Guide (Su): The ancestor caller bonds with the spirit of a deceased member of his or her tribe, often a relative. The spirit guide takes the form of an invisible, incorporeal ectoplasmic creature (see The Haunting of Harrowstone) of the shaman’s race.

Ancestor Spirit
Small/Medium; Speed 20/30 ft.; AC +1/+2 natural; armor; Attack slam (1d3/1d4) + horrifying ooze; Str 16, Dex 11, Con —, Int 12, Wis 10, Cha 10; SQ air walk, phase lurch, undead traits (see universal monster rules).
Totem Spell Granted: ancestral communion.

The ancestor spirit follows the standard spirit guide rules, with these differences:

  • At 1st level, the ancestor spirit can’t be seen or heard by anyone except the shaman, and it can attack or be attacked only by incorporeal creatures. It can become corporeal as a standard action for a number of rounds per day equal to the shaman’s level. The ancestor spirit still has to be corporeal to deliver a touch spell.
  • The ancestor spirit grants the speak with shaman* and commune with spirits* powers at 1st level. The latter functions at the shaman’s level +4.
  • The ancestor spirit doesn’t gain improved evasion, devotion, spell resistance, and fast healing.
  • At 8th level, the ancestor spirit can, three times per day, become visible to others, for 1 minute/level of the shaman; at 16th level, it can become corporeal at will.

Bonus Spells: In addition to the spells learned as he or she gains levels, an ancestor caller also learns extra bonus spells. These spells are added as soon as the ancestor caller is capable of casting them and cannot be exchanged for different spells at higher levels. Additional bonus spells: unbreakable heart (2nd), surmount affliction (4th), protective spirit (6th), ancestral memory (8th), telepathic bond (10th), planar ally (12th), legend lore (14th), moment of prescience (16th), foresight (18th)

Strong Mind (Ex): The ancestor caller gains a +2 bonus on saving throws vs. enchantment and mind-affecting spells and effects.

Tribal Lore (Ex): The ancestor caller gains a +2 bonus to Knowledge (local) checks and Heal checks. This replaces nature lore.

Diminished Wild Shape (Su): An ancestor caller gains this ability at 6th level, except that her effective shaman level for this ability is equal to her shaman level –2.

*Refer to The Expanded Shaman for information about these powers.

3 thoughts on “The Many Spirits of the Shaman: Archetypes for the Shaman Class (Part 1)”

  1. Morgan Boehringer

    Yay for Baaaaaardeeeeeessssss! Nice work Margherita. About time you turned up here. That intro is very intriguing and nicely written. Looking forward to seeing the rest of the series… (And nice job on linking the MCA site!)

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