Author Topic: [WIP] Power's Guide to the Pathfinder Shaman  (Read 39377 times)

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[WIP] Power's Guide to the Pathfinder Shaman
« on: April 11, 2015, 08:53:44 AM »
Discussion thread: Here


Welcome to my guide for the Shaman class. I know the Shaman class looks very weak for a full caster, but as it turns out he's got enough tricks up his sleeves to be surprisingly capable. My guide is here to show you how. You may have noticed that the Shaman gets the Arcane Enlightenment hex which gives him access to Wizard spells. You may have written it off because of how ludicrously MAD it is. But, your best bet as a Shaman is actually to take the MADness on the chin and grab Arcane Enlightenment anyway for some drastically superior spell access.

Your best way to get your MAD stats high is to use aging rules, which are not allowed in PFS despite being part of the core rules. For now, the guide does not use aging rules, but by all means feel free to apply them for a stronger Shaman.

So, a Shaman's stat array, caster style:
10 point buy: 7 str - 10 dex - 10 con - 12 int - 16 wis - 12 cha
15 point buy: 7 str - 12 dex - 12 con - 13 int - 16 wis - 12 cha
20 point buy: 7 str - 9 dex - 10 con - 13 int - 18 wis - 14 cha
20 point buy: 7 str - 9 dex - 12 con - 13 int - 16 wis - 16 cha

Time to answer some basic concerns about this build's weak defenses: For AC, consider running around in heavy armor and a tower shield (this will exceed your heavy encumbrance limit unless you have the muscle of the society combat trait and a masterwork backpack for +3 str for carrying capacity purposes). Divine spells don't suffer spell failure, so as long as you don't use attack rolls (including spells with attack rolls), you won't care about the lack of proficiency. For health, you should probably start with a Toad familiar (+3 hitpoints). Later on you should probably get an Improved Familiar with fast healing and the Protector archetype. If you're using the human favored class bonus, you should use the first two levels to pump health instead of getting cleric orisons. And get ready to buy a Belt of Mighty Constitution. If you want more starting health, you may want to get the Tribal Scars feat at level 1 since it gives you +6 health and your choice of perks (Raptorscale gives you +5 movespeed, Ice Chasm gives +1 reflex, bearpelt gives you +1 fortitude, etc - oh and they give skill bonuses too). For initiative, you may be interested in taking a +2 initiative trait like the Reactionary combat trait, but if you already took Muscle of the Society combat trait, then consider taking the Adopted social trait into Elven Reflexes / Warrior of Old race trait (+2 initiative again) or taking the Hermean Paragon region traits. Alternatively you can take the Survivor region trait (funnily enough, no region specified) which gives +1 to initiative, +1 to sense motive, and makes sense motive a class skill (Shamans do not get this skill).

If you are content with only one spell from Arcane Enlightenment, you can shore up defense stats instead, but you do get a much smaller Wizard spell selection each day.

Caster style:
10 point buy: 7 str - 8 dex - 10 con - 13 int - 18 wis - 7 cha
15 point buy: 7 str - 10 dex - 13 con - 13 int - 18 wis - 7 cha
20 point buy: 7 str - 13 dex - 14 con - 13 int - 18 wis - 7 cha

Martial style:
10 point buy: 12 str - 12 dex - 12 con - 13 int - 14 wis - 7 cha
15 point buy: 12 str - 12 dex - 12 con - 13 int - 16 wis - 7 cha
20 point buy: 14 str - 13 dex - 13 con - 13 int - 16 wis - 7 cha

If you decide to give up Arcane Enlightenment, stats become much easier but you give up your best spellcasting perks on a caster with the worst list of all casters.

Caster style:
10 point buy: 7 str - 10 dex - 14 con - 7 int - 18 wis - 7 cha
15 point buy: 7 str - 14 dex - 14 con - 7 int - 18 wis - 7 cha
20 point buy: 7 str - 14 dex - 16 con - 7 int - 18 wis - 7 cha

Martial style:
10 point buy: 14 str - 10 dex - 13 con - 7 int - 16 wis - 7 cha
15 point buy: 16 str - 10 dex - 13 con - 7 int - 16 wis - 7 cha
20 point buy: 16 str - 13 dex - 14 con - 7 int - 16 wis - 7 cha

For martial tricks, it's also possible to go for an AoO build with the Witch's Prehensile Hair hex (Wis-based for Shamans) instead of investing in strength and taking advantage of the fact that if you only have 1 natural attack it's always treated as a primary natural attack doing damage at 1½ your bonus. Which is a lot less painful than investing in Strength for a MAD caster like the Shaman, plus you'd have an attack that threatens at both 5 feet and 10 feet. The downside is spending a standard action to activate Prehensile Hair and investing your only Witch hex into obtaining it. But Prehensile Hair does give you an extra hand with which to activate magic items.

Also, if people insist on roleplaying mental stats, I would note that 7 int does not in fact make you a drooling retard. In Pathfinder, 3 int makes you an intelligent creature, so you still have quite a ways to fall before your character is THAT dumb, and 16 wis would mean your character is very sensible.

A Shaman's Favorite Races

Races With Human Favored Class Bonus
They give Wis and let you cast Cleric spells, fixing up a severely damaged spell list. Speaking of the favored class bonus, it's time to clear something up:

Question: The favored class bonus lets me prepare Cleric spells, right?
No. The human favored class bonus adds "spells known." Prepared divine casters do not have or use a "spells known" mechanic. Otherwise almost all Clerics and Druids would be running around with Eldritch Heritage (Arcane) for an Arcane Bond to cast their entire spell list spontaneously. This debate has been played out definitively many times over. Only spontaneous divine casters have a "spells known" mechanic. So, you can only cast these Cleric spells with your Spirit Magic feature, the spontaneous slots. However, the Fluid Magic hex from the Water spirit will let you prepare Spirit Magic spells in regular slots, so you can prepare Cleric spells that way. It's come to my attention that the FAQ here indicates that any spell added to your list of spells known by a class feature is also added to your class list. (We are assuming that favored class bonuses count as class features because otherwise the entire favored class bonus would be unusable under this FAQ.) That would mean you could prepare these Cleric spells not because they are spells known, but because becoming spells known also adds them to your class list. Whether or not one can also cast Cleric spells known from the spontaneous Spirit Magic slots (seeing as for divine spellcasters spells known means spontaneous spellcasting) is a bit of a quandary given that you can also prepare them through class slots. At least if your Shaman gets an Arcane Bond like a Sorcerer (Speaker of the Past Shaman with Eldritch Heritage (Arcane) for instance), you could cast any of your spells known with it, meaning the Cleric spells, but not your class spells, and perhaps or not the ordinary Spirit Magic spells either.

