Talk:Shaman (5e Class)

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Witch Doctor is pejorative, replacing with "Sangoma" ( Maybe: "Medicine Person", "Spirit Healer", "Spirit Worker" or "Spirit Weaver", is better? fgc (talk)

Witch doctor is pejorative when referring to real-world people and practices, but as a piece of atmospheric terminology in a fantasy world I think it's fine. D&D is a world where witches actually exist, after all :) D&D classically uses outdated terms to create its feeling, like "oriental", which has more than a few nasty connotations nowadays. That said, I do think "medicine man" would work quite well here. Cancelion (talk) 04:49, 10 March 2016 (MST)
I think the problem with "Witch Doctor" is less that "witches are bad", it's just that a "Witch Doctor" isn't an appropriate name because unlike witches who do call themselves witches, witch doctor's have never understood or related to that name in myth, fantasy, fiction or reality. I'm struggling with the "real thing" part because while there are Wican's and there are Sangoma's in reality obviously, but I'm trying to amplify their mythology into a fantasy setting with respect. fgc (talk)
Witch doctor isn't an appropriate name when referencing a real-world person, but again, I think it's fine as an imaginary fantasy class - you'd have to be quite spaced out to think a witch doctor class on these forums (or any other class - say, the barbarian) actually deals with or compares to a real-world entity. I also disagree with the "witch doctor's have never understood or related to that name in myth, fantasy, fiction" - while clearly no real-world tribal shaman would call themselves a witch doctor, the name is and has been in heavy use in myth, fantasy and fiction.
To give an example of what I mean: I can make an evil druid in D&D. The druids were a genuine professional class in the Iron Age, and some want to still assume that moniker (neo-druids). Does the use of the term, or the possibility of making an evil druid, somehow attack the druids that once were or are now? I don't think so, since while terminology and a few superficial features are borrowed from the real-world druids, the D&D druid is a thing all its own. The same goes for the shaman class here: as long as the class is executed without completely mimicking the real-world shamans of some culture, and isn't outright offensive, I think using the term "witch doctor" is hardly a grave offense. Cancelion (talk) 00:11, 31 March 2016 (MDT)
I'm not really aware of positive examples of "Witch Doctor's" in myth, fantasy &/ fiction. Can you point me to some? I'm genuinely interested. While I am researching African Shamanistic Traditions and Mythology, pain is always taken to redress this issue. For example "Zulu Shaman" (Credo Mutwa) uses the term Witch Doctor to reach out a wider audience preferring "Zulu Shaman". Would you as a player character want to play a "Witch Doctor"? I wouldn't, unless I was maybe playing in a 1920/30s setting, to invoke an "out of touch" eurocentric view. Anyway what do you think is the best term to conjure an aura appropriate to the class you have created? By the way, the 1st use of "Witch Doctor" was credited to Robert Montgomery Martin a western doctor. I'm feeling less defensive about it, yes it's eurocentric & inaccurate, but it's kinda respectful in this instance. Not sure I'll use. It's your call what you'll call it. I wont mess with it. fgc
It's not actually my class at all :D It was just an interesting thought you brought up, so I decided to comment. Sensible discussions like this are all too rare on the internet :) And the more I read about traditional African healers, the more I think a local term would be fine. People might not know sangoma or inyanga, but what better time to teach them? Medicine man is also still an option.
The most obvious uses of witch doctor in games are in Diablo 3 and Dota 2, both high-profile games, both liked characters - my first character in Diablo 3 was a witch doctor. They aren't the most thoughtful stereotypes, but both games make the witch doctor its own thing instead of a racist caricature, at least in my opinion. True, depictions using the word "witch doctor" are bound to be eurocentric, but then again the entirety of D&D is - it's made by white nerds, after all :D Cancelion (talk) 23:28, 31 March 2016 (MDT)
Hey, I checked out a few Diablo Vids, thanks. I think I'm gonna change is back but keep the other names as player options. - fgc 2 April 2016

Can we add the 3rd Level spell "Spirit Guardians" to the spell List? Related to this what is your strategy for balancing this class with respect to cleric? or where you using Druid for the reference, so far I've seen: 1. Fewer Known Spells - fgc

Would "Field Medic" add 2 times Wisdom Modifier to Healing Word and Cure Wounds as these spells already heal for an amount plus your "Spellcasting Modifier" which for Shaman would already be Wisdom? Just looking for clarification on this, thanks. Mortimmer (talk) 23:39, 22 May 2016 (MDT)

5e Takes a dim view on doubling bonus espcially for the same Stat, so i'd lean towards no. This need more review. - - fgc 26 May 2016

Sounds good, just figured I'd double check on that due to the wording of both Field Medic and the spells listed in relation to it. Also so happy to see my other statement just vanish like that. Thanks for the update FGC. Mortimmer (talk) 00:48, 27 May 2016 (MDT)

Spirit Possession[edit]

I have a question about the intent of how it works. It states:

Spirit Possession At 2nd level, a shaman gains the power to enter a trance and allow a spirit to posses their body, giving the shaman the abilities of the spirit. After a long rest you can have a spirit posses you for a full day, during this time you gain 1 of the following:

Now does after a long rest mean the possession is chosen while asleep and is active after awoken or is it just a reset and you can chose to be possessed at anytime after you have had a long rest?


