Posted by: Sean | May 13, 2009

Do It Different: More Shamans

I miss my Awesome ‘Blogging Seat, but I seem to have found one that’s nearly as good. Enough to make me nostalgic.

Why, it seems time for an old favourite. Let’s get into the Do It Different! It’s time for more shamans!

The Archetype: Jess seemed to have trouble pinning down an archetype that worked for both Horde and Alliance, so I’ll give it a go: The archetypal shaman is the ‘touched’ character, half-listening to the spirits and half to those around him, a shepherd of his people and a warden of the spirits, but forever torn between both. That works neatly for the Horde (and explains some of the slowness Jess observes) and it also applies to the Draenei, who’ve learned this tradition from their own outsiders, the Broken. She is right, though, in that the standard way to play a shaman is as someone slow, thoughtful and a little weird.

Alternatives: The Young Rebel: For two races (trolls and draenei), shamanism isn’t an ancient tradition: It’s downright recent. Here, it flies in the face of an older religious belief and is considered radical and unusual. So play that up! The Young Rebel, at heart, is a rebel without a cause. He’s less angry at an issue of society than he is with a perception that the entire society as a whole is flawed. If he’s an idealistic young rebel, that’s because he can’t understand why the society just can’t get itself together and solve its damn problems. (Ahh, the idealism of youth.) If you choose this avenue, then play up how you believe that shamanism “represents a new path” that can fix the problems in your society. Alternatively, it he’s more just a spoiled little brat, he’s mostly angry with how society doesn’t recognise him as the apogee of creation. Instead, play up how dangerous and mysterious shamanism is, and do your best to make you look threatening. Best spec: In either case, probably enhancement. This character likes to get mixed up in the combat.

The Old Loner: Once upon a time, the Old Loner was a great hero to his kind. He was a powerful Frostwolf Orc shaman, or a Tauren of great wisdom and strength. He took up the mantle of protector, and did it well. But at some point, he failed. Maybe a great catastrophe occurred because he couldn’t placate the spirits. Maybe only one person died, but they meant something dear to them. Either way, the great shaman fled, becoming bitter and angry at his failure. He now skulks about, doing small tasks (quests) for people for the money he needs to survive, but no longer does he see himself as a worthy protector of his people. And yet, he still knows someone has to be. So how does he deal with that? Does he rage against his own advancing years, trying to protect from the shadows? Or does he latch onto a youngster, and try to create the next champion? That’s up to you. Play the Old Loner with few words as possible; he’s less Obi-Wan Kenobi than he is Roger Murtaugh. Grunt rather than say yes. But underneath it, try to convey a deep sense of duty and regret. Best Spec: Tough to say, but I’m going to pick Elemental. It’s a classic, and this guy is a traditionalist.

The Oddball: OK, so you talk to the spirits. That’s normal, sort of, for a shaman. That’s their job, right? Cool. So you also talk to animals. Um. Well, maybe you can do that. Shamans are mysterious. But then you talk to your totems. And give them names. Yep, it’s official, you’ve gone ’round the deep end. Trapped between seeing the life beyond eyes sight, you’ve begun to see spirits everywhere, even where they aren’t. The thing is, you’re no less powerful for it. And since a certain degree of eccentricity is acceptable in shamans, you kind of get a pass. Sort of. The fun of this archetype is in making people unsteady. They’re relying on you, and you’re a nice person, but you’re so wholly unreliable that you put everyone on edge. If you can do so without pissing everyone off, occasionally take a fight ‘off’ as you talk to a tree, just to get the idea across. Best spec: Restoration. Would YOU trust this person to keep you healed? Hell no. That’s why it’s so much fun.



  1. A few days ago I was following links around the blogsphere when I stumbled across this gem. I don’t play on a role playing server, but I’ve done a few pen and paper role playing games in the past. It’s nice to be able to read about things you don’t get to do yourself.

    I’m not gonna comment on this post in particular just because it just…it’s complete, I guess. I read some of the earlier posts this week, and i especially liked the “ways to bring back the dead” post. I’ve never thought about my resurrection spell that way. Thanks for interesting reading, I’ve added you to my feed reader.

  2. My guild had a Tauren shaman who was played like a member of the “Old Guard”. This is back post 2.3 when Druids were leveling for Arena domination, so shapeshifters were everywhere. Shmans, not so much. His angle was that the spirits were the true guides of the Tauren people, and that druidic practices had dazzled his flock with it’s newfangled magics. He was always trying to out DPS/Heal any of the guild’s druids to prove that the Shamans still had it. An interesting take on the class, I thought.

  3. Shamanism isn’t new to trolls. Trolls have had shamans for ages, but they’ve been called Witch Doctors.

    Same thing, just different flavor.

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