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New Paths: Expanded Shaman (Pathfinder RPG) $3.99
Average Rating:4.5 / 5
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New Paths: Expanded Shaman (Pathfinder RPG)
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New Paths: Expanded Shaman (Pathfinder RPG)
Publisher: Kobold Press
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 10/01/2012 15:16:16
The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=26985.

The Expanded Shaman builds on the shaman class that Kobold Press introduced in Kobold Quarterly #21. While the shaman has many things in common with its druidic cousins, they are two distinct classes that will help any adventuring party get their green on!

OVERALL

Who doesn’t like new character classes? The Expanded Shaman brings us a character class that has appeared in most editions of most fantasy RPGS in one form or another. This 16 page Pathfinder supplement has just the right amount of information to really make the Shaman feel like a fully formed and well thought out character class.

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 9 out of 10
I really loved the cover of this product; Christophe Swal really captured the spirit of the shaman. The green title area with the yellow writing feels right. The addition of the green tree top and the standing stones below it reflect the multifaceted nature of the druid. The plant inspired light grey page border on the left is classy and really enhances the impact of the page. The shaman squatting on the rock looks just wild enough to be mysterious, but just wise enough to seek advice from. The inclusion of the iconic shaman staff festooned with fetishes didn’t seem forced.

The interior color art maintained the feel that the cover gives the reader. My only disappointment, art wise, was the black and white owl used on page 9. If it had been done in color this would have been 10 out of 10. The books layout is standard for Pathfinder support materials and it works. The base class description was a good call. I have seen several publishers produce a product like this and not include the base class description. Seems like a no brainer, unless you are trying to make people spend more money and buy two of your products. I applaud Kobold Press for not trying to stick it to us! The Inclusion of the useful Spirit Guide and Wildshape sheets is really useful for both player and GM. I have seen players who have sworn off playing characters who shapeshift because it is so difficult to track your shifted stats. This isn’t the first time someone has developed a sheet to track these items, but I’m glad it was included.

Mechanics: 10 out of 10
Because this is considered a base class, I think the mechanics are much easier to deal with than they would be if this was a prestige class. The class is well-made and has some interesting abilities that will satisfy a player who wants to change things up a bit without getting freaky. The shaman’s ability to cast any spell they know is balanced out by their limited amount of spells. This is a simple mechanic that makes things a bit more interesting. The use of the druid spell list was the right call. As a player I do find it hard, when I have so many spells to cast, to be able to quickly pick the best spell for the task at hand.

Value Add: 9 out of 10
Shamans are an interesting class that can add to most parties. I would not classify them as specialists but more in the utility category. From a GMs stand point there are some minor aspects of this class that will cause some extra work, but if you are in tune with your players it shouldn’t be an issue. The inclusion of the base class and the extra “tracking” sheets for a character sheet/portfolio make this worth $3.99 USD. Add feats, Archetypes and new spells and this is a good financial value as well. This is a Pathfinder product and it is focused for that setting. This product would have been perfect if some general non-Pathfinder shaman information had been included as well as a bit of information on specific places in the universe where shamans might be found.

Overall: 9 out of 10
When I received my review copy of this product I really looked at it as a straight forward character class supplement. As I started to delve into it, I could see that it was a straight forward character class supplement; that happens to be done really well. I was disappointed that shaman personality traits based on spirit totems were not introduced. I would have enjoyed seeing the requirement for shamans to have a few taboos to maintain their powers. Kobold Press has done a great job of summoning the shaman as a character class for Pathfinder.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
New Paths: Expanded Shaman (Pathfinder RPG)
Publisher: Kobold Press
by Customer Name Withheld [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 09/23/2012 12:59:45
The Expanded Shaman is another excellent product from Kobold Press for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. This product takes the druid found in the PFRPG and develops the shaman which is focused communing with the spiritual side of nature. The shaman is more specialized than the druid while bringing a bit of versatility to the class as well. The PDF also comes with three archetypes and an assortment of spells, feats and other goodies.

This class first appeared in Kobold Quarterly Issue #21. This product expands on that article.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
New Paths: Expanded Shaman (Pathfinder RPG)
Publisher: Kobold Press
by Joshua G. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 09/02/2012 23:12:26
Expanded Shaman marks the second book in Open Designs' New Paths series. Anyone paying attention is well aware of how well received the first installment (The Spell Less Ranger) was, and what type of pressure that places upon this book right off the bat. Question here then is, did Marc Radle have another bullet in the chamber? So let us take a look.

Weighing in at 16 pages, with 10 pages of new material, 2 sheets for tracking wildshape and a spirit guide, cover, OGL, credit and ad (which would not fully load in my version of this PDF). Artwork is handled by the talented Rick Hershey, as those familiar with his style can easily recognize from the cover. Formatting follows the dual column, portrait layout with very few editing issues (an occasional extra space, nothing severe), with embedded artwork and tables. My only complaint in regard to layout is that one particular table finds itself with a full page between it and the descriptive text meant to help one read it. Now, granted by now anyone who games should have no issues using the table, but the addition on the breakdown shows an acknowledgement that those new to the game might still need some help (and I applaud that thinking, as at one point we all needed some guidance), and it being so far after the table makes it almost counter-productive.

