Advice for building a melee shaman


Advice

The Exchange

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I would need some advice on how to build my melee shaman. So far I'm level 3 and this is what I've chosen.

Point buy 25 - no 3p materials

Human (Erutaki, just in case you wondered)
Str 18 / Dex 14 / Con 12 / Int 8 / Wis 14 / Cha 14
Combat Reflexes, Improved Initiative, Power Attack (I'm using a longspear as main weapon)
Mammoth Spirit.

My main question is what I should focus on for the next levels. I have somehow tried to get inspiration from the reach cleric guides, but I don't think I'm going to find anything like Sacred Summons for shortening Summon Nature's Ally casting time, so I'm not sure summoning creatures will be my main strength. Should I just invest in melee combat feats? Which ones? Should I instead gradually move on to casting spells and trying to get attacks of opportunity?

Any help is appreciated, thanks!


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Looks to me like you have a great start. I might pick up Weapon Focus to shore up your to hit a bit, but you don't necessarily need to go for more melee feats.

I absolutely love the Extra Hex feat, and it can support additional utility as well as certain combat options.

I do think you'll want to get some casting feats, if only metamagic to extend the duration and power of your self and party buffs.


What hex did you take? Why mammoth?

I’d figure as a shaman, the plan would be hexing and chanting on your turn. With low wisdom, no one will be failing any saves, so maybe a hex like Protective Luck?

I would go teamwork feats and Shared Training, but that won’t be an option for a few levels still.

Silver Crusade

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Hexing and chanting doesn't combine very well with a melee shaman (you can't full attack, and you're almost immobile while doing it).

I'm playing a longspear-wielding melee shaman in Ironfang Invasion (human flame spirit). As you get into the double digit levels, I've found you need all the hit points you can get. I would recommend a 14 constitution and the Toughness feat. I took Heavy Armor Proficiency, and am wearing full plate (the flame spirit Cinder Dance hex helps with mobility). Since I was planning on full plate from the start, I have only 12 dex.

I like the Healing Hex — you always have healing in hand that doesn't provoke or require a concentration check (supernatural ability). You can heal yourself when you're grappled if you need to.

The Exchange

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

So far I took the Slumber (witch) Hex. I chose the Mammoth spirit because it fits my background and the GM suggested it. As for a Dex/Con swap, that might be an idea.
Toughness is a feat I’m considering for later, but first I came up with the idea of taking the Exotic Weapon Proficiency for the fauchard. If I could buy a +1 keen fauchard and later take the Outflank feat (which my hunter friend already has, both for herself and for her wolf), I’d have a 15-20 critical threat range and a +4 bonus for flanking, and critical hits provoke attacks of opportunity from party members with the Outflank feat. This seems a nice plan so far
As for hexes, my GM suggests the Wings hex (from a handbook whose name I can’t recall now), which would allow me to make reach attacks from above, although the duration is quite short.

Silver Crusade

I suggest planning out your build. I find shamans a bit feat-starved.

Keep in mind that you do get Overland Flight at 9th lvl.

You'll also want Quicken Spell at some point, for Divine Favor.

Silver Crusade

More regarding ability scores: I think you'd be better served to drop your charisma score and bump up your wisdom. 14 Wis is good for a 20 point build, but with a 25 point buy, you can afford a 16.

The Exchange

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

You are right, though Quicken Spell turns Divine Favor into a 5th level spell (the same as Overland Flight)...
I have to think and plan carefully!

The Exchange

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
PCScipio wrote:
More regarding ability scores: I think you'd be better served to drop your charisma score and bump up your wisdom. 14 Wis is good for a 20 point build, but with a 25 point buy, you can afford a 16.

As for this, the AP we are playing now (Reign of Winter) granted us a +2 inherent bonus to an Ability of our choice, so I chose Wisdom and pumped it to 16 just before getting to 3rd level.

Grand Lodge

So with gish casters that aren’t magi or warpriests you usually have to choose between casting a spell or make melee attacks that round, not both. With the exception of any swift action spells or Quicken Spell, that is. Shaman hexes are almost all standard actions, too.

If you’re in a campaign where you find yourself unable to do short term buffs on yourself before the fight, you might want to look at warpriest of magus instead, because you just don’t really have the action economy otherwise. You can still make it work but you’ll be playing catch up in terms of damage output for a fairly large part of your characters career.

A primary spellcaster on the other hand doesn’t really care; you can use hexes or spells with whatever suits the party’s need, then when no spells or hexes are needed you can assist in melee.

The Exchange

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

That’s why I’m mostly looking for long term buffs. The general idea would be to buff myself before combat and then just use melee attacks from a relatively safe distance.
I realize warpriests might be better, but so far I’m really enjoying my shaman!

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Vital Strike, take the feats as available, so you can make do with one hit. Another option you might want to check on is Panther Style. I may get a few books thrown at me, but if you multiclass to monk or similar long enough to grab it, you can combine it with Misfortune and Evil Eye, debuff their attacks, then intentionally provoke, to smack them when they try.


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Sigh when you start typing and realize you need to start over....

So I've tried the shaman a few times and it always fizzled for me, mainly because of stats. Since you are at 25 and then some you will have a advantage. The reach cleric guide is pretty awesome and can be applied to the shaman, the difference though, as you noticed, is instead of summons you will be a debuffer. So you cast on your turn and you pick up attacks of opp when you can. So unlike what Syries is saying, you ARE attempting to cast AND attack. (where is Magda when you need her :)

So funny enough improved init isn't critical for you..combat reflexes allows you to attack when flat footed..so you roll a 3 and they charge in...you still get that attack of opp. Big thing is avoid full round casting (aka enlarge person isn't great unless you pre-buff)

For your familiar I would probably go protector, at level 5 you split damage. So that will help with the hp issue. I would also consider what you will take for your wandering hex at 4, I'm not sold on mammoth but your call.

