Pathfinder - Oracle Handbook
I support a limited subset of Pathfinder's rules content. If you would like help with Pathfinder player options not covered here, please email me and I am happy to provide additional assistance.
I will use the color coding scheme which has become common among Pathfinder build handbooks. Also note that many colored items are also links to the Paizo SRD.
- Red: Bad, useless options, or options which are extremely situational.
- Orange: OK options, or useful options that only apply in rare circumstances
- Green: Good options.
- Blue: Fantastic options, often essential to the function of your character.
The Oracle is to the Cleric what the Sorcerer is to the Wizard. Oracles are Charisma-based spontaneous spellcasters that share a spell list (and several other aspects) with the Cleric. Because their abilities are so similar, the Oracle can fill any role that the Cleric can, and because they are Charisma-based, the Oracle makes for a much better Face than a Cleric.
Oracle Class Features
Hit Points: d8 hit points can be hard if you're on the front lines, especially with only medium armor and no real need for Dexterity. If you prefer to stay in the back you're probably fine, but if you're in the front be sure to boost your AC and Constitution.
Base Attack Bonus: 2/3 BAB and you can buff yourself to make up the difference.
Saves: The Oracle's only good save is Will, and with no other need for Wisdom even the Oracle's best save likely won't be spectacular.
Proficiencies: Simple weapons are plenty, and medium armor and shield provide good AC. If you need more AC, take Heavy Armor Proficiency or cast some buff spells.
Skills: 4+ skill ranks is great for a straight caster, and your choice of mystery allows for some interesting class skills.
Spells: The Oracle uses the Cleric spell list, which is excellent. You have a limited number of spells known which greatly limits your versatility, but you still have access to all of the Cleric's best spells. Don't forget that you get to select all Cure or all Inflict spells as spells known for free. The text is buried in the "Spells" section for Oracles, and it's easy to miss.
Mystery: Your choice of mystery is much like the Cleric's choice of domain, but more like a Sorceror's Bloodline. It greatly determines the feel and flavor of your character, and greatly influences your play style. See my Oracle Mystery Breakdown for help selecting a mystery.
Oracle's Curse: The Oracle's Curse is a handicap. Each option provides some other benefit which grows as you level, but for the most part the curses are a burden. If you plan to multiclass, remember that half of your other class levels count toward your level for the effects of Oracle's Curse, which can make for some very clever multiclassing options.
- Clouded Vision: If you have ever wanted to play a blind character (and I know that people want to do that), this is the best way to do it. You aren't truly blind, but you're handicapped enough for it to be a huge hindrance.
- Deaf: Hearing is much less important in Pathfinder than sight.
- Haunted: Pulling items out of your bag shouldn't happen in combat most of the time, and dropping things ten feet from you isn't a huge problem. The free spells known are great.
- Lame: The only reason you would want this is for a class dip from Barbarian so that you could rage cycle. An 8th level Barbarian can take one level of Oracle, and immediately start Rage cycling 8 levels early.
- Tongues: Hilarious. Be sure to coordinate with your party to make sure that someone speaks your language.
- Wasting: The least invasive curse. If you don't plan to be the party's face, this is a good default option. Of course, Oracles are Charisma-based and get two of the four face skills and you can get the other two with traits or mysteries, so if your party needs a face you're a fantastic candidate.
Revelation: The Oracle's pseudo-feat, Revelations are a great way to customize your Oracle, and provide a lot of fantastic abilities.
Final Revelation: Varies by mystery.
The Oracle, like the Cleric, can be either a strict spellcaster or a front-line combat spellcaster. Your choice of abilities depends on what role you plan to fill in your party.
Str: If you plan to be a combat caster, you need Strength for attack and damage. If you're a straight caster, dump Strength.
Dex: Boosts AC and Reflex saves. If AC is a problem or if you plan to be a combat caster, pick up Heavy Armor Proficiency so that a 12 is an acceptable score. For straight casters, pick up a little more dexterity to improve your AC and your ranged attacks.
Con: Everyone needs hit points and Fortitude saves.
Int: With 4+ skill ranks and not a lot of important skills, you can afford to dump Intelligence if you really need to. However, many Oracle Mysteries grant access to all knowledge skills, which can make you an excellent Librarian with a little bit of Intelligence.
Wis: Only required for Will saves, and Will is the Oracle's good save.
Cha: Your spellcasting ability.
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Bonuses to Charisma are key, but bonuses to other abilities are nice for combat caster builds.
