Created By: linkhyrule5 on November 27, 2012 Last Edited By: linkhyrule5 on September 24, 2016

The Shaman

Casting style that depends on debts/favors/indirect power.

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope
You know that character that doesn't personally have any power, but manages to be mystically powerful anyway? See, yeah, he has no power... but this one god of light owes him a favor, and he did a job for a spirit of wood and the spirit blessed him with a power in return, and there's this one relic he found in an old temple, and...

Basically, a classic shaman who "calls on the gods," but doesn't have any powers of his own. Something like New York Magician, or [[Reimu Touhou]](if you ignore her inherent "floating" powers). Do We Have This One??
Community Feedback Replies: 20
  • November 27, 2012
    Astaroth
    I feel like this is covered by the Theurgy section of the Functional Magic page
  • November 27, 2012
    linkhyrule5
    Sure, but we've got tropes for elements and Geometric Magic and Ritual Magic and whatnot anyway.
  • November 27, 2012
    Chernoskill
    Shamans are an important part of Shadowrun. Their magic is typically influenced or even granted by totems like Dog or Sea.
  • November 28, 2012
    MorganWick
    I read the laconic and got a very different sense of "casting"...
  • November 28, 2012
    Chernoskill
    Good one :)
  • November 28, 2012
    ZombieAladdin
    The title is really unclear. I figured a shaman would refer to one of those spiritual magicians or something. Then when I read the subtitle underneath, I thought it referred to a character whose superpower involves debts or favors of some sorts (I can think of a few non-divine examples).
  • November 28, 2012
    Desertopa
    "Shaman" actually has a technical definition, namely a person believed to have power to access a spiritual world. The magic described here is theurgy, the invocation of divine powers. Shamans are often, but not necessarily, attributed with the ability to practice theurgy, and those who invoke divine powers are not necessarily shamans.

    So if we're actually going to create a page, given that we already have the section on Functional Magic, I think it would make more sense to call it The Theurge. We might end up with a separate page for shamanism; the protagonist of the Johnny Maxwell Trilogy is implied to be a shaman, for instance, but isn't a theurge.
  • November 29, 2012
    Bisected8
    What about Contract Magic; it's descriptive and can't be confused with anything else (as far as I'm aware).
  • November 29, 2012
    CobraPrime
    ^^ Theurgy is broader than what the description is describing.
  • December 8, 2012
    linkhyrule5
    I'm not imagining the classic D&D cleric, here. Someone with no personal powers, but just happens to have a debt here and a favor there, counts. That's why I called it the Shaman: the medicine man, the wise man, who knows the old secrets, where the witch sleeps in the woods and how to get the pictsies to do what you want. New York Magician is, again, basically the Trope Codifier for this one.
  • December 8, 2012
    bulmabriefs144
    "I feel like this is covered by the Theurgy section of the Functional Magic page."

    This is the character, not the type of magic.

    Call it The Shaman. Shamanism predates conventional notions of Theurgy, and there are some very old characters involved in the first type. For example:

    Sun Wukong is probably the Ur Example. He actually has some personal magical abilities (mainly transformation), but he owes half the religious pantheon favors and vice versa, meaning he can fly up to their home and ask them to do this or that for him.

  • December 8, 2012
    jatay3
    There was one Deep Space Nine episode about a Bajoran village with a local shaman called The Storyteller who frightens off an Eldritch Abomination that appears at regular intervals.
  • September 23, 2016
    DAN004
    Shamanism is but one form of Theurgy with its own "crude, tribal" flavor.

    I kinda vote to make the Theurge trope first cuz it encompasses this.
  • September 23, 2016
    Generality
    I think we should probably create a page for theurgy that covers this description as well as other uses (like paladins and so on).

    But Shamans typically aren't pure theurgists. They may occasionally deal with gods, but usually they call on nature spirits and Genius Loci, who are enticed by contracts or coerced through force of will.
  • September 23, 2016
    Antigone3
    I don't know if this would fit better here or in the proposed Theurgy page.

    Fantasy Hero: In the 5th edition setting "The Valdorian Age", all magic works by calling upon {insert type of extraplanar being here} to do a favor for the spellcaster. Get too many favors from those beings without doing favors of your own for them, and life can get ... interesting.
  • September 23, 2016
    Avengium
    I'm agree with making a [[Theurgy]] independent page.

    @Generality, good point with "nature spirits and Genius Loci". By the way Shaman in D&D draws power from the "primal" source of existence not from the "divine" nor "arcane" sources of D&D. For me a Shaman is not a Theurge.
  • September 23, 2016
    Generality
    Actually, theurgy might be covered by Religion Is Magic.
  • September 23, 2016
    DAN004
    Although both theurgy and "taking powers from nature spirits and Genius Loci" have the same underlying premise: that your power comes from a sentient source that you have to commune/"talk" to first before you can use them. Aka "bargain to get magic".
  • September 24, 2016
    Menarker
    In 8Bit Theater, there is a character named Cleric who insists he is an atheist even as he request miracles from a variety of gods, so that he can maintain his negotiation status of not being biased toward any particular deity, and thus request help from any particular gods that'll give him the best bargain. http://www.nuklearpower.com/2005/08/11/episode-585-a-lofty-goal/
  • September 24, 2016
    naturalironist
    In an anthropological sense, Shamans are people who have access to the spirit world and can see and communicate with spirits/supernatural powers. More overtly magical powers shamans may have include the ability to summon spirits or temporary magical powers achieved through possession by a spirit. Miko are the closest thing on this wiki to this trope. To me, this deserves to be a trope in itself, and a possible explanation for the mechanics of the Witch Doctor or Ethnic Magician's powers. I can think of a few examples from Asian media that I'm not sure are on the wiki, will come back with more.

    But it seems that what the description is going for is something like Dn D warlock, a person who makes some sort of long-term bargain with a god or supernatural force. I believe this is also how Shadowrun shamans work. I would second Contract Magic as a name for this.

    The difference: Shamanic magic consists mainly of the power to intercede/communicate with spirits, and if great feats of magic are performed, they are done directly by spirits rather than by the Shaman. With Contract Magic, the magician can control his own magical feats and the duration is longer, although still may last only as long as the contract. Shamanism is Ritual Magic, Contract Magic is Functional Magic.

    Theurgy might be an ok umbrella page to cover both.
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