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Spiritualist confusion


Rules Questions


I'm working my way through the Occult Adventures book and finding myself with some confusion about the Spiritualist and their Phantoms. Mostly I am confused what happens when either the Spiritualist or the Phantom are separated from being adjacent to the Ethereal plane.

For example, if the spiritualist climbs into Rope Trick while "wearing" her Phantom, or is affected by a Maze spell while the Phantom so manifested, what happens?

What about the other way around, a fully manifested Phantom that crossed a gate into an outer plane or Astral, or enters "an extradimensional space that is outside the usual multiverse", or is hit by a Maze spell?

Can a phantom journey to an outer plane if manifested at all? If a Phantom is cast back into the Ethereal and a foe has Ethereal Jaunt, can they encounter the wounded Phantom? Can they slay it? What happens if they do?

I am finding this class under described, but maybe I am missing something!


BUMP -- its hard finding peeps with Occult knowledge....


I don't think there's any problem about where you are. The only rule is that when manifested it has to be so close to the spiritualist. Where it goes is no problem.


The issue is that the Shadow and Ethereal planes aren’t coterminous with outer planes, so it’s not obvious how class abilities that originate on or use those planes can be accessed on an outer plane. If a phantom is “killed” in the Abyss, how does it reach the Ethereal? How does it come back the next day?

I think GMs should handwave some sort of inherent ability to bridge the gap here, so that Ethereal Jaunt, Etherealness, Shadow Walk, and similar “mirrored location “ effects are the only ones that don’t work on an outer plane.


Xenocrat wrote:
If a phantom is “killed” in the Abyss, how does it reach the Ethereal?

by being killed, being killed causes it to leave you for the day.

Xenocrat wrote:
How does it come back the next day?

by being summoned.

Like I don't understand what's not clear about the eidolon rules here?


Characters summon/dismiss things from nonconterminous planes all the time. What's the issue again?


There are multiple references to the phantom being a creature from the ethereal plane, true.

However, you're not restricted to summon creatures from "neighbor" planes, you can summon creatures from all over the planes. And a manifested phantom is on the material plane, not somehow on both planes.

I think the confusion comes from two parts - phantoms are "kind of" like ghosts, and in 3.5, ghosts were incorporeal because they were halfway stuck between the ethereal and the material plane. That isn't true for pathfinder ghosts, who are simply incorporeal no matter what plane they're on, and even less for phantoms who are simply (incorporeal) summoned creatures.


Chess Pwn wrote:
Xenocrat wrote:
If a phantom is “killed” in the Abyss, how does it reach the Ethereal?

by being killed, being killed causes it to leave you for the day.

Xenocrat wrote:
How does it come back the next day?

by being summoned.

Like I don't understand what's not clear about the eidolon rules here?

An Eidolon has to have access to the Astral as a way to bridge the Material and Outer Planes. But does a Phantom have similar access? It’s not necessary for its base function and backstory of originating on the Ethereal and interacting with the Material.


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Xenocrat wrote:
Chess Pwn wrote:
Xenocrat wrote:
If a phantom is “killed” in the Abyss, how does it reach the Ethereal?

by being killed, being killed causes it to leave you for the day.

Xenocrat wrote:
How does it come back the next day?

by being summoned.

Like I don't understand what's not clear about the eidolon rules here?

An Eidolon has to have access to the Astral as a way to bridge the Material and Outer Planes. But does a Phantom have similar access? It’s not necessary for its base function and backstory of originating on the Ethereal and interacting with the Material.

Where do you see anything about needing access to planes to bridge stuff?

The rules are the same for both.
Spend a minute and you have it, when it dies it's gone till tomorrow. Done.


Thanks all, been off line for a few days.

