Animist (Apath)

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Unofficial rules compendium

Animists are spirit magicians common in tribal societies. They are spontaneous divine spellcasters using the druid spell list. They have powers that heal, harm, and cajole monstrous creatures.

Class Information

Age: Animists have an informal education, and use the middle age bracket for starting age.

Abilities: Charisma determines how powerful spells an animist can cast, how many spells he can cast per day and how hard those spells are to resist (see Spells, below) as well as several class abilities and also helps him cajole with youkai. Most animists live in the wilderness and need good physical abilities for survival.

Alignment: Any. Animism is not in itself aligned, each spirit is an individual with its own concerns. Animists often strive to stay out of worldly concerns and maintain a neutral attitude, but this rarely works out. Generally uninterested in politics, animists care about spirits and people close to them. Some animists work for specific youkai and follow their convictions.

Hit Dice: d8

Starting Wealth: 2d6 × 10 gp (average 70 gp.) In addition, each character begins play with an outfit worth 10 gp or less.

Class Skills

The animist’s class skills (and the key ability for each Skill) are Craft (Int), Diplomacy (Cha), Handle Animal (Cha), Heal (Wis), Knowledge (history) (Int), Knowledge (local) (Int), Knowledge (nature) (Int), Knowledge (planes) (Int), Profession (Wis), Ride (Dex), Spellcraft (Int), Survival (Wis), and Swim (Str).

Skill Points at Each Level: 2 + Int modifier.

Class Features

All of the following are class features of the animist.

Weapon and Armor Proficiency

An animist is proficient with all simple weapons, the handaxe, shortbow, and throwing axe, and with light armor and shields (except tower shields).

Many animists are restricted against wearing iron armor or using iron weapons, see taboo of metal below.


An animist casts divine spells drawn from the druid spell list. Add beast shape I (3rd), beast shape II (4th), beast shape III (5th), and beast shape IV (6th) to the animist's spell list at the indicated spell levels. These spells are not learned automatically, each must be picked as a known spell before they can be cast.

An animist can cast any spell he knows without preparing it ahead of time. To learn or cast a spell, an animist must have a Charisma score equal to at least 10 + the spell level. The Difficulty Class for a saving throw against an animist’s spell is 10 + the spell’s level + the animist’s Charisma modifier.

Like other spellcasters, an animist can cast only a certain number of spells per day of each spell level. His base daily spell allotment is given on Table: Animist. In addition, he receives bonus spells per day if he has a high Charisma score (see Table: Ability Modifiers and Bonus Spells).

An animist’s selection of spells is extremely limited. An animist begins play knowing four 0-level spells and two 1st-level spells of his choice. At each new animist level, he gains one or more new spells, as indicated on Table: Animist Spells Known. Unlike spells per day, the number of spells an animist knows is not affected by his Charisma score; the numbers on Table: Animist Spells Known are fixed.

Upon reaching 4th level, and at every even-numbered animist level after that (6th, 8th, and so on), an animist can choose to learn a new spell in place of one he already knows. In effect, the animist loses the old spell in exchange for the new one. The new spell’s level must be the same as that of the spell being exchanged. An animist may swap only a single spell at any given level, and must choose whether or not to swap the spell at the same time that he gains new spells known for the level.

Table: Animist Spells Known
Level Spells Known
Zero 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th
1st 4 2
2nd 5 2
3rd 5 3
4th 6 3 1
5th 6 4 2
6th 7 4 2 1
7th 7 5 3 2
8th 8 5 3 2 1
9th 8 5 4 3 2
10th 9 5 4 3 2 1
11th 9 5 5 4 3 2
12th 9 5 5 4 3 2 1
13th 9 5 5 4 4 3 2
14th 9 5 5 4 4 3 2 1
15th 9 5 5 4 4 4 3 2
16th 9 5 5 4 4 4 3 2 1
17th 9 5 5 4 4 4 3 3 2
18th 9 5 5 4 4 4 3 3 2 1
19th 9 5 5 4 4 4 3 3 3 2
20th 9 5 5 4 4 4 3 3 3 3

Allied Spirits When an animist gains access to a a new level of spells, he immediately gains the summon nature's ally spell of that level as a known spell. These spells cannot be exchanged for different spells at higher levels.

