What actually is an Oracle.


Oracle Playtest


The lack descriptive text and of other material about similar classes in other games makes it very difficult to understand what's going on with the oracle. My understanding is that you're a sort of divine philosopher who the gods got angry with. Could anyone expand on this, correct me or provide any other flavour text.


You’ve tapped into divine power based around a theme. This illicit access to a pool of power that originates from multiple sources causes feedback in the form of your curse.


Pathfinder Card Game, Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Charter Superscriber
Descriptive Text ala Playtest Document pg.13 wrote:
You see the divine truths extending beyond any single deity, the great mysteries of the universe embodied in overarching concepts that transcend good and evil, chaos and law. You explore one of these mysteries and draw upon its power to cast miraculous spells—but that power comes with a terrible price, a curse that grows stronger the more you draw upon it. Your abilities are a double-edged sword, one you might uphold as an agent of the divine or view as a curse from the gods.


For reference this the PF1 entry:

Oracle PF1 concept:

Although the gods work through many agents, perhaps none is more mysterious than the oracle. These divine vessels are granted power without their choice, selected by providence to wield powers that even they do not fully understand. Unlike a cleric, who draws her magic through devotion to a deity, oracles garner strength and power from many sources, namely those patron deities who support their ideals. Instead of worshiping a single source, oracles tend to venerate all of the gods that share their beliefs. While some see the powers of the oracle as a gift, others view them as a curse, changing the life of the chosen in unforeseen ways.

Also mysteries used to have a connection to a set of gods which the Oracle may or may not worship (there is no requirement). Ex: Life is connected to Gozreh, Pharasma, and Sarenrae while Flame is Asmodeus and Sarenrae.


notXanathar asked, "What is an oracle?" and my thoughts turned to, "Who is an oracle?" I have seen and played enough oracles to define them by their stories.

My daugher played Anastasia, a battle oracle with the haunted curse in Rise of the Runelords. Anastasia's parents were archeologists in Orision and they brought their children with them as apprentices to a safe tomb. However, a jar in the tomb contained a war spirit who granted battle powers to Anastasia when she opened it. She has also been haunted by the spirits that tried to stop her from opening the jar. Anastasia enjoys battle, so she likes the battle powers and gradually she has been training the bothersome guardian spirits.

At 13th level the party resurrected a murdered little girl to track down her killers. The little girl Albedo had talked with the goddess Desna in the afterlife, and agreed to serve Desna as a prophet. But Desna had no time to wait for Allie to train as a cleric, so the goddess redirected some of the power of the the resurrection to grant Allie powers as a heavens oracle. The partial resurrection left her with the undead curse.

My escorted NPC Amaya (Amaya of Westcrown) in Jade Regent multiclassed to oracle when the player of the cleric had to quit. Amaya had just opened that Amatatsu Seal that revealed that she and her half-sister Ameiko where the last heirs of the royal Amatatsu clan, so I used that event to make her the new party healer. She mystically bonded with her ancestors but that made her a time oracle rather than an ancestors oracle. Her jumbled timeflow sometimes messes with her speech and gestures in a tongues curse.

The party encountered an enemy, Renshii Meida, an ancestors oracle with the haunted curse. The Renshii clan had been allied with the oni a century ago, and when Meida spontaneously developed the power to communicate with her ancestors, they corrupted her into re-establishing that alliance. However, Meida was into corrupt politics for herself, not for her ancestors. Impatiently, those ancestral spirits manifest as the haunted curse.

An important historic figure in my Iron Gods campaign was the android Casandalee. She had served on the Androffan space fleet millennia ago and died when the fleet crashed in the nation Numeria while under attack by eldritch horror aliens. But dead androids repair themselves and wake up as a new person, so that one particular android lived a hundred lives. Five hundred years ago she had revived with the ancestor oracle power of remembering all her past lives. This left her confused who she was, so she had the custom shattered psyche curse. She returned to the crashed flagship of the fleet and made some repairs, which sent events into motion that led to the Iron Gods adventure path.

