Why are bards occult? And what does occult mean?


Pathfinder Second Edition General Discussion

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Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber

When I hear occult, I think of witchcraft, evil monsters and horror. What does that have to do with a charismatic, music-themed support class? The flavor just seems off to me. But maybe I'm not clear on what Paizo means by occult.


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Occult means magic that is at the confluence of mental and spiritual essensees. Primarily affecting mind or spirit

This can be positive like inspiring courage or negative like inspiring Eldritch horror.

Both the Outsider bloodline sorcorrer
(cathuluish) and the bard use the occult spell list similar to how both the demonic and angelic bloodline sorcorrers use the Divine spell list.

Different sides of the same coin

Or at least that is the justification.


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Occult just means mysterious, magical, mystical.

Common usage tend to also mean hidden or secret version. Studying the occult usually means someone who studies obscure (and usually frowned upon, unconventional knowledge of magical nature). Lot of modern things can be ouiji boards or holding seances.

In Pathfinder, occult magic is the mysterious hidden magic that is unknown. Magic in PF is either provided by the gods (divine), nature (primal), or traditional studies of magic (arcane). Occult is the in-between.

The bard is a traveler that meets many various new people and learns the world through socializing and experiencing. They decided to make the bard a full-caster and felt that the bard is the most likely to learn new secrets by personal experimentation and taking on the words and ways of other people.

From the playtest class preview in 2018:

“That's pretty awesome already, but here's the even cooler part: bards have collected all sorts of esoteric bardic knowledge since forever, right? With an offbeat spell list that combines mental magic, a handful of unique additions, and a little bit of healing, bards are the primary occult spellcasters, blending mental and spiritual essences.”


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Bards don't have magic in their blood, a connection to the divine, or the scientific study of wizards. What they have is a lot of knowledge about all sorts of things and places.

I'll cut and paste a smattering of things from the playtest document that support an occultist Bard from both a lore angle as well as the mental and spiritual energies that the Bard uses.

Quote:

You are a master of artistry, a scholar of hidden secrets, and a captivating persuader. Using powerful performances, you influence minds and elevate souls to new levels of heroics.

-

OCCULTISM (INT)- You have a great deal of knowledge about ancient philosophies, esoteric lore, obscure mysticism, and supernatural creatures.

-

BARDIC LORE FEAT 1
Your eclectic studies inform you on just about any topic. You are trained in Bardic Lore, a special lore skill that can be used only to Recall Knowledge, but can be used to Recall Knowledge on any topic. If you are legendary in Occultism, you become an expert in Bardic Lore, but you can’t increase your proficiency rank in Bardic Lore by any other means.


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I'm not sure if I agree with the use of occult for what the Bard does (given that for most modern nerds the word has a pretty Lovecrafty connotation), but I do like the idea of separating it out into a different tradition than Wizards. More of a folksy, pass-it-down-in-a-form-that-rhymes type of magic than the more academic connotations of the Arcane.

I hope the Witch ends up being the prepared caster for this school of magic, it'd be a very appropriate fit.


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Bardarok wrote:

Occult means magic that is at the confluence of mental and spiritual essensees. Primarily affecting mind or spirit

This can be positive like inspiring courage or negative like inspiring Eldritch horror.

Can we get this as a Composition?


Pumpkinhead11 wrote:
Can we get this as a Composition?

It brings a being of mind blasting majesty onto the field that boosts combat performance and damages enemy morale, but nobody affected can sleep well for nights on end due to the disturbing dreams.

Cast it too often in a short period of time and the horror takes you with it when the spell ends. Or at least, that is what the warnings in the margins tell you...


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Mark also pointed out that just like the good aligned cleric is the best opposition for fiends or undead, the bard is the best opposition to the cloying mental influence of the eldritch horrors. Similar types of magic, and bardic performance is one of the best ways to protect from mental spells. So they sort of the equal opposites of that Lovecraftian stuff.

Paizo Employee Designer

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Pumpkinhead11 wrote:
Bardarok wrote:

Occult means magic that is at the confluence of mental and spiritual essensees. Primarily affecting mind or spirit

This can be positive like inspiring courage or negative like inspiring Eldritch horror.

Can we get this as a Composition?