Orisons Animists learn a number of orisons, or 0-level spells, as noted on Table: Animist Spells Known. These spells are cast like any other spell, but they do not consume any slots and may be used again.

Animist Taboo

Each animist has a taboo, an act that is prohibited and disrupts their link to the spirit world. An animist who breaks his taboo is unable to cast animist spells or use any animist supernatural or spell-like class abilities until he has performed a one-hour purification ritual - this can be done as a part of spell preparation. Select one taboo from this list.

  1. Taboo of Air: Also known as being skyclad. The animist must expose himself to the wind and weather and must be nude when preparing spells. He may never wear a hat, helmet, vest or vestments, but he may wear a cloak. The animist may wear armor and other items of clothing not covered above except when preparing spells.
  2. Taboo of Aliens: The animist cannot communicate with outsiders without losing power. He can never speak to or otherwise communicate with those not in his tribe or community, tough listening to them is allowed, as is silent use of Intimidation to scare them away. Adopted members of the tribe can be communicated with. Adventuring animists can communicate with their fellow party members, but not with strangers. The animist can communicate with animals and youkai of all kinds without breaking this taboo.
  3. Taboo of Death: Ill health is a barrier, one the animist dares not come near. Touching a creature that has taken more than half its Hit Points in damage, has died within the last day, is poisoned, or is diseased breaks this taboo. Such creatures can be healed, but doing so breaks the taboo after the healing spell or ability has been used. The animist can deal freely with undead. This taboo is from Shinto and common in Japan-inspired settings.
  4. Taboo of Earth: The animist may not touch the ground; he must ride or be carried everywhere he goes. He can walk on wooden floors and on carpets. This taboo is common among mounted nomads.
  5. Taboo of Fire: Fire separates folk from beasts, and certain animists give up the use of fire as a concession to the spirits. An animist with the taboo of fire cannot use any spells with the fire descriptor (this includes summoning spells for creatures of the fire subtype), cannot carry torches, lanterns or other fire, and cannot eat cooked food or heat themselves by a fire, which gives a -5 penalty on Survival rolls. He can still use firelight provided by others to see and may stay in heated rooms as long as he's not tending the fire.
  6. Taboo of Gender: The animist must not touch, heal, or communicate with members of one chosen gender, as in taboo of aliens and taboo of death, above. This taboo also extends to youkai of the banned gender. Random youkai the animist summons or calls are never of the forbidden gender. The animist gains the benefits of the Selective Channeling feat, but only to exclude members of the banned gender. Fighting against, intimidating, and otherwise harming members of the forbidden gender is allowed.
  7. Taboo of Life: Life is sacred. The animist must not take the life of an animal, magical beast, or humanoid.
  8. Taboo of Metal: Metal is the manifestation of man’s dominion over nature and at odds with the natural order of the spirits. The animist may not wear metal armor (all armor except cloth, leather and hide) or use metal weapons. Among the weapons animists are proficient with, these work normally when not made of metal: blowgun, club, dart, javelin, and quarterstaff. Wooden weapons and armor affected by the ironwood spell are allowed. The animist is allowed to wear coins and adornments made of soft precious metals, like gold.
  9. Taboo of Identity: The animist may not show naked skin or hair, especially his head. He must constantly wear a cowl, be masked, or wear thick facial body paint and shave all head hair. This gives a -5 penalty on Diplomacy, Disguise, and Perception checks.
  10. Taboo of Water: Water is a civilizing influence, and animists can give this up to get closer to primeval nature. An animist with this taboo cannot touch water but other liquids are ok. He suffers a -5 penalty on Heal, Stealth, Survival, and Swim checks.