Oracle class is premature power at a price. The power is not earned through study or dedication and starts strong even at 1st level, so it needs an explanation. It is often granted by gods or spirits with an agenda. And the power messes up the character, which is the price, also known as the curse--though really the curse is to mechanically balance the benefit from the mystery.

Oracles make great NPCs. The oracle's origin can be tailored with an agenda that pushes the plot forward. Allie had a message from the god whom the party worshipped. Amaya was to assume the Jade Throne and a connection with her ancestors gave her the family knowledge that an orphan girl lacked. Meida was a throwback to a forgotten evil clan. Casandalee was effectively a survivor of an alien space fleet.


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Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

I think this question is kind of telling in that the Oracle in the playtest is having a little bit of an identity crisis- it's trying to be a divine magic user that reaches directly for divine power without the gods as a middleman, but also asserts that its being torn apart by the concerns of multiple gods, as if divine power must come from gods.

Personally, I think the former is more engaging, where its reaching for the raw power that the gods use, without using them as a middleman, and I think the best explanation for their "curse" is that while super powerful, not using an intermediary between one self and the raw font of creation and destruction is actually hazardous- I think the language concerning the attention of Gods ought to be excised.


Elorebaen wrote:
Descriptive Text ala Playtest Document pg.13 wrote:
You see the divine truths extending beyond any single deity, the great mysteries of the universe embodied in overarching concepts that transcend good and evil, chaos and law. You explore one of these mysteries and draw upon its power to cast miraculous spells—but that power comes with a terrible price, a curse that grows stronger the more you draw upon it. Your abilities are a double-edged sword, one you might uphold as an agent of the divine or view as a curse from the gods.

I grew fond of the notion that the oracle seldom choses his or her mystery, that it happens more by fate or happenstance. However, the words "see" and "explore" suggest deliberately reaching for that mystery, seeking its power. I altered the text to emphasis the lack of control:

You touched the divine mysteries extending beyond any single deity, the great overarching concepts that transcend good and evil, chaos and law. One mystery's energies carved a channel through you, granting you access to miraculous spells—but that power comes with a terrible price. The burden of that power grows heavier the more you draw upon it. Your abilities are a double-edged sword, one you might uphold as an agent of the divine or view as a curse from beyond the gods.


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That's one of the main changes that should be done to this new Oracle. I think the flavor of the class to be bad and restrictive.

In PF1e I was really interested in playing the class (I still pretend to), but looking at the playtest I haven't felt compelled to make any character, even the Battle Mystery didn't excite me enough.


The-Magic-Sword wrote:

I think this question is kind of telling in that the Oracle in the playtest is having a little bit of an identity crisis- it's trying to be a divine magic user that reaches directly for divine power without the gods as a middleman, but also asserts that its being torn apart by the concerns of multiple gods, as if divine power must come from gods.

Personally, I think the former is more engaging, where its reaching for the raw power that the gods use, without using them as a middleman, and I think the best explanation for their "curse" is that while super powerful, not using an intermediary between one self and the raw font of creation and destruction is actually hazardous- I think the language concerning the attention of Gods ought to be excised.

I have seen a couple of people advocate for this, but I don't see any reason why directly accessing divine magic is inherently more dangerous than directly accessing arcane, occult, or primal magic. It isn't like feylords (primal) aren't capricious and dangerous, and even seeing a Great Old One (occult) is supposed to mess you up, so anything in the vein of "the gods don't like it" doesn't seem sufficient. To be honest, that seems like a much better thing for an occult casting class (hmmm, and "mysteries" are in oracle description.....).


Mechagamera wrote:
The-Magic-Sword wrote:

I think this question is kind of telling in that the Oracle in the playtest is having a little bit of an identity crisis- it's trying to be a divine magic user that reaches directly for divine power without the gods as a middleman, but also asserts that its being torn apart by the concerns of multiple gods, as if divine power must come from gods.

