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D&D 5E Could the Sorcerer get a Shaman subclass

It's just because Shamans are the Red caster, and they decided that Sorcerers are Red.

They really should have called them elementalists even that some form of elementals or animalistic seems to be the closest they get to having a commonality (which they don't seem to have much of compared to Clerics, Warlocks, Wizards, Druids, Rangers, Knights, Warriors, Rogues, Barbarians etc...).
 

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If the game mechanic of the incarnum comes back, the totemist should be recycled into "shaman", or this could be a mixture of incarnum totemist and vestige pact binder (Tome of Magic: Pact, Shadow and Truename). But this should arrives after the martial adept classes, whose (ki) maneuvers are in the middle between at-will and once-encounter powers.
 


Parmandur

Book-Friend
They really should have called them elementalists even that some form of elementals or animalistic seems to be the closest they get to having a commonality (which they don't seem to have much of compared to Clerics, Warlocks, Wizards, Druids, Rangers, Knights, Warriors, Rogues, Barbarians etc...).
To be honest, you may be overthinking this, particularly in relation to the amount of thought the Magic team has done. If you want to overthink this in line with the Magic team, however, look at the emotional and social elements of Red, not the material elements.
 


For Shamans, I think they should either be their own class, or just thrown in the Druid class, or the longshot of Taking over the Druid class and making the Druid a subclass of Shaman.
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
Check out the Hungarian Taltos. Is a shaman that is chosen at birth by the spirits or gods, often with a physical sign of being chosen, like a sixth finger, or being born with a caul.
Taltos is an interesting take. I don't claim to be any more familiar with it than wikipedia, but the power does not seem to be inherent in their bloodline like a sorcerer. It seems they are chosen by an external source (gods or spirits as you said), and lose their power if they don't follow specific rituals such as keeping that physical sign until they are 7, and potentially also being breastfed until then.

In some ways in D&D terms that might actually be closest to a warlock, where they are granted power after attention of a powerful being but after that the power is theirs and they do not need to continue an oath or such to keep it. And not like a warlock - they aren't making a pact for the power. On the other hand wikipedia did mention having specific duties: "The táltos was chosen by gods or spirits for a specific calling in life and had the duty to communicate with the entire Hungarian nation in a time of danger, to warn against invading armies or an impending cultural collapse. ", so perhaps it is closer to a paladin's oath or what a diety would expect from a cleric.

All in all, the Taltos still seems closer to other D&D classes then the sorcerer to me. The picking at birth does have echoes of sorcerer's being born with the power, but it there is nothign to indicate it is because of their bloodline instead of being by external forces, and the fact that it can be lost before manifesting while not definitive does also seem to indicate other classes as well - a potential wizard who doesn't study, a potential cleric or paladin who does not have faith - these can be lost.
 


Mechanically it would probably be the primal version of the divine soul sorcerer (able to take spells from the druids' list instead of the clerics') who could spend sp's on a suped up familiar.

Whether that would be better than a druid subclass, a cleric one, a warlock patron, some kind of bard, or a ranger with a spiritual pet is a matter of taste. Heck, back when the ancestral guardian barbarian came out, someone complained that it wasn't shaman enough, so you could probably try to fit it into any class.
 

Tonguez

A suffusion of yellow
Spirit Patron Warlock?
Although moist concepts would seem to be very Druid-like
Shaman contains just -oodles- of concept. From spirit-speakers to runecasters to tribal priests.

I‘m not sure that rune casting fits in to the idea of Shaman - except as a generalised ‘fetish’ item, afaik the main theme of Shaman traditions is the use of ecstatic trance in order to commune (and haggle) with spirits.
 

Steampunkette

Shaper of Worlds
Supporter
I‘m not sure that rune casting fits in to the idea of Shaman - except as a generalised ‘fetish’ item, afaik the main theme of Shaman traditions is the use of ecstatic trance in order to commune (and haggle) with spirits.
For the core idea of real world Shaman? Sort of. Particularly in Tunguska and Mongolia. Less so in other cultures, where they may largely exist as religious political advisors, medicine providers, storytellers, or hermit-like oracular figures.

But Shaman in fantasy can cover everything from Totemic Barbarian type characters to Norse Völva to Orc Shamans or Pseudo-Aztec Warrior-Priests to Elementalists calling on nature spirits to fight their battles for them, directly.

Runecasting, Reading Bones, Haruspex, even just reading Omens in the world. Any could be something a Shaman does to predict the future.
 

Tonguez

A suffusion of yellow
Shaman are often depicted using only simple weapons. Ceremonial Daggers, Spears, Staves, but also the occasional hand-axe. So simple weapon proficiency makes good sense. Though maybe even make it a taboo for them to use more complex weapons. Not "Metal" like a Druid, but Martial. It's not that they -can't- gain proficiency, but maybe breaking taboos means you can't advance as a Shaman 'til you perform a cleansing ritual? Still "Level Up" your proficiency and HD but gain no class abilities.

