Occult Adventures Class Preview: The Spiritualist

Thursday, June 25, 2015


Illustration by Alexandru Sabo

When souls pass from the Material Plane to the Great Beyond, most speed through the Astral Plane on their way to final judgment and placement with in the fantastical outer planes. Other souls take a detour. Highly charged emotions shake them out of the stream of souls, and toward the esoteric gravity of the Negative Material Plane. Tragically, many of these souls are transformed into horrifying and dangerous undead creatures who haunt the multiverse unleash their malice and hate upon living creatures they encounter. A select few are able to pull themselves out of this horrid free fall. These phantoms push their way back through the Ethereal Plane until they find a psychically attuned individual to serves as anchor and sanctuary for their spirit.

These psychic anchors are called spiritualists, but they are much more than a psychic haven for the phantom. The relationship between a spiritualist and its phantom is mutually beneficial. While the phantom is confined within her mind, it grants the spiritualist focus with skills tied to the phantom's powerful emotions, as well as powerful protections against mind-affecting effects. Furthermore, the spiritualist can manifest her harbored spirit partially or fully in either incorporeal or ectoplasmic form, gaining access to a powerful combat ally and scout. Coupling this relationship with spellcasting focusing on life, death, spirit, and ectoplasm manipulation, clearly a spiritualist commands forces beyond the pale.

During the Pathfinder RPG Occult Adventures playtest, it became clear that our list of phantom emotional aspects was incomplete. Especially missing was a powerful emotion that tied the phantom to the spiritualist in a closer, more intimate way. While we avoided making emotional focuses that were very positive in nature (after all, it's typically very strong negative emotions that makes a soul drift toward the Negative Material Plane), we added a dedication emotional as a companion to the zeal aspect helping fill the niche for those desiring to play a spiritualist that didn't entirely dwell within the super-negative spectrum of emotions. We also added despair to that list, as that emotion was a good fit for the more negative side of the spectrum. Aside some bits of minor fine-tuning, and a restructuring of the bonded manifestation ability, we took a close look at the phantom's ability to scout in incorporeal form via the etheric tether class feature. While an incorporeal phantom can still scout while outside of line of effect from its spiritualist master, the amount of time it can do so is much shorter than the playtest version of the class.

In the end, the spiritualist is a class that allows you to channel forces from beyond the grave, and some of the more spooky aspects of psychic magic. Next week, we will delve into different Occult Adventures class, so stay tuned.

Stephen Radney-MacFarland
Designer

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Tags: Alexandru Sabo Estra Iconics Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Spiritualists
Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

I distinctly remember watching a playtest phantom almost literally walk from the beginning of a PFS dungeon to the end before returning to the PC and basically giving him a rundown on everything left in the entire mod. It was... impressive, to be sure, but more than a little disheartening from a GM perspective.


yeah since there is this change upcoming, I'm going alter the tether as such: if you have no LoE with your phantom, you have to make concentration checks as if he was beyond 50 ft, with a +1 to the DC at each round thereafter... at least until the official Spiritualist comes out!

Silver Crusade

This is cool. I am enticed to play this class. I am thinking what character background to create for mine. I have been trying to find a right fit for a character that is similar to a curandero, and this might be it.


Cool. This was the third of the classes I was most looking forward to.


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I was really hoping for more detail on the mechanical tweaks to the class. Right now, all we know is the one thing the spiritualist excelled at (scouting) has been limited (as most people expected).

Can the phantom perform at all effectively in melee combat now? Has the Spiritualist received any spells to make the delivery of touch spells via the Phantom a feature worth having? Has the Spiritualist received any spells to allow her to buff her phantom in a manner similar to the Summoner? Is the bonded manifestation now more useful than a 1st-level spell (Shield)?


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion Subscriber

Well as long as they still have heal and harm on there spell list and a lot more force effects, I will be happy.


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I like how inherently creepy the class is!

I'm looking forward to creating a family where the Phantom is passed down each generation, similar to Lasher from the Mayfair Witches.

Sovereign Court

redward wrote:

I was really hoping for more detail on the mechanical tweaks to the class. Right now, all we know is the one thing the spiritualist excelled at (scouting) has been limited (as most people expected).

