Oracle with Tongues Curse + Comprehend Languages


Rules Questions


A level 1 oracle with the Tongues curse finds himself in battle and only able to understand and speak Aklo. He sees his ally is trying to tell him something important, but he doesn't know what it is. He casts "Comprehend Languages" on himself.

Can he now understand his allies (though not speak to them) for the duration of the spell?


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No, nothing short of direct intervention by a deity will allow the Oracle to understand other languages.

The best solution is to convince the other players to spend 1 skill point and learn the oracle's chosen language.

Oracle wrote:
The oracle’s curse cannot be removed or dispelled without the aid of a deity.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

The curse isn't being removed, it is just being surpassed, in the same way taking Dance of Blades surpasses the speed reduction of Lame. I'd say it would work, because you still spent an action to cast that spell, and can only understand, not speak.


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Val'bryn2 wrote:
The curse isn't being removed, it is just being surpassed, in the same way taking Dance of Blades surpasses the speed reduction of Lame. I'd say it would work, because you still spent an action to cast that spell, and can only understand, not speak.

Not true.

A lame oracle still moves 10' slower than any other oracle using Dance of Blades. Lame does not prevent move speed increases, it just reduces the total base move speed by 10' (or 5' if you are a race with a 20' base move speed.)

Tongues, however, places an absolute limit. You can understand and speak only the selected language.


I think there is a rule saying that lame oracles can't take dance of blades.


Lemartes wrote:
I think there is a rule saying that lame oracles can't take dance of blades.

Did they finally get around to that one? Because I recall for a long time the flame version (Cinder dance, I think) was not available, but the metal version was fine.


Oh maybe it is Cinder Dance. Might be both.


You basically have one effect that says you can do something and another says you can't. I'd probably argue that the curse is stronger, as Comprehend Languages is merely a grade 1 spell that is also foiled by magic writings.
It's basically a GM call.


but... i'm the gm. lol.

i'm looking for others imput before making a ruling. Are peole considering the text of the 10th level modification to the curse?

Tongues Curse wrote:
...At 10th level, you can understand any spoken language, as if under the effects of tongues, even during combat.

If having tongues cast upon you would grant you the ability to understand languages beyond the ones you know and are able to speak (as the constant effect at 10th level says it does), how is comprehend languages any different?

Additionally - look at the difference in wording between the Ghoul curse and the Hunger curse, in terms of being able to benefit from spells (e.g. goodberry, etc)

i appreciate your thoughts.


I would side with "no". A first level spell is NOT divine intervention by a deity. The difference between Tongues and Comprehend Languages is that Tongues allows you to speak and understand any language; CL only allows you to understand them.

All the curses are written independently of each other, and just because one may interact with spells doesn't justify that all of them do.

I agree with the party spending a Linguistics point on Aklo, or on specially comissioned Rings of Eloquence.


River of Sticks wrote:

I would side with "no". A first level spell is NOT divine intervention by a deity. The difference between Tongues and Comprehend Languages is that Tongues allows you to speak and understand any language; CL only allows you to understand them.

All the curses are written independently of each other, and just because one may interact with spells doesn't justify that all of them do.

I agree with the party spending a Linguistics point on Aklo, or on specially commissioned Rings of Eloquence.

I was not asking if Comprehend Languages allowed the oracle to speak a language other than Aklo (in the original example), I was asking if it allowed him to understand what his party members were saying when they spoke common. The 10th level ability implies that were he to have Tongues cast on him, he would be able to understand what others were saying. So what is it about Comprehend Languages, that wouldn't allow the same understanding to occur?

I guess i am just a bit confused, River of Sticks - because if your position is that "A character needing to use their first round of every combat to cast a 1st level spell on themselves" does not constitute a sufficient burden on them for the first 9 levels of the game (to make the Curse of Tongues really come off as a curse)... then why would you think it okay to counter the curse simply by spending 3500gp on a Ring of Eloquence? Do you see what spell serves as the base for that ring?


