Spirit Hunter balance issues

I’ve been looking at the Spirit Hunter and feel like it is simply much weaker than the base Shaman.

Let’s analyze what we get:

Spirit Enchantment:

At 1st level, a spirit hunter can as a swift action grant any weapon she is holding a +1 enhancement bonus for 1 minute. For every four levels beyond 1st, the weapon gains another +1 enhancement bonus, to a maximum of +5 at 17th level. These bonuses can be added to the weapon, stacking with existing weapon enhancement to a maximum of +5. Multiple uses of this ability do not stack with themselves.
At 1st level, the bonus can be used to add ghost touch special ability to the weapon. At 5th level, these bonuses can be used to add any of the following weapon special abilities: flaming, frost, keen, shock, or speed.

This is a nice ability in the middle of the game. It’s also analogous to a magus ability. However, a magus can also add additional functionality to this ability to keep it relevant, while a spirit hunter can not. Let’s say we are at level 20 and have a +5 weapon. What do we get?

  • Flaming, frost, shock. +1d6 elemental damage. 3d6 total. Nice, but enemies tend to have elemental resistances at this point in the game, and in WotR these resistances are even more common. A bit of damage at best, completely useless a lot of the time.

  • Speed. Keeping yourself hasted at this point of the game is a given.

  • Keen. Doubled critical range. Great, but at this point you likely have the Improved Critical feat. You could argue that this would allow you to skip the feat, but in WotR we also have the Mythic Improved Critical, which increases the crit multiplier and requires the base feat. So again, this is completely useless in most builds.

  • Ghost Touch. Now this one really is great, but very situational.

All in all, this is a decent mid-game ability which potentially becomes completely and utterly useless as the game goes on.

Object Bond:

That’s just a +1 spell per day.

What do we lose for all of the above? A TON!

Spirit Animal:
That’s basically a familiar. Other classes tend to offer a choice between object bond and a familiar, so we will consider it an equivalent exchange here too.

Wandering Spirit:

Now this is possibly the most important shaman feature. Each day you get a choice of 9 lists of 9 spells each and up to 3 abilities, depending on your level.

Consider the Bones spirit, for example. At level 20 it grants the shaman Shedding Form: As a standard action, the shaman sheds her body and becomes incorporeal. While in this form, all of her weapon attacks are considered to have the ghost touch weapon special ability. The shaman can use this ability for a number of rounds equal to her shaman level, though those rounds do not need to be consecutive.

This alone is a great level 20 capstone ability, but a shaman can also select it precisely when ghost touch or becoming incorporeal is needed.

Need an animal companion? Select the Nature Spirit at 20 and get a max level animal companion for the day. Your party got whacked? Say hello to Life spirit, resurrect people.

Wandering Hex:

Each day choose 1 (2 at level 14) Hexes to add to your list, choosing from your base and wandering spirits’ lists. Hexes are strong on their own, but the ability to choose situational abilities on a daily basis really takes things to another level.

Now let’s see, is the Spirit Enchantment worth losing Wandering Spirit and Wandering Hex for? Definitely not. I would argue that even losing just Wandering Hex for Spirit Enchantment is not worth it. I think that the reason for the loss of Wandering Spirit is mostly thematic: “Most shamans seek spirits to learn from them. Spirit hunters pursue them to eliminate”. But in a CRPG differences in combat ability matters more than thematic differences.

So what could be done:

  • Magus suffers from the same problems with his Arcane Pool, but has Magus Arcana to rectify them and get useful weapon buffs to spend points on. Giving Spirit Hunter access to Magus Arcana (under a different name) at appropriate levels suits Spirit Hunter thematically and mechanically. Or giving access to Magus Arcana instead of Hexes. Or simply forcing to choose a Magus Arcana instead of a Hex at some levels.

  • Spirit Hunters have a base spirit, so obviously have no problem using spirit powers. What if they could inherit the powers of slain spirits? Suggestion: at level 4 Spirit Hunter gets Slain Spirit instead of Wandering Spirit. This ability gives the Hunter a permanent choice of a spirit which would progress at the same rate as Wandering Spirit, i.e. 4 levels behind normal progression.

  • If the above suggestions are implemented, that may well make Spirit Hunter overpowered, so to tone it back down we could play around with the loss of regular Hexes at some levels.

The suggested class progression table is below.

Update: After reading the comments I slightly reevaluated the class. There are not that many Witch hexes that are useful in combat, so losing the hexes does not hurt that much. The Air spirit gives just a couple good ones, while others do indeed seem to require spending actions in combat. I now think that even with the access to Magus Arcana the archetype might become quite strong, even without any modifications to Wandering Spirit.The power level of spirit enchantment is fine, the problem is it almost surely overlapping with feats and regular weapon bonuses with no alternatives.

