One of the the things to keep in mind about Shamans is their new Hex Vulnerability. 1st level spell, single target, close range, round/lvl duration: "The targeted creature becomes susceptible to a repeat use of your hexes, even if you could not otherwise target that creature with a particular hex for a certain time period. For example, normally after you target a creature with a charm hex, you cannot target it again for 1 day. But after casting this spell on a creature, you could try the charm hex repeatedly as long as the spell persists. The end of this spell has no effect on any active or ongoing hex on a creature. Fox example, if the creature failed its save against a second use of your charm hex, it remains charmed for the normal duration, even if the spell expires before the hex does." Remember that your allies can always voluntarily fail their saves so this spell makes a lot of buff hexes more useful. The Shaman actually makes a very powerful out of combat buffer thanks to this.
Hex Vulnerability has been nerfed to only apply to harmful hexes, so if you are playing with the errata, it's no longer worth grabbing.
Also, while the Shaman can't get the Split Hex feat, he can at least use a Rod of Voracious Hexes (9k gp) for 3/day: Split Hex. And speaking of Rods, you might also be interested in the Rod of Abrupt Hexes (35k gp) for 3/day: swift action hex. Furthermore, there are no restrictions against using multiple hex rods and there are no somatic components on hexes, so using both rods simultaneously can come in handy.Shaman HexesChant:
It's Cackle. If you're using Fortune or Misfortune (or Evil Eye), take it.Charm:
You could stack it with Charm Person for a Helpful ally in combat, I guess, but that round duration is generally awful.Evil Eye:
It's a decent debuff, but Misfortune is much better. At level 8 it becomes quite a bit nastier. Conceivably at high levels you might use a Rod of Abrupt Hexes and Drop Misfortune + Evil Eye + Chant in one turn and watch as an enemy (or two if you also stack a Rod of Voracious Hexes) has -4 penalty to saves or whatever and need to take the worse of two rolls for everything until the end of combat.Fetish:
Craft Wondrous Item and a +4 insight bonus on Spellcraft checks to identify magic items. If GM allows item creation feats, then it's a good choice.Fortune:
Very strong buff for allies.Fury:
It's an okay buff, but Fortune is a better pick and a better use of actions.Healing:
This used to be worth taking with the old Hex Vulnerability spell, by either using a Wand of Hex Vulnerability or casting a Hex Vulnerability yourself and repeatedly hexing them for the duration. However, with the current change, this is a complete waste of a hex.Misfortune:
Very strong debuff. Watch your enemies fail at everything.Secret:
Extra metamagic is good.Shapeshift:
You can already cast Alter Self from your spell list and the other spells arrive absurdly late. I'd pass on this.Tongues:
Don't waste a hex. Just cast the spell if you need it. You're a divine caster so you don't even need to worry about having Tongues in your spellbook.Ward:
Free +2 AC or +2 resist for someone else until you get hit / fail a save. The good thing is you can apply this out of combat as a freebie. The bad is that you can only apply one and it's liable to fall off quickly. As for the resist bonus, any decent player will just wear Cloak of Resistance later on anyway. I would skip this hex because you have more important options.Witch Hex:
Grabbing any Witch hex you want is very good. But you can only grab this hex once, so be careful. If you're playing an Unsworn Shaman, however, you can still nab as many Witch hexes as you like with your minor spirits.Witch Hexes
I'm only going to mention the ones worth considering.Cauldron:
Shaman is arguably the best Brew Potion user in the game (spell lists: Wizard+Shaman+Spirits+some cleric spells) in the game. The doubled cost usually takes a lot of flak but it's still worthwhile for the action economy of letting non-casters buff themselves. Best for an Unsworn Shaman so you don't burn up your only Witch hex.Flight:
It's a very good hex. Free feather fall. 1/day levitate, and supernatural flight (which can't get dispelled) for a lot of combats.Prehensile Hair:
Gives you an extra hand to use magic items and lets you make AoOs at 5 and 10 feet. Remember, if you only have 1 natural attack it's always treated as a primary natural attack doing damage at 1½ your bonus
(so this hex is much better if you don't have other natural attacks). But using a natural attack in a full attack combined with iterative weapon attacks reduces it to a secondary attack by default. Part of the fun of this is playing a reach Shaman with Prehensile Hair for heavy hitting attacks at multiple reach increments, along with having 3 hands to use magic items. Downside is spending a standard action to activate in combat, but with a Rod of Abrupt Hexes you can later make it a swift action instead.Scar:
If you're interested in being a stay-at-home Shaman, I suppose.Silkstring Snare:
Single-target entangle is useful. It will generally cost them 1 turn to escape with a standard action (dealing enough damage is the easiest option early on). Of course you could also just cast the Entangle spell as a Shaman.Slumber:
At will single-target sleep. Possibly your best choice. But there is one other heavy contender...Soothsayer:
Combined with Fortune and Chant you can prepare your entire party with a Fortune out of combat
for every combat (probably wants a Wand of Hex Vulnerability though)
and then Chant your way through combat for some absurd rolling strength. This easily turns the Shaman into a powerhouse buffer. If your Shaman reaches level 8, the two round duration on Fortune ensures you don't have to spend surprise rounds just chanting.
When it comes to considering a main spirit as a Shaman, while a good hex selection is preferable, a bad hex selection isn't crippling or even meaningful if you just spend your hexes on regular Shaman hexes instead. And if you're not an Unsworn Shaman, a bad spell selection can also be replaced with the Overseer or Serendipity Shaman archetypes. The Serendipity Shaman in particular is able to spend a hex or wandering hex on obtaining your regular Spirit Magic spells on top of that, and possesses a few decent hexes of its own.Ancestors
More of a utility spirit. It's mostly worthwhile for the spell list. All of the hexes are unimpressive, and the spirit abilities are so-so.Spells
- Unseen Servant: Unseen servants are fairly handy used right. They are mostly used for out of combat conveniences, but you can use them in combat to either mess with the terrain or fetch items from your bag for you. This spell gets better and better if you are a creative person.
