Last Updated: September 27, 2023
The Oracle’s Mystery is the Oracle’s subclass. It offers spells and skills, and it defines the effects of your Oracle’s Curse. Your Mystery also offers a powerful benefit which can greatly dictate your playstyle.
Your choice of mystery also grants access to domain spells. You get one for free, and can select the other option by taking the Domain Acumen feat and access to Advanced Domain Spells via Domain Fluency. You can also get access to deity’s spell lists via the Divine Access feat, giving the Oracle easy access to some options normally reserved for clerics. For help with domains and deities and their various spells, see my Cleric Deity Breakdown and my Domain Breakdown.
Table of Contents
RPGBOT uses the color coding scheme which has become common among Pathfinder build handbooks.
- : Bad, useless options, or options which are extremely situational. Nearly never useful.
- : OK options, or useful options that only apply in rare circumstances. Useful sometimes.
- : Good options. Useful often.
- : Fantastic options, often essential to the function of your character. Useful very frequently.
This subclass is bad. Do not play it. Not only is it weak and not fun to play, but it’s bad in a way that can actually make you a liability for the rest of your party.
The Oracle’s Curse is supposed to be the drawback for fantastic power, giving you gradually more problems as you call on your mystery’s fantastic powers. But the best parts of the Ancestors mystery are the parts that you borrow from the Cleric: Guidance, and the Domain Spells. The benefits of the Ancestors Mystery can be accessed more easily as a cleric with none of the drawbacks.
The funamental problem with this Mystery is the effects of the curse. You are stuck with the influence of an ancestor of one of three categories (one of which is spellcasting, which is the one you want) which is determined the first time your curse kicks in for the day, but is randomized every turn in combat. If you do something that your ancestor doesn’t like (2 of the 3 don’t like spellcasting), you have a percentage chance to simply fail to take an action that they don’t like which ranges frm 15% to 35%.
Do you need to cast a 3-Action heal to save your dying party in the heat of battle? Too bad, you have the ancestor who only likes making Strikes (yes, that’s one of the three) so you have a 15% chance to just waste the action. Sure, movement isn’t affected by this nonsense, but skills, spellcasting, and strikes are affected, and those are kinda important in combat.
- : Two feats over the course of your career isn’t huge, but it offers some exciting build options. If you take a Versatile Heritage or the Adopted Ancestry feat, you have access to a wide variety of feat options.
- Granted Cantrip: Guidance: Always useful.
There’s nothing here that’s particularly exciting or useful.
- Initial: Ancestral Touch: Barely better than a cantrip.
- Advanced: Ancestral Defense: Excellent, especially considering how terrible the Oracle’s defenses are.
- Greater: Ancestral Form: Useful as an escape mechanism, to get past physical obstacles which might require flight, or to give you time to go hide, but you can’t attack or cast spells, so this is almost purely a utility spell, and it’s not an especially good one. Maybe you could use to run through hazards like fires or pits full of spikes?
- : Both options are consistently useful in a typical game.
: This is
devastating. A 15% chance to simply waste an Action because your ancestors
don’t like it means that in any given situation you might have a a 15%
chance to be completely useless. You have a 50% chance to either roll the
Spellcasting ancestor or to get your choice (you should pick Spellcasting),
but that means that you have a 50% chance to be massively hindered in your
most important capability. Outside of combat you’re stuck with one ancestor
all day. Oh, and the 15% chance gets worse as your curse gets worse, so as
you gain more levels and face larger threats you’re gradually more likely to
be useless at random.
- Minor: 15% chance to fail actions that your Ancestor doesn’t like.
- Moderate: 25% chance to fail, so you’ll fail one in every four actions that your Ancestor doesn’t like. You get a super tiny bonus to stuff, but it is nowhere near enough to matter (with the exception of the Spellcasting ancestor, which remains amazing).
- Major: 35% chance to fail. That’s more than one in three. If you don’t roll Spellcasting for any given turn, you’re basically useless in combat.
The Battle Mystery attempts to turn the Oracle into a front-line martial character similar to a champion or a warpriest, granting proficiency in heavy armor and some focus spells which try to make the Oracle good with weapon. Unfortunately, I don’t think the mystery meets its goal. Battle Oracles are no more effective with weapons than any other oracle, but heavy armor does make them more able to stand in melee.
