The Death Spirit

April 14th 2015

Alex Riggs

Best in Class Archive

                It’s Death Week this week, and as soon as I heard, I knew it was time for us to provide another spirit for shamans. Though the death spirit and the bones spirit do have a bit of overlap, I think you’ll find the differences greatly outweigh the similarities, and will agree that this spirit provides exciting new options for mortally-inclined shamans, especially those who are no friends of the undead.


New Shaman Spirit

                A shaman who selects the death spirit is calm and serene, and walks with an air of confidence, knowing that ultimately, all things must die: it is the one certainty of life. While many shamans devoted to death dress in somber and even macabre fashion, others prefer to celebrate death in a riot of colors. While shamans devoted to related spirits may appear pale and corpse-like, those who choose the death spirit seem to have ascended beyond matters of good or poor health, and seem at once sickly and beautiful.

Spirit Magic Spells: chill touch (1st), gentle repose (2nd), healing thiefUC (3rd), phantasmal killer (4th), suffocationAPG (5th), circle of death (6th), finger of death (7th), symbol of death (8th), power word kill (9th).

                Hexes: A shaman who chooses the death spirit can select from the following hexes.

                Deadly Pronouncement (Su): As a standard action, you point to a single living creature within 60 feet, and predict its imminent demise. Choose death by accident, death by violence, or death by wasting. If you choose death by accident, the target suffers a -4 penalty on ability checks and saving throws made to avoid the effects of traps and environmental hazards, and suffers a -4 penalty to AC against attacks made by traps and environmental hazards. If you choose death by violence, you must also choose one of the following damage types: bludgeoning, piercing, or slashing. The target suffers a -1 penalty to AC against attacks that deal the chosen type of damage, and such attacks inflict an additional 2 damage with each hit. Finally, if you choose death by wasting, the target suffers a -3 penalty on saving throws and ability checks made to avoid the effects of fatigue and exhaustion, hunger, extreme temperatures, diseases, poisons, and curses.

                Regardless of which type of death you choose, the penalties last for 24 hours, or until you choose to end the effect. You can have a number of active deadly pronouncements at any given time equal to your Wisdom modifier, although you cannot have more than one on a single creature at any given time.

                Deathly Being (Su): If the shaman is a living creature, she reacts to positive and negative energy as if she were undead—positive energy harms her, while negative energy heals her. If she's an undead creature or a creature with the negative energy affinity ability, she gains a +1 bonus to her channel resistance. At 8th level, if she's a living creature she gains a +4 bonus on saves against death effects and effects that drain energy, or if she's an undead creature her bonus to channel resistance increases to +2.

                At 16th level, if the shaman is a living creature, she takes no penalties from energy drain effects, though she can still be killed if she accrues more negative levels than she has Hit Dice. Furthermore, after 24 hours any negative levels the shaman has are removed without requiring her to succeed at an additional saving throw. If the shaman is an undead creature, her bonus to channel resistance increases to +4.

                Grave Sight (Su): The shaman sees the states of life, death, undeath, and general health of those around her. When using this ability, she can tell whether or not creatures within 30 feet that she can see are living, wounded, dying, or dead, as well as determine if any are undead. Lastly, she can tell if those creatures are poisoned or diseased. The shaman can use this ability a number of rounds per day equal to her shaman level, but these rounds do not need to be consecutive.

                Summon Daemon (Sp): Three times per day, the shaman can summon a daemon (powerful outsiders linked to different forms of death) to aid her, in combat or otherwise. This functions as the spell summon monster I, except that it can only be used to summon creatures with the daemon subtype, and the daemon summoned must have a CR equal to or less than 1/2 the shaman’s class level. The shaman must be at least 7th level to select this hex.

                Touch of Finality (Su): With a touch, the shaman can greatly impede the ability for a corpse to be raised, either to life or unlife. Using this ability is a standard action that requires touching a creature’s corpse. Anyone attempting to return the creature to life, or to turn the corpse into an undead creature, must succeed on a caster level check (DC 10 + the shaman’s class level + the shaman’s Wisdom modifier; in the case of supernatural abilities, or other cases where there may be no caster level, use the creature’s Hit Dice, instead). Failure means the attempt fails, although the creature can try again. This ability has no effect if the attempt in question does not make use of the body (such as a true resurrection spell). This ability has no effect on creatures that are currently living or undead. Once this ability is used, the effect lasts indefinitely. The shaman can remove it, but doing so is a standard action that requires touching the corpse once more.

