- Primary Stats
- Hybrid Options
With an inherent connection to the spirit world and a possible devotion to a Totem, Shamans are interesting and fun characters to play in the Shadowrun Trilogy. They can pick up a wide variety of spells and, most notably, can summon spirits to aid you during battle.
That's not to say that Shamans can't put on the hurt themselves, though. They have plenty of options for hybrid builds that marry up exceptionally well with their core skillset, and their Acid Bolt spell can eat through enemies like, well, acid.
As is a running theme with these guide builds, we'd like to stress the importance of the Body stat. While it doesn't help you offensively at all, increasing your Body stat is the best way to increase your HP, and you'll want to avoid being the stereotypical flimsy mage. The enemies in Shadowrun know that spellcasters are high-value targets.
Speaking of spellcasting, Charisma is your primary stat. There are two different ways you can develop a Shaman's connection to the spirit world – Conjuring and Spirit Summoning. Conjuring is the stat responsible for a Shaman's spellcasting. Developing it will unlock new spell slots and allow you to equip higher-level spells. Shaman spells are generally supportive in nature, and they can turn the tides of entire battles at higher levels, so this is a beneficial skill line to invest in.
Spirit Summoning, on the other hand, is an interesting skill line that is primarily linked to the Shaman's ability to summon spirits. They can summon spirits using Elemental Fetishes, which are consumed on use and can be quite expensive, or they can summon them through specific summoning points on certain maps. These points are static and will not change from playthrough to playthrough. There are two extra bonuses you can get from the Spirit Summoning line – at level three you get to choose a Totem, which provides you with a unique skill of your choosing and usually has no narrative effects, and at level five, you get the ability to summon two spirits from the same summoning points (this ability does not work with Elemental Fetishes).
If you decide to invest heavily into Spirit Summoning, you will also want to put Karma into Spirit Control. This skill line provides bonuses to any spirit you summon during battle, reducing the chance that it will break free at the start of its turn. The more points you put into this skill line, the more confident you can feel about giving your spirit three or four AP during your turn.
The combination of spellcasting and summoning spirits should give a Shaman plenty to do in a fight. Filling the battlefield with spirits and supporting allies with fantastic spells such as Blur and Haste makes a Shaman a very useful character to have. In addition, an extra benefit to this build is that having lots of Charisma will give you access to many Etiquettes, which are brilliant for learning more about Shadowrun's world, reaping extra rewards from quests, and avoiding needless conflicts.
Your choice of Totems will differ depending on the campaign you're playing. Four idol Totems were added in Dragonfall, and their effects were given to more animalistic Totems in Hong Kong. The table below lists every Totem, its availability, and its effects.
|Heals all allies in range of their most recent wound.|
|Cat||All Campaigns||Dodge +1 to all allies in range.|
|Coyote||All Campaigns||Quickness +1 to all allies in range.|
|Eagle||All Campaigns||Accuracy +15% to all allies in range.|
|Raccoon||All Campaigns||Movement +2 to all allies in range.|
|All Spirits in range have a 0% chance to break away.|
|Damage Reduction +3 to all allies in range.|
|DMG +4 and Accuracy -10% to all allies in range.|
|Fish||Hong Kong||Dodge +10% for the Shaman.|
|Leopard||Hong Kong||Movement +1 and Armor +1 for the Shaman.|
|Cobra||Hong Kong||DMG +1 and Accuracy +5% for the Shaman.|
|Boar||Hong Kong||+15 HP for the Shaman.|
The final four Totems in the table, Fish, Leopard, Cobra, and Boar, do not give the Shaman an activated skill for use in battle. Instead, they provide permanent, passive bonuses.
Totems to consider strongly are:
- Eagle for the accuracy bonus. Missing shots is incredibly frustrating in Shadowrun and this can shorten fights drastically.
- Creator/Dove if you invest heavily in Spirit Summoning. Keep your spirits close by and pop this ability on and you'll keep your spirits loyal and effective.
- Fish grants you a considerable amount of dodge – this will add up over the course of a playthrough.
- Boar grants you more HP than a single level of Body would, this alone is pretty stellar as it can save you a ton of Karma – especially if you don't find any of the other Totems as universally useful.
While it is perfectly viable to go through the game with only your Charisma skills carrying you, Shamans do work very well when they are hybridized with other playstyles.
Giving your Shaman some buffness with Strength is a particularly good option. Increase their Close Combat and Melee Weapons and you've got a support-oriented front-liner who can flexibly switch between front-line damage and back-line support at the drop of a hat. Melee weapons tend to be cheaper than guns, which frees up more money for Spirit Fetishes. Speaking of, a melee Shaman is usually in a better position to take advantage of the Creator/Dove Totem ability and keep their spirits around for longer.
If ranged damage is more your style, you could go for Quickness and a gun of your choice, but it almost makes too much sense to instead let your Shaman dabble in Mage areas instead. Put levels into Willpower and Spellcasting and you can more than double your repertoire of spells – the issue will be fitting them all into your inventory and, of course, affording them all. Thanks to the expense, this playstyle may be better for Shamans who don't rely on expensive Fetishes, but it'll pay dividends when you find that you've got spells for every encounter the game throws at you.
The Intelligence skills don't marry up all that well with the Shaman's skillset, but there are some nice things to pick up here. Biotech will improve your medkit efficacy, and this is all you need to turn yourself into the perfect support character (if you don't delve into the Mage hybrid build and pick up the Heal spells), and Decking would give you the Mark Target spell, another great support option. These are Karma-heavy investments, however, and your Shaman won't be as powerful as they'd be if they were more specialized.
As is usual with spellcasters, you'll want to be very careful about your cyberware investments. Reducing your Essence too much will reduce your spellbook slots and increase your spell cooldowns.
Cyberware is more viable for Shamans who don't mind picking up a weapon or spend more turns summoning spirits, but it should be a total no-go for any Shaman/Mage hybrids. If you must dabble in chrome, however, pick up buffs that cost the least amount of Essence.
Of note is the Tailored Pheromones bioware option. This increases your Charisma by one point and reduces your Essence by only half a point in Dragonfall and doesn't reduce it at all in Hong Kong.
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