Chess Pawn seems to take the position that a Spiritualist's Phantom can bridge any gap between planes because it does not say in the rules that they cannot. I can see that point of view, but it does make the transitive planes less transitive. By that logic, if you were on an outer plane without access to a gate or plane shift, you could travel home with Ethereal jaunt, become ethereal and then step out on the prime material, since the spell does not specifically say you must be adjacent to the ethereal plane to use it, and does say you can return to the material plane.

Though I can accept that conceptually, I have issues with it. This is from the PFSRD on the Ethereal Plane (my bolds):

"Spiritualists call out to the spirits of the Ethereal Plane and open their physical minds as refuges for them to inhabit. With practice and the help of a trained spiritualist, a spirit can even take its own physical form on the neighboring planes by cloaking itself in a sheath of ectoplasm, the ghostly substance that acts as a veil between worlds."

It's that "neighboring planes" part that makes me think the transitive planes can only be accessed when you are on a plane that is actually adjacent to them.


First and foremost, you shouldn't take a throwaway sentence in the description of a plane as rules text for a class.

Personal Rant:
Sometimes, a text makes a reference to something else without fitting said other things rules or lore - like the Shae writeup saying fetchling come from human-shae coupling, when the fetchling writeup says they are humans (in a later book said to be yet another group of Azlanti) warped by the shadow plane over the generations, and an alternative racial feat implies a relation with kytons...

Second, "The Ethereal Plane is coexistent with the Material Plane and often other planes as well.".. And to make it more complicated, which cosmology do you use? Because there's a bunch of different planar setups, and which plane is adjacent to which others can vary quite a bit.


Rajnish Umbra, Shadow Caller wrote:


** spoiler omitted **

When I come across conflicting information provided over several sources, I take it to mean, "The Truth is buried so far beyond history that no one really knows it anymore. Some people feel this, others think that, but the Truth is more likely some incomprehensible grey notion that is neither of those yet both at the same time."


Rajnish Umbra, Shadow Caller wrote:

First and foremost, you shouldn't take a throwaway sentence in the description of a plane as rules text for a class.

** spoiler omitted **
Second, "The Ethereal Plane is coexistent with the Material Plane and often other planes as well.".. And to make it more complicated, which cosmology do you use? Because there's a bunch of different planar setups, and which plane is adjacent to which others can vary quite a bit.

I hear you - and I am a five editions GM, from that little white box to Pathfinder, and the cosmology changes does create a perplexing situation for my players, who have been through multiple editions with the same characters over time. But one of the fundamentals from the past that seems to have been cast off is the idea the transitive planes are transitive. I liked the conceptual cosmology that the outer planes were transitive to the prime through the Astral while elemental and many demi-planes through the ethereal, and spells like Astral Projection and Ethereal jaunt have not been changed enough to state they are accessible from all planes all the time. As always, it is hard to prove a negative, because these spells don't actually say they can't be accessed from non adjacent planes either.

In the past you could to rely on the rule-book's definitions of the planes for that, but it seems those writings are of no actual game meaning under current thinking, because these thoughts are "throwaway" and not meant to be actually followed as rules. So why do they even bother to write them?

Mostly, however, my goal in gaming is to be fair. And it seems the consensus here - if I understand it - is the transitive planes are accessible from anywhere, any plane, at any time (unless there is magic afoot to prevent it) in the RAW of Pathfinder. So you can ethereal jaunt or shadow walk in the 6th circle of hell if you wanted to, and step out of either spell on the prime. I will likely house-rule a little differently because I don't like this conceptually, but I don't want to screw over a player who has spiritualist level(s) who travels to an outer plane.....

A lot to ponder...


My personal solution is that planes not adjacent to the ethereal/astral/shadow plane have their own equivalents that aren't connected to "main" versions. So, you can use Ethereal Jaunt in the Abyss and Shadow Walk in Elysium, but neither of these will let you go to another plane - they'll drop you back to the same plane you started from.

In either case, planar travel not depending on transitive planes, as well as summoning and calling, are unaffected unless explicitly stated otherwise, because there's to much depending on them.


