Advanced Options: Oracle's Curses (PFRPG) PDF

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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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2.70/5 (based on 3 ratings)

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3/5

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

1/5

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.

Conclusion:
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

4/5

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.


Contributor

Advanced Options: Oracle's Curses is live!

The first in our new line of products designed to build on the material presented in the Advanced Player's Guide, this book presents thirteen new curses for players and GMs to use to burden oracle characters. They provide 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.

Check it out here.

Sczarni

Wow this was a surprise, I got used to not seeing your new products until thursday or friday, awesome.
One of my players just lost his Magus and made an oracle, I'm lad this came out before he started playing again.

Contributor

Frerezar wrote:

Wow this was a surprise, I got used to not seeing your new products until thursday or friday, awesome.

One of my players just lost his Magus and made an oracle, I'm lad this came out before he started playing again.

Yeah, with Hyrum's departure for Paizo, other non-SGG deadlines for both Owen and me, and now my impending move, the timing for our releases has been more flexible than it used to be. But we're aiming to get back on our old release-on-Tuesday schedule in the coming weeks.

>>fingers crossed<<

Hope there's stuff in here your player can use!

Dark Archive

Very cool and of course I bought it. So where's the witch hex book? :)


Dark_Mistress wrote:
Very cool and of course I bought it. So where's the witch hex book? :)

Do we get a review? and for the Exalted Domains, too? Pretty please?

Dark Archive

Dungeon Grrrl wrote:
Dark_Mistress wrote:
Very cool and of course I bought it. So where's the witch hex book? :)
Do we get a review? and for the Exalted Domains, too? Pretty please?

Well since you asked so nicely, ok. Reviewed. Still working on the Exalted Domains actually. I have it read just have not done the review yet beyond notes. I read this and it was short and I felt inspired to just do the review now.


Dark_Mistress wrote:
Well since you asked so nicely, ok. Reviewed.

Wow, that was *fast*. And many, many thanks for review and feedback. Not to take time reviewing your review, but I genuinely appreciate you going over details of what you thought was good in the product, and what it would have to include to get a higher score from you. That's much more useful than a flat number.

Dark_Mistress wrote:
Still working on the Exalted Domains actually. I have it read just have not done the review yet beyond notes.

I look forward to it!

Frerezar wrote:
Wow this was a surprise, I got used to not seeing your new products until thursday or friday, awesome.

We *prefer* to get our products out before Wednesday on Paizo, but the schedule has been a bit forced recently. Hopefully this is the start of an earlier trend. :D

Sczarni

Well sir I do prefer that too, what a coincidence :)

Liberty's Edge

I'm really interested to check this out!

I am thinking of playing an oracle (or a cleric) in our upcoming Kingmaker game. One thing that I was a tad disappointed with the oracle was the rather small number of oracle curses to choose from ... and this sounds like it remedies that problem!

OWEN STEPHENS wrote:


Dark_Mistress wrote:
Still working on the Exalted Domains actually. I have it read just have not done the review yet beyond notes.
I look forward to it!

Me too!!!

Scarab Sages

Will these types of things and the new Advanced Feats books be available for Pathfinder Society play?


emontague wrote:
Will these types of things and the new Advanced Feats books be available for Pathfinder Society play?

Doubtful, though it's entirely not our call so I could be wrong. If there is anything at all we at Super Genius Games could do to make Paizo comfortable with allowing our third-party rules in PS play, we'd be happy to do it. But I strongly suspect Paizo has enough on their hands making sure their in-house rules work for PS play wihtout taking time to vet third-party products.

And, honestly, that's a fair and strong choice by them. Paizo's #1 PS priority needs to be ensuring a good play experience, and sticking to their own rules is a good way to make sure they know what they are allowing.

But hey, Hyrum, Mark, if I'm wrong drop me a line and tell me what to do to make this happen. :)

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32

Dark_Mistress wrote:
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.

So, the heroine gets a bonus for being a Stripperiffic Ms. Fanservice?

(Does the cover girl have this curse?)

While rewarding female characters for being this way is a good idea, I don't get the bonus on "non-lethal" damage?


