Oracle vs. Cleric


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion


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A while back there was a Sorcerer vs. Wizard thread that invited some interesting discussion.

I think it's time we talk about the Oracle vs. Cleric.

In my personal opinion, optimization-wise anyway, the Cleric is more like a Hybrid caster Melee character, while the Oracle has more tools to be a straight up caster.

While the Cleric does get his spells one level earlier, the Oracle's mystery more than makes up for that.

Currently I'm playing a Dark Tapestry Oracle who doesn't wear armor, and doesn't carry a weapon. He gets 8 gifts of madness a day, and has 14 spells a day total to cast with a decent variety of options. It's kind of nice to not have to depend on items practically at all.

The Exchange

I actually see it the other way around, as the Oracle gets all sorts of battle abilities. Battle Oracles get all weapons, heavy armor, and spells like a Sorcerer. Cleric could get beefy, but still has the healing roll down to a dot. Bursts of Positive energy make Clerics great healers, buy Oracles can get that, too! Healing is a wonderful mystery. Even the Curses are pretty good, even though they scream "Look at me! I am an Oracle!" People seem to forget just how tied to their deity they really are.


Im sure the cleric is better

BUT

i never play a PF cleric and always opt for oracle instead...i adored the fvoured soul in 3.5

oracles are just great to play
full of flavour
not overly a god-botherer
my heavens oracle attacks all 3 saves with often supernatural abilities so no worries about concentration checks,AOO, being grappled etc
my dual cursed cursed dark tapestry gnome oracle in carrion crown is just so much fun to play, and pretty tricky to defeat / defend against, and he quite merrily stands in the front line annoying baddies, and soaking attacks, so others can deal out the goods.....my weapon of choice is a stake and blowgun, and occassional stone for casting magic stone on!!

clerics just seem dull and regimented


I think Sorcerers are closer to Wizards as far as effectiveness than Oracles are to Clerics.

To me at least, the battle version of the oracle is the only one I think might be better than the cleric version.

I also think the healing oriented cleric is a better healer than the oracle of life, though you could argue about this.

Clerics have a lot more versatility than oracles. As an oracle you kind of have to pick a theme and run with it.

So far there has been a lot more attention given to sorcerers than oracles by paizo.

Some of the oracle mysteries tend to be more useful than others. The flame mystery seems like it would be really good to make a blaster, but I think it falls far short of what you can do with a sorcerer or wizard. Of course the flame oracle can heal, but not enough to make up for the blasting deficiency.

The curses are another issue. Most people seem to take tongues, lame (most popular I think since for barbarian rage usage), haunted, or maybe wasting. Deaf and clouded vision don't seem to be used too much. I can't figure out which of those two is worse.

That's the way I see it anyway. Things might change as more material is put out.

Clerics also get some freebies like their god's weapon, and a better fort save. I'm not sure what about the oracle is enough better to warrant the lesser fort save versus a cleric.


Pathfinder Adventure, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

I just find oracles to be much more interesting from a flavor stand point. You add in the fact that if you play a cleric everyone just expects you to be the group band-aid.


sunbeam wrote:

I think Sorcerers are closer to Wizards as far as effectiveness than Oracles are to Clerics.

To me at least, the battle version of the oracle is the only one I think might be better than the cleric version.

I also think the healing oriented cleric is a better healer than the oracle of life, though you could argue about this.

Clerics have a lot more versatility than oracles. As an oracle you kind of have to pick a theme and run with it.

So far there has been a lot more attention given to sorcerers than oracles by paizo.

Some of the oracle mysteries tend to be more useful than others. The flame mystery seems like it would be really good to make a blaster, but I think it falls far short of what you can do with a sorcerer or wizard. Of course the flame oracle can heal, but not enough to make up for the blasting deficiency.

The curses are another issue. Most people seem to take tongues, lame (most popular I think since for barbarian rage usage), haunted, or maybe wasting. Deaf and clouded vision don't seem to be used too much. I can't figure out which of those two is worse.

That's the way I see it anyway. Things might change as more material is put out.