For those loyal readers of Kobold Quarterly yes, this is that shaman, expanded upon and re-introduced...for the rest of you, it's all here, so you are not missing anything (although I still recommend you start picking up KQ).

At first glance it is far to easy to dismiss this class as another variant druid, when it is far more. There are a few familiar concepts and abilities, but there is more than enough defining concepts as well. Take for instance the Totem Secrets. Essentially working the same as talents, with the PC gaining them at 1st, 3rd and every 4 levels after, we are given 12 to work with at this point. Of these 12, I would truly have a hard time as a PC deciding on what to pick as there are some really interesting abilities here that I would love to play around with...Invisibility, Protective Spirits, automatic stabilization from 0hp if on home plane, see the incorporeal, ethereal etc., Unleash a furious attack 1/day of spirits upon a target dealing force damage, lull into a trance to commune with the spirits and gain a 20 to one Int check...or my personal favorite out of them all, intestinal divination/sign reading – flight paths of birds, sand particles in the wind...a balanced game mechanic to do what we all imagine the shaman does. Very, very cool, with a nice array of bonuses depending upon what form of “reading” is done with this particular talent.

But fear not, there are more class abilities beyond the Totem Secrets, we have the Animal Spirit Guide, Wild Empathy, Woodland Step, Wild Shape, just to name a few before we get to the more class specific...Shaman's Touch – essentially the cure spells starting at light and working its way up progressively as you increase in level, Spirit Dance allows the shaman to call to the spirits to augment their magic via dance (pretty cool story driven concept actually), Spirit Step – shaman can go ethereal as if using ethereal jaunt, and Vision Quest where upon a shaman can release their spirit from their body for a time.

The Animal Spirit Guide, whereas is pretty class specific, felt a great deal to me like the druid's animal companion, and was one of the reasons I think I kept looking at the shaman looking for the similarities, and differences. 16 base statblocks are presented covering 24 different potential animals that the shaman can pick through, with choices ranging from predatorial birds to manta rays. The list felt more designed for the min/maxer to me, as almost every animal on the list is one with an attack, one would not see as a waste on a character sheet. When I think of shamans, and their guides, I think of the turtle, the rat, the mantis. Animals who, traditionally have been presented throughout fantasy as having something to teach. Not that I am entirely knocking the animals that are here, as they are decent choices, I just would have liked to have seen a few less “combat friendly” choices is all. The spirit animals of course come with their own list of cool abilities, being the very reason one wants them in the first place, lol. Everything from delivering your touch spells to acting as an intermediary to the spirit realm, going incorporeal and granting bonus spells. The options for the spirit guide in regards to abilities is pretty decent and gives plenty of options to handle a variety of builds.

We are given three archetypes, the Elemental, Primal and Medicine Doctor. The elemental, you guessed it, is more attuned to the elemental forces, and swaps out the animal spirit guide for an elemental one, as well bonus spells and their wild shape being one of an elemental. The primal gives up some spell-casting with a smaller quantity of spells daily in exchange for an enhanced wild shape (that comes with a built in healing that is freaking awesome), as well as primal dance – altering the spirit dance to augment the wild shape ability instead of spell-casting. The witch doctor goes the other route, diminishing their wild shape in favor of more spells and a closer relation to the spirits. The witch doctor and primal both have separate tables showing spell progression.

New spells come in the form of Elemental Blast – exactly what it says, Rain of Fangs – yeah, again exactly what it says, very cool visually speaking, and River of Moonlight – transfix opponents with a line of moonlight shaped by you as you choose, hanging before their eyes in the air.

We end with four new feats, Extra Wild Shape, Improved Shaman's Touch, Practiced Spirit Dance and Prolong Spirit Dance. The first two are pretty self explanatory, the practice feat allows you to pull off the 3 full round spirit dance in 3 move actions and requires you to take prolong, which extends the spirit dance an additional 2 rounds. I am assuming this wording means that the prolong spirit dance feat adds 2 rounds to the duration of the spirit dance's benefit, not the amount of rounds required to do a spirit dance in the first place.

The addition of the two additional sheets to add to a character sheet for the tracking of information for wild shape and the spirit guide are a flat out genius move, and a great way to help sell the idea of trying out the class to someone. Clear, concise and well organized, they would be an easy addition to any character portfolio, regardless of what sheets they are currently using.

