Currently, the shaman makes the cleric irrelivant


Playtest Feedback

Shadow Lodge RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 8

1 person marked this as a favorite.

After throwing out some hypothetical shaman builds, I'm finding them to be better than clerics. And yes, I'll try to clarify what "better" means.

Comparison analysis:

Both have a d8 hit die, 3/4 bab, strong will saves, straight cleric spell casting. Both have the same number of spells per day, but a shaman's domain spells can be chosen from either "spirit list" spontaneously -- which is better. Clerics have slightly better weapon and armor proficiency (shield as well as deity-weapon proficiency). But shaman get 4 skill points per level, dwarfing the cleric's 2. So, before we look at special abilities, I'd argue that the shaman is hedging the cleric out. Brass tacks: spontaneous domain spells and 2 more skill points per level > shield and proficiency in one weapon; unless we're going for a very specific build.

Let's move on to special abilities next. The cleric get's two: domains and channeling. Let's look at domains first. They grant usually 3 things: 1) domain spells, 2) passive domain ability, 3) active domain abilities. For example, the protection domain grants (1) domain spells, (2) a scaling resistance bonus to saves, and (3) two activated abilities, one at level 1 and and the other at level 8. So at level 8, we could assume a cleric would have two domain lists to choose from, two passive abilities, and four activated abilities.

By comparison, a shaman at level 8 will have one spirit and one wandering spirit, as well as one hex and one wandering hex. Their first spirit will also grant them a greater ability. They also have a familiar. So level 8, our shaman has (1) two lists of spontaneous "domain" spells, (2) two passive spirit abilities, and (3) two activated hexes. So they're down two activated abilities. However, they also have an advanced passive ability (greater spirit) and a familiar. They can also take the feat extra hex to gain additional activated abilities. At this point, I'd argue that the shaman is better than the cleric, but I could see the discussion going either way. But let's look at the shaman in a few levels and check again.

At level 14, for example, the Shaman now has 4 passive abilities, 2 of which can change daily. They also have 4 activated abilities, 2 of which can change daily. That's two more than the cleric. They also have a familiar and spontaneous bonus spellcasting. The Shaman is just mechanically better at this point. And they keep getting better, finishing the class with a level 20 capstone ability, as well as 5 hexes (activated abilities) and 6 spirit abilities (passive abilities). That's 11 to the cleric's 6. Almost double the potency.

In addition, a lot of the shaman hexes and spirit abilities blow domain abilities out of the water. There's one that lets you add sorcerer/wizard spells to your spell list. Guess my shaman has haste, black tentacles and contingency now. You get two fighter-only feats with one hex from the battle spirit. You can even quick channel as a swift action as a life shaman for crying out loud. Not to mention the fact that you can get more of hexes by taking a feat. Which is something that clerics cannot do.

But what of channeling? Well, a shaman can get channeling, although at 1+CHA/day as opposed to 3, which I'll admit is worse. All they have to do is select the life spirit as their wandering spirit for that day, and they get the ability to channel. And this is the true power of the wandering spirit ability.

Too much flexibility?:
Shaman get to effectively "respec" about half of their class abilities every day.

"Oh, we're going sailing tomorrow? I'll get a wandering waves spirit."
"Going underground? I'll snag a stone spirit."
"Doing some research in our downtime? Time for that lore spirit."
"Heading to the Caverns of Eternal Burning? Guess I better prep that flame spirit."

This is the equivalent of a cleric getting to select one of their domains each day, or a fighter respecing half their feats each morning. It makes the shaman an amazingly flexible class. And one that I think makes the cleric a second-string pick. The only reason I can think of building a cleric now is if I want to have a very specific build -- negative energy channeler or the like. But as far as a solid divine spellcaster goes? If I want to use the cleric list, I certainly won't be building a cleric.

To illustrate my argument, here's a proposed build:

Lore Shaman, wandering spirit: Nature - level 8 snapshot
Aasimar, 20 point buy -- STR: 7 DEX: 7 CON: 13 INT: 15 WIS: 22 CHA: 16
+2 WIS from level 4, 8 increase. +2 INT from spirit ability.