Clerics also get some freebies like their god's weapon, and a better fort save. I'm not sure what about the oracle is enough better to warrant the lesser fort save versus a cleric.

I dunno about this...

Oracles get 3 spells at every new spell level, while the Sorcerer only gets one. They get their Mystery spell, their cure/harm spell, and a spell of their choice.

In the Sorcerer vs Wizard thread, Treantmonk made a very good point about how spontaneous spellcasting requires that you have some kind of variety in what spells you can cast - and that the Sorcerer is stuck with only ONE spell known when he gains the new spell level - which isn't spontaneous casting at all.

Oracles don't have this problem. And if you're haunted, this is even less of a problem.

Additionally, Divine Spellcasting potentially could use spontaneity more than Arcane. Even the Cleric has some level of spontaneity with cure spells, but what about curing diseases? And poison? You don't always have to be able to do that, so what if you haven't memorized that spell for the morning?

As an Oracle you can take these cure ailment spells at low level, and swap them later when you get the Heal spell. You'll always have these kinds of things in your toolbox as long as you have spell slots left. And the Cleric can't ever spontaneously cast Heal like an Oracle can.

So you can keep casting hold person, but if someone on YOUR team gets paralyzed, you don't have to be kicking yourself that you didn't memorize it in the morning, and that could turn the tides of battle far more than not having that fateful slow spell instead of having a haste spell.

Yes, you do have to kind of pick a theme with an Oracle, but you have to do that with the Cleric too. MAD requires you to be specialized as a Cleric, your choice of domains requires you to be specialized as a Cleric, just like the Oracle and his mysteries and MAD.

Except the Oracle can safely pump everything into Charisma without regard to other stats. He can specialize a little more, because his Revelations give him other options with his actions. Heavens and Dark Tapestry give an awesome Armor buff that makes it so he basically doesn't even need to wear armor, so you don't need Strength at low level to be properly defended. Almost every Mystery has a useful spell-like ability that you could see yourself doing every round in combat that you're not casting - such as the Gift of Madness - and most of them do a little more than just Damage, making it unique from using weapons.

I think you're underestimating the Oracle's potential optimization power.


For me, crunchwise I tend to think the cleric is more MAD than the Oracle. If you want to channel, cast spells and do a bit of combat and not be gimped skillwise, you have to roll and be lucky pretty much. With the Oracle, it seems you can get something out of all the class features without having the same problem.

That, combined with I find the Oracle flavor more appealing makes me prefer them.


Cleric if the point buy is above 15, oracle otherwise. Personally I lean more towards cleric. I like the earlier spell progressions and the flavor of domains over a mystery though I do feel they are mechanically equivalent. The real spike between them for me is the spells. It isn't like wizard versus sorcerer here because the cleric can prepare almost any of the spells from their list where as the wizard has to pick some that they know. That versatility is too great of an asset and is what decides the competition for me.


pipedreamsam wrote:
It isn't like wizard versus sorcerer here because the cleric can prepare almost any of the spells from their list where as the wizard has to pick some that they know. That versatility is too great of an asset and is what decides the competition for me.

That certainly is a major factor, one of the reasons I think mysteries are so powerful in comparison to bloodlines.

But the question is, is there really that much utility from having the entire divine spell list compared to selecting the key spells you're probably memorizing every day anyway?

It's not quite like Arcane. A lot of the spells do basically the same thing.


I would take an Oracle over a Cleric any day.
There are a bunch of things that can be achieved with an oracle that could not with a cleric.

@sunbeam: If you think that Battle is the only one that could be better than an equivalent Cleric, then you haven't seen a heavens Oracle in action...
Take a look at the Awesome Display revelation and think about the consequences...

In a lot of ways, an Oracle is like a sorcerer, except with better HD, more skills, more spells known, gets his bonus spells known a level earlier, more customizable since you can take revelations at different levels, and alot of the revelations are better than bloodline abilities... and you can wear armor with no spell failure etc etc etc...
and you trade: Having a curse (which includes benefits as well as drawbacks) and having a weaker spell list (but not by a heck of a lot, and there are lots of things you can do that a wizard cant like heal and remove conditions etc)

Overall: totally awesome.
Sorcerers have been my favourite class for ages and Oracles are better in a lot of ways.

Clerics just cannot compare.
Then again I have always massively favored spontaneous casters so I am biased.

Oooh, another thing: If you are looking at high levels, by level 18 an Oracle suddenly gains access to basically the entire spell list via Miracle. (which is basically the biggest advantage a Cleric has over an Oracle IMO)


I like my clerics to have one or two open slots per level. Suddenly, I'm a spontaneous caster who can stop and memorize any spell he needs without this "spells known" list.


TarkXT wrote:
I like my clerics to have one or two open slots per level. Suddenly, I'm a spontaneous caster who can stop and memorize any spell he needs without this "spells known" list.

Doesn't it take something like an hour to do that though?


15 minutes if less than a quarter of the spells. So it does require some actual knowledge of what's ahead to make it useful. It's a trick I've done with a lot of prepared spellcasters. Most recent example was my alchemist prepping vomit swarm in an unused slot once she learned they were facing a necromancer. Suddenly the idea of him failing to cast spells because he was being devoured by spiders that were jsut spat out by the large sized wildshaping tiger druid was highly appealing.

Such situations may crop up all the time for a cleric with a list rife with situational spells. You memorize a list of spells that you will likely use all the time and keep the rest open for situations that crop up. Did a party member decide to lick a shade? Lesser restoration is fifteen minutes away.


TarkXT wrote:

15 minutes if less than a quarter of the spells. So it does require some actual knowledge of what's ahead to make it useful. It's a trick I've done with a lot of prepared spellcasters. Most recent example was my alchemist prepping vomit swarm in an unused slot once she learned they were facing a necromancer. Suddenly the idea of him failing to cast spells because he was being devoured by spiders that were jsut spat out by the large sized wildshaping tiger druid was highly appealing.

Such situations may crop up all the time for a cleric with a list rife with situational spells. You memorize a list of spells that you will likely use all the time and keep the rest open for situations that crop up. Did a party member decide to lick a shade? Lesser restoration is fifteen minutes away.

I'd much rather have a full complement of spells to cast spontaneously and a bag o' scrolls for the corner cases, myself.


Interzone wrote:
TarkXT wrote:

15 minutes if less than a quarter of the spells. So it does require some actual knowledge of what's ahead to make it useful. It's a trick I've done with a lot of prepared spellcasters. Most recent example was my alchemist prepping vomit swarm in an unused slot once she learned they were facing a necromancer. Suddenly the idea of him failing to cast spells because he was being devoured by spiders that were jsut spat out by the large sized wildshaping tiger druid was highly appealing.

Such situations may crop up all the time for a cleric with a list rife with situational spells. You memorize a list of spells that you will likely use all the time and keep the rest open for situations that crop up. Did a party member decide to lick a shade? Lesser restoration is fifteen minutes away.

I'd much rather have a full complement of spells to cast spontaneously and a bag o' scrolls for the corner cases, myself.

Funny thing is the cleric can have scrolls too. In fact he can have ALL the scrolls. Afterall the oracle has that spells known list, the Cleric has the entire list, plus more depending on domains. So, a cleric that decided to take scribe scroll can very easily have his cake, eat it, and then drink your milkshake because you owe it to me because you had to buy scrolls from the cleric.

Now where oracles do ultimately shine is that, like sorcerers, they specialize very well. An oracle of battle will likely do much better than a battle cleric. I'll grant that easily. But what an oracle can't do is everything the cleric can.


KaptainKrunch wrote:

But the question is, is there really that much utility from having the entire divine spell list compared to selecting the key spells you're probably memorizing every day anyway?

It's not quite like Arcane. A lot of the spells do basically the same thing.

When compared to arcane spells yes the versatility is not as great, but remember this is on purpose. The divine spell lists also seem to have a lot of spells that are really circumstantial, but when that circumstance arrives you REALLY need that particular spell (see scroll discussion below).