- Spiritual Weapon: On your class spell list. Also, unless you're casting it at high levels, it's typically worse than just casting Summon Nature's Ally II.
- Heroism: This is a very useful buff. It lasts 10 min/lvl so you can apply it out of combat at your leisure.
- Spiritual Ally: It's like a standard action Summon Nature's Ally or Summon Monster (which would typically be better picks). Once you have access to Quicken metamagic rods, burning your swift actions can be wasteful if you need it to switch targets frequently, and if you don't need it to switch targets frequently, you're better off using Spiritual Weapon unless you're using it to give flanking bonuses to allies. Has some use against bosses, but Summon Monster and Summon Nature's Ally are probably better picks.
- Telekinesis: This spell has all kinds of good uses, from manipulating objects at a distance to moving around your enemies to exploding a barrage of attacks on your foes by hurling objects at them. You can also use it for combat maneuvers, but unless you are boosting your caster level and/or attack rolls (attack bonuses still get added to your Combat Maneuver Bonus) that's probably a losing proposition. Stuff like Heroism will certainly be of use if you want to do combat maneuvers. Divine Power is probably not a good idea though, since it burns a standard action in combat for a self-buff to attacks when you're at 11th level and casting spells.
Just to be clear on why you add attack bonuses while Telekinesis replaces your CMB, here is the text: "When you attempt to perform a combat maneuver, make an attack roll and add your CMB in place of your normal attack bonus. Add any bonuses you currently have on attack rolls due to spells, feats, and other effects. These bonuses must be applicable to the weapon or attack used to perform the maneuver. The DC of this maneuver is your target's Combat Maneuver Defense. Combat maneuvers are attack rolls, so you must roll for concealment and take any other penalties that would normally apply to an attack roll." The link above even specifically states that CMB is just "base attack bonus + Strength modifier + special size modifier" meaning that the attack bonuses are clearly outside the Combat Maneuver Bonus, so you still add attack bonuses to Telekinesis maneuvers.
- Greater Heroism: Unfortunately it has 1 min/lvl duration making it a combat buff. If you can prep right before entering a fight, this is might be worth using, but in combat you really shouldn't be spending 6th level spells on single-target buffs. The only time this spell will be useful mid-fight is if a party-member is frightened or panicked. In that case it will remove the condition, make them immune, and pump them up in one go.
- Ethereal Jaunt: It's a fairly underwhelming spell at this level. It's mostly a utility and escape spell that still leaves you vulnerable to force effects.
- Vision: On your class spell list as a 7th level spell. Getting it again with a 1 level penalty to boot is rather awful.
- Astral Projection: Strangely this spell is not on the Shaman spell list, even though it sounds rather shamanic. It costs 1000 gp per casting but the main perk of this spell is that your party can visit other planes without risking dying, since you only take 2 permanent negative levels (which you can easily remove by then) when your astral projection dies. I'm not sure Pathfinder lists anything that can actually destroy a silver cord, so unless someone casts Wish, Miracle, or you pick a fight with a deity, you should be fine.
Heroism and Unseen Servant might be better with the Fluid Magic hex or Runestones of Power for some repeat casting, but altogether the spell list is surprisingly useful.HexesAncestral Blessing:
Another out of combat bonus. Unlike the Ward hex, which lasts until you fail, this bonus lasts until you succeed, meaning it will only work once. In addition if you have a Bard or Evangelist Cleric doing Inspire Courage in the party, the competence bonuses won't stack. If you're single-classing Shaman and have hexes to spare this is one of those hexes you could just as well pick up since you can keep applying it for free out of combat, but typically you have much better hexes to grab than this.Ghost Blade:
This is a rather odd hex. It can only be used on an ally once per day, but it gives all their weapons Ghost Touch for a number of rounds equal to your charisma bonus so if you hand your weapons to the ally (like an unseen servant) who then shares their weapons with others, the weapons keep the Ghost Touch property. That said this ability is finicky to use, requires a high charisma bonus to have a workable duration, and is only good if you anticipate fighting lots of incorporeal enemies. So unless you're having one of those campaigns you're better off skipping this and even then you will probably want a ghost touch weapon rather than leaning on this hex. Overall it's a situational hex that might come in handy with Ghost Talker or a wandering spirit, but one you should avoid investing in as a permanent hex.Intercessor:
Speak with Dead is on the Shaman class list. Save the hex, cast Speak with Dead, and ask more than one question. Unless you're an Unsworn Shaman under level 5 who needs to ask a corpse questions, I don't see how picking up this hex would ever be a good decision.Might of the Fallen:
Just cast Lesser Restoration instead of wasting a precious hex on this.Wisdom of the Ages:
Unless you dumped int, I'd give it a pass unless you're trying to scrounge every knowledge bonus to use the Ritual Hex feat for Beseeching the Patron. Since your Shaman should be building ability scores for the Arcane Enlightenment hex though, you typically shouldn't be dumping int, which makes this hex rather marginal in its uses.Spirit Animal:
