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Shaman Class (5e)

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Between Worlds

"Shamans serve as intermediaries between the mortal world and the realms of spirits, called by the spirits to speak for them among mortals. These spirits come in a variety of forms, ranging from elemental nature spirits to the souls of fallen ancestors, and often take on animalistic shapes. While most shamans revere the spirits for which they speak, they rarely worship them outright. More often, a shaman negotiates with the spirits, being granted power both as a means to fulfill the spirits' needs and as a reward for doing so."

This product contains a new class with six class archetype options. The shaman as presented here is a Charisma-based spellcaster, using a spellcasting mechanic derived from the warlock, that draws power from bargains with spirits. In addition, a supplemental PDF discussing the nature of animism and spirits is included for those who wish to explore the concepts in a bit more depth.

Work on the shaman began in early 2015, and the class went through over sixty-four revisions before being posted on the Dungeon Masters Guild. A great deal of care has been taken to ensure that the mechanics and flavor flow together well, rather than the class simply being another nature-themed spellcaster.

Sources consulted during the writing of this class include Joseph Campbell's The Masks of God and Sir James George Frazer's The Golden Bough. Prior knowledge of Slavic spiritual traditions was also brought to bear when describing the behavior of different spirits.

The cover artwork, by David Revoy, is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license. Text and logos were added, and portions of the original artwork were cropped in order to fit the page.


To make full use of this material, you will need a copy of the Player's Handbook as well as the Elemental Evil Player's Companion. Spells originally introduced in the Elemental Evil Player's Companion are marked with EE in any spell lists.


Changelog

Date Version Notes
1/14/2016 v1.1 Per customer feedback, the number of shamanic invocations gained at 2nd level was reduced from 2 to 1. As was pointed out, the shaman's casting mechanic offers enough versatility when compared to the warlock that some kind of compensation would be appropriate. Keeping the shaman permanently exactly one invocation behind the warlock should hopefully balance the scales while still allowing Gift of Savagery shamans access to the invocations that allow them to remain relevant in melee combat.
1/19/2016 v1.2 Fixed some formatting errors that were introduced in v1.1.
1/20/2016 v1.2 Printable Transferred the material to the Dungeon Masters Guild PDF template to make it more printer-friendly.
1/27/2016 v.1.2.1 Printable Caught a minor error in the multiclassing rules that had base your number of invocations on "either class table" if you were multiclassing with warlock. But, since 1.1, the shaman has had a different number of invocations than the warlock, so that was just silly. It now goes off of your original invocation-granting class.
2/15/2016 v.1.3 & Sv1.0 Added a supplemental document digging a bit deeper into the flavor behind spirits and the nature of animism. Tweaked a few small flavor details in the class PDF to bring it in line with the expanded flavor in the supplement.
2/19/2016 v.1.3.1 Incredibly minor typo fix that I meant to do as a part of v.1.3, but completely forgot about until just now.
2/27/2016 v.1.3.2 More minor typo fixes.
3/7/2016 v.1.4 Changes to Gift of Savagery invocations, adjustments to the spell list, a new reincarnate invocation, and two new cantrips.
3/23/2016 v.1.4.1 Changes to 6th and 7th level spells in order to make Hidden Lore choices more interesting.
4/25/2016 v.1.5.0 Added the new Mask of Elemental Savagery wondrous item and rules for shamans bonding with extant magic items to serve as spirit weapons.
5/16/2016 v.1.5.1 Fixed a minor typo that had major ramifications and added information for the starting wealth option.
10/20/2016 v.1.5.2 Replaced aid with warding bond on the class spell list.
11/2/2016 v.1.5.3 Tweaked the multiclassing rules for Spiritual and Eldritch Invocations.
1/20/2017 v.1.5.4 Soul Reading invocation tweaked to only allow detect thoughts once per rest.
 
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Reviews (15)
Discussions (59)
Customer avatar
Shane D June 10, 2019 4:50 am UTC
PURCHASER
Please understand I comment here for the sake of new gamers. The reviews and comments for this product, Shaman Class (5E) by Michael Wolf, are somewhat inaccurate. The product is well-written and imaginative. I very much enjoyed the Shaman lore.

But the class is unbalanced. This class adopts abilities from other classes only at earlier levels. Like the ability to hit creatures resistant to non-magic weapons, the shaman can hit them at level 3 (as an option) whereas almost all other classes get that ability at level 6. The Shaman class herein can also Turn Undead at level 1 (also an option) whereas a cleric gets this signature ability at level 2.

