Among the people of the hills are individuals who speak to stones and call the rain to fall. These are the shamans. They are respected throughout the clans of the hill people, often advising the elders and even acting as leaders in some communities. Shamans are spirit-workers; able to interact with the spirit world through dreams and altered states of consciousness. The Shaman negotiates and trades with spirits in order to produce magical effects.
The world is full of spirits. Plants, animals, inanimate objects, phenomena, and even ideals can have spirits. These spirits will have various levels of magical power, but they are difficult to bargain with. In addition to all of the spirits already attached to the physical realm there are countless others locked out in the spirit world waiting for their chance to come in and play. These disembodied spirits are much easier to barter with. The shaman can offer them access and influence within the physical realm, and in exchange they might perform magic on the shaman's behalf.
When a child is is proven to have the calling, their family secrets them away and gives them over to a shaman from another clan in order to learn the art. The family holds a funeral for the child they have lost. The child must give up their old identity and take a new alias. They must constantly wear a mask or costume so that they do not risk their soul as they haggle with spirits for the magic that will help the clans to prosper. A shaman whose true identity remains secret at their time of death does not run the risk of spirits coming to settle an old grudge or to collect a debt by laying claim on the shaman's soul.
It is the job of a shaman to fix problems, and in exchange they often receive free food and lodging anywhere in the hills. Still, a traveling shaman should expect some suspicion among the Hills Peoples. It is easy enough to make a mask and costume, and sometimes thieves and con-men will don a mask in order to evade capture and mooch off of the hospitality of strangers. Until their reputation precedes them a shaman should not expect too much of strangers other than that they keep a respectful distance. People who have witnessed the power of the shaman's spirits first hand are much more likely to be friendly and accommodating. Those who are revealed to be a false shaman trying to take advantage of people's generosity can expect whole communities to turn upon them with violent anger. Except during the holiday of All Shamans Eve in the fall, this matter of masks and costumes is very serious business indeed.
***Costumes always count as Hide Armor, so please feel free to make them as awesome or ridiculous as you like***
Prime Requisite: Charisma
Hit Dice: d6
Hit Progression: as Cleric/Thief
Saving Throws: as Cleric
Weapons: Any non-metal
Armor: Padded, Leather, Hide, and Shield
Enter the Spirit World (through meditation or dreams)
Spirit Slots (one numbered slot each level)
Bind a Spirit (bound spirits occupy spirit slots)
Negotiate for Magical Aid (from a bound spirit)
Create a Fetish (to bind a spirit semi-permanently)
Entering the Spirit World
The spirit world exists outside outside our mortal realms, kept separate by a misty veil which the spirits cannot easily cross. It is teaming with minor spirits and the small gods who have no power or influence within the realms of the living. Most of these spirits have never experienced the physical world at all, but some are here because they were cast out of the mortal realm.
The Shaman can choose to enter the spirit world through sleep or meditation. It usually takes hours to pierce the veil, but hallucinogens and mystical locations can help to speed the process. A shaman can sometimes bring others along if they all clasp hands in a circle and stay focused while meditating together. For most mortals the spirit world has little to offer. The living hold no sway there, and everything is insubstantial and misty. Most will return with nothing more than some cryptic, nonsensical advice from the spirits and a few hazy memories. When asked about the geography of the spirit world the spirits seem confused by their surroundings and allude to ethereal locations that mortals cannot access. Perhaps the shaman does not actually enter the spirit world at all, but merely creates their own mental representation which the spirits can enter temporarily. Regardless of it's true nature, this is the place from which the shamans draw their power.
*A shaman can visit the spirit world through dreams once each night.
*The shaman may visit a second time by spending most of the day in meditation.
*On each visit the shaman will find a spirit willing to be bound for a time.
