Posted by : David Guyll April 08, 2009

I've made a couple shamans already, and noticed that both of them had a fairly abysmal Armor Class of about 12-13. At first I thought I was doing something wrong, since I dont recall even wizards having an AC that low, but I realized that its about on par once I stopped and "did the math". If you assume a 16 Intelligence then your wizard will end up with a starting AC of 13 since cloth armor provides absolutely no AC bonus and you cannot add both Dexterity and Intelligence to the equation.

While this is all well and good for wizards, shaman powers cap out at a paltry range of 5, so they end up being too close for comfort...unless you bring spirit powers into the equation.

A spirit companion can be conjured within 20 squares of the shaman, so long as you have line of sight. This is very, very far. In fact, I have yet to see any single room that extends past 10 squares in any given direction. What this basically means for almost any encounter you can think of is that a shaman is free to drop her spirit anywhere she pleases. There is no range limit on using a power with the Spirit keyword: it just originates from the spirit's location, fundamentally giving the shaman a range of 20.

Shamans generally come in two flavors: the tough and the smart. Protective shamans are keyed off of Constitution, which gives them quite a leg up on the hit point and Fortitude department. Conversely if you decide to go with a stalker spirit then you'll want to be smarter than the average bear, which means that your AC actually ends up being not nearly as bad as you thought (I'd say just below Warlord McSmarty-Pants if you dont want to purchase hide armor proficiency).

This sounds bad for a protector shaman, since her AC is going to be in the pits. However a lot of thematic powers grant temporary hit points/regeneration, damage resistance, or AC bonuses if you just hunker down next to your spirit. Spirit's shield lets you actually heal an ally within 5 squares if a monster tries to run away without shifting, thunder bear's warding grants resist all (and temp hit points), and spring renewal strike lets an ally burn a healing surge (add your Con modifier).
Many require that allies be adjacent to the spirit, but thats fine since one of the at-wills rolls out a +1 power bonus to AC, and the protector spirit feat gives a passive bonus to defenses, so there is a LOT of incentive to spearhead attacks with this thing.This makes this class feature particularly thematic, since you can envision the spirit shielding you and your allies from harm.

In play, I didnt really notice the AC disparity. I mean, I noticed it on my sheet, but never got hit as the DM was focusing too much on my spirit and the rest of the party to bother trying to get someone to try and tackle my character. Mind you, this was only at level 1, but we'll be doing more delve runs on Saturdays and I intend to keep up with a shaman and see how it plays out in the long run.

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