Shamans don't get spell slots but an equivalent of spell points. The spell points refresh after a short rest which grants them twice as many spells as other starting casters and by 4th level a shaman can cast as many as 4+ times the amount of spells as any other caster of the same level. And at level 20, the Shaman class can cast a whopping...See more
Customer avatar
Shane D June 10, 2019 5:07 am UTC
PURCHASER
My apologies, a shaman can not cast 8 level 9 spells. However a shaman can cast 16 Hold Monsters per day. Excessive still IMO.
Customer avatar
William P June 10, 2019 11:51 pm UTC
PURCHASER
I mean, so can a warlock. I can't say that's been much of a problem in my games.
Customer avatar
Warren D June 11, 2019 12:12 am UTC
PURCHASER
How? Spirit points are not spell slots. A 1st level spell costs 1 spirit point. A 2nd level spell costs 2 spirit points. A 5th level spell costs 5 spirit points.
Customer avatar
Eric W June 11, 2019 7:15 am UTC
PURCHASER
William is right. Actually, they have less comparable slots than a Warlock at every odd level. For example, at level 5 Warlock has two 3rd level slots that refresh on short rest which is the equivalent of 6 Spirit Points, 1 more then the Shaman gets. This does change at the higher levels but Warlock has other stuff to make up for it. In the majority of games, you would never see the Shaman having more casts than another full caster as I personally have never seen more than 3 short rests [majoprty of times it's 1] in a game session. They have more diversity than a warlock at the expense of fewer invocations. Now I do think this doc needs revisions/ but imo its better than all of the other Shaman classes I have seen.
Customer avatar
Shane D June 17, 2019 6:17 am UTC
PURCHASER
Yes but warlocks only get two cantrips to start. Shamans start with 5 cantrips, a bonus language and a bonus skill as though they are warlock rangers. At third level they can either get the Lucky feat (as Gift of Sight) or get the ability to hit a creature resistant to non-magical weapons (as Gift of Savagery) much earlier than other classes. Those add up to support my claim that this class is unbalanced.

Tho you might not be experiencing any problems at your table, this class steps on other classes in the official books. Which makes those classes not as fun to play and the people playing those classes will feel weak and uncomfortable. This might end in a table full of shamans. This might end in people playing another game.
Customer avatar
Shane D June 17, 2019 6:21 am UTC
PURCHASER
I appreciate what you're saying here, Eric, but I have only seen one other shaman class. Not that I have been looking. I am just countering the long list of praises for this class. Which is a fantastic idea that, Yes, Needs Revision.

In its current state, compared to anything else, I would not allow my players to play this class and I would not ask my DM if I could play this class because I won't expect everyone to start playing overpowered classes like this. Even if it isn't as powerful as other content on the internet, this class is more powerful than any class in the official books.
Customer avatar
Brooke M May 24, 2019 12:33 pm UTC
PURCHASER
I love shamans and this looks like the best 5e version I've seen so far. My only criticism at the moment is that I'm pretty disappointed that it's a Charisma-based caster rather than a Wisdom one. To me, it doesn't make a lot of sense to not be Wisdom and the game already has enough Charisma-based casters. If I ever play this class I think I will personally swap that around.
Customer avatar
Jonathan H April 23, 2019 6:06 am UTC
PURCHASER
Hey big fan of this class so far but i just had one question about the gift of savagery feature. It says the weappm deals 1d8 damage, does that mean only 1d8 or 1d8+str modifier?
Customer avatar
Jared T February 14, 2019 5:36 pm UTC
Customer avatar
Eric W July 23, 2018 7:11 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Another thing i noticed. For prepared spells it just states you; "choose a number based on your charisma modifier." Is this intentional? All other full caster classes you get class level + spellcasting ability mod.
Customer avatar
Eric W July 19, 2018 7:57 pm UTC
PURCHASER

Love the class, definitely the most balanced shaman class i've seen. The multiclassing rules for shaman and warlock invocations are still a little hinky though. I think the # known is based off the first class that granted you invocations? If that's the case it's a little unintuitive and encourages warlock 2 first on most/all multi builds. Why not do something like;

" For invocations known add together your warlock levels and half your shaman levels [rounded up], use this total to determine the max and new invocations learned consulting the warlock table. As an example a level 4 warlock/ level 4 shaman would count as a level 6 warlock on the warlock table and you would know 3 invocations. Upon leveling to shaman lv 5 you would learn an additional invocation".