PF1 had mad sultan's melody, which was early access for bard, even before the Occult Adventures classes could get it.


Captain Morgan wrote:
Mark also pointed out that just like the good aligned cleric is the best opposition for fiends or undead, the bard is the best opposition to the cloying mental influence of the eldritch horrors. Similar types of magic, and bardic performance is one of the best ways to protect from mental spells. So they sort of the equal opposites of that Lovecraftian stuff.

Oh neat! Reminds me of the Silver Balladeer. Defending against aberrations as an ingrained thing then...unless you’re performance is reciting Lovecraft?


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I initially didn’t care for this either. But when I thought about it, “occult” magic to me was ritual magic. Low/hedge magic. Magic with implements and physical foci to channel the metaphysical.

Magic that is so inherently unsafe you can’t really reach for it like you can divine or arcane; it has to be bound by song and talismans and half-understood runes, or it will tear your mind apart. Divine and primal traditions have foci of course, but those are tangible representations of your higher power’s favor. Occult doesn’t have that favor (so far, if witches come in their familiar will be that).

If you picture the three witches of MacBeth as bards, occult seems a little more appropriate.


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Arachnofiend wrote:
I hope the Witch ends up being the prepared caster for this school of magic, it'd be a very appropriate fit.

I don't think it would particularly fit the thematics of the Pathfinder witch, personally. I'm pulling for witches as the prepared sorcerer, with their spell list based on their patron.

Liberty's Edge

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FedoraFerret wrote:
Arachnofiend wrote:
I hope the Witch ends up being the prepared caster for this school of magic, it'd be a very appropriate fit.
I don't think it would particularly fit the thematics of the Pathfinder witch, personally. I'm pulling for witches as the prepared sorcerer, with their spell list based on their patron.

For the record, I strongly disagree. Witches suit the Occult list almost perfectly both thematically and mechanically. They need a way to get Baleful Polymorph and a handful of other off-list spells, but you can make those Hexes/Class Feats or the like pretty easily.


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I think that witch fits better the prepared occult spellcaster, with the 4th slot of each spell level being from another list, mainly because I think that the spell list thing should be Sorcerer exclusive.

So a divine patron would be:

Llv1 slots: 3 Occult spells, 1 divine spell

Then the hexes would be focus spells.

But this is only my opinion of course.


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Pathfinder Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Tunu40 wrote:

Occult just means mysterious, magical, mystical.

Common usage tend to also mean hidden or secret version. Studying the occult usually means someone who studies obscure (and usually frowned upon, unconventional knowledge of magical nature). Lot of modern things can be ouiji boards or holding seances.

In Pathfinder, occult magic is the mysterious hidden magic that is unknown. Magic in PF is either provided by the gods (divine), nature (primal), or traditional studies of magic (arcane). Occult is the in-between.

This is a good summary for someone who hasn't or won't read a bunch of blog and forum posts about essences that weren't spelled out anywhere in the Playtest rules.

For the original question, one thing that helped me kind of mentally frame the language was realizing that apart from all the extra connotations they've picked up (especially from gaming), as generic words, arcane and occult are largely synonyms. They both refer to the unknown, where arcane slightly focuses on "mostly unknown because it's hard to know and only a few have managed it" and occult more on "mostly unknown because someone is hiding it."

I think (adding back in all the linguistic history of arcane spellcasting in a gaming context and occult's more witchy/magic/culty/Lovecraftian connotations), that simple difference helps put the two spellcasting traditions on comparable footing with a good flavor difference.

Silver Crusade

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I'd also add that it's VERY important to remember that Pathfinder's "occult" is VERY different from what most other fantasy RPGs label "psionic." There's much more focus on things being esoteric and mysterious, touching on barely understood powers, as opposed to just having a very powerful brain.


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viemexis wrote:
When I hear occult, I think of witchcraft, evil monsters and horror. What does that have to do with a charismatic, music-themed support class? The flavor just seems off to me. But maybe I'm not clear on what Paizo means by occult.

I brought up this question during the playtest: Bard Skills: Performance and Occultism. My thoughts had been:

Mathmuse wrote:

Thus, the occult side of bards is digging into mystery, influencing feelings, and weaving delusions. Occultism is defined as the secrets man is not meant to know, because knowing leads to insanity. Friedrich Nietzsche said, "If you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss also gazes into you," and the bard knows to manipulate the occult frivolously without gazing into it intellectually. Occultism is not Intelligence, because the bard must tap into the occult without understanding it.