If you want my rambling explanation for how I missed that FAQ, I've been somewhat inconsistent in my applications of these new rules rewrites/"reinterpretations" paizo likes to do because usually they're just awful ways to indirectly nerf specific feats/tricks they obviously had in mind and if you truly try to apply these newfound general principles as universally as they claim them to be, you will find out that the new rulings break old content and sometimes even new content (yes, seriously - turns out paizo's own designers don't really keep up with their own rules changes and publish technically broken content every so often that relies on the old rulings to function) that were clearly not intended that way, so 9 times out of 10 I prefer to figure out which use cases that ruling was actually intended to curb, and apply the ruling (or rather, its intended nerf) to just those. It's pretty clear for instance that this ruling was really just meant to curb the combo of Greater Eldritch Heritage (Arcane) with Paragon Surge (they nerfed Paragon Surge in another FAQ, then just made it a proper errata for once) which was very popular among Oracles rather than ruin the Daivrat prestige class and Dreamed Secrets feat and the second evangelist boon of Deific Obedience (Urgathoa) for spontaneous casters while letting prepared casters continue enjoying cross-list spell access, since they cast with prepared spells, not spell slots, and mechanics that intend to apply to both, like the Preferred Spell and Theurgy feat, tend to explicitly call out "prepared spell or spell slot." Depending on your perspective this might be too pedantic of a reading, but PF itself doesn't shy from odd pedantic rulings either so whether or not you are supposed to parse rules in a more formal or loose fashion can be uncertain like that. Personally I tend to prefer ruling by RAW because it's more predictable and clear-cut ("Did it say X? No? Then it's not X.") whereas RAI can be a real guessing (and arguing) game, unless of course the RAI is clear-cut and RAW leads to dysfunctional mechanics. Now, I'm fairly certain in that example Jason Bulmahn was just nerfing the Cleave feat by making up rules minutiae so he can avoid calling it an errata since PF likes to nerf a lot of mechanics with creative rules re-interpretations and "clarifications" that way, but at the same time sometimes they also want you to treat the ruling as a totally real principle even if they forget it half the time they make new content, so issues abound. That said, I'm pretty sure even PFS will rule that the Daivrat prestige class lets you cast spells from other classes though because of how very explicitly that was intended, but you might want to expect table variation now (as for the Dreamed Secrets feat, it is indirectly banned in PFS - the feat isn't banned, but all of the gods in its prerequisite are). So I guess we're just having it both ways now. As for the Cleric spells added as spells known to Shamans, I don't think this was one of those cases of design marching on. I'm pretty sure the designer just had a superficial understanding of the game mechanics and just thought of "spells known" as generically meaning "spells you can cast" without considering the mechanical implications of his language.

On to the races...

Aasimar: Scion of Humanity alternate racial trait makes him count as a human.  +2 Wis boosts DCs and +2 Cha gives an extra spell with Arcane Enlightenment. Very good pick all around. You can also go Archon-Blooded (+2 Con, +2 Wis / Intimidate, Sense Motive / continual flame) or Garuda-Blooded (+2 Dex, +2 Wis / Acrobatics, Fly / see invisibility). The +2 Dex from Garuda-Blooded has some use for a reach Shaman build (equip reach weapon or use Prehensile Hair and get Combat Reflexes, then just cast spells while your AoOs do in enemies). Owing to the Shaman's MADness, +2 Cha is more valuable than normal. Additionally, you can replace the racial SLA with Lesser Age Resistance which is very useful if you can use the aging rules for bonuses to mental stats.

Human: Bonus feat is good and extra skill ranks are nice. Not much else to say. It's always a good pick, especially if you're feeling feat-starved. You could also trade Skilled for Fey Magic, Fey Thoughts, and Low-light vision (yes, all three). For Fey Thoughts I would strongly recommend taking Perception and Sense Motive as class skills (yes, seriously, the Shaman does not have them). For Fey Magic, take your pick, but the only druid orisons (0-level spells) that aren't on the Shaman list are Spark, Flare, Sign of the Dawnflower (if you worship Sarenrae), and Enhanced Diplomacy. Spark is situational at best (use cave terrain to light a torch, I guess?) and Flare is worthless though. Enhanced Diplomacy works best with urban terrain (silly, I know, but you can use urban as your fey magic terrain type). For the 1st-level spell I mostly recommend picking something not on the Shaman spell list (or Cleric, if using favored class bonus on it, or Wizard, if using Arcane Enlightenment hex). If you picked urban terrain, you may as well grab Whispering Lore for +4 to Knowledge (Local) checks, I guess. That bonus should stay useful.

Half-Elf: Skill Focus is not bad (esp. if you need it as a prereq). Paragon Surge is still a goddamn amazing spell (not on your class list but who cares, with the favored class bonus at level 7 or the Arcane Enlightenment hex you can and most definitely should nab Paragon Surge anyway). You can also trade the Skill Focus (which is probably going in Perception) for Dual-Minded (+2 Will saves) or even a weapon proficiency if you're going martial Shaman. Multitalented perk is thoroughly useless and as such I recommend swapping it out for Fey Thoughts and picking up Sense Motive and Perception as class skills or taking Blended View for darkvision.

Half-Orc: You're down a feat and you don't get Paragon Surge, but you do get Orc Ferocity (you still get 1 turn of staggered combat when reduced below 0, very good for spellcasters) which you can also instead trade for Sacred Tattoo (+1 luck to all saves, combine it with Fate's Favored faith trait for +2 luck instead; also very good, but does not stack with Luckstone). Aside from that you can trade Intimidating for Shaman's Apprentice and pick up an Endurance feat, and you can trade weapon familiarity for Fey Thoughts to pick up Sense Motive and Perception. And you can trade Darkvision for Skilled or Vigilant Gaze. All told, the Half-Orc is one of the weaker options here, but he does have some perks. More of a flavor pick

Tiefling: You'll want the Pass for Human alternate racial trait to obtain access to the human favored class bonus (which sadly locks you out of prehensile tail, and numerous other traits), and you should generally pick the Hellspawn variant (+2 Con, +2 Wis, -2 Cha / Diplomacy, Sense Motive / pyrotechnics). For a more martially inclined Shaman, you would want Hungerseed (+2 Str, +2 Wis, -2 Cha / Disguise, Intimidate / alter self).  The only real reason to pick Tiefling is for +2 Str as a martial Shaman. It's probably tempting to kick out the Pass for Human (and human favored class bonus) as a martial Shaman to take those alternate racial traits, but if you do, you won't be able to cast Divine Favor.

No Human Favored Class Bonus, but Wis and Sick Perks
Samsaran: Mystic Past Life alternate racial trait more than makes up for the lack of Human favored class bonus. You could use this to add Cleric spells to your Shaman list right away, or Druid spells for that matter, but I would sooner recommend pilfering the Inquisitor or Hunter list for some discounted goodies. The +2 int can also translate into a +2 cha if you swap around base stats from 14 int 12 cha to 12 int 14 cha which will pick up an extra spell with Arcane Enlightenment.