That way you can combine the two different lists but keep the same progression for each class no matter what your 'first' class was.
Customer avatar
Mike O June 12, 2018 9:47 am UTC
PURCHASER
This is one of a handful of well-designed 5e homebrew spellcasting classes I've seen that really seem to be built like core classes while serving their own niche both in function and roleplaying (another like this was a version of the Witch class, I really dig druidlock classes), but I really dislike the limitation of prepared spells locked to Charisma modifier only. Besides the fact that there is no core class that functions like this - even the secondary casters like Paladin & Ranger get more known or prepared spells (with Paladin functioning off of the Charisma modifier + half of class level for prepared spells that would make more sense here) - there is really no reason to limit known/prepared spells so severely when there is already the strict limit on spellcasting from spirit points. It is purely something that limits the player's spell list, making it smaller than EVERY other spellcasting class including the Warlock and even the Paladin and Ranger at higher levels, giving the player less agency in...See more
Customer avatar
Warren D June 12, 2018 11:01 pm UTC
PURCHASER
The Calling spells you get at each level are also part of your prepared list. So if you have a +4 modifier to Charisma you can prepare four spells as well as the two Calling spells you get from each level.
Customer avatar
Bill C May 07, 2018 8:43 pm UTC
PURCHASER
This is a fantastic player-created class. While mostly a cross between a druid and a warlock, it carries hints from other spell-caster classes as well. Spell points are a useful evolution from spell slots. Obeisances are similar to paladin oaths in that they inform character conduct.

Wolf is strongly influenced by the Elemental Evil Player's Companion (EE), so a lot of those spells make the shaman spell-list. Callings follow an elemental theme, and there are also callings of spirits and of dreams. A step back from that, shamans may stack invocations on a binary of gifts: a savage quasi-barbarian or a slimmer, better diviner (i.e. seer).

The shaman gives a perfect answer to a Viking Age campaign in search of a theme-related spell caster.
Customer avatar
Andrew P March 26, 2018 8:00 pm UTC
PURCHASER
I've been playing a full on fire shaman (gift of sight, methuselah homebrew race, ele adept feat) for about 7 months in a campaign that doesn't pull punches, so I will give my two cents.

1. Force of will might seem like "ah it's agonizing blast but worse" at first glance but it scales stupidly hard to the point of my firebolt spell being just outright stronger than eldritch blast in most cases. It's difficult to acess it's power level because it's really not that amazing early on but it's a staple invocation for dpsing with a magic damage heavy build.

2. 6th level feature, on the other hand, gets worse and worse as time goes by. It's still sort of useful but some scaling to that would be welcomed ;).

3. 10th level fire shaman feature along with the obeisance spellist and firebolt makes it the strongest archetype by far, and oh boy is elemental adept a jewel for the glaring weakness.

4. 14th level feature looks sort of alright, but in light of getting...See more
Customer avatar
Michael W February 01, 2018 6:13 pm UTC
CREATOR
Just wanted to apologize in general for the radio silence over the past few months. While I have, as mentioned in several previous comments, been working on a major revision, a number of outside factors have prevented it from being as high of a priority as I would like.

I've tentatively decided to go forward with an idea that I floated previously in which shamans will be able to choose more of their prepared spells, but with a reduced general class list and expanded subclass lists. Whether or not that actually makes it live will depend heavily on whether I'm actually able to flesh out a list for each subclass to my satisfaction. Among other things, this would allow for different subclasses to be more fully committed to different roles without sacrificing identity or general functionality. For instance, the larger subclass list allows for Speakers of Flames to really play into the creation/healing aspect of the calling without giving up the ability to light people on fire.

I'm also giving...See more
Customer avatar
Jacob B March 08, 2018 2:02 am UTC
PURCHASER
Although it does feel similar to the warlock, I am a huge fan of the class so I just want you to know that I very much support your endeavors to continue improving the class! I got it for free originally, but I will be sure to "buy" it to support you... as soon as I have some spare money to do so again. ^^'
Customer avatar
Warren D October 12, 2018 6:32 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Michael, hope you're well. I've been playing your class in a campaign from 1-10 so far, Speaker of Dreams with a Charlatan background (he was a con artist turned actual shaman and Dreams seemed the most thematically appropriate).

