Is there any way to play a shaman in Burning Wheel? I have been skimming through the BWG book, but I can’t really seem to find anything that capture a shaman style character.

Thanks in advance! :slight_smile:

You’ll have to define what you think a Shaman is because I can see several LPs that are clearly shamanic.

I agree with oolaa, BW is set up for Men who are medieval Europeans. It doesn’t do nomads, barbarians, traveling folk, or others who don’t fit the European model all that well. I agree with Kublai that we can’t help figure out what works best if we don’t know what you’re aiming for. At a guess, the neophyte or devotee lifepaths, Augur (Peasant), or Weather Witch (Seafaring) look promising.

Unnamed-Spirit Summoners are very shamanistic, as well. As are a bunch of Elvy lifepaths.

The Peasant lifepath Speaker of Names from the MaBu is perfect for it. Perhaps a rejig of Mad Summoner could work for a reclusive shaman.

I played a freaky medicine man in one short campaign using a summoner with access to the Restless Dead, Sanctified Dead and Minor Corporal Spirit Orders. It was great!

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Thanks for all the replies!

I’m going to GM a campaign soon, and one of the players wants to play a shaman. The setting is a viking era norse setting, so the shaman would be predicting the future and meddling with the spirit world.

I don’t have access to the Magic Burner, but may there is something I can squeeze from the BWG rulebook

Have a look at Augur and maybe Weatherwitch then.

You are looking for something like this right: ?

Check out the Dwarf Rune Casting Skill for “predicting the future”. That is NOT a Tolkienism, it is a part that Tolkien chose to leave out when he borrowed from the Norse mythology source material. BWHQ went back to the source and added that part in.

I suspect (though I do not know of any attempts) that it would be relatively easy to adapt that Skill to a human. Really no change needed at all to the mechanics of using it, player just spends General Skill points to open Rune Casting and use it as is.

But without access to the Magic Burner you are kinda short here. Spirit Binding is really the core of shamanism.

Again, it depends. Is Faith the core of being a priest? That depends on the setting. It’s quite possible to ascend to the pinnacle of the church hierarchy lifepaths without Faith. You can even jump the queue, especially as a noble, and never even get a shot at Faithful. The priests as shepherds to communities, bureaucrats of an organization, or administrators of vast fiefdoms are all roles.

So what’s a shaman? If you want your shaman to be a spiritual leader, many priest lifepaths will do. Yes, your doctrine might not be a set doctrine as the skill describes, but it all works out. If you want your shamanism to have magical oomph, you need rules, but the specific rules depend on how you want shamanism to work. Faith, sorcery, binding, enchanting, rune casting, and even picking out some Elvish spell songs are all options.

When he is talking about “messing with the spirit world” that heavily implies this, sort of sorcerous Skill or an Emotional Attribute like Faith. Not sure Faith is that good a match as-is because it is not about dealing with lots of different lesser individuals, rather it is about asking for intervention by a much more powerful being(s).

Second Sight Trait is also a good place to bring in that “spirit world” vibe. Describe it, rather than a parallel (AKA astral) plane, as being able to catch glimpses of the “Traits” of things that the mechanics do not normally assign Traits to, such as trees, rocks, and houses AND/oR wandering spirits along the lines of the mushi in Mushi-Shi (available on Netflix if you have it BTW). I think that using Second Sight plus something like Mushi-Wise (Perception root, being able to identify them, know what properties they have, or player adding details) plus Mushi Binding (Will root, being able to affect, direct, channel, appease) you could just freehand someone doing Ginko’s line of work. Work together to set a rough benchmark of Ob then be very cooperative in hashing out each Ob for Intents that come up in play.

Faith works fine if it’s asking for intervention by whatever minor local powers are available. You might want to omit major miracles in that case and discuss the idiom of faith thoroughly beforehand, but faith in the spirits of the living world works just as well as faith in the one true God.

If you can channel spirits into making fetishes, that might be enchanting. If you make yourself a medium for them to communicate, that’s rune casting or maybe second sight if you are more able to just see them. Elvish spell songs are good for if you can become a channel that spirits empower to perform tasks better—it’s not what I think of as a Norse idiom, but it could work. I could definitely see berserkers or bearish shamans using something much like the Song of Burning Bright to call upon ancestral spirits, bear spirits, or the spirit of kicking your ass to strike terror into their foes.

Thanks guys! I’ve gotten a lot of inspiration now. But I think I will need the Magic Burner to really make a shaman interesting.

The stuff in the MaBu is well worth the price of admission.

MaBu is definitely a great resource to have. As someone else said previously the speaker of names lifepath in there could work well for a shaman. One thing that could make it work well is that it not only gives access to spirit binding, but it also allows you to take the fey blood trait. You could take fey blood (dwarf) and spend your general skill points on rune casting without having to adapt it as a mannish skill. This would give you a well rounded shaman. It would work especially well if it’s a human only game because you could play off of the traditional Norse feel of dwarves being spiritual beings, and the fey blood trait would be spiritual in nature and not just having a character that’s 1/8 dwarf.