Sometimes it is not obvious that a taboo has been broken, especially when dealing with illusions or disguises. Taboos are about self-confidence, an animist that unknowingly breaks a taboo suffers no ill effect. An animist that is convinced he broke his taboo within the last minute suffers the penalty. If tricked into believing he has broken a taboo he suffers the penalty, but only until he sees through the trick.

Detect Youkai (Sp)

The animist perceives nearby youkai. At will, the animist can use detect youkai as a spell-like ability. It functions just like detect undead, except it detects youkai. An animist can concentrate on a single item or individual within 60 feet and determine if it is a youkai or has been in contact with youkai, learning the strength of its aura as if having studied it for 3 rounds. While focusing on one individual or object, the animist does not detect youkai in any other object or individual.

Spirit Guide

Animists gain a spirit guide at first level. Exactly what a spirit guide is depends on who you ask; some see it as a guardian spirit that accompanies each animist trough life, others as an aspect or shadow of the animist's own spirit. A spirit guide in not a creature and has no direct effect on the world; it can only interact with the animist himself.

Spirit guides exist only in the animist's mind, which allows them to take any form imaginable and more. Many look like animals, others appear like natural forces or similar to powerful youkai or even gods. Because the animist tradition is so diverse, the traits associated with a certain spirit can vary from tribe to tribe, two raven spirit guides might have completely different personalities.

The spirit guide allows the animist to fulfill the prerequisites for the Summon Quick Ally feat for any one type of creature chosen by the animist. At level 5 and every five levels thereafter, the spirit guide fulfills the prerequisites for one additional type of creature. The animist must still learn the feat normally, the spirit guide provide the prerequisites, not the feat itself.

The spirit guide has one standard action each round. As a standard action, the spirit guide can advice the animist, allowing him to re-roll a Knowledge check he attempted in the last minute. The animist uses the better result, but only one reroll is allowed on each Knowledge check. It can use this ability a number of times each day equal to the animist's Charisma bonus.

Spirit Channel (Su)

An animist can release a wave of energy by channeling the power of the spirit world. This can heal or cause damage to youkai, as decided when the power is used. This is similar to the cleric ability channel energy, but there is no relation to positive or negative energy, alignment, or the undead; the animist hurts or heals all youkai at his own whim.

Spirit channel causes a burst that affects all youkai in a 30-foot radius centered on the animist. The damage dealt or healed is 1d6, plus 1d6 points of damage for every two animist levels beyond 1st (2d6 at 3rd, 3d6 at 5th, and so on). When causing damage, the animist can choose to cause normal or subdual damage. This is spiritual damage and does full damage to ethereal and incorporeal targets and is not subject to damage reduction or damage resistance. Creatures that take damage from channeled energy receive a Will save to halve the damage. The DC of this save is equal to 10 + ½ the animist's level + the animist's Charisma modifier. Creatures healed by spirit channel cannot exceed their maximum hit point total—all excess healing is lost.

An animist may spirit channel a number of times per day equal to 3 + his Charisma modifier. This is a standard action that does not provoke an attack of opportunity. If the animist is a youkai, he can choose whether or not to include herself in this effect.

Spirit channel used to heal is a pleasurable experience for a youkai, even one that is not wounded. This is part of the magnetism that draws spirits to the animist and powers the placate youkai ability. When bargaining with youkai the animist can offer to use this ability as a part of a bargain.

Spirit channel can harm haunts just as positive channeled energy does. It works with channeling feats as if the animist was as a cleric of his animist's class level.

Placate Youkai (Su)

At 2nd level, the animist learns how to plead and cajole with youkai. The animist can speak with any youkai that understands a language. Add half the animist’s level to any Bluff, Diplomacy, Intimidate, Perform, or Sense Motive checks against youkai.

Protection From Youkai (Sp)

At 3rd level, an animist can perform a 1-minute rite to gain protection from youkai. The protection functions just like protection from evil, except it is personal and protects against youkai rather than evil and lasts until dispelled or negated. If this ability is dispelled, the animist can recreate it simply by taking a minute to do so.