I was curious about whether you were still planning to come out with an updated version of this class, especially with Xanathar's Guide having come out since the last update.
Customer avatar
Vladislav M January 25, 2018 4:04 am UTC
PURCHASER
Hello, sorry if the answer to my question is obvious, but I'm rather new to D&D, and I wanted to know - the document says that maximum spell level for Shaman is level 5, but it lists spells up to 9th level. Can you use level 9 spells with level 5 slots? Or am I missing something?
Customer avatar
Michael W February 01, 2018 5:28 pm UTC
CREATOR
Vladislav,

The shaman functions identically to the warlock in this case. Only spells of levels 1 through 5 can be cast through the Spirit Magic class feature. Spells of levels 6 through 9 are only available through the Hidden Lore class feature.

All the best,
Michael Wolf
Customer avatar
Bridgett K October 22, 2017 1:34 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Why don't you use a more typical spell point progression instead of inventing your own resource in spirit points that scale differently and don't have the same balance considerations? I mean spells level power level was pretty clearly designed using a [2-3-5-6-7-9-10-11-13] point spread, as outlined in the DMG so not using that system as a basis for your point casting feels both arbitrary and counter to the intended design paradighm which has wonky unexpected balance effects

The wording is a bit unclear with the savage magic. It's unclear whether the attack damage I added or replaces the cantrip damage. Also, as a balancing consideration, it seems odd to have them replace the roll when the much more standard war magic feature, 1 attack as a bonus action, achieves a similar result and isn't unclear.

Overall everything else seems about on the nose. Love the flavor, th subclasses are really well thought out. I like that you avoid an animal focused subclass cuz, I my opinion, that is very...See more
Customer avatar
Michael W February 01, 2018 5:53 pm UTC
CREATOR
Bridgett,

I did look at the typical spell point progression, but, frankly, the complexity that emerges when using those figures with a pool that refreshes after every short rest quickly becomes prohibitive. Being able to say "you have a number of points equal to your level, and each spell costs a number of points equal to the spell's level" results in very simple table math: only ever simple subtraction, without any lookup or multiplication. Moreover, the shaman's relatively limited spell list doesn't really lend itself to a great deal of abuse, and the incremental damage gain from casting a 1st-level spell N times instead of the same spell at Nth level is often offset by the time required to do so. I'll run more tests as I work on the revision, but I don't particularly see that one changing.

I'm not quite sure how Savage Magic is unclear? "In addition to" seems pretty explicit to me--you get the attack's damage as well as whatever the spell does.

The...See more
Customer avatar
David R October 21, 2017 7:52 pm UTC
PURCHASER
I've been really enjoying this class. I'm playing it in a current game. I'm a bit confused by the max spell level though. I see that Shaman get 9th level spells but they can only cast max 5th level?
Customer avatar
Michael W February 01, 2018 5:28 pm UTC
CREATOR
David,

The shaman functions identically to the warlock in this case. Only spells of levels 1 through 5 can be cast through the Spirit Magic class feature. Spells of levels 6 through 9 are only available through the Hidden Lore class feature.

All the best,
Michael Wolf
Customer avatar
Mi K October 11, 2017 5:54 pm UTC
PURCHASER
This is an awesome class! I will be taking it for a test drive soon, but from just reading it I have two gripes.

1. I really wish this was a Wisdom-based class, but I understand the logic behind going Charisma.

2. It very much feels like the Shaman should have the Ritual Casting feature built in! Was this intentional or an oversight? It could at least use an invocation that grants it. Though probably not to the extent of the Warlock equivalent, or at least with a different quirk than "you can learn all rituals from all classes." I get that it does have quite a few Invocations that let it cast individual spells as rituals, but still.
Customer avatar
Michael W October 16, 2017 2:26 pm UTC
CREATOR
Mi,

I want to say that an earlier version did have ritual casting, but it turned out to be rather redundant. Given that you recover your spellcasting resources on a short rest, there's less of the need to be able to generate those effects without expenditure. Add to that the fact that most prepared casters have to prepare a spell in order to cast it as a ritual, and it just interacted weirdly with the shaman. I'll give it a look when I revisit and revise things in November, though!

All the best,
Michael Wolf
Customer avatar
Alex R September 08, 2017 4:45 pm UTC
PURCHASER
I've read some of the comments you made about limiting the Shaman's daily prepared spells to Spellcasting Mod and I disagree with your reasoning for doing so. I'm having a hard time thinking of how to explain my thoughts, but part of it boils down to 'if you want versatility to be a focus for the shaman, you should give them Cha mod + level (or half level) prepared spells and make the individual list for each speaker type an extension to learnable spells (like warlock, since you keep referencing them) instead of locking so many learned spells into those'. Giving them daily spell preparation, but making them choose so few spells takes too much away from their versatility. As it stands, even having them learn set spells and making each speaker list an extension (basically learning spells just like warlocks do) would be way better than how it is now.
Customer avatar
Michael W September 11, 2017 5:27 pm UTC
CREATOR
Alex,

I might have misunderstood you, so feel free to correct me, but it seems like you're lumping all forms of versatility together. I don't believe I ever claimed that overall versatility was the focus of the shaman--rather, I drew a distinction between versatility in "how they cast" versus versatility in "what they cast." In comparison to the warlock, shamans are much more versatile in how they cast: a warlock has a set number of spell slots per short rest, and can cast only that many spells. By contrast, a shaman's spirit points are much more granular, allowing her to make decisions about how many spells she can cast per short rest.

