Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Questions about Class: The Oracle

                                                    Image by mutedoracle and taken from

Featuring TFPC staffers Jason Linker and Kiel Howell

Welcome to Questions about Class! This is a special series dedicated to answering questions about classes that we here at The Flying Pincushion are releasing a product about.

In this post, the Into the Breach: Oracles book is close to being released into the wild. Fellow Pincushioner Jason Linker has volunteered to answer some questions and just explain the Oracle class to me. I’ll admit, I didn’t understand the class but after chatting with Jason I am a little excited to try and build an Oracle character.

Most likely with an archetype from the upcoming release of the Into the Breach: Oracles book.

Kiel Howell - Hi Jason,thanks for coming and let’s talk Oracle!

Jason Linker - So do you hate the Oracle?

Kiel Howell - Hah! Good question, but no I don't hate them. I honestly just don't understand what they are. As presented in literature, oracles are generally people who tell the future via riddles or self serving prophecy.

Jason Linker - Well you can be that kind of Oracle. The Lore Mystery is great for that.

Kiel Howell - Interesting.

Jason Linker - But you don't have to be. The point is making someone that is closer to an ideal than the cleric is. Take fire for example…

Kiel Howell - That's a part where I get confused. Clerics are supposed to almost be icons of their deities.

Jason Linker - I didn't mean for this to end up as a plug but here we go anyway.

Kiel Howell - Plug away!

Jason Linker - I've been working with TPK [Games] on an expansion of their Reforged books that focuses on classes instead of feats. Cleric just came out.

Kiel Howell - Which can be found at DriveThruRPG and similar places :)

Jason Linker - One of the changes we made was that instead of spontaneously casting cure or inflict spells, clerics could spontaneously cast domain spells. A cleric of a god of fire gets one fireball per day

that's it. Boo!

Kiel Howell - Ooo seems harsh. Is that a stock PRD [Paizo Reference Document] cleric?

Jason Linker - Right. Not in a Reforged cleric. A Reforged Cleric prepares his buffs and cures but swaps them out for fire [domain] spells as needed to be more like a real avatar of fire.

Kiel Howell - Almost like a pool mechanic.

Jason Linker - Sort of. It's basically just a twist on the way 3.5 and thus Pathfinder handles Cleric's spontaneous casting.

Kiel Howell - Ok, so let's tie that back in to how Oracles work

Jason Linker - Basically that IS how Oracles work. Oracles get bonus spells related to the idea or ideal that they follow. They get revelations that improve and expand on that idea.

Kiel Howell - Ok, so they get hyper-focused on their deities ideal?

Jason Linker - Well, Oracles don't necessarily have a deity.

Kiel Howell - Hah!

Jason Linker - They might have one, several, or none. The IDEAL is the important thing, not its deific incarnation. A Cleric of death has to specify the kind of death, Pharasma or Norgorber for example.

Kiel Howell - Ok I get that now.

Jason Linker - Guidance to the afterlife and anti-undead or murder and assination...An Oracle can just follow death in all its forms.

Kiel Howell - Ok, let's get a little technical then. They are both a d8 Hit Die class, 3/4 BAB. The Cleric gets better saves overall while the Oracle gets more spells per day overall. It almost seems like the Oracle is what a Cleric should be...ala the Reforged Cleric.

Jason Linker - Yep.

Kiel Howell - Granted, Channel Energy (and damage dealing to undead) is a staple of Cleric-ness. So what would be the impetus to choose a Cleric over an Oracle?

Jason Linker - Clerics also have the advantage of a huge number of spells that they can prepare.

Kiel Howell - Talk about that for a moment. Don't they both have access to the Cleric spell list?

Jason Linker - Yes, but Clerics "know" every spell on the list. They can prepare a wide number of spells to deal with changing situations. Oracles are going to be much more limited in spells known and will have to plan carefully to ensure a good variety. The advantage being that they'll be able to probably keep it limited to a lot of very flavorful spells for whatever Mystery they have which may enhance their RP experience.

Kiel Howell - I see. Let's switch over to Mysteries.