Svirfneblin: Ouch. Not only do you lose out on the spell selection from the favored class bonus, but your Arcane Enlightenment hex is crippled to one spell at a whopping -4 Charisma. On the other hand, you do get: +2 to all saves (and another +1 to reflex from dex and +1 to will from wis); +2 dodge to AC from a Defensive Training that applies to everything (oh, and another +2 AC from dex and small size); 11+Level Spell Resistance (you can make it 12+Level if you take the Scorned by Magic magic trait); constant nondetection; 1day - blindness/deafness, blur, disguise self; +1 to all your illusion spell DCs (Excellent if you prestige into Veiled Illusionist) on top of your +2 Wis; +2 Stealth (+4 underground) plus another +4 from Size (and another +1 from +2 dex); +2 to Perception (on top of the Stonecunning and your Wis bonus, yes); +2 Craft (Alchemy) - why not, helps if you take the Witch's Cauldron hex; Stonecunning (+2 bonus on Perception checks to notice unusual stonework and your GM has to automatically roll for you whenever you are within 10 feet of such stonework); 120 foot Darkvision and Low-light vision without any light sensitivity; +1 attack from small size; oh, and a +1 Hatred attack bonus against Dwarves and reptilians. In addition to that, you are still a Gnome so you do get the Gnome favored class bonus (+1/6 bonus hex, good for any Shaman, but Unsworn Shaman in particular). And you could conceivably take Improved Unarmed Strike and Earth Child Style to boost your Defensive Training to +6 AC (did we mention Svirfneblin Defensive Training applies to everything?) but that's 2 feats for +4 AC which isn't the highest priority for a Shaman. Then again if you do do this you can also ignore proficiency, attack rolls, and stealth to just wear a nonproficient Heavy Armor and Tower Shield for some absurd AC (they would need to roll nat 20s to hit you).

Other races
You don't want them.


Any Shaman can be played with a somewhat martial bent (though I don't really recommend playing a martial Shaman), but there are only three viable archetypes for a decent Shaman that I see.

Vanilla Shaman
The vanilla Shaman's advantage is that he gets a lot of hexes for a strong Hex build. He typically prestiges out at level 7 because level 6 is where he tops out with all the good stuff of the Shaman class (wandering hex and Spirit Talker prerequisite). He uses the Spirit Talker feat for Arcane Enlightenment so he has a wandering spirit to pick any spirit he pleases for the spells, spirit ability, or hexes. Also, prestiging out keeps the cost of replacing your spirit animal low.

Unsworn Shaman
The Unsworn Shaman's advantage is that while he gets fewer hexes, he can flexibly reassign them every day, plus he can reassign both of his wandering spirits for different spirit magic spells, etc. Flexible hexes are extra fun to grab things like the Shaman Fetish hex (Craft Wondrous Item) and Witch's Cauldron hex (Brew Potion). He uses the Spirit Talker feat for the Arcane Enlightenment hex. You can prestige out at level 7 (level 6 gives 2nd wandering spirit and Spirit Talker prereq) but level 9 (level 8 gives 3rd minor spirit hex) is not a bad thought either. Speaking of the Spirit Talker feat, lets clear something up:

Question: The Unsworn Shaman does not qualify for the Spirit Talker feat, right? "Minor Spirit" doesn't count as the "hex" class feature.
Eh, it's open to debate. You can argue that Minor Spirit gives the Unsworn Shaman hexes, therefore the Unsworn Shaman counts as having a hex class feature. It's the same reason why a Druid with a Nature's Bond counts as having an animal companion class feature. Because even if that isn't the name, that's what you get. I don't think any GM would argue it's against RAI for an Unsworn Shaman to get the Spirit Talker feat either. EDIT: There has been an errata changing Minor Spirit from replacing the hex class feature to altering the hex class feature. The FAQ confirms that this was explicitly done to ensure that the Shaman keeps the hex class feature while obtaining Minor spirits (but he still only gets hexes through his minor spirits by default). This means it is no longer open to debate and it is 100% confirmed that an Unsworn Shaman counts as having the hex class feature for all intents and purposes.

If your GM does draw a distinction between the transient hexes of the Unsworn Shaman and the permanent hexes of a regular Shaman for prereqs, then there's another way to fulfill the prereq. In that case, you'll want to play a Svirfneblin or use a Racial Heritage feat to count as a Gnome so that at 6th level your favored class bonus gives you a Shaman hex outright, at which point you do have that bona fide hex class feature, solving your prereq issues. This is the best way to sidestep a rules debate and just get your Spirit Talker feat. An extra hex is quite solid for an Unsworn Shaman anyway, but you are giving up 4 cleric spells to do this. If you are specifically going Svirfneblin, then prestige out at 7 because your favored class bonus does nothing for levels 7 and 8, you've got that extra hex anyway, and you will really want to prestige out for more casting options since a Svirfneblin does not get Cleric spells and only adds 1 wizard spell to his preparation list each day, unless you're using Pearls of Power to restore Wizard spells from previous days.

If you play an Unsworn Shaman, be sure to get the Spirit Talker feat. Otherwise the archetype is trash since you're hex-starved and probably just going to spend a wandering and minor spirit to get Arcane Enlightenment at which point with 1 minor spirit hex and 1 wandering spirit remaining you're just a severely crippled vanilla Shaman (who would just use Spirit Talker for his Arcane Enlightenment leaving him the same 1 wandering spirit and 1 wandering hex in addition to the Spirit and hexes he got from class levels).

Speaker for the Past Shaman
This Shaman still gets his class hexes, Spirit, plus two Oracle mysteries (Ancestor and Time, spells included) and uses Spirit Talker for Arcane Enlightenment. It is the only Shaman that might seriously consider single-classing as a Shaman (which also progresses the favored class bonus for Cleric spells) instead of prestiging out, courtesy of Oracle revelations. Also the Ancestor mystery has more features for a martially inclined Shaman.
« Last Edit: September 01, 2017, 07:02:38 AM by Power »

Offline Power

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Re: [WIP] Power's Guide to the Pathfinder Shaman
« Reply #1 on: April 11, 2015, 11:52:25 AM »

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 Hexes
Chant: 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.

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.

  • 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.

Ancestral 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.

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.

  • 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.

Battle Master: 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 (unless you have a ranged weapon with seeking). More useful against cover but then it's just a situational attack bonus and for a single attack only.
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.

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.

  • 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.

Bone 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.

If you like blasting, I suppose you could pick it. But I wouldn't recommend this. Devastating with Dazing Spell metamagic though.

  • 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.

Cinder 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.

Unimpressive but has a few perks. In an outdoors campaign you might consider using Guiding Star.

