“Ancestors, I call upon you to bring the elements of nature to my fingertips, so that I may protect our tribe once more.”
Consider the inner planes, fire and water, earth and air, the negative and the positive. Opposing ends of axes running through the material, each point a vertex of a “octahedron” to use the scholar's term. The energies of these planes, lying so close to the material, power it, give it vigor and energy and at the same time death and destruction. The races of the prime have known this for ages immemorial.
But these six elements are not the only energies of the multiverse. The elements sustain or destroy life, but life itself is separate. The tribal peoples of the prime have always stood in awe of the elements, but their worship is almost universally for their ancestors, for life. Incarnum, the magic of life, is perhaps the most intuitive magic of all, and in many tribes, incarnum and the ancestors were the vehicle for bringing the fury of the elements to bear. Though given as many names as there were tribes, the Shaman remains a fixture of tribal life, often a leader both spiritual and martial, protecting his people and conquering their enemies.
Making a Shaman
As a Shaman, you are a leader of your people, both a spellcaster and a spiritual guide. You call upon your ancestors — in the form of incarnum — in order to wield the elements. You are in many ways a hybrid between meldshaper and spellcaster: you do not shape or bind soulmelds, but you do gain Essentia, and your magic is not so static as the discrete spells of the traditional spellcaster.
As a kind of meldshaper, Constitution is important; as a kind of spellcaster, Wisdom is important. Shamans are made of tougher stuff than most spellcasters, but still are not typically found on the front-lines, making Strength and Dexterity less important. As Shamans are often leaders or advisers, Charisma or Intelligence may be important, but these ability scores are not directly tied to their class features.
Races that gravitate towards the Shaman class are those that are primitive and tribal in nature. Dusklings, given their natural talent with Incarnum, are Shamans often enough, though most prefer Totemist. Meanwhile, among tribal Dwarves, Halflings, and Gnomes, where Totemists are rare to completely unheard of, Shamans are much more common. Primitive Humans and Elves have Shamans about as often as Totemists, though Druids are more common than either among these races.
Of special note, Shamans are extremely important members of many Orcish tribes, and Shaman is often a desirable position for a Half-Orc within an Orcish tribe, since they tend to be wiser than their pure brethren.
Also, though somewhat unusual, there is no reason why a perfectly civilized, even urbane, Shaman could not exist: the knowledge is out there, and one could study the ways of Shamanism as easily as the ways of Wizardry, for example. The association of Shamans with primitive cultures, however, dissuades many from doing so.
It is all but unheard of for a Shaman to hail from any plane aside from the Prime Material. The Inner Planes' special relationship around the Prime are the source of the Shaman's methods for calling on the elements; it is literally the structure of the planes that leads to the development of Shamanism. That said, all of a Shaman's abilities may be used on any plane, so in theory Shamans could hail from any plane; it is just exceedingly unlikely for a native of another plane to see the Inner Planes the way someone from the Material does.
Shamans are devoted to their ancestors and to the primal energies around them. Most Shamans are paragons of their own race, and therefore most Shamans will simply share the alignment of their own tribe — in fact, the Shamans of a tribe are often charged with maintaining that alignment in the tribe. If not in this role, Shamans are usually Neutral — revering, as they do, the natural world, they consider morals and ethos pretentious delusions.
Of special note are the Elements of the Positive and Negative Energy Planes. A Shaman would not view these as inherently Good or Evil, the way a Cleric does. For a Shaman, life and growth are as natural — and therefore “good” — as death and even undeath. Unlike even most Druids, who see the Undead as anathema to nature, Shamans see all six elements as the basis for all nature, and all six having a place.
4d4 ×10 (100 gp)
As a Druid.
Class Features of the Shaman
(4 + Int per level; ×4 at 1st level) Class Skills: Appraise (Int), Autohypnosis (Wis), Concentration (Con), Craft (Int), Decipher Script (Int), Diplomacy (Cha), Gather Information (Cha), Heal (Wis), Intimidate (Cha), Knowledge (Arcana) (Int), Knowledge (Geography) (Int), Knowledge (History) (Int), Knowledge (Local) (Int), Knowledge (Nature) (Int), Knowledge (Religion) (Int), Knowledge (the Planes) (Int), Listen (Wis), Profession (Wis), Ride (Dex), Sense Motive (Wis), Spellcraft (Int), Spot (Wis), and Survival (Wis).
