Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Augury - Visions of the Oracle (Advanced Feats)


Finally an Advanced Feat product dedicated to the oracle, one of the new base classes of the Advanced Player’s Guide – and without any doubt my favorite one. The excellent flavor, the cool mix of benefits and drawbacks of the curses... all these elements made me fall in love with these spontaneous divine casters (which, in my opinion, are a perfect fit for Sword & Sorcery games).

After dissecting and briefly commenting on each of the class abilities, Visions of the Oracle brings 30 new feats. These new options are not necessarily exclusive to the oracle, most being a fair choice for other classes as well.

The Advanced Feats line is known for creating feats that are mechanically innovative and thought provoking. For an example, let’s take the Battlecaster feat:

Benefit: As a full attack action, after making your first attack, you may cast a spell with a casting time of a standard action or less instead of taking any additional attacks.

It’s easy to see that this feat steps dangerously into the niche of the new magus class (from the yet-to-be-published Ultimate Magic). While a great feat by itself, this kind of design philosophy doesn’t fit well (no pun intended) with some DMs and players.

Another potentially problematic feat is Penetrating Spell that allows the spellcaster to ignore any energy resistance – increasing the spell slot just by 1 level. However, there are also very cool feats – like Charmed and Extra Use – and some great ideas – like Concentration Spell and Preserve Scroll.

The Conditional Curse feat is unusual in that it removes the drawbacks of an oracle’s curse in specific situations

Magic Sense is thematically fitting for the class and an interesting tactical option, but my favorite feat is Prophetic Dreamer. It literally forces the GM, once per session, to give some revelation to the character (through a dream) about dangers ahead. Called by the author a “Roleplaying Feat”, it’s based on a narrative approach very dissimilar to Pathfinder’s nature, although I can see a lot of good uses for it in the hands of GMs that appreciate the challenge.

It’s curious that there is almost no feat actually made for the oracle class in Visions of the Oracle. There are a fair number of feats dealing with scrolls and upgrading minor mechanics (like metamagic use by spontaneous spellcasters and the Heal skill). Of the former type, there are some pretty powerful like Spell Retention and Savage Critical (this one should be fighter-only).

Visions of the Oracle ends with three complete character builds. While still possessing excellent ideas and mechanics, the lack of consistency with the oracle’s theme and the number of potentially powerful feats may discourage some buyers. If strict game balance is not an issue for you, then Visions of the Oracle is definitely worth a look.