No solution is required. Literally nothing in the writeup for spiritualists even suggests that they only work on planes conterminous with the ethereal plane.


blahpers wrote:
No solution is required. Literally nothing in the writeup for spiritualists even suggests that they only work on planes conterminous with the ethereal plane.

All that needs to mean is that the author of the Spiritualist shared the very common ignorance of how limited access to the Ethereal actually is if you're not on an inner plane.


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Why would it mean that? Literally nothing in the writeup for spiritualists even suggests that they only work on planes conterminous with the ethereal plane. Why invent a problem that doesn't exist?


blahpers wrote:
No solution is required.

My reference to a "Solution" only meant problems like using Shadow Walk (which explicitly brings you to the border between your plane and the plane of shadows) on a plane that doesn't border the plane of shadows.

Summons and stuff - including spiritualists and summoners - just stay as they are, yes. Anything else would create way more headaches and balance issues than it is worth.

(I'm just answering because I was the one who called it a "solution")


blahpers wrote:
Why would it mean that? Literally nothing in the writeup for spiritualists even suggests that they only work on planes conterminous with the ethereal plane. Why invent a problem that doesn't exist?

My problem with this kind of thinking is it requires proving a negative. Nothing in the Dead condition states that you can't move. But a dead person cannot move, even though there is literally nothing in the dead condition even suggests that you cannot move.

Nothing in Ethereal Jaunt says you cannot access it from an outer plane, but it does say you can return to the material plane from it. There is inference you need access to the Ethereal for the spell to work. So can you Ethereal Jaunt in the 9th layer of hell and them just jump back to the prime? I would not allow any Etherealness in Hell - it's not adjacent to the ethereal plane - but that's been established in my campaign from prior rules, so maybe what was once an actual rule is now a house rule.

I would like more rule support for the idea a spiritualist can call its phantom from the ethereal to anywhere. So far all I can find is this from the PFSRD on the Ethereal Plane-

"Spiritualists call out to the spirits of the Ethereal Plane and open their physical minds as refuges for them to inhabit. With practice and the help of a trained spiritualist, a spirit can even take its own physical form on the neighboring planes by cloaking itself in a sheath of ectoplasm, the ghostly substance that acts as a veil between worlds."

Which supports the idea you cannot call a phantom to its physical form if you are not on a neighboring plane. That seems like an actual rule to me.


2bz2p wrote:
That seems like an actual rule to me.

See, if Pathfinder was entirely written by one person with a perfect memory, then I'd agree with this.

But it's written by many, many people, and sometimes they don't perfectly communicate their concepts.
Vishkanya, for example, are highly poisonous - every of their bodily fluids (or, at least, their blood and saliva) could kill you. This is stated in their original write-up.
What do they get mechanically? They get to poison their weapons as a swift action a few times per day. Nothing else.
Not every flavor has rules impact, and sometimes, they just don't fit each other.

But most of all, I don't think you should have to sieve through pages of flavor text for the odd rule here and there.


Rajnish Umbra, Shadow Caller wrote:
2bz2p wrote:
That seems like an actual rule to me.

See, if Pathfinder was entirely written by one person with a perfect memory, then I'd agree with this.

But it's written by many, many people, and sometimes they don't perfectly communicate their concepts.
Vishkanya, for example, are highly poisonous - every of their bodily fluids (or, at least, their blood and saliva) could kill you. This is stated in their original write-up.
What do they get mechanically? They get to poison their weapons as a swift action a few times per day. Nothing else.
Not every flavor has rules impact, and sometimes, they just don't fit each other.

But most of all, I don't think you should have to sieve through pages of flavor text for the odd rule here and there.

That's a VERY valid point. There should be a single on-line resource site for the planes that applies to all spells, abilities, feats and rules. But that's not what they give us. Look how far in you have to dig just to confirm the Calm Emotion spell has the Emotion subtype.

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