Picture this: you’re a shaman, and, one day, while out on an adventure, you get up from your rest and begin to commune with your spirit, when you find yourself confronted with a wandering spirit. “Oh good,” you think, “I will commune with this spirit, and gain some of its powers for the day.” You ask the spirit its name, or even simply attempt to look upon it, only to discover that it is Flame Spirit # 277b, and it looks like, in the words of the GM, “I don’t know, fire?”
Not all shaman spirits need to be alike flavorfully, even if they are mechanically, and so today’s article presents a variety of shaman spirits with backgrounds and personalities, to make wandering spirits a bit more fun in your game.
1. Shahar, the Righteous Blade (Battle). This spirit of battle appears in the form of a longsword made of golden light, with a single massive eye in place of a jewel on its crossguard. It sees the world in a very simplistic fashion: whenever there is conflict, one side must be in the right, the other in the wrong. It insists that for any conflict, one must find the side that is just and true, and then join that side wholeheartedly in support, giving no quarter or mercy to any who fail to take the righteous path. Though it is far from evil (and would be shocked to be accused of such), it abhors mediation and compromise in any form, insisting that the righteous must not only succeed, but triumph utterly, completely destroying its foes as though they never were.
2. Somayeh, Mother of Death (Bones). Legends tell of a woman named Somayeh, who desperately wanted a child, but whose womb was barren, and could not conceive. She made a dark pact with malevolent forces, and allowed the spirits of the dead to inhabit her body, then gave birth to them, creating undead monstrosities. Whether or not this legend is true, Somayeh, who appears as a beautiful young woman with a swollen belly, her body half pristine and half rotten, is a spirit who serves as a protector and nurturer of necromancers and the undead.
3. Johano the Purifier (Flame). This flame spirit appears in the guise of a stooped and kindly old gentleman, bearing a broom or mop, the end of which is made of pure flames. He represents fire’s cleansing aspects, burning away the old and the impure, and making room for new things. In some tales, his role is to caution about the dangers of uncontrolled flames, while in others, he proves a wild and chaotic element, bringing change necessary to break stagnation.
4. Vaska, the Infinite (Heavens). This unusual spirit, said to embody the space between all things, has no real form. Its presence can be felt, but never seen. It is said that Vaska is everywhere at all times, though its attention can be turned to only so many places at once. It counsels the pursuit of harmony and balance between living things, and to pay close attention to the way that things interconnect, and the far-reaching and hidden consequences of each and every action.
5. Tendai, the Seamstress (Life). Taking the form of a plump, middle-aged woman who wears a long, flowing gown of many colors, and wields a golden needle and thread, Tendai is a caring spirit that concerns itself with the mending of wounds. As cuts and gashes heal and fade away, she is said to be stitching them up with her magic needle, which, according to legend, can save even those on the brink of death.
6. Theofanis, the Archiver (Lore). According to legend, Theofanis was once a man obsessed with knowledge, who set out to collect and capture it wherever he could, locking the information away in his archive like an insect collector pinning butterflies for display. The details of the legends vary, but they all agree that his obsession led to his ruin, and the moral of the story is usually about accepting life as it is, rather than trying to trap things inside of definitions and classifications. Theofanis has not changed since becoming a spirit, however, and continues to seek rare knowledge to add to his collection, at any cost.
7. Nejem, the Hunt (Nature). A spirit of nature, Nejem appears in the form of an animal made of leaves, vines, and other plant matter. The exact animal varies, seeming to change each time it is encountered, as does the nature of the plants its body is made of. In some cultures, Nejem is known as the hunter, and stories of it tell of its prowess in stalking and taking down difficult game. In other cultures, Nejem is known as the hunted, and it is praised for its cleverness and ability to elude capture. As a result, many now believe that Nejem represents both sides of the hunt, and, in fact, may ultimately be hunting itself.
8. Natasza, the Foundation (Stone). Appearing as a tall and muscular woman made entirely of stone, Natasza is said to have the unenviable task of holding up the surface of the earth, preventing it from collapsing into the great caverns below the surface, where monsters dwell. She is said to embody the stability and reliability of stone, and any structure that receives her blessing is said to be all but indestructible.
9. Xun Jie, the Fisherman (Waves). Taking the form of a swarthy sailor, Xun Jie is always seen carrying a large fishing net over his shoulder, which is filled completely to the brim with flapping, writhing fish. According to legend, it is Xun Jie who first taught man how to fish, and it is also he who directs the annual migrations of fish through oceans and streams, directing the sea’s bounty towards those who need it to survive.
10. Guiomar, the Trade Wind (Wind). This spirit’s presence can be felt only as a gentle, reassuring breeze that seems just a tiny bit too solid—or, when angered, as a blustering gale that seems to follow the object of its wrath. Its voice is whispers on the wind, almost impossible to separate from the sound of rushing air. It is said to embody the intersection of wind and travel, patron to all who sail or fly to reach their destinations.