Please attribute the artist and provide a link to the source. Marasmusine (talk) 12:22, 9 February 2017 (MST)

9th Level Spells[edit]

There are way too many! Perhaps cut the list down to 4 or 5? Wizard is the only class with more than 5 because it's kind of their thing.

I'm thinking:

astral projection --take people on a spiritual journey

true polymorph --"she turned me into a newt!"

imprisonment --capture a spirit in a bottle

power word kill --weirding/killing words

storm of vengeance --the weather spirits are angry

This is similar to the Warlock spell list. I could be convinced that these five aren't the most important ones, but there need to be sacrifices made for the sake of balance.

  • It should also be noted that this class gets class features at levels where they also gain a new spell slot level. That might be okay if the features are minor enough. Are we sure that is the case? (No, reverse possession lets me regain all my spell slots!)
  • "You may make two attack actions in a round. " ?! Here's what a 5th level shaman, 5th level monk looks like: 1st attack action, (Attack 1), Extra Attack from 1st attack action (Attack 2), 2nd attack action (Attack 3), Extra Attack from 2nd attack action (Attack 4), Martial Arts (Attack 5; or Flurry of blows, Attack 5 and 6). No-one should get 6 attacks a turn.
  • You don't "expend" short rests.
  • It doesn't explain how the "totem filled with magic" works. Do I have to have the spell prepared? Is the spell expended when I make the totem? When I use the totem, do I hold it and use the Cast a Spell action, and do I need all the components?
  • You can't just add a ritual tag to spells that don't already have it. In most cases, it won't make any sense, either because of the targeting or duration or it's not a spell that should be able to be cast an arbitrary number of times.
  • For possession, when does the exhaustion happen and when can the effect be ended? If I have the possession for "a full day", can I then end the effect, and if so do I become exhausted or not? Since a long rest can be finished before a full day, does that mean I can have two possessions at once? Marasmusine (talk) 21:49, 12 April 2017 (UTC)
Just noticed that it has two common saves too.
Repeated use of a "2 minute" duration.
Round counting (5 turns.. c'mon that's just short of 1 minute, which is a standard 5e duration.)
I'm not sure it understands the relationship between etheral plane, border ethereal, "astral projection", force damage.
Temporary ability score adjustments, while not forbidden, seem to be handled differently in 5e (for example by giving advantage on Strength saving throws and/or ability checks, or other specific secondary effects of Strength). Marasmusine (talk) 06:29, 3 July 2017 (MDT)

Suggestions to making this class a better fit in D&D[edit]

As a whole I can see the direction that you are intending with the class and I enjoy the lore you have planned for the class. I see that you are taking heavily from a World of Warcraft shaman with the totems for the theme and the 4e shaman with the spirit guide. Though you have started with a great concept there seems to be an over collection of abilities present for this class. Overlap is inevitable when it comes to classes, but it is important to separate classes enough in order to provide unique niches that classes fall into. This has not been accomplished as you have nearly the full power of a moon druid and a wizard; the partial power of a barbarian, a land druid, and a ranger, while also having a unique class ability on par with class abilities given to classes without spell casting. While all these power are a great place to start we can change and move things around in order to balance this class in order to fit it into a niche of its own. I'll break down what I see first and then build up with my suggestions. I apologize for all the negative points to come, they are not bad abilities they are just not adjusted properly in line with how other classes function. I can understand the want to have a class that can handle everything that can be thrown at it but this class is a powerhouse of abilities and spells. If played as is the Shaman would not only step on the toes of every other character at the table it would out perform all characters at the table. While other classes who are 'jack of all trades' are decent at everything but not better than the specialist this is not the case of the shaman.

1) Looking at the spirit possession first. This is an reskinned version of Wild-shape that seems at first muted but then gets overwhelmingly more powerful than Wild Shape. Wild shape maxes out at a CR value of 2 for most druids unless you are a druid of the moon which allows you to max out at CR6 (the druid formula is 1/3 your druid level rounded down.) While you do not get the full benefit of the creature with Spirit Possession you get much of their abilities and you also at level 11 begin to gain bonus hp. If we take a Moon Druid (the path that specializes in wild shape) at level 12 they are able to transform into a CR 4 creature gaining the abilities lined out in the PHB. If you are a shaman you are able to take on much of the abilities of an animal, while not as extensive as the druids transformation, you are actually quite a bit more powerful with having attacks of your own along with every . At level 12 a CR6 vastly out preforms a CR4 in every way along with no mention of not receiving their special actions such as lair actions. What is specifically said is, "Some of your game statistics are replaced by the statistics of the beast whose spirit is possessing you. Those being, its Strength, Dexterity and Constitution scores, its attacks, its senses and any other personal features. You don't gain its hit points, AC, or any special types of movement (like flight)." This would be inclusive of Lair actions along with any other special abilities a beast may have. This is specifically referenced in the druids Wild Shape section and I would go there to clear up this section if you are to keep it. Though the fact that this is more powerful than the Moon Druid's Wild Shape is a massive problem. The whole section on this could benefit from a rewording to fit other D&D texts. It is not in the similar manor of current Dungeons and Dragons writing; I would look at the specific verbiage used in other classes and go off of that. The wording is specific in D&D and other tabletop games for specific reasons and rules they are referencing. Overall I would look to take this out and focus more on the World of Warcraft like "totems" as the baseline class ability.