Volkard Abendroth wrote:
Val'bryn2 wrote:
The curse isn't being removed, it is just being surpassed, in the same way taking Dance of Blades surpasses the speed reduction of Lame. I'd say it would work, because you still spent an action to cast that spell, and can only understand, not speak.

Not true.

A lame oracle still moves 10' slower than any other oracle using Dance of Blades. Lame does not prevent move speed increases, it just reduces the total base move speed by 10' (or 5' if you are a race with a 20' base move speed.)

Tongues, however, places an absolute limit. You can understand and speak only the selected language.

SO is there no way to circumvent it? What about telepathy? Telepathy is supposed to work for anyone who has a language, even if it isn't the one the telepathic creature speaks.... But Telepathy wouldn't be Aklo - so, per the curse, the Oracle shouldn't understand anything being spoken to him by someone/something with telepathy... right?


In my Jade Regent campaign, I created a variant Tongues curse for the NPC time oracleAmaya of Westcrown. The variant permitted Comprehend Language.

Mathmuse wrote:
I had given Amaya the Tongues curse to give more responsibility to the players during combat. Furthermore, I did not want the easy bypass of everyone learning Amaya's exotic language, so I ruled that her Tongues curse was different: she still spoke whatever language she wanted, but her words were jumbled because her flow through time became irregular when she was too nervous. By casting a Comprehend Language spell on herself, she could understand everyone else's speech, but her words and gestures were meaningless to others. Her Time Flicker revelation was a visual effect of this disconnection from time.

Roleplaying a character who cannot understand the other characters's words, while the player can plainly hear the other players' words, is difficult. Playing a character who cannot speak clearly is easier: simply don't speak in character. As a GM, I was too busy for difficult roleplaying. In addition, Comprehend Language costs a spell slot and a spell known, so it is not as cheap a workaround as letting the other PCs learn the oracle's exotic language.

Later, I added another workaround for time-jumbled Tongues. She carried a slate and chalk and could write a one-sentence message as a standard action.

By the way, I discount all the arguments that it takes divine intervention to overcome an oracle's curse. An oracle's power is a balancing mechanic in design, but it is not a balancing mechanic in the story. It does not have to be that a god imposed the curse as a price. Often the curse is an accident. Maybe the Clouded Vision heavens oracle always sees the heavens and has trouble seeing what is in front of her due to the double vision. The Wasted oracle gained her powers from a miscast Raise Dead spell. The Haunted curse is because the oracle gains her power from spirits who hang around her. And the Tongues curse could be that the oracle taps into the Dark Tapestry for her powers and her mind temporarily aligns with the Aklo language of that dark power.


Put me down on the "no" side. It requires direct intervention of a deity to sidestep the curse. It's meant to be a major inconvenience and I do not think it should be mitigated by a spell of any level.


Let us say we have an Gnome Oracle with the Tongues curse (Aklo) who has spent a point in linguistics to learn Elven and casts Comprehend Language to speak Goblin.

When not in combat he can understand anyone who speaks in Aklo, Elven, Gnome, Goblin or Common.

When in combat he can only understand Aklo, because that it what the curse says. It doesn't matter what the source of the ability to understand is, as soon as the curse comes on, it takes precedence.

Note that even the 10th level Oracle ability requires has a specific exemption 'even in combat' or it wouldn't work during combat. If a 9th level oracle is under the effects of a tongues spell, they can still only understand their chosen language in combat situations.


Oddman80 wrote:

What about telepathy? Telepathy is supposed to work for anyone who has a language, even if it isn't the one the telepathic creature speaks.... But Telepathy wouldn't be Aklo - so, per the curse, the Oracle shouldn't understand anything being spoken to him by someone/something with telepathy... right?

Telepathy would work just fine. Telepathy allows communication as long as a language is known. The Oracle knows Aklo.

Similarly, if someone else cast Tongues (or knew Aklo) they could talk to the Oracle in Aklo just fine.


Mathmuse wrote:


By the way, I discount all the arguments that it takes divine intervention to overcome an oracle's curse.

Well, you can discount it all you want, but in the text on curses it says: "The oracle’s curse cannot be removed or dispelled without the aid of a deity" which seems pretty straight forward to me.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

But it isn't being either removed or dispelled, just bypassed for a brief time by the very powers the deities granted you.


Oracle curses aren't meant to be "bypassed for a brief time". Look at pretty much all of the other ones for an inkling of what this means. It doesn't work.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

So if I can show you a legitimate way ignore your oracle curse, will you accept I may be right?


Val'bryn2 wrote:
So if I can show you a legitimate way ignore your oracle curse, will you accept I may be right?

Even if you find one legitimate way to bypass one curse, it doesn't mean all other ways to bypass other curse are legitimate.

And if your 'legitimate way' involves ignoring the restriction that it can only be bypassed by the direct intervention of a deity there is a good chance it won't be acceptably legitimate in any event.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Consumed Oracle Curse, lich oracle, per the curse takes nonlethal damage whenever he takes lethal damage, but as a Lich is immune to nonlethal damage. No deity required. It points out that your argument is flawed, because he still has the curse, but is immune to its effects.


Yeah, that doesn't work for me.
The base classes are not written so as to take into account all creature types -they tend to assume a core race.
I either wouldn't allow an undead to take that curse, or I would make the lich take the nonlethal damage* - no sneaky bypassing the restrictions.

*there are precedents for both of these options - where undead cannot take an option if they won't be fully impacted by it, or it affecting them anyway.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

However, all those restrictions are called out by the ability. If you don't want to allow it, that's fine, but don't take your houserule and present it as RAW.


I'm not presenting my opinion as RAW - I'm saying it isn't a convincing argument. Even if you allow that one exception it doesn't mean that any and all ways to bypass oracle curses are legitimate.

Undead are sufficiently corner case that I am not persuaded - you might be lucky persuading others.


In any case, it's not a great counterexample. A consumed lich still takes the nonlethal damage; it simply doesn't do anything because liches are immune to nonlethal damage, same as if you hit the lich over the head with a sap. Similarly, a creature with no base land speed essentially "works around" the lame oracle curse inasmuch as the penalty happens but doesn't have any real effect. There's no contradiction, no clash of rules between the curse text and some other rule.

While we're on the subject, what's the purpose of this little thought exercise? I assume you understand what an oracle's curse is intended to model lorewise--a curse inflicted by the gods that defies mortal remedy. If you're intent on making it so easy to circumvent, doesn't that make the feature rather silly? Or is "aha gotcha!" more important than staying true to the theme?

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

You're expending a resource to get around it temporarily. That's fair enough. And as for the Consumed Lich, I actually planned on it as an NPC, a being driven by its curse, to the point of accepting Undeath to escape it.


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Looking over Oracle's Curses, Tongues itself as a curse, and Comprehend Languages, I would rule in favor that the spell works on an Oracle with the Tongues curse.

Now granted, I am planning on playing an Oracle with Tongues, as it is one of her only two curse options as the Reincarnated Samsaran Oracle. Thematically, her tongues comes from essentially being possessed by her past self. From a fluff standpoint I cannot see a reasoning why other members of the party, or the other part of her, could not use resources to let her at least understand them.

From a RAW standpoint, an Oracles curse cannot be "removed or dispelled" by anything short of divine intervention. Comprehend Languages does neither. Tongues has two parts, only speaking your chosen curse language, and only understanding it in combat. Comprehend Languages does not remove either of these limitations. Even if the Tongues Oracle could now understand the rest of the world, they cannot communicate back in turn, unless the target they are hearing from either speaks their language (making the point moot) or also has Comprehend Languages cast on them.

From a GM's standpoint, this presents a method of curbing uncouth behaviour from a character. I've had a number of players at my tables over the years who like excuses to do outlandish things. "I can't understand the party so I'm going to ___" is an opportunity for abuse. If a player is getting out of hand, it is easier to offer the rest of the party the chance to curb the behaviour rather than disciplining, or kicking the player.