~The Wheel of Time~
There are eight different factions of spirits, divided according to their essence. Individual spirits may have leanings toward more than one, but they always have one central essence that defines which family of spirits they belong to. Those with the same essence are more friendly to each other and more confrontational with their opposed rivals. Each spirit faction is directly opposed to one other faction, but none of them are in all out war. They are in some sort of complex competition. They are usually looking for opportunities to gain the upper hand, but it is not unknown for spirits to occasionally work together across faction lines. The spirits will not discuss the details of these power struggles and the shaman is often left to wonder about the hows and whys of their interactions and motivations. Over the course of their career the shaman will see the spirits maneuver against each other, glimpses of some strange game being played out; but the rules will never be fully explained.
(Listing them in a column like this one below is frowned upon, but sometimes necessary. Circles and especially turning wheels are preferred)
Essence --------- Virtue ------------- New Year
Beast ------------ Honor ----------- First Stirrings
Air --------------- Beauty ---------- Fertility Festival (Spring Equinox)
Fate ------------ Reverence -------- Rites of Fortune
Fire -------------- Power ----------- Burning Man (Summer Solstice)
Root ------------ Humility --------- Slaughter Harvest
Earth ----------- Strength --------- Darkening Dance (Autumnal Equinox)
Nether ----------- Mirth ----------- Lifting of the Veil (All Shamans Eve)
Water --------- Compassion ------ Drowning Woman (Winter Solstice)
(Yes, some communities in the hills set a man on fire each summer and drown a woman each winter; and yeah, sometimes the Slaughter Harvest involves human sacrifices but those are mostly voluntary)
Shamans get one new, numbered Spirit Slot each level. For example, a level 5 Shaman would have five spirit slots numbered 1,2,3,4, and 5. The magic of spirits is variable; factors like damage, duration, and number of targets are determined based on the amount of power they are given access to. These work similar to spells; spirits are bound to the shaman (occupying a spirit slot), then once the spirit produces a magical effect it goes back to the spirit world (emptying the spirit slot). There are a few differences though.
*You don't just cast the magic, you have to ask for it. Spirits are fickle. (Reaction roll, as below).
*The magical effect's "caster level" is based on the slot number, not Shaman level.
*Enraged spirits might try to slip loose of the binding or take control of the shaman's body for a time.
Binding a Spirit
With each visit to the spirit world the shaman will find a spirit willing to produce a magical effect for the shaman at a later time. In exchange the spirit wants to take an excursion into the physical realm, hitching along within the shaman's body to experience smells, tastes, feelings, ect. Once a willing spirit is found the shaman will be able to determine it's essence/faction and major ability (1d8 twice on the chart below). The shaman will know these things before accepting the offer.
The shaman isn't obligated to accept these offers and can always choose to decline. Each visit to the spirit world presents a new spirit and prompts new random rolls. If both spirit and shaman are in agreement, the shaman performs a short ritual to bind the spirit and brings it into the physical realm using the shaman's own body as the vessel. The bound spirit will occupy a numbered spirit slot of the shaman's choice.
Essence Factions and the Major Powers of Spirits
All of these Major Powers have variable effects, such that the duration and power of the magic is based upon the level of the spirit slot it occupies. Most of these are modified versions of other spells. I tried to keep track of where I originally found the spells that these powers are based upon. I might put full descriptions on my blog at some point, but I feel weird about that since this is mostly stolen material with a few minor tweaks.
