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Skip Navigation LinksContent>Magic>Magic Systems>Validus Familiaritas>Totemic Shamanism>Variations
Totemic Shamanism Variations
Validus Familiaritas

Totemic Shamanism

Totemic Shamanism System Totemic Shaman Totemic Shamanism Variations
Totems & Gifts Totemic Shaman Package Deals  
The basic model of Totemic Shamanism can be easily altered or expanded upon for a number of uses with minimal effort.
The basic mechanic at play here could be switched out for some other focus, replacing the Totems and Totemic Gifts with something else.
As a point of reference, see the similar Piedregamas Magic System, which is Gemstone based or the Troubadourus Magic System which is based on Musical Instruments.
This Magic System could be made very pervasive but narrow in a given setting simply by stating that all characters of a certain group or type must have one (and only one) Totem. Also perhaps characters don't choose Totems -- Totems choose them; thus the GM might simply assign Totems via a "spirit quest" or randomly determine them to enhance the "mysticism" flavoring.
Totemic Shamanism might also be used differently in different Regions. This could range from different lists of Totems used in different areas, to different focuses on Totemic Gifts vs. Animal Companions and Beast Forms. Perhaps in some areas Totemic Shaman consider it to be blasphemous to take the form of their Totems and eschew (or even persecute) beast forms, while in another region it's common for Totemic Shaman to master only one Totem. This sort of variegation can be very granular, and allow Totemic Shamanism to be used differently in several different areas.
Example: Bob the GM decides that one of the cultures of his setting are plains-roaming humanoids who seek to live as one with nature; they have a Pantheon composed of The Great Bear, The Wily Fox, The Sky Eagle, The All Seeing Raven, The Night Cat, and the Star Horse. Bob decides that each member of this people, called the Iongeh (EE-OHN-geh), are chosen by one of those six Totems (Bear, Fox, Eagle, Raven, Panther, Horse) at birth -- easily determined by rolling a d6 for each such character -- but those people may never learn another Totem. As a side effect of this Bob decides that the Iongeh don't need the Totem Lore Skill and don't have to roll to learn the Gifts of their one Totem -- it just comes naturally to them. 
Example: In the World of San'Dora Totemic Shamanism is practiced by an older race of mankind called the Eldfolk, who are nature worshippers and believe in great animal spirit Totems. Three subgroups of Eld exist in the modern day, and the practice of Totemic Shamanism has evolved differently among the three subgroups over many millennia. In antiquity when the Eldfolk fled enemies bent on their destruction the Kaer-Na crossed the mountains and settled in the north lands, the Chur'An took refuge in the inhospitable fire lands, and the Gaer'An took to the sea and settled on an island cluster off the coast.
Totemic Shamanism is very widely practiced by the Kaer-Naese; in fact their borders are actively defended by mighty Totem Warriors and Totemic Shaman and all Kaer-Na have at least one Totem. The basic Totemic Shaman Magic System is used without any of the variants. Exceptional Gifts (Special Powers) are allowed for any full Totem a Shaman has. The Totem Warrior and Totem Shaman Packages are both appropriate for Kaer-Naese characters. The following Totems are available to the Kaer-Na:
  • Bear
  • Boar
  • Deer
  • Eagle
  • Horse
  • Owl
  • Panther
  • Raven
  • Stag
  • Weasel
  • Wolf
The Chur'An live near their cousin nation of Kaer-Na, separated by a large Gulf and a mountain range. Their homeland is mountainous with several active volcanoes, and is an unusually warm land despite its longitude and elevation due to scattered magma vents and geysers. Totemic Shaman aren't as common among the Chur'Anese but are venerated, and the Totem Warrior and Totem Shaman Packages are both appropriate for Chur'Anese characters.
The Chur'An favor symbolic Totems of creatures created by the Haelfinan in their war against the Var rather than the naturally occurring animal spirits venerated by the Kaer-Na. The Totemic Shaman Magic System is used for Chur'An but they use the Optional Fantasy Totems instead of (not in addition to) the standard Animal Totems. The tend to have one Totem, typically with a single exceptional Animal Companion. The following Totems are available to the Chur'An:
  • Hedfallewodd (head-fah-THWOE-oth; use Griffin)
  • Dirfawrdwyn (deer-fair-DEW-een; use Cave Bear)
  • Grol (GROHL; use Manticore (Replace the Basic and Advanced Breath abilities of the Manticore Totem with Advanced Flight and Advanced Toughness))
  • Blaenithteigrod (bline-ith-TIEG-rude; use Sabretooth)
  • Dyweddu (dew-EETH-ee; use Chimera)
  • Marblaen (MAHR-bline; use Unicorn)
  • Hedfamarblaen (head-fah-MAHR-bline; use Pegasus)
The Gaer'An are scattered across several islands and a few coastal colonies. While Shamanism is much less common among them than the Kaer-Na, the Totem Warrior and Totem Shaman Packages are both still appropriate for some Gaer'Anese characters. However Gaer'Anese Shaman tend to specialize on one Totem with appropriate Animal Companions and related abilities, particularly a beast form. The following Totems are available to the Gaer'An: 
  • Dolphin
  • Hawk
  • Lion
  • Lynx
  • Shark
  • Stingray
  • Tiger
You can always change the name from Totemic Shamanism to something else if you prefer, or have several groups of Magic Users based on this mechanic but with social or "flavor" differences and different names.
Example: In Bob the GM's setting the Iongeh version of Totemic Shamanism mentioned previously is not called anything at all, because all the Iongeh have a Totem they never thought to give it a special name; out of game Bob just refers to it as Iongeh Totems.
Additionally Bob the GM has decided that a non-spiritual / entirely mystical practice of Totemic Shamanism exists among the rural folk of a region of his setting. In the language of that people this mystical practice is called Btrebien (BEH-tray-BYEE-in), and while it is tolerated in the backwoods it is is generally looked down upon in more civilized lands. Btrebien includes both the standard aninal Totems and the fantasy Totems, but as a campaign groundrule a character must have two full standard Totems before they are allowed to start taking any of the higher powered fantasy Totems.
Another method for altering the feel of this type of Magic is to create custom Package Deals that are tied directly into a setting.
Example: Bob the GM makes new mandatory Extension Packages for each of the six Iongeh Totems, and makes a Basic Package for Btrebien to replace the provided Totemic Shaman and Totemic Warrior Basic Packages.