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Pathfinder - Oracle Mysteries Breakdown

Disclaimer

I will use content from the core rules, but will intentionally omit any content not published on the official Pathfinder SRD due to the unmanageable volume of non-SRD content, and the wildly varying quality of non-SRD content. If you would like me to write handbooks for specific content not published on the official SRD, please email me and I will consider it on a case-by-case basis. 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.

Temporary Note: Pathfinder Unchained and Occult Adventures were both recently added to the SRD. I'm excited to explore them, and I am actively working on adding their contents to my collection of handbooks. I appreciate your patience while I make these changes.

Mysteries

The Oracle's choice of Mystery defines the character as much as any archetype, providing new skills, spells, and a list of available revelations. Because there is no overlap in revelations between Mysteries, each Mystery makes the Oracle very unique. Note that Oracles get 6 Revelations normally, but can pick up more with the Extra Revelation feat. Also note that you cannot select a revelation more than once according to The FAQ

Ancestor

The Bonus Spells and Revelations, the two biggest parts of a Mystery, are the worst parts of the Ancestor Mystery.

Class Skills: ALL knowledge skills. Linguistics can be mostly replaced with the Tongues spell, but opening up knowledge skills allows you to serve as your party's Librarian.

Bonus Spells: Very few good options.

  1. unseen servant: Cool utility, but being able to clean your house magically isn't very helpful in most situations.
  2. spiritual weapon: Decent ongoing damage and it stays passable at higher levels as it adds attacks, but it's not going to win you any fights.
  3. heroism: Solid single-target buff with a good duration, and it's not on the Cleric/Oracle spell list for some reason.
  4. spiritual ally: Decent as a stand0-in defender or flanker, but not a spectacular source of damage.
  5. telekinesis: Fantastic utility. Not on the Cleric/Oracle spell list.
  6. greater heroism: Nice buff, but the duration is fairly short, and it won't stack with all of the other great Cleric/Oracle buffs which provide morale bonuses.
  7. ethereal jaunt: Great for scouting, infiltration, and escape.
  8. vision: How often do you think you are going to need to cast Legend Lore in combat? With the exception of the possible days/weeks casting times for Legend Lore, you really shouldn't need this. Not on the Cleric/Oracle spell list, but you get it a level late.
  9. astral projection: Good way to "safely" travel the outer planes, but situational.

Revelations: Despite a couple of excellent options, most of the list is poor.

Final Revelation: Blindsense is fantastic, and 60 ft. of it is amazing. The +4 bonus to cast levels is spectacular. The Charisma bonus to saves is nice, but won't stack with Divine Protection.

Battle

The Battle mystery is a fantastic choice for combat caster Oracles. The skill list is sparse, but the spell list contains several fantastic buffs and some good area control spells, and the Revelations list includes several options which are absolutely fantastic.

Class Skills: Perception is really the only new skill worth having.

Bonus Spells: Battle starts off with a very solid spell list which starts to lose steam at mid-level. However, the low level options continue to be excellent into high levels, so expect to continue using them for a long time.

  1. enlarge person: Essential and fantastic at any level. Not on the Cleric/Oracle spell list.
  2. fog cloud: Decent area control. Not on the Cleric/Oracle spell list.
  3. magic vestment: A fantastic way to save yourself a ton of money on armor/shield enhancements.
  4. wall of fire: Excellent area control. Not on the Cleric/Oracle spell list.
  5. righteous might: Extremely powerful buff if you are a combat caster.
  6. mass bull's strength: By this level everyone in the party who needs bull's strength should have a belt which provides at least a +4 bonus.
  7. control weather: Situational.
  8. earthquake: Situational and hard to handle at the table because the effect is so complicated.
  9. storm of vengeance: This is a weird spell. It's hard to time, it's hard to use, and it's hard to not do just as much damage to your party. Already on the cleric spell list.

Revelations: Battle gets a ton of excellent options, including several which provide the value of 2 or 3 feats, which is a fantastic return on your investment.

