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Oracle build ideas


Advice


I'm trying to come up with a build to match up with some general ideas I have for an Oracle. This character will be a young, wispy female. I'm taking inspiration from the River Tam character from Firefly. For flavor reasons, I really don't want her to wear much armor if any. The problem is, I'm having trouble coming up with a build that isn't simply worse off for the lack of armor. I was thinking of taking a level in Monk for the Wis bonus to AC. My main stats then would be CHA, Dex, and Wis, but I'm not sure how well it would work. I still want her to be primarily a spell caster, but one with some mobility. I'm not particularly concerned with min/maxing and power tweaking, but I don't want her to be gimped.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

For River Tam I'd take a level in Barbarian (urban barbarian archetype?) and go the Rage Prophet route.


This is sort of a side rant, but I have to say I was a little disappointed with the execution of the Oracle class. It seems like it should be much less combat focused. I would have rathered it to have been more Wizard/Sorcerer like. No armor, poor BAB, but increased spells and spell-like abilities. I feel this would have fit the oracles in the fantasy genre much better.


I feel you Jodokai. That's why I'm trying to figure out a build that gives me a good reason NOT to wear armor, which the Rage Prophet obviously doesn't do. All I can think of so far is a dip in Monk or Wizard.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

The problem with Monk is now you're looking at a build that's even more MAD than usual, going for Wis as well as Cha, Str, Dex, and Con, with Barbarian you can gain a few points by leaving Wis alone. And Urban Barbarian looses medium armor anyway, so she's only wearing light armor like a armored coat, or when you get the funds a mithral chain shirt.

But if you're trying to focus on the spellcasting and largely ignoring her fighting, then just go straight Oracle. There are several revelations that boost AC, or allow you to use your Cha instead of Dex for your AC.

Andoran

Hmmm. Simple is usually best with things like this.

Go with a standard Oracle of, oh, say Ancestors. Take the Spirit Shield revelation, which need not take the form of physical armor. Use that instead of physical armor, jacking Dex to take advantage of the lack of a max Dex. Grab a bow or crossbow as a mundane weapon, and focus primarily on spellcasting. Be pretty much good to go.

This build will be a little shaky for the first couple of levels (as your time 'in armor' will be low), but hardly unworkable, especially as you go on (I mean, by 19th level it's +12 AC for 19 hours a day, plus a 50% miss chance on ranged attacks). If you have a flexible GM, he might even let you trade all your Armor Proficiencies for an extra Revelation (something I'd allow in a heartbeat).

Note: This works mechanically with lots of Mysteries (all the ones that give an armor revelation), though some of those revelations may need slight reflavoring.

Qadira

There are some mysteries that allow your CHA to your AC instead of your DEX. Nature is the first to come to mind. Studded Leather is probably the best to wear, since it is light and allows for a +5 bonus to AC. You also get a fluffy friend. Another good mystery is Life, since it lets you heal for no AoO. It also lets you Channel like a Cleric, but with your main casting stat instead of a side stat.


I wrote up a guide to the Oracle a couple months back. It's not entirely done, but the big parts are (mostly spells are missing). Maybe it could help you out.

Channeling the Cosmos: A guide to the Oracle


Most of the mysteries have some form of armor conjuration, so you don't really need physical armor if you're an Oracle. My Waves Oracles gets by just fine with Ice Armor (helps a lot that my campaign is set in an arctic-like climate).

Ancestor - Spirit Shield
Bones - Armor of Bones
Dark Tapestry - Cloak of Darkness
Heavens - Coat of Many Stars
Lore - Sidestep Secret (not Armor, but add CHA instead of DEX to AC)
Nature - Nature's Whispers (not Armor, but add CHA instead of DEX to AC)
Outer Rifts - Demonhide
Waves - Ice Armor
Wind - Air Barrier
Wood - Wood Armor


Nice guide Sean! Unfortunately you haven't written the portion on multiclassing. The more I think about it, the more I like the idea of dipping into wizard/sorcerer. This will give me a good reason to not wear armor, and I'll be more of a pure spell caster. Do you have any thoughts on that?

Qadira

Mystical Theurge is a nice class, if you do it right...

I read the guide, and I stil think that there should be more on the subject of multiclassing, with an entire section devoted to Prestige Classes.

I also think that the Oracle of Waves has some Melee Combat potential, since most of it's abilities call for moving across difficult terrain, seeing through some nice spells, blasting Ice in your opponent's face, and creating your own armor.


I'd take the tongues curse, and sing little nonsense songs to yourself when things get stressful. Or nursery rhymes, that would be good too.

