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Thread: Shaman Handbook [Oriental Adventures]

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    Ogre in the Playground
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    Feb 2012

    Default Re: Shaman Handbook [Oriental Adventures]

    Quick note: Divine feats rely on spending daily Turn Undead attempts. These can get expensive fast (especially Divine Metamagic and domain feats). These attempts can be inexpensively increased with Reliquary Holy Symbols and Nightsticks or Extra Turning.
    Able Learner (RoD) – This is mostly to make Handle Animal more affordable. But other spinoff skill options like Tumble, Bluff or Intimidate don't hurt either.
    Animal Devotion (CCha) – Flight, strength-increases, speed boosts and a Constitution poison attack, all from one feat. Eats turn undead attempts for multiple daily uses.
    Assume Supernatural Ability (SS) – This is a cheesy way to abuse Polymorph. It can be ridiculously powerful, Polymorph is abusable enough without it.
    Domain Spontaneity (CDiv) - Spend Turn attempts to spontaneously cast domain spells. Both covers for misjudged spell preparation and allows Domain spells to be accessed from regular Shaman spell slots.
    Extra Turning – It's a good feat (it fuels Divine/Domain feats after all), but it can be purchased inexpensively in the form of Nightsticks.
    Minor Shapeshift (CMag) – A variety of minor benefits as long as a polymorph spell is prepped. The high point is at will temporary HP as a swift action.
    Persistent Refusal (FC2) – Resave against an ongoing effect. Your saves are good; if you have to use this, there's a good chance you'll be able to. Often useful.
    Summon Elemental (CMag) – Summon elementals at will. The elementals are too small to be useful in combat, but the various mobility powers and endless supply of weak mooks make it a strong utility power.
    Surrogate Spellcasting (SS) – Another feat aimed toward Polymorphing, but this one is more reasonable. It allows casting in morphs that wouldn't normally be able to.
    Touch of Healing (CCha) – Heal to half-HP at will. Save some resources on party-wide healing. Bluntly, it's a weak feat, but it isn't unjustifiable in games with unreliable access to inexpensive healing wands.
    Ashbound (ECS) – Automatically extend summons, nicely stacking attack bonus.
    Augment Summoning – Bonuses to the two stats you care about most with SNA spells.
    Beckon the Frozen (Frost) – Summoned monsters gain the cold subtype and extra 1d6 cold damage per attack. The damage is easily blocked by cold resistance, but will adds up nicely – especially at low levels.
    Child of Winter (ECS) – Add a bunch of Vermin to Summon Nature's Ally options. Spiderwebs, swarms and colossal vermin are very nice; the rest is pretty lackluster.
    Divine Defiance (FC2) – Spend a Turn attempt to counterspell as an immediate action. Plays to the Shaman's potential strengths (through CL boosts and/or Inquisition domain), and adds a robust use for its immediate actions.
    Divine Metamagic (CDiv) – Use turning to cheapen metamagic. This is like buying high spell levels without investing levels for it.
    Divine Spell Power (CDiv) – Use a Turn attempt to boost caster level.
    Greenbound Summoning (LEoF) – Summoned animals gain the Greenbound template (plant type, nice SLAs, decent DR, tremorsense, ability and grapple bonuses). If using Greenbound, Endarire some useful stat rundowns here, so summon stats don't need to be constantly recalculated.
    Rashemi Elemental Summoning (UE) – Summoned air and earth elementals gain the orglash or thomil templates (for Cones of Cold and engulf attacks, respectively).
    Spontaneous Summoner (CDiv) – Cast Summon Nature's Ally spells spontaneously several times per day. Provides flexibility to choose niche and utility spells without compromising combat capability. Also makes a Shaman qualify for Ashbound.
    Extend Spell – Extending durations means saving spell slots and possibly combat actions.
    Persist Spell (CArc) – Bring fixed-range buffs up to 24-hour durations. The steep spell level jump doesn't work well with the Shaman's built-in spell list, but plays nicely with some of the Shaman's domains
    Imbue Summoning (PHB2) – The Shaman's a good summoner, but it doesn't have a whole lot of useful buffs to imbue, and the Summoner's Totem does the same thing very inexpensively.