Your best bet is to build the Battle Oracle is a front-line support character. Support your martial allies with both spells and occasionally with Strikes or skills, but don’t bother using a weapon beyond low levels.
- : Heavy armor proficiency is a big boost, effectively adding +4 to your AC and removing the need for Dexterity so that you can focus your Ability Boosts elsewhere. Proficiency in weapons does nearly nothing to help you since even with better weapon options the Oracle is still absolutely terrible with weapons.
- : Strength is a hard choice for most oracles, but the Battle Oracle typically fights in heavy armor, so a bit of Strength makes sense.
- Granted Cantrip: Shield: Less work than using and maintaining an actual shield, but if you use the Shield Block portion of the spell you lose the spell for 10 minutes. Still, a great defensive option. If you plan to be in melee, you should probably still carry a mundane shield.
: The first two spells
are great for an oracle looking to play a front-line support character.
- Initial: Call to Arms: +2 to initiative for your whole party will frequently mean that your allies go before an enemy that barely beat them otherwise. Going early in combat can put you at a huge advantage, so an easy initiative bonus is amazing. You also grant a small pool of temporary hit points with a duration longer than most fights. This is an amazing way to start combat, so unless you plan to use something like Warcry I recommend casting this every time you roll initiative.
- Advanced: Battlefield Persistence: A decent bonus and you can use it on anything, but you need to use it before you make the roll. There’s a 1 in 5 chance that it will increase your degree of success by one step, so it’s not an awful bet, but save it for saving throws that you know will be important. It also helps prevent Incapacitation effects, which is nice for enemy spellcasters.
- Greater: Heroic Feat: The versatility is nice, but the Action cost is hard and the level cap of the feat means that you’ll never get to use anything especially amazing. This does appear to ignore prerequisites, which is nice.
- : Both spells try to turn the Oracle into a martial threat, but they don’t do the job. You could be effective at Athletics and at weapon Strikes for one Action, but one Action is not a build.
: If you’re
okay with grabbing a weapon from time to time, this curse is manageable.
You’ll need to intermingle spellcasting with Strikes in order to avoid (or
at least minimize) a penalty to your AC and saves. The fast healing offered
by the Moderate and Major versions of the curse will help offset your poor
defenses, but don’t get complacement. As much as you might dress like one,
you are not a fighter.
- Minor: A near-constant -2 penalty to AC and saves. You can suppress it for one turn by making a Strike, but the Oracle is absolutely terrible with weapons, so you’ll spend many turns casting spells instead. Expect to just live with the penalty. At least you get heavy armor to offset the AC penalty.
- Moderate: You can no longer remove the penalty from your curse, and reducing it by 1 frequently won’t be worth the effort to make a Strike. The damage bonus is a negligible, but the Fast Healing is actually really nice. You don’t want to drag out fights to get free healing, but it will keep you from dying and will prevent things like persistent bleed damage. You notably need to be in a “non-trivial” combat encounter, so you can’t go pick a fight with a bag of rats to get free healing.
- Major: More fast healing and the damage bonus is actually meaningful (though still not great). But Stupefied is a huge penalty for spellcasters, so if you hit this point you should expect to spend the rest of the encounter making Strikes until you can Refocus.
An excellent healer in a party with Negative Healing, and thanks to easy access to temporary hit points and resistance to common damage types, the Bones Oracle is surprisingly durable despite the Oracle’s poor defenses. There isn’t much here that works offensively, so you’re on your own there, but in a party relying on Negative Healing you could easily rely on spells like Harm both offensively and to heal your party. The curse is also extremely gentle and easy to offset with some General Feats.
- : Not every character wants negative healing, and how useful it is depends on the composition of your party. Ideally, you want everyone to have negative healing so that you can spam Harm spells to both harm enemies and heal allies. If you already have negative healing, the benefit is negligible, so this is primarily for characters who couldn’t get negative healing otherwise.
- : Someone in the party should be good with Medicine, but you likely have neither the Wisdom nor the skill increases to make Medicine effective.
- Granted Cantrip: Chill Touch: Decent cantrip damage of a good damage type, but touch range is dangerous for oracles.
: Soul Siphon is great
and you should use it all the time. Armor of Bones is an excellent defense
with a low Action cost. You don’t need to both with Claim Undead.
- Initial: Soul Siphon: The damge isn’t great, but you get a decent pool of temporary hit points, especially if the target becomes Drained and loses one or two hit points per level. The temporary hit points notably don’t have a listed expiration, so you could use this on an yourself or an ally to get the temporary hit points, heal the target with Medicine, then go into the day with some easy temporary hit points. The classic bag of rats tricks won’t be much help here since you only get as many temporary hit points as the hit points lost by the target.
- Advanced: Armor of Bones: For one Action, this is pretty good. Bludgeoning damage is still a problem, but few monsters deal bludgeoning damage. You even get resistance to some common energy damage types. If you can get resistance to poison (maybe from your ancestry) you can have resistance to many of the most common damage types in the game.
- Greater: Claim Undead: Only situationally useful, and with a 10-minute duration it’s not an especially good way to handle undead enemies. You might try to use this for powerful single undead foes like liches and vampires, but thanks to the Incapacitation trait that’s unlikely to succeed.
: Both options are good. I
like Death’s Call better, but if you’re happy with the temporary hit points
from Soul Siphon you’ll do just fine with Touch of Undeath.
- Death – Death’s Call: Death’s Call feels like a weird choice alongside Soul Siphon since both provide temporary hit points, and Soul Siphon’s temporary hit points don’t have a duration, while Death’s Call’s temporary hit points only last one minute. But these spells have different use cases: Soul Siphon allows you to get temporary hit points that last indefinitely, so you can get some temporary hp at the start of the day (or between fights) and carry them around. Death’s Call is for use in combat, allowing you to replenish your temporary hit points long enough to get through the fight. Having both available makes it easy to keep a bubble of temporary hit points most of the time.
- Undeath – Touch of Undeath: Decent single-target damage with a 1-Action casting time, but the Touch range is risky so don’t rush into melee just to use this.
: This is incredibly
gentle. You take some minor penalties and suffer the inconvenience of
Medicine being less effective in exchange for huge bonuses against common
Fortitude saves, poison resistance, and the ability to automatically succeed
on Recovery checks while dying. You can offset most of the penalties by
taking Diehard and Toughness. This is the sort of curse that you keep maxed
out as much as possible.
- Minor: Sure, Medicine will be less efficient at healing you, but non-magical healing is mostly reserved for outside of combat where you typically have more time to spend. You can also cast Heal, so you’re not going to suffer.
- Moderate: Drained 1 is a pretty big penalty, but you can offset the hit points with the Toughness feat, and you get an impressive +4 bonus to saves against many things which would target Fortitude, and your Successes against the listed stuff are raised to Critical Successes so you’ll frequently suffer minor or no effects.
- Major: You can offset Wounded 1 by taking Diehard if you’re worried about it, but it may not be necessary since you can choose to automatically succeed on Recovery checks while you’re dying.
As long as you can avoid grappling and making Athletics checks, Cosmos is great. It has a good mix of offensive and utility options, allowing you to handle a variety of challenges using only your Mystery features. The curse is barely a curse, giving you temporary skill feats as the curse worsens rather than adding meaningful penalties.
- : This is a huge amount of damage resistance and will prevent a mountain of damage over the course of your career.
- : A decent knowledge skill, but don’t feel compelled to go beyond Trained.
- Granted Cantrip: Dancing Lights: Fine outside of combat, but since the spell is Sustained you can’t spare the Actions to keep the lights running when a fight breaks out. You’ll likely also need to learn Light or carry a mundane light source like a lantern.
: Spray of Stars is
great for crowds and Interstellar Void is great for single targets, so you
have good options for basically any fight.
- Initial: Spray of Stars: Dazzled is a 20% miss chance on all attacks, and also allows you and your allies to hide from the affected creatures. The damage isn’t fantastic, but Dazzled for 3 rounds on a Failure is great for your whole career. The 15-foot cone is admittedly small, but Reach Spell can extend that to 45 feet, which is enough to encompass most encounters. Start a fight by dazzling all of your enemies, and you’ll start with a reliable advantage.
- Advanced: Interstellar Void: Excellent against strong single foes with a lot of hit points to work through. The damage is a Basic Save, so it might be doubled, halved, or negated entirely, but the effect doesn’t end regardless of the target’s saving throws so you can Sustain the spell each turn to reapply the damage every turn for the spell’s full 1-minute duration. The target is also fatigued for the whole duration, penalizing their AC and their saves (including the save against this spell, though I’m not certain if they’re Fatigued before the initial save), and preventing them from taking certain actions, such as Sustain a Spell.
- Greater: Moonlight Bridge: Mostly intended as a bridge or a ramp, but by this level magical flight is typically available so creating a bridge is rarely useful. The mechanics around how things pass through the bridge are weird. Creatures can move through it (only you and your allies can walk on it), but attacks can’t, so you can use the bridge as a wall to block attacks and force enemies to move through the bridge to reach you.
: One really good option.
- Darkness – Cloak of Shadow: Broadly useful, and since it’s automatically heightened magical darkness it can overcome magical light from other spells in addition to suppressing light from things like torches and sunlight. This isn’t quite the ability to hide in plain sight (the spell very specifically calls out that observant creatures can observe the darkness moving), but it’s close. The ability to remove the cloak and leave the effect in place for the spell’s duration allows for further trickery if you’re clever enough to intentionally draw observers’ attention to it.
- Moon – Moonbeam: Too situational and too little damage.
: As long as you
don’t plan to rely on Strength and you don’t get grappled, this isn’t a
problem. Stay at a safe distance from your enemies (ideally with a Defender
between you and anything dangerous) and you may never feel the drawbacks of
- Minor: Oracles are awful with weapons and are stuck in light armor, so using anything Strength-based is a profoundly bad idea. Using Dexterity-based weapons or spells makes Enfeebled much less problematic, but if you do get dragged into a grapple you’re going to be in trouble.
- Moderate: Not especially impactful. Powerful Leap and Quick Jump allow you to jump more easily, potentially allowing you to get around small obstacles like pits or difficult terrain.
- Major: Cloud jump is a cheap substitute for flight, and since you don’t take damage from falling you can easily maneuver around or over many physical barriers with minimal risk.
This is a very solid option for a fire-based blaster. The spells are good, the curse is difficult, but not crippling, and you get enough good Focus Spells that you should always have an effective fire option ready. The biggest challenge is how common resistance and immunity to fire damage are.
- : Improves your Reflex saves by one step. Oracles have absolutely terrible saves, so this is a welcome defensive benefit. It will also help protect you from your own spells.
- : Important if you plan to fly.
- Granted Cantrip: Produce Flame: The go-to single-target damage cantrip.
: Thematically and
- Initial: Incendiary Aura: Persistent damage is great, and 2d4 right at first level is huge. The biggest challenge is being able to consistently deal fire damage to trigger the effect, but that’s easily done. Encourage your allies to look for sources of fire damage, such as flaming weapon runes or other spells. Just keep in mind that you and your allies are subject to the same effect and you can’t dismiss the spell, so be absolutely certain not to use this against enemies which can deal fire damage.
- Advanced: Whirling Flames: This is alarmingly close to as much damage as Fireball, and since you get two separate areas of effect it’s much better suited to handling foes who are spread around an area. Still better, the spell’s scaling adds additional bursts, allowing you to target additional clusters of enemies while also scaling the damage (again, not as well as Fireball, but decently close).
- Greater: Flaming Fusillade: The action economy here is great, but remember that since you make an Attack with Produce Flame, you’ll suffer a Multiple Attack Penalty, so spending all of your Actions to cast Produce Flame three times per turn is usually a bad idea. More likely you’ll cast 2-Action spells and fill your third action with Produce Flame.
: Fire Ray is fine, but
you really don’t need another single-target damage option that deals fire
damage, so Dazzling Flash is definitely the go-to option here.
- Fire – Fire Ray: This is Produce Flame with double the damage dice. That’s fine, but it’s not especially impactful.
- Sun – Dazzling Flash: Excellent crowd control, and the fact that this scales to a 30-foot cone (more with Reach Spell) makes it even better. The Dazzled condition is effectively a 20% miss chance on attacks, and imposing it for a minute on a Failure means that enemies will be severely hindered for the duration of most fights.
: Difficult, but
not totally crippling. Expect to spend a lot of time casting AOE spells to
handle targets beyond 30-foot range.
- Minor: In close quarters, such as a dungeon, this is rarely more than an inconvenience. But in fights in open spaces you’ll need to avoid making attacks at a distance. Plan to rely on spells which allow saving throws instead of making attack rolls.