Feats
1. Anything
3. Extra Hex (Benefit of Wisdom)
5. Anything
7. Anything

Hexes.
2. Arcane Enlightenment (Su)
: The shaman’s native intelligence grants her the ability to tap into arcane lore. The shaman can add to her spell list a number of arcane spells from the sorcerer/wizard spell list equal to her Charisma modifier, using the sorcerer/wizard level of the spell as the shaman level. To add these spells to her spell list and cast these spells, she must have an Intelligence score equal to at least 10 + the spell level, but the saving throw DCs against these spells is the same as her other shaman spells. Each level she gains after taking this hex the shaman can choose to replace one of these spells for a new spell on the wizard/sorcerer list.

3. Benefit of Wisdom (Ex): The shaman relies on her wisdom rather than her intelligence to gain and retain knowledge. She can use her Wisdom score instead of Intelligence modifier on all Intelligence skill checks.

6. Friend to Animals (Su): The shaman adds all of the summon nature’s ally spells to her spell list. She must still prepare these spells. All animals within 30 feet of the shaman receive a bonus on all saving throws equal to her Charisma modifier.

Spirit abilities.
1. Automatic Writing (Su)
: Once per day, the shaman can spend a full hour in uninterrupted meditation. During this period, her hands produce mysterious writings that pertain to the future. At 1st level, the prophetic writing manifests as an augury spell with 90% effectiveness. At 5th level, the writing takes the form of a divination with 90% effectiveness. At 8th level, the writing is as a casting of commune with no material component required.

4. Nature’s Whispers (Su): The shaman is so attuned to the whispers of the world around her that her surroundings constantly bestow a preternatural awareness to danger. She may add her Wisdom modifier instead of her Dexterity modifier to her Armor Class and CMD. Any conditions that would cause her to lose her Dexterity modifier to AC instead cause her to lose her Wisdom modifier to AC.

8. Mental Acuity (Su): A shaman’s understanding of the underlying secrets of esoteric and occult have grand her a preternatural understanding of all things. The shaman gains a +2 inherent bonus to her Intelligence score, increasing by 1 every four shaman levels thereafter (12th, 16th, and 20th levels for her spirit, 16th and 20th levels for her wandering spirit).

Summary of the build:

So we're going for a caster focused build here. But you could realistically do whatever you wanted. We'll have the following spells per level:
1st - 6x + identify/charm animal
2nd - 5x + tongues/barkskin
3rd - 4x + locate object/speak with plants
4th - 3x + legend lore/grove of respite.

Our 15 INT gives us up to 5th level sorcerer/wizard spells we can add (but we can only cast up to 4th), and the 16 CHA means we can add up to 3 to our spell list. So we can get spells like black tentacles, create pit, fly, glitterdust, haste, and greater invisibility, just to name a few. We also have all the SNA spells on our spell list as well. Not so good yet, but summoning a cyclops next level isn't a bad idea with his flash of insight. We also get a free commune each day, which is excellent.

In addition, we're adding our WIS instead of DEX to our AC, which is nice. We also use WIS instead of INT for our Knowledge skills, meaning that those 6 skill points per level can actually do some good for our Knowledges. This build doesn't have any magic items factored in to it, but if we assume a +4 wisdom headband, that +8 WIS modifier starts doing a lot for us. With a trait, we can add perception as a class skill, and find that Wisdom is now the best stat in the game for us. We also get alertness as part of the familiar package, and if we take improved familiar at level 7, we now have a potent little NPC following us around.

Finally, if it turns out our party needs some more supportive roles filled, we can adjust temporarily and snag the life spirit. We can channel 4 times a day, and get to choose a new hex to boot. Or we could grab any other spirit, depending on where the day will take us -- something that commune should help reveal.

Final Thoughts
I love the shaman. I love the flexibility and I love the flavor. But I think there might be just too much flexibility in the class.