Final Revelation: Moving and making a Full Attack fixes a lot of problems with combat characters. The other benefits are secondary.

Bones

Bones provides a lot of excellent options. You can serve as the party's Face and do a bit of scouting due to the class list, and at high levels you get access to some very scary save or die spells. Bones' biggest shortcoming is its Revelations, which are decent but not very exciting. Because this Mystery involves creating undead, check with your GM to make sure they are okay with you bringing an army of undead pets.

Class Skills: Bluff and Intimidate give the Oracle all of the skills needed to be the party's Face, and Disguise and Stealth are helpful for Scouts.

Bonus Spells: Bones grants a lot of excellent spells, many of which aren't on the Cleric/Oracle spell list. At high level, you get a couple of excellent save or die spells which will outright end most encounters.

  1. cause fear: This is mediocre even at low level, and it stops working very quickly.
  2. false life: Temporary hit points are a great buff, and duration is fantastic. Not on the Cleric/Oracle spell list.
  3. animate dead: Pet undead are always great. Even if you don't take them into combat, a few skeletons make for excellent manual labor. Already on the Cleric spell list. Not on the Cleric/Oracle spell list.
  4. fear: Excellent area control. Panicked causes things to run away, and if they're cornered, cowering foes are considered helpless, which makes them coup de grace bait. Not on the Cleric/Oracle spell list.
  5. slay living: Reasonable damage for two or three levels after you get it, but because the damage dice don't scale, it falls off quickly.
  6. circle of death: Area of effect save or die. You get an average of 2.5 hit dice per caster level, so at level 12 you can outright kill 30 hit dice worth of enemies. That will cover basically every enemy of your CR, and could wipe out entire encounters made up of several weaker enemies. As long as your Charisma is high enough to give you a good DC, this can stay lethal and effective for several levels. Not on the Cleric/Oracle spell list.
  7. control undead: Allows you to control more undead pets, and you can steal mindless undead from other spellcasters.
  8. horrid wilting: Decent single-target damage, but at this level you can use save or die spells with the save DC. Not on the Cleric/Oracle spell list.
  9. wail of the banshee: The pinnacle of save or die spells. Outright murder whole rooms of foes. Be careful not to murder your own party. They won't like that. Not on the Cleric/Oracle spell list.

Revelations: Several decent options, but none of the options are really fantastic.

Final Revelation: Several excellent options. Animate Dead without the material cost won't matter a lot at this point, but if you plan to animate hundreds of zombies, it can save you quite a bit of money on Obsidian. Power Word Kill is great too because it doesn't allow a saving throw like Wail of the Banshee.

Dark Tapestry

Dark Tapestry is a solid Mystery. It has a good mix of options, and it can fill a variety of roles depending on your selections.

Class Skills: Knowledge (Arcana) is the only thing that you really need, but Stealth can be nice if you want to be stealthy.

Bonus Spells: Very few poor options, and several very good ones from the Wizard spell list.

  1. entropic shield: The closest thing to Blur that you are likely to get. This is excellent at higher levels as the duration increases.
  2. dust of twilight: The Darkness effect is very situational, and Fatigued is pointless. Not on the Cleric/Oracle spell list.
  3. tongues: Very important for talking to the weird races and creatures of the multiverse, even if you're not the party's Face. You get it a level earlier than other Clerics and Oracles.
  4. black tentacles: One of the best area control spells in the game. Not on the Cleric/Oracle spell list.
  5. feeblemind: Crippling save or suck spell, especially for arcane spellcasters.Not on the Cleric/Oracle spell list.
  6. planar binding: Planar Binding spells are very powerful, though they can be very costly. Not on the Cleric/Oracle spell list.
  7. insanity: Confusion isn't a great status condition because it is unreliable, but it's hard to argue with a permanent debuff.
  8. reverse gravity: Somewhat difficult to use, but excellent for killing things with falling damage. Not on the Cleric/Oracle spell list.
  9. interplanetary teleport: This depends entirely on your campaign. If there are other planets in your game it can be great. If ther aren't, you have no reason to cast this.