A Shaman adds Auran, Aquan, Ignan, and Terran to her list of bonus languages due to race. She knows one of these automatically, and may learn the others for a single skill point each, rather than two each as normal for Speak Language.
Table 1: The Shaman
|1st||+0||+2||+0||+2||Ancestral Counsel, Incarnum Spellshaping||1st||2||1||0|
|2nd||+1||+3||+0||+3||Chakra Bind (Crown)||1st||3||2||1|
|3rd||+1||+3||+1||+3||Improved Elemental Channeling||2nd||3||3||1|
|4th||+2||+4||+1||+4||Chakra Bind (Feet, Hands)||2nd||4||4||1|
|6th||+3||+5||+2||+5||Recombine Elements (1/day)||3rd||4||6||2|
|8th||+4||+6||+2||+6||Rebind Chakras (1/day)||4th||5||8||2|
|9th||+4||+6||+3||+6||Chakra Bind (Arms, Brow, Shoulders)||5th||5||9||2|
|10th||+5||+7||+3||+7||Ancestral Channeling, Recombine Elements (2/day)||5th||6||10||3|
|12th||+6/+1||+8||+4||+8||Rebind Chakras (2/day)||6th||6||12||3|
|14th||+7/+2||+9||+4||+9||Chakra Bind (Throat, Waist)||7th||7||14||4|
|16th||+8/+3||+10||+5||+10||Recombine Elements (3/day)||8th||8||16||4|
|18th||+9/+4||+11||+6||+11||Rebind Chakras (3/day)||9th||8||18||5|
|19th||+9/+4||+11||+6||+11||Chakra Bind (Heart)||9th||9||19||5|
|20th||+10/+5||+12||+6||+12||Master of the Elements, True Ancestor||9th||9||20||61|
Armor and Weapon Proficiency
Shamans are proficient with simple weapons, and with light armor (but not with shields).
A Shaman utilizes the six elements dilineated by the Inner Planes: Air, Earth, Fire, Negative, Positive, and Water. Each functions similarly to a Soulmeld in that it may have Essentia invested in it, and may be bound to a Chakra. However, unlike Soulmelds, the Elements do not need to be shaped each day, nor must the Shaman pick between them: all Shamans always have all six available. They do not count towards the usual limit of Soulmelds shaped based on one's Constitution score. Further, they do not occupy a Chakra at all unless they are bound to one, and unlike Soulmelds, each of the elements may be bound to any Chakra (except those the Shaman never gains access to, namely the Totem and Soul Chakras). Finally, the elements are not Soulmelds that may be chosen with the Shape Soulmeld feat.
At 1st level, a Shaman gains access to her personal pool of Essentia, which can be invested into each of the six elements as well as into any Spells that she shapes (see Spellshaping, below). Her Essentia pool's size is indicated by the Essentia column of Table 1: The Shaman (plus at least 1 bonus Essentia from her Incarnum Spellshaping feat; see below), while her Essentia capacity is given in Table 2‒1: Essentia Capacity on page 19 of Magic of Incarnum. As a Swift Action, she may reallocate her Essentia investments (see Essentia, Magic of Incarnum pg. 50).
Having an Essentia Pool means that the Shaman also gains the Incarnum subtype. The Incarnum subtype has no inherent effects, but it does identify Shamans as vulnerable to certain effects that target Incarnum creatures.
A Shaman "shapes" Divine Spells, which is similar to casting them, but subtly different in important ways. For the sake of the effects of her abilities and for prerequisites, she has both a Divine Caster Level and a Meldshaper Level, which are both always equal to each other and equal to her class level (plus any bonuses to either or levels in class that advance either; see Prestige Class Note below).
Unlike most Spellcasters, a Shaman does not have a limited number of Spells that she may cast in a given day. Due to the nature of Essentia, she is free to recycle energy from previous spells into new ones. She is, however, limited in how many concurrent effects she may shape, as listed in Table 1: The Shaman under the Shaped column.