Lord Fyre wrote:
Dark_Mistress wrote:
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.
So, the heroine gets a bonus for being a Stripperiffic Ms. Fanservice?

I will note that there is no gender bias to the curse. You can just as easily have a provocative male oracle. (Indeed, one popped up in playtest as the slim, good-looking guy who is amazingly accepting of all cultures... kind of like a fantasy version of Torchwood's Captain jack.)

Lord Fyre wrote:
(Does the cover girl have this curse?)

As a matter of policy, we don't discuss the curses of staff, freelancers, or cover characters. I will note that Alahazra seems at *least* as qualified as a spokes-character for this particular ailment. :)

Lord Fyre wrote:
While rewarding female characters for being this way is a good idea, I don't get the bonus on "non-lethal" damage?

Foes are inspired to capture, rather than kill, characters with the provocative curse, and it's actually easier to hit them for nonlethal than lethal damage.


OWEN STEPHENS wrote:
As a matter of policy, we don't discuss the curses of staff, freelancers, or cover characters. I will note that Alahazra seems at *least* as qualified as a spokes-character for this particular ailment. :)

The day before I bought this product, a friend was playing Alahazra as a pre gen in a PFS event and decided to cause a distraction by walking around naked. After I read through the curses, I had to tell him about this particular new curse.


KnightErrantJR wrote:
The day before I bought this product, a friend was playing Alahazra as a pre gen in a PFS event and decided to cause a distraction by walking around naked. After I read through the curses, I had to tell him about this particular new curse.

I admit, it does sound like your player has a... different... play style in mind.

So, glad we could help?


OWEN STEPHENS wrote:

I admit, it does sound like your player has a... different... play style in mind.

So, glad we could help?

This is the same group that once had the aberrant bloodline gnome sorcerer that refused to wear clothes.

This is also the player that ran an elderly halfling cleric male that always wanted to be an adventurer and entered "the trade" when his wife left him. He immediately started explaining to the other PCs the proper way to be an adventurer and gave them lectures on the proper use of signal whistles and chalk.

Hey . . . any chance for Genius Guide to Elderly Adventurers . . . ;)


KnightErrantJR wrote:
Hey . . . any chance for Genius Guide to Elderly Adventurers . . . ;)

I suspect your less-than-mainstream group might be the only people who need such a book... but I'll happily add it to the idea pile. :D


Wait . . . my group isn't "mainstream"?!? When did this happen? (I didn't even mention our cross-dressing bard or the drug addicted aasimar cleric or . . . okay . . . I see your point . . . ) ;)


Interesting idea, I saw the review first and I am intrigued by this product even more. Combine this with what open design is doing in a print book and call me.


FenrysStar wrote:
Interesting idea, I saw the review first and I am intrigued by this product even more. Combine this with what open design is doing in a print book and call me.

Honestly? It'll likely be months before this sees print, and it's unlike to be combined with the products of another game company. Open Design isn't likely to grab it without our okay even though it's OGL, and we won't be grabbing Open Design's OGL material, and it's not worth it for 3pp to compile their products together.

It's just a few pages. If you want a print version, my advice is to buy it for the $2, and print it yourself.


OWEN STEPHENS wrote:
Open Design isn't likely to grab it without our okay even though it's OGL, and we won't be grabbing Open Design's OGL material, and it's not worth it for 3pp to compile their products together.

Thou shalt not cross the streams, or something to that effect is written in the indi-publishers handbook. :)

Our combined powers would be too great for any corporal pages to contain!


Sigfried Trent wrote:
Our combined powers would be too great for any corporal pages to contain!

And then, there's that. :D


Anyone tried the drug addiction curse? It seems somewhat powerful on paper.


Reviewed here and sent to GMS magazine.


Pathfinder Card Game, Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Charter Superscriber
Endzeitgeist wrote:
Reviewed here and sent to GMS magazine.

Threadjack

Great Malazan reference!!
/threadjack


Thanks! I love the series and am currently reading bonehunters! With every book, I love the complex tapestry of plots more. :)

Scarab Sages

Endzeitgeist wrote:
Reviewed here and sent to GMS magazine.