Revelations: A mixed bag. Some of the options are fantastic, but just as many are poor or very situational.

Final Revelation: DR 5/-, some excellent immunities, and you can cast the best Polymorph spell in the game without a Material component.

Flame

The lousy skill list is Flame's only drawback, and you might not even consider that a drawback because you can afford to dump Intelligence. The spell list and revelations provide fantastic Blaster spells and effects, and Body of Flame can completely define how you build your character if you let it. Imagine walking around as a Huge Fire Elemental slinging flaming death at your enemies. It's glorious.

Class Skills: Absolutely nothing that you want, so feel free to dump Intelligence.

Bonus Spells: Some of the absolute best fire-elemental blast spells in the game from the Cleric, Druid, and Wizard spell lists.

  1. burning hands: Even at low levels, this isn't great. The AOE is nice for such a low level spell, but the damage is pitiful.
  2. resist energy: Essential for any spellcaster.
  3. fireball: The ssential, iconic blaster spell.
  4. wall of fire: Excellent area control.
  5. summon monster V (fire elementals only): Oracles can already learn this without the limitation. Not on the Cleric/Oracle spell list.
  6. fire seeds: The holly berries option is insane. Charge eight berries, then some time in the next hour or two, drop them in the other guy's square, and step back out of the 5 foot blast radius. Trigger all 8 for for 8d8 plus 8 times your caster level. The acorn version is bad. Not on the Cleric/Oracle spell list.
  7. fire storm: Fireballs bigger, scarier, more shapeable brother. Not only can you choose the shape of the spell, but it adds 4d6 ongoing fire damage. This is absolutely devastating. Of, and you get it a level ahead of other Clerics.
  8. incendiary cloud: Almost an area control spell, but because it moves away from you you can't actually use it to control an area.
  9. fiery body: A fantastic buff, and not on the Cleric/Oracle spell list. I'm not sure how this combines with the Body of Flame Revelation, but I'm sure it's awesome.

Revelations: A lot of really interesting options.

Final Revelation: Free metamagic is fantastic, even if they are only +1 spell level metamagic feats.

Heavens

Though its skill and spell lists are decent, the Heavens Mystery has a poor list of Revelations, and is capped off by a Final Revelation which brings almost nothing useful to the Oracle.

Class Skills: Knowledge (Arcana) and Perception are both really good, and one rank in Fly will pay off very well.

Bonus Spells: An interest mix of options. Almost all of the spells are crowd control effects.

  1. color spray: The best save or suck spell at level 1, and it stays useful for several more levels. Not on the Cleric/Oracle spell list.
  2. hypnotic pattern: Excellent group crowd control. Not on the Cleric/Oracle spell list.
  3. daylight: Situational.
  4. rainbow pattern: Like Hypnotic Pattern, but it can affect considerably more creatures.
  5. overland flight: Fly all day long. Fantastic. Not on the Oracle/Cleric spell list.
  6. chain lightning: Decent blast spell. Not on the Oracle/Cleric spell list.
  7. prismatic spray: Some of the effecyts will outright kill targets, but it's hard to predict how effective this will be. Not on the Cleric/Oracle spell list.
  8. sunburst: Very hard to interpret.
  9. meteor swarm: Very flashy, but not as powerful as it should be for a 9th-level spell.

Revelations: Most of the options are situational. Some of the Revelations are crappy blast effects, and Dweller in the Darkness is a once per day save or die effect which seems totally out of place.

Final Revelation: The Charisma bonus to saves is nice, but won't stack with Divine Protection. Immunity to fear effects is nice, butsituational. Automatically confirming Critical Hits is cool, but you're not a combat monster. Reincarnating as a Star Child would be really cool if there was something which explained what a Star Child was.

Life

The Life domain is a fantastic option for a heal-bot. Several Revelations add a ton of utility to your healing spells, the bonus spell list gives you all of the essential spells for healing non-hp problems, and the lousy skill list lets you dump an extra ability.