If you do a search in the forums for shaman reach, you will find a ton of my posts and a lot of good advice.

The Exchange

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
ekibus wrote:

So funny enough improved init isn't critical for you..combat reflexes allows you to attack when flat footed..so you roll a 3 and they charge in...you still get that attack of opp. Big thing is avoid full round casting (aka enlarge person isn't great unless you pre-buff)

For your familiar I would probably go protector, at level 5 you split damage. So that will help with the hp issue. I would also consider what you will take for your wandering hex at 4, I'm not sold on mammoth but your call.

If you do a search in the forums for shaman reach, you will find a ton of my posts and a lot of good advice.

I agree, Improved Initiative probably isn't the most useful feat and I'm currently thinking about retraining and taking Exotic Weapon Proficiency (Fauchard) in its place. As I wrote above, having a keen fauchard means 15-20 critical threat range AND a reach weapon, which seems to synergise well with my companions having Outflank.

As for the familiar, I'm not very... familiar with familiar tactics *ahem*
So, if you wouldn't mind explaining... I mean, do you use your familiar to deliver touch attacks? For which spells?

Also, I will do a thorough research in the next few days and try to read as much as I can on reach shamans. Have you considered writing a guide? ;-)


I'm usually more interested in what the familiar brings instead of what it can do. But yeah there are a few spells that are nice for touch...cure spells etc.

Familiars can take certain archetypes my favorite are bodyguard and seer. Sage is fun in that the familiar gets 5+lvl int and can pick up knowledge skills like a bard (1/2 per level and can be untrained) So by 5th when it can talk to you, I could see it quoting Sun Tzu to you. Bodyguard is all about the familiar protecting you and taking some of the damage. I'm fond of Compsognathus, a hare or Scorpion, greensting..basically when they are close by you will have alertness and +4 init.

If a familiar isn't for you the speaker for the past archetype is really nice.

As for the weapon...depends...if you really plan to up the combat then maybe it is worth it...but as a full caster, I would just use the longspear.. you would still use reach tactics without spending a feat. The big aim is to convert yourself from a martial with magic to a caster :)

As for a guide...lol I wish I had time to watch movies :)

The Exchange

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Thanks again for the suggestions!

Now, I realize the next question is going to sound strange. While discussing my character's build with my GM, he suggested me to take the Mauler familiar archetype and look up for something like the Eldritch Guardian's Share Training ability.

Eventually, my GM suggests to take the Improved Familiar feat and share the other combat feats I'm going to take (e.g. Exotic Weapon Proficiency, Outflank, etc.) with the familiar.

I'm still trying to understand if there's a 'legal' way to take something like this feat. The GM would even let me take Share Training in place of a shaman hex, but I'd rather have a character that complies with the PFS rules...


There isn't a share training feat anywhere. There is a shared training spell (not shaman, but it is both cleric and sorc/wiz so there's at least two ways for shamans to get it) but it applies to teamwork feats only.

The Exchange

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Alright, thanks. Shared Training (I mean the spell) seems fine.

Next step: which improved familiar could eventually get some benefit from the Mammoth spirit abilities and the Mauler archetype? Both improve the familiar's Strength score, and I guess the best way to use Outflank could be with an attack that has a high critical threat range (19-20, maybe even 18-20). Any suggestions?


Mauler isn’t compatible with Improved Familiar full stop. You could go for a dex build on an improved familiar if you are just using it to fish for crits. Non-improved are generally limited to natural weapons, which aren’t great for crit range.

The Exchange

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Lelomenia wrote:
Mauler isn’t compatible with Improved Familiar full stop. You could go for a dex build on an improved familiar if you are just using it to fish for crits. Non-improved are generally limited to natural weapons, which aren’t great for crit range.

I may be missing something here, but why would Improved Familiar not be compatible with the Mauler archetype?

The only thing I can think of is this:
Improved Familiars Restriction: The abilities of an improved familiar don’t stack with those of any familiar archetype that alters or replaces the variable bonus a familiar grants its master or speak with animals of its kind. (A leshy warden’s leshy familiar doesn’t grant a variable bonus or speak with animals of its kind, so it doesn’t have abilities that stack with those familiar archetypes.)

However, if I’m not wrong nothing says IF and Mauler are not compatible. Again, this might just be my mistake...


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Mauler replaces speak with animals of its kind, improved familiars don't have that ability to be replaced. That is indeed the problem.

Ambassador, emissary, occult messenger, prankster and sage are the familiar archetypes which an improved familiar can take.


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

RAW, Mauler doesn't stack with Improved Familiar. However, I have had success pleading the case to a sympathetic GM that would allow Mauler on an Improved Familiar provided that familiar loses a language like an Ice Elemental losing Aquan.

The Exchange

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
avr wrote:

Mauler replaces speak with animals of its kind, improved familiars don't have that ability to be replaced. That is indeed the problem.

Ambassador, emissary, occult messenger, prankster and sage are the familiar archetypes which an improved familiar can take.

Okay, thanks for clearing that up! I'll ask my GM about it.


There is something to keep in mind..you need the familiar to prepare spells if it dies you are truly in trouble. 1 week 200gp per level and 8 hour ritual..I'm not sure if it can take the figment ability (don't think so) So I would really not go that route.

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