  • 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.

Enveloping 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).

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.

  • 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.

Curse 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.

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.

  • 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.

Arcane 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.

It's another weak option for martial Shamans.

  • 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.

Burden 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.

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).

  • 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.

Entangling 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.

Another one of those highly situational lists reserved for a Wandering Spirit.

  • 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.

Accident: 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.
« Last Edit: September 30, 2018, 04:21:13 PM by Power »

Offline Power

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Re: [WIP] Power's Guide to the Pathfinder Shaman
« Reply #2 on: March 07, 2017, 09:46:32 PM »
A solid spirit worth considering as your main spirit, particularly if you are building a high-level character.

  • Magic Stone: On your class list.
  • Stone Call: No save for 2d6 damage and converting 40 feet of terrain into difficult terrain, not bad.
  • Meld into Stone: Not a very good spell. Better for hiding and spying. While Meld into Stone normally stops sight, the Crystal Sight hex would allow you to see from inside the stone.
  • Wall of Stone: Two levels sooner than your class list. One level sooner than anyone else can grab this spell. This spell would've been worth casting as a 6th level spell. But you can now make walls and bridges and trap people with stone as a 4th level spell, which is excellent.
  • Stoneskin: On your class list.
  • Stone Tell: One level sooner than your class list. Good for investigations, but situational.
  • Statue: Out of combat buff which lets you spend rounds as a statue with hardness 8 whenever it's not your turn. You can also buff your party with it. It's a nice buff.
  • Repel Metal or Stone: No save and pushes away stone and metal objects, including people bearing stone or metal gear. It even keeps them from approaching you through the line. Interesting and has its uses, but is a very high level spell for the effect.
  • Clashing Rocks: 20d6 damage, knock 'em prone, and then they have to roll a reflex save or be buried and take 1d6 bludgeoning damage per minute until they succeed at a DC 25 strength check or someone digs them out. Nearby enemies also take damage and have to roll saves or take 10d6 damage and be knocked prone. The damage is decent but it's the buried condition that's interesting. Safe to say you can't move or make somatic components while buried, so if you use stone shape and wall of stone you could make it harder for them to escape and air-tight to boot so they suffocate to death before they ever get out, or you could use it to hand yourself a few preparation rounds while the boss tries to escape, then murder him. Basically a reflex save or lose, depending on circumstances.
This list is worth as your main spirit considering mainly for the Stone Call, the 4th level Wall of Stone, Statue, and Clashing Rocks. Particularly the Wall of Stone.

Crystal Sight: Limited duration is underwhelming but has some use for espionage and dungeon scouting.
Lodestone: It's a will save to reduce someone's maximum dex bonus to 3 and reduce their movement speed. Pass.
Metal Curse: Can't even cackle to keep it up. Pass.
Stone Stability: A +4 bonus against bull rush and trip plus Improved Trip at 5 and Greater Trip if you reach 10 for performing your own trips, which also gives you another +2 each to CMD against trip attacks for a +6 (or +8 at 10) total. Also useful for tripping up enemies with a reach build.
Ward of Stone: Would've been better with the un-nerfed Hex Vulnerability. As it stands it's a clear waste of a hex.

Spirit Animal: Unless you have a Protector archetype familiar (which you really should), this is probably not going to do anything for you unless you are level 16 and took the Nature or Mammoth spirits to make your spirit animal an animal companion. If you do have the Protector archetype though, then this is amazing, since a Protector familiar can split damage coming from its master as though using Shield Other, which states "the subject takes only half damage from all wounds and attacks (including those dealt by special abilities) that deal hit point damage. The amount of damage not taken by the warded creature is taken by you" which means the familiar takes half the damage (from the same source and type and all) as though he were targeted, and can DR and resist it with its own features.
Spirit Ability: It's a lousy blast and gaining corrosive isn't likely to matter so much at a level where Acid Resistance 5 becomes a thing. Still, free corrosive for your reach weapon if you're using that.
Greater Spirit: Free scaling DR/Adamantine is great. Also comes with a shitty blast component you'll never use.
True Spirit: Turn into an Earth Elemental for 16 hours and it's undispellable. You can use somatic and vocal components as an earth elemental and it's safe to say you can also carry normal gear. (Sure, it melds into your form while you shapeshift, but you can just remove gear before shifting and wear it over your shapeshifted form, provided it fits your new size.) You gain a +6 natural armor bonus and +4 constitution bonus along with DR 5/-, bleed immunity, crit immunity, and sneak attack immunity. Also, remember what I said about reach builds? As a huge golem, you have just acquired very good reach with a solid boost to your strength. Downside is -2 to dex for Combat Reflexes if you want reach.
Manifestation: Acid Resistance 30 is cool to have, and the free metamagics on earth spells are good too, since earth has a lot of utility spells.

A good spirit to consider for your main spirit, particularly in aquatic campaigns. Even without that, it's probably worth considering as a main spirit for the Fluid Magic hex alone, although the spell list offers some decent utility and the Crashing Waves hex is not bad either. The level 16 Spirit Manifestation also gives you a great all-day, undispellable water elemental form, assuming your campaign lasts that long and you didn't prestige out for some reason.

  • Hydraulic Push: On your class list.
  • Slipstream: It's a Longstrider that improves swimming speed and downhill walking speed, but the duration is 10 min/lvl instead of 1 hour/lvl and you can buff allies with it. It's good.
  • Water Breathing: On your class list.
  • Wall of Ice: Wall of Stone is typically much better, but Wall of Ice still has its uses. For one thing, you can make a Wall of Ice transparent. For another, you can actually get back to finishing off whatever you walled off instead of needing to bust out digging tools to break through the wall.
  • Geyser: If you combine this with a Dazing Spell metamagic, anything that fails a save is dead as you can keep concentrating until they all die. Alternatively, with the Crashing Waves hex, it seems this spell will keep inducing fort saves to make everyone prone, which makes it much more useful. Otherwise, it's quite awful for the level.
  • Fluid Form: DR 10/slashing depends on what you're fighting. +10 feet of reach is great for a reach build. Being able to pass through small holes and openings (which incidentally makes you immune to grappling) is also useful. Swim speed and water breathing work great in water but if you're seriously busy underwater you'll probably want the Water Breathing buff. Depending on your build and campaign, it's good. Otherwise, it's marginally useful.
  • Vortex: On your class list.
  • Seamantle: +8 AC, +4 Reflex, blocks line of effect against fire, and gives you a 30 foot reach slam attack which you should use for AoOs. It is good.
  • Tsunami: On your class list.
Unsurprisingly the Waves list is much better for an aquatic campaign, but it has a lot of surprisingly good options.