1. Beast - The Souls of Flesh
---------- 1. Awaken the Beast Within (WW - Bloodlust)
---------- 2. Beast Speech (LL - Speak to Animals)
---------- 3. Egg of the Unborn (TT - Impregnate+Transfer Pregnancy+Life Cycle)
---------- 4. Hide of the Beast (TT - Skin Transformation)
---------- 5. Obsecration (WW)
---------- 6. Prototeanem Transformation (WW - Totem)+(SotEG - Protean Transformation)
---------- 7. Serpent's Kiss (WW)
---------- 8. Summon Swarm (SotEG)
2. Air - Spirits of the Wind
---------- 1. Aery Porters (WW)
---------- 2. Breathe Easy (TT - Lasting Breath)+(Protection from Acid/Gas)
---------- 3. Disintegrate (LL)
---------- 4. Miasma (WW)
---------- 5. Stormspeech (WW)
---------- 6. Summon/Banish Elemental (TT - various elemental kin summoning spells)
---------- 7. Trapped Lightning (WW)
---------- 8. Wind Barrier (WW)
3. Fate - The Paragons of Prosody
---------- 1. Astral Projection (WW)
---------- 2. Bewitch (WW)
---------- 3. Comprehension (WW)
---------- 4. Ethereal Boundary (WW)
---------- 5. Fascinating Gaze (WW)
---------- 6. Hekaphage (WW)
---------- 7. Scrying (??- Effect similar to a Crystal Ball)
---------- 8. Second Sight (WW)
4. Fire - Spirits of the Flame
---------- 1. Burninate (TT- incinerate/uncinerate) + (LL - Flame Strike)
---------- 2. Gleam (WW)
---------- 3. Haste (LL)
---------- 4. Heat (TT - Heat Metal, but works on anything)
---------- 5. Inner Fire (Protection from Ice/Cold)
---------- 6. Pyrokinesis (WW)
---------- 7. Summon/Banish Elemental (TT - various elemental kin summoning spells)
---------- 8. Wall of Fire (LL)
5. Root - The Sentinels of Sprout
---------- 1. Animate Totem (SotEG)
---------- 2. Attune
---------- 3. Melding of the Plantform Hulk
---------- 4. Rouse the Sap (LL - Entangle + Animate Objects)
---------- 5. Revisitation (WW)
---------- 6. Revitalize (LL - Restoration)
---------- 7. Speak to Plants (LL)
---------- 8. Vege-Gate (WW - Living Gate)
6. Earth - Spirits of the Stone
---------- 1. Earthquake (LL)
---------- 2. Grounding (Protection from Lightning/Radiation)
---------- 3. Open the Subterranean Gullets (WW)
---------- 4. Slow (LL)
---------- 5. Stone Shape (2e?)
---------- 6. Stone Tell (LL)
---------- 7. Summon/Banish Elemental (TT - various elemental kin summoning spells)
---------- 8. Vitalize/Petrify (WW) + (LL - Flesh to Stone)
7. Nether - The Shades of Discord
---------- 1. Cure/Cause Disease/Disability (SotEG)
---------- 2. Guardian Spirits (TT)
---------- 3. Lay/Remove Curse/Hex (SotEG)
---------- 4. Necrosis/Regeneration (TT)
---------- 5. Occult Consultation (WW)
---------- 6. Reincarnation (LL)
---------- 7. Shroud (WW)
---------- 8. Spirit's Lullaby (LL - Sleep) + (Turn Undead)
8. Water - Spirits of the Flow
---------- 1. Chill (TT - Heat Metal reversed but works on anything)
---------- 2. Cryonate (TT - incinerate/uncinerate reversed) + (LL - Flame Strike reversed)
---------- 3. Heart of Ice (Protection from Fire/Heat)
---------- 4. Icestorm (TT)
---------- 5. Ice Walk (LL - Water Walking, but it's frozen)
---------- 6. Seduce Water (WW)
---------- 7. Summon/Banish Elemental (TT - various elemental kin summoning spells)
---------- 8. Wall of Ice (LL)
LL = Labyrinth Lord
SotEG = Servants of the Elder Gods- Spell List
TT = Theorems and Thaumaturgy
WW = Wonder and Wickedness (this is what convinced me to give spirit magic variable effects)
Negotiating with the Spirits: Favor and Disdain
Spirits are not pets who perform tricks on command. Spirits are fickle; easily distracted by the many wonders of the physical realm, and often taunted by the free spirits all around them. While they are grateful to the shaman for bringing them into the physical realm, they will always resent being kept bound and expected to obey the whims of the shaman. More than anything, bound spirits desire to be set loose into the world.