As a result of this greater versatility in "how they cast," I chose to heavily restrict shamans in terms of "what they cast." This is intended to ensure that a shaman's overall versatility does not render the warlock obsolete. Part of the logic in using the Charisma modifier to determine how many spells you can choose...See more
Customer avatar
Alex R September 12, 2017 4:05 pm UTC
PURCHASER
You are correct. I was using versatility as a catch-all instead of separating it into versatility in different areas (such as spell preparation, resource expenditure while casting, etc.). This is in part because i believe these elements of versatility each contribute to the overall 'versatility in casting'. I had thought that you were increasing this versatility in casting and trading off things like having to play catch up to warlock in total spellcasting resources, having less offensive power due to spell selection, having less invocations, etc. Since you say that's not your intention, it seems a bit unnecessary to put these other restrictions on and then also restrict the class so heavily in other ways.

You say that you want the shaman spells to be prepared instead of spells known, but having the list of automatically prepared spells is basically spells known, except worse because the player can't even choose which ones to take. It's not a problem on other prepared spell classes because they...See more
Customer avatar
Michael W October 16, 2017 2:22 pm UTC
CREATOR
Alex,

Well, the way I look at it, at 1st level, over half of your spells will be prepared as your choice, assuming a Charisma score of 16. Once you have 5th level spells and a Charisma score of 20, you're still choosing a third of the spells available to you. That seems to me to be enough to grab one's favorite spells in addition to the calling spells, but this conversation is demonstrating that it may not be.

Part of the goal was for calling to dictate the "core" spells of a shaman, with the additional 3-5 spells being prepared for utility and personal taste. I guess, in a perfect world, the shaman class list would more accurately be an "extension" of the spells available to a shaman. Additionally, there's some currency in the fact that the "core" spells are locked in and not a choice--the spirits granting a shaman power would be granting the powers that they wanted to, not necessarily the ones that the shaman wanted. However, good flavor and good design...See more
Customer avatar
Matthew H July 30, 2017 5:38 am UTC
PURCHASER
Love the class but i dont understand the point of the fire spirits 14th level ability. You cant create anything difficult like weapons armor etc, nor magic items, nor even creatures, so what are its uses? It feels like id just make a slightly warm cube of rope that i can make disappear. Am i missing something?
Customer avatar
Michael W August 16, 2017 2:15 pm UTC
CREATOR
Matthew,

As discussed in my response to Peter below, Flames of Creation is based in large part off of the Creation spell, with added restrictions from Fabricate that compensate for the fact that the items created do not have a set duration. The goal is to give Speaker of Flames an out-of-combat utility of ability that rewards creative thinking. After all, fire is classically the element associated with acts of creation.

Also, do note that you can create complex items such as weapons and armor so long as you have proficiency with the relevant type of artisan’s tools—which plays well with the fact that the Speaker of Flames becomes proficient with one type of artisan’s tools at 1st level.

All the best,
Michael Wolf
Customer avatar
Matthew H February 01, 2018 4:35 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Customer avatar
Matthew H February 01, 2018 4:40 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Also question, playing an earth gift of savagery, focusing close quarters when combat is NEEDED but usually acting as a negotiator to stop combat. I quickly learned though that as an earth shaman, there are NO spells that allow you to use the savage magic feature. Was this intentional?
Customer avatar
Michael W February 01, 2018 5:31 pm UTC
CREATOR
Matthew,

Thorn whip should function just fine with Savage Magic, though you probably won't get much out of the "pulling them closer to you" rider that the spell has. In general, the class feature was mostly intended to function with cantrips, but was left more broad in order to allow for a few higher-level moves from one or two of the subclasses. This incidental broadness is something that I'm considering removing in the 2.0 build, as it seems to cause more confusion than the minor benefit is worth.

All the best,
Michael Wolf
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This title was added to our catalog on January 12, 2016.