Can the phantom perform at all effectively in melee combat now? Has the Spiritualist received any spells to make the delivery of touch spells via the Phantom a feature worth having? Has the Spiritualist received any spells to allow her to buff her phantom in a manner similar to the Summoner? Is the bonded manifestation now more useful than a 1st-level spell (Shield)?

I also wish they had been more specific, as the way it currently sounds, the Spiritualist didn't receive any large from its playtest version, which was incredibly underwhelming...


Joe Hex wrote:

I like how inherently creepy the class is!

I'm looking forward to creating a family where the Phantom is passed down each generation, similar to Lasher from the Mayfair Witches.

Or the Blackwell games.


Lukas Stariha wrote:
redward wrote:

I was really hoping for more detail on the mechanical tweaks to the class. Right now, all we know is the one thing the spiritualist excelled at (scouting) has been limited (as most people expected).

Can the phantom perform at all effectively in melee combat now? Has the Spiritualist received any spells to make the delivery of touch spells via the Phantom a feature worth having? Has the Spiritualist received any spells to allow her to buff her phantom in a manner similar to the Summoner? Is the bonded manifestation now more useful than a 1st-level spell (Shield)?

I also wish they had been more specific, as the way it currently sounds, the Spiritualist didn't receive any large from its playtest version, which was incredibly underwhelming...

I don't think the class needs all that much to be viable. Change the type of AC bonus from Bonded Manifestation, for one. Add some more buff spells to allow the Spiritualist and/or Phantom to contribute to combat. Bump up the physical stats of the Phantom or give them some other scaling bonus to attack/damage. Granted this is approaching it like it's a variant Summoner. Paizo may have something different in mind. But if so, I don't think they've effectively communicated what this class is supposed to do.

I'm really hoping that the class gets a big boost from the Psychic spells we weren't able to see in the playtest. Even so, a 6th-level caster usually implies a certain degree of martial capability that the playtest Spiritualist just doesn't have.

The class has a ton of potential in flavor. I just want some idea of how these weird pairs can contribute to an adventuring party beyond round/day scouting.


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DO YOU UNDERSTANNDDDDDDD

Sovereign Court

redward wrote:


I don't think the class needs all that much to be viable. Change the type of AC bonus from Bonded Manifestation, for one. Add some more buff spells to allow the Spiritualist and/or Phantom to contribute to combat. Bump up the physical stats of the Phantom or give them some other scaling bonus to attack/damage. Granted this is approaching it like it's a variant Summoner. Paizo may have something different in mind. But if so, I don't think they've effectively communicated what this class is supposed to do.

I'm really hoping that the class gets a big boost from the Psychic spells we weren't able to see in the playtest. Even so, a 6th-level caster usually implies a certain degree of martial capability that the playtest Spiritualist just doesn't have.

The class has a ton of potential in flavor. I just want some idea of how these weird pairs can contribute to an adventuring party beyond round/day scouting.

I agree, the terrible duration and general weakness of Bonded Manifestation, the incomplete and weak spell list and the fact that the Phantom seemed like an Eidolon with bad SLA's instead of combat viability were my main problems with the class and I hope these were all addressed by "minor fine-tuning". I just wish improvements were communicated adequately, instead of nearly as badly as the Warpriest was during its class preview last year.


I just thought of it now but I kinda wish I had mentioned it during the playtest. since this is a Phantom maybe it could have a possession ability. the NPC/Monster must make a will save or become the victim of a possession giving the phantom and thus the spiritualist complete control of that creature for a number of rounds equal to the Phantoms HD or something.


Secret Wizard wrote:
DO YOU UNDERSTANNDDDDDDD

Twin Peaks?

Scarab Sages

The NPC wrote:
Joe Hex wrote:

I like how inherently creepy the class is!

I'm looking forward to creating a family where the Phantom is passed down each generation, similar to Lasher from the Mayfair Witches.

Or the Blackwell games.

Or Toby in Paranormal Activity.


Urk... This blog post does not give me much hope for the class. It doesn't sound any better than it was in the playtest, unlike the Occultist preview.


I was hoping for more to change between the playtest and final version of the class, it needed more than just fine tuning and a Nerf, it needed a power increase.