2) This being a class with 9th level spellcasting you have to cut back on archetype and class abilities unfortunately if you want to keep it a 9th level caster. If we look at the druid, which has the most parallels with this class it is a slightly worse caster than other 9th level classes. They receive 1 less cantrip and have a more limited spellcasting. This is expanded if they go into Land druid which is the casting specific. There is a give and take in D&D for balance which hasn't been observed here for throwing many ideas into one class. I personally believe a 5th level caster would work out more in your favor here as you may be able to place in more of the flavor that you are attempting to go for. The other option is to reign in significantly (you have way too many options for spells along with 3 'spell like' abilities (totems, spirit possession, and spirit animal) that augment the class) what the class is able to do. The spells that you have chosen seem to be chosen in order to give the shaman an option for everything, and while from a player situation that seems nice it isn't how classes are designed. You may go the way of the druid and an archetype focused on spellcasting while the other expands the classes ability (totems.) Though I think to make this class balanced a 5th level spell caster is the way to go as you have a strong and interesting basis of class abilities that are not spell casting. Spell casting is an immensely powerful and cannot be given in full force with-out a check. What you have done is made a caster as powerful as a Wizard (wizards get very few class abilities not interacting specifically with their spells) with 3 spell like abilities on par with half-caster classes abilities.

3) Spirit seeking is another 'spell like' ability, albeit not as powerful as the other 3, that overrides an entire classes ability, ranger (the only one they get at that level), not to mention it is more powerful than their ability because the ranger is only focused on their favored terrain type instead of 1 minute to get any type of land. While overlap is expected this is fluff to a class that is already too full. Also I thought that this seemed more druid-like, yet the druid does not possess this ability.

4)Totem of Spirits is the single most overpowered and underwhelming archetype I have ever seen. Through the nuances caused by the other base abilities of the class and the interactions they cause with this archetype a PC would become truly overpowered with not much flavor to the archetype. What I mean is the character is strong and powerful because this paragraph here says so not because it is invoking some ancient magics or other lore explanations. This further makes the powers of Spirit Possession greater than that of wild shape of the Moon Druid. Especially by level 14 when Shamans are capitalizing all the buffs to Spirit possession and gaining access to CR7 creatures while Moon druids just have CR4. This massive disparity between power level needs to be fixed.

5) Totem of the Elements is great but it is an addition to the already monumental power of the Shaman's 9th level full spell casting it further expands the casting potential of the class as these act like many spells.

6) Spellcasting. Again I must harp on the spellcasting model used by this class. Let us first compare the spellcasting to that of the wizard. Wizards are the quintessential spell caster of 5e D&D and they have the largest spell list and most support for their spellcasting among the spellcaster classes. A reason they are allowed such an expansive spell list is how wizards handle spells. They have a spell book in which they can place their Known Spells and a wizard can cast any single one of their known spells providing they have the appropriate spell slot available. This is in contrast to the rest of the full casters such as druids and clerics who prepare spells based on their level and spell casting modifier. Because they have access to their full spell list any given day their spell list is significantly more limited and specialized. As pointed out in other posts wizards have the most 9th level spells available and the only one with Wish. While 9th level spells are the most apparent there are spells that are on the list that do not fit the nature magic archetype. The only reason I can see this is to expand their tool kit which is not a good thing in this case, because the shaman can fit all the niches it wants through spellcasting it makes what it can do less special. If your class suddenly has an option for any scenario it is placed into it gets boring, and annoying for the characters who don't get to shine at the table. There is a nice feeling when you are the only one who can deal with a problem presented in a situation and you have your moment to shine. This is muted when you are constantly the parties saving grace and annoying when you never get this moment due to another character. I would seriously consider taking away half of the spells you have available to the shaman. I would steer away from support abilities with this class that are not directly justified or called elemental or nature. This will add to the individuality of the class and allow you to steer away from being a reskinned mage or druid as I see it now.

So overall I love where you have started with this and I will write up a draft using your basis to expand and focus what you have done. I will attempt to write in the most PHB style I can and I will try to reign in some of the abilities you have given the shaman. This is not meant to degrade you but to provide constructive criticism for your ideas. Current D&D is written by a committee of game designers not by one single person. A writing or idea is never finished and can always be improved and often you need outside eyes to improve your work. Please do not take my criticism poorly as I would not have wasted my time if I did not like the basis you began with.

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