Class Skills: Nothing worth having, so you can dump Intelligence.

Bonus Spells: Life includes many of the very best and most essential healing spells. If you choose to get all Cure spells for free, and you learn Raise Dead, you can heal as well as the best Cleric.

Revelations: Several excellent options to improve your healing and support capabilities.

Final Revelation: An excellent list of immunities, and you can't drop below 1 in an ability score. I can't think of anywhere else that I have seen that.

Lore

I really wish that this was better, but the spell list isn't good enough to make up for the awful Revelations. Instead of using this Mystery, take the Enlightened Philosopher archetype, and pick a Mystery with a better Revelation list.

Class Skills: Appraise is pointless, but access to all knowledge skills is fantastic. Be sure to invest in a bit of Intelligence so that you have enough skill ranks to serve as the party's Librarian.

Bonus Spells: Some excellent divination and utility options, but many of the divinations are situational.

  1. identify: This spell is very situational, and barely exceeds the capabilities of Detect Magic for identifying magic items.
  2. tongues: Very important for talking to the weird races and creatures of the multiverse, even if you're not the party's Face.
  3. locate object: I wish I had this for my keys. You need to be reasonably close to the target to find it, so you can't just cast Locate Object and locate the Lich's phylactery, but this can be very good for finding items lost among debris and such.
  4. legend lore: Cast this spell, turn to the GM, and say "so tell me about your backstory". This spell is situational, but when you're missing huge portions of the plot, it's amazingly powerful.
  5. contact other plane: This is dangerous for an Oracle because you don't have the Wizard's Intelligence to protect you from the Intelligence/Charisma penalty. If it doesn't go badly, this can be a great way to gather information, but Oracles have access to plenty of other good Divination options.
  6. mass owl's wisdom: The only thing that this really gets you is bonuses to your party's Will saves.
  7. vision: How often do you think you are going to need to cast Legend Lore in combat? With the exception of the possible days/weeks casting times for Legend Lore, you really shouldn't need this.
  8. moment of prescience: Fantastic and very versatile.
  9. time stop: One of the most powerful spells in the game, and it's not on the Cleric/Oracle spell list.

Revelations: Several great options to imrpove your abilities as a Librarian.

Final Revelation: Taking 20 on knowledge checks is fantastic, but a limited version of Wish is even better.

Metal

Metal has a few good options, but nothing really appealing.

Class Skills: I'm very confused by this skill list. It adds all of the remaining skills which you need to be your party's Face, as well as Disable Device, which allows allows you to open locks and handle traps. If you want to use this Mystery, you might consider a level of Rogue for Trapfinding. I'm not certain what any of this has to do with Metal.

Bonus Spells: The high level options are good, but not great. As a whole, the spell list is okay, but not great.

  1. lead blades: This really only matter if you plan to create weapons with the Impact property.
  2. heat metal: Amusing, but terrible.
  3. keen edge: This is only important if you have someone in the party build for critical hits, and they should have a Keen weapon or Improved Critical.
  4. versatile weapon: Very versatile, and it helps overcome the DR of a wide variety of enemies.
  5. major creation (metal items only): While certainly better than being limited to wood items, any material limitation on creation spells is hugely limiting.
  6. wall of iron: Though not as versatile as Wall of Ice, Wall of Iron is still very useful as a utility spell.
  7. statue (metal statue instead of iron): Because the subject can return to their statue form as a free action, this is a great way to defend yourself between turns. The duration is hours per level, so you can use this all day long.
  8. repel metal or stone: Walls will generally be too thick to be affected, but you can repel enemies wearing metal armor or carrying metal weapons.
  9. iron body: You get this a level late, but it's considerably better for an Oracle than it is for a Wizard.

Revelations: Only a few of the options are worth taking.

Final Revelation: If you are a combat caster Oracle, Weapon Focus, Improved Weapon Focus, and Improved Critical are nice, but you won't get much out of Improve Critical unless you are proficient with something like a scimitar. The bonus to maximum dexterity is huge, but Dexterity isn't a very important ability for Oracles, and if you have high enough Dexterity that it matters, by now you have probably invested in armor to support it. This ability comes too late to make a major difference in your character choices.