Interzone wrote:


I'd much rather have a full complement of spells to cast spontaneously and a bag o' scrolls for the corner cases, myself.

A point that all spellcasting classes should take to heart, but scrolls do cost money and it starts to add up after a while. This is especially true if you are a spontaneous caster trying to cover a lot of bases with scrolls as a opposed to a prepared caster with a few scrolls just so the party doesn't have to stop for said caster to prepare the necessary spells


KaptainKrunch wrote:
TarkXT wrote:
I like my clerics to have one or two open slots per level. Suddenly, I'm a spontaneous caster who can stop and memorize any spell he needs without this "spells known" list.
Doesn't it take something like an hour to do that though?

Actually....

SRD wrote:
Each cleric must choose a time at which she must spend 1 hour each day in quiet contemplation or supplication to regain her daily allotment of spells.

Strictest interpretation: As a cleric, you get to pick spells once a day. If you don't fill out those slots then, you don't get them.


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Chris Kenney wrote:
KaptainKrunch wrote:
TarkXT wrote:
I like my clerics to have one or two open slots per level. Suddenly, I'm a spontaneous caster who can stop and memorize any spell he needs without this "spells known" list.
Doesn't it take something like an hour to do that though?

Actually....

SRD wrote:
Each cleric must choose a time at which she must spend 1 hour each day in quiet contemplation or supplication to regain her daily allotment of spells.
Strictest interpretation: As a cleric, you get to pick spells once a day. If you don't fill out those slots then, you don't get them.

Why is it that no one ever lists the whole ability?

PRD wrote:


Spell Selection and Preparation

A divine spellcaster selects and prepares spells ahead of time through prayer and meditation at a particular time of day. The time required to prepare spells is the same as it is for a wizard (1 hour), as is the requirement for a relatively peaceful environment. When preparing spells for the day, a cleric can leave some of her spell slots open. Later during that day, she can repeat the preparation process as often as she likes. During these extra sessions of preparation, she can fill these unused spell slots. She cannot, however, abandon a previously prepared spell to replace it with another one or fill a slot that is empty because she has cast a spell in the meantime. Like the first session of the day, this preparation takes at least 15 minutes, and it takes longer if she prepares more than one-quarter of his spells.

This is under preparing divine spells by the way.


pipedreamsam wrote:
Chris Kenney wrote:


Actually....

SRD wrote:
Each cleric must choose a time at which she must spend 1 hour each day in quiet contemplation or supplication to regain her daily allotment of spells.
Strictest interpretation: As a cleric, you get to pick spells once a day. If you don't fill out those slots then, you don't get them.

I am assuming you saw that in the cleric text, here is some more specific information from a different section under magic.

prd wrote:

Spell Selection and Preparation

A divine spellcaster selects and prepares spells ahead of time through prayer and meditation at a particular time of day. The time required to prepare spells is the same as it is for a wizard (1 hour), as is the requirement for a relatively peaceful environment. When preparing spells for the day, a cleric can leave some of her spell slots open. Later during that day, she can repeat the preparation process as often as she likes. During these extra sessions of preparation, she can fill these unused spell slots. She cannot, however, abandon a previously prepared spell to replace it with another one or fill a slot that is empty because she has cast a spell in the meantime. Like the first session of the day, this preparation takes at least 15 minutes, and it takes longer if she prepares more than one-quarter of his spells.

EDIT: Tark is a ninja and does not need my help putting forth a case for the cleric.


This milkshake is delicious.


I think I'm going to counter the argument of open slots with another strength of Spontaneous Casters.

The Oracle gets one more spell per day than the cleric, or two more spells per day that aren't restricted by domain.

Plus they get revelations that are like spells per day - as I've mentioned before. And unlike Channeling, they don't have to go MAD to optimize revelations.


KaptainKrunch wrote:

I think I'm going to counter the argument of open slots with another strength of Spontaneous Casters.

The Oracle gets one more spell per day than the cleric, or two more spells per day that aren't restricted by domain.

