Like many other geeks, I have two main sources of inspiration for oracles. One is simply known as “the Oracle of Delphi,” though there are infinite variations on this theme from the Pythia – the priestess at the Temple of Apollo responsible for the various visions accounted to the oracle. The other comes from a much more modern source – The Matrix – a figure in the system trying to help humans battling against their machine oppressors. Though I’d love to do more research, far too often my time is not my own (most of it gets distributed to my family and work)…
So I’m always interested to read more about this new Oracle class in Pathfinder through supplements like Visions of the Oracle by Sigfriend Trent and Open Design and now Stefen Styrsky’s Divine Favor: The Oracle. I don’t know much about the Oracle beyond what I’ve read in the D20 Pathfinder SRD, but I love the addition of the mysteries to the mix – adding additional powers, skills, and spells to the limited choices they have at their disposal.
The book starts with an image on the cover from Christophe Swal of a robed man with a dagger and staff yelling to the sky. I’m not sure what he’s yelling about, but based on his expression it must be important! From there this 18 page PDF delves into 15 pages of content covering curses, mysteries, and feats.
Some of the curses listed are cruel gifts from the gods. Imagine not being able to speak except to repeat words and sentences spoken to you? Or to not possess a soul? Or maybe your curse is that you can’t stay in the same place, needing to travel at least 50 miles after being in a particular area for a week. Though I think many would offer some serious roleplaying challenges, a few only make sense for NPCs or life would truly be hell for the PCs in question.
The mysteries also offer some intriguing choices, from the tinkerer’s gift for machines and clockworks to being able to channel the dark side of the moon. My favorite of these is the “Old Gods” mystery, which hints to me of an oracle of the Old Ones like Cthulhu – with the power to open a doorway into their plane or dimension to give others a glimpse of the Old Gods’ home (and potentially suck them in or drive them insane) or even being able to become a full servant and an outsider yourself. Imagine what a surprise your PCs might have encountering one of these charmers!
are similarly interesting, offering some spell-like abilities like the ability to summon an avatar from the god(s) you worship to fight on your behalf or learning knowledge beyond your ken or making your own spells harder to resist…
Though I’m still a bit unsure of how I might use an oracle myself, the idea of using an oracle as an NPC is quite tempting now, especially with some of the quirks in Divine Favor: The Oracle. I only wish it was for 4th edition more than Pathfinder, but hey – we can’t all inhale the fumes at Delphi, now can we?