Nature

The only good part of the Nature Mystery is the Final Revelation.

Class Skills: More skills than most Mysteries, but they are all situational and generally bad.

Bonus Spells: Most of the options are bad or situational.

  1. charm animal: Very situational.
  2. barkskin: Fantastic buff with a great duration. Not on the Cleric/Oracle spell list.
  3. speak with plants: Very situational.
  4. grove of respite: A nice option for camping, but not terribly exciting. Not on the Cleric/Oracle spell list.
  5. awaken: Awaken introduces a lot of complicated subjects to the game. Have a long, detailed discussion with you GM about what you plan to do with it before you start awakening critters.
  6. stone tell: Situational.
  7. creeping doom: Excellent combination of summoning, area control, and crowd control. Your spell DC should be good enough that the swarms will deal quite a bit of damage with their poison.
  8. animal shapes: If your party can make good use of it, this can be a really cool way to turn everyone into something cool.
  9. world wave: Very situational, but not on the Cleric/Oracle spell list.

Revelations: Most of the Revelations available to the Nature domain are very situational, but Life Leach and Nature's Whispers are fantastic defensive options.

Final Revelation: Turn yourself into a plant. Aside from the vulnerability to fire, being a plant is pretty fantastic.

Stone

The only good part of the Stone mystery is the Final Revelation.

Class Skills: Several bad options.

Bonus Spells: Very few good options.

  1. magic stone: Awful.
  2. stone call: Poor damage, poor area control.
  3. meld into stone: Very situational.
  4. wall of stone: Excellent utility.
  5. stoneskin: Great buff, but the material component is too expensive to use this often.
  6. stone tell: Situational.
  7. statue: Because the subject can return to their statue form as a free action, this is a great way to defend yourself between turns. The duration is hours per level, so you can use this all day long.
  8. repel metal or stone: Walls will generally be too thick to be affected, but you can repel enemies wearing metal armor or carrying metal weapons.
  9. clashing rocks: Good damage and crowd control.

Revelations: Nothing particularly good.

Final Revelation: Free metamagic is fantastic, even if they are only +1 spell level metamagic feats.

Time

The Time Mystery is fantastic. It has a good skill list, a good spell list, and a whole mess of excellent revelations. The only major shortcoming of the Time Mystery is the first three bonus spells on its spell list. If you want to replace these spells, consider the Dual-Cursed Oracle archetype. It gives you some slightly better spells, two new Revelations, and two extra Revelation choices.

Class Skills: Knowledge (Arcana) and Perception are both essential, and Use Magic Device is excellent with the Oracle's Charisma.

Bonus Spells: Despite a slow start, at 4th-level, the Time spell list introduces some amazing options from the Witch and Wizard spell lists.

  1. memory lapse: Very situational. Not on the Cleric/Oracle spell list.
  2. gentle repose: Very situational.
  3. sands of time: The penalties for aging are very gentle. The only thing that this spell has going for it is the lack of saving throw.
  4. threefold aspect: Oracles don't depend on Intelligence or Wisdom, so this doesn't benefit the Oracle as well as it would benefit a Wizard or Cleric.
  5. permanency: Essential to any good adventuring party. Lots of very important effects can be made permanent. Not on the Cleric/Oracle spell list.
  6. contingency: A favorite tool of paranoid wizards everywhere, Contingency is one of the most useful spells ever written. You do silly things like cast a contingent Breath of Life on yourself. The possibilities are practically limitless.
  7. disintegrate: Excellent single-target damage, or use it to remove pesky obstacles like buildings.
  8. temporal stasis: This is arguably better than any save or die spell in the game. If you kill someone, they can be resurrected. If you put them in suspended animation, someone has to get past you to free them. Not on the Cleric/Oracle spell list.
  9. time stop: One of the most powerful spells in the game, and it's not on the Cleric/Oracle spell list.