Personally, I think the former is more engaging, where its reaching for the raw power that the gods use, without using them as a middleman, and I think the best explanation for their "curse" is that while super powerful, not using an intermediary between one self and the raw font of creation and destruction is actually hazardous- I think the language concerning the attention of Gods ought to be excised.

I have seen a couple of people advocate for this, but I don't see any reason why directly accessing divine magic is inherently more dangerous than directly accessing arcane, occult, or primal magic. It isn't like feylords (primal) aren't capricious and dangerous, and even seeing a Great Old One (occult) is supposed to mess you up, so anything in the vein of "the gods don't like it" doesn't seem sufficient. To be honest, that seems like a much better thing for an occult casting class (hmmm, and "mysteries" are in oracle description.....).

I think that people view gods as acting in their own interests. In contrast, consider how curses undermine the three mysteries in the playtest. The Battle mystery gives proficiency in martial arms and armor, but its curse reduces the AC to that of a wizard in robes. The Flames mystery gives the power to throw fire, but its curse creates so much smoke the oracle can't see his target. The Life mystery gives as much healing as the party needs, except the oracle can barely heal himself. "Okay, the party was patched up in a minute, except we have to keep trying to heal the oracle for a couple of hours."

If a god granted these mysteries, then the god was stupid. A sensible god of fire would also grant his oracles the power of updraft, to waft the smoke away. True, lots of mythologies and folklore have stupid gods. Zon-Kuthon, a major Golarion god, embraces self-torture. But we don't want oracles to simply feel like clerics of the most stupid gods.

Having the power also grant a burden because the power is undirected by divine guidance and more than a mortal can handle feels more justified.


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For me an oracle is someone who has, somehow, gained access to a small subset of the raw building blocks of creation. Being that the raw building blocks of creation are not meant for mere mortals, this is dangerous and kind of messes you up.

Now as for *how* they get that power, I think this is a case where we need to not be so declarative authorially in terms of "how the metaphysics actually work". It doesn't matter really if domains are parts of gods or if the gods just have root access to the domains, since the difference between the two is unlikely to come up and there ought to be some mystery in "how religion works."

But there are three basic types of oracle we need to represents:
1) Someone who has followed multiple deities to get a better understanding of their mystery.
2) Someone whose religion has nothing to do with deities at all (Rivethun, Sangpotshi, Shamanism, Ancestor Worship, etc.)
3) Someone who just had this happen to them via cosmic accident or some scheme by an unknown power.


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Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

To an extent, I think it should be done because its *cool* like, sure you could say the raw building blocks of divine energy are just safe to access normally, but like, eh, thats not as exciting as having oracles as beings that tap the source of creation directly, and that it's a power thats radically destructive to the mortal


Pathfinder Lost Omens Subscriber
The-Magic-Sword wrote:

I think this question is kind of telling in that the Oracle in the playtest is having a little bit of an identity crisis- it's trying to be a divine magic user that reaches directly for divine power without the gods as a middleman, but also asserts that its being torn apart by the concerns of multiple gods, as if divine power must come from gods.

Personally, I think the former is more engaging, where its reaching for the raw power that the gods use, without using them as a middleman, and I think the best explanation for their "curse" is that while super powerful, not using an intermediary between one self and the raw font of creation and destruction is actually hazardous- I think the language concerning the attention of Gods ought to be excised.

i imagine it as more a lake of divine power and the gods cause ripples, well waves. tapping into the lake, can rack you with the waves. it's the gods that make drawing from the power directly, dangerous. not that they're doing this on purpose, it's just the nature of the gods that do it.


Personally I don't have a problem with the Oracle's identity crisis. I always felt like the Oracle in 1e was too specific in its flavor. The explorer of divine mysteries, the thief of power beyond their comprehension and the pantheist drawing upon broader concepts are all just as valid as the god-cursed oracles from PF1. So I think trying to incorporate them all as valid interpretations of the class is a nice thing.