A Shaman gains additional concurrent spells for having a high Wisdom score, but rather than gaining one additional concurrent Spell per Spell Level listed in Table: Ability Modifiers and Bonus Spells, she gains one additional concurrent Spell of up to the highest level she would gain one of, and then another of up to the highest level she receives two of, and so on.
Thus, for example, a Shaman with 20 Wisdom would be able to shape one additional concurrent Spell of up to 5th level (assuming she could cast Spells of a level that high to begin with), and a second additional Spell of up to 1st level.
However, a Shaman may not shape Spells (or Soulmelds, if she has that ability) in greater number than her Constitution score - 10, as normal for Soulmelds.
Her spell's DCs are given by 10 + the Spell's level + the Shaman's Wisdom modifier.
In order to cast a given Spell, its level must not exceed a Shaman's Maximum Spell Level, as listed in Table 1: The Shaman, and she must further have a Constitution score equal to 10 + the Spell's level. In general, a Shaman, unlike many other Spellcasters, does not prepare or learn specific Spells; she simply knows all of her Spells that are derived from the six elements, and may use them spontaneously.
However, many of her Spells derive not from a single element, but from a combination of elements. There are twenty such combinations: twelve pairs and eight triples. She may prepare one combination (pair or triple) per class level each day, so that by 20th level she may prepare all of them every day and have access to all of her Spells at once. Preparing elemental combinations takes place during the same hour in which Chakra Binds are chosen (see below). Of special note, triples, or combinations of three elements, may only be prepared if all three pairwise combinations of those elements are also prepared. For example, in order to prepare the Destiny triple of Air, Fire, and Positive, she must first also prepare the Courage pair of Fire and Positive, the Light pair of Air and Positive, and the Lightning pair of Air and Fire.
When a Shaman shapes a Spell, Essentia from the element(s) it is based on is moved from those elements to the Spell itself. The amount of Essentia moved to the Spell is up to the Shaman: every Spell has a minimum required investment of Essentia, but beyond that she may invest Essentia up to the Spell's capacity. The Essentia moved to the Spell must come from the Essentia previously invested in the element(s) it is based on, however.
The Spell itself becomes an Essentia receptacle much as a Soulmeld, but unlike a Soulmeld it must have at least as much Essentia invested in it as shown in its minimum. A Shaman may invest or divest Essentia from an ongoing Spell as normal for rearranging Essentia, but if the Spell is left with less Essentia than its minimum, it immediately ends and any Essentia remaining in it is returned to the Shaman.
The capacity of a Spell is equal to the largest capacity from among the element(s) it is based on. If it derives from a pair of elements, its capacity is further increased by 1, and derived from a triple, the capacity is instead enhanced by 2.
Finally, a Shaman may use Metamagic; like a Sorcerer, however, her casting times are lengthened whenever she chooses to do so. She must be able to cast a Spell of the Spell's new level. Further, when a Shaman wishes to use a Metamagic Feat, while casting she must invest Essentia in the feat itself (as with Incarnum feats); this Essenita must come from the Spell's base element(s), and the feat has a capacity like that of a Soulmeld. The Essentia is trapped in the feat until the affected Spell ends, at which point the Essentia is returned to her. She may only invest Essentia in a Metamagic feat while shaping a Spell that uses it.
At a site sacred to your tribe or people, you may enact a rite to contact your ancestors and seek their advice or aid. This ritual requires 24 hours of meditating and praying, and the ancestors do not — or perhaps, cannot — always answer, but when they do they are usually helpful and they tend to be knowledgeable, especially on matters of the history of the tribe and the lands that it has inhabited.
At the very least, they can offer some divine spells to aid you, particularly to cure ailments like curses or diseases. They can even bring back the dead, as with a Raise Dead, Resurrection, or even True Resurrection spell, but you must provide any material or experience components. In general, your ancestors have access to all Cleric and Druid spells, but will only be willing to use those that a Cleric or Druid of your class level could, and even then only when it seems necessary to them (most commonly, the removal of dire or permanent afflictions). They can and are willing to cast such Spells on any who are present during the ceremony, provided they are respectful.
Even if you are courteous and do not abuse the privilege of contacting them, and bring all that they require, however, they may still refuse or require that you go on a quest for them (complete with a Quest Spell to make this binding) before they will help you. In general, for things like simple questions, especially questions that the ancestors can readily answer (of or relating to the tribe itself, for instance), or for casting spells like Remove Curse or Remove Disease that have no material or experience components and are deemed necessary, the ancestors can be counted on at least once a month, even if you have left your tribe behind and are not acting in their interests, provided you haven't actively betrayed them. More than that depends on their generosity and how much they feel you are acting in the tribes' best interests, or how much they think helping you will be in the tribe's best interests.
If you have actively betrayed your tribe, however, they may not answer at all, or take the opportunity to curse you (as with Bestow Curse) themselves. However, if you are particularly humble in begging for their forgiveness, they may be willing to cast an Atonement Spell on you to rectify this: this will almost always come with a Quest Spell first, however, and in any case costs you 500 XP.
All Shamans gain Incarnum Spellshaping (Magic of Incarnum pg. 38) as a bonus feat, even if they do not qualify for it. Hence, their Essentia pool is actually at least 1 greater than as listed on Table 1: The Shaman, thanks to the Essentia granted by that feat.
Like a Meldshaper, a Shaman gains the ability to bind each of the elements to her Chakras, starting at 2nd level. Every Element may be bound to every Chakra (except Totem, since the Shaman does not gain the Totem Chakra). A Shaman opens each Chakra at the levels listed in Table 1: The Shaman. See page 51 of Magic of Incarnum for more information on binding Chakras. Binding Chakras takes an hour, which is done during the same hour as preparing elemental combinations.
Improved Elemental Channeling
Beginning at 3rd level, the Essentia capacity of any element bound to a Chakra increases by 1.
Ancestral Guide (Ex)
A 5th level Shaman is a thing that your ancestors can be proud of, and take an interest in. One of your ancestors comes to watch over you. He or she is a diminutive, incorporeal, Undead creature with a Flight speed of 20 ft. with Perfect maneuverability. It is invisible and inaudible to all but you, though True Seeing or the like will see it.
It has the same number of HD as you, with 1 HP per HD. It has 13 AC (13 Touch, 12 Flat-footed) and saves equal to your own. It is immune to area-affecting spells and effects and also has Turn Resistance 4 as extraordinary abilities. If rebuked, it simply disappears, returning to the ancestors rather than be used against the tribe; treat this as if it had been destroyed. It has no ability to make attacks or otherwise affect the outside world. It has no feats, but has maxed cross-class ranks in Knowledge (History), Knowledge (Local), Knowledge (Nature), Knowledge (Religion), Listen, and Spot. Its ability scores are Str —, Dex 13, Con —, Int 13, Wis 15, Cha 11.
You do not control your ancestor spirit, it merely accompanies you. It will not go scouting for you. While you sleep, it follows you into your dreams, or else returns to the ancestors to discuss your progress; it will not pull guard duty for you, either. However, having the Ancestral Guide around does give you another pair of eyes; you gain the benefits of the Alertness feat so long as it remains within 30 ft. The Ancestral Guide typically does stay within 30 ft. of you.
If 'killed', 'destroyed', or 'banished', your Ancestral Guide will return in 2d4 hours of its own accord. If your ancestors feel you have betrayed your tribe, you will not receive a Ancestral Guide. If you later betray your tribe, your Ancestral Guide will leave you. If you receive Atonement from your ancestors, then your ancestral guide will return.
As long as your Ancestral Guide is with you, you may use Ancestral Counsel anywhere, rather than only being able to use it at a site sacred to your tribe.
Recombine Elements (Su)
Beginning at 6th level, a Shaman may spend a full-round action to change which Elemental Combinations she has prepared, as if doing so for the first time that day. Any Spells she currently has shaped that require any Elemental Combinations that she no longer has prepared end immediately, and their Essentia is returned to her. After using this ability, she may not do so again until she next prepares her Elemental Combinations and Chakra Binds normally; that is, she may use this ability once per day.
At 10th and against at 16th, she gains another daily use of this ability. These uses still refresh each time she prepares her Elemental Combinations and Chakra Binds normally.
Rebind Chakras (Su)
Beginning at 8th level, a Shaman may spend a full-round action to change which elements are bound to which Chakras. She may change any and all of them, as if she were binding them for the first time that day. After doing so, she may not do so again until she next prepares her Elemental Combinations and Chakra Binds normally; that is, she may use this ability once per day.