Revelations: Time provides a lot of very interesting options for Revelations. The effects are diverse and interesting, so you have plenty of good options which could work at any level.

Final Revelation: Immortality is cool, and you can cast a 9th-level spell as a spell-like ability once per day. Time Stop isn't on the Cleric/Oracle spell list either, which makes it especially cool.

Waves

Like most water-themed character options, the Waves Mystery isn't very good. Major portions are only useful underwater. If your campaign takes place on dry land, skip this.

Class Skills: Several bad options, so you can afford to dump intelligence.

Bonus Spells: Most of the spells only work underwater, which hugely limits the spell list's usefulness in most campaigns.

  1. touch of the sea: Situational.
  2. slipstream: Longstrider is better.
  3. water breathing: Situational.
  4. wall of ice: Excellent utility, and a save or suck option is written into the spell.
  5. geyser: Interesting area control with a bit of damage, but the area is small and the damage is poor.
  6. fluid form: Improve your reach by 10 feet and get DR 10/slashing.
  7. vortex: Decent area control, but only works underwater.
  8. seamantle: Very flashy, and the bonuses to AC and Reflex saves are great.
  9. tsunami: A bit of damage, and some excellent area control. Throw it at groups of enemies.

Revelations: For a nominally aquatic-themed option, Waves has some surprisingly good Revelations, and they are more ice-themed than water-themed.

Final Revelation: Free metamagic is fantastic, even if they are only +1 spell level metamagic feats.

Wind

The Wind Mystery has a fantastic list of Revelations, but has a poor spell list, and provides no flight options beyond Wings of Air, so you will need to find a way to fly when your minute per Oracle level runs out. Consider an archetype which replaces the poor spell list.

Class Skills: Several bad options, so you can afford to dump intelligence.

Bonus Spells: Really? You don't get Fly? Most of the spell options are situational, and only a handful are truly good.

  1. alter winds: Situational, but if you're really smart you can use it to your advantage for airborne combat.
  2. gust of wind: Situational.
  3. cloak of winds: The penalty to ranged attacks is nice, but the other benefits are very situational.
  4. river of wind: Weak area control.
  5. control winds: Allows you to prevent enemies from flying.
  6. sirocco: Nice area control effect. A little bit of damage, knock things prone, and make them fatigued.
  7. control weather: Situational.
  8. whirlwind: Excellent crowd control.
  9. winds of vengeance: A very flashy buff with a good fly speed.

Revelations: Plenty of excellent options to keep you busy.

Final Revelation: Free metamagic is fantastic, even if they are only +1 spell level metamagic feats.

Wood

Wood is a bad Mystery. There is almost nothing here worth having.

Class Skills: The only option that you really need is Knowledge (Nature).

Bonus Spells: Very few good options.

  1. shillelagh: Awful. Magic weapon is a much better use of a spell.
  2. barkskin: Fantastic buff with a great duration. Not on the Cleric/Oracle spell list.
  3. minor creation (wood items only): Creation spells can be very powerful, but limiting it to wood items removes all of the interesting options.
  4. thorn body: Unless you plan on turning into aplant, this won't do you much good. Not on the Cleric/Oracle spell list.
  5. tree stride: Good long-distance travel spell. Not on the Cleric/Oracle spell list. Not on the Cleric/Oracle spell list.
  6. ironwood: You won't need this often, but it's still really cool. Not on the Cleric/Oracle spell list.
  7. transmute metal to wood: Situational, but it could be fun to cast it on a suit of armor, then cast ironwood on it. Not on the Cleric/Oracle spell list.
  8. changestaff: Great way to get a pet that lasts all day. Not on the Cleric/Oracle spell list.
  9. wooden phalanx: Get several pets which last all day long. Cast this the night before, and you can save a spell slot! Not on the Cleric/Oracle spell list.

Revelations: The Wood Mystery provides no truly good Revelations, and almost all of them are only situational;y useful.

Final Revelation: The Plant creature type provides a lot of nice defensive resistances and immunities.