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Pathfinder's Spiritualist

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  • Pathfinder's Spiritualist

    About a month ago, Pathfinder released a supplement called Occult Adventures, which, as far as I can tell from my skim-reading of reviews is about running adventures of an occult tilt, in Pathfinder. The book introduces a suite of new occult-themed classes, including one called the Spiritualist. A Spiritualist is a hapless mortal who has become entangled with a special type of ghost called a Phantom. A Phantom died in the midst of emotional turmoil, and resisted the pull of the Negative Energy Plane to anchor itself in the material world by inhabiting the soul of a psychically-sensitive individual. A Spiritualist can choose to keep his or her Phantom bound in his or her consciousness (and gain a bonus on resisting mind-affecting powers and possession), wrap the Phantom around their body for either hazy concealment or ectoplasmic armor and tendrils, or manifest the Phantom as a warrior or spy or such.

    The parallels are obvious and a little astounding.

    It is interesting to see the idea of the Sin-Eater spreading into other areas of culture (even if the culture is a relatively small one, as one might consider English-speaking tabletop gamers to be). A common-ish lament I have noticed about Geist is that Sin-Eaters do not easily match up with one species of monster or another (often defined by what they are not: they're not ghosts, not zombies, not revenants, not wizards, etc), and I wonder if eventually the Sin-Eater archetype will wind up making itself into a monster in the wider cultural consciousness (in the same way, maybe, that after the infamous Something Awful thread a large number of people reported having nightmares about Slenderman, were convinced that it had stalked them as children/was currently stalking them, and swore by their belief in the faceless creature).

    I also wonder a little about the, well, not legality, for I'm certain that Paizo wouldn't publish something that violated intellectual copyright law, but maybe ethics I suppose of the class. How do other people in the World of Darkness community feel about seeing what is more-or-less an original creation of White Wolf reappropriated by another game company in a fairly different context?

    I'm not knowledgeable enough in d20 rules to judge the mechanics of the Spiritualist, but it's certainly intriguing. If I were ever invited to play a game of Pathfinder I might ask about playing one. The abilities are certainly evocative, and the Phantom brings built-in plot hooks (something I whole-heartedly endorse in D&D and D&D-flavored archetypes). I actually kind of wonder if anything from the Spiritualist class can be re-cannibalized and re-reappropriate for Geist? Assigning an emotional tenor to the bound Geist (maybe as a Persistent Condition?) might be a nifty idea.

    So, anyway, I just wanted to bring this to the forum's attention, and maybe someone more familiar with Pathfinder can weigh in on the situation.

  • #2
    I really wouldn't go that far, calling the concept of sin-eaters original (not saying that the game is unoriginal, mind you).

    Non iconic, sure, but they're basically mediums with symbiotic possession going on.

    There are mediums in real life (or people who claim to be mediums in real life anyway) who claim to have had a ghost partner available to channel for decades. Making the arrangement even more permanent isn't that big a change to the concept.

    For that matter, since geists can manifest as angels, gods, or demons gives sin-eaters even broader roots.