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New opinion on Shaman Spirit Dance

I rolled a ridiculous 93 on my stats for a new PC, so I decided to try a Shaman ... thinking at least I'd be a reasonable archer. At first the spirit summons are indeed pretty bad - a couple dogs, maybe a panther once in a while. But around level 13 or so, interesting spirits start showing up. There is a boar, bear, and some lesser elementals. I decided to try them out on those Golems in Windspear ... to my surprise, the spirits won! Whoa, the Iron Golem poison cloud seemed to have no effect. OK, let's go to the vampire den ... same thing, spirits win. They can't be charmed or held, and while they can be damaged by level drain, they still last a long time. And when one dies, another pops up to take its place. So far so good, then I tried the secret Mind Flayer area in the Temple Sewers. Once again, the spirits won. They were susceptible to brain drain, but when one dies another popped up almost immediately. Flayers, Ularithids, Umber Hulks - all went down whilst I danced. Those tiny earth elementals can do some big blunt damage! The trick is to scout ahead (Farsight, Pixie Dust), then summon a Dryad or something you can control, then dance until you have a rowdy group of spirits, then send the dryad just far enough to lure the enemies to the spirit posse. I think at level 18 there are even more powerful spirits ... can't wait to see what they do.

thespaceWarChiefZekemf2112ThacoBellGrond0ZaghoulBorekJuliusBorisovMathsorcererbrunardoBelgarathMTHArdulLucasIDKn8gorgonzola

Comments

  • mf2112mf2112 Member, Moderator Posts: 1,919
    Nice, are you running solo or with some NPC's?

    JuliusBorisov
  • Grond0Grond0 Member Posts: 6,637
    edited June 2017
    I agree that the spirit summons are pretty good when used as shown above, although if you're playing solo there are still plenty of different things that can go wrong - particularly if you're using SCS when most enemies will target the shaman in preference to spirit summons.

    Information on spirit summons taken from the Adventurer's Guide:

    Shamanic Dance. Beginning at 1st level the Shaman can, at will, root themselves to the spot and perform a ritualistic dance. While dancing, the Shaman takes a –4 penalty to AC and cannot attack or perform any other activity. Each round while the Shaman is dancing, there is a chance that a spirit will appear. These spirits disappear as soon as the Shaman stops dancing or when they leave the Shaman’s range of view. The Shaman does not control these spirits; they act according to their nature, helping the Shaman however they can for as long as they exist.

    Spirit Call I. At 1st level, the Shaman’s dance summons minor animal spirits, such as snakes, foxes, and hounds. The chance of summoning a minor animal spirit in this way is 35%, plus 2% per level of the Shaman. The Shaman can have only two spirits in existence at a time.

    Spirit Call II. At 6th level, the Shaman’s dance may also summon major animal spirits, such as bears, panthers, and boars. The Shaman can have only three spirits in existence at a time. The chances of summoning each type of spirit are shown on the table below; the Shaman has an additional 2% chance to summon a major animal spirit for every level of Shaman beyond 6th.

    Spirit Call III. At 12th level, the Shaman’s dance may also summon minor air, earth, or fire spirits. The Shaman can have only four spirits in existence at a time. The chances of summoning each type of spirit are shown on the table below; the Shaman has an additional 2% chance to summon a minor elemental spirit for every level of Shaman beyond 12th.

    Spirit Call IV. At 18th level, the Shaman’s dance may also summon major air, earth, or fire spirits. The Shaman can have only five spirits in existence at a time. The chances of summoning each type of spirit are shown on the table below; the Shaman has an additional 2% chance to summon a major elemental spirit for every level of Shaman beyond 18th.

    No Stronghold. The Shaman is not elligible for any stronghold.
    No Multi-Classing or Dual-Classing. The Shaman may not multi-class or dual-class.

    Maximum number of spirits and % Chance to Summon Minor Animal Major Animal Minor Elemental Major Elemental
    I 2 37% - - -
    II 3 20% 27% - -
    III 4 10% 20% 29% -
    IV 5 5% 10% 20% 36%

    An annoying feature not in the guide is that any other type of summons you produce will reduce the number of spirit summons available, i.e. if you have a nymph at level 10 then you can only have 2 spirit summons in addition - hopefully this bug will be corrected in the next patch. There are also problems with the mechanics of the summons themselves at the moment. They are not supposed to be able to leave the shaman's sight, but currently can do so. However, that results in them not being able to fight - which can result in endless battles (at least until you stop dancing and try a different tactic).