On the shaman's character sheet they will need to keep track of both the Favor and Disdain that they earn with each of the eight spirit factions. Word gets around quickly in the spirit world, and dealings with one spirit will have repercussions within the entire faction. Oddly, angering a spirit by destroying it's physical form or thwarting it's designs is considered "all part of the game" and has no repercussions among the faction as a whole. However, broken promises, minor slights, and even imagined insults can have broad consequences.
When a reaction roll shows that a spirit is uncooperative the shaman can spend Favor (call in a debt) to improve the reaction. Once the spirit actually performs the service or casts the spell, then Favor also drops by one. The shaman's Favor can dip into the negatives from time to time. The shaman has until sunrise to balance their debt by performing a Ritual, Sacrifice, or Service (see below). At sunrise any negative Favor moves over to become Disdain. Disdain acts as a negative modifier to every reaction roll with spirits of that faction. Spirits can be easily offended, and the wise shaman will choose their actions (and watch their friend's actions) carefully. Disdain is easy to gain, but harder to loose. The Shaman can usually spend 3 points of Favor to remove 1 point of Disdain.
Whenever the shaman asks a bound spirit to preform magic, roll 2d6 and consult the chart below. Add any Charisma modifiers, and subtract any current Disdain.
|12 or more||Thrilled||"With Pleasure"|
|9 - 11||Compliant||"Yes"|
|Wants hp = to the slot #|
3 - 5
|2 or less||Enraged||"F*** You!"|
- Impressive Magic -It REALLY works! Add 1 to the slot #'s power. Also, no loss of Favor.
- Expected Magic - It works!
- Wants hp = slot # - The spirit will provide the magic if the shaman powers it with hit points
- Annoy Shaman - The spirit is offended for some reason and will show displeasure by using it's magic in a way the shaman did not intend. Perhaps targeting the shaman rather than an enemy. Usually these displays are not life-threatening so much as just embarrassing. The spirit will tell it's brethren about the offense, and the Disdain will be a more lasting problem.
- Escape Attempt - The spirit breaks it's promise and tries to escape into the physical world, or take control of the shaman's body. A struggle of wills takes place, the shaman makes an Intelligence and Wisdom check. 2 successes = the spirit remains bound, 2 failures = the spirit escapes into the physical world, Ties = the struggle continues for another round, and a 1-in-6 chance per tie that the spirit takes control of the shaman's body for d6 hours. During this time spirits will generally try to perform rituals, gather power, and enjoy sensations. At the end of this time another struggle of wills takes place with more Int and Wis checks.
Rituals, Sacrifices, and Services
These are the three main ways that a shaman will gain Favor with a spirit faction. I found this concept on another blog (gloomtrain: Warlock 3.0) and it suits my purposes here perfectly. Ideally I'll be making extensive charts for each of the eight spirit factions. Unfortunately, I'm far too lazy at the moment. For now I'll just quote the bit from gloomtrain that pertains to the patron Queen Mab and pretend like it might also pertain to the wants and desires of Beast spirits (It won't pertain, I'll have to make a bunch of different charts at some point. For now just go with it).
When a shaman wishes to, they may ask a spirit what must be done to gain their Favor. Roll once on the Rituals/Sacrifices/and Services charts to see which three things the spirit suggests. The DM can choose to award Favor for other actions as well (much like disdain).
When a warlock offers to perform a Ritual in negotiation, roll on the following table to determine which the signatory wants.
Performing a ritual takes 1 Turn and requires chalk and incense.
- Perform a ritual over the body of a recently slain foe, claiming their soul for the signatory.
- Perform a ritual to summon an agent of the signatory into the area.
- Perform a ritual to banish a rival's influence from the area.
- Perform a ritual to attune the area to the signatory's sphere.
- Perform a ritual to erase all evidence of the signatory's meddling.
