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Advanced Options: Oracle's Curses (PFRPG) PDF

**½( )( ) (based on 3 ratings)

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Heroes and heroines in fantasy fiction have a long struggled under the chilling influence of curses, powerful forces beyond their control whose effects they could never escape. From classic fairytales like Beauty and the Beast to modern fantasy stories like Ladyhawke, the tasks arrayed before the heroes, and their bravery at confronting them, are brought into sharp focus by the heroes’ own known weaknesses, temptations, and drawbacks—known not just to them and to the readers, but often to the villains, as well. Until recently, the concept of such powerful and fearful shortcomings had been underserved by the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, left to the realm of character back story and pure roleplaying.

With the introduction of the Oracle class in the Advanced Player’s Guide, the curse has become a fully integrated and balanced part of the game mechanics, too. It is unfortunate, though, that due to space restrictions, just six curses are presented in the APG. With only a handful of options, one fairly quickly begins to find oracles falling into predictable patterns—only a limited number of character concepts that can be served by the available curses. This becomes particularly evident given that one of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game’s greatest strengths is its broad range of character customization. If the Oracle is ever to stand on completely even footing with the other core classes, it needs the advantage of a broader range of curses for characters to choose from.

To help in that regard, Advanced Options: Additional Oracle Curses presents thirteen new oracle’s curses for players and GMs to use to burden new oracle characters. They provide new fatal flaws, afflictions, and weaknesses both physical and spiritual that, together with the attendant minor boons or resources they bring, open new challenges, pitfalls, and opportunities for peril and heroism to any party that includes an oracle.

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Product Reviews (3)

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**½( )( ) (based on 3 ratings)

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***( )( )

Having taken advantage of a recent sale, I plumbed through the back catalog of SGG, and added a few titles to my library, so there will be a few reviews of some older material coming, this being the first.

Following the 3/5's cover with a landscape format, three column approach with embedded pieces of artwork (this time color CG from Sade's stock art choices), this PDF follows all of the typical formatting of an SGG release. Found a few editing hiccups, and no bookmarks, but, honestly, at this small a size, I don't think they're needed.

13 curses to expand upon the original set offered in the APG, as well as 4 feats to work hand in hand with curses. Now, looking at the field of products today, this did come out shortly after the APG, and I am aware that other companies have also run with the idea of Oracle curses, but this was one of the first 3PP products to do so. So, lets take a look, shall we?

The cool thing in regards to curses is that as players, not every person out there is a min/maxer looking to beat the numbers game every time they sit down to roll dice, I know my playgroup is far from that. I have a M&M in my group (min/maxer), but I also have two players who intentionally play challenged characters, those who have to overcome something at the cost of potentially better math choices on paper. They make game fun for me, as coming up with new and interesting ways to engage them keeps me on my toes, and seeing them overcome what I have planned continues to entertain me immensely. SO, it with this mindset towards players, and the choices they might make in regards to a detriment willingly taken for their character, that I looked through this PDF.

Of the 13 curses offered here, a great deal of them felt rushed, or at least truncated. There was so much potential to add to, or at least clarify entirely, what thoughts inspired the original design idea. Case in point, Convulsions. At the very least, if one suffers from a curse of convulsions, and I can only apply this to the idea of real world seizures here, should there not be a full system of mechanics for potential convulsions that have nothing to do with rolling a dice? Pretty sure both of my dogs that suffered with Epilepsy had fits at total random, other than the odd light source triggering an episode. Am thinking this curse would have greatly benefited in feeling fleshed out by being accompanied with a full table for GM rolls, outside of the control of the afflicted player, offering up a game mechanic to handle the concept of randomness, and outside influences.

Ailing, Frail, and Misshapen are all fantastic concepts in my opinion, as so few players are willing to undertake something that physically limits them right off the bat. These curses speak to the hardcore role players out there, the ones who want a true challenge.

Being an Insomniac I was amused to see this one included, and have to say it is an interesting design. Am not sure it fully covers what life is like for those of us who never sleep, perhaps something covering the odd state of quasiREM that a great deal of insomniacs seem to exist within, hovering just on the edge of conscious thought and a dream. Don't get me wrong, the adjustments to the fatigued/exhausted conditions are an obvious design choice, but there is something to be said for how the mind of a person who has been "up" for days processes thought that, in my opinion, should greatly affect their perception in regards to magical forces.

Peaceful Soul just doesn't feel like a curse to me, sorry. The idea of being a pacifist in a setting built upon violent conflict does make for an interesting character build, granted. One of my favorite characters from my own personal player history was a pacifist, I had a blast with him, but I never viewed it as a detriment, and still don't.