1 Spirit, Simple Weapon Proficiency, Armor Proficiency (Light Armor), Armor Proficiency (Medium Armor), Object Bond
2 Hex
3
4 Hex
5 Spirit Enchantment +2
6 Hex
7
8 Magus Arcana
9 Spirit Enchantment +3
10 Hex
11
12 Magus Arcana
13 Spirit Enchantment +4
14 Hex
15
16 Magus Arcana
17 Spirit Enchantment +5
18 Hex
19
20 Magus Arcana

In total, over the base Shaman this amounts to:

Gained:

  1. Spirit Enchantment
  2. 4 Magus Arcana (a Magus gets 6)
  3. Object Bond

Lost:

  1. Familiar
  2. Wandering Spirit
  3. Wandering Hex (i.e. two hexes switched around daily)
  4. 4 Hexes
2 Likes

It all depends on action economy.

If you’re attacking (and the tax for offensive casting is high in this game/you have great buffs) the weapon enhancement is one of the best effects in the game (you forgot Enemy Bane as well, which is huge) and with Battle Spirit you need to be attacking. She really doesn’t have the Feats to waste on Improved/Mythic Crit anyway.

At this point half of the Spirit stuff you’re talking about isn’t even in-game and may not be.

I did not forget Enemy Bane. This is a feature of the Battle Spirit, not of the Spirit Hunter archetype. Basically, a regular shaman with the battle spirit will simply be stronger in melee than Spirit Hunter, even though this archetype is built specifically for this. The spirit stuff I am talking about was already implemented in the alpha.

But the Companion we’re talking about comes with Battle Spirit so her action economy will be attacking, making most of the stuff that seems so strong to you moot. You’re also forgetting the group buff that ticks up to +2 at lvl 8. Group buffs are the strongest abilities in the game.

She already has more than enough Hexes than she can profitably use, and most of the Spirit abilities you’re so enamored with compete either with that action economy or the proficiencies of the class. There are some outstanding medium (some mithril) armors available early so going naked has a steep cost.

Whenever I see someone talking about lvl 20 abilities I know your head is lost in the theorycrafting clouds. Just make sure to get her Fencing Grace or Mythic Finesse and Piranha Strike (the Weapon Enhancement you hate offsets the penalty!) and watch her (15-20 = frequent) crits go through the roof. If Ember puts Fortune on her her crit chance is over 50% per hit! With Outflank by midgame that means free AoOs for everyone else each round.

I am not talking about Camellia, I am talking about the archetype. You talk about how Camellia is strong, and I am talking about how much stronger she would be as the base shaman.

You really undervalue hexes. Let’s consider the Wind Spirit. It has access to Air Barrier: The shaman creates an invisible shell of air that grants her a +4 armor bonus to AC. At 7th level and every 4 levels thereafter, this bonus increases by 2. At 13th level, this barrier causes incoming arrows, rays, and other ranged attacks requiring an attack roll against her to suffer a 50% miss chance. The shaman can use this barrier for 1 hour per shaman level. This duration does not need to be consecutive, but it must be spent in 1-hour increments.

That’s basically Archmage Armor + Displacement, it can become better than armor very quickly. You can get this hex for free at level 6 on a regular Shaman. It does not interfere with the action economy at all. On Camellia you would need to invest a Mythic Ability to get this hex.

She wouldn’t. That’s the point.

You’ve decided (wrongly) that the trade offs are bad and I’m explaining why your motivated reasoning is mistaken. The Elemental Enhancemnts are a trap. The +1s are gold for offsetting Piranha, bypassing DR and just general goodness. When you’re in the sweet spot of AB close to enemy AC every extra +1 cuts miss chance down by as much as 50%.

Keen + Rapier is insane. Enemy Bane multiplies in crit. It all works together. When you need Ghost Touch you really need Ghost Touch.

The +1 bonuses can’t go beyond +5. Yeah, in the early levels it’s useful. And then you get a good rapier and your bonuses disappear. You can get a +3 rapier somewhere around early Act 3. At its highest point, Spirit Hunter is somewhere around +2 to attack and damage ahead of the regular shaman, or gets keen for free, while the regular shaman has noticeably better defenses and utility. As soon as you get a +5 rapier with keen or get improved critical the only advantage of the spirit hunter would be the ability to get ghost touch. I would take a regular Shaman with Improved Critical and its Mythic counterpart over a Spirit Hunter with whatever any day of the week.