Beckoning Cold: A one-round entangle isn't exciting, but being able to extend the entangle with cold damage means that it has some use at early levels with Ray of Frost (which is not a class orison so you will need the Two-World Magic magic trait to add it to your list). Still, you're better off using (Mis)fortune cackles.
Crashing Waves: Add a caster level bonus to all your water spells and a free fort save vs prone if your water spells do damage. It's nice.
Fluid Magic: You can now prepare all your spirit magic spells into your regular slots. Yes please. Curiously enough, if you use this with your Spirit Talker feat, you would be able to retain spells prepared this way even after losing the Fluid Magic hex, so long as you do not lose the spirits those prepared spells are associated with. But if you are doing this, that would mean you are not using Spirit Talker for the Arcane Enlightenment hex.
Mist's Shroud: Blur for a single attack (or two or maybe even three) with a 1 minute duration. This hex is garbage.
Water Sight: Being able to see through fog and mist without penalty is essentially open license to abuse Obscuring Mist, Solid Fog, and so forth without suffering any of the visibility drawbacks yourself. Scrying is on your spell list, but at least you get to avoid paying for the focus this way, so that's useful. Greater Scrying has no material or focus component though. Incidentally, Shamans do not have the message cantrip, unless you use the Two World Magic magic trait to add it to your list or Arcane Enlightenment hex to prepare it. That said, this is only useful at low levels because at higher levels you can spend the hex on something else and just purchase Fogcutting Lenses (face slot) or a Goz Mask (head slot) for 8K gp for the effect. The Goz Mask is the better of the two, and no, the head slot does not conflict with the headband slot.

Spirit Animal: Mobility feat is pretty useless on a familiar. Unless you're level 16 with an animal companion, it probably doesn't matter. Water breathing at least reduces the need to divide your Water Breathing duration even further, so that's a bit useful.
Spirit Ability: Wave strike is not like to be high in demand and does not work with Crashing Waves, but at least it lets you move around your enemy a bit. Quenching at level 11 is a weak property for attacking enemies but a free +2 competence to saves vs fire effects is worth taking. Curiously, you can make any object immune to fire damage by wielding it as an improvised weapon now.
Greater Spirit: Free water speed and water breathing. A bit situational but good to have, and your familiar already has water breathing so you don't even need to buff yourselves. The cone attack is garbage but has a chance of being useful since it moves enemies 5 feet back.
True Spirit: Turn into a Water Elemental for 16 hours and it's undispellable. You can use somatic and vocal components as a water elemental and it's safe to say you can also carry normal gear. (Sure, it melds into your form while you shapeshift, but you can just remove gear before shifting and wear it over your shapeshifted form, provided it fits your new size.) You gain a +6 natural armor bonus, 120 foot swim speed, and a whopping +8 constitution bonus along with DR 5/-, bleed immunity, crit immunity, and sneak attack immunity. Also, you gain good reach as a huge golem, and have +4 strength to make use of it. Downside is -2 to dex for Combat Reflexes if you want reach.
Manifestation: Cold Resistance 30 is cool to have, and the free metamagics on both cold and water spells are good too, since there are a lot of utility spells there.

It's rather underwhelming, all told.

  • Alter Winds: Extremely circumstantial, only alters wind conditions one step, and has limits based on caster level preventing it from being used in the conditions where it would be useful.
  • Gust of Wind: This spell has 3 uses: Removing fogs (which you can also do with a level 1 burning hands unless you're dealing with a Solid Fog, which you can also remove with a less reliable and more costly dispel magic), messing with tiny creatures, and giving everyone a -4 on ranged attack rolls for 1 round. A rather limited spell, but it has its uses.
  • Cloak of Winds: The tiny creature hate is strong on this list. Also gives a target of your choice +4 AC vs ranged attacks only. Unless you are facing swarms, this spell is probably garbage.
  • River of Wind: 4d6 nonlethal + prone. Fort save for half and no prone. The line still remains to induce 2d6+20foot pushback+prone (fort save for half, no effects) on anything that starts its turn inside the line, so it basically gives you a 6d6, prone, and 20 foot knockback on something that fails two fort saves. The main use of this spell is just to knock things prone, which the Waves spirit can do better with Crashing Waves and Arcane Enlightenment hexes.
  • Control Winds: On your class list.
  • Sirocco: Once again it's bloody murder with a Dazing Spell, but you already knew that. Free fatigue regardless of save is good. If you can get someone in the area for 2 rounds, they become exhausted which is great. Prone condition on a failed fort save is nice. The damage is only meaningful if they take at least 2 rounds of damage and a DC 15 flight check is easy enough to pass that I wouldn't bother depending on that to do anything. It's a decent spell for delivering a variety of unpleasant conditions on your enemies. Just make sure your allies have a way to avoid the damage and associated fatigue condition (ie. cast Protection from Elements on the party).
  • Control weather: On your class list.
  • Whirlwind: On your class list.
  • Winds of Vengeance: On your class list.
If you hate tiny people and insects, this list is good. Otherwise, it's weak.

Air Barrier: Armor bonuses do not stack. This is a waste of a hex until level 13 where the 50% miss chance comes into play, at which point it's fairly nice.
Sparking Aura: Electricity damage is low. Duration is weak. And you could just throw a bag of flour at something invisible to reveal it.
Vortex Spells: If you are attacking with Flame Blade as some kind of martial Shaman or using Spiritual Weapon (you'd need to be True Neutral or worship a deity like Sarenrae with a scimitar as favored weapon) and have Improved Critical (Scimitar), this might actually be useful. Otherwise, it's a trash hex.
Wind Sight: Ignoring Perception checks in conditions of heavy wind isn't relevant unless you are really fond of creating bad wind conditions for everyone else. Plus you can normally calm bad wind conditions. Clairvoyance/clairaudience is already on your spell list with a better duration.
Wind Ward: 1/day/target restriction, garbage duration until 8th level, and doesn't really get strong until 16th level (when you have much more important competition for your actions), assuming it even stacks with Air Barrier. Pass.

Spirit Animal: That resistance is almost never going to matter. It's a rarity even if you have a Protector familiar. And giving off light is a dire penalty to stealthing. So much for obtaining concealment.
Spirit Ability: Blast damage is crap and shocking arrives at a level where electricity resistance becomes a thing. Incredibly weak.
Greater Spirit: Just cast Resist Energy instead for the resist. The blast is garbage.
True Spirit: Turn into a Lightning Elemental for 16 hours and it's undispellable, as per Elemental Body IV. Except Elemental Body IV doesn't support a Lightning Elemental form, only an Air Elemental form, so I guess you're a "Lightning" Elemental with the air elemental statblock. You can use somatic and vocal components as a "lightning" elemental but you might not be able to carry normal gear since you're made of lightning and not air. You do gain a +6 natural armor bonus, 120 foot flight speed, +4 str and +6 dex for reach builds, along with DR 5/-, bleed immunity, crit immunity, and sneak attack immunity. You don't get any constitution bonus whatsoever though. But the undispellable 120 flight speed with perfect maneuverability is rather nice.
Manifestation: Electricity Resistance 30 is a nice perk, but the metamagics are less important for air and electricity spells.

