Kobold Quarterly #21: Designing the Shaman
I’ve been playing a half-orc oracle of stone in one of our bi-weekly campaigns, and I’m having a blast. He is great fun to play. His various class features make him useful in lots of situations, and I’ve found I really like playing a spontaneous caster.
Don’t get me wrong—I’ve played and enjoyed TONS of prepared casters, going all the way back to 1st Edition AD&D magic-users in the late 70s and early 80s. Having said that, I have been playing mostly spontaneous casters lately and really digging it.
A while back, I was contemplating what character I wanted to roll up for a new campaign we were starting (we seem to have two or three games going at any one time). I wanted to play a druid, but I wasn’t keen to play a prepared caster. That got me thinking: we have the wizard (prepared) and the sorcerer (spontaneous); we have the cleric (prepared) and oracle (spontaneous); we have the druid (prepared) and we have . . . no spontaneous druid analog!
Although I fully understand that not everything in game design needs perfect symmetry, the lack of a spontaneous counterpart to the druid seemed to be something that needed to be rectified.
So, I got to work on what eventually became the shaman class featured in Kobold Quarterly #21. Like the sorcerer and oracle, the shaman only knows a few specific spells. However, he or she chooses them from the druid spell list and does not need to prepare them ahead of time. To balance this, the shaman gains a number of new class features (again, similar to the sorcerer and oracle). In fact, balance was something I was very keenly aware of during the entire design process.
In playtests, the shaman proved to be quite balanced, had plenty of chances to shine without overshadowing other classes, and generally was a blast to play! Can’t ask more than that from a class, can you? ☺
I think the shaman still feels like a druid (or, at least as much as a sorcerer still feels like a wizard or an oracle like a cleric) while at the same time being unique and interesting in its own right.
So, now that Kobold Quarterly #21 has been released, we have all these choices available: the wizard (prepared) and the sorcerer (spontaneous); the cleric (prepared) and oracle (spontaneous); the druid (prepared) and . . . the shaman (spontaneous)! I can finally sleep soundly—that is, until I get another idea. . . .