Dwarf: The penalty to Charisma is too much of a problem to overcome for a primary spellcaster.
Elf: Bonuses to two of the Oracle's least important abilities, and a penalty to constitution.
Gnome: A bonus to Constitution and Charisma is a great combination for a straight caster build. If you want to play a small straight caster Oracle, the Gnome is your best bet. The favored class bonus lets you get the higher level abilities of your Oracle's curse sooner, but remember that the abilities have an upper limit, and once you get all of the abilities your investment will be wasted.
Half-Elf: The Flexible bonus goes into Charisma, but that's all that we really get from the Half-Elf unless you take some alternate racial traits. The favored class bonus grants extra spells known, which will really help improve the Oracle's versatility.
Half-Orc: The Flexible bonus goes into Charisma, and Darkvision is nice, but that's really all that we get. The favored class bonus grants extra spells known, which will really help improve the Oracle's versatility.
Halfling: Similar to the Gnome, Halflings get a bonus to the Charisma, and make a great straight caster option. Their favored class bonus is the same as the Gnome's.
Human: The ability bonus goes into Charisma, the skill ranks can help offset dumping Intelligence if you choose to do so, and a bonus feat is always fantastic. The favored class bonus grants extra spells known, which will really help improve the Oracle's versatility.
Your choice of traits depends largely on your character concept. Because Mysteries and spell lists make Oracles so diverse, it's largely impossible to determine what traits would be good for all Oracles.
- Diplomacy (Cha): One of the most important skills in the game, especially if you plan to be the party's Face. Oracles don't get Bluff and Intimidate as class skills by default, but you can get them from traits or from several Mysteries.
- Heal (Wis): Excellent way to supplement your magical healing abilities, but you won't be as good as a Cleric because you don't rely on Wisdom.
- Knowledge (history) (Int): Situational, but it can tell you a lot about the world in some campaigns.
- Knowledge (planes) (Int):
- Knowledge (religion) (Int): One of the best and most important Knowledge skills.
- Sense Motive (Wis): Excellent if you plan to be the party's Face.
- Spellcraft (Int): Crucial for identifying spells and creating magic items, even with poor Intelligence.
Your choice of feats depends largely on your character concept, but some feats work well for any Oracle.
- Abundant Revelations: One extra use of a revelation is really hard to justify unless the revelation is exceptionally good. I might consider this on the Dual-Cursed Oracle's Fortune revelation, but I would never take this on anything less powerful than that.
- Combat Casting: If you're going into melee, you should be able to handle weapons well enough to not need this.
- Divine Protection: When this feat was written it was a constant benefit, which made it an absolutely stellar option for Oracles. However, it was updated to only apply once per day as an immediate action. Unfortunately, once per day just isn't enough to justify the feat no matter how absurd your Charisma bonus is.
Eldritch Heritage: Sorcerer bloodlines have a lot
to offer. Most of the 1st-level powers aren't worth a feat, but a handful of
them are very good. If you want a bloodline with a poor 1st-level power but
better powers at higher levels, consider delaying this feat to 9th level. You
need Skill Focus to qualify, so try to capitalize on Skill Focus as much as
you can by building yourself to use the requisit skill effectively.
Improved Eldritch Heritage: You get one of
the two mid-level abilities from a sorcerer bloodline. Most bloodlines
will have one option which is clearly better than the other, but for
those few bloodlines that have two good options you can take this
- Greater Eldritch Heritage: Many bloodlines have very exciting high-level abilities.
- Improved Eldritch Heritage: You get one of the two mid-level abilities from a sorcerer bloodline. Most bloodlines will have one option which is clearly better than the other, but for those few bloodlines that have two good options you can take this twice.
- Expanded Arcana: If you want to know more spells, take the Human or Half-elf racial flavored class bonus.
- Extra Revelation: Many revelations are better than most feats. If your mystery has enough good revelations that you won't normally be able to take them all, this is a good choice.
- Heavy Armor Proficiency: The Oracle doesn't need mobility in most cases, and additional armor can really reduce your dependence on Dexterity and spells for AC.
- Improved Initiative: Excellent on almost any spellcaster.
- Prophetic Visionary: Just learn Augury. The 25gp material component isn't that bad.
Spell Penetration: At high levels Spell Resistance
will become increasingly problematic. You may be able to get by on options
which don't allow spell resistance, but if you can't this is a great idea.
- Greater Spell Penetration: Another +2.
- Warrior Priest: Improved Initiative is better.
- Heavy Mace: The Cleric's iconic weapon, the Heavy Mace is strictly worse than a Morningstar and there is literally no reason to select it.
- Longspear: Your only option with reach.
- Morningstar: The best one-handed simple weapon, the Morningstar does just as much damage as a Heavy Mace, and can overcome two types of DR.
- Shortspear: A tiny bit less damage than the Morningstar, but you can throw it.
Armor is presented in the order in which you should acquire it, rather than alphabetical order.
- Hide: Probably your starting armor at 1st level.
- Heavy Steel Shield: Never goes out of style. If you find that you frequently switch back and forth between a weapon and a free hand for spellcasting, switch to a buckler so that you have a free hand to cast spells.
- Breastplate: Your best option at any and every level, unless you spend feat on Heavy Armor Proficiency.
The Oracle's spells are largely the same as the Cleric's. However, Oracles get a handful of exclusive spells. Also keep in mind that, since you can't trade your spells on a daily basis, you'll want to stick to spells you need on a consistent basis.
I'll address Oracle-exclusive spells here, but for additional analysis of cleric/oracle spells, see my Cleric Handbook.
- Oracle's Burden: The effectiveness of this spell depends wholly on your choice of curse. It's not clear how this interacts with Dual-Cursed Oracles, but I would assume that you only apply one curse. The best way I can think to use this is with the Clouded Vision curse, but at that point Blindness/Deafness is considerably better.
- Borrow Fortune: Save this for save-or-suck effects, then spend the next two turns playing it safe.
- Oracle's Vessel: If you have Clouded Vision, this is blindsight.
- Divine Vessel: Very similar to divine power, but you get more defensive benefits and you don't get a luck bonus to attacks or an extra haste-style attack.
- Ring of Spell Knowledge: The usefulness of this
item is wholly contingent on wether or not you can replace the spell that you
"taught" to the ring. I can that you can replace the spell with reasonable
certainty. Page of Spell Knowledge has largely the same function, but costs much
less and is slotless. If you use the magic item rules, the effect of Page of
Spell Knowledge has a base cost of 500 gp for 1st-level spells, just a third of
the cost of Ring of Spell Knowledge I. Being rewritable would justify that cost
difference. With that established, this is an amazing item. There is no limitation
on the spell being on your spell list or even wether or not it's arcane or divine!
Want to learn magic missile? Go for it. The rings go up to 4th level, but I think
the peak usefulness is 3rd-level because that gets you access to most of the important
healing/utility spells on the cleric/oracle spell list.
How you teach spells to the wring is also important. The item description doesn't specify an action, so I would default to either a standard action or 1 hour to match the rules for Spells Copied from Another's Spellbook or a Scroll. The easiest way to get access to spells is in "written form". This typically means a scroll or a spellbook, so if the spell isn't on the wizard spell list you'll need to get a scroll. A generous DM might let you copy the spell from an Alchemist's Formula Book, but I don' think that makes sense. Alchemists can learn wizard spells from spellbooks, but wizards can't learn spells from formulae books. The item description also doesn't specify what happens if you fail the spellcraft check. I would default to the Spells Copied from Another's Spellbook or Scroll rules, which means that using the scroll to teach the spell discharges the scroll. If that's the case, it's cheaper to pay an NPC to cast the spell once than it is to buy a scroll, though it's obviously less portable. The end result is that a wizard's spellbook becomes a treasure trove of utility. Spend an hour, learn a spell out of the spellbook, cast it as needed, then trade it out later.
- Cure Light Wounds: You have more spell slots to burn than a cleric, but a wand of Cure Light Wounds is till a great investment. You can't always rest to restore your spell slots, so it often makes sense to save the spell slots for solving other problems and use a wand for healing between fights.
- Cloak of Resistance: Too crucial to forego.
- Page of Spell Knowledge: A great way to get extra spells known. I think Ring of Spell Knowledge is better for anything that you can find in a Wizard's or Magus's spellbook, but for divine spells that you might need on a regular basis Page of Spell Knowledge makes more sense because you don't need to pay NPC's to cast the spell for you and you don't need to consume scrolls.
Multiclassing and Prestige Classes
Oracles are full casters, so generally multiclassing isn't a good option. Other classes, such as Barbarians, might dip into Oracle in order to abuse the higher level bonuses provides by the Oracle's Curse.