A majority of my time spent with Pathfinder is within Society play. This means new locations each week and a constantly shifting player base. Having a shaman would be great for this kind of game, where you don't know where you'll be each week or what your party will look like. I think that in a standard campaign, the flexibility will probably get less time to shine, but at least for PFS, it's a major selling point for me.

Given this, and my feeling that it overshadows the cleric by just the sheer amount of better abilities alone, I think the shaman needs some sort of overhaul. Either a reduction in the amount of abilities or a reduction in their potency. Maybe slow their spell casting down by a level to line up with the oracle progression more. Or even give them an oracle curse feature. Some hiccup.

Otherwise, I fear I'll never roll a cleric again.

Sovereign Court

Quote:
But what of channeling? Well, a shaman can get channeling, although at 1+CHA/day as opposed to 3, which I'll admit is worse. All they have to do is select the life spirit as their wandering spirit for that day, and they get the ability to channel. And this is the true power of the wandering spirit ability.

Quick Healing does not cost an extra channel, so comparing spending the round doing

Channel + Quick Channel
vs
Channel + Quick Heal

The shaman Quick Heal will save you more channels over time. Also it allows for the use of standard + move + channel in a round. The shaman can also do this for all of their channels except for one. It also frees the healer to do other things with their standard and move actions. Why would you ever use quick channel?

I think Quick Heal is way too strong. It should cost more to channel this way.

Sovereign Court

the shaman has the flexibility to do more than heal, as a healer its still weak, in comparison the life oracle is still the most powerful healer

Shadow Lodge RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 8

Sarvei taeno wrote:
the shaman has the flexibility to do more than heal, as a healer its still weak, in comparison the life oracle is still the most powerful healer

Agreed. Life oracle with the alternate favored class is a strong healer. As is a cleric merciful healer. But channeling aside (something most clerics I know don't specialize in), every other aspect of the shaman is just stronger to me.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

I have to disagree with the OP. Other than skipping over the fact that the cleric gets better saves, the main thing that the cleric has on the shaman is spontaneous casting.

Spontaneous healing allows the cleric to prep spells as she wants, without having to worry about being able to heal the party. The shaman, by contrast, must decide first thing in the day how much healing to allocate, and which other spells to sacrifice (lesser restoration, protection from evil, etc.)

Obviously this disparity lessens at higher levels when wands and such can be easily acquired, but there is a substantial drop-off between the two at 1st-4th level, at least where healing is concerned. The cleric has the versatility to be both healer and something else, while the shaman must choose when she prepares spells.

I still think shaman is a fantastic class, but it's a far stretch to say that cleric is obsolete.


I do think the Shaman is very flexible, but I wont say it makes a cleric irrelevant.

The shaman is however a prepared caster so it can leave slots open just like a cleric can.

Now I am interested in building one as a "battle priest".

Dark Archive

1 person marked this as a favorite.

I agree that the shaman ends up with more abilities, and that some of them are quite strong, but I don't think it invalidates the cleric. Many cleric abilities are also quite strong and useful for different things, plus as mentioned the spontaneous cure and inflict spells are a big advantage the cleric has over the shaman for certain builds.

I will say that the shaman could probably stand to lose Medium armour proficiency. Witch is one of its base classes, which mechanically justifies the loss, and it's hard to visualize a shaman wandering around in a breastplate. This would also help to invalidate the notion that the shaman isn't trading enough power not to invalidate the cleric.

Shadow Lodge RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 8

synthapse wrote:

I have to disagree with the OP. Other than skipping over the fact that the cleric gets better saves, the main thing that the cleric has on the shaman is spontaneous casting.

Spontaneous healing allows the cleric to prep spells as she wants, without having to worry about being able to heal the party. The shaman, by contrast, must decide first thing in the day how much healing to allocate, and which other spells to sacrifice (lesser restoration, protection from evil, etc.)

Obviously this disparity lessens at higher levels when wands and such can be easily acquired, but there is a substantial drop-off between the two at 1st-4th level, at least where healing is concerned. The cleric has the versatility to be both healer and something else, while the shaman must choose when she prepares spells.

I still think shaman is a fantastic class, but it's a far stretch to say that cleric is obsolete.