From a numbers standpoint, if we ignore buying a Wand of Comprehend Languages, a 750 gp investment for 50 charges, i.e. 50 combats which should be more than enough, you're looking at expending a 1st level spell slot every combat for communication. And that's one way, the rest of the party still cannot, without investment, understand the Oracle. The Oracle cannot learn the spell (to my brief looking, a number get Tongues however as a bonus Mystery spell), thus this is draining the spell from another member of the party. 10 mins per level means you're likely going to have to cast it, probably once or twice a day depending on the time between your combat encounters.

All in all, much like Haste on a Lame Oracle, I would not have an issue with Comprehend Languages bring cast on a Tongues Oracle. It encourages inter-player cooperation, and the cost is fair. Punishing the player(s) by saying no would be strick rigidity on interpretation, and would on many tables simply cause arguement over somantics I feel.


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Dave Justus wrote:
Well, you can discount it all you want, but in the text on curses it says: "The oracle’s curse cannot be removed or dispelled without the aid of a deity" which seems pretty straight forward to me.

As Divine casters, don't oracles get their spells from deities?

As pointed out - we are not talking about removing or dispelling a curse - just temporarily counteracting or circumventing it, by using actions and resources in combat.

The Aboleth curse gives a -2 penalty to saves vs mind affecting affects. The first level oracle spell "Rite of Centered Mind" would halve the penalty or negate it completely depending on the specific effect the oracle is saving against. Can I assume nobody has an issue with an Aboleth Cursed Oracle using this spell?

The Legalistic curse causes one to become sickened for 24 hours if you ever break your word about something. The first level oracle spell "Remove Sickness" suppresses the sickened condition. It doesn't remove it, it just suppresses the effects for the duration of the spell. Can I assume nobody has an issue with a Legalistic Oracle using this spell?

The Plagued curse causes one to take a -1 penalty against diseases. Once again, the level 1 oracle spell "Remove Sickness" would not only counter the -1 penalty, but also give an additional +3 bonus beyond that.

For extra fun - what about a dual cursed Legalistic + Plagued Oracle? The base Plagued curse still makes the oracle immune to the sickened condition - which is pretty much the only downside of the legalistic curse. They can gain the level benefits of Legalistic, without suffering anything besides the -1 to saves vs diseases and infestations.

None of these examples remove or dispell the curses from the oracles - they simply counteract the curse sufficiently, that the penalty of the curse is not as noticeable.


Oddman80 wrote:
River of Sticks wrote:

I would side with "no". A first level spell is NOT divine intervention by a deity. The difference between Tongues and Comprehend Languages is that Tongues allows you to speak and understand any language; CL only allows you to understand them.

All the curses are written independently of each other, and just because one may interact with spells doesn't justify that all of them do.

I agree with the party spending a Linguistics point on Aklo, or on specially commissioned Rings of Eloquence.

I was not asking if Comprehend Languages allowed the oracle to speak a language other than Aklo (in the original example), I was asking if it allowed him to understand what his party members were saying when they spoke common. The 10th level ability implies that were he to have Tongues cast on him, he would be able to understand what others were saying. So what is it about Comprehend Languages, that wouldn't allow the same understanding to occur?

I guess i am just a bit confused, River of Sticks - because if your position is that "A character needing to use their first round of every combat to cast a 1st level spell on themselves" does not constitute a sufficient burden on them for the first 9 levels of the game (to make the Curse of Tongues really come off as a curse)... then why would you think it okay to counter the curse simply by spending 3500gp on a Ring of Eloquence? Do you see what spell serves as the base for that ring?

Ah. I understand the confusion now. In this case, at 10th you don't actually have Tongues cast on you; if you did, it wouldn't allow you to bypass the curse. However, the curse itself gives you an ability AS IF you had tongues, explicitly removing the earlier restriction. This isn't different rules interacting with spells differently; it's exactly the RAW of the curse. As for why, because that's what the writer intended - if you disagree with the intent you can house rule it, but RAW neither Tongues or Comprehend Languages would allow your oracle to understand others during combat - only your 10th level change to the curse.

My reference to the Ring of Eloquence was for OTHER characters to wear it - they could then converse with the oracle in combat.

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