Pathfinder is NOT a balanced game. A normal shaman might be stronger but Camellia is still very strong and useful. Its not like the original classes are balanced. For example espionage master (Arus class) is so much worse than normal Ranger. Loosing an Animal companion for almost no benefit. I could name tons of overpowered or completly useless subclasses compared to their core class. I dont think thats too much of an issue as the companions are still strong/ kind of balanced otherwise(like Arus super high base stats)

I like OPs idea.

ATs usually trade in one feature for another. The Spirit Hunter looses more than it gains, making it a bad pick including the companion that uses this AT.

I find that adding Magus Arcana in place of the lost Features is the way to go.

The list of Magus Arcana for the Spirit Hunter should be smaller than than the Magus, only consisting of Arcana that adds to the ATs main feature.

A bit like the Vivisectionist that gains Medical Discoveries instead of standard ones.

The Feature could be called ‘Spirit Arcana’, ‘Hunter Arcana’ or ‘Weapon Arcana’.

True, but the whole point of having the test period is to make the game better. Having a useful, balanced archetype with a clear use case would be better for the game than having another weak one.

1 Like

I don’t really care whether spirit hunter is imbalanced. It’s a single player game and you can always just choose a stronger class. I do care about the viability of Camelia because a player loses out on companion story if a companion isn’t useable. The main problem with Camelia’s scaling IMO is that she has limited attacks late game at 3/4 BAB without 50% bonus attribute scaling to damage of a 2H weapon. Her individual 1H attacks are quite strong because she’ll benefit from weapon specialization from her spirit and because weapon specialization will allow her to have a “better” weapon than expected at her level, but she’ll cap at 3 attacks. Personally, I’d let her weapon enhancement grant 1-2 extra primary attacks. I think this would be consistent with her battle/melee spirit design.

Edit: I’m assuming she’s built as a frontline tank. I recognize that she could conceivably use a long spear, piranha strike, and operate as a reach shaman. I also have considered a DW and Shield Bash build, but doubt she has the feats for it and probably shouldn’t be splashing rogue to pick up and doesn’t have precision damage in any event.

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The more valid options you have, the better the game becomes. If everyone used the “choose a stronger class” argument, everyone would have been playing kineticists and sword saints. I want to play a Spirit Hunter without feeling like a shot myself in the arm to do that.

4th attack is a bait. If you have a real chance of hitting at -15 AB, you have already won.

2 Likes

I think a lot of the more casual players are going to have a hard time with a lot of the companions not being “familiar” base classes.

Also, Longspear is not able to be effected by Weapon Finesse (and neither are any of the other reach weapons, to my knowledge), so reach is a no-go for Camellia.

At the end of the day, this is based off of table-top. There are some archetypes that are “flavor” archetypes that might be fun to play, but are less effective at their role than the base class. Ultimately, I think the goal is to stay as close to the table-top representation as possible, which, unfortunately, means that some of these archetypes will not perform well (especially since there’s more combat in CRPGs).

However, I’m not sure it was a good idea to give a companion one of those flavor archetypes.

Mythic Weapon Finesse works on all weapons. (At least it did in alpha)

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I was not aware of that; that does make things a bit more interesting.

You can’t be serious. Her archetype is like Paladin with Fast Spell progression and full Barkskins. She specializes in Rapiers she can make Keen at level five. I hate the character but kick myself from having to give her up.

Any class with a melee weapon has a huge advantage in this setting because of Crusader’s Edge and Magical Weapon, Greater stacking. She even gets Dazzling Display as a Hex to get both Fencing Grace and Shatter Defenses on time!

Has anyone here played this game?

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It’s good that you know all those things. Now look at it from your average non-tabletop or casual CRPG player. Not all of that is going to be immediately obvious and your average player is not going to spend hours theory-crafting to play the game.

She may very well be a good companion, but it isn’t really a class someone’s just going to pick up and immediately know what to do with it. This thread and myself being case-in-point.

I appreciate the build suggestions though.

I have to agree with Zevkk here.

The shaman class is new for me.
I looked at it and saw" Aha, a full divine caster who also gets hexes. They select spirit similar to clerics domains (one additional spell per spell level) and can select a spirit power instead of a normal witch hex. Looks very useful."

And then I see a girl with more dex than wis, a rapier and skill focus trickery.
My first thought was: “OK, she really wanted to be a rogue but fate is cruel and she became a shaman instead.”

You’re missing my point. I’m just straight leveling all the characters and running circles around the splashaholics. New players with fresh eyes are in fact at a significant advantage to both the 3.5ers and the PnPers because they know so much less that isn’t true.