You could make this your main spirit if you wanted (mostly for Verdant Path hex or maybe Spines and Brambles hex), but there are better picks.

  • Shillelagh: There are better options for playing martial Shaman.
  • Barkskin: On your class list.
  • Minor creation (wood only): 1 minute cast time and less useful than a proper minor creation, but this is not a spell on your class list. Has very situational utility, unless you are extremely creative with wood-crafting, but you will still have to deal with the 1 minute cast time.
  • Thorn Body: On your class list.
  • Tree Stride: This one is actually useful as it lets you locate your way through forests, hide inside trees, and teleport extensively, but you can't bring allies with you.
  • Ironwood: More noncombat magic. You should almost always use half the size for the +1 enhancement bonus. Honestly at this level making wood items function like steel with a +1 bonus isn't that useful, but at least it has a nice day/level duration, so you can just apply this during your downtime days. More useful for druids who cannot wear metal, but a nice spell for your Wandering Spirit to use on off days.
  • Transmute Metal to Wood: A very high spell level for some debuffs against metal-wearing enemies and reduced loot value. This spell is a lot more fun with Repel Wood, which the Shaman does not get. Overall, pass.
  • Changestaff: Not on your class list, but the level penalty isn't helping. You can basically turn 8th level spell slots into hours/lvl treants, which aren't very exciting at this stage. Better if you gear them with magic items, but unlike the Wooden Phalanx treants, they are not spell immune nor do they have DR 5/adamantine. Generally the only treant you'd carry around would be a Liveoak you animated on a downtime day.
  • Wooden Phalanx: At this stage advanced wood golems aren't much good, unless you take advantage of its hours/lvl duration to equip your wooden golems in a bunch of crazy gear.
On the upshot it has a lot of spells not on your class list, but overall it's still a rather situational and noncombat list. Has its occasional benefits for wandering spirit, but not a spell selection worthy of a primary spirit.

Hex of Lignification: Fort save or target becomes staggered for 2 rounds and gains hardness 5. Still a bad hex. With a Ring of Ferocious Action, this hex basically gives a party member hardness 5 for 2 rounds which has its uses, but typically misfortune cackling an enemy will do more for preventing damage and ruining their ability to do anything.
Nature's Gifts: Spend a whole hex to obtain 1/day Goodberry. This hex is awful.
Spines and Brambles: You can make light undergrowth, a type of difficult terrain, wherever you wish, providing concealment (20% miss chance for enemies, immune to sneak attacks unless enemies have the Shadow Strike feat, and you can stealth) and allowing you to run circles around enemies through difficult terrain while possibly stealthed. (Wisdom in the Flesh religion trait can give you Stealth as a wis-based class skill - Possessed Shaman archetype can get Stealth as a wis-based skill too, but giving up Spirit Magic for a few wis-based skills is insanity.) A less obvious use of this spell is that it lets you Entangle enemies anywhere by providing the requisite vegetation, which also makes this hex more fun (but you could just carry around potted plants for that). So this is actually a fairly good hex, as long as you make sure to max your wisdom score.
Verdant Path: Woodland stride's usefulness (or lack thereof) depends on your campaign, really. At-will air-walk as a supernatural ability (no dispels) whenever you're within 10 feet of a tree is pretty great if your party carries around their own tree. There is no targeting limitation on the use of air walk, so you can use it on the whole party to let them air-walk with you. On a side note, the text doesn't say you need to stay within 10 feet of a tree to keep your air-walking active, so once you air-walk, you can just take off from the trees (or you could carry one with you). Great hex at level 8.
Whispering Leaves: Very situational thanks to the limits. Whispering Wind is also not on the Shaman list, but Clairvoyance/Clairaudience is, and so is Sending. Very situational hex overall.

Spirit Animal: The freeze ability is only vaguely useful if you want your familiar to do long-term observation of an enemy in a particular area.
Spirit Ability: You gain a slam attack at the expense of dropping anything you could normally do with that arm, and it's limited to 3+charisma uses too. This spirit ability is terrible.
Greater Spirit: Black tentacles is one of the more useful greater spirit abilities. Given Pathfinder's ill-conceived combat maneuver system it's a lot more failure-prone though.
True Spirit: You should generally use this to turn into a Fungus Queen all day so you can still use somatic and verbal components while picking up +2 natural AC, +2 size strength, +2 enhancement to con (which is useless, unless you somehow don't have a belt of mighty constitution by level 16), DR 10/cold iron or good (a +4 weapon will do the trick), and 20 resistance to electricity, acid, and fire, as per Plant Shape III. (Interestingly enough any plant immunities or resistances are treated as 20 resist, even if the original resist was lower). It's a good set of perks overall, although this one is a spell-like ability and therefore dispellable. You might want to invest in a ring of counterspells to auto-counter the first dispel magic to come your way.
Manifestation: You gain +4 natural AC, immunity to stun/sleep/polymorph/paralysis/poison (all of these can be very nasty conditions). You also have DR 10/- against wooden attacks, which is probably rather rare, but you could cast Transmute Metal to Wood (which is probably still a waste of a standard action) to change that. And you are counted as the plant type instead of your normal type for purposes of spells and magical effects. Being able to enter trees means nothing when you already have Tree Stride. Overall, the perks are somewhat useful. You could try to argue whether being treated as the plant type implicitly makes you immune to mind-affecting spells as plant type creatures are innately immune to mind-affecting effects, but I would say the proper ruling is that you don't benefit from extra plant traits for purposes of spells, only that for the purposes of type-based targeting or effects, you are treated as a plant.

Archetype Spells and Hexes

Overseer Shaman
If you're playing a vanilla shaman and have a spirit with a bad spell list, this might be useful. It's worth noting that if you are using the Arcane Enlightenment hex you can obtain all of these spells through that hex anyway.