Should be a blast to play.

Andoran

xenophone wrote:
Nice guide Sean! Unfortunately you haven't written the portion on multiclassing. The more I think about it, the more I like the idea of dipping into wizard/sorcerer. This will give me a good reason to not wear armor, and I'll be more of a pure spell caster. Do you have any thoughts on that?

Not Sean, but I really wouldn't. Not just for the unarmored flavor, anyway (because, as mentioned above, you can get that easily going pure Oracle). Splitting your Caster Levels is an epically bad idea on a couple of different levels, mechanically speaking. Well, without Mystic theurge, anyway.

Mystic Theurge is definitely the way to go if you do it anyway, and not even bad, mechanically...but by 10th level, the build is just starting to get going, which is going to be a problem.

I second the Tongues idea, though.

Qadira

xenophone wrote:
Nice guide Sean! Unfortunately you haven't written the portion on multiclassing. The more I think about it, the more I like the idea of dipping into wizard/sorcerer. This will give me a good reason to not wear armor, and I'll be more of a pure spell caster. Do you have any thoughts on that?

for flavor the mystical theurge can be fun. i do however have to point out one of the most important rules of playing a caster.

THOU SHALT NOT GIVE UP CASTER LEVELS OR PROGRESSIONS.

if you want to be a fighter that can cast use rage prophet. if you want to be a caster that can fight be a battle oracle. if you want to be a divine/arcane caster use cleric and wizard since the requirements for "thurgehood" is 2nd level casting divine and arcane spells. making an oracle a poor choice for this prc seeing as how they have sorcerer progression requiring you to take 4 levels of oracle instead of 3 levels of cleric.

now a very fun cleric i have in one of my parties is loosely based off the naruto series with the "ninjas hidden in the mist" concept for this we use a wave oracle and a barbarian. the wave oracles ability to see through water is amazing for this. u just cast out a series of your fog/cloud/solid fog spells and then you rage and dive into the confused enemies buffed by your incredible divine spells.

its not truly gestalt since its not incredibly complex but it is very effective. forces the dm to put more blindsense creatures in to counteract the solid fogs that keep dropping down on opponents heads. the character is working on creating a ring of continuous solid fog. its funny and its scarry all at the same time.

i would not recommend mystical theurge. at low level you will lack the utility of the higher level spells and at high level you will never get to see the best spells your class has to offer. but if you have to go that route please o please find a way to put as many points in umd as possible since that will be THE ONLY WAY you will ever find to use the good spells you will be missing out on.


Okay, I think I'm going to abandon this character concept as it doesn't seem viable with an Oracle. Even if I go straight Oracle with a mystery that gives me revelation armor, I'm simply giving up the extra AC from regular armor by choosing not to use it; it's a total negative in terms of mechanics. I'm kind of frustrated because judging by the art and flavor concepts of the Oracle, it seems as though Paizo intended some Oracles to not wear armor, even though they don't give us a decent reason not to do so. I could ask my DM to house-rule it but I'd rather not as this is a group that got together on Meetup.com, and I don't want to open that can of worms.

Anywho, I'll hold off on river Tam for another campaign. I think I'm going half-orc Oracle of Nature, sort of a druid/shaman barbarian guy, and I'll wear all the g%!%%&n armor I can get my hands on!

Andoran

xenophone wrote:
Okay, I think I'm going to abandon this character concept as it doesn't seem viable with an Oracle. Even if I go straight Oracle with a mystery that gives me revelation armor, I'm simply giving up the extra AC from regular armor by choosing not to use it; it's a total negative in terms of mechanics.

Uh...no. This isn't how armor works. Only the highest armor bonus applies. So nobody who uses those Revelations also uses armor at the same time (though backup, non-magical armor is probably common, especially at low levels where the duration is iffy).


Deadmanwalking wrote:
xenophone wrote:
Okay, I think I'm going to abandon this character concept as it doesn't seem viable with an Oracle. Even if I go straight Oracle with a mystery that gives me revelation armor, I'm simply giving up the extra AC from regular armor by choosing not to use it; it's a total negative in terms of mechanics.
Uh...no. This isn't how armor works. Only the highest armor bonus applies. So nobody who uses those Revelations also uses armor at the same time (though backup, non-magical armor is probably common, especially at low levels where the duration is iffy).

Well I feel like an ass. Didn't realize the AC mods didn't stack. That make more sense; still your giving up physical armor bonus for a temp armor that you have to burn a revelation to have. Doesn't seem like a good trade at all.

