The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=26985.
The Expanded Shaman builds on the shaman class that Kobold Press introduced in Kobold Quarterly #21. While the shaman has many things in common with its druidic cousins, they are two distinct classes that will help any adventuring party get their green on!
Who doesn’t like new character classes? The Expanded Shaman brings us a character class that has appeared in most editions of most fantasy RPGS in one form or another. This 16 page Pathfinder supplement has just the right amount of information to really make the Shaman feel like a fully formed and well thought out character class.
Publication Quality: 9 out of 10
I really loved the cover of this product; Christophe Swal really captured the spirit of the shaman. The green title area with the yellow writing feels right. The addition of the green tree top and the standing stones below it reflect the multifaceted nature of the druid. The plant inspired light grey page border on the left is classy and really enhances the impact of the page. The shaman squatting on the rock looks just wild enough to be mysterious, but just wise enough to seek advice from. The inclusion of the iconic shaman staff festooned with fetishes didn’t seem forced.
The interior color art maintained the feel that the cover gives the reader. My only disappointment, art wise, was the black and white owl used on page 9. If it had been done in color this would have been 10 out of 10. The books layout is standard for Pathfinder support materials and it works. The base class description was a good call. I have seen several publishers produce a product like this and not include the base class description. Seems like a no brainer, unless you are trying to make people spend more money and buy two of your products. I applaud Kobold Press for not trying to stick it to us! The Inclusion of the useful Spirit Guide and Wildshape sheets is really useful for both player and GM. I have seen players who have sworn off playing characters who shapeshift because it is so difficult to track your shifted stats. This isn’t the first time someone has developed a sheet to track these items, but I’m glad it was included.
Mechanics: 10 out of 10
Because this is considered a base class, I think the mechanics are much easier to deal with than they would be if this was a prestige class. The class is well-made and has some interesting abilities that will satisfy a player who wants to change things up a bit without getting freaky. The shaman’s ability to cast any spell they know is balanced out by their limited amount of spells. This is a simple mechanic that makes things a bit more interesting. The use of the druid spell list was the right call. As a player I do find it hard, when I have so many spells to cast, to be able to quickly pick the best spell for the task at hand.
Value Add: 9 out of 10
Shamans are an interesting class that can add to most parties. I would not classify them as specialists but more in the utility category. From a GMs stand point there are some minor aspects of this class that will cause some extra work, but if you are in tune with your players it shouldn’t be an issue. The inclusion of the base class and the extra “tracking” sheets for a character sheet/portfolio make this worth $3.99 USD. Add feats, Archetypes and new spells and this is a good financial value as well. This is a Pathfinder product and it is focused for that setting. This product would have been perfect if some general non-Pathfinder shaman information had been included as well as a bit of information on specific places in the universe where shamans might be found.
Overall: 9 out of 10
When I received my review copy of this product I really looked at it as a straight forward character class supplement. As I started to delve into it, I could see that it was a straight forward character class supplement; that happens to be done really well. I was disappointed that shaman personality traits based on spirit totems were not introduced. I would have enjoyed seeing the requirement for shamans to have a few taboos to maintain their powers. Kobold Press has done a great job of summoning the shaman as a character class for Pathfinder.
[5 of 5 Stars!]