Ghost Warrior (Su)

At 4th level, the animist confers the ghost touch quality to his armor and weapons. Any melee weapon he uses, including an unarmed or natural attack, becomes a ghost touch weapon for as long as he uses it. Any armor or shield he wears or wields becomes ghost touch armor for as long as he uses it. This ability can be turned on or off as a swift action.

See the Unseen (Sp)

At 5th level the animist can see invisibility for one round as a move action. He can do this at will and it can be kept up continuously by continuing to spend move actions to concentrate on it each round.

Placate the Dead (Sp)

At 6th level the animist can use speak with haunt at will as a spell-like ability. The save DC is 10 + 1/2 the animist's class level + the animist's Charisma modifier.

Ward Youkai (Sp)

At 6th level an animist can ward herself and companions standing near against hostile youkai. This functions like a magic circle against evil centered on the animist, except that it protects against youkai instead of evil. It can be used for 10 minutes per level per day. This duration need not be continuous, but must be spent in 10-minute intervals.

Bind Youkai (Sp)

At 7th level the animist can bind a youkai. This works like the binding spell, but only against a willing or helpless youkai and with no saving throw. Coercion is acceptable, and common practice is to defeat the youkai in combat before binding it. Animist binding is comfortable, and youkai with knowledge of animists are generally willing to bargain about being bound under the right conditions. If the conditions made in a negotiated binding are broken, the youkai is freed. A youkai bound by this ability is automatically stabilized and heals damage normally while bound.

As long as binding is used again before the current binding ends, the effect is automatically extended for the duration of the new binding.

Exorcism (Sp)

At 8th level the animist learns to exorcise at will. This is a full-round action with a range of 30 ft. Many creatures are aware of this range limitation and will try to avoid getting caught near the animist. Exorcism has the effect of sessile spirit, except that a possessing creature is immediately expelled and cannot possess another creature for 1 hour. The Will save DC is to 10 + ½ the animist's level + his Charisma modifier.

Spirit Quest (Sp)

A 9th level animist and his companions can vanish bodily into other planes once per day, plus one additional time per day per 5 levels after 9. This ability functions like plane shift but takes 10 minutes to use.

Ghost Champion (Su)

At 10th level, as a standard action, the animist can confer the ghost touch special ability to all weapons, shields, and armor used by one of his allies within 30 ft. This includes unarmed attacks, natural attacks, and natural armor. Ghost champion can be used at will and lasts one round per level of the animist. If used again while already active, any previous use of ghost champion immediately ends.

Banish Youkai (Sp)

At 11th level, the animist can use banishment once per day, and an additional time per day for every four additional animist levels. The save DC against this ability is 10 + ½ the animist's level + the animist's Charisma modifier. Banish youkai only works against extra-planar youkai.

Greater Protection from Youkai (Su)

At 12th level, protection from youkai ability (above) becomes a supernatural ability that is constantly active and cannot be dispelled. The animist can turn this on or off as a swift action.

Guide Concentration (Su)

At 13th level, as a standard action, the spirit guide can maintain concentration on a spell or spell-like ability, including see the unseen, above. The animist makes any required concentration checks normally.

Spirit Walk (Sp)

At 14th level the animist learns how to travel trough the borders of the spirit world once per day. This ability functions like the spell shadow walk except that it can move to planes bordering the astral or ethereal plane instead of the plane of shadow. At level 18, the animist can use this ability at will.

Guide Walk (Su)

At 15th level, when the animist is incapacitated, slept, held, unconscious or otherwise helpless after having failed a Will saving throw, the spirit guide can spend a standard action to control his body. With the spirit guide in control, the body is not helpless but may only perform a single move action each round. Guide walk does not help against effects that require a Fortitude or Reflex save.