Thanks for taking the time to write out a review. Obviously I wished you;d enjoyed the book more, but I appreciate you taking the time to write reviews, whatever your feelings about our books are.

If you have the inclination I'd love to hear more specifics about your concerns regarding game balance -- but only if you feel like giving it more time.


Glad you're open to feedback, I'm happy to oblige!

Well, the Drug-curse for example is simply prone to being abused like crazy: Players will try to find the most harmless drugs, take them to satisfy their curse and then use the significant spell-casting prowess to blast foes to smithereens, after all the ability increases the DC of all their spells but their most powerful ones - that means up to +8 (!!!!!) on the DC for 1st-level spells.

Drunkard in comparisson, is pale and bland - why should anyone take it when addict is so much better?

Star-crossed essentially makes a 5% fail-chance a 10% fail chance and simply does not offer enough in return - the spells are neat, but mechanically, I'd have loved to see something more. E.g. an ill-fortune-based ability like 4WFG's Jinx-PrC.

Amputee is bland and e.g. a hand in another dimension or similar cool abilities would have gone a long way to improve the curse - losing a hand and getting all the penalties for 6 lame spells (Why dimension door and still image? What's the tie with the curse? I don't get it...) doesn't cut it.

Peaceful Soul and Squeamish are no curses, but rather ethical decisions/fluff, at least in my opinion.

If you e.g. take Insomniac and Frail as curses via the second curse feat, you essentially ignore the penalty of the frail-curse all together most of the time, but still reap its benefits.

Provocative and unbelievable had this vast potential, but their mechanics just don't excite me.

The curses seem to vary greatly in their power/repercussions and some of them offer too weak a benefit to consider them, either in comparison to the APG-curses or to OP-ones like Addict.

I hope I make some sense, if not, just ask and I'll try to elaborate more...

Scarab Sages

Endzeitgeist wrote:
Glad you're open to feedback, I'm happy to oblige!

Always open to feedback. I may not agree with a specific opinion, but I still want to hear and consider it. :)

Endzeitgeist wrote:
Well, the Drug-curse for example is simply prone to being abused like crazy: Players will try to find the most harmless drugs, take them to satisfy their curse and then use the significant spell-casting prowess to blast foes to smithereens, after all the ability increases the DC of all their spells but their most powerful ones - that means up to +8 (!!!!!) on the DC for 1st-level spells.

Personally, I think you've overlooked the drawback of addict. It's not the fact you take drugs -- as you say, when a PC is in supply, she can be in supply of something not too difficult to manage (though none of the drugs, nor the addict rules, are particularly gentle to a PC).

However if a character is not in supply, and there might be drugs around, you must make a Fort save (and an increasing DC, and Fort is not a strong save for a typical oracle) or the curse requires the PC to take any action to obtain the drugs. Alignment is not restriction. Lying, stealing, betraying friends, and selling valued items are all legitimate consequences of this curse. As is taking truly debilitating drugs, because they are all that is to be had. It's a huge weakness the GM can implement regularly. Indeed, in my opinion if there is complaint to be made about addict it's not that it's too easily abused by the GM, it's that it can take the player's choices away. And there's no way to overcame it. You can get addicted to various drugs and kick those addictions over and over... but you still must take drugs or make a save to get them every single day.

In return, you get a significant boost to your lower-level save DCs... if you are on drugs. In playtest, any lesser bonus simply caused all players to decide to never take the addiction and risk a GM< making their characters sell their magic items or betray their team to get drugs. And interestingly, the DC boost while enormous on paper, had very little effect in play. Oracles aren't wizards, so they have far fewer spells with saving throws. Things like bane and doom are useful, but even if a foe fails a save they can still fight. Cause fear is limited by HD. Hold person effects a limited range of targets and allows a new save every round. Command works for one round. Sanctuary was the most popular choice for this even for high-level oracles, and even that wasn't at all disruptive. Oracles lack the range of charm person/charm monster/flesh to stone spells that make save DCs fail-and-lose propositions.

