Core Concept: Sitting down to write my assessment of the core concept for the Oracle begs the question: what is a class’ core concept?
If we refer to the narrative concept of a caster who must suffer a hindrance in order to access their powers, then I quite like the core concept for the oracle. Likewise if the core concept is a caster who unwillingly has magical powers thrust upon her by the gods. These are things I like.
If, however, the core concept refers to the class’s mechanics, then the oracle is perhaps the most vapid class I have assessed thus far. Not necessarily because any of its mechanics are bad, but because none of them are unique or inventive. The oracle is a hodge-podge class, assembled from mechanics left over from other classes.
Of course, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the oracle is a bad class, or that it was a poor addition to the game. It does, however, mean that I don’t have much to talk about. Forgive me if this ends up being short because of that.
Spells: The oracle is a sorcerer who casts divine spells. There’s really not much more to say about it. Oracles learn and cast spells exactly as sorcerers do, but they draw from the cleric spell list instead of the wizard spell list. They even copied the artwork concept of a scantily clad woman. (Joy).
I suppose the one distinction is that oracles must choose whether they prefer “cure” or “inflict” spells, and they will always automatically learn every spell of the type they chose. This is in addition to the spells they gain on the “spells known” table. And while players do have the option to choose “inflict” spells, I think the purpose of this mechanic is to make healing magic more accessible–which isn’t something I’m fond of.
Don’t get me wrong, when my character gets knocked down to 1 hp, it’s good to have a magical healer around. But I prefer magical healing to be a boon, not a necessity.
In terms of fluff, I will say that mysteries are a pretty cool idea.
Oracle’s Curse: This is probably the most interesting part of the Oracle; the flaw which they must live with in exchange for their power. It builds on ancient beliefs about magic–primal ones which seem somehow more true to the human experience. Though the curse doesn’t affect the character anywhere near as much as the mystery does, the benefits from the curse are still quite useful.
I’d prefer if the curses were a little harsher, to force the player to deal with a greater challenge. I also think these would be fun to randomize, though I understand that would be problematic for most players. (Wussies!)
Revelation / Final Revelation: These are similar to bloodline powers, and unique to each of the mysteries. To analyze each individually would go well beyond the scope of this post, and probably force it beyond ten thousand words. There are some pretty good ones, and a few bad ones. Blorp.
All in all, a solid class, but not a lot to write about.