Ground Youkai (Sp)

At 16th level the animist can ground a youkai to the physical world when damaging them with his spirit channel ability. The duration of this ability is random. For each "1" rolled on the spirit channel damage, the youkai is tied down for one round. Youkai that make their Will save against the spirit channel are unaffected. When a youkai is grounded, it loses any spell resistance, energy resistance, energy immunity, damage reduction, and cannot remain or become incorporeal, astral, ethereal, or use teleport abilities. A youkai grounded in an impossible location (such as an incorporeal youkai grounded while inside an object) is harmlessly pushed away from the animist to the nearest available legal space.

Spirit Destination (Sp)

At 17th level, when using spirit quest to plane shift, the animist now arrives within one to six miles of his intended destination.

Spirit Loyalty (Su)

At 18th level, a spirit companion can support the animist's control of his own mind. As a standard action taken within 1 round after the animist failed a Will saving throw against a mind-affecting effect with a duration of 1 round or more, the spirit guide allows the animist to attempt another Will saving throw the same DC. On a success, he is treated as if he succeeded on the initial saving throw. He only gets this one extra chance to succeed on his saving throw.

Ghost General (Su)

At 19th level, as a standard action, the animist confers ghost touch to all allies within 30 ft. This works like ghost champion above, except all allies within range are affected and there is no limit on how many can benefit at any one time. Ghost general can be used at will and lasts one minute per level of the animist.

Planar Deputation (Sp)

At 20th level an animist can head a planar deputation. This functions as gate, but it can only be used to travel; the animist cannot use it to call extra-planar creatures. He can still create the gate next to a willing named extra-planar being in order to travel to its location, and creatures on the other side can voluntarily come to the animists side but the animist has no special control over them. Planar deputation has a duration of 10 minutes/level and is dismissible. It can be used once per day.

Table: Animist

Base Attack
Special Spells per Day
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
1st +0 +0 +0 +2 Allied spirits, animist taboo, detect youkais, orisons, spirit guide, spirit channel 1d6 3
2nd +1 +0 +0 +3 Placate youkai 4
3rd +2 +1 +1 +3 protection from youkai, spirit channel 2d6 5
4th +3 +1 +1 +4 Ghost warrior 6 3
5th +3 +1 +1 +4 See the unseen, spirit channel 3d6 6 4
6th +4 +2 +2 +5 Spirit ward 6 5 3
7th +5 +2 +2 +5 Seal youkai, spirit channel 4d6 6 6 4
8th +6/+1 +2 +2 +6 Exorcism 6 6 5 3
9th +6/+1 +3 +3 +6 Spirit channel 5d6, spirit quest 6 6 6 4
10th +7/+2 +3 +3 +7 Ghost champion 6 6 6 5 3
11th +8/+3 +3 +3 +7 Banish youkai, spirit channel 6d6 6 6 6 6 4
12th +9/+4 +4 +4 +8 Greater protection from youkai 6 6 6 6 5 3
13th +9/+4 +4 +4 +8 Guide concentration, spirit channel 7d6 6 6 6 6 6 4
14th +10/+5 +4 +4 +9 Shadow walk 6 6 6 6 6 5 3
15th +11/+6/+1 +5 +5 +9 Guide walk, spirit channel 8d6 6 6 6 6 6 6 4
16th +12/+7/+2 +5 +5 +10 Tie down youkais 6 6 6 6 6 6 5 3
17th +12/+7/+2 +5 +5 +10 Spirit destination, spirit channel 9d6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 4
18th +13/+8/+3 +6 +6 +11 Spirit loyalty 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 5 3
19th +14/+9/+4 +6 +6 +11 Ghost general, spirit channel 10d6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 4
20th +15/+10/+5 +6 +6 +12 Planar deputation 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6

Favored Class Bonuses

Instead of receiving an additional skill rank or hit point whenever he gains a level of animist, the following races have the option of choosing an alternate bonus depending on their race. An animist can take a favored class bonus that applies to a class ability he does not have yet, gaining the bonus as soon as he gains the class feature.