As long as you have a decent charisma bonus, this spell is mildly useful in three ways. One is that it allows your familiar to communicate with you before 5th level and communicate with your party or other people. Another is that your familiar might be able to translate for you if it obtains languages you don't have. And a third is that it can allow familiars who ordinarily cannot speak to use magic items with command word activations without having to make "activate blindly" UMD checks. I suppose it might invoke a rules debate on whether or not a familiar who cannot normally speak would be capable of vocalizing command words outside the languages the spirit bonus provides. If you are making the magic items yourself you can just set command words in a language the familiar speaks though.Spirit Ability:
Since the language doesn't say that it only lasts for a single attack/etc, this would give the target of your choice +2 to all attacks, saves, skills, or ability checks for a single round every time it's used. In combat it's fairly marginal unless you're at starting levels maybe, but out of combat if people need to make any skill checks or anything you get to give a free +2 bonus. So this spirit ability is somewhat useful.Greater Spirit:
Free +1 simple or martial weapon with automatic proficiency, but it lasts for 1 minute per Shaman level and costs a standard action. I'm not sure how much use this will have at level 8 to be honest, since you probably shouldn't be using this in combat. Unless your GM allows you to obtain weapons made of rare materials like adamantine or cold iron I'm not sure you'd ever use this in a combat setting. You might use this if you need a pickaxe to dig for a pinch I guess.True Spirit:
You're getting Planar Ally 5 levels later than you can cast it (in fact you can cast Greater Planar Ally 1 level before you get this), but you do waive the 1,250 gp cost of calling upon a planar ally I guess. Saves some money, although the Pathfinder Wealth By Level chart
suggests you should have a net worth of 315,000 gold at this level, but then again most of that will likely be tied up in magic items and a Tome of Understanding (+5).Manifestation:
You get to overkill your will saving throws a little more, 60 foot blindsense (sadly not blindsight), and you have +4 caster level for divinations (I'm not sure what caster level 24 divinations are good for, really). The main perk is free astral projection 1/day. Honestly everything about this is negligible. Battle
Obviously more of a martial spirit. Mostly, it just sucks. This is the kind of spirit you may want to use as an Unsworn Shaman at level 2 just for Enlarge Person and Battle Master but otherwise it's some serious trash even for martials.Spells
- Enlarge Person: Boosts your reach, lowers your dex, boosts your strength, and increases the damage die. Probably your best 1st level damage buff spell, especially since you don't get Divine Favor (unless you use that favored class bonus).
- Fog Cloud: On your class spell list.
- Magic Vestment: On your class spell list.
- Wall of Fire: 2 levels sooner than your spell list, but still a terrible spell unless you are using it with Dazing Spell metamagic, which is autoban by sane GMs.
- Righteous Might: Good for martially inclined Shamans I suppose, but the DR/good or DR/evil question is probably going to invoke a rules debate since the text doesn't say anything and there is no FAQ.
- Mass Bull's Strength: At this level, it's trash.
- Control Weather: On your class spell list.
- Earthquake: On your class spell list.
- Storm of Vengeance: On your spell list.
Basically an extra AoO. Not bad if you're going to for an AoO build without investing in dex or combat reflexes. Fairly useful with Enlarge Person which lowers your dex as it boosts your reach. You're probably not going to see the rest of the perks because you'll have prestiged out by then. Maybe the Weapon Specialization on an Unsworn Shaman if you decide to go for 8 levels.Battle Ward:
Unlike the Ward hex, this one wears down whenever you're attacked, regardless of whether or not it hits. Now that Hex Vulnerability has been nerfed you can't even re-buff people for multiple combats. Overall a rather bad hex.Curse of Suffering:
I tend to think of bleed as a pretty lousy effect, sorry. Any heal will remove it. If you can think of a way to do decent ability bleed it might be useful though.Eyes of Battle:
Swift action is nice, but if you're dealing with invis this still leaves you at 50% concealment and no targeting. More useful against cover but then it's just a situational attack bonus.Hampering Hex:
You could just use Evil Eye instead if this is what you're after. You can Chant Evil Eye but you can't Chant a Hampering Hex. If you double stack though I guess they'll have a low AC.Spirit Animal:
AC on your familiar. If this is relevant, you're doing it wrong.Spirit Ability:
Scaling morale bonus for the party's attacks. It's alright while it lasts. But while the bonus gets better at high levels (assuming you haven't prestiged out), you will also have better uses for your standard actions than this.Greater Spirit:
Swift action Bane is good for martials I suppose.True Spirit:
At level 16 you really have better things to do than this.Manifestation:
It's pounce at 20 with some slight perks. Bad.Bones
Similar to how the Battle spirit is a spirit that doesn't really fight, the Bones spirit is a spirit that doesn't really help your necromancy. By and large, it's another weak option, but with a few decent perks at class level 16.Spells
- Cause Fear: On your class spell list.
- False Life: On your class spell list.
- Animate Dead: On your class spell list.
- Fear: On your class spell list.
- Slay Living: One level discount. However PF's Slay Living is so hilariously overnerfed that it's unusable shit anyway.
- Circle of Death: HD cap means it will only kill enemies that weren't a threat.
- Control Undead: Always good if you're up against undead.
- Horrid Wilting: On your class spell list.
- Wail of the Banshee: On your class spell list.