    JuliusBorisovBelgarathMTHStummvonBordwehrgorgonzola
  • ZaghoulZaghoul Member, Moderator Posts: 4,134
    I've got to give mention to a favorite of mine the Witchlight Shaman ( @LavaDelVortel ), different and interesting summons, NICE additions to spells, AND a stronghold in BG2. B)

    Grond0JuliusBorisovmf2112gorgonzola
  • ArgyleArgyle Member Posts: 43
    mf2112 said:

    Nice, are you running solo or with some NPC's?

    I have NPC's (someone has to carry the loot), but I kept them out of the battles.

    Witchlight Shaman? I'll have to check that out.

    mf2112
  • GrimjackMVGrimjackMV Member Posts: 97
    Grond0 wrote: »
    An annoying feature not in the guide is that any other type of summons you produce will reduce the number of spirit summons available, i.e. if you have a nymph at level 10 then you can only have 2 spirit summons in addition - hopefully this bug will be corrected in the next patch. There are also problems with the mechanics of the summons themselves at the moment. They are not supposed to be able to leave the shaman's sight, but currently can do so. However, that results in them not being able to fight - which can result in endless battles (at least until you stop dancing and try a different tactic).

    Does anyone know if Spirit Animals summoned by the Shaman still count towards your summon cap in the EE?

  • Grond0Grond0 Member Posts: 6,637
    GrimjackMV wrote: »
    Grond0 wrote: »
    An annoying feature not in the guide is that any other type of summons you produce will reduce the number of spirit summons available, i.e. if you have a nymph at level 10 then you can only have 2 spirit summons in addition - hopefully this bug will be corrected in the next patch. There are also problems with the mechanics of the summons themselves at the moment. They are not supposed to be able to leave the shaman's sight, but currently can do so. However, that results in them not being able to fight - which can result in endless battles (at least until you stop dancing and try a different tactic).

    Does anyone know if Spirit Animals summoned by the Shaman still count towards your summon cap in the EE?

    @GrimjackMV they do - but that's not what the above quote was about. I don't think it's particularly unreasonable that spirits count towards the overall summoning limit. I do, however, think it's unreasonable that non-spirits count towards the spirit summoning limit. I don't know whether that will be corrected in version 2.6 when that's eventually released.

    Balrog99ThacoBellGrimjackMVgorgonzola
  • GrimjackMVGrimjackMV Member Posts: 97
    Grond0 wrote: »
    @GrimjackMV they do - but that's not what the above quote was about. I don't think it's particularly unreasonable that spirits count towards the overall summoning limit. I do, however, think it's unreasonable that non-spirits count towards the spirit summoning limit. I don't know whether that will be corrected in version 2.6 when that's eventually released.

    Gotcha! Thanks for letting me know!

    Grond0
  • DinoDinDinoDin Member Posts: 1,182
    Resurrecting this to add that I've come back to a BG2 run with an evil shaman and it's a pretty decent class. In fact, arguably a better backline caster than any single class druid.

    That being said, I'm still personally negative about the spirit dance. I think it's probably the weakest of the abilities peculiar to the class. The biggest downside is that you're unable to do anything else while summoning and the summons don't last long once you're done. It's true that you can draw aggro on enemies and lure them back into a pit of summons -- but frankly if you're willing to engage in aggro-and-ambush tactics, there's so much other stuff that's just as lethal. Added to that you can't control the minions, so you can't set them up easily as damage tanks nor chose to have them swarm mages. To be fair, if you could control these infinite summons, it'd be game breaking.

    So overall, I'd still rank the ability as quite low among the class's unique features. Although it's a good backup skill, for when you run out of spells but perhaps don't want to rest.

    For me, the class's unique abilities rank something like this
    1. sorcerer style casting
    2. unique spells. especially the nice negative status dispels. but also even things like the unique AoE elemental damage. Writhing fog especially helps make the level 2 druid spells have some value, even later on. Raise dead as well. This also ties into #1 as you end up with a large, diverse spell list.
    3. detect illusion, especially later on
    4. access to some excellent weapon types, especially shortbow for BG2
    5. summon dance, sadly

    Grond0ThacoBellJuliusBorisovgorgonzola
  • WrathofreccaWrathofrecca Member Posts: 98
    @DinoDin When you write it out, this class seems flat out broken. Shortbows on a druid, detect illusions, negative status dispel, and summon skeletons are all significant. Also don't forget the summon dance becomes much stronger on and while it's true you can't cast further spells, a typical druid casts most of their spells before or at the start of a fight so sitting there and just summoning a bunch of summons while not consuming any spell slots is huge. I will definitely agree that it's awkward to use but druids usually do nothing anyway.