    Invisible Spell (CS) – Insanely good if it makes summons invisible (as the quality, not the spell), otherwise pretty mediocre due to the relative subtlety of the Shaman's spell list.
    Ocular Spell (LoM) – Store two spells in to cast as a Full round action later, making it excellent for action economy; also fixes range on spells, making them Persist-worthy.
    Quicken Spell – Extra actions. Almost every prepared spellcaster can make good use of Quicken, especially since, as a 3.0 class, it doesn't have much in terms of built-in Swift spells.
    Rapid Spell (CDiv) – Most of the Shaman's distinct spells and summons have 1-round casting times, which hurts – it gives opponents a chance to disrupt the Shaman's casting and gives the summons 1 less action per combat. This solves that problem.
    Twin Spell (CArc) – Doubles effects of spells. Twinning Summons is especially handy. The feat's expensive on its own, but that's what Divine Metamagic is for.
    Blind-Fight** – Deal better with miss chances. Not a great feat, but it's likely to get some use.
    Choke Hold* (OA) – Knock creatures unconscious on a successful pin (very short duration). The fortitude save and short duration limit its use.
    Combat Expertise* – Useful prerequisite, but the Intelligence requirement isn't always easy for Shamans to manage until the level 8+ bonus feats.
    Improved Combat Expertise* (CWar) – Uncaps Combat Expertise. This probably isn't an ability you're going to use often. Marginal benefits, if it ever sees any use.
    Improved Trip* – One of the best tricks a melee build can have. Acts as a control effect, effectively increases attack bonuses and costs opponents' actions.
    Combat Reflexes** – Required for anything resembling AoO-based tactics, and prerequisite for Robilar's Gambit.
    Robilar's Gambit (PHB2) – Gain AoOs against creatures who try to attack you in melee. If you can crank your defenses, hit hard enough and hit often enough, this becomes a winning trade.
    Defensive Strike* (CWar) – Attack bonus after being attacked while making a total defense action. That requires weak prerequisites and bad tactics on the parts of both the character with the feat and its enemies.
    Defensive Throw* (CWar) – AoO against Dodge target who misses you in melee. Heavy prerequisites, but a very useul power.
    Deflect Arrows* – Individual ranged weapon attacks aren't particularly threatening. Not a useless filler feat, but a poor choice in the place of something more powerful.
    Dodge* – Waste of a feat. Only useful in qualifying for more powerful abilities.
    Earth's Embrace* (CWar) – The 3.5 version is powerful at very low levels, but scales very poorly.
    Grappling Block* (OA) – AoO when a weapon attack would otherwise hit you. Very strict requirements, specific to one increasingly rare type of offense. Overall, a weak feat option.
    Great Throw* (web) – Place opponents in a square you threaten on a successful trip and automatically deal unarmed damage. With size increases, this becomes a potent control/damage effect.
    Holy Warrior (CCha) – Bonus damage for Shamans with the War domain. Especially useful with multiple attacks (usually either with Snap Kick unarmed strikes or Rapid Shot).
    Improved Grapple* – If you want to grapple, this is a feat you're going to use – it's a good bonus and it drops the attack of opportunity involved.
    Scorpion's Grasp (Sand) – Shamans make excellent grapplers. This is like Improved Grab, without the size restrictions – and Improved Grab is a strong ability for grapplers anyway.
    Improved Natural Attack – Extra damage with unarmed strikes. Rather meaningful damage increase with the natural damage and size increases available at high levels.
    Iron Will** – This can be bought for gold at the Otyugh Hole (CSco), and improves a save that the Shaman should already expect to succeed in.
    Karmic Strike* (CWar) – The prerequisites can be problematic, but if they're met, this is one of the best of the Shaman's bonus feats.
    Kiai Shout** (CWar) – Between the HD cap, daily limit, fear/mind effect tags and the Shaman's lack of other fear-stacking effects, this isn't a feat the Shaman uses well. Unlike the Shaman's other weak bonus feat options, this is not a common prerequisite.
    Greater Kiai Shout** (CWar) – A powerful ability, but by the time the Shaman qualifies, its descriptors and HD cap are even more crippling.
    Knowledge Devotion (CCha) – Turn Knowledge skills into attack and damage bonuses. If you take the Knowledge Domain, and make attack rolls often, this is awesome. Without the Knowledge Domain, it's still good, but a bit less universally applicable.
    Law Devotion (CCha) –Spend Turn attempts for large bonuses to attack or armor class. Activated as a swift action.
    Point Blank Shot/Rapid Shot – The Shaman has the tools to be an effective archer; these are the feats required to excel at that job.
    Snap Kick (ToB) – Either one extra unarmed attack per round, which is good, or one extra unarmed strike after each melee attack, which is amazing.
    Stunning Fist*/** – For a Monk, this ability has some serious limitations. For a Shaman, with few daily uses and late qualification, this feat is very weak.
    Anchoring Blow (DR#304) – Spend a stun use to Dimension Anchor a target of a melee attack. Dimension anchor is both more reliable and an effect that is strangely omitted from the Shaman's spell list.
    Falling Star Strike*/** (OA) – Tough qualification, few uses, targets a tough save, faces frequent immunities: overall, nearly useless.
    Freezing the Lifeblood*/** (CWar) – Tough qualification, few uses, targets a tough save, faces frequent immunities: overall, nearly useless.
    Pain Touch*/** (CWar) – Slightly improve Stunning Fist. This is a case of throwing good feats after bad.
    Unbalancing Strike*/** (CWar) – Crappy benefits, requires Stunning Fist to use.
    Superior Unarmed Strike (ToB) – Looks like a decent feat, but with the 3.5 Shaman update's damage progression, it's useless.
    Travel Devotion (CCha) – Spend Turn attempts for swift action movement. Especially useful for melee Shamans.
    Zen Archery (CWar) – For shaman archers, this consolidates required abilities. Usually more valuable at high levels than early on (Some dexterity is still required to qualify for Rapid Shot).

    *Bonus Feats from Oriental Adventures Shaman
    **Bonus Feats from Dragon Magazine Update
    Companion Spellbond (PHB2) – Share spells at a distance. The Shaman has access to some excellent buffs. Sharing them is almost always a good strategy, but the 5ft range makes that difficult. This patches the range limitation.
    Exalted Companion (BoED) – The Celestial template is valuable enough to justify the lost level (no need for Handle Animal checks or pushing the companion, overcome DR/magic without relying on a Pet Collar of Mighty Fists, the various passive defenses), the Blink Dog has incredible utility and the Unicorn's SLAs are just good to have. Asperi can be interesting with the Shaman's access to weather control.
    Natural Bond (CAdv) – Patch a few lost Animal Companion levels. Can debatably also add three effective levels (beyond normal Shaman advancement) to one of the a higher-level animal option.
    Concentration – As a caster, you max out Concentration without asking questions. Especially with the Shaman's relatively frequent 1-round casting times.
    Craft – The Shaman doesn't have any abilities which make notable use of the craft skill. Maybe with one of the Craft/Creation domains.
    Diplomacy – The Shaman will typically have high Charisma, and this is a powerful skill. Almost always worth the investment.
    Heal – Valuable for stabilization at low levels. At high levels, that's rarely needed, and spell slots can cover the majority of its functions. I recommend starting with high ranks and gradually using skill retraining (PHB2) to shift the ranks elsewhere, starting around ECL 5.
    Knowledge (Arcana) – A useful knowledge skill, but often one that somebody else will have maxxed. If you have Knowledge Devotion or no party Arcanist, you'll want to maximize this; if you don't, you'll still want to dabble, but it's not pressing.
    Knowledge (Religion) – Bonuses to turning, and probably a skill you're expected to crank up as the party's divine caster. Invest some skill points here, especially if you're using Knowledge Devotion.
    Knowledge (Spirits) – This is both highly relevant to the Shaman's abilities and a skill that members of other classes are unlikely to invest in. Put full ranks here.