It blows.HexesBone Lock:
Fort save for 1 round stagger. At level 8, it will give you multiple rounds of stagger, at the expense of giving enemies a save every round as if this were helpless condition like Hold Person. At level 16 it will finally only give them a single fortitude save instead of every round, but I'm pretty sure you'd have a better use for your actions at that stage than a single-target fort save or stagger.Bone Ward:
It's a free Ring of Protection +4 for 1 hour at level 16. Can't even get dispelled. Until level 16 though, it's worthless.Deathly Being:
Good if you're doing an evil campaign with some kind of cleric in your party, and bad if you're not. At level 16 you get one of the Dhampir's niftier racial perks.Fearful Gaze:
If you want to use a mind-affecting Will save or lose hex, grab the Witch's Slumber hex instead. That one won't last 1 round and doesn't need level 8 or fear stacking to produce a lose condition.Grave Sight:
I'm pretty sure you could also just use the Heal skill (Wis-based, class skill) to ascertain this information about everyone you see, and that won't cost you a hex or standard action. You could also use the Human favored class bonus to take Deathwatch (1st level spell) from the Cleric list as a 10 minutes/lvl out-of-combat buff instead of an in-combat standard action.Spirit Animal:
Blur on your familiar. Useful for stealth/scouting since it's permanent concealment.Spirit Ability:
Shitty damage, and with Deathly Being you can convert it into a shitty self-heal! But you'd be better off grabbing the Healing hex instead of Deathly Being hex if you want heals.Greater Spirit:
DR/magic at a level when you're already up against magic weapons and spells anyhow. Brilliant. Has uses against animals I suppose.True Spirit:
Limited incorporeal form. Incorporeal is really solid though.Manifestation:
Really you just get a boosted Power Word: Kill. The trouble with Power Words is that you generally don't know their hitpoints and if you guess wrong it's wasted. Better pump that Heal skill and see if you can make the GM tell you your opponents' hitpoints.Flame
If you like blasting, I suppose you could pick it. But I wouldn't recommend this. Devastating with Dazing Spell metamagic though.Spells
- Burning Hands: Woah it's one of the best 1st-level spells according to paizo! Just like paizo's advice, it's trash. Also, on your class spell list.
- Resist Energy: On your class spell list. Surprisingly, this one didn't get narrowed into being extra terrible as fire only.
- Fireball: I don't recommend blasting.
- Wall of Fire: 1 level sooner than your spell list, but still a terrible spell.
- Summon Monster V (Fire Elementals only): Summon Monster V would be good, but not if you're just down to fire elementals.
- Incendiary Cloud: On your class spell list.
- Fire Storm: 1 level sooner than your spell list, but for a 7th level spell this is rather unimpressive.
- Incendiary Cloud: Fog cloud + damage. Not very impressive, but you could use the concentration and range to murder something from a distance if you box 'em in.
- Fiery Body: Eh, immunity to fire damage plus some perks. You could just Shapechange instead though.
It blows.HexesCinder Dance:
Permanent move speed bonus, nice.Fire Nimbus:
Will negates. It sucks.Flame Curse:
Presents an argument for blasting. Given a Rod of Abrupt Hexes, you could do some damage.Gaze of Flames:
I'd call it solid if it weren't a standard action to activate, but this is just really situational.Ward of Flames:
Prep the party with fire damage. All in all pretty meh in my book.Spirit Animal:
Bad for scouting, damage shouldn't matter, but gains ability to cross lava. Don't see much use for it unless you intend on having your familiar deliver a Necklace of Fireballs. Picks up some value with Protector archetype on your familiar if you ever take fire damage, as your familiar takes half instead of you.Spirit Ability:
That touch damage is just anemic for a standard action and at 11th level it gives you flaming which will be great against those Fire Resist 5 monsters.Greater Spirit:
Fire resist 10 is something I suppose. Do note that Fire resist does not stack with, say, Resist Energy.True Spirit:
Undispellable Elemental Body IV with a 1/hour level duration. Long enough to last you all waking hours anyhow. If you have the Eschew Materials feat you can cast spells since elemental forms permit somatic and verbal components.Manifestation:
Fire resist 30 is okay and the free metamagics are limited to fire spells only. Not particularly impressive for a capstone.Heavens
Unimpressive but has a few perks. In an outdoors campaign you might consider using Guiding Star.Spells
- Color Spray: Unfortunately you do not get Awesome Display, but Color Spray is still great for wiping out low-level encounters.
- Hypnotic Pattern: Useful for hoodwinking enemies or giving your party a buff+surprise round, I suppose. But only if you manage to fascinate the entire encounter.
- Daylight: On your class spell list.
- Rainbow Pattern: See Hypnotic Pattern.
- Overland Flight: On your class spell list. Great spell, but you're typically better off burning a prepared slot than a Spirit Magic slot for this.
- Chain Lightning: Blasting, huzzah.
- Prismatic Spray: You're better off casting a spell that inflicts the condition you want than praying Prismatic Spray does something useful.
- Sunburst: On your class spell list.
- Meteor Swarm: Blasting, k.
On the bright side you have a lot of spells outside your class list. On the other hand, it's a rather lousy selection here.HexesEnveloping Void:
Basically Will Save or Blind in normal (dim if darkvision) light, and concealment for everything in bright light. As a supernatural ability, you can't negate this with light spells. Pretty useful unless they have blindsight, but if you have Slumber hex this is only good for mindless enemies.Guiding Star:
1 free metamagic per night and the ability to add Wis to Cha-based skill checks at night. Useful in outdoors campaigns. Useless for dungeon delving.Heaven's Leap:
1/day 30 foot combat TP. Waste of a hex.Lure of the Heavens:
Despite looking like Flight's retarded cousin, it actually fulfills a different niche from Flight on closer examination. The main benefits of Lure of the Heavens are leaving no tracks at 1 and permanently ignoring most difficult terrain, pressure traps, pitfall traps, and walking over water surfaces at 5. Level 9 though you should have Overland Flight to cover that anyway. At level 10, it just gives you the situational benefit of burning standard actions for undispellable flight in combat.Starburn:
Awful blasting hex. Avoid.Spirit Animal:
Flight is good for the familiar. Starmap gives you free Know Direction.Spirit Ability:
It won't reveal invisible enemies unless you already know where they are. Other than that it's just an attack roll debuff.Greater Spirit:
Supernatural darkvision is alright.True Spirit:
Prismatic wall is the only good ability here, assuming you can lure enemies into it.Manifestation:
Wis to all saves and free reincarnate are good, but what the hell is a Star Child? Maybe they meant Shining Child. If so, then you also get Cha to AC (unless you're in supernatural darkness).Life
Woefully underwhelming but you might be glad to have this as an option for Wandering Spirit. The only real reason to take the Life spirit as your spirit would be that you are planning on making a channel shaman build. In that case you should really take the Serendipity Shaman archetype and maybe even the Witch Doctor archetype too if you are determined to max out your channels. Serendipity Shaman archetype in particular compensates for the abysmal spell list and hexes.Spells
- Detect Undead: On your class list.