- Capture someone nearby and compel or convince them to swear a binding oath, making them an agent of the signatory.
When a warlock offers to perform a Sacrifice in negotiation, roll on the following table to determine which the signatory wants.
Sacrifices take 1 Round. Sacrificing a live, healthy goat (1 Turn) takes the place of any Sacrifice.
- Blood: d6+level damage
- Flesh: d4 Strength damage
- Grace: d4 Dexterity damage
- Judgment: d4 Wisdom damage
- Nous: d4 Charisma damage
- Time: incapacitated for d6 Turns
- Vigor: d4 Constitution damage
- Wit: d4 Intelligence damage
Queen Mab's services usually involve some of the following:
- An exquisite meal
- A curse
- An ancient and enchanted weapon
- A treaty from times primeval
- A parasol
- A gown
- A rose
- A spy
- A knight
- A child
- A cook
- A maid
- A shepherd
- A lord or lady
- An ambassador
- A magician
- The King of Roses Red
- Sowing the earth with salt
- Framing someone for a crime
- A feast
- A busy kitchen
- A terrible prison
- A haunted barrow
- A decaying castle
- A splendid ballroom
- The cold and empty moor
- The Kingdom of Faerie
- A moonlit glade
- A backwater village
- A haberdashery
- A hated rival
- A friend betrayed
- A wrathful widow(er)
- A murderous parent
- An erstwhile ally
- An aging guardian
- A fading beauty
- A vengeful victim
- An old friend
- A loyal servant
Creating a Spirit Fetish
Some spirits will agree to remain bound inside a fetish until the shaman's death, after that time it is free to wander the physical realm. Once the shaman and spirit are agreed, the shaman must prepare a fetish for the spirit to reside within.
On the character sheet, write down the spirit's name, essence, and spirit slot level, as well as the form/appearance of the fetish created.
*****Creation of the fetish costs 100gp per (Spirit Slot # - 1) or more, and once finished it will have a resale value of half or less (at least half of the cost is for incense, candles, herbs, ect. that are consumed during the preparation rituals). The fetish can be anything, but it's appearance and preparation rituals should be tailored to attune to that spirit's particular essence. Most commonly a small pouch holding tokens and trinkets that are appealing to the spirit. Giving spirits more and more spirit slot power will require the fetish to be upgraded more and more as well.
Once the spirit occupies the fetish, it also occupies these spirit slots for as long as the shaman wishes to keep it bound. The spirit can help guide the shaman through the spirit world in order to find other spirits of the same faction. In the physical world, the spirit guide can act as an intermediary with other spirits, sometimes able to negotiate and trade the shaman's services in exchange for other magical effects. If a spirit is given multiple spirit slots, it may manifest additional powers. These will not be Major Spirit Powers as listed above, but might be comparable to M/U or Clerical spells equal to half or less of the Spirit Slot #. The shaman can ask for specific powers when the spirit slot is given, but the DM decides which power is actually gained. The shaman can choose to take back the Spirit Slot afterward, but the spirit will likely be upset for a while.
|Nether Spirit's Fetish Doll|
Once a spirit goes into a fetish, the DM will need to think about how this individual spirit fits into the hierarchy of it's faction. Until it occupies a fetish it is basically just a one-use spell that the shaman has to convince to cast itself. Once the shaman decides to make the spirit a semi-permanent ally by binding it into a fetish then that spirit will need a name, some personality quirks, a narrow portfolio of influence, an ethos... the characteristic spirit of the spirit. It will be like a deity write up for a really minor god. This will help to determine what minor powers the spirit might access should the shaman decide to grant it access to multiple spirit slots.
I'd like to make each spirit really unique all on my own, but sometimes I get stuck and it's good to have some other outside sources to draw from. For inspiration regarding the hierarchies of the spirit factions I'm going to lean pretty heavily on the pantheons listed in the Miscellaneum of Cinder because it's totally awesome and it's totally free.