- Moderate: Being Concealed from other creatures is a nice defensive benefit, and while there are creatures with things like blindsight, those creatures are in the minority. Unfortunately your ability to see continues to degrade, but you can still drop AOE spells on enemies that are Hidden, and since you’re clearly interested in fire spells it’s nice that those spells still work normally within 30 feet.
- Major: This is a gamble. You come out on top in terms of damage dealt versus damage taken, but the 10-foot range on the aura is small and oracles are not built to fight in close quarters. Try to avoid using this unless you have numerous weak enemies or enemies with Vulnerability to fire. And be sure to hit yourself with Heal when your hit points start running short.
This is a healbot, plain and simple. It’s a pretty good healbot, but healbots are still frequently frustraing to play because you’re expected to constantly pour resources into hit points restoration, turning every fight into an overly-long war of attrition instead of defeating your enemies and ending the fight. If you play Life Mystery, be sure that your allies can deal a ton of damage to compensate.
- : 2 extra hit points per level adds up quickly. You’re going to need all the hit points you can get thanks to Curse of Outpouring Life, so consider taking Toughness, too.
- : Someone in the party should be good with Medicine, but you likely have neither the Wisdom nor the skill increases to make Medicine effective.
- Granted Cantrip: Stabilize: Potentially useful at low levels, but for the same two Actions you can cast Heal and return the creature to consciousness so that they can rejoin the fight.
: Two good support
options which makes sense for your party’s primary healer. Life-Giving Form
is really cool thematically, but the mechanics just don’t justify the cost.
- Initial: Life Link: This is a great spell for a back-line caster build to cast on front-line melee allies. By taking some of the damage dealt to your target, you make it less likely that enemies can focus on a single party member to knock them out. You have easy access to Heal, so even if you don’t have as many hit points as a fighter or a barbarian you can heal yourself to keep yourself going.
- Advanced: Delay Affliction: Delaying an affliction for an hour is often enough time to make some Medicine checks, to Refocus, or to retreat to somewhere else so that you can find a more permanent solution. You also get some healing out of this, which makes it less painful to cast during combat.
- Greater: Life-Giving Form: I can’t think of a good situation to use this. The healing is decent, but not enough to use this in combat. The resistance to precision damage will rarely matter, and if you plan to slap some undead with this the vulnerability to negative damage is a huge problem.
: Weirdly, the “selfish”
option is a better choic here despite the Life Mystery clearly being
designed as healbot.
- Death – Death’s Call: A consistently useful source of temporary hit points. Death’s Call is really good, but feels strange on a healer build, but the temporary hit points will help you survive Life Link.
- Healing – Healer’s Blessing: This is frustratingly the weak. It’s only effective if you cast it then spam Heal for several turns, which is massive waste of resources and time in combat.
but not devastating. Your curse’s Moderate stage actually improves the Heal
spell, allowing you to use magical healing to grater effect (at least on
your allies), but healing yourself is a huge pain. Expect to invest heavily
in the Medicine skill, take build options that give you more hit points, and
expect to cast some high-level Heal spells on yourself.
- Minor: Inconvenient, but not terrible. Your maximum hit points are unusually high, so you have more room to endure damage before you need to stop to heal yourself. Expect to take a little extra time using Medicine to heal yourself after fights.
- Moderate: Being effectively immune to magical healing from sources other than yourself is rough, but in many parties you will be the only person capable of casting Heal so that aspect of the curse may be unimportant. Raising the die on Heal from d8 to d12 increases Heal’s effectiveness significantly, at least partially offsetting the drawback of your curse’s Minor stage, not to mention how much more useful it is for your allies. If you’re desperate, an Elixir of Life will heal you nonmagically.
- Major: The benefits of getting an extra AOE Heal spell can make a huge impact in an encounter, but keep a close eye on your own hit points. Your curse’s Moderate stage increases the die to d12’s most of the time, so you’re losing 1d12 hit points per spells level rather than 1d8. If you burn through your high-level spells in a hurry, you’re going to run out of hit points in a hurry, too.