- Lesser Restoration: On your class list.
- Neutralize Poison: 1 level sooner than your class list, but certainly not worth going out of your way for.
- Restoration: On your class list.
- Breath of Life: On your class list.
- Heal: 1 level sooner than your class list.
- Greater Restoration: On your class list.
- Mass Heal: 1 level sooner than your class list. Sooner than anyone else can get it, in fact.
- True Resurrection: Not on your class list. But it might as well be, now that you can use a Wandering Spirit to pick up the spell should you need it.
At end-game levels, the value of this list picks up a bit, but until then it's not worth having. I could see picking it up for a day at levels 5 and 6 if you need to remove some long-lasting poison. At level 6 in particular you could combine it with the Fluid Magic hex from the Water spirit to repeatedly cast Neutralize Poison until it's gone. It's worth noting that virtually all of these spells are typically cast out of combat, so usually you'd just prepare a bit out of combat and then cast the spells from your class list instead of using precious spirit magic slots on them.HexesCurse of Suffering:
The bleed damage is total garbage, but halving all heal effects taken might be situationally useful. As far as I can tell, this would even halve Fast Healing. Overall this is more Wandering Hex material, but if you have enemies with self-heals you might be glad you have this.Deny Succor:
I have my doubts about when this would ever be a good use of actions.Enhanced Cures:
Typically you will be healing out of combat and either using up channel energy or a wand of cure light wounds and the like for healing. The only reason to consider this is if you intend to toss quickened cures with your true spirit ability.Life Link:
If you are going for the Arcane Enlightenment hex, you simply won't have the hitpoints for this to be viable. Otherwise, it's got some use since you can apply it out of combat, but really the price of it is that you will eat a lot of damage in combat. If you're going for the Stay-at-home Shaman this might be much more fun if your GM rules that Scar also extends the Life Link maximum range.Life Sight:
Just like Grave Sight, I'm pretty sure you could also just use the Heal skill (Wis-based, class skill) to ascertain this information about everyone you see, and that won't cost you a hex or standard action, but the level 12 blindsight is something new. On the other hand, if you have Arcane Enlightenment you could just cast Echolocation out of combat instead.Spirit Animal:
Strictly speaking it adds Fast Healing 1 to your nonexistent animal companion. Adding Fast Healing 1 (or increasing Fast Healing by 1) for a familiar is quite useless unless it has the Protector archetype in which case extra fast healing is great.Spirit Ability:
Channeling energy is still a pretty bad use of standard actions in combat, but if you have a high charisma you could take the Quicken Channel feat and channel as a move action, which is really nice (and there's nothing competing for your move actions, even if you need to move you can still have a five foot step). Might be more useful if you use it for Variant Channeling, such as the Rulership (only if your party is using language-dependent or charm spells), Secrets (if you have a lot of psychics in the party I guess), Justice (if you're a lawful party), or Trickery variant channels. Self-Perfection might be decent too.Greater Spirit:
If you're going to burn a standard action to stabilize multiple party members, maybe you should be channeling positive energy instead. You also get a +4 on heal checks, in case you were going to use heals.True Spirit:
Swift action cures and channels are nice to have, but at this level you probably have a metamagic rod of quicken spell and it's still a bad use of swift actions. Overall one of the weaker True Spirit abilities, but if you're determined to go channel crazy, you now have the option to channel as a standard, swift, and move action.Manifestation:
That's a decent list of immunities (bleed, death attacks, negative energy, fatigued, exhausted, sickened, and nauseated) but otherwise not that special.Lore
It's another highly situational list which is better for a Wandering Spirit than as your main spirit, unless it is a level 16-20 campaign and you want that Time Stop and Manifestation. Arcane Enlightenment is excellent but better used as a temporary hex. If you take the Lore spirit as your main spirit, at least you can use the Ritual Hex feat to obtain Arcane Enlightenment as needed, freeing up your Wandering Spirit and Spirit Talker feat for other spirits.Spells
- Identify: It's a detect magic with a +10 enhancement bonus. It also lets you roll will saves against Magic Aura. At least you won't have to worry about identifying unknown magic items when you come across them, but you can just use a Wandering Spirit to pick it up in that circumstance.
- Tongues: 2 levels sooner than your class list. Good to have sooner, but situational enough to leave to a wandering spirit.
- Locate Object: Also situational, but can help with fetch quests.
- Legend Lore: The utility of this spell depends on highly on the nature of your campaign and DM.
- Contact Other Plane: You'll have to figure out a way to solve the painful int checks and even then you'd want to combine it with Fluid Magic to repetitively cast it for greater certainty that you had a useful result. And even then its usefulness will depend on how generous your DM is feeling. It's, uh, bad.
- Mass Owl's Wisdom: On your class list.
- Vision: On your class list.
- Moment of Prescience: When you do use it, you can't fail (unless you roll a 1 on a save/attack or the enemy rolls a 20 vs your AC). It's good.
- Time Stop: This spell is godly. Works wonders with an Extend Metamagic Rod piled on top. There's a lot of spells you can cast that don't count as attacking the enemy, including walls and summons. A proper time stop means you rigged the fight so the enemy cannot win.