Root (neutral) -
Air (neutral) -
Fate (lawful) - based upon "A Dozen Saints" + poorly disguised names of game designers
Fire (neutral) -
Beast (neutral) -
Earth (neutral) -
Nether (chaotic) - based upon "The loathsome Toad Gods" + The Alphabet of the Damned.
Water (neutral) -
Most of those blank spaces will be based on "The Twelve Gods of Neutrality" a.k.a The Seventeen Unknown Gods a.k.a. The Twelve and the Four and the Thousand. Since I've already gone this far I might as well go ahead and pillage the rest of Jeff's Gameblog for more spirit/deities... like these ... and here ... and yoink! ... and also why not? Thanks Jeff! Now I just have to sort these a bit, all the judge types could go to Fate or Beast, sentient colors seem like Fire spirits to me, and I'll have to sort through the rest of them later.
Oh! I should also delve into David Young's excellent work Phonomicon Ex Cultis for even more ideas.
I'll use whatever other pantheon and deity list my eyes fall upon as needed.
Releasing a Spirit
The shaman can choose to release a spirit from it's fetish at any time. The spirit might be grateful enough to manifest physically and help the shaman immediately in their time of need. Otherwise the spirit might be a real dick and say "Thanks Yo!" and run off to enjoy the physical world while the shaman dies a horrible death. Either way, the spirit is free to roam the physical world.
Spirit Manifestation Stats
Spirit Slot Level----Hp-------AC-----Damage----THAC0
-----10+----------10d4+10 ------1---------1d10-----As Shaman
So now I need to make an XP chart with my Customized Class Doohickey. This is surprisingly difficult. This Shaman spirit magic is not really like M/U spells or Clerical Spells, but let's try to simplify the process by putting it into those types of terms. Shamans don't give a 10% tithe, and they can't copy spells like Spellbook users, so they should use the Standard XP chart I think. I'm pretty sure they have access to the M/U spell effects starting at level 1 (+70%) and that can go up to 9th level M/U spell effects eventually (+180%), so that's a +250 total for spirit magic effects right? They get fewer spells (spirit slots) than Magic Users, but they can reuse those assuming that they pay a (not huge) amount of gp to create Fetishes, and they have to make Reaction Rolls. Let's just assume that the (fewer slots + gp spent - reusable magic) all evens out to zero. Also, if you release a spirit it can manifest for you, but after that you and the rest of the world have to deal with this spirit being set loose on the world, so that evens out to zero too, right? Sure. So, shaman magic costs 250 just like M/U magic, but they can't scribe scrolls or learn new spells from each other and if I want to (as the DM) I can have spirits run amok and do crazy stuff, so it all works out... right? Sure. +250 it is.
70 Hit Dice: d6
30 Hit Progression: Cleric/Thief (+1hp after L9)
25 Cleric saves
20 Armor: Padded, Leather, Hide, Wooden Shield
50 Weapons: No metal weapons (no pole arms, long or short swords, most choppers, ect.)
30 Magic: no wands, no spell scrolls
250 Shaman Spirit Magic
575 - Total
Standard Base Experience X Shaman Class 575%
Base XP--------------Shaman XP
0 -----------Level 1 ------------- 0
400 --------Level 2 ------- 2300
800 --------Level 3 ------- 4600
1600 ------ Level 4 ------- 9200
3200 ------ Level 5 ----- 18400
6400 ------ Level 6 ----- 36800
12800 -----Level 7 ----- 73600
24000 -----Level 8 ----- 138000
48000 -----Level 9 ---- 276000
________ Level 10+ ________
1hp/Level = +100,000 each
Level 20 @ 1,376,000
Mostly it started with all these pictures, but then also...
Servants of the Elder Gods- Spell List
Shamans of Pavelorn
The Miscellaneum of Cinder
Theorems and Thaumaturgy
Wonder and Wickedness
and a ton of other ideas shared by wonderful people on RPG blogs and Google+, Thanks! :)