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:
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.
That’s just a +1 spell per day.
What do we lose for all of the above? A TON!
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.
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.
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|
|5||Spirit Enchantment +2|
|9||Spirit Enchantment +3|
|13||Spirit Enchantment +4|
|17||Spirit Enchantment +5|
In total, over the base Shaman this amounts to:
- Spirit Enchantment
- 4 Magus Arcana (a Magus gets 6)
- Object Bond
- Wandering Spirit
- Wandering Hex (i.e. two hexes switched around daily)
- 4 Hexes