  • Charm Person: On your class list.
  • Hideous Laughter: This essentially takes people out of the fight, especially if they fail their saves twice.
  • Hold Person: On your class list and this even gives you a level penalty. On the upside Hold Person would benefit from the +1 DC, I suppose. Better with a lesser metamagic rod of persistent spell.
  • Crushing Despair: It's a save or suck with bad targeting and potential for friendly fire, and the suck isn't good enough. Not worth casting as a 4th level spell.
  • Feeblemind: Devastating to arcane casters in particular but if you somehow manage to make this stick on a divine caster they will also be crippled. Arcane casters have weaker will saves and a -4 penalty to their saving throw though. A bit situational, but a good spell to have. If you have a method of inflicting int or charisma damage/drain, this spell can set enemies up to collapse into unconsciousness.
  • Suggestion, Mass: How good this spell is depends largely on how clever you are with your suggestions. In the hands of the right players this can be a very powerful spell.
  • Power Word Blind: The only good thing about this spell is the lack of a saving throw. But the duration is bad and the target needs to have under 200 health to fall prey to this and even then the duration is very short and if he heals it ends even sooner. All around a bad spell and you'd be better off casting Blindness instead.
  • Irresistible Dance: On your class spell list. Can't help but note that Pathfinder nerfed the spell to add a saving throw to reduce the duration to one round, making the spell partially resistible now.
  • Dominate Monster: Yep, dominate anything. Still, you have to remember that anything against the monster's nature gives them a second saving throw. If you used a metamagic rod of persistent spell you should be able to order people to act against their nature somewhat easily though.
Overall a workable list, but all the spells can be obtained through the Arcane Enlightenment hex. The stand-outs are Hideous Laughter, Feeblemind, and Mass Suggestion. Unlike the Serendipity Shaman, you don't get a Spirit Magic hex to also obtain the spirit's spell list, but if you're playing a vanilla shaman with a spirit with a bad spell list, this can be an upgrade.

Serendipity Shaman
The Serendipity Shaman makes a solid case for being an upgrade on the vanilla shaman if your campaign reaches high levels, but you will probably need to invest a feat into Defiant Luck since Halflings and Catfolks are terrible races for Shamans. Bear in mind that any race that counts as a Human can take the feat (like an Aasimar with the scion of humanity alternate racial trait). Defiant Luck is a rather awful (but not entirely useless) feat, but it does open up Inexplicable Luck, which might be useful (especially for crafting).

  • True Strike: This spell is terrible unless you have a special weapon that you really need to land on an enemy.
  • Aid: On your class list.
  • Protection from Energy: On your class list.
  • Freedom of Movement: A good out of combat buff and you can always cast it in combat if needed. Good to have. If you want to buff the party, you might want the Fluid Magic hex from the Waves spirit so you can prepare this spell multiple times.
  • Break Enchantment: On your class list.
  • Mislead: Not on your spell list and it's mostly greater invisibility with a 2 level penalty. In exchange for the 2 level penalty you get a free illusion (which requires concentration to control) and you no longer require a vocal component. If you can't get normal greater invisibility spells, this is good to have, plus it might waste an enemy's turn by having them attack your illusion.
  • Spell Turning: At this level caster enemies or spell-like abilities should be rather common. A good out-of-combat buff. You might want to prepare it multiple times with the Fluid Magic hex from the waves spirit.
  • Moment of Prescience: At this level caster enemies or spell-like abilities should be rather common. A good out-of-combat buff. You might want to prepare it multiple times with the Fluid Magic hex from the waves spirit.
  • Miracle: Excellent spell, and a spell you will be very hard-pressed to obtain otherwise. Unless you're playing a Samsaran with Mystic Past Life, you're not getting this spell on your list otherwise. Unlike Wish, you won't need to spend 25k gp in diamond dust just to duplicate spells.
The high level spells are much better than the low level spells. It's also worth noting that there is the Spirit Magic hex which will give you your spirit's spells on top of the Luck domain spells, so if you're willing to burn a feat on Defiant Luck and a hex on Spirit Magic, this is basically just an addition to your spirit magic pool.

Channel Luck: Interestingly enough, it does not mention whether or not you are channeling heal or harm, so it will default to how you would channel as a Cleric and thus depend on your alignment. Unless you're worried about your party's saving throws, channeling harm is typically much better, but overall this is an 8th level hex and you cannot qualify for feats with it, which is bad because the channel is only good when used with the Quick Channel feat, since you have better uses for standard actions. Unless you also have the Life spirit or Witch Doctor archetype (giving you another channel energy, allowing you to take channel feats as normal), this hex is really not worth grabbing since it would be a waste of standard actions at 8th level and beyond. If you do have the Life spirit and Quicken Channel feat (and presumably a good charisma score) though, this is a good hex to have. I wouldn't recommend the Witch Doctor archetype since it sacrifices a lot of hexes for somewhat weak perks overall, but if you're dedicated to channeling as much as possible it's an option.
Fortune: If you're chanting fortune there isn't much reason to need this, but it can be nice to have a 1/day (2/day at level 11 and 3/day at level 17) reroll as an immediate action. If you have hexes to spare, this one is nice to have, although you might want to get Tweak the Odds first, since it's more versatile and offers more uses.
Misfortune: You'll want a Rod of Abrupt Hexes to make this one worth your time, and any time you'd use this, odds are you'd be much better off chanting the standard misfortune hex instead. If you can land this hex on an opponent before combat though, it might be a decent prelude to a fight. It's not so bad, but really you have better options.
Spirit Magic: Unless you used the Serendipity Shaman archetype to cover for a spirit with an awful spell list (like the Life spirit), this is a good pickup.
Tweak the Odds: I wouldn't really bother getting this ability before level 8, but at higher levels this hex becomes surprisingly decent. While the lack of stacking with keen or critical focus is a pity, you can still use it at level 8 to let someone with a x4 crit rating score a crit on a roll of 16. I'd like to point out that the example is badly worded, and at level 12 you can spend 3 extra uses (4 uses total) for a +4 bonus. It can also be useful for an extra skill bump with the Ritual Hex feat and crafting, and so forth.

Speaker for the Past Shaman
The Speaker for the Past makes a solid argument for single-classing as a Shaman. It's worth noting that you do lose your familiar and wandering spirit as a Speaker of the Past, although you could use Eldritch Heritage (Arcane) or Familiar Bond to re-obtain a familiar. In a way I consider this a perk because a dead familiar will no longer destroy your character. For the record, it is a terrible idea to combine Speaker for the Past with the Ancestors spirit. I know it seems flavorful, but the sheer redundancy makes it a complete waste and the Ancestors spirit has terrible hexes. Just pick a more useful spirit to round out your Shaman instead. Also, it is worth pointing out that the Speaker of the Past Shaman uses his Wisdom modifier instead of Charisma for the purposes of the revelation.

Spells - Ancestor mystery
    See: Ancestors spirit above.