Provocative and Unbelievable are right there on the border as far as true curses, they have the potential to be inconvenient, but I am not sure, with how they are presented currently, that they are in fact curses. And then there's Star Crossed, an interesting curse, and one I could get one board with, very much liked the idea of adding a second critical fail number to the dice roll for those afflicted with this curse.

Feat wise, Second Curse and Suspend Curse are both non-winners for me, as I'm not a fan of stacking curses (way to easy to abuse the system doing this), and suspend, to me, goes against the very flavor of this class by allowing you to circumvent your curse. Now, on the other side, Accursed is a highly logical feat, as living day in day out with a curse hanging over your head should give you some form of resistance to other curses. Which leaves Variable Curse, for that poor sod out there who really pissed off the universe by being born. A Russian roulette of curses, randomly determined daily from a short list of chosen curses. Interesting idea to play, perhaps.

Final thoughts, there was potential in this product, not as much as I am used to in seeing releases from SGG today, but that is easily explained by growth and development. I would love to see this PDF revisited, expanded upon perhaps. As I said, there are some good thoughts here, but there are also some pedestrian concepts. Am pretty much in the middle of the road on this one, neither outstanding nor horrible, so am going with a 3 for my final rating.

By far the worst advanced options pdf

*( )( )( )( )

This pdf is 6 pages long, 2/3 pages front cover, 1 page editorial & SRD, leaving 5 1/3 pages of content for the new oracle-curses, so let’s give them a closer look!

The pdf kicks off with a discussion of the nature of Oracles before introducing the curses. It is here that I should mention that the concept of Oracles is quite close to me: Drawing strength from “curses”, be they disabilities or ailments is a beautiful topic: Both from personal experience and from the trials and tribulations some of my close associates and friends had to endure, I can attest to the sheer force of will impediments may conjure up from individuals and this up until the release of the APG largely untapped potential finally has a powerful representation in the Oracle’s curses. The basic concept, thus, is close to my heart and I’ll try to be as objective as possible in the face of the topic.

The curses start off, unfortunately, with one I consider extremely over-powered: Addict forces you to be constantly consuming drugs (whose saves you can, of course, make) and as a benefit, all your spell-DCs are calculated as if they belonged to your highest level of spells known. OUCH! Giving the drug-rules a quick glance, I can see this curse being abused like crazy. The ailing and amputee-curses let you add some spells to your list of spells known. The drunkard-curse, quite iconic in itself, unfortunately suffers from too weak a benefit: Bonuses to Cha-based ability and skill-checks don’t make for a compelling reason to take this curse.

Additionally, I’m not entirely sure whether I get the Cha-bonus in relation to being drunk and the curse suffers from a missing verb in the rules-section, which makes identifying the benefits/drawbacks a bit harder than it should.
The frail and insomniac curses on the other hand, rock, or at least their ideas do: “Frail” makes you easily exhausted due to damage but nets you additional skill points and class-skills, but uses a clunky mechanic, as it depends on you calculating 50% and 25% of your HP – while not insurmountable or too inconvenient, I am hesitant to recommend any ability that needs additional book-keeping. “Insomniac” on the other hand, rocks, as it exemplifies the “strength-from-weakness”-mentality I’ve elaborated upon earlier: A resistance to fatigue is progressively gained and even immunity to exhaustion is gained. While I would have loved to see an additional rules-representation of the fugue-state people long deprived of sleep suffer, I still enjoy this curse, as its benefit coincides with my personal experiences of suffering from bouts of insomnia.
The provocative curse, which lets other people lust for you and makes knocking you unconscious easier (think Helen of Troy) is interesting, though its diplomacy-related benefit feels rather bland. Unfortunately the same is true for the extremely cool Cassandra-curse that marks you as an unbelievable source to other creatures –cool curse, boring implementation.

Then there are the peaceful soul and squeamish curses, both of which make violent behavior problematic. Both don’t feel like curses to e, but rather conscious decisions based on ethics and believe and subsequently I consider them failures as curses.

The star-crossed curse, again, is a killer, though: “11”s also count as “1”s for you, but you get a nice selection of additional spells. I still think that an additional ability related to luck would have been appropriate for this curse, though: Essentially doubling the chance for a critical failure is a significant drawback and the selection of additional spells does not entirely make up for this drawback.

Next up are 4 new feats, one granting resistance to curse-related spells and the others centering on Oracle’s Curses: Second Curse lets you select a second curse, which I am not a fan of: Combine e.g. “Insomniac” and “frail” and the penalties of frail can be subsumed in the penalty of “Insomniac” – abuse ensues. “Suspend Curse” as a feat lets you ignore your curse via sacrificing spell-slots for a limited amount of time, essentially undermining the central premise of the Oracle-class. I hate it. The final feat, variable curse, is one of the cooler ones, though: You choose 5 curses and assign numbers to them and roll a d6 every day: You are afflicted by the curse you rolled. On a 6, though, you suffer from 2 curses, which, again, is prone to abuse, but being temporary and unreliable, I still adore this feat.