On the upshot of it, this list has a lot of spells you do not get on your class list (and tongues which you won't get to cast until level 7 otherwise). Most of the time though, this is the kind of situational list that makes you happy when you need it and remember you can use your Wandering Spirit to obtain the list.HexesArcane Enlightenment:
If the fact that I listed out a MAD build (in 3 stats, no less) for the sole purpose of making this hex work doesn't tell you how good this hex is once you get it to work, I don't know what to tell you. That said, you do NOT want to use your class hex on Arcane Enlightenment, since it's better as a pickup for a Spirit Talker feat or Ritual Hex feat or Wandering Hex feature so that you can swap around the Wizard spells you can prepare every day. This hex basically turns your Shaman into a gestalt Shaman/Wizard. Incidentally, a spell once prepared stays in that slot even if you lose the ability to prepare the spell later (same reason why a Wizard doesn't lose his prepared spells if you remove his spellbook - it doesn't un-prepare the spells; heck, the Wizard even has rules for transcribing prepared spells into a new spellbook for that circumstance). It's also why the Fluid Magic hex from the Waves spirit explicitly removes the prepared spirit magic spells should you lose the associated wandering spirit - because if it didn't say that, you would keep the spells since that is the default. You are also not required to prepare new spells into all of your slots at the start of a new day (in fact it is recommended for prepared casters to keep some slots unprepared so that they can take 15 minute breaks for fast spell preparation to fill those spells in as-needed). You just can't prepare into a slot you expended in the past day. This means it is possible to maintain an Arcane Enlightenment spell into the next day without the hex, so long as you don't prepare a new spell into its slot. (You can even keep expended spells from the previous day, in which case I assume you are doing it either because you'd rather restore the Wizard spell with a Pearl of Power or because you're just leaving the slot unprepared so you can prepare a new spell into it as-needed mid-dungeon.) It also means that Spirit Talker's 1 hour duration does not affect how long you have to cast the spell, only how long you have to prepare it.Benefit of Wisdom:
Funnily enough this Hex is much
better if you don't
build for Arcane Enlightenment and dumped int. Still, a bonus is a bonus. Unless you dumped int, I'd give it a pass unless you're trying to scrounge every knowledge bonus to use the Ritual Hex feat for Beseeching the Patron.Brain Drain:
The damage is far too lousy to be a good use of actions and the 1 round time limit to make a full-round action with their Knowledge modifier shuts out most elaborate uses of Knowledge. It does operate as a single-target Detect Thoughts but it's nowhere near as subtle as Detect Thoughts itself, and it only works once per day unless you are willing to cast Hex Vulnerability on them over and over. This hex is just bad.Confusion Curse:
The main benefit of Confusion is applying it to multiple enemies and watching them devolve into in-fighting. Unless you are using rods of abrupt and voracious hexes (which are quite pricey), I can't see this being useful.Share Knowledge:
Well, if your party needs more knowledge rolls, maybe. The 1/day per target limit makes it even more useless than normal though.Spirit Animal:
While your familiar shouldn't be fighting in a conventional sense, initiative can be handy if your familiar is assisting combat with magic items, and it helps you use your familiar for scouting, but typically a familiar already has a very large stealth bonus from its size alone.Spirit Ability:
You can use a standard action to gain a +2 to attack and AC versus a single enemy. It's vaguely useful at level 1 but later on it's pretty bad.Greater Spirit:
Honestly, Divination is on your class list, and usually you will use an off-day to chain-cast it anyway. That said the 90% chance of success is nice, and you can't go higher without a Messenger of Fate feat.True Spirit:
Free tongues (which you can just cast) isn't meaningful unless you anticipate having to translate inside an anti-magic field. +10 to those all Knowledge/Linguistics/Spellcraft is nice, but by that level you've probably solved any problems you had with those checks.Manifestation:
Free wish once per day. That's amazing. The downsides are that you can't use it to cast spells with expensive material components or obtain ability score increases, but even so, this is excellent.Mammoth
It's another weak option for martial Shamans.Spells
- Enlarge Person: Boosts your reach, lowers your dex, boosts your strength, and increases the damage die. Probably your best 1st level damage buff spell, especially since you don't get Divine Favor (unless you use that favored class bonus).
- Bull's Strength: On your class list.
- Rage: Unless your party is sporting raging and courageous weapons this is generally not a good use of your spells.
- Stoneskin: One level sooner than your class list. The buff is good but the component cost is bad, so you probably wouldn't want to use this.
- Beast Shape III: If you wanted to go play a martial Shaman, I guess you'll like it for the ability to turn into a pouncing form with 5 natural attacks. Otherwise, it's just some circumstantial utility for scouting and fast flight at the expense of spellcasting.
- Tar Pool: As a 6th level spell, you could probably do better, but it's basically Web's more aggravating and damaging cousin.
- Summon Nature's Ally VII: It's been errata'd onto your class list.
- Frightful Aspect: Pretty sure the DR 10/magic won't matter at this level, but it's a solid defensive buff overall. The no-save shaken condition also ensures your enemies have -2 to all saves vs your spells among other things.