Paizo Employee Designer

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I would recommend waiting for the book, guys. While it's true that the phantom is still not going to be a DPR machine, some of the phantom specials have pretty potent effects in different regards. In some of the post-Unchained threads, I remember people posting their wish that they could build eidolons that did weird other useful things to help the party instead of mostly damage. Some of the different emotions of phantoms can really do that.

That said, you certainly may still not like it when the book comes out, but I wouldn't jump to conclusions based on the structure of the preview.


Can't speak for anyone else, but I'm not assuming it will be just like the playtest version. I'd be pretty shocked if you let it out like that unless it was intended to be an NPC class. I'm just looking for more information on what it will be.


this class has officially caught my attention can't wait to try it when the book launches at the end of this month


I just really hope they can actually use bonded manifestation for more than one fight a day and that they gain the ability to speak to dead before having to spend spell slots on it at 7th level.


Mark Seifter wrote:

I would recommend waiting for the book, guys. While it's true that the phantom is still not going to be a DPR machine, some of the phantom specials have pretty potent effects in different regards. In some of the post-Unchained threads, I remember people posting their wish that they could build eidolons that did weird other useful things to help the party instead of mostly damage. Some of the different emotions of phantoms can really do that.

That said, you certainly may still not like it when the book comes out, but I wouldn't jump to conclusions based on the structure of the preview.

Consider this a critique of Paizo's advertisement strategy rather than the content of the book, then. :p

The Occultist article got me excited about playing an Occultist; it made me feel like the criticisms given in the playtest were heard and promptly addressed. I don't get that same feeling from this blog post, which is a shame because I really WANTED to get on the Spiritualist hype train. Maybe the final iteration of the Spiritualist will be really good, maybe it won't be, and what I've seen of it thus far has me leaning towards the latter. That is the difference between me buying the book day one so I can start building characters or waiting until everything is on the PFSRD, and I think Paizo as a company would prefer I buy it day one.


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Joe Hex wrote:
Secret Wizard wrote:
DO YOU UNDERSTANNDDDDDDD
Twin Peaks?

NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO!

Silver Crusade

Do we know how Pharasma feels about spiritualists?


Secret Wizard wrote:
Joe Hex wrote:
Secret Wizard wrote:
DO YOU UNDERSTANNDDDDDDD
Twin Peaks?
NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO!

HA! I'm never getting that out of my head now... :)


So, did no one catch the "Negative Material Plane" line before this article was posted, or did Paizo intend on creating a new plane of existence? :P

Dark Archive

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Elizabeth Corrigan wrote:
Do we know how Pharasma feels about spiritualists?

Most likely to be covered in Occult Origins in the Player Companion line. That's Paizo's typical way of doing things. Big new crunch hardback, 32-page player's companion with the setting-specific details.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
the blurb wrote:
While we avoided making emotional focuses that were very positive in nature (after all, it's typically very strong negative emotions that makes a soul drift toward the Negative Material Plane), we added a dedication emotional as a companion to the zeal aspect helping fill the niche for those desiring to play a spiritualist that didn't entirely dwell within the super-negative spectrum of emotions.

Love finds a way. Even if it has to call itself 'dedication'.

Dark Archive

Ashram wrote:
So, did no one catch the "Negative Material Plane" line before this article was posted, or did Paizo intend on creating a new plane of existence? :P

My best guess is it is just a slip from Negative Energy plane.


Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

No real opinion on these class but there is another editing whoopsie in the write up, "creatures who haunt the multiverse unleash their malice and hate upon living" maybe an "and unleash" or "To unleash"?


There's nothing wrong with that wording.


Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Kryzbyn wrote:
There's nothing wrong with that wording.

Really? Every time i look at the full sentence

"Tragically, many of these souls are transformed into horrifying and dangerous undead creatures who haunt the multiverse unleash their malice and hate upon living creatures they encounter."

I feel like there is a missing word between multiverse and unleash. "unleashing" maybe?


Unleashing, yes. Sorry, your original quote did not include the entire sentence.

Shadow Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

The Spiritualist is my second-favorite of the Occult classes flavorfully (second only to Occultist) and my third-favorite mechanically (behind Mesmerist and Occultist) - I really hope the Phantom has some fantastic and supernatural-feeling abilities. I don't want it to be a martial combat beast (that's what Eidolons are for), but I would really love for the Phantom to be a supernatural debuff/buff/support pet that fits into its all-new niche.

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