Jason Linker - I love them.

Kiel Howell - These are....what? Pseudo-abilities?

Jason Linker - I'd call them mostly full blown abilities. Most of them are really cool.

Kiel Howell - Ok, walk me through a Mystery and a typical build. Let's say Bones.

Jason Linker - Handy, because I had a player using that mystery. Getting something like armor made of bone or raising a quick skeleton for a fight or becoming incorporeal and spying on enemies behind a door is so very flavorful.

Kiel Howell - Whoa! You can go incorporeal?!

Jason Linker - Oh yeah! Spirit Walk lets you become invisible and incorporeal so you can move around and check out your surrounding and scout. Since you get a new revelation every other level you can do all three of those things and a bunch more. That's a lot more than you get in domain powers.

Kiel Howell - Ok, I'm starting to see the appeal! Seriously, domain powers are great and all…

Jason Linker - Going back to the kind of Oracle you were talking about in the vein of foretelling and such.

Kiel Howell - Yes...I have some game balance and GM headache concerns about those types…

Jason Linker - Yeah, as a player and a GM I try to stay away from too much fortune telling but there is a lot to love in this Mystery. Like going into a trance to get a +20 bonus on a knowledge check.

Kiel Howell - This would be the Lore Mystery yes?

Jason Linker - Yeah. Brain draining telepathy, knowledge checks and some augury and divination make the kind of Oracle that can be a real help to the party.

Kiel Howell - I'm really starting to see what all the fuss is about. Now let's get to the tradeoff...Curses.

Jason Linker - It's not really much of a tradeoff for being called curses, they sure give a lot of bonuses!

Kiel Howell - So these are...what? Some kind of flavorful semi-curse with good bonuses?

Jason Linker - Exactly. You might have clouded eyes and be unable to see beyond 30 feet but eventually you'll compensate with blind sense and blindsight. Although, you might have a bum leg from the Lame curse, you’re immune to the fatigued and exhausted conditions .

Kiel Howell - Ahh yes, the Lame curse. It gives a dwarf racial trait (never slowed by armor) plus more! I see that some, like the Haunted curse, even give bonus spells at certain levels. That's a pretty good bonus for a standard action to retrieve items and any dropped item landing 10 feet away.

Jason Linker - Yeah, I think the Haunted curse is the lightest burden to carry.

Kiel Howell - Have you personally banned or been at a table where Oracles, or certain Curses/Mysteries are banned?

Jason Linker - Never. I'm a balance nut for the most part and I don't have a problem with any of the Mysteries or Curses. Some are arguably more powerful than others but nothing is over the top.

Kiel Howell - Cool, I know that I've done CRB only games but that's just because it is so much easier to GM that book only! Ok, let's switch gears a bit and talk about the Inquisitor vs. Cleric vs. Oracle. I don't want to get too in depth about the Inquisitor here, but what role would the Oracle fill that and Inquisitor and/or Cleric can't?

Jason Linker - Well, for the most part, the Inquisitor is always going to be at best a secondary healer but is primarily 
 badass. That's another class I love. Clerics and Oracles fill about the same role within the party of being a healer. The difference is basically one of how much your want to be pinned to a specific ideal. Gods in Pathfinder aren't really just about fire.

Kiel Howell - True, they have whole portfolios associated to them.

Jason Linker - Right, Gods with fire in thier portfolio range from Sarenrae to Asmodeus. If you choose the Flame Mystery, expect to be about fire in a big way.

Kiel Howell - Ok...ok I can see that now.

Jason Linker - Hope I've helped make the Oracle a more appealing an interesting choice for your next game!

Kiel Howell - You really have. I'm seeing the possibilities. Thanks so much for your time!

Jason Linker - Thank you for taking the time, too!

Monday, April 28, 2014

Let the E-Presses Roll!

Today the next installment of the Into the Breach series by The Flying Pincushion Games goes on sale, available from the D20PFSRD store  The book will be available from other quality online gaming stores a bit later.  See our Products page for links to where to buy this book along with the other books currently available in the line, and other goodies.