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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 (14)
Discussions (56)
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
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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
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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
Customer avatar
Frank R July 25, 2017 5:26 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Really do enjoy the shaman. I have a quick question. In regards to Stand Firm, where it says your AC is 13+ CON, does that mean along with the DEX bonus for not wearing armor like the barbarian? I was discussing with my DM and he was a bit confused on the matter, so he ruled it like Barb.
Customer avatar
Michael W July 25, 2017 7:30 pm UTC
CREATOR
Frank,

Stand Firm does not include Dexterity. If you'll check the Barbarian class feature, you'll see that it says your Armor Class equals 10 + your Dexterity modifier + your Constitution modifier. Stand Firm gives you an Armor Class of 13 + your Constitution modifier. The increase of 3 compensates for the lack of Dexterity inclusion.

All the best,
Michael Wolf
Customer avatar
Peter F July 14, 2017 8:18 am UTC
PURCHASER
Hey Michael,
Great work on the flavour and balance of this class, however I'm a little confused by a couple of things.

First is Gift of Savagery. If the character has a few points in dex, even the starting scimitar will consistently be better than the GoS weapon (besides the choice of damage type), since the former has finesse and the latter must have no affixes, and gets no bonuses. I'm also not sure why the GoS weapon takes a full action to summon, though I suspect the casting time, and lack of dmg bonus vs regular Spiritual Weapon is meant to offset the fact that the GoS weapon specifies that it may still be affected by weapon enhancement spells, however Spiritual Weapon fills an entirely different role, since it's an independent and remote damage source as a bonus, rather than being wielded and requiring an action to attack with. I feel like without finesse or the +cha damage affix from standard Spiritual Weapon, frequently the only reason for players to take GoS is to allow access to...See more
Customer avatar
Michael W July 25, 2017 2:00 pm UTC
CREATOR
Peter,

It seems a bit disingenuous to me to compare the Gift of Savagery feature to the Spiritual Weapon spell. Spiritual Weapon costs spellcasting resources to employ, and has a set duration. The Gift of Savagery weapon comes at no resource cost, and is functionally permanent unless you are separated from it or summon another. You yourself even note that it fills an entirely different role, so I’m not sure why you brought it up. The more reasonable comparison, to my mind, would be to the warlock’s Pact of the Blade. Which, as it turns out, takes an action.

I’m not sure exactly why it’s underwhelming for the Gift of Savagery weapon to bring with it a different set of options than those available to a standard weapon. True, it cannot be a finesse weapon, but it can be used to combine melee attacks with spells. Between the Force of Will and Savage Magic invocations, you can certainly exceed the damage of a finesse weapon or the Charisma bonus to the Spiritual Weapon spell.
...See more
Customer avatar
Peter F July 25, 2017 9:49 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Hi Michael, all of this makes a lot of sense - a friend and I were both a little confused when looking over this initially, but your response highlights some poor starting premises, and comprehension errors, so thank you very much for taking the time.
Customer avatar
Christopher L July 11, 2017 4:23 pm UTC
PURCHASER
This is a great class, I especially like all the research you've put into building animism and and the figure of the shaman. I just had a question about the Speaker of Dreams calling. I noticed that each of the other callings have ranged attack cantrip options. Is the Dreams' lack of ranged attack cantrip a design choice? Given the update you made to include Touch of Madness and the psychic damage flavour of the Dream calling, I could see Savage Mockery or something like it being a Speaker of Dreams cantrip.
Customer avatar
Christopher L July 11, 2017 7:19 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Oops, I meant to write "Vicious Mockery" there...And I suppose I can take this opportunity to clarify my thinking. If a shaman goes full casting (Gift of Sight) with the Speaker of Dreams build, their potential effectiveness in combat might be more limited in comparison to the other callings. The elemental callings have ranged attack cantrips that allow the "squishier" casting versions of these shamans to deal damage from afar, as does the Speaker of Ancestors through Chill Touch. With Touch of Madness a Speaker of Dreams shaman has to be in touch range of an enemy to be able to deal damage with their cantrip.
Customer avatar
Michael W July 25, 2017 12:54 pm UTC
CREATOR
Christopher,

You raise an excellent point, and one that I'll have to scratch my head over a bit more before I have a solid answer. In earlier drafts, Blessings of Dream actually DID give you the vicious mockery cantrip. Trouble was, that just ran into the opposite problem--while the standard ranged shaman could blast away without any problem, those who received the Gift of Savagery couldn't combine vicious mockery with the Savage Magic invocation, which was a pretty glaring flaw.

While the obvious solution would be to just make touch of madness into a ranged attack, I'm a bit leery of that because of the cantrip's disadvantage rider. As I said, I'll mull this one over a bit before I land on a real solution.

As a band-aid in the interim, I'll go ahead and say that a Speaker of Dreams can choose to receive either vicious mockery or touch of madness from the Blessings of Dream feature. It's a hacky solution, but it'll do until I land on something more permanent.

All...See more
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This title was added to our catalog on January 12, 2016.