- Polar Midnight: On your class list
Nothing to sing home about, really.HexesBurden of the Beast:
It's a will save to reduce someone's maximum dex bonus to 3 and reduce their movement speed. Pass.Mammoth's Hide:
You can self-cast Barkskin and you'd do much better. It makes an alright out-of-combat buff for party members with the 10min duration if you have decent charisma.Phantom Stampede:
The good part is that it's a no save effect to give spellcasters -4 to concentration. Could be interesting with Tar Pool. Overall I'm not sure if this is a good use of standard actions later on.Primal Speaker:
It's an entirely too circumstantial form of Speak with Animals and Charm Animal is on your spell list.Thunderfoot:
Overrun maneuvers aren't that great and at level 9 you can just use Beast Shape III to obtain trample. The Greater Overrun will let you take a second attack against someone you just trampled, but a pouncing attack would've been better. Not good, really.Spirit Animal:
+2 strength for a familiar that shouldn't be in combat. And when your familiar turns into an animal companion and the +2 bonus would be marginally useful, it instead loses the +2 bonus. That's just bad.Spirit Ability:
As a standard action, you can make a single, proficient unarmed attack with a fort save vs daze. Except the save is charisma-based. Pass.Greater Spirit:
If you're going martial Shaman, you'll like it. If you're not, you really won't care, except for your carrying capacity, maybe.True Spirit:
Animal companions are good, but at level 16 and with those options, you'd rather have an Improved Familiar.Manifestation:
At 20th level your Shaman can freely turn into and out of Elephant forms which give up all spellcasting. This is just an option to shoot yourself in the foot now. If you are not casting spells at level 20, you are doing something horribly wrong.Nature
The main draws of this spirit are Friend to Animals for spontaneous Summon Nature's Ally and the spirit ability to Blur your whole party against big threats. At level 16 it also turns your familiar into an animal companion, which is rather late for martial pets. If you're going for a summoner Shaman, picking it up for Friend to Animals is probably worth it (unless you are using Arcane Enlightenment and/or the human favored class bonus for Summon Monster instead).Spells
- Charm Animal: On your class list.
- Barkskin: On your class list.
- Speak With Plants: Not on your class list, but situational and the utility depends on your GM's generosity. Given that "the more stupid ones may make inane comments" and plants with any intelligence score are a bit of a rarity, this is pretty underwhelming. You might think to Awaken a tree to ask it questions, but then it already knows at least one language of your choosing anyway.
- Grove of Respite: One level sooner than your class list. It's like Alarm, Goodberry, and Create Water rolled into one spell. Unlike Tiny Hut it will neither conceal your party nor offer any protection beyond the alarm. You will typically have better resting options than this and you can already cast Create Water and Goodberry.
- Awaken: One level sooner than your class list. It's situational. For 2000 gp you make a plant or animal friendly to you and increase its stats. An awakened animal can no longer serve as a familiar or animal companion... but it is friendly to you and will obey tasks that are not in its best interest, which essentially fulfills an animal companion's role anyway.
- Stone Tell: One level sooner than your class list. Good for investigations, but situational.
- Creeping Doom: Sadly does not work on flying creatures, but otherwise extremely powerful. The use of a spell DC to determine the poison and distraction means these can inflict some downright nasty effects. Also, a thorough reading of Pathfinder's swarm rules shows that PF swarm attacks explicitly are not standard melee attacks and instead their swarm attack occurs automatically at the end of a move (unlike 3.5). Since you now have a free standard action to use as a second move action, it is now possible to move a swarm to a creature's square, collect your swarm attack (distraction and nausea too) then use the standard as a second move and invade another creature for a second swarm attack. This also means you can have all 4 swarms stop through a single enemy's square for 16d6 (no attack roll or save) and four fortitude saving rolls of both nausea and poison and then have them swarm another 4 creatures individually. You can even have the last swarm use its second move to leave the square and loop back for a fifth swarm attack (20d6 and 5 saves of poison + 5 saves of nausea please). This is completely unlike 3.5 but you can thank PF for fixing what wasn't broken so we can do this. (Pathfinder sadly has a lot of ill-conceived rules changes like this. The main reason why character optimizers dislike PF is not because PF is "balanced" - which it REALLY isn't - but because we understand balance problems and Paizo promised to fix 3.5 then did loads of unbalanced stuff like this and proceeded to ban everyone pointing out what Paizo was doing wrong. Word of advice: Any company with a policy of defending all of the company's decisions against criticism by taking a hostile and/or dismissive stance is a company with its head up its ass.)
- Animal Shapes: On your class list.
- World Wave: It looks cool and sounds cool but it moves you in a single direction which is bad for maneuvering and has limited width for bulldozing. This spell typically has no use unless you have no one with teleports.
Nothing to sing home about, really.HexesEntangling Curse:
You're much better off actually casting Entangle from your spell list.Erosion Curse:
This might have had some marginal use if you could target the same object multiple times. Fortunately, Paizo ensured you can only use it once per day unless you burn through Hex Vulnerability. It's awful.Friend to Animals:
Spontaneous Summon Nature's Ally and animals in 30 feet of you gain your charisma bonus to all their saves. It's no longer as valuable now that Summon Nature's Ally is on your spell list and Animal Soul no longer qualifies you as an animal, but spontaneous SNA is still good to have and you can still obtain the animal type with the level 20 manifestation. If you have a charisma bonus it does boost the saving throws of many of your summons.Speak with Animals:
It's an extremely limited and circumstantial form of Speak with Animals. For some reason Speak with Animals is not on the Shaman list but these limits are pretty bad. The utility of this hex rises drastically if you instead use a Wandering Hex to obtain the ability to speak with the exact animal you want at the moment you need it, but even then it's entirely too situational. It is just about the only way you can get speak with animals though, since it is one of the few spells that is not on the Shaman, Cleric, or Wizard lists.Stormwalker:
This gets a bit more interesting if you use battlefield shaping spells to impede movement and create difficult terrain but normally you're going to be moving at the rate of the rest of your party anyway. Most difficult terrain can also be ignored by the Heavens spirit's Lure of the Heavens but this will let you go through stuff like Solid Fog too.Spirit Animal:
Most of the time your familiar will be occupying your square and moving with you, so these perks are rather useless. For scouting rounds aren't so precious that you need your familiar to move at full speed either. This is only useful if you really need your familiar to fly off during heavy winds.Spirit Ability:
No save to effectively give everyone Blur against a single target. This can be quite useful. And at level 11 your weapons gain the Thundering weapon quality, which will actually do damage since sonic resistance is rare. On the other hand, you better hope your GM lets you voluntarily not make weapons Thundering because Thundering weapons are not subtle. Odds are thundering weapons won't matter since you are playing caster though, unless you're using a reach AoO build.Greater Spirit:
Not useful since you really shouldn't be dropping below 0 hitpoints. The fast healing doesn't do much either unless you are only barely hovering around 0 hp and it lets you re-enter the fight in a few rounds of healing.True Spirit:
Animal companions are good, and unlike the Mammoth spirit you get access to the full Druid list, but at level 16 it's a little late for that to matter.Manifestation:
Practically everything this spell heals for you, you could already heal off with spells. At least turning into an animal lets you gain charisma to all saves.Slums
Another one of those highly situational lists reserved for a Wandering Spirit.Spells
- Charm Person: On your class list.