So, final thoughts and tally...I liked the class, a great deal. And I owe Mr. Radle an apology, I stated early in this review that Rick Hershey handled the art, failing to mention the Radle piece from the interior. Editorial, it is close enough to perfect to not even merit nitpicking (lol), and the presentation is beautiful. I see from End's review that bookmarks were added, so I re-downloaded my copy to check, and I still have no bookmarks. Material wise, the class abilities have some nice surprises and new favorites for me, but I did think the spirit guides were missing something, more in their variety and the theme of them than anything else. I would have liked to have seen some more specific spells for the shaman class, as well as more feats, but I'm sure someone out there *cough* Owen *cough* will do something *cough* Bullet Point *cough* about that soon...sorry, had something caught in my throat there.

OK, so balancing my issues with the animal choices for spirit guide against the new options for abilities and over all flavor of the class, as well as the lack of bookmarks, I'm going to settle on a 4 star rating.

edit- I see in the comment threads that the Paizo version has the bookmarks, so I am willing to bet this has been addressed, and am raising my rating a full .5 star, settling at a 4.5 rating.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
New Paths: Expanded Shaman (Pathfinder RPG)
Publisher: Kobold Press
by Thilo G. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/14/2012 10:46:13
This pdf is 16 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD and 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 12 pages of content, so let's check this out!

The Shaman class, first premiered in KQ, finally gets its new path treatment after its predecessor, the spell-less ranger, has met with much critical acclaim -so, can the shaman stand up to it?

First, what is the Shaman? Basically, the class offers d8, 4+Int skills per level, 3/4 BAB-progression, good fort and will-saves, proficiency in light and medium armor and shields, but only non-metal ones and full spontaneous spellcasting from the druid's spell-list. Similar to the orcale, the shaman thus trades in variety for spontaneous flexibility. But is the class more than a spontaneous druid? Yes, he is! Shamans choose an animal spirit guide, essentially a nature spirit taking the form of an animal and improving over the levels, gaining up to 16 HD, (improved) evasion, the powers to share spells , become invisible and even incorporeal at higher levels. A total of 16 different sample spirit guide base-statistics are provided, ranging from obvious choices like the bird of prey to wolves, bisons and even manta rays, carps and stags, though honestly, I did miss e.g. the classic turtle. The spirit guides also grant the shamans a limited array of bonus spells
Shamans also get the equivalent of talents and may chose one at 1st, 3rd and every 4 levels after that one of them. A total of 12 different so-called Totem-secrets are provided, ranging from mundane speaking with animals to the ability to divine the future with entrails, gain bonuses by watching birds and carving marks in the dirt/stone to warning spirits and ones that can block incoming attacks and even unleash a tempest of damaging spirits. They can also enter a trance that prohibits them from taking actions for a couple of rounds, but enables them to gain a massive 20 bonus to an int-based check.

Basics like the woodland stride, wildshape etc. can also be learned by the shaman and they may also perform a spirit dance that enhances their magic for a short period of time after concluding their dance. The pdf also includes archetypes for the shaman, first of which would then be the elemental shaman, who can instead of animal spirit guides choose from one of 4 elementals and gets elemental wild shaping and improved elemental spells. The second archetype would then be the primal shifter, who only gets spellcasting up to 6th level and according to a new table, but can compensate this drawback by enhanced wildshifting and the option to utilize the primal dances to further enhance his melee capabilities with natural weapons. The final new archetype would then be the witch doctor, who is essentially a healer that is not as apt in wildshaping, but gets all the healing capabilities you could ask for.

The pdf also provides 3 new spells: Elemental blasts can do elemental damage (surprise), while rain of fangs does exactly as the spell promises and hails deadly fangs on enemies. Shamans may also transfix people in fascinating rivers of beautiful moonlight. The 4 feats grant extra wildshaping, an improved healer's touch and the options to shorten spirit dances and prolong their effects.
The bonus supplemental content is awesome: We get a one-page wildshape char-sheet and a one-page spirit guide char-sheet - both are clearly designed, easy to use and printer-friendly b/w - kudos for going the extra mile!

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches. Layout adheres to a beautiful 2-column, full color standard and we get awesome pieces of original full color artworks, which is cool indeed.

EDIT: Bookmarks have been added.

I liked the shaman when it premiered in Kobold Quarterly and I like its new path treatment, that much to start: Honestly, we've been waiting for so long for a spontaneous class with access to the druid's spell-list and the shaman is a nice, balanced class that has some iconic talents and the dance-ability rocks. However, it took me some time to realize why the class didn't elicit that much excitement from me: The answer is simple - It takes a lot of druidic abilities, instead of focusing on the new ones. I would have loved to see more talents, spirit guides and spirit dance effects and perhaps rather an archetype that makes the class a spontaneous druid - you know, the make the classes identity feel more unique. As written, I consider it a good class, but one that could easily have become a truly unique and stellar one. Mind you, this is nitpicking at a high level. EDIT: With the added bookmarks, I'll update my review by 0.5 stars, for a final verdict of 4.5 stars on the shaman.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
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