    DinoDin
  • DinoDinDinoDin Member Posts: 1,182
    Yes, worth confirming, I was talking about raise dead, not a summoning spell. One attribute of the class that I forgot to mention was the nature of wisdom. Both a plus and a minus compared to single-class druid. You don't get bonus spells per level, but you also only need the minimum. Which if you're reassigning skill points gives you more freedom to boost the physical stats or charisma even.

    I wouldn't say the class it at all broken. It feels very fair. And it still feels less powerful than a number of other single classes such as mage or cleric. As I said, to me, the key comparison is single class druid, where I do think its overall power is better. Stuff like writhing fog + the tuigan short bow seem like very effective tactics for the class (or any AoE damage spell), and help it pull its weight not just as a mere "support class". Although with the ability to have a healing spell at almost every spell level, it does become one of the strongest supporters.

    JuliusBorisovGrond0
  • WrathofreccaWrathofrecca Member Posts: 98
    edited November 2
    I would say losing 1 spell per level with the trade off of pick which spells to cast is huge. Sometimes I need 3 heals, sometimes I need 5. The same is very true of utility spells which is what makes Edwin so strong. He can have 1-2 of every utility spell and still do other stuff.

    So I'm not sure missing out on that one extra spell is a big deal.

    DinoDinThacoBellgorgonzola
  • masteralephmasteraleph Member Posts: 122
    I don't believe that Shamans gain bonus spells from Wisdom, so a high Wis Druid will have even more of an advantage in spells per level (especially given that they can finish BG1 with 21 Wis, pick up another 1 from the Machine of Lum the Mad in BG2, 1 from the Deck of Many things also in BG2, 1 from the Hell Trials and 1 from the Silver Ioun Stone, meaning that by the end of ToB they can have 25 Wis).

  • gorgonzolagorgonzola Member Posts: 3,678
    edited November 4
    I did never try a Shaman, i drop into the thread only to say that IMHO sling>short bow, even the tugian one.
    sling gets damage from the enchantment level of both launcher and bullet and also the STR damage bonus, they have only a single ApR, but this means that a haste potion or regular haste becomes as good as an improved one with a bow and for not fighters the combo good STR ( by spells or items), good sling, plenty of +4 and +5 in the game some of them right from very early, and enchanted bullet makes the thac0 much better then the one with a bow for not fighter types, tugian is only +1. More alpha and better thac0 make the sling better, you shot less, but you hit more often and for more damage. Late game sling +5 and bullet +4 is a +9 thac0 bonus.
    Give Tugian to Mazzy and the things are different, she has good thac0 and adds the damage from GM so her 5 or 10 apr do real damage, i am talking of caster classes, shaman, but also mages like Imoen or Nalia, my ones use a sling most of the time.

    It has to be told that bows can be really useful for 2 reasons, arrows with elemental damage to disrupt mages protected by stone skins and some special arrows like the ones that dispel on hit, but there are not many of those in the vanilla game.

    DinoDin
  • DinoDinDinoDin Member Posts: 1,182
    edited November 5
    I see your point on slings and it's a good case. For me, in my current playthrough, the bow just seems to work better. For one, a shaman MC is still going to probably need a cleric and at least one mage, if not two in the party. So that's two or three characters who you might prefer to have a sling. Also the shaman is limited to bucklers, so the tiny, ancillary bonus of using a shield, such as with Viconia, Jaheira, Aerie doesn't exist with the shaman. There are, iirc, two good bucklers in BG1, but just about none in BG2/ToB. (Beamdog are you listening?)

    Axes are also an option. Currently my own shaman mostly uses the bow but will switch to a throwing axe if I run out of magic arrows. As you say, the bow also has the advantage of more diverse ammo over the sling. Especially true once you have the Gesen bow, where you can essentially do four kinds of damage off the bow without having to dip into the inventory screen.

    So, imo, it comes down to party composition. If you're using a backline cleric like Viconia and some mages, you're probably going to go with the bow for the shaman. If you're using Anomen at the front, you might favor a sling for the shaman.

    gorgonzola
  • jmerryjmerry Member Posts: 1,178
    Actually, the EE content added some bucklers; Neera's ToB quest has bucklers up to +3.

    Pure druids can, as of 2.5, use the Shield of the Lost as well. Shamans can't, though.