And even if they select a few such spells (which tend to be situational, and thus not great choices for spontaneous casters) the save DCs in question never exceed what the oracle can produce without augmentation. This doesn't make the oracle's most-effective spells any more effective, and thus doesn't make major foes any more vulnerable to the oracle. Yes, perhaps you can attack the end boss with 3rd level spells instead of 5th level spells, but you still only get one spell per round and he's just as likely to resist as if you;d used your higher-level spells.

In playtest, the main effect was oracles felt free to choice more utility and healing spells as higher levels once they had a low- or mid-level spell they liked if the save DC kept on par with their highest level spells.

Endzeitgeist wrote:
Drunkard in comparisson, is pale and bland - why should anyone take it when addict is so much better?

The drunkard curse can never take away your character's choices, or force you to sell out friends. If you run out of drink, you get fatigued. It's a much lower penalty, so there's a much smaller benefit.

That seems to me to clearly be the case for the official curses, and it's a good design choice. Some players want flawed heroes who constantly struggle against a major restriction. Others just want to take tongues and tell their allies to spend a single skill point to learn terran.

Endzeitgeist wrote:
Star-crossed essentially makes a 5% fail-chance a 10% fail chance and simply does not offer enough in return - the spells are neat, but mechanically, I'd have loved to see something more. E.g. an ill-fortune-based ability like 4WFG's Jinx-PrC.

For anyone who can't just take an extra spell known every level as a favored class bonus, extra spells known is huge for a spontaneous spellcaster. And this is one of the simplest curses, which doesn't give you the constant problems in day-to-day adventuring of lame or clouded vision. One of the reasons I kept the rewards both simple and modest was to ensure star-crossed didn't become the obvious go-to for any oracle who wanted to avoid ongoing drawbacks most curses provide.

Endzeitgeist wrote:
Amputee is bland and e.g. a hand in another dimension or similar cool abilities would have gone a long way to improve the curse - losing a hand and getting all the penalties for 6 lame spells (Why dimension door and still image? What's the tie with the curse? I don't get it...) doesn't cut it.

Amputee gives you options for things to do with your "phantom" limb that are more than just telekenesis. The link with dimension door is a simple matter of being tied to the realm where your spirit-limb still exists, thus being able to slide through it. Silent image is an option to shape things with your phantom limb. (And bonus spells are one of the easiest things for a GM to mold as desired for a campaign – I picked a set that made sense to me, but anything of the same level could be subbed in without worrying about game balance).

And keep in mind, bland is also "simple." A lot of the playtesters I had working on this didn't play oracles because the rules were too complicated. Missing an arm is easy to wrap your head around, and bonus spells don't introduce any new game mechanics.

Endzeitgeist wrote:
Peaceful Soul and Squeamish are no curses, but rather ethical decisions/fluff, at least in my opinion.

Choosing to be a pacifist is one thing. Lacking the internal mental capacity for violence is something else. No one chooses to be squeamish, and characters who faint at the site of blood are rife in fiction. And the chieftains son who wants to be a warrior like his father, and is fine with the idea of killing things, but hesitates due to his core nature when it comes to fighting, is cursed.

Endzeitgeist wrote:
If you e.g. take Insomniac and Frail as curses via the second curse feat, you essentially ignore the penalty of the frail-curse all together most of the time, but still reap its benefits.

You don't ignore the penalty – you are fatigued if A: you don't get 8 hours of sleep or b: you are badly damaged. I doubt even 15th level characters suffering half penalties will be causal about being fatigued, so they'll still fight to get enough sleep, which means frail works normally most of the time. You'll only ignore penalties if fail to get enough sleep [i]and[/] get badly injured, and even then you stay fatigued until you are healed, even if you get some sleep. I guarantee a character with both of these will, over the course of a campaign, be fatigued more often than a character with only one of them.

But even if you were right and you manage to never suffer more of an effect by having two vulnerabilities, you spent a feat for this. All frail gives you is +1 skill point/level and 3 bonus skills as class skills. Spending a feat for that is nice, but it's not going to unbalance a campaign.

Endzeitgeist wrote:
Provocative and unbelievable had this vast potential, but their mechanics just don't excite me.