At 12th and against at 18th, she gains another daily use of this ability. These uses still refresh each time she prepares her Elemental Combinations and Chakra Binds normally.
Ancestral Channeling (Su)
By 10th level, your prowess with spellshaping and your closeness with your ancestors allows you to cast spells through your Ancestral Guide, so long as it is within 30 ft. Whenever you shape a Spell, you may treat the point of origin of the Spell to be the Ancestral Guide, rather than you. The Ancestral Guide can touch others for Touch-range Spells, but it has no Reach so it must be in the target's square. For all other purposes, you are the shaper of the Spell. You still provoke an Attack of Opportunity while using a Spell in this fashion (unless you cast defensively, as normal). In combat, your Ancestral Guide will typically be accommodating in its position so that this ability may be used.
Imbue Ancestor (Su)
Beginning at 15th level, your Ancestral Guide begins to more actively help you in your quest, though it still will not stray far from you. You may shape a Spell, as normal, except that you send the Spell to your Ancestral Guide, who holds onto it, Essentia and all, until you want it used. None of the Spell's effects take place, nor does any time that passes count towards its duration. You can reallocate Essentia to and from the Spell as normal, but it ends if you do not leave enough for its minimum investment. Your Ancestral Guide can hold one such Spell at a time, and it still counts against your limit of concurrent Spells shaped.
On your turn, at your command or if you are unable to give the command but it thinks that you would if you could, it releases the Spell. It may also be given directions on when to release the Spell, though how well it understands those directions or whether or not it will obey them depends on the instructions themselves, the ancestor in question, and the Shaman's relationship with it. The Ancestral Spirit is the point of origin for the Spell, but it is otherwise as if you had shaped it. It is shaped with however much Essentia the Ancestral Spirit was given to hold at the time. This does not cause you to provoke an Attack of Opportunity, and does not require any action on your part, but the spirit itself does provoke.
Master of the Elements (Su)
At 20th level, a Shaman may prepare every Elemental Combination. Her uses of Recombine Elements become additional daily uses of Rebind Chakras. In addition, she may bind each Element to a Chakra in a day, even though this exceeds her ordinary maximum of 5 Chakra Binds. However, this uses all 5 Chakra Binds, and she must bind all 6 Elements: if she has access to Soulmelds (through the Shape Soulmeld feat, perhaps), she may not bind it to a Chakra without giving up the ability to bind all of the Elements (and her number of Chakra Binds is still limited to 5). If she has other sources of Chakra Binds, she may continue to use those as normal for Soulmelds without affecting her ability to use this feature.
Further, she becomes adept at travel through the harsh environments of the Inner Planes. She gains a Flying speed with Perfect maneuverability, a Burrow speed, a Climb speed, and a Swim speed, all equal to her Land speed (this does not stack with other features that give such speeds; simply use the faster speed in each category if applicable). She also becomes immune to all harmful effects of any plane she inhabits, and may extend this benefit to any allies to whom she has line of effect.
Finally, her type changes to Outsider, with the Air, Earth, Fire, Incarnum, Native, and Water subtypes. She does not gain the Extraplanar subtype on the Material Plane, and planes coterminous with the Material (e.g. Ethereal, Shadow), or on any of the Inner Planes. All banishment or calling effects affect her only if she is willing. Negative and positive energy both heal her or benefit her, treating her as living or undead based on whichever is most beneficial to her.
You are now welcomed among the ranks of your ancestors, and your name and your stories will be cherished by your tribe for all time, provided you haven't betrayed them. You are, in fact, too great an ancestor to be given the lowly duty of serving as a Shaman's Ancestral Guide; you effectively "out rank" your own Ancestral Guide. He or she will now be far more amenable to helping you, even in mundane matters like scouting or watching the camp while you sleep. Further, when you use your Ancestral Counsel ability, you have the right to demand as much support as your ancestors are capable of giving: they will not hinder you with needless quests or other petty requirements. They will still need any material or experience components of any Spells you request of them, but they will be happy to provide them as often as needed as long as you do.
Image adapted from Naya Battlemage by Steve Argyle. All credit to him for the image.