So how does a bard learn something without understanding it? Other glimpse the unknowable and code it into symbols, recitations, music, rituals, or implements to hide the details. Then the bard masters the coding. Occultism is about figuring out the answer from the following the symbolism rather than mentally grasping knowledge that is too hot to handle. Bards answer questions indirectly through drama (obligatory Order of the Stick comic, All Available Resources).

However, in the rulebooks for Pathfinder 1st Edition, Paizo explains very little about the nature and flavor of branches of magic. That is left for the player to imagine from the names. The rulebooks explain mechanics. I doubt that will change for 2nd Edition.


viemexis wrote:
When I hear occult, I think of witchcraft, evil monsters and horror. What does that have to do with a charismatic, music-themed support class? The flavor just seems off to me. But maybe I'm not clear on what Paizo means by occult.

Occult means they get a selection of support spells from wizard and priest spell lists, plus a few esoteric and pseudo-Lovecraftian spells. It can be a decent list for a 'spells known' type of caster (particularly in support) , but it lacks a lot of the heavy lifters from the wizard list, and the real healing and restoration spells that make the cleric list passable.

In the playtest it felt fairly redundant and rather indistinct flavor-wise, though some of that is because the classes that use it at all can only have a few spells of each level.


It can also work very well for a "hex" styled spell list, as a friend of mine noted - saying it feels very much on the dark / gloomy side.
Which, to me, works fine enough - Dirge Bards used to be a thing and certain archetypes to make bards into very powerful debuffers date back to my earliest days in the game. It's just been made into a standard option now.


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AnimatedPaper wrote:

{. . .}

If you picture the three witches of MacBeth as bards, occult seems a little more appropriate.

Very bad poetry, captain.


It seems like they could make the fey into an occult thing pretty easily, and bards seem like a good mix with fey, so that would be a good "in" for why bards are occult.


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Not that you are wrong about Bards and fey being chummy, but fey are more keyed to the Vital essence, which freds both Primal and Divine magic. The Vital essence draws from the First World.

However, fey are also pretty happy with illusions and enchantments, so have a lot of common ground with how Bards do things. It wouldn't be a surprise if some of the Bards tricks come from fey teachings.


Stone Dog wrote:

Not that you are wrong about Bards and fey being chummy, but fey are more keyed to the Vital essence, which freds both Primal and Divine magic. The Vital essence draws from the First World.

However, fey are also pretty happy with illusions and enchantments, so have a lot of common ground with how Bards do things. It wouldn't be a surprise if some of the Bards tricks come from fey teachings.

I'll buy that with the First World and all, but I wonder if the fey will be focused on just one power source. Maybe mortals can't access vital/mental, but that would help make the fey a little more alien if that was their default. It makes sense for fiends/celestials/monitors to be Spiritual, since getting souls is a big part of their gigs, but it seems like fey have wider interests.


Fey being part of the First World probably just take a shortcut and manipulate the blueprints of reality directly.

Spoiler Card 51. Fey Caller Druid Feat 8

You have learned some of the tricks the fey use to bend primal magic toward illusion and trickery.

Anything that the Occult tradition picked up from fey illusion is probably distilled through the esoteric rituals used to reverse engineer said magic long long ago.

Paizo Employee Designer

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Stone Dog wrote:

Fey being part of the First World probably just take a shortcut and manipulate the blueprints of reality directly.

Spoiler Card 51. Fey Caller Druid Feat 8

You have learned some of the tricks the fey use to bend primal magic toward illusion and trickery.

Anything that the Occult tradition picked up from fey illusion is probably distilled through the esoteric rituals used to reverse engineer said magic long long ago.

Fey are tricky! It's slightly different metaphysically, but Mechagamera was right on the money that fey were "cheating" and doing weird things with their magic, hacking the essences they have rather than using mental/vital combo, but very similar.

The Exchange

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Pathfinder Accessories, Rulebook Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

There is also a thing in literature called the Bard's Challenge. I won't go all into it but I encourage you to look it up. This is a classic case of Bard's against Fey, beating them at their own games! I would love to see this bit of lore explored in an AP/module/scenario!


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Deadmanwalking wrote:
FedoraFerret wrote:
Arachnofiend wrote:
I hope the Witch ends up being the prepared caster for this school of magic, it'd be a very appropriate fit.
I don't think it would particularly fit the thematics of the Pathfinder witch, personally. I'm pulling for witches as the prepared sorcerer, with their spell list based on their patron.
For the record, I strongly disagree. Witches suit the Occult list almost perfectly both thematically and mechanically. They need a way to get Baleful Polymorph and a handful of other off-list spells, but you can make those Hexes/Class Feats or the like pretty easily.

While Witches would thematically suit occult magic, it'd also cut off a lot of the thematic origins of the class in my opinion (which is why I support them as a prepared switch caster).

Witches often have myths connected to making pacts with demons/devils (divine) including at least 2 archetypes in PF1 (Demon-Sworn & Pact Witch).
Witches often have myths connected to fey/nature (primal).
Witches often have connections to hags (arcane in playtest) and even dragons via the Wyrmwitch archetype in PF1 (arcane).

So considering they seem to have legitimate thematic ties to every type of magic - it'd probably be best to allow them to be like sorcerers and gain their type of magic based on which patron is helping provide the witch's magic.

Liberty's Edge

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Charon Onozuka wrote:

While Witches would thematically suit occult magic, it'd also cut off a lot of the thematic origins of the class in my opinion (which is why I support them as a prepared switch caster).

Witches often have myths connected to making pacts with demons/devils (divine) including at least 2 archetypes in PF1 (Demon-Sworn & Pact Witch).
Witches often have myths connected to fey/nature (primal).
Witches often have connections to hags (arcane in playtest) and even dragons via the Wyrmwitch archetype in PF1 (arcane).

So considering they seem to have legitimate thematic ties to every type of magic - it'd probably be best to allow them to be like sorcerers and gain their type of magic based on which patron is helping provide the witch's magic.

I'm not sure having ties to beings who use Magic Type X means you use Magic Type X.

My general inclination would be to say that any power that comes from the kind of bargain a Witch makes is Occult in nature definitionally the same way that anyone who gets power from a God directly is Divine definitionally, even if that god is Nethys (who was once a Wizard, remember).

Patrons have always granted spells from other lists and can continue to do so in aid of making the Witch's magic resemble that of their Patron, but not to the extent that it need replace their spell list.

I'd accept Witches as modular casters, mind you, but I think they work even better as Occult ones.


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As an aside, if we do get the witch in PF2 I hope patrons a lot more impactful. It could be an opportunity to please both sides by making them potentially significantly alter how the witch plays. You could even have patrons that change their caster type.

Dark Archive

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viemexis wrote:
When I hear occult, I think of witchcraft, evil monsters and horror. What does that have to do with a charismatic, music-themed support class? The flavor just seems off to me. But maybe I'm not clear on what Paizo means by occult.

The original "occult" bard was Orpheus, around which a mystery tradition developed in antiquity. Exploring this archetypal character, in the Jungian sense of the word, might help in explaining the connection. Pathagoreans and Neoplatonic philosophers also, amomg other things, developed systems of occult corrodpondence in which notes, tones, and music played a role. Since fantasy pulls heavily from past belief in supernaturalism, ideas like these could be informing the decision to make bardic magic occult.


On my opinion, Bards are perfect as Occult casters...on the mechanical side, the kind of spells that they get are just appropriate. But on the setting side, I just don't think the change is really thematic.

As an example, I'm working on a setting for PF2 where the separation of the 4 types of magic is important. On that setting, Arcane resembles greatly a science; analyze the reality, mathematical as vital to understand and use the magic...while Occult is the magic you get from "things" out there. And Bards are really not appropriate on Occult like that thematically, even if is just the correct kind of spells they use.

Tangential: My group use Golarion, sometimes. 80% of the times we use homebrew settings, so I REALLY hope that the Golarion lore is not invasive enough to be a problem. I would much prefer a neutral Core books, but that ship has sailed.