Firstly I will say I do like your suggestions on how an Shaman/Animist/Spiritualist class could be developed and I've go no issue with use of the term generally (though as an Anthropologist my usual advice is to either be culturally specific or to use a broad english language term/phrase). However

1 In developing a fantasy version of Shaman one needs to be careful that they not fall into error of depicting the Shaman as a 'more primitive' approach to religious practice, which is where much of the error and criticism of the use of the term lies both generally and within Anthropology scholarship. Limit shaman to simple weapons because thats how they are commonly depicted treads that soggy ground. When lists like Kracheks which include everything from Amazonian to Navajo, Mongolia to Africa to Australia to Norse, Sami to Malay they are coding for 'exotic primitive' and very, very rarely include things like Anglo-American Mediums conducting seances or the Italian Benandanti (17th century, whose spirits would leave their bodies at night in the form of snimals in order to battle witches)

For the core idea of real world Shaman? Sort of. Particularly in Tunguska and Mongolia. Less so in other cultures, where they may largely exist as religious political advisors, medicine providers, storytellers, or hermit-like oracular figures.

But Shaman in fantasy can cover everything from Totemic Barbarian type characters to Norse Völva to Orc Shamans or Pseudo-Aztec Warrior-Priests to Elementalists calling on nature spirits to fight their battles for them, directly.

Runecasting, Reading Bones, Haruspex, even just reading Omens in the world. Any could be something a Shaman does to predict the future.

2 I'd argue here that the purpose of class design in a RPG concept is to define a core idea and not to provide for the wider scope of things - sure a traditional Tunguska Shaman can be a religious political advisors, story teller and healer, but so can a Bard. The distinction with Shaman, whether Tungusic or more broadly is the Trance-state interaction with spirits. as its core hook around which players can then layer on their own 'heritage' ie Healing, Augury, Spirit walking. That said I do like the suggestion of taboos being built in to the class too - which suggest Druid style limits or Warlock patron taboos.
Also I think that by concentrating on the Communing with Spirits element generally (including Victorian seances) you remove the primitivist exoticism that can creep in.

I would like to note, however, this important aspect: While there are stories of Shaman being shapechangers throughout various cultures they are typically -antagonistic- in that aspect. Or, at least, untrustworthy. It's only really in the Malay and Polynesian traditions that transforming into a full-on animal is considered an outright positive. Many other cultures use shapeshifting shaman as a cautionary tale.

I'm not sure shapechanging is considered entirely 'positive' in Malay/Polynesian beliefs either. I do have ancestors who transformed into fish and he act as guardians, but there was still a level of fearful veneration (they are still dangerous). And generally people who became Sharks or Eels or Pigs were dangerous and not openly welcomed into your home.
(It also amuses me still that amongst my grandmothers people we were told not to kill blowflies because they might have been sent by your dead ancestors to check up on you)
 
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doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Taltos is an interesting take. I don't claim to be any more familiar with it than wikipedia, but the power does not seem to be inherent in their bloodline like a sorcerer. It seems they are chosen by an external source (gods or spirits as you said), and lose their power if they don't follow specific rituals such as keeping that physical sign until they are 7, and potentially also being breastfed until then.

In some ways in D&D terms that might actually be closest to a warlock, where they are granted power after attention of a powerful being but after that the power is theirs and they do not need to continue an oath or such to keep it. And not like a warlock - they aren't making a pact for the power. On the other hand wikipedia did mention having specific duties: "The táltos was chosen by gods or spirits for a specific calling in life and had the duty to communicate with the entire Hungarian nation in a time of danger, to warn against invading armies or an impending cultural collapse. ", so perhaps it is closer to a paladin's oath or what a diety would expect from a cleric.

All in all, the Taltos still seems closer to other D&D classes then the sorcerer to me. The picking at birth does have echoes of sorcerer's being born with the power, but it there is nothign to indicate it is because of their bloodline instead of being by external forces, and the fact that it can be lost before manifesting while not definitive does also seem to indicate other classes as well - a potential wizard who doesn't study, a potential cleric or paladin who does not have faith - these can be lost.
Hmm. To me, chosen at birth is thematically indistinct from born magical, IMO. They’re born a “shaman”, either way.

The “do these things or lose your magic” stuff could be applied to any Spellcasting class, tbh.

One thing I feel 5e fails at representing is the idea of someone who lets a spurt possess them. Even the Totem Barbarian isn’t possessed by animal spirits, though you can kinda flavor it that way if you squint.
 




Haqar

First Post
No. Shaman should be a druid. Shamans commune with nature spirits and are often known to shapeshift into animal form. That's a druid. In fact, in the real world shapeshifting is far more strongly associated with shamanism than with druidism.
This is like demotion for the druid to go to shaman not evolution for some things. I believe that druid and shaman are 2 different classes in the same environment.
 



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