  • Dwarf: Add +¼ to the natural armor bonus to the AC of creatures the animist summons.
  • Elf: Select one animal or magical beast you can summon using a spell. When you cast a summoning spell with a casting time of one round to summon this specific kind of creature, the spell has a casting time of one standard action.
  • Gnome: Select one animal or fey you can summon using a spell. When you cast a summoning spell with a casting time of one round to summon this specific kind of creature, the spell has a casting time of one standard action.
  • Half-Elf: Add +1/2 to the animist's placate youkai bonus.
  • Half-Orc: Add +1 hit point to all creatures the animist summons.
  • Halfling: Add +1/2 to the Perception and Stealth skill bonus of to all creatures the animist summons.
  • Human: Add one spell known from the druid spell list. This spell must be at least one level below the highest spell level the animist can cast.

  • Asimaar Select one outsider of the good subtype that can be summoned by a summon monster spell of a level the animist can cast. This includes creatures that require special feats to be summon-able. Add this creature to the list of creatures the animist can summon with summon spells of the same spell level. If the animist can already summon the selected creature, the spell gains a casting time of one standard action when used to summon the selected creature.
  • Catfolk: Add 1/4 to the duration of the animist's see the unseen class feature.
  • Dhampir Add one to your effective animist level for learning and using the ghost warrior, ghost chamion, and ghost general class features.
  • Goblin: Gain 1/3 new class skill to the animist's list of class skills, selected from the following: Acrobatics, Appraise, Bluff, Disable Device, Disguise, Sleight of Hand, Stealth, and Survival.
  • Hobgoblin: Reduce the time it takes to use the animists protection from youkai and ward youkai by 1/2 round.
  • Ifrit: Select one creature of the fire subtype you can summon using a spell. When you cast a summoning spell with a casting time of one round to summon this specific kind of creature, the spell has a casting time of one standard action.
  • Orc Select one subtype of humanoid. You treat creatures of this subtype as youkais for the purpose of the spirit channel class feature. If you select orc or human, you must select on specific tribe or ethnicity to affect.
  • Kitsune: Select 1/4 language the kitsune can speak. All creatures with an Intelligence of 3 or more the kistune summons speak this language.
  • Kobold: Add +1 to spirit channel damage dealt to creatures denied their Dexterity bonus to AC (whether or not the creature has a Dexterity bonus to AC).
  • Oread: Select one creature of the earth subtype you can summon using a spell. When you cast a summoning spell with a casting time of one round to summon this specific kind of creature, the spell has a casting time of one standard action.
  • Ratfolk: Add 2 feet to the range of the detect youkai ability. In combat, this range increase is rounded down to the next lowest multiple of 5 ft.
  • Samsaran: Add one cleric spell to the animist's spell list. The animist needs to add this to his known spells in order to cast it, but can immediately use spell trigger and spell completion items for that spell. This spell must be of a spell level the animist can cast.
  • Sylph: Select one creature of the air subtype you can summon using a spell. When you cast a summoning spell with a casting time of one round to summon this specific kind of creature, the spell has a casting time of one standard action.
  • Tengu Gain 1/4 combat feat. This feat is only usable with weapons from the list in the tengu's swordtrained ability.
  • Thiefling Select one outsider of the evil subtype. This is otherwise the same as the asimaar favored class bonus.
  • Undine: Select one creature of the water subtype you can summon using a spell. When you cast a summoning spell with a casting time of one round to summon this specific kind of creature, the spell has a casting time of one standard action.

Druid Spell List Additions

Used by the animist and druid to level 9 and the hunter to level 6.

Level 0 benign dispel, bleeding wound, burst of flame, crack, fireflies, ground mist, paroxysm, stall flight (lesser), summon zero, touch of vertigo.

Level 1 cure light wounds, mature plant, resistance (greater).

Level 2

Level 3 creeping mist, fey gold, stall flight, trial by fire.

Level 4 scent of sight.