Liberty's Edge

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I'd characterize Occult not as gotten from 'things' per se, but as the magic of secrets. The magic you learn from 'things', sure, but also that you pick up from old wise women or recreate out of scraps pieced together from old ballads. Folk magic in general, really, the magic of knowledge, but not the kind one can pick up in a formal university, the kind that's passed down in a family or in a song. The magic of folk tales, of ancient traditions that have nothing to do with the Gods, and of knowledge of all things normally beyond mortal comprehension.

And that sounds pretty spot on for the kind of magic Bards should have to me. Or Witches, for that matter.


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

Yeah. Bards make no sense as arcane, which comes across as very technical/academic. You learn to play notes just right and the end result is supposed to be the same category of magic as dragons and studied wizards? But, if it's instead about what music does, about finding the hidden otherworldly notes that take it from "makes someone dance" to "makes someone dance", that actually makes some more sense.


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I think you could think of occult as powered-up hedge magic, which seems very appropriate for bards.


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Card Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Mechagamera wrote:
I think you could think of occult as powered-up hedge magic, which seems very appropriate for bards.

I think that's a neat comparison. Specifically, if "apprentice wizard" and "adept" were low level NPCs in the Bestiary or GMG (as names for statblocks, as NPC classes are almost certainly gone), I think "Hedge Mage" would fit right in as an NPC with low-level access to Occult magic.

Liberty's Edge

First World Bard wrote:
Mechagamera wrote:
I think you could think of occult as powered-up hedge magic, which seems very appropriate for bards.
I think that's a neat comparison. Specifically, if "apprentice wizard" and "adept" were low level NPCs in the Bestiary or GMG (as names for statblocks, as NPC classes are almost certainly gone), I think "Hedge Mage" would fit right in as an NPC with low-level access to Occult magic.

This is definitely where I was going with talk of folk magic.


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Alaryth wrote:
while Occult is the magic you get from "things" out there. And Bards are really not appropriate on Occult like that thematically

I mean, why not? The archetypal bard is a wanderer, performer, charmer and collector of esoteric knowledge. "Out there" is likely where pretty much everything they learn comes from and even more formally trained bards would probably draw on those same traditions.


viemexis wrote:
When I hear occult, I think of witchcraft, evil monsters and horror. What does that have to do with a charismatic, music-themed support class? The flavor just seems off to me. But maybe I'm not clear on what Paizo means by occult.

Occult literally means hidden/secret or difficult to see [can be used as another word for eclipse]. So using secret, hidden knowledge to cast magic sounds fine for a bard.

As far as the supernatural, it tends to be what doesn't fall into science or religion. At first, it covered astrology, alchemy, and natural magic [such as summoning spirits]. These days though... Let me use a quote: "the occult" is a category into which gets placed a range of beliefs from "spirits or fairies to parapsychological experiments, from UFO-abductions to Oriental mysticism, from vampire legends to channelling, and so on" and ends up being a "intellectual waste-basket" because of that kind of scope. As the modern usage is far too broad to be useful, IMO.


Paizo Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories, Starfinder Accessories, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

I think if you want a comprehensive and sensible organization of types of magic you should probably take a look at P.E.I. Bonewits' Authentic Thaumaturgy. In that system, though, the occult/arcane/divine/primal differentiation doesn't exist. Magic is the use of innate psychic abilities to manipulate the real world. The affects achievable are subject to physical law; the average PC isn't going to be able to to do "miracles" on their own - that's the province of the gods. OTOH, a PC could "channel" power from his god and do miracles (defined as effects the PC doesn't have the power to do by himself). Magical traditions do exist - hermetic magic, for example, is pretty much what wizards in PF do. Oh, one other thing — "a spell is a process, not a thing" (quoting Bonewits). What process? The process of putting yourself in a mental state where you can access your innate psychic abilities. It's actually a. pretty interesting system, though not as "high magic" perhaps as most PF players would like to see.

Oh, BTW, one thing it's not is Vancian. :-)


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Arachnofiend wrote:

I'm not sure if I agree with the use of occult for what the Bard does (given that for most modern nerds the word has a pretty Lovecrafty connotation), but I do like the idea of separating it out into a different tradition than Wizards. More of a folksy, pass-it-down-in-a-form-that-rhymes type of magic than the more academic connotations of the Arcane.