Andoran

xenophone wrote:
Well I feel like an ass. Didn't realize the AC mods didn't stack. That make more sense; still your giving up physical armor bonus for a temp armor that you have to burn a revelation to have. Doesn't seem like a good trade at all.

Well, it's got no Armor Check penalty, and it costs no money, and it improves with level, including some cool bonuses that vary by Mystery, so you can spend all your cash on other stuff. And it doesn't have a max Dex modifier, so you can theoreticaly have Dex 30 and get the whole +10 to AC on top of the +12 from the Revelation.

It's a little suboptimal for first through about third or fourth level, and grabbing some Leather Armor to wear during that time isn't a bad call, but it gets progressively cooler as your level increases.

As for it costing a Revelation slot, that's true, and why I'd argue asking your GM to give you an extra Revelation in exchange for your Armor Proficiencies (which isn't technically allowed, obviously, but I'd personally allow a player to do in a heartbeat). But even if you can't do that, there's an Extra Revelation Feat, and you didn't really expect to get by with playing an unarmored character in D&D without investing some resources into overcoming that, did you?

And, for the record, some AC mods do stack, it's based on bonus type, so a Dodge bonus stacks with everything, but only the highest each of Deflection, Armor, Natural Armor, and most other kinds of bonuses are used. This is all gone into in the AC section.


This has been very instructive (I'm a noob). Thanks for all the input folks!


xenophone wrote:
Deadmanwalking wrote:
xenophone wrote:
Okay, I think I'm going to abandon this character concept as it doesn't seem viable with an Oracle. Even if I go straight Oracle with a mystery that gives me revelation armor, I'm simply giving up the extra AC from regular armor by choosing not to use it; it's a total negative in terms of mechanics.
Uh...no. This isn't how armor works. Only the highest armor bonus applies. So nobody who uses those Revelations also uses armor at the same time (though backup, non-magical armor is probably common, especially at low levels where the duration is iffy).
Well I feel like an ass. Didn't realize the AC mods didn't stack. That make more sense; still your giving up physical armor bonus for a temp armor that you have to burn a revelation to have. Doesn't seem like a good trade at all.

It's not a great trade, but it's not bad. Since I didn't really contribute anything previously other than shamelessly self promote, I'd really like to properly weigh in:

Dipping monk is not a great idea. Wisdom is pretty much the only stat an oracle can reasonably dump. And Nephril makes a very good point: don't lose caster levels if you don't have to. There isn't a level dip that's going to give you what you want here, so let's approach from a different angle.

Your goal is to not get hit, and AC is the best way to do this early on. Several mysteries give you an hour/day revelation that functions as a chain shirt (and later as a breastplate). It's a modest boost that never clearly says how it looks- or if it has a visual effect at all. 1 hour per day is sorta lame at first level, but by third or fourth level you'll have enough uses (broken up) that you can just go ahead an consider yourself armored at all times.

Two mysteries also give you the ability to add your charisma to your AC instead of your dexterity. This is a double edged sword. First, dexterity is a great stat and this sort of thing just encourages you to dump it. Second, these same mysteries expect you to be wearing regular armor because they aren't offering armor revelations. The bonus here is that you simply can't ever have enough charisma, and eventually your charisma bonus is going to be high enough that you're probably only wearing padded armor anyways. Investing in bracers of armor is almost just as good as +5 padded armor by most measures.

Or, finally, you could just add the Glamered enchantment to whatever armor you choose to wear. Keep it light and you won't lose your mobility and you'll keep your AC competitive. The +2700gp is a bit restrictive for the first few levels, but after that it's a breeze to fit into the budget.


If you want to go the River Tam route, I think a battle-focused Oracle would be good. You don't need to be a battle Oracle per se, but keep your spells known and revelations focused on kicking butt in a fight.

After all, River did wipe out a horde of Reavers in the movie Serenity, so she can throw-down like an enraged goddess of war, when the need arises.

As far as multiclassing goes, I don't think it really suits most Pathfinder classes, outside of maybe a one or two level dip and ones, where abilities like Bloodline Powers and Revelations are dependent on class level, it creates more of a problem. Add to that the benefits from the Curse class feature and multi-classing as a an Oracle isn't the best idea, in my opinion.

If you don't want to wear armor, there are many mysteries that provide some form of magic armor, as noted above. Many of those note only scale up the amount of AC you get, but also provide some degree of DR/slashing or piercing or bludgeoning for example, which can be nice to have.