Plus they get revelations that are like spells per day - as I've mentioned before. And unlike Channeling, they don't have to go MAD to optimize revelations.

You forgot the domain abilities of clerics of which there are some really good ones that you can mix and match.

One other thing is that a cleric going MAD to optimize for channeling is likely trying to do everything. One who specializes in spellcasting isn't MAD. The trouble happens when clerics try to specialize in archery or melee combat and try to keep the channeling too. It doesn't really work even if you weren't MAD. Afterall a standard action spent channeling is an action not casting a spell or making a full attack.

And let's be honest; past level 5 channeling is not a very good ability even with investment.

And yes, spontaneous casters get more spells per day. That's by design and the advantage you gain by getting higher level spells a level later. So you do cast more, but you also cast less powerful spells. This can make a huge difference at times where you;d much rather have summon monster 3 instead of 2 or to have Lesser Restoration at all. Or when you want to be taking better advantage of the metamagic feats you have.


TarkXT wrote:
Interzone wrote:
TarkXT wrote:

15 minutes if less than a quarter of the spells. So it does require some actual knowledge of what's ahead to make it useful. It's a trick I've done with a lot of prepared spellcasters. Most recent example was my alchemist prepping vomit swarm in an unused slot once she learned they were facing a necromancer. Suddenly the idea of him failing to cast spells because he was being devoured by spiders that were jsut spat out by the large sized wildshaping tiger druid was highly appealing.

Such situations may crop up all the time for a cleric with a list rife with situational spells. You memorize a list of spells that you will likely use all the time and keep the rest open for situations that crop up. Did a party member decide to lick a shade? Lesser restoration is fifteen minutes away.

I'd much rather have a full complement of spells to cast spontaneously and a bag o' scrolls for the corner cases, myself.

Funny thing is the cleric can have scrolls too. In fact he can have ALL the scrolls. Afterall the oracle has that spells known list, the Cleric has the entire list, plus more depending on domains. So, a cleric that decided to take scribe scroll can very easily have his cake, eat it, and then drink your milkshake because you owe it to me because you had to buy scrolls from the cleric.

Now where oracles do ultimately shine is that, like sorcerers, they specialize very well. An oracle of battle will likely do much better than a battle cleric. I'll grant that easily. But what an oracle can't do is everything the cleric can.

Funny thing is, a casting based Oracle can have scrolls from ANY spell list since they can reliably use UMD...

Scrolls aren't terribly pricy if you are just getting corner case things.. I mean honestly, there are not a heck of a lot of divine spells you are going to really need.. I have often found that even as an Oracle I can fit a lot of the things like Restoration and other useful things right onto my spells known list, and only need scrolls for really uncommon things like Remove Blindness/Deafness etc...
At higher levels when you can spontaneously cast Heal it becomes even more minimal what you will actually want to carry scrolls around for, and in the meantime you will get a bunch more spells per day than a Cleric who not only starts out with fewer but is also keeping slots empty 'just in case'.
That's my 2c.

Oh, also: What an Oracle can't do is pretty minimal.
There are lots of things an Oracle CAN do that a Cleric never could.
Of course the getting spells a level later is always huge, and some of the domains can be awesome.
What I am definitely not saying, however, is that Clerics are bad. I would much rather see a Cleric in my party than about a dozen other classes.. Just saying that Oracles are my favorite :D


TarkXT wrote:


You forgot the domain abilities of clerics of which there are some really good ones that you can mix and match.

One other thing is that a cleric going MAD to optimize for channeling is likely trying to do everything. One who specializes in spellcasting isn't MAD. The trouble happens when clerics try to specialize in archery or melee combat and try to keep the channeling too. It doesn't really work even if you weren't MAD. Afterall a standard action spent channeling is an action not casting a spell or making a full attack.

And let's be honest; past level 5 channeling is not a very good ability even with investment.