I hope the Witch ends up being the prepared caster for this school of magic, it'd be a very appropriate fit.

Lovecraft and Bards are meant to be together, Lovecraft isn’t just Cthulhu and Shoggoths. Most of the stories are about unspeakable knowledge granting the morbidly curious powers.

Not to mention sailors telling stories is very bardlike and almost always begins with someone telling a tale in his short stories.

Bard is perfect.

Shadow Lodge

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The way I explain it, There's Religious Magic you get from religion, Nature Magic from a connection with nature, fancy, pompous wizardry & sorcery, which involves figuring out how to exert your will upon the world and its forces, and occult magic as "Mind Magic". Since bards can affect people's minds with their words and dance without spells, it seems fitting.


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Pathfinder Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Growing Nature magic,
Faithful Divine magic,
Forceful Arcane magic,
and Mindful Headology... uh, I mean Occult magic.


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Alaryth wrote:


As an example, I'm working on a setting for PF2 where the separation of the 4 types of magic is important. On that setting, Arcane resembles greatly a science; analyze the reality, mathematical as vital to understand and use the magic...while Occult is the magic you get from "things" out there. And Bards are really not appropriate on Occult like that thematically, even if is just the correct kind of spells they use.

Similar to a campaign setting I'm working on, the 4 traditions, the 4 elements, and the 4 alignments, are under the purview of a set of quadruplet sisters. Evil/Fire/Primal are together, because she's pissed off incarnate, good luck stopping her. Good/Water/Divine are together, she's all about HELPING! and HEALING! and YAAAY! she's obnoxiously nice. Lawful/Earth/Arcane are together, she's a popsicle (stick where the sun don't shine), very orderly, keeps things all lined up. Finally Chaos/Air/Occult are with the last one, all about doing what you want, when you want, how you want. So with that dichotomy splayed out, Occult in our world is the crazy person magic, the one where you're not quite sure how you got your hands on it, and no one really knows just how exactly any of it REALLY truly functions. Which fits Bards just perfectly! And will fit the Witch when they come around "I'm getting power from this random thing out in space? How does that work? Meh, don't care, CTHULHU GIVE ME HUGS!"


My question is how to bards now heal? Oblivion Oath appears to have an NPC Bard who claims to "sooth" wounds and hurt, but we haven't seen it in play. The Occult spell list didn't have any healing spells that I am aware of.


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Malckuss76 wrote:
My question is how to bards now heal? Oblivion Oath appears to have an NPC Bard who claims to "sooth" wounds and hurt, but we haven't seen it in play. The Occult spell list didn't have any healing spells that I am aware of.

It did in the playtest. It was the soothe spell. a bit less healing than the heal spell on the divine and primal list but soothe also provides a bonus vs mental effects.


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Yeah, that oblivion oath instance was straight out of the playtest.


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Captain Morgan wrote:
Yeah, that oblivion oath instance was straight out of the playtest.

A little stronger actually, Zel recovered 14 hit points (2d6 instead of 1d6 + spellcasting I think) and got a +2 against mental effects instead of +1.


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Elfteiroh wrote:
and Mindful Headology... uh, I mean Occult magic.

Yeah, I'm leaning towards the Witch being an occult class.


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Kyrone wrote:
Captain Morgan wrote:
Yeah, that oblivion oath instance was straight out of the playtest.
A little stronger actually, Zel recovered 14 hit points (2d6 instead of 1d6 + spellcasting I think) and got a +2 against mental effects instead of +1.

Any chance the NPC heightened the spell to 2nd level? That would be 3d6 + spell-casting stat. Though the +2 to mental effects is new.

Dark Archive

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Pawns, Rulebook Subscriber
First World Bard wrote:
Kyrone wrote:
Captain Morgan wrote:
Yeah, that oblivion oath instance was straight out of the playtest.
A little stronger actually, Zel recovered 14 hit points (2d6 instead of 1d6 + spellcasting I think) and got a +2 against mental effects instead of +1.
Any chance the NPC heightened the spell to 2nd level? That would be 3d6 + spell-casting stat. Though the +2 to mental effects is new.

I doubt Sevrina would be third level while the party is only first still. It seems more likely that Soothe was buffed like Heal was

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