This is a weird subclass. You get better at the Oracle’s core spellcasting due to an expanded Spell Repertoire, but the Lore Mystery’s other benefits are mostly build around Recall Knowledge. Expect to invest in knowledge skills and Intelligence to make your frequent Recall Knowledge checks meaningful. Most of the Mystery’s spells are good, but few of them will be used in combat, so the impact of the Mystery may be minor unless you jump up to the Moderate stage to get free Recall Knowledge checks every turn.
- : The biggest limit of Spell Repertoires is that the small number of spells you know limits your options in any given situation. Adding an extra spell known per level dramatically improves your versatility.
- : I’ve never found Lore especially helpful, but it’s great that you get twice as many skills as other mysteries.
- Granted Cantrip: Read Aura: As soon as you can cast 3rd-level spells, this is redundant with Detect Magic.
: Two interesting
options that will help you with knowing stuff (or borrowing knowledge from
creatures that do).
- Initial: Brain Drain: The damage is decent and not many creatures have resistance to mental damage. Using the target’s skill modifier for Recall Knowledge is neat, but most enemies won’t be great with knowledge skills so that aspect is rarley useful. Considering the theme of the spell, it’s weird that you can’t steal the target’s current thoughts or recent memories.
- Advanced: Access Lore: Lore skills are weird. They’re too numerous and too specific in subject for them to be consistently useful in most games. This conveniently makes every lore skill available at what is likely your best possible proficiency.
- Greater: Dread Secret: The effect is not nearly big enough for a spell of such high level, and there’s no scaling of any kind.
penalties are rugh, but mostly survivable if you plan for it. Consider build
options which improve the benefits of Recall Knowledge, and invest heavily
in knowledge skills like Arcana and Occultism. Be sure to plan your Spell
Repertoire to avoid spells with Verbal Components as much as possible.
- Minor: That’s a big penalty on a class with terrible Perception and typically poor Wisdom. Expect to go late in the initiative order.
- Moderate: A free Recall Knowledge every turn is nice, especially if you can find something to give you a specific mechanical benefit for it. Being flat-footed perpetually is a huge problem, both becuase it gives you a penalty to AC and because it makes you vulnerable to things which require you to be Flat-Footed. The Recall Knowledge checks also work like Assurance, so using the same check for the same subject repeatedly won’t get you anywhere.
- Major: A huge number of spells have Verbal components, so if you plan to hit this stage frequently, be sure to plan your Spell Repertoire to avoid Verbal components wherever possible.
Less direct and harder to play than the Fire Mystery, but the complexity offers room to do cool stuff beyond damage. The features and spells are good, but be mindful of the vulnerability to lightning damage imposed by the curse.
- : Spells like Fog Cloud suddenly become powerful tactical options for you. Team up with a Storm Druid, bring up some fog, and run around basically untouchable in most fights. You also get a little extra damage with certain non-cantrip spells, but remember that the spell needs to deal physical damage (bludgeoning, piercing, or slashing) to get the bonus damage.
- : A decent knowledge skill, but don’t feel compelled to go beyond Trained.
- Granted Cantrip: Electric Arc: Arguably the best damage cantrip, it deals as much damage as most other cantrips but can target two creatures.
: Starts slow and gets
better as you add spells.
- Initial: Tempest Touch: Decent damage and a small debuff, but touch range is dangerous for the Oracle, so strongly consider Reach Spell if you want to use this.
- Advanced: Thunderburst: Decent damage in a large AOE which scales with spell level. Deafened isn’t a huge problem for most creatures in combat, unfortunately.
- Greater: Tempest Form: Air and water forms both allow you to be invisibile while still fighting, which is a massive tactical advantage.
- : Neither option is great.
fires are rarely necessary since you can cast Light, and while the growing
damage vulnerability to lighting is annoying, you can offset it with Resist
Energy. At that point, this is almost purely beneficial.
- Minor: Not a huge drawback. You can offset the damage vulnerability by casting Resist Energy.
- Moderate: You weren’t going to use missile attacks anyway, so this is protection from missile attacks and fire. Your vulnerability to lightning gets worse, but Resist Energy will still completely offset it.
- Major: Difficult terrain in a 15-foot area around you. That’s a huge impediment for enemies trying to reach you, preventing them from Stepping and making it hard to get into melee with you. If they do get into melee with you, you’re free to Step away without issue. If your allies are comfortable where they are, you can give your party a huge advantage by moving around in combat to make it difficult for enemies to move.