- Summon Swarm: On your class list.
- Hold Person: Not only is it on your class list, but now you get it with a level penalty to cast as a 3rd-level spell instead of a 2nd-level spell. Paizo is really selling this spell list. At least the DC is 1 higher now, which can make a difference since Pathfinder lets enemies roll a new save on each of their turns.
- Confusion: A quality spell. Before long most of your enemies that fail saves will devolve into in-fighting.
- Wall of Stone: One level sooner than your class list. It's a very good spell as splitting up enemies can trivialize encounters and you won't even need to give them saving throws as you do it. But the Stone spirit would give you Wall of Stone as a 4th level spell.
- Mislead: Greater Invisibility plus an illusory duplicate. Since you don't even get invisibility otherwise, this certainly has its uses, provided your enemies do not have blindsight, truesight, and the like.
- Mass Hold Person: Well, you need every boost to the DC you can get from the 7th level, but this spell is rather onerous for subduing enemies. You'd better invest in boosting spell DCs and apply a Persistent Spell metamagic (rod) to it if you want this spell to last. If someone is adjacent to an enemy and has a high damage melee attack and/or a heavy crit multiplier on their weapon, they can likely kill that enemy with a quick coup de grace before paralysis wears off (assuming they are after the wizard and before the enemy in the initiative order).
- Maze: It's a no save spell to remove someone from combat unless they can make the int check. Splitting up enemies still trivializes encounters. And anyone with plane shift can just end up somewhere else when the Maze ends.
- Imprisonment: Essentially a will save or die.
Utter garbage at low levels but picks up some value at higher levels.HexesAccident:
Caster level checks to perform combat maneuvers are pretty fail unless you are employing some extreme caster level boosting, which you can't do so well to hexes and if you are heavily boosting caster levels you could probably just blast an enemy into oblivion instead. Caster level checks which become saving throw DCs on the other hand are rather strong, depending on the effect. Has some use for toppling enemies over into pits or off of bridges and ledges, but you don't have access to the Create Pit line of spells normally.Bad Penny:
No good in combat unless your DM lets you use Sleight of Hand to sneak it into someone's pocket, but you can curse coins out of combat and it doesn't expire until the condition is met. Curiously, there's no limit to the amount of coins you can hex this way either, so you can curse 600 coins per hour if you feel like it. If you ever wanted to give yourself a stealth mission to try to curse an organization, this will give you an outlet. On the other hand, you can also use a Wandering Hex to curse some coins silly and keep them around for when you need to curse people.City Spirit:
Temporarily gain a +4 bonus to dex and wisdom based skill checks. No good for any long-term activity though. Helps with Acrobatics and Escape Artist and maybe Sleight of Hand and Heal and Survival tracking. Overall rather marginal.Speak with Animals:
It's an extremely limited and circumstantial form of Speak with Animals. For some reason Speak with Animals is not on the Shaman list but these limits are pretty bad. The utility of this hex rises drastically if you instead use a Wandering Hex to obtain the ability to speak with the exact animal you want at the moment you need it, but even then it's situational.Ward of the City:
Would've been better with the un-nerfed Hex Vulnerability. As it stands it's an alright but rather situational out-of-combat buff. Unless you are in the habit of wearing Fortification armor or getting sick/poisoned this won't change anything, and even if you did you'd usually have spells to deal with that.Spirit Animal:
+4 initiative might mean something if your familiar is in the habit of supporting your party with items and SLAs but otherwise is not particularly helpful.Spirit Ability:
More flavorful than useful, although it oddly gives you an ability to escape anti-magic fields. The utility of this spell picks up quite a bit if you and your party members are in the habit of carrying around doors (with a doorframe) so that you can plant them and toss them and just walk through them. With a Wizard (or Arcane Enlightenment) you can even apply Invisibility with Permanency to those doors and maybe use Magic Aura to hide the invis and/or nondetection for extra mysterious movement but normally you want cheap disposable doors. At level 14 it works like Tree Stride which lets you go door hopping for much more distance, but you still cannot bring friends.Greater Spirit:
It's not entirely clear whether the "When in an urban environment, the shaman blends into the streets around her, making her difficult to pin down." is a fluff line explaining that Shamans are hard to pin down cities or a restriction indicating the Evasion and Improved Uncanny Dodge features work inside cities only. If it is the former, then this Greater Spirit is quite good. If it's the latter, then it's quite awful except for Wandering Spirits. I'm inclined to say it's just flavor text giving a reason why our Shaman has Evasion and Uncanny Dodge because it's too indirect to be serious rules text.True Spirit:
Apparently nothing says "Paragon of the City" like knifing people in the dark, according to Paizo. Essentially turns you into a Rogue for the duration and with Mislead you even have a Greater Invisibility to use this with (assuming your enemies still do not have blindsight, scent, truesight, etc. at level 16+). Still, if you are busy knifing people as a Rogue without feats at level 16 or actually have the feats for a Rogue build, you might
be playing the Shaman wrong.Manifestation:
These bonuses are pretty much a joke at this point.