In Pathfinder, the Spiritualist is a pet class, like the Summoner. They have a buddy that, instead of being some strange outsider, is a dead person. This dead person represents a certain concept, like Wrath, Pride, Greed, Hatred, or Lust (giggity). More on this later.
The Spiritualist has 3/4ths BAB and 6-level spellcasting, along with light armor and simple weapon proficiency. However, their spell list is more focused around Necromancy, instead of Conjuration, like a Summoner.
What really makes the Spiritualist stand out is the fact that you've got a ghost buddy hanging around that wants its unfinished business finished. This ghost buddy has a number of forms- it can take up residence in your head, become ectoplasmic, or even become incorporeal, which is extremely powerful at low levels when coupled with the Phantom Fighter feat. The Phantom can also deliver touch spells on behalf of the caster without requiring initial contact. Making it a far more effective combat tactic than attempting to use a vulnerable familiar the way that other classes might.
Additionally, the Spiritualist can call upon its spirit buddy to create an ectoplasmic/incorporeal body shell around them for a short time per day, merging some of the phantom's qualities with their own, granting them things like concealment and invisibility, or an armor bonus and some extra free attacks. As a lesser extension of this, just being near the phantom the Spiritualist will also receive a solid bonus on all of its saving throws AND a shield bonus to AC.
If the Spirit is inside the Spiritualist's head (which doubles as keeping it safe and sound, but also works for in polite company when having a ghost around would cause a faux pas), it grants the character Skill Focus in two skills important to the emotional focus of the Phantom, and occasionally a bonus feat, depending on the Emotional Focus. Though at later levels, the Spiritualist gets this bonus even when their spirit is outside of their head.
Aside from the Phantom, the remaining class abilities largely provide spell-like abilities that relate to detecting undead or interacting with incorporeal/invisible entities which may or may not be useful depending on the campaign in question.
All in all, it's a solid class, roughly Tier 3. Nowhere near as powerful as a Wizard, but it gets the advantage of what amounts to an extra set of actions per turn and 6-level spontaneous spellcasting.
When compared directly to the Summoner, the Phantom lacks the sheer breadth of customization options available to Eidolons, though it does have the advantage of multiple unique modes. In combat, the Spiritualist is so heavily dependent on the Phantom that it runs out of meaningful things to do if the Phantom gets banished back to the Ethereal plane; While the Summoner can just keep on summoning with its spell-like class abilities if the Eidolon gets defeated. In social encounters, the Spiritualist can still benefit from storing the Phantom in their consciousness and still gain bonuses, where the Summoner might find it difficult bringing a large fiery demon to a party without causing a fuss and has very few in-built abilities that help in social or investigative settings other than their spells. So the Spiritualist makes for better roleplaying, as all manner of story opportunities can come up when you have a ghost living in your head.
As companion NPCs, Phantoms are very similar to Animal Companions and Eidolons, though they don't come with any spectacular base traits or evolution points. What distinguishes them from the rest is that they have to choose an emotional focus to determine their abilities as they level up.
- Anger: the "attack dog" spec. Gets Power attack and strength bonuses instead of dex bonuses as they level up, and also gains an aura for increasing attack bonus at an expense of AC. Lots of hurt, but not a lot of defense.
- Dedication: the "guardian" spec. Granting bonuses when anyone hurts its master.
- Fear: "Crowd control" spec, flings out debuffs like candy. Not so great at fighting though.
- Hatred: the "rogue" spec that rewards good positioning. Actually gains Weapon Finesse as standard to benefit from all the Dex buffs. Chooses a hated target and gains huge bonuses against them. Gets acrobatics bonuses for mobility and eventually gains a damaging thorns aura and good sneak attack.
- Jealousy: the "DISTRACTION CARNIFEX" spec. Causing significant penalties to anyone who DOES NOT attack them and bonuses against anyone who attacks their master.
- Lust: The "tank" spec. Gains Con bonuses instead of Dex. Instead of debuffing enemies who choose not to attack them, they can force people to attack them instead. Also gain the ability to reroll some saves and eventually take control of an enemy.
- Zeal: the "warrior" spec. Actually improves their base slam attack like no other focus does and flings out attack and save bonuses to the rest of the party. Also sticks around if the master goes down, rather than get shunted back to the ethereal plane.
Released quite late in the 1e run of Pathfinder, there isn't a huge amount of support for the Spiritualist. Though several of the archetypes do provide interesting ways to play the class.
- Ectoplasmist: devotes itself to being bound to ectoplasma rather than a restless spirit, and thus develops a means to summon whips of the stuff and eventually armor.
- Fractured Mind: makes this class Charisma dependent and grants it some special spell-like abilities dependent on their emotional focus. In campaigns that don't focus on undead, this archetype is almost a straight upgrade from the base class, as the only things it trades out are the ability for interacting with spirits.
- Geist Channelers: are bound to a particular sort of phantom that has a unique focus and lack a material form, though they can form a temporary equivalent to one.
- Grim Apostle: Instead of an emotional focus, they summon powerful manifestations of one of the four riders of the apocalyse. They lose some of the passive benefits of storing them in their consciousness, and they don't particularly like being banished to the Ethereal plane and will strike at the Spiritualist if they get defeated.
- Hag Haunted are bound to the souls of evil hags that are stronger and smarter than your average phantom, switching their casting to Arcane and granting Spell Focus (Necromancy) instead of Skill Focus when carried in the Spiritualist's mind. Also changes some of the defensive passive abilities to instead fling curses if the hag goes down.
- Haunted: allows the phantom to steal power from their owner to power up. Gets massive bonuses, but reduces the player character to a puking wreck for the duration of the ability. This is actually a favorable trade since Phantoms combat ability is the primary feature of the class.
- Involutionist: fracture off a piece of their own soul, granting them Shaman-like abilities instead of an Emotional Focus.
- Onmyoji: Weeaboo Spiritualists. Use divine spellcasting instead of psychic, and gain access to spells from the Cleric list, but only when the Phantom is in their consciousness.
- Phantom Blade: turns the phantom into a ghostly blade that makes it into a Bladebound Magus-alike.
- Priest of the Fallen: a "priest" of a dead hero-deity and gains Channel Energy later the full domains of a Cleric. They can swap their phantom every day for a new one with a different emotional focus and new powers dependent on their mythic legend; like being able to cast their own spells, gaining sneak attack, or gaining some bonus passive abilities. The downside is that the spirit will never provide the bonded manifestation ability, or enter their consciousness, or provide the passive benefits for doing so.
- Quintessentialist: Instead of a bonding to a phantom, you psychically project your all your best qualities as an independent exemplar, while leaving your worst and weakest traits in your own body.
- Soul Warden isn't bound to a Phantom at all, losing the main feature of the class. Instead they get a beefed up Nosoi familiar who can approximate various Phantom abilities without requiring an emotional focus. Is actually suggested to be an ex-archetype for any spiritualist who loses their phantom and doesn't want to take a new one.
|The Classes of Pathfinder 1st Edition|
|Core Classes:||Barbarian - Bard - Cleric - Druid - Fighter - Monk |
Paladin - Ranger - Rogue - Sorcerer - Wizard
|Alchemist - Antipaladin - Cavalier |
Inquisitor - Oracle - Summoner - Witch
|Arcanist - Bloodrager - Brawler - Hunter - Investigator |
Shaman - Skald - Slayer - Swashbuckler - Warpriest
|Kineticist - Medium - Mesmerist |
Occultist - Psychic - Spiritualist
|Ultimate X:||Gunslinger - Magus - Ninja - Samurai - Shifter - Vigilante|