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The Many Spirits of the Shaman: Archetypes for the Shaman Class (Part 3)

The Many Spirits of the Shaman: Archetypes for the Shaman Class (Part 3)

Norsemen landing in Iceland, by Oscar Wergeland (1909).


The houngan is nearer than other shamans to otherworldly and divine forces, yet even a houngan doesn’t fully understand these forces. This shaman keeps in contact with the world of the dead, delivering messages and seeking advice–and sometimes making the dead rise to fight again. This might not always be seen as an evil act, depending on the shaman’s alignment, deity, and motives.

Animal Spirit Guide (Su): The houngan’s spirit guide takes the form of a familiar, and it is always an animal of Small or lesser size. A familiar spirit has all the statistics of a normal witch/wizard familiar, but otherwise follows all the normal rules for spirit guides and grants a totem spell instead of a skill bonus. The spirit guide counts as a familiar for all prerequisites; if a houngan takes the Improved Familiar feat at higher levels, the totem spell granted remains unaltered. Some familiar spirit guides and their granted totem spells follow:

Bat: Darkvision

Goat: Remove curse

Lizard: Haste

Raven: Ill omen

Scorpion: Pernicious poison

Spider: Spider climb

Toad: Jump

Patron: A houngan selects one of the following witch patrons at 1st level: Ancestors, Death, Occult, Plague, Portents, Spirits, or Unlife*. Patron spells are added to the houngan’s list of spell known.

Spirit Sense (Sp): A houngan can detect the presence of undead and outsiders at will. This ability functions like detect undead, but the shaman can detect both types of creatures. This replaces wild empathy.

Tribal Lore (Ex): The houngan gains a +2 bonus to Knowledge (local) checks and Heal checks.

Totem Secrets: The houngan loses access to the spirit of nature and speak with animals totem secrets. Instead, he or she gains access to these totem secrets:

Near Death (Su): You gain a +2 insight bonus to saving throws against diseases, mind-affecting effects, and poisons. At 7th level, this bonus also applies to saving throws against death effects, sleep effects, and stunning. At 11th level, the bonus increases to +4.

Voice of the Grave (Su): You can speak with dead, as per the spell, for a number of rounds per day equal to your shaman level. These rounds do not need to be consecutive. At 5th level, and every five levels thereafter, the dead creature takes a cumulative –2 penalty to its Will saving throw to resist this effect.

Power of the Grave (Su): At 4th level, the houngan can channel energy like a cleric of his or her shaman level, but only to harm or heal undead. At 8th level, the houngan can choose Command Undead or Turn Undead as a bonus feat. At 12th level, he or she can choose Elemental Channel or Alignment Channel as a bonus feat.

At 16th level, the houngan can employ a use of channel energy to make enemies with an aura of opposing alignment flee before him or her. If the houngan chose Alignment Channel at 12th level, the enemies’ aura must match the alignment chosen at the time he or she took the feat; otherwise, the houngan must choose chaos, evil, good, or law, and he or she can turn only enemies of the chosen alignment. Enemies receive a Will saving throw each round to negate the effect. The DC for this Will save is equal to 10 + 1/2 the shaman’s level + the shaman’s Charisma modifier. At 20th level, undead cannot add their channel resistance to the saving throw against the shaman’s power of the grave ability. This replaces wild shape.

*Wayfinder #7.

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

  1. Morgan Boehringer

    Very nicely done again! I’m obviously a fan of this sort of thing. I’m glad you referenced the Unlife Patron Jim Wettstein and I cooked up (well, that bit was pretty much Jim) for our Bonewitch in Wayfinder #7…

    I like that you added outsiders to Spirit Sense – the Bonewitch just detects undead (and isn’t really attuned to outsiders) but for a variant Tiefling Gauntlet Witch I have written up I couldn’t find a detect outsider spell. I had to create one. This Spirit Sense however is an elegant solution…

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