Yes, but currently the class itself doesnt even known what it wants. With the intro talking about gods, but the mysteries talking about planes, and the feats talk about domains. Aka right now it's trying to be even more specific, but also giving 3 different reasons depending on where you look.


Temperans wrote:
Yes, but currently the class itself doesnt even known what it wants. With the intro talking about gods, but the mysteries talking about planes, and the feats talk about domains. Aka right now it's trying to be even more specific, but also giving 3 different reasons depending on where you look.

Let me group them together to compare:

Oracle, page 13 wrote:

Oracle

You see the divine truths extending beyond any single deity, the great mysteries of the universe embodied in overarching concepts that transcend good and evil, chaos and law. You explore one of these mysteries and draw upon its power to cast miraculous spells—but that power comes with a terrible price, a curse that grows stronger the more you draw upon it. Your abilities are a double-edged sword, one you might uphold as an agent of the divine or view as a curse from the gods.

This introduction is about exploring a mystery and gaining its power at a price.

Oracle, page 13 wrote:

DURING COMBAT ENCOUNTERS...

You draw upon your mystery to inspire yourself in combat, balancing miraculous effects with the increasing severity of your curse as conflicting divine demands overtax your physical body. You cast spells to aid your allies and cast down your foes, or, depending on your mystery, you might wade into battle yourself.
DURING SOCIAL ENCOUNTERS...
You rely upon the insights and skills drawn from your mystery to engage with others. You might leverage your curse to intimidate people, or you might hide its effects to better blend in.
WHILE EXPLORING...
You reconcile the terrible conflicts that cause your curse, mitigating the worst of its effects so you can draw upon your mystery’s power again later. You remain aware of supernatural forces acting around you, perhaps peeking into the future to gain insight about the best—or worst—actions available.
IN DOWNTIME...
You might seek to learn more about your mystery and the divine powers that you draw from. You might associate with a church or organized religion, or you might start your own faithful following centered around exploring your mystery.

This fits the introduction, with more about exploring the mystery and trying to mitigate the curse.

Oracle, page 14 wrote:

DIVINE SPELLCASTING

Your mystery provides you with divine magical power.

This is bland and simple.

Oracle, page 15 wrote:

MYSTERY

An oracle’s powers arise not from the blessings of a single deity, but from the combined power of a given concept or ideal, manifested from the attention of multiple divine entities whose portfolios all touch on that subject. This is the oracle’s mystery, a source of divine power not beholden to any one god.

This is lore about oracular mysteries, still consistent with the introduction. But it is starting the shift from "overarching concepts" to "attention of multiple divine entities."

Oracle, page 15 wrote:

Oracular Curse

An oracle draws power from multiple deities, each with their own alignments, agendas, domains, and anathemas. The inevitable conflict between these different sources places incredible stress on your body, manifesting as a supernatural curse whenever you cast revelation spells. The more revelation spells you cast, the worse the effects of your curse, but these increasingly conflicting energies also provide you with divine benefits.

This unveils the next theme in full detail. The oracle does not draw power from a concept or ideal. The oracle An oracle draws power from squabbling multiple deities.

Oracle, page 16 wrote:

MAJOR CURSE 11TH

You’ve learned to better balance the conflicting powers wreaking havoc on your body.

Is the conflict the one between mystery and curse, or between multiple dieties with the own agendas? Both descriptions fit, yet strangely, the conflict is inside the oracle's physical body rather than in the celestial planes or in philosophical understanding.

Oracle, page 16 wrote:

MASTER SPELLCASTER 15TH

You understand the deep and complex divine power within your mystery.

This one sounds arcane.

Oracle, page 16 wrote:

EXTREME CURSE 17TH

Your ability to tap into the conflicting divine powers of your mystery grows, granting you ongoing glimpses of the future, but the physical and mental strain draws you perilously close to the grave.

This has the same theme as Major Curse.

