The central principles of shamanism are harmony, respect, and understanding. Shamanism is the magic of connections, of alignment, of sharing and commonality. A shaman enacts magic not through the decree of his will, but by bringing his own Identity into alignment with the facet of the world he wants to affect, attempting to pass his needs and desires to his subject as its own. In return, he takes on some measure of the Identity of his subject, perhaps permanently. Above all, a shaman recognizes that all things — including himself — exist only in the context of their environments.


Shamanism is a paradigm, an overarching school of thought that can be divided into several disciplines, each focused on a particular facet of magic. For purposes of expertise, each discipline is considered a separate skill. Any shaman may practice any number of disciplines, but mastery is accrued independently; expertise in one discipline does not count towards mastery of another.

The shamanic disciplines are:

Invocation: The most fundamental discipline, Invocation is a transformative magic which begins with exchanging one's Identity, literally "calling in", taking on the thoughts and perceptions of some other creature, flora, or even inanimate substance. Greater skill allows physical transformations, and even providing a 'bridge' by which properties of the Invoked subject can be passed to another person.

Dreamwalking: A subtle discipline, Dreamwalking is a magic of observation and insight turned entirely inward, allowing the practitioner to plumb the depths of a subject's mind and soul. Best used with great caution, Dreamwealking lends itself to investigation, to therapy, and even to manipulation of the most essential tenets of one's Identity. A practitioner may also turn his dreams outward, using them to perceive the world in a way no waking person ever could.

Ghostbinding: Shamans who practice Ghostbinding have a sensitivity to souls no others can match; from them, no remnant spirit may hide. They have the ability to seal souls into inanimate objects, creating imbued relics. Ghostbinders might draw up shades of the dead, and learn from them of past events, or even lost expertise; others may send their own soul forth, experiencing another life vicariously, or even taking control of it.

Unity: Often considered the grander sibling of Invocation, Unity is a magic in which one can very easily lose oneself, yet that also offers the opportunity for truly profound workings. Practitioners of Unity work with connections, dependencies, and interactions; they might trace the history of an object, read and sway the mood of an entire crowd, measure the health of a biome, and predict or even attempt to ameliorate disasters such as earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. Unity shamans also have the unique ability to forge links between souls, binding them together in a manner that can echo across multiple incarnations.


To practice shamanism is to manipulate the most essential components of Identity and soul. Shamans frequently lose themselves in their subjects, becoming a human body directed by an inhuman mind — or possessed of no mind whatsoever. Many shamans transform into beasts or trees or stones one time too many, and fail to return to themselves again afterwards. Others lose their way in the dreamscape, or make a mistake that severs soul from body, leaving behind an empty husk. Perhaps even worse is the capacity for high-level shamans to make these mistakes with others, condemning someone else to such a fate.

Even more cautious shamans find themselves changed by their magic, for in order to forge a connection with something, one must first change oneself. Every subject that is called within, every dream that is parsed, every soul that is touched leaves marks upon the shaman's Identity. It may be one profound moment that changes the shaman utterly, or the accumulation of influences over time, ultimately altering his inclinations, his personality, his dreams and desires. A shaman who has taken the time to study himself, to understand his own identity and what defines it, can recognize and make some effort to stave off these influences — but never completely.


Kothinar: Shamans are uncommon in Kothinar, but not looked down upon, as the shamanic tenet of harmony dovetails well with the city's cultural fetish for balance. Practitioners of Unity are often sought by landowners to provide advice on the best use of their property, and sometimes in the management of crops or herds. Ghostbinders are also well-regarded, as they provide a variety of useful services.

Okudan: Shamanism is fundamental to the nomads' continued existence, and thus both widely practiced and revered within Okudan. Each band has at least one Hearth dedicated to shamanic practices, and often more than one. The inevitable eccentricities of shamans are recognized as consequences of their magic and tolerated if not indulged. Conversely, due to the culture-wide familiarity with shamanic magic, practitioners who cause harm — even inadvertently, such as by Invoking a wolf, being overwhelmed by its identity, and ravaging the herds — will be quickly recognized and put down.

Rasumbel: Painstakingly excised out of stone and ice, the entirety of Rasumbel exists as an expression of Suari dominion over the environment; as such, its people generally look down on the practice of shamanism, considering its principles rather quaint. Ghostbinding is considered somewhat useful, but is uncommon, and other disciplines are rare to nonexistent within the mountain city.


The vast majority of shamans learn from a mentor, often a family member or someone in their immediate community, and often begin their study from a young age. However, because shamanism is entirely inward-focused, it is possible for one to pursue it independently, with no mentorship at all. Books concerning shamanism are vanishingly rare; its lore is almost entirely preserved by oral tradition. Self-initiated practitioners must be extremely dedicated to the magic, as they struggle to realize mindfulness and displacement of their self without a guide, while also coming to understand the fundamental Identity of another. Self-taught shamans must either practice a great deal of caution or are highly apt to lose themselves in their first attempts.

Whether mentored or self-taught, the first steps into shamanic magic are always much the same. The early lessons of shamanism are all about how to observe uncritically, quieting one's thoughts and expectations, simply taking in oneself and one's environment; after all, observation is the first step towards understanding. This period also involves a great deal of education in the basic principles of one or more shamanic disciplines, as well as the selection of a subject to Invoke. Most attempt either a charismatic animal or a tree, those being the easiest subjects to study and comprehend. Meditation is a strong component of shamanic practice; this may take the form of sitting quietly and mindfully, as meditation through action, repetitive sequences of slow and graceful exercise, or any other style that results in a focused yet empty self.

Once the student has both a solid grasp of that quiescent state of being, which may take seasons or even years, and good familiarity with their subject of choice, they attempt their first Invocation. Succeeding proves that the student has an understanding of self and Identity, how to set one aside and take on another — as well as how to put the borrowed self away when the time is appropriate to do so. At this point, they are considered ready for more advanced practice, and may begin actively pursuing training in any of the shamanic disciplines. Students who are mentored usually understand the theory of their chosen discipline by this point, having received the equivalent of book-knowledge from their mentor; what they are now permitted to do is actually put that knowledge into practice. Going forward, one's progression depends upon the discipline in question.

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