Spirit Guide House Rules

The Book "Complete Divine" states:

Spirit Guide:

   All spirit shamans have a spirit guide, a personification of the spirit world. In some sense a spirit shaman and her guide are one being, both knowing and seeing and experiencing the same things. Unlike a familiar, a spirit guide is not a separate entity from a spirit shaman. She is the only one who can perceive or interact with her guide. It exists only inside her own mind and soul. The spirit shaman's spirit guide confers greater awareness of her surroundings, and grants her the Alertness feat. The spirit guide grants additional abilities at 5th and 10th level (see Follow the Guide and Guide Magic, below).

   The exact form of the spirit guide is chosen by the spirit shaman at 1st level, usually for the qualities it represents, as shown above. The exact form of a spirit guide is purely personal preference, and confers no special advantages or disadvantages.

Spirit Shaman

From what I have read online, the consensus seems to be that a spirit guide which "exists only inside her own mind and soul" has no additional abilities (e.g., reconnaissance, etc.), other than "alterness" and a couple minor add-ons at level 5 and 10. In fact, some of the forums I explored referred to the spirit guide as purely "flavor" or "wisecracking-optional manifestation of their personality and training". Certainly the impact of the "perfect spy" on the game was more significant than that.

However, I tend to agree with one person who said "it was amusing to have a spirit shaman in a game that got evil and crazy advice from a Shuppet that only he could see – but that was a comedy character and should not be the default for the entire character class." I think the Spirit Guide could be a meaningful part of the adventure without compromising the DM's precious "Fog of War."

The following represents some ideas that are not completely my own, but combined from several forums, and developed to meet my personal fancy. I'd like to propose:

  • A spirit guide is an actual spirit – connected to, but not identical to, the spirit shaman. The spirit guide does not exist on the same material plane we do, rather, as a spirit it travels between the Fugue plane ("purgatory" in the Forgotten Realms), the Shadowfell (the place undead draw their power), the Feywild (where the spirits of nature originate), and the Astral Sea (the transitory plane that glues the rest together).
  • While the Spirit guide has no direct access to this world, these planes are parallel the material plane. The spirit guide can give helpful hints and warnings to the shaman based on the activities and conditions of these other planes. These hints manifest themselves in the "Awareness feat."
  • I think it would make sense that the spirit guide would become a very real, potentially powerful ally if the party travels to these other planes of existence.
  • I think the GM should feel free (perhaps even obligated) to communicate additional helpful hints and suggestions from the Spirit Guide as appropriate. The haunting silhouette of a crow in the window warning the shaman of death in the air would be more fun, I think, than a crow with a pencil in its beak graphing out a tactical map of the whole adventure.

I think it would also make sense if this spirit guide was more directly involved in the spirit shaman's other powers than "The Complete Divine" suggests. These wouldn't change the effect, but rather connect it more closely with the Spirit Guide. For example:

  • Chastise Spirits: This could be an attack made directly by the spirit guide (and his buddies) against hostile spirits from "the other side of the veil" so to speak.
  • Detect spirits: This would be an enhanced ability of the spirit guide to let the shaman know what is going on from the other side's perspective.
  • Blessing of the Spirits/Warding of the Spirits: This would be an opportunity to actually interact with his spirit guide and receive his/her blessings.
  • Recall spirit: In this case, it would be the Spirit Guide that approaches and reroutes a departed spirit back to its body.

Also, it would make sense to clarify the planes referred to when we are playing in Forgotten Realms:

  • Spirit Journey: would, I assume, refers to the fugue plane, rather than the plane of spirits.
  • Spirit who walks: I would also assume that at 20th level, the Spirit Shaman gets free reign to travel the Fugue plane, Shadowfell, Feywild, and the Astral Sea – similar to his Spirit Guide.

What do you think?

I know what you're thinking-"Tim, don't you have papers to grade or something?" And you're right, I do, so I should go get started.

Spirit Guide House Rules

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