Okay, that's not a game balance question. :) I'm sorry you don't like them more.


Dear Mr. Stephens,

Thank you very much for taking the time to elaborate as extensively as you just have your various design decisions.

[qoute=Owen K C Stephens]Yes, perhaps you can attack the end boss with 3rd level spells instead of 5th level spells, but you still only get one spell per round and he's just as likely to resist as if you;d used your higher-level spells.

I disagree with this notion. In my opinion, it makes all the difference. The addict oracle can attack the boss with a 3rd level spell instead of say, a 5th level spell. I follow you there, but I consider it a fallacy to conclude that this does not (or rather could not - there are many games out there and while I'd personally find some way to handle this, not every DM can or will do that) make a significant impact. As a DM, it's harder to drain the resources of spontaneous casters, situational as they may be. Draining one level of spells away prior to the final encounter is simple, potentially making a vast difference between a rested and an already taxed oracle. Now, with the drug curse, e.g. 6th-level spells or even 9th-level spells will provide just as powerful as they usually are. What's problematic, though, is that lower-level spells become just as hard to resist, essentially making a villain/final boss with just one save that is not maxed out to the nth extremely vulnerable to the whole array of oracle spells.

Owen K C Stephens wrote:
Amputee gives you options for things to do with your "phantom" limb that are more than just telekenesis.

Which I consider commendable, surely. I nevertheless maintain that the curse has much more potential for cool abilities and/or spells.

Owen K C Stephens wrote:
For anyone who can't just take an extra spell known every level as a favored class bonus, extra spells known is huge for a spontaneous spellcaster. And this is one of the simplest curses, which doesn't give you the constant problems in day-to-day adventuring of lame or clouded vision. One of the reasons I kept the rewards both simple and modest was to ensure star-crossed didn't become the obvious go-to for any oracle who wanted to avoid ongoing drawbacks most curses provide.

Once again, a valid point. I maintain, though, that the curse DOES have a significant impact on day-to-day adventuring, as it doubles the fail-chance for any d20-roll. Attacks, skills, saves, etc. - just about any major roll of the system is impeded by this curse and subsequently IS an ongoing drawback.

Owen K C Stephens wrote:
No one chooses to be squeamish, and characters who faint at the site of blood are rife in fiction. And the chieftains son who wants to be a warrior like his father, and is fine with the idea of killing things, but hesitates due to his core nature when it comes to fighting, is cursed.

Handicapped, yes. Cursed...well. No. Not in my book. Violence is often traumatic for the person who participates in it, but being squeamish, while it could be a curse, often is just a characteristic characters tend to "overcome". Repeated exposure to violence, death and the act of killing sooner or later enforces a conditioning that impedes a person's resistance to killing. I can see one or two character backgrounds where the curse works, but for already more or less peaceful (or holy in a EXTREME-good way, like in the horribly broken Book of Exalted Deeds) people, this does not necessarily hold true.

Finally, let me rephrase my statement with regards to frail/insomniac curse synergy: Insomniac will already have an oracle fatigued much of the time, while frail's sole penalty is becoming fatigued. It's a short step from being often fatigued to taking the frail curse as well, making the condition even more prominent, but also gaining power. Plus, thanks to insomniac the oracle won't have to worry about exhaustion. It's two curses for one negative condition. Are getting what I'm trying to say?

Finally, thanks for the answer and let me say that usually, I'm a big fan of your design - most of the time I love it. Keep up the great work! :)

Cheers,
Endzeitgeist

Scarab Sages

Advanced Options: Oracle's Curses picks up a 4/5 review on RPGNow.


Review added here and at RPGNow

Scarab Sages

Thanks for the review!


Nice review, KTFish7!


If a dual-cursed oracle chooses Squeamish as her non-advancing curse, does her bonus on Heal checks always stay +1, or does it increase with levels?

Scarab Sages Contributor; Developer, Super Genius Games

RAW, it always stays +1.

Now if you are using AO:OC and want an oracle with two curses, I'd recommend the Second Curse feat in this book rather than the dual curse archetype.

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