Advanced Feats: Visions of the Oracle

o Advanced Feats: Visions of the Oracle has been on my  hard drive for a little while now, and this review has been delayed by matters unrelated to the content of the product, but here it is at last.

Review in 100 Words or Less:

If you are playing an Oracle, or thinking of playing an Oracle in a Pathfinder game then this product is a solid buy if your DM will let you use it. There are a good selection of feats that will enhance your Oracle be it for power or flavor.

Long Review:

I’ll be up front, I don’t play Pathfinder (at least not at the time of this writing), but I have played and DM’d 3.X for the duration of its release until 4E came out, and I have taken the time to read the Pathfinder rules quite recently. Of all the options in those rules the Oracle was the thing I most enjoyed, so when the chance came to review this book I was certainly interested, and I’ve been pleased by what I found inside for the cover price.

I have also not read any of the other books in this series, so my comments are reflections on this product alone.

Artwork:

Basically the artwork in the book is only the cover picture. There are a few icons scattered through the book as well, but overall the artwork is not what I would consider a feature, so in this regard it was a little disappointing.

The Feats:

Firstly there are 30 feats and exactly 2 are for Oracles only, so despite the name of the book and its purpose, spell casters of all stripes will find feats of value in this book. There are some feats that I see more as things to be used as house rules than as feats (eg Meta Spell which is one “fix” for the issues with meta magic and spontaneous casting), and there are many feats that I believe a DM would be wise to consider permitting into their game, and not just the one with GM Permission as a prerequisite.

As the meat of the book the feats do uphold their value, and so the book earns its price with them, especially as they are so widely useful. There is literally something here for all the spell casting classes, and given their prevalence at most tables that makes it worth the $3.95.

The Comments:

For me this is the best part of the book. Each feat comes with a comment, some short, some long, about why the feat is in the book. Reasons range from “rule of cool” to the authors feeling that the feat was needed to resolve some existing problem or lack in the available options, or even just as alternatives to other feats that do similar things in different ways. These comments are useful to players because they contain tips about using the feats (like sort the numbers out before the game), they are useful to DMs because they help understand if the feat might end up being too strong for your game or give insight into the intent of the feat rather than the strict wording. (Actually the really complex feats come with examples to help players and DMs understand them as well.)

But these comments for me a more useful in understanding the thoughts of the designer, and what that means for those who have aspirations to get their own work published. The comments give a lot of insight into what makes a feat perceived as “ok” at a design level that aspiring authors can potentially take a lot away from in developing their own material. Even for those who never aspire to be published, but are just home brewing their own material these comments are a goldmine for making better home brew as well. Yes even if you don’t home brew there is value here in helping you understand what feat might mean for your game regardless of its source.

If you play Pathfinder (or 3.5E at all) then this aspect of the book is what I see as the best value. Sure the feats will get used in games, but that look behind the curtain  of design is where the long term gold is in the book.

Other Content:

To be honest the summary and opinion about the Oracle, and the character builds seem superfluous to me. The book is labeled “Advanced” not “Beginner”, and that content I feel doesn’t have a place in an “Advanced” book, at least not at the level of complexity that these sections provide, they belong in a blog or web supplement in my mind. Fortunately, these are not what you are paying for and the Feats and their attendant commentary more than makes up for these pages.

(Note I do think advice on builds and the class has a place, but such content should be in tone with the “Advanced” label not introductory content.)

Overall:

As a person who isn’t playing Pathfinder, the comments included with the feats really impressed me, it is the first time I’ve seen such comments in a product and they certainly added value for me to such a slim volume. As a long time 3.XE player the feats are good (as a DM I’m sure I’d be carefully considering some before allowing them), so I’m confident that should your DM allow you to use them you would get value from many of the feats, especially if you are an Oracle due to their strong thematic ties to the class and the way they address a number of aspects of the class. If you are not playing an Oracle, but have a spell casting character there is plenty of good stuff in here, either for use as house rules flat, or if your group is more “by the book” to make things easier for a lot of builds.

At $3.95 (the same as the rest of the range) it is solid value, adding a lot of options for all spell casters.

And the Feats Are:

Armed Touch – Deliver touch spells using a melee weapon
Battlecaster – Cast spells as part of a full attack
Charmed – Add +5 bonus to a single dice roll
Concentration Spell (Metamagic) – Extend the duration of your spells through concentration
Conditional Curse – Your curse hinders you only about half of the time
Divine Resistance – Gain resistance to divine magic
Dormant Spell (Metamagic) – Cast helpful spells that remain dormant until activated
Elemental Boost –  Spells of your chosen element are infused with extra power
Extra use – Use any class ability an extra 1/day
Magic Sense – Sense magic energies and identify spells you save against
Meta Spell  – Learn metamagic versions of spells
Mystic Retribution – Zap enemies who interrupt your spellcasting using residual magic
Penetrating Spell (Metamagic) – Your spells overcome energy resistance
Potent Ability – Add +1 bonus to the DC of your supernatural and spell-like abilities
Potent Divination – Your detection spells are faster and stronger than normal
Preserve Scroll – Cast a spell from a scroll without destroying it
Prophetic Dreamer – Your dreams sometimes echo the future
Quick Healing – Provide first aid and treat wounds and poison as a move action
Savage Critical – Your critical hits strike harder on a natural 20
Scroll Mastery – Gain a +4 bonus to CL and Use Magic Device checks to activate scrolls
Scroll Metamagic – Add metamagic effects to spells read from scrolls
Somatic Weapon – Satisfy somatic components using a chosen weapon
Spell Retention – Never lose your spell when interrupted
Spiritual Armaments Spell (Metamagic) – Create spectral equipment when you summon or animate the dead
Strange Revelation – Learn a revