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Thread: Shaman Handbook [Oriental Adventures]

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    Feb 2012

    Default Shaman Handbook [Oriental Adventures]


    Note: This is a guide to the Shaman originally printed in Oriental Adventures; NOT the Dragon Shaman, Spirit Shaman, Shaman Cleric variant or any similar spinoff.

    INDEXGuide Key:
    PHB2 Player's Handbook 2
    DMG2 Dungeon Master's Guide 2
    MIC Magic Item Compendium
    SpC Spell Compendium
    RC Rules Compendium
    EPH Expanded Psionics Handbook
    MoI Magic of Incarnum
    ToM Tome of Magic
    ToB Tome of Battle
    WoL Weapons of Legacy
    CAdv Complete Adventurer
    CArc Complete Arcane
    CCha Complete Champion
    CMag Complete Mage
    CPsi Complete Psionic
    CSco Complete Scoundrel
    CWar Complete Warrior
    RotW Races of the Wild
    RoS Races of Stone
    RoD Races of Destiny
    RotD Races of the Dragon
    Frost Frostburn
    Sand Sandstorm
    Storm - Stormwrack
    CS - Cityscape
    DS Dungeonscape
    LM Libris Mortis
    LoM Lords of Madness
    Drac Draconomicon
    SS Savage Species
    Minis Miniatures Handbook
    UA Unearthed Arcana
    PlH - Planar Handbook
    MoP - Manual of the Planes
    BoED Book of Exalted Deeds
    BoVD Book of Vile Darkness
    HoB Heroes of Battle
    HoH Heroes of Horror
    ECS Eberron Campaign Setting
    RoE Races of Eberron
    MoE Magic of Eberron
    FoE Faiths of Eberron
    OA Oriental Adventures
    FRCS Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting
    PGtF Player's Guide to Faerun
    ShS - Shining South
    UE - Unapproachable East
    SM - Silver Marches
    F&P - Faiths and Pantheons
    web - Wizards of the Coast web site
    DR Dragon Magazine

    Color Code:
    I'm going to use the old traditional 3e handbook color code to rate the various options that the Shaman has available:
    RED: These are bad options. Avoid them if you can.
    BLACK: These are unremarkable options. If you like them, go for it they won't hurt, and they might be fun or flavorful. But they aren't going to make an especially powerful character on their own.
    BLUE: These are good options. When in doubt, these are safe bets.
    BLUER: These are amazing options. If you're at all interested in their content, do what you need to get them.
    Change Log:
    7/2/2012 - posted draft, omitted Source Abbreviations and web links
    9/13/2012 - Revised Animal Compnaions
    10/15/2012 - Restructured domain listings

    To-do: Sanctified/Vile Spells



    The Shaman's a prepared divine caster, along the lines of the Druid or Cleric. But instead of putting on the full plate and whacking things with sticks, or turning into a bear and chewing on things with its mouth, the Shaman is all about taking off its gloves and beating its enemies with its fists. Basically, the Shaman is to the Monk what the Cleric is to the Paladin or the Druid to the Ranger.
    As a divine caster, the Shaman has the flexibility to rewrite its tactics and abilities on a daily basis. And with its deep spell list, the Shaman can cover a variety of roles.

    That said, there are a few things the Shaman spell list is designed to do well. These can be altered and manipulated through domain choices, prestige classes and items, but they're the groundwork every Shaman starts from:
    SUMMONER: The class has full access to the Summon Nature's Ally line of spells, providing some of the meatiest tactical summons available. These can function as battlefield control, damage dealers, and tactical scouts. The Shaman also has unique access to the Spirit Ally line of spells, which provides easier (but more expensive) access to a variety of long-term fey, dragon, elemental, and undead summons than the Wu Jen's Spirit Binding counterparts.
    DIVINER: The Shaman's spell list shares many divinations with the Cleric and Wu Jen spell list, as well as several of its own. Combined with the Shaman's summoning spells, it's not hard for a Shaman to approach a dungeon with foreknowledge of more or less what's inside.
    HEALER: No, this isn't a role a whole lot of players want to define their characters, and it's not a great use of daily spells prepared. But bad things happen to player characters, and it is genuinely useful to have a character on hand who can patch those things up.
    MELEE: The Shaman gets unarmed combat like a toned-down Monk, plus bonus feats and an animal companion like the Druid. You might remember the fights about the viability of a Monk UMDing wands of Polymorph to hold its own in melee. The Shaman plays a lot like that, except it doesn't have to UMD those wands. With the appropriate domain choices, the Shaman can also pick up the highlights from the Cleric and Druid spell lists.
    Several other aspects of casting are difficult for the Shaman to effectively do straight out of its default spell list (blasting, illusions, mass debuffs, necromancy), but there is little that cannot be patched between Summon Nature's Ally, Spirit Ally and the Shaman's domain choices.

    • Chassis: Somewhere between a Cleric and a Cloistered Cleric, but with more frequent food poisoning and headcolds.
    • Spellcasting: The Shaman casts a lot like a Cleric, with few differences (a couple extra low-level domain slots, starting at ECL 11). The base spell list is a lot like a core Cleric's, but without explicit splatbook support to multiply its options. I'm going to break the spell list down later on.
    • Domains: The Shaman gets two domains at level 1 and a third at level 11. These come with fairly useful base abilities and often provide spells that aren't available through the Shaman's base spell list.
    • Animal Companion: Like the Druid's. It's like having a second character as a class feature, plus it shares your spells. More on the options here later.
    • Bonus Feats: Improved Unarmed Strike at level 1, with five additional combat feats provided throughout the shaman's progression. The Oriental Adventures options tend to be better than the ones post 3.5-update, but they're feats nothing to complain about.
    • Unarmed Strike: Improved unarmed strike with slightly improved base damage, increasing to 2d6 at level 18.
    • Spirit Sight: See Ethereal creatures. Not a powerhouse ability, but useful it combats Blink and in an ongoing campaign, you'll probably run into something that can go Ethereal sometime. (Especially with the Shaman's summoning on the table.)
    • Turn or Rebuke Undead: It's sed at a slight penalty, so that's a bit of a drag. But it works just fine for Divine and Domain feats, and can be somewhat covered with magic items.
    • Spirit's Favor: Divine Grace by another name. Divine Grace is awesome. The "other name" part is a mixed bag it stacks with Divine Grace (from Prestige Paladin or similar), but it doesn't qualify for Serenity (the Dragon Magazine feat which would key everything Saves, Turning, Spells off the Wisdom stat).

    In Dragon Magazine #318, James Wyatt partially updated the Shaman to 3.5. For the most part, this guide assumes that update is in play.

    The two places in the guide where I diverge from that update are the Animal Companion and Spirit Ally's HD cap. On the AC, leaving the 3.0 Animal companion mechanics was presumably an oversight, so the most reasonable translation is to keep the mechanic identical to the Druid's. On Spirit Ally, it and Spirit Binding were printed in Oriental Adventures with HD caps higher than the Planar versions of the spell. In the Dragon Magazine update, they were dropped to the same HD cap as their Planar Analogs. After that update, Spirit Binding was reprinted with its initial limits. Since Ally and Binding Spells have an established parity, I'm treating that as maintenance of 3.0 Spirit Ally's HD caps, as well. If that rubs you the wrong way, the only bits of advice affected by the presumed reversion are the age categories of Lung dragon suggestions.
    Last edited by eggs; 2012-10-15 at 12:13 PM.