The pdf closes with a brief, 1-column discussion of alternate uses of Oracle curses.

Editing is ok, though I noticed a missing verb, which is unnecessary at this length. Formatting is top-notch and layout adheres to the 3-column standard. The CGI-Artwork by Sade is ok, though nothing to write home about. The pdf features no bookmarks. I’ll come out and say it: I’M terribly, terribly disappointed by this installment of advanced options: The curses often don’t feel like curses, but rather like moral choices and I’ve got some balancing concerns with them. Some of them feel like they don’t make enough of an impact, while others impede the oracle a bit too much for my tastes. The mechanics of the curses are simply nothing to write home about and felt uninspired to me. Even iconic curses like the Cassandra and Helen-curses felt lackluster and bland in their execution. Among the feats, I only liked one and this one is quite a burden on the player, potentially necessitating a lot of book-keeping for 5 different curses and/or combinations. I was pretty excited about this installment of advanced options and was terribly underwhelmed by its lack of focus on true CURSES, their half-hearted execution (does e.g. “Amputee” impede spellcasting? Skill-checks? –any rules for only having one hand? –Why not gain ghost-hand like special abilities? Why does this curse feel so damn boring when e.g. in the Malazan Book of the Fallen Saga a certain priest has a variant of this curse and is MUCH more exciting?) and finally, the feeling that balance-wise this pdf is painfully subpar. Uncharacteristically for SGG-pdfs, the crunch doesn’t stand up to even casual examination and due to the tradition of SGG-pdfs of lacking exciting fluff, not much positive to talk about is left. Unfortunately, my final verdict will be a rather devastating 1.5 stars, rounded down to 1 star – there is only one feat and 1 curse I’ll probably use, not enough to recommend this pdf to anybody.

Endzeitgeist out.

Nice collection of new curses for Oracle's

****( )

Advanced Options: Oracle's Curses by Super Genius Games

This product is 6 pages long. It starts with a cover and intro. (1 pages)

Next it jumps into the new curses. (3 pages)
Addict – addicted to something not good for you.
Ailing – always sick, pretty bad one but you gain more bonus spells to offset it.
Amputee – missing a hand, a few bonus spells
Convulsions – have convulsions anytime you roll a 1. I would have liked a a mechanic added for a chance per hour or something for social situations as well when not rolling dice.
Drunkard – Your a drunk.
Frail – suffer negative effects if reduced to less than half hp or take ability dmg. Gain 1 skill per level and a new class skill 3 times over the course of the class.
Insomniac – have trouble sleeping and often fatigued, but is less likely to suffer from fatigue and exhaustion from other sources as they are use to living this way. Again I would have liked to have seen a DC check for a typical night with broad locations. Such as urban, woods, etc.
Misshappen – have a twisted body, penalty to CMD checks, gain bonus to intimidate and later gain ability to demoralize foes.
Peaceful Soul – you dislike violence penalty on attack rolls and no AoO's but gain AC and concentration bonuses.
Provocative – You are pretty and invoke lust in others, others gain a bonus to use non lethal dmg on you. You may use a bonus to diplomacy rolls but if you do and fail it backfires.
Squeamish – If you cause dmg to others you become sickened, but you get bonuses on healing others.
Star-Crossed – Anytime you roll a 11 on a D20 it counts as if it was a 1. Gain bonus spells.
Unbelievable – No one ever believes you, suffer penalty on social rolls, but gain bonus to sense motive.

Next is new feats that deal with oracle curses. (1 page)
Accursed – Gain bonus to resist other curses.
Second Curse – gain a second curse both the good and bad.
Suspend Curse – by giving up spell slots can temporally suppress the curse.
Variable Curse – Select 5 random curses roll once every day for which curse you have. On a 6 your get two. Because you are so cursed all of your spell effects are cast as if you was one level higher.

It also have a section on how to use the curses for other things. It finishes with a OGL.

Closing Thoughts. I love the idea of the new curses. For the most part I like the curses in this book. There was a couple I felt needed a bit more, to really make them shine. The feats I mostly felt where a little weak, I just have trouble seeing most players wanting more than one curse or random ones even with the gains. Suspend and Accursed being the exceptions. The art is all of the cover girl what there is of it. I don't have a problem with the art but some people might. It is very much cheese cake art, which I personally don't have a problem with but I know some people do. Unless SGG did it on purpose in a tongue and... cheek... manner. So my rating is a 4 star, good product but I felt with just a bit more effort it could have been even better. Gift Certificates
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