Level 5 transfer enchantment, wall of thorns.

Level 6 x-ray eyes.

Level 7 true seeing.

Level 8 teleport beacon.

Level 9

Spirit Magic

Spirit magic is magic learned from and empowered by spirits, little gods that exist everywhere, mystic energies that can be communed with to work magic. A spirit magician learns to see and commune with spirits and to use their gifts. This is based on a belief called animism and is inherently divine magic, but can be combined with other magic traditions. On its own, it is sometimes called primal magic. Spirit magicians and occult casters share an interest in spirits, but occultists focus on spirits of the dead while spirit magicians commune mostly with spirits of nature.

A series of articles will present three classes grounded in animism, the animist, shugenja, and wu-jen. These classes share a similar animistic view of the world, and are collectively called spirit magicians. Each class uses spirit magic differently, but they all gain power from spirits to work magic. Spirit magicians are no meek clerics who offer worship. A spirit can be bribed and persuaded by offers of service and loyalty, but it can also be coerced or defeated in combat to bind it into service.


Animism is the belief that inside all things are spirits, and these spirits can be befriended, cajoled, or browbeat into cooperation. This belief is common in tribal cultures that live close to nature. Often looked down upon in the west, animism has been suppressed by monotheistic religions but often survives in splinter groups or mixed into the practice of other faiths. Asian cultures tend to be more accepting of faith in spirits, allowing animism to develop more specialized forms, such as that of the shugenja and wu-jen. Druidism can be seen as a variant of animism. The most well-known animist religion today is Shinto, but Taoism and Vodou also has significant animist elements. Feel free to use spirit magic in any campaign, animism exists in innumerable forms all over the world.

Spirit Magic

Spirit magic is magic empowered by the spirits and spirit magicians live on the border between the world of folk and the many worlds of the spirits. Those who use spirit magic are here collectively called spirit magicians. Most spirit magicians live in two societies at once, the society of folk and the society of spirits. They help and protect their allies in both groups, counting on their assistance in return. When the threat of planar incursion looms, most spirit magicians are staunch defenders of planar boundaries. Good spirit magicians help folk and spirits live together. Their traditional duties are both to facilitate contact with spirits and to delineate a border between the mystical and the mundane. While rarely lawful the way civilized people see things, they help maintain the world order by guarding the border between the domains of folk, the dead, nature, and monsters. Some spirit magicians side entirely with one side, exploiting spirits for benefit of folk or the other way around, while a few are renegades who use both folk and spirits strictly for their own benefit. Powerful spirit magicians explore the planes to find power, wisdom, and solutions to problems. They often bring others along as guards, assistants, or to provide them with spiritual education.

Most of the spirits spirit magicians interact with are imperceptible to everyone else. Spirit magicians see spirits where others find only dead matter or impersonal magical energies. Wizards and clerics often claim these spirits do not exist, as they cannot be observed. This is laughable to spirit magicians, who see their powers as proof of the power of spirits. This creates some bad will between spirit magicians and followers of more structured traditions of magic.

What is a Spirit?

Spirits come in four forms; objects, mundane creatures, youkai, and immaterial spirits. Objects are dormant spirits. They take no action until awakened by magic. Spells like animate object can turn an object into a youkai. Mundane Creatures are spirits that have taken a living, physical form, but that have very little inherent magic. This includes all animals and humanoids. Mundane creatures can awaken their spirit natures to work magic, but unless they change their very nature they are not youkai. Youkai are spirits that can interact with mundane creatures, such as ghosts, as well as spirits that have materialized or taken possession of a mundane object or creature to become a magical creature. Most monsters are youkai. Immaterial Spirits are spells and supernatural abilities. Spirit magic is the work of immaterial spirits allied to or bound by a magician. Youkai and some mundane creatures can manipulate immaterial spirits, and the immaterial spirits in turn can manipulate all other kinds of spirits.