Spells - Time mystery
  • Memory Lapse: Last I checked most diplomacy and intimidate rolls take more than one turn, so that function is fairly useless. A more interesting use of this is to just rob someone in one turn then make him forget what you just did. You might be able to use it to re-establish stealth but verbal components have to be heard. I wouldn't put a high value on this spell but if you're playing as an underhanded character there might be a number of interesting things you could get away with by making someone forget everything you did since the start of its last turn. If you want to get clever, you can ready an action to cast Charm Person on someone on their turn, which changes your initiative order to be immediately ahead of their turn, so after casting Charm Person you still get a turn before they can act again, and you can use that turn to cast Memory Lapse on them, rewinding their memories back to the start of their turn and deleting their memories of you ever charming them, assuming they fail to save against Memory Lapse. Readying an action for the target's turn and then casting Memory Lapse is the best way to collect both a standard action and Memory Lapse without using a quicken metamagic.
  • Gentle Repose: On your class list.
  • Sands of Time: One level sooner than your class list. Rather limited in its uses, but if you ever need to take on old people you can give them a -3 penalty to all their physical stats. Might be useful if your campaign ever has you hunting down and battling senior citizens. You never know.
  • Threefold Aspect: If you ever wanted to go without a stat-boosting headband, now you can. The fun part about this spell is using it with an Extend metamagic. You see, bonuses with a duration greater than 24 hours count as permanent bonuses so you get to collect bonus spells and skill ranks. You'll still have to cast it every day and hope it doesn't get dispelled to keep the "permanent" bonuses. Still not an adequate substitute for a +6 headband though.
  • Permanency: Not something you will be casting often, and something you could just obtain with Arcane Enlightenment when you want it, but at least it's a very good spell to have.
  • Contingency: Another spell you might just cast with Arcane Enlightenment during any downtime, but still a very good spell to have up your sleeves.
  • Disintegrate: It sounds great but it's fairly overrated. You absolutely need them to both land the ranged touch attack and have them fail the fortitude save or the spell is downright terrible. The more useful aspect of this spell is probably the way it can disintegrate objects and make holes for you.
  • Temporal Stasis: Basically 5000 gp for a save or die. Once you have someone in stasis you can just camp around him and take your time preparing to take them out or leave them there and consider them someone else's problem now. If you want to take them out just go crazy casting nonstop buffs and summons, then dispel it and do him in with your army of steroided dudes. In combat someone else could just cast dispel magic on him and waste your 5000 gp.
  • Time Stop: An excellent spell as always. Even better with an extend metamagic, but taking extra turns in a fight is always great.
The main draw of this spell list is Threefold Aspect and Temporal Stasis later on, assuming you have access to Arcane Enlightenment like any normal Shaman.

Revelations - Ancestor mystery
Ancestral Weapon: Unlike the Shaman's greater spirit ability, you can get this at level 2, but it's still of limited and dubious use overall.
Blood of Heroes: Now we're talking. A move action to self-buff attack and damage rolls, as well as will saves against fear. If you start with 18 wisdom (16+racial bonus), this bonus will last 4 rounds. Combined with a Divine Favor (use human favored class bonus) and heroic weapon later on, you can get some very strong attack and damage bonuses on your martial Shaman. You probably shouldn't take this before level 7 though.
Phantom Touch: I'd sooner cast Barbed Chains than use this.
Sacred Council: Another move action to self-buff. This one is a bit better for spell-casting than combat, but it's still a nice perk.
Spirit of the Warrior: It's the Transformation spell with half the duration, a free improved critical bonus, and you keep your casting ability, but you don't get martial weapon proficiency. At this level though it's probably pretty late to be playing as a martial.
Spirit Shield: Despite the name, it gives an armor bonus rather than a shield bonus, so this is largely a waste. 
Storm of Souls: No. Even if you like blasting, the damage is plain bad.
Voice of the Grave: Thanks to its rounds/day uses equal to your level, you can ask a lot of questions this way. Might annoy your GM that you can keep interrogating after every encounter this way. If you don't intend on overusing Speak with Dead though, just skip the hex and use the spell when you need it.
Wisdom of the Ancestors: Free augury 1/day and free divination 1/day later on. The success rates are rather high for the level that you get it too, but if you're determined to have fun with auguries you might want to worship Pharasma, take the Messenger of Fate feat for a 100% success rate cap, and start spellcasting instead. You will have to cheese caster levels a bit though. Ultimately if you love using tons of auguries and divinations you're better off building your spells for it, and if you don't frequently use auguries and divinations you're probably better off skipping the revelation.

Revelations - Time mystery
Aging Touch: Sadly, the damage is too low to be worth considering at low levels and you will have better things to do with your standard actions at high levels.
Erase From Time: Probably not worth getting before 6th or 8th level, but it's a fairly useful way to take enemy spellcasters out of a fight with a single fort save.
Knowledge of the Ages: I have my doubts whether this would work with the Ritual Hex feat or not. Worth noting that as a Speaker of the Past you will be adding your wisdom modifier, not your charisma modifier, to a knowledge check, but overall this is probably a revelation you can do without.
Momentary Glimpse: Despite sounding like a swift or immediate action, it's actually a standard action to use, which makes this a waste of actions.
Rewind Time: Immediate action rerolls are fun.
Speed or Slow Time: Haste and Slow are both good spells you should generally be casting. They're not on the Shaman list either, although you could get them through Arcane Enlightenment otherwise, but now you won't need to.
Temporal Celerity: Boosts your initiative checks and lets you always act in surprise rounds. These are both excellent things to have, although if you used a trait to get Perception as a class skill and maxed it out, you shouldn't be having much trouble with Perception checks to avoid being surprised.
Time Flicker: It's essentially a single blur SLA where you can subdivide the duration. Blinking is generally terrible unless you want to move through walls (unless it's a wall of force, of course). A 20% chance of your spells going ethereal is awful unless you are casting self-buffs or auras (emanations). Blink used to be a useful thing for Rogues and other martials, but Jason Bulmahn flipped his shit during the pathfinder playtest when someone pointed out that any decent rogue should get a Ring of Blinking for guaranteed sneak attack at high levels (at the cost of random miss chance), and proceeded to nerf just about every single way a rogue could dependably collect sneak attack (including the Tumbling skill) that he could think of, because apparently he considered Rogues overpowered. (While he was busy freaking out, he also nerfed Quick Draw because people were using it with Rogues to grab things like scrolls, wands, throw tanglefoot bags, or sneak attack with alchemist's fire. I think somewhere he nerfed wands too so that they would have to be at least a standard action now, which ended up hurting the Ranger with his Instant Enemy wands.) And that has been your trivia of the day on why the Blink spell is worthless even for martials now.
Time Hop: Move action teleportation that doesn't provoke attacks of opportunity. Yes please.
Time Sight: Free true seeing is not that great, since it's rather situational and you still have to spend standard actions. If you're motivated on this point you can usually use permanency to obtain permanent arcane sight and see invisibility (make sure to cheese their caster levels to make them undispellable) which usually has you covered. Moment of Prescience and Foresight are abilities that normally last hours/lvl and 10min/lvl as very long-lasting out of combat buffs, so they're pretty bad for combat. Moment of Prescience on the other hand becomes a reusable source of giant bonuses to skill checks (assuming these aren't long-term skill checks).
« Last Edit: September 30, 2018, 04:10:57 PM by Power »