If you want whimsical/wispy, I'd go with something like a Heavens mystery, where you are focused on the stars and don't really want to pay attention to mundane things like stuff that's not-stars, i.e. everyday things most people worry about, while you are off working on your starcharts.


Another advantageous scenario for conjured armor is when you're attacked while you're sleeping. While most others would have to fight armorless (as you can't sleep in armor without becoming fatigued unless you have the Endurance feat and it takes time, which you don't have in this situation, to put your armor on), you can get your armor on with a single standard action that doesn't even provoke an attack of opportunity as it's a Supernatural ability. Along with Grace, you only lose a single round.

GM: You awake to a party member screaming and you notice an armed individual standing over you wielding a sword.

You: I cast Grace as a swift action, so my movement this round doesn't provoke attacks of opportunity. I stand up, use my supernatural ability to conjure my armor, and end my turn.


An Oracle of Battle gets Martial Weapon Proficiency + Heavy Armor Proficiency for the cost of a revelation. Spend a feat for extra revelation and you get both for the cost of a feat.

If you go Duel Cursed the Misfortune Revelation is quite powerful as well.

A Duel Cursed (Tounges, Lame) Battle Oracle with levels of Barbarian and multiclassing to Rage Prophet would be quite fun.

The lame makes you immune to fatigue which is fantastic for when raging. The only downside is the reduced movement....which is offset by medium armor + fast movement from barbarian and makes the armor proficiency revelation kind of moot if you plan on wearing medium armor instead of heavy.

If you'd prefer Heavy Armor an Oracle of Metal has the same revelation to pick up martial weapons and heavy armor, but it also has Dance of the Blades which increases your base speed by 10ft which immediately negates the lame curse and does a bunch of other very spiffy things. Armor Mastery revelation also reduces any penalty for wearing metal medium armor if you want to go that route and multiclass to barbarian for lots of movement.

With that there's no ASF for a divine caster so simply dipping Barbarian/Fighter/Paladin or spending a feat on Armor proficiency is possible. Ignoring Dex and picking one of the mysteries that gives CHA instead in place of DEX bonus to AC is viable with a dip in a class that picks up armor proficiencies or simply spending a feat to pick them up instead.


Good info, Waltz, but the OP said: "I really don't want her to wear much armor if any."


You mentioned dipping monk earlier. If I may make a suggestion for River, think about doing a Ki Mystic or Qinggong Monk and dipping a haunted battle oracle. I honestly think the Ki Mystic with a haunted personality (all of which has made her leaky in the brain pan) sounds like a lot of fun...


Ughhh totally missed that entirely. Glanced over "I really don't want her to wear much armor if any." and focuesed on "The problem is, I'm having trouble coming up with a build that isn't simply worse off for the lack of armor."

Level dip to Monk would be decent combined with the Changling race for the whispy flavor to get +2 to WIS & CHA and a +1 Natural Armor bonus. The WIS boost would work well for a monk multiclass.

If you pick up the Eldritch Heritage feats you can pick one of the ones that give a Natural Armor Bonus as well. Toss in a dodge bonus a high DEX a ring of deflection and an Silken Ceremonial Armor or Haramaki at low levels before you take monk then simply switch over to bracers of armor// conjured alternatives and you'll be doing alright.

Edit: To add to the above a Ki Mystic or Qinggong Monk dipping Duel Cursed Haunted/Tongues oracle might be thematic.


If the DM is willing to allow it, the Battle Dancer base class from the Dragon Compendium (put out by Paizo while they still were publishing Dragon and Dungeon magazines) is good for a one-level dip. That class is a not-quite-an-exact-substitute for the Monk, but is not Lawful (I'm away from that book at the moment, so I can't remember if it is only Chaotic).

The point behind the one-level dip is that it uses Cha instead of Wis for extra AC. The Dragon Compendium version is for 3.5 (updated from a much earlier Dragon article), but I believe that at least one PF conversion can be found in the Conversions section of the forums here.

If you want to be a full caster, then few or no dips into other classes would be best. However, if you want to combine divine spellcasting with fighting ability (and not do any Paladin-dipping for LG/code reasons), then maybe something crazy like Oracle (Metal mystery from UM) x /Battle Dancer 1 /Sorcerer 1 might be workable. All use Cha heavily, the Battle Dancer gives the Cha bonus to AC (on top of Dex), the Metal mystery gives access to the Ranger 1 spell Lead Blades (APG) which increases your weapon's damage dice size (nice for River Tam's lethality), and the Sorcerer can cast Shield for that bonus to AC.

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