Oracle, page 17 wrote:

ORACULAR CLARITY 19TH

You fully grasp the power behind your mystery, allowing you to work magic akin to miracles.

Back to the overarching concept theme rather than multiple gods.

Oracle, page 17 wrote:

MYSTERIES

Choose the divine mystery that fuels your mystical power. This mystery might be an equal devotion to all the deities who influence the subject of your mystery, veneration of a particular ideal, or an innate calling to fight for a cause.

Those one says, "Pick from three themes."

Oracle, page 17 wrote:

BATTLE

You uphold the glory of combat, fight to improve the world, prepare against the necessity of conflict, or endure the inevitability of war. You might draw upon deities such as Gorum, Iomedae, Rovagug, the Horseman of War Szuriel, the Queen of the Night Eiseth, the Vudrani god Diomazul, and others, or you might find power in the unending conflict between the armies of Heaven and Hell or the Elemental Planes, the Outer Gods, or even the collective spirits of those who fought in wars over the ages.
Oracle, page 17 wrote:

Curse of the Hero’s Burden

You thrive while adrenaline flows and your life depends on your might alone, but holding the collective battle prowess of the ages within you leaves your body weak and weary after a fight, craving the next battle.
Oracle, page 17 wrote:

FLAMES

Fire is at the center of the world, the center of the sun, and the center of civilization. You might revere this primal essence, you might siphon power from the Elemental Plane of Fire, or you might venerate a collection of deities including Asmodeus, Sarenrae, the Tian goddess Lady Nanbyo, the empyreal lord Ragathiel, the elemental lord Ymeri, and the ancient Osirian god Ra.
Oracle, page 17 wrote:

Curse of Engulfing Flames

You see flames and smoke wherever you look. These flames might be imagined, or they might be a preternatural glimpse of the metaphorical fires that empower the entire multiverse.
Oracle, page 17 wrote:

LIFE

You uphold the sanctity of life, or maybe you seek to undermine it. You might draw power from the collective vitality of the world’s living creatures, hold some thread of connection to the Positive Energy Plane, or revere a collection of deities including Irori, Pharasma, Sarenrae, the Tian deity Qi Zhong, the Vudrani deity Arundhat, and the Stag Mother of the Forest of Stones in Sarkoris.
Oracle, page 17 wrote:

Curse of Outpouring Life

Life energy flows outward from you and connects you to all living things, but you expend your vital essence to do so.

The introduction had talked about seeing, exploring, and learning about the mysteries. The mysteries themselves talk about upholding and revering the mystery. This is a different theme from overarching concept or uneasy alliance of gods.

As Temperans said, the oracle chapter gives three different themes for the mystery. The first sentence in the list of mysteries states three themes.
equal devotion to all the deities who influence the subject of your mystery - this is the 2nd theme introduced in the class features called Mystery and Oracular Curse. The multiple gods provide an explanation of why a mystery has a curse.
veneration of a particular ideal - this is the 1st theme introduced in the introduction.
an innate calling to fight for a cause - this one doesn't fit any anything else, but if we drop the phrase "fight for" to emphasize "calling," then it fits the 3rd theme about revering battle, fire, or life as described in the introduction to each mystery.


Pathfinder Lost Omens Subscriber

the thing about multiple gods always came off as unintentional, like gods just ooze divine power into surrounding space and you're picking up the ooze and not all of it necessarily agrees with each other.

like it never suggests the gods intentionally give the oracle these powers. the gods are unlikely even aware that the oracle is tapping into their power.


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A miserable little pile of secrets.


Part of the thing that came up in one of the GenCon panels is that they wanted the Oracle to emphasize the pantheistic focus more, which didn't happen in PF1.

If I had to put together a description, it's that the Oracle is accessing the power of a domain directly, but taking backlash as a result. Whether that means they're hit by more power than they know what to do with, or getting hit with a bit of anathema from all the gods connected to that domain, the idea is that they're paying a price for that unrestricted access. A Cleric filters that power through their deity, and a Sorcerer filters it through the power left in their blood. The Oracle has no such safeguards, and is getting the pure essence of that domain.


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the oracle will probably make more sense when the Gods and Magic books comes. They discussed on twitch, where it will possible to follow a pantheon of Gods. So I take the oracle as an extreme example of this practice.


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Cyouni wrote:

Part of the thing that came up in one of the GenCon panels is that they wanted the Oracle to emphasize the pantheistic focus more, which didn't happen in PF1.

Its weird though, because it doesn't have any hallmarks of a pantheist, or someone that needs to care about the divine in any way at all. [except the weird spells in the divine list that can only be used if you've got a non-neutral god attached to your person. Though that raises all sorts of questions if your source of 'flames' is SaeRaeRae AND Azzy-D simultaneously. Divine lance does what kind of damage? Or is neither 'actually' your god and you can't cast it at all?]

But oracles have a small pile of spells, and a smaller pile of spells that backfire on them if overused. Paying homage to a pantheon isn't required. Nothing is really. You can be indifferent or hostile or think you're a wizard.

'Charisma mage with a minor theme that they might not even want to use' isn't a strong concept for a class, but at the moment that's the only thing the class presents, beyond a decree of 'But Thou Must' for the divine spell list.


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You know, back in PF1 if someone asked me what an oracle was I'd respond with "It's some poor sap that had divine power put in them without them asking for it." Someone that gets forced into the cosmic battles the deities wage weather they want to or not. Maybe that's just me and liking my chosen ones and my "normal person is thrust into a deadly world of magic" speaking, but I prefer that to someone that draws runoff energy from the gods.

Eh, maybe I can turn them into a sponge for divine energy in this system. It's not as fun as the gods being jerks and shoving power into someone but it's still workable with what I love about Oracle's flavor.


I do like the idea of the everyman thrust into greater things.

It seems a problem that this thread is able to grow this long. I hope the designers go back and rewrite the flavour to be less ambigambiguous, with as much scope as possible.


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Just the very existence of this discussion speaks louder than any argument here in my opinion.

Thankfully, so far, Paizo has been amazing with dealing with feedback and making appropriated changes. Things can get heated (i'm guilty of it, can't deny) but we all here want Pathfinder to be as cool as it can be.


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Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Rather than playing 'mediator to the Divine' it'd be much cleaner (imo) if the Oracle is attempting to use PURE GOD POWAH without the 'step-down transformer' that is a deity.

It makes more sense thematically, at least?

That would also open up the possibility that some variation on Curses could occur. Perhaps not 'free-for-all/a la carte' choices but 'this grouping of Curses is related to this Mystery'? (Replacing the 'pile of deities' syndrome)


Wei Ji the Learner wrote:

Rather than playing 'mediator to the Divine' it'd be much cleaner (imo) if the Oracle is attempting to use PURE GOD POWAH without the 'step-down transformer' that is a deity.

It makes more sense thematically, at least?

That would also open up the possibility that some variation on Curses could occur. Perhaps not 'free-for-all/a la carte' choices but 'this grouping of Curses is related to this Mystery'? (Replacing the 'pile of deities' syndrome)

Or do you not like deities?

Silver Crusade

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

In P1 if you were playing Oracle you certainly didn’t.


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Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
The NPC wrote:


Or do you not like deities?

Deities have their place on Champions, Clerics, and to a lesser extent on druids.

Having someone dealing with Phenomenal Cosmic Power itty bitty storage space just seems better than being the ever-constant moderator of cosmic/divine political debates?


Wei Ji the Learner wrote:
The NPC wrote:


Or do you not like deities?

Deities have their place on Champions, Clerics, and to a lesser extent on druids.

Having someone dealing with Phenomenal Cosmic Power itty bitty storage space just seems better than being the ever-constant moderator of cosmic/divine political debates?

I think what we have here is a difference in views of deities and their relationship to divine power. That's another thread topic though, so I will just leave it at that.

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