    Spellcraft – Identify spells. Useful if you want to know what's ever going on (and who doesn't?)

    Handle Animal – You need at least 1 rank to direct your animal summons at all, and you'll probably want to reliably hit the DC 25 threshold for pushing an animal.
    Ride – Sharing spells with your animal companion requires a constant maximum of 5ft distance. That's not something which can be maintained with the D&D initiative system, unless you revert to trickery. Riding the companion is an excellent sort of trickery.
    Speak Language – Be absolutely sure you can communicate with your summons. Aquan, Auran, Draconic, Giant, Ignan, Sylvan and Terran are all potentially useful. Retrain when you can afford regular castings of Tongues.
    Tumble – For characters who hang out in melee, enemies' attacks of opportunity are the difference between playing by the tactics you want and playing by the tactics they want. Tumble lets you make the calls.

    Skills from Domains:
    Appraise (Pact, Wealth) – Really niche. While it can be useful to have a party member who knows what things are worth, the Shaman probably isn't going to have the highest intelligence or the most outside bonuses.
    Bluff (Dragon, Envy, Trickery) – With high Charisma, and decent skill points, Shamans can make good party faces. This is one of the necessary skills. Five ranks are also needed for Diplomacy and Intimidate synergies.
    Disguise (Trickery) – Incognito is often fun, but it's relatively niche – even Shamans with high social skills are probably not going to need ranks. If disguises are a big enough part of your campaign to warrant heavy investment, you'll probably want the Second Impression skill trick (CSco).
    Hide (Trickery) – With their light armor and various utility spells, the Shaman can make a decent sneak, making Hide worth a bit of investment. But without perception skills, move silently or trapfinding/disabling abilities, it's probably not going to capably fill in as party scout.
    Intimidate (Dragon, Pact) – For the social use and demoralization. Demoralization is always a powerful ability – especially with the Shaman's Charisma – but I'm not going to dedicate the space to break it down here. See Caedrus's Fear handbook for most of the relevant details.
    Knowledges (Knowledge) – Can fuel Knowledge Devotion, and often required for prestige class qualification. Also useful for Diplomancers trying to eke every last Diplomacy bonus possible.
    Sense Motive (Pact) – With their high Charisma scores, certain shamans can play the party face. This is typically a skill that goes with that role.
    Survival (Travel) – Not a particularly useful skill on its own, but often required for Druid-based prestige classes.
    Collector of Stories (CSco) – Bonus on knowledge checks. Doesn't stack well with skill-boosting items, but it's generally a good deal.
    Distracting Taunt (DR#357) – Ready an action or AoO to use a Bluff check to disrupt spellcasting within 20 ft. Counterspelling or actually making an attack is usually a better option, but since this costs no daily resources, it can be well worth 2 skill points on a Shaman with Bluff ranks.
    Ecstatic Fervor (DR#357) – Reduce Concentration DC when interrupted while casting. With all the Shaman's 1 round casting times, this is likely to come up a couple times, even if you try to avoid it.
    False Theurgy (CSco) – Shamans with bluff ranks can trick other casters into thinking they're casting a different spell than they are. Especially useful with illusion effects (make Disguise Self out to be a Polymorph, make an Image out to be a summon, make an Invisibility out to be a teleport, etc.)
    Healing Hands (CSco) – Cheap healing at low levels. Very useful at very low levels, a waste of 7 skill ranks later on. Very useful ability in low-level campaigns or when allowed to use skill retraining rules on skill tricks; not so much otherwise.
    Magical Appraisal (CSco) – If you'd get Appraise ranks for some reason anyway (prestige class requirements, etc.), it's cheap identify for a very small number of skill ranks. If you wouldn't have Appraise ranks anyway, just buy an Artificer's monocle.
    Rhetorical Flourish (DR#357) – Reduce penalty for rushed Diplomacy check to -5.
    Swift Concentration (CSco) – Maintain concentration as a swift action.. The Shaman doesn't have many spells where this applies, but it's cheap and it's very often useful.
    Last edited by eggs; 2012-09-06 at 08:18 PM.