                Spirit Animal: The shaman’s spirit animal is dark and brooding, and corpselike in appearance. It gains immunity to ability damage to its physical ability scores (Strength, Dexterity, and Constitution), ability drain, death effects, energy drain, exhaustion, fatigue, paralysis, sleep, and stun.

                Spirit Ability: A shaman who chooses the death spirit as her spirit or wandering spirit gains the following ability.

                Speak with the Dead (Sp): The shaman can speak with dead and undead creatures. When used on a corpse, this functions similarly to speak with dead. Unlike speak with dead, the state of the corpse is irrelevant, as the corpse does not physically speak, and the answers are heard only by the shaman. However, the corpse must have been dead for no more than one day per 3 caster levels (rounded down, minimum 1). The saving throw DC is equal to 10 + 1/2 your class level + your Wisdom modifier.

                This ability can also be used on corporeal and incorporeal undead. If the creature fails its saving throw to resist the spell, it is also compelled not to attack you for as long as it takes for you to question it (up to a maximum duration of 1 minute per caster level). Anything which would end a fascination effect, or allow a new saving throw to resist it, similarly ends this effect or allows a new saving throw. Unlike speak with dead, the undead creature is not limited to what it knew during life: it can also draw upon its experience and memories as an undead creature to answer questions. Mindless undead, and those with an Intelligence score of less than 5 are granted an Intelligence score of 5 for the purposes of understanding and responding to questions asked by this spell, however mindless undead are unlikely to remember much of their time as undead, and may not be able to provide useful answers to questions that rely on such knowledge, other than questions about what orders they have been given (if any). Intelligent undead are compelled to answer truthfully, but are free to word their answers in ways that are unhelpful or misleading, as long as they are technically truthful.

                Greater Spirit Ability: A shaman who chooses the death spirit as her spirit or wandering spirit gains the following ability upon having access to the greater version of that spirit.

                Negative Energy Conduit (Su): The shaman is immune to damage inflicted by negative energy. This applies only to hit point damage, and not to ability damage, ability drain, death effects, negative levels, or any other effect that might be caused by negative energy. Further, whenever the shaman would suffer hit point damage from negative energy, she stores that negative energy within herself, and can release it at a later time.

                As a standard action, the shaman can release this negative energy in a 30-foot-radius burst centered on herself. This functions identically to the cleric’s channel energy class feature, except that the shaman can only channel negative energy, and the number of uses per day and amount of damage inflicted is based on how much negative energy she currently has stored. For every 5 points of damage she currently has stored, this ability inflicts 1d10 points of damage. Using this ability depletes the stored energy, although the shaman can choose to keep some of her stored energy in reserve (reducing the amount of damage inflicted by the ability accordingly). No matter how much negative energy the shaman currently has stored, she cannot inflict more damage with a single use of this ability than 1d10 per 2 shaman levels she possesses. The saving throw DC for half damage is equal to 10 + 1/2 the shaman’s class level + the shaman’s Wisdom modifier.

                True Spirit Ability: A shaman who chooses the death spirit as her spirit or wandering spirit gains the following ability upon having access to the true version of that spirit.

                Harvest Life Force (Su): Whenever the shaman kills a living creature, she can harvest some of that creature’s life force, using it to empower her spellcasting. Doing so is a full-round action which provokes attacks of opportunity, and requires physical contact with the corpse. The shaman can only draw energy from creatures that she has personally killed (the way in which she kills the creature is irrelevant: a spell, a melee attack, or a ranged attack are all sufficient, although summoning spells do not count for this purpose), and she must do so within 2d4 rounds of the creature’s death, or the chance is wasted.

                If she successfully harvests the creature’s life force, she can immediately regain a single expended spell slot, allowing her to cast the spell prepared in that slot as though it had not already been cast. The spell slot in question must be for a spell level no greater than 1/4 the Hit Dice of the creature whose life force was harvested. Alternatively, instead of regaining a spell slot, the shaman can heal a number of hit points equal to the slain creature’s Hit Dice.

                Manifestation: Upon reaching 20th level, the shaman’s close ties with the forces of death mean that the afterlife will not claim her, and it is all but impossible for her to truly die. Whenever she would die, she instead enters a comatose state. While in this state, she is unconscious and helpless, and appears for all purposes to be dead. During this time, she is unaffected by any poisons, diseases, or curses which she may be suffering from. After 24 hours, she is restored to full hit points, any ability scores reduced to 0 by ability damage or ability drain are restored to 1, and if she had suffered enough negative levels to die, the minimum number of negative levels required to allow her not to die are removed. As soon as this occurs, she immediately returns to consciousness. Only complete destruction of the shaman’s body can prevent her from returning to life in this way.