    I'd go with bows as the best ranged weapon option for shamans. It's one of the few ways for them to get more than one attack per round, and the special ammo options allow a lot of utility value. Sure, slings can get a lot of damage per hit - but even ultimate endgame power will pale before a warrior's multiple attacks. The best sling, the best ammo, and 22 strength (the best belt) ... that's 1d4+20 damage. Once per round. And none of it's elemental. Minsc does more damage than that straight out of Irenicus' dungeon with the Sword of Chaos, because he's attacking twice per round.

    Meanwhile, with a bow, you can attack twice per round, switching between elemental arrows, +N arrows, and dispelling arrows as appropriate. It's less damage, but it's better at everything else. And when you just want the damage, there's always the dance.

    The THAC0 argument ... shamans have priest THAC0, which eventually reaches 6 at high levels. They don't need massive boosts to hit things.

    DinoDinThacoBellgorgonzolaJuliusBorisov
  • ThacoBellThacoBell Member Posts: 11,901
    The Shaman is great, and its one of the very few classes that tempt me away from playing bards.

  • Grond0Grond0 Member Posts: 6,637
    edited November 6
    jmerry wrote: »
    Actually, the EE content added some bucklers; Neera's ToB quest has bucklers up to +3.

    I rather like the Buckler of the Fist (+2, immunity to hold). If you have that in your inventory at the end of SoD it will transfer to BG2 and be available for sale by the thief on top of the Copper Coronet.

    gorgonzolailduderino
  • gorgonzolagorgonzola Member Posts: 3,678
    I would not give to a shaman that fights ranged the best belt, the big hitters with apr that go mlee deserve it, i don't hope that my casters that attack ranged (on top, not instead of their main role) do a physical damage comparable to the one of the fighter types with many APR, so if a Viconia or Aerie end game can do let's say 50 dmg/round, regular haste and cleric buffs, so without using valuable STR belts, my Imoen, Nalia or Cernd do way less.
    Still my Imoen do more damage with a sling then a bow, with better thac0 as added advantage, and if I don't build Crom there is end game plenty of STR items to equip even the casters with them, if I build the hammer there is a cheap arcane spell to rise her STR. Then when I need her do elemental damage for disruption or in other particular situations she takes the bow, but if not she uses the sling having more damage, more time to cast as she does only 1 or 2 attacks each round, and she needs only the regular haste to double her output.

    This is my point, and I think that the same is true also for a shaman. Sling compared with throwing axe, but not throwing dagger, still win, they both get the STR bonus, but the sling gets damage and better thac0 from both the enchantment level of launcher and ammo, while compared with the daggers the dagger wins as it gets str bonus and better APR, the best one also elemental damage.

    Any way it is easy to do the math given a party, the weapons and other items available and not needed by someone that can make a better use of them (i.e. the best STR belt) and so on.

    DinoDin
  • BracchusBracchus Member Posts: 16
    DinoDin wrote: »
    Resurrecting this to add that I've come back to a BG2 run with an evil shaman and it's a pretty decent class. In fact, arguably a better backline caster than any single class druid.

    That being said, I'm still personally negative about the spirit dance. I think it's probably the weakest of the abilities peculiar to the class. The biggest downside is that you're unable to do anything else while summoning and the summons don't last long once you're done. It's true that you can draw aggro on enemies and lure them back into a pit of summons -- but frankly if you're willing to engage in aggro-and-ambush tactics, there's so much other stuff that's just as lethal.

    I use it as situational which how I think it was intended. Meaning that if I scout an encounter and I see that the terrain and enemy type or great for an ambush, I'll use Dance with - rather than instead of - those other lethal methods. Sometimes it's overkill, but I still find it enjoyable and fun to have an ambush tool that's literally infinite uses/day. While I confess to employing cheese at times, this makes me feel a little better about my playthrough than ie. unloading my thief's max number of traps and then immediately resting them all back to use again. Ambushing doesn't have to be necessary to be fun. Some people find backstabbing fun and you could use the same argument (and others have): "why bother when I can just faceroll the encounter with my F/M?"

    So instead of setting up an ambush full of traps, summon spells, clouds, etc, I'll use maybe around 25% or less of my use/day abilities than I normally would, and summon my spirits

    Having said all that, I use the Improved Shaman mod and those small tweaks manage to make this class significantly more fun to play. I really enjoy finding ways to make underdog classes and multis more fun to play because rolling the common powergaming classes and methods can get old pretty fast.

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