And yes, spontaneous casters get more spells per day. That's by design and the advantage you gain by getting higher level spells a level later. So you do cast more, but you also cast less powerful spells. This can make a huge difference at times where you;d much rather have summon monster 3 instead of 2 or to have Lesser Restoration at all. Or when you want to be taking better advantage of the metamagic feats you have.

Spontaneous Metamagic is generally pretty lousy to begin with... stupid full round actions :P


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Interzone wrote:


Funny thing is, a casting based Oracle can have scrolls from ANY spell list since they can reliably use UMD...

Except it's not on your skill list. So without investment you might as well not have it. So you are only slightly better then the cleric in this regard.

And it's more then just those corner cases. Sometimes they're handy to have when you're caught by the unexpected. And remember I'm getting them at half cost because I'm simply making them.

And keep in mind you are not casting "a hecck of a lot of spells more" you are casting more spells per a given level. If you add up the spells gained per level on their respective charts plus domain spells you'll find that it's dead even until you get itno the higher levels and even then it's only one extra spell per level. Just one. You gave up your ability to cast anything you want off your list, any day you want, at earlier levels for the ability to cast whatever you want on a very limited list every day.

Really, the only argument you can make for oracles is that their individual path's tend to be really good with some decent revelations all through out. And honestly I hope they do. Because like sorcerers they are very limited in their theme. They have to stick to it the best they can because they tend to suck outside of it. Mr. Cleric, on the other hand can change his memorized spells to fit whatever situation he may find himself facing.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I enjoy both classes. With the Cleric and the two domains he gets, you can create a wide variety of character concepts.

The oracle is also lots of fun. I think the mystereis and the curses enable you to create very interesting characters.

most recently i created an oracle who has the "haunted" curse, and he is a follower of Pharasma. I had the "ghosts" which haunted my character be the "soruce" of his spells. He would have one of the ghosts go and fetch something for him "mage hand". tell another ghost he was a "bad ghost, " when it took his mace and tossed it away from my character. the "ghost" replied, " well you didn't pass my message on to my daughter, and you can get your own mace".

We had lots of fun with the character.


TarkXT wrote:
Interzone wrote:


Funny thing is, a casting based Oracle can have scrolls from ANY spell list since they can reliably use UMD...

Except it's not on your skill list. So without investment you might as well not have it. So you are only slightly better then the cleric in this regard.

And it's more then just those corner cases. Sometimes they're handy to have when you're caught by the unexpected. And remember I'm getting them at half cost because I'm simply making them.

And keep in mind you are not casting "a hecck of a lot of spells more" you are casting more spells per a given level. If you add up the spells gained per level on their respective charts plus domain spells you'll find that it's dead even until you get itno the higher levels and even then it's only one extra spell per level. Just one. You gave up your ability to cast anything you want off your list, any day you want, at earlier levels for the ability to cast whatever you want on a very limited list every day.

Really, the only argument you can make for oracles is that their individual path's tend to be really good with some decent revelations all through out. And honestly I hope they do. Because like sorcerers they are very limited in their theme. They have to stick to it the best they can because they tend to suck outside of it. Mr. Cleric, on the other hand can change his memorized spells to fit whatever situation he may find himself facing.

If I play a Heavens Oracle, UMD is on my skill list.

Similarly, if you play a Cleric with the Rune domain, your 'scrolls are half price' argument is valid. Otherwise it isn't, since I can take the feat just as easily.

The number of spells I get more goes something like
1 +1
2 +1
3 +0
4 +2
5 +1
6 +3
7 +2
8 +4
9 +3
10 +5
....more than 'just one' except in the first few levels. And that's WITHOUT leaving slots open 'just in case'.

Really the whole thing comes down to basically the same argument as Sorcerer Vs. Wizard, except that the Oracle is better than the sorcerer in a lot of ways, and the Wizard is better than the Cleric in a number of ways...
Although to be honest, i think that almost all of the classes in Pathfinder are actually really well balanced against each other, I just happen to prefer spontaneous full-casters over every other class myself.
If someone went and shouted "CLERICS AND ORACLES ARE EXACTLY EVEN" I probably wouldn't argue.

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