Whoops, I honestly forgot about spontaneous casting. I was also recalling the cleric saves from memory. So that does even the two up a bit. Spontaneous healing is very very nice. Spontaneous anything is, really.

But I still think the scaling and substantially better spirit/hex abilities of the Shaman overshadow the channeling and domain abilities of the cleric. Although the gap may not be as wide as I previously thought.


Benn Roe wrote:
. . . I will say that the shaman could probably stand to lose Medium armour proficiency. Witch is one of its base classes, which mechanically justifies the loss, and it's hard to visualize a shaman wandering around in a breastplate. This would also help to invalidate the notion that the shaman isn't trading enough power not to invalidate the cleric.

I really like this idea, as it helps to distinguish the Shaman more from both the Cleric and the new Warpriest. The Shaman becomes a more caster focused version of the Cleric while the Warpriest is the more combat focused version.

Shadow Lodge RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 8

Agree with removing medium armor proficiency.

Another idea: maybe limit the re-selecting of the wandering spirit to once in a week-long period? That would prevent shaman from changing every time they prepare spells, but it would still save the flavor of the wandering spirit idea as well as keep them relatively versatile.


Pathfinder Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I like removing medium armor proficiency thematically, but I also would be on board to giving the class druid armors without the negatives for metal armor.

As in let shaman get good metal armors with the proficiency feat, but have it originally only get the more 'primal' armors which I feel fit the class's flavor better.


I was prepared for a fight but you actually make some fair arguments here.

Even discounting the fact that a lot of hexes work off your charisma modifier for some this would be on par with a cleric. More than that you can ignore your charisma entirely and simply choose not to use these hexes in the same way a cleric simply sloughs off the need to channel.

The issue I take with your proposed build is that while it's perfectly legal it doesn't exactly illustrate a common base since intelligence is purely a lore shaman sort of ideal.. I think you might make a better point working off a different build that focused on a different theme (like bones or heavens).


Temeryn wrote:

I like removing medium armor proficiency thematically, but I also would be on board to giving the class druid armors without the negatives for metal armor.

As in let shaman get good metal armors with the proficiency feat, but have it originally only get the more 'primal' armors which I feel fit the class's flavor better.

To try and make this class work I have put together two stat sets, one has a 10 dex and the other has an 8. I don't think I have made a character with less than a 12 dex in my life and I couldn't even hope to make a realistic estimation at how many characters I have made. I would not support taking away medium armor proficiency. In fact, the armor was part of the reason I changed my mind about completely giving up on this class for being too MAD.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

Shamans should have the lowest BaB, similar to the Wizard. Also, modify the spell list so it's reminiscent of the old (ie, AD&D) shamans, with some wizard abilities and some cleric abilities. This reduces their prowess while letting them be the full caster that several people have called for for divine casters.

Scarab Sages

WalterGM wrote:

Agree with removing medium armor proficiency.

Another idea: maybe limit the re-selecting of the wandering spirit to once in a week-long period? That would prevent shaman from changing every time they prepare spells, but it would still save the flavor of the wandering spirit idea as well as keep them relatively versatile.

Perhaps instead make it you have to shoo away the first spirit, leaving you with only one spirit for a day or two?


WalterGM wrote:

Another idea: maybe limit the re-selecting of the wandering spirit to once in a week-long period? That would prevent shaman from changing every time they prepare spells, but it would still save the flavor of the wandering spirit idea as well as keep them relatively versatile.

I'm on the opposite side of the fence in this regard....

I would rather see the Shaman be able to pick and choose which spirit he bonds with daily, with an increase in how many spirits he can bond with on any given day increasing as he levels up.

Granted the abilities gained from bonding with a spirit need to be balanced to take into account the flexibility the Shaman has....but that flexibility is the sole reason for any interest I have in the class.

Community / Forums / Archive / Pathfinder / Playtests & Prerelease Discussions / Advanced Class Guide Playtest / Playtest Feedback / Currently, the shaman makes the cleric irrelivant All Messageboards

Want to post a reply? Sign in.
Recent threads in Playtest Feedback