Note that there are no clear lines between these classifications, and combinations are common. A magic item is an object tied to an immaterial spirit. A summoned creature is an immaterial spirit that has taken the form of a youkai. Spellcasters are usually a mundane creatures, but can cajole immaterial spirits to work for them.

Spirit magicians regard most monsters as spirits, and may have abilities gives them power over a wide range of supernatural creatures. To avoid confusion, these rules call creatures imbued with spirit powers youkai, which is Japanese for monster. To a spirit magician an earth elemental is an awakened earth spirit—a youkai—while a rock is an earth spirit at rest—an object. They are both the same, just that one is active and awake while the other is dormant. This confounds and annoys those who try to rationally classify what is supernatural and what is mundane. Nevertheless, for rules purposes, we need to know exactly what a youkai is, as many of the animists' and shugenja's abilities only work on youkai. For purposes of the these abilities, youkai includes all of the following creatures:

  • All aberrations
  • Constructs except the clockwork and robot subtypes
  • All dragons
  • All fey
  • All magical beasts
  • All monstrous humanoids
  • Humanoids of the giant or shapechanger subtypes
  • All outsiders
  • All creatures of the Plant type (not normal plants)
  • All undead
  • Creatures created by spells, such as animate object.
  • Creatures summoned by spells, such as summon nature's ally.
  • Creatures in astral, ethereal, or incorporeal form, or who are possessing another creature or object, such as by the magic jar spell.

Spirit magicians see elementals and fey as youkai of nature and undead as youkai of the dead. Magical beasts, constructs, plants, giants, monstrous humanoids, and aberrations are either youkai-possessed or youkai bound in corporeal form. Most spirit magicians consider youkai to be unruly but lovable rascals. While youkai have a definite place in the world order, their place is in the wilds, on other planes, and in shrines—not roaming wild in the lands of folk. Youkai that cause trouble are often bound and enshrined, placated by treating them as little gods.

Enshrined Youkai

In cultures where animists and shugenja are common, it is normal practice to enshrine youkai. This practice is also known as binding or sealing the youkai, and is done using the Bind Youkai ability. Coercion is acceptable, and it is common practice to defeat a hostile youkai in combat in order to bind it. A youkai bound by this ability is automatically stabilized and heals damage normally while bound.

Being enshrined is restful and comfortable to the youkai, and those with knowledge of animists are generally willing to bargain about being enshrined under the right conditions. If the conditions made in a negotiated binding are broken, the youkai is freed. As long as binding is used again before the current binding ends, the effect is automatically extended for the duration of the new binding.

An enshrined youkai is not hidden away. Rather it is made into the focal point of a shrine or temple, venerated, and thus kept placated. Whole religious orders can be dedicated to keeping a powerful youkai sealed. Shugenja seek out such shrines because they can learn spells from them, but shrine guardians usually demand some kind of service or offering from a strange shugenja before they let them into the presence of the youkai. A normal cost is the same as that for casting a spell of the level the youkai can teach.

Summoning Youkai

Spirit magicians are often good summoners because of their close tie to the spirits. A summoned creature is an immaterial spirit that takes on a physical form and is always considered a youkai, even if the summoned creature is an animal. To reflect the the close ties to the spirits, the Summon Quick Ally feat allows druids and other spirit magicians to summon creatures more quickly.

Summon Quick Ally (General)

Table: Quick Allies
Type Prerequisite
Animal Wild Empathy
Fey Resist nature's lure
Humanoid A thousand faces
Magical Beast Beast shape III
Outsider Elemental body III
Plant Woodland stride
Vermin Wild empathy usable with vermin

Prerequisite: Ability to cast summon nature's ally, animist class feature or a another class feature, see table.

Benefit: Choose one creature type from Table: Quick Allies that you fulfill the prerequisite for. When you cast a summon nature's ally spell to summon a creature of this type, the casting time of the spell becomes 1 standard action. This does not work on creatures that have a template.

Special: You can take this feat multiple times. Each time, select a different type of creature.

See Also

External Links

Spellcasting Guides

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