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Dark Classes I: The Shaman

Welcome to the first article of the "Dark Classes" series! This blog is currently set in the Amherth investigation oriented campaign I'm running, which uses a mix of LL and BFRPG. 

My aim is to focus on B/X-ish material and most of my focus will be on LL Classic. 
Here I present "The Shaman", a class I came up with thanks to the story of my beloved girlfriend, which eventually brought us to Cirice Harrow, one of the characters playing the aforementioned campaign. You can check out a general introduction here.


The Shaman has born to recreate the idea of a gifted "witch". There is a single Shaman for any given era. In our case, Shamans see light in the Tradeport's Harrow Faimily, a noble house concerning about alchemy. 
Shamans are gifted girls (no man-Shamans) who start dreaming and feeling elemental spirits, nature essences talking to them. They do not study to become one, they just try to focus on their inner experiences and try not to lose sanity in the process.

A Shaman develop her powers pretty early in life and, if she comes up with a way to survive the shock, ends up being pretty powerful around 20-24 years old and live a long life of wisdom and connection with those spirits.

Even if the "elements" do not come up heavily in terms of mechanics, I favored those over "souls" or "undead spiritis", since it would have give the Shaman a "necromancy-ish" feel I didn't like for the concept, which is somewhat kinda mundane.
I won't offer a full "write up". I'm working on a pdf. Here I'll just show it to you, using a bit of format to help you through.


Requirements: WIS 15 (this gives body to the idea of a girl surviving the initial shock)
Prime Requisites: WIS
Hit Dice: d4
Maximum Level: 20

This is pretty clear. The girl has to be wise enough, no level limit and d4 dice. I consider it a Magic-User variant, so she has the same level advancement table, attack progression and saving throws.
Same goes for armors and weapon restrictions.

Spellcasting: a Shaman is able to spellcast. She doesn't use Spell slots, but Spirit Points (aka, spellpoints). A Shaman knows a limited amount of spells and can cast them at will, without having to prepare them ahead of time. They can cast any spell they know, provided they have the right amount of Spirit Points. Casting a spell requires a number of SP equal to the spell's level.
The number of spell levels possessed at any given level is equal to the net sum of spell slots available at that level.
The only difference in terms of spell level, is that Shamans get a higher slot level only at even levels (so a Shaman will only be able to cast 2nd level spells at 4th level, 3rd level spells at 6th and so forth).

After some testing and tweaking, this made more sense with the concept I had in mind. The Shaman doesn't pray, not studies. She asks elementals to do something for her at every given level. Spirit Points are an evocative way to handle this and the other feature she has (see below). 

Starting Spells and Limits: Shamans get access to both Cleric's and Magic User's spells. They start with a number of spells equal to their WIS modifier, chosen by any of the two lists. Every time a Shaman gains a level, she gets new spells equal to her WIS modifier, taken from any list.

This is the real "touch" I like. Getting (very limited in number) access to any list, make the Shaman the unique and even feared "witch" I wanted her to be. She talks with elements, she evokes hidden elemental powers to heal, cast lightnings and see the future, no limits. But she has to spend Spirit Points to do that, that means "disturbing" the chaotic existence of those entities.

Call: starting at 3rd level, a Shaman may spend a number of Spirit Points to evoke the power of a minor elemental spirit. This spirit is not tied to the Shaman, but with listen and serve her at best of its possibilities. Commonly, Call can be used in two ways.

- Ask questions: the Shaman may ask a number of questions equal to the number of Spirit Points spent to summon it. The answers depend on the elemental spirit's viewpoint. A Fire spirit will focus on violence and passion, a earth spirit on patience and "touch".

- Create Minor Elemental effect: the Shaman may create a small amount of an element spending 1 Spirit Point (more can be required at GM's discretion). This means that a Shaman might Call for a Fire spirit in order to lit a small fire or a Water spirit in order to refill a waterskin.

Summoned spirits are note "forced" to follow her orders: they just do it in an istinctive manner. There is a 1-2 chance on d6 that the spirit will ask something back.

This is an extra effect, but it may come at some cost. No absolute and ultimate revelations, nor incendiary exploits... Just a bit of elemental feel. I like this, especially with the small risk for the Spirits to ask something back.

General Limitations: to compensate the extra features and flexibility, you have to consider some inner limitations.
Shamans cannot learn spells from spellbooks, scrolls or teachers. They learn what they do because the elemental spirits gift them with powers.
Shamans are not able to activate magic items unless they pertain elemental effects.

Much flexibility in spellcasting, but much theme on their backs, so to speak.

In the end, it will "just" be another Magic-User with "white magic" touches (healing, extra protection, etc) and the Shaman will be able to lean more towards one or the other, even if (my opinion) keeping the two aspects well balanced is actually part of the deal.

Easy as it gets, this is one of what I call "one-page-classes". No much crunch, just enough stuff to give it body and keep it interesting from a roleplaying standpoint.
The Shaman is the girl admired with suspect, the witch that (if she'll ever reach the old age) everybody in the town will refer too for small healing and blessings and the adventurer which may save the party from certain death, cold or other natural hindrances.

Then, you are Cirice Harrow and behave like an *ss, as a small **ck in a rich family of crazy alchemist... but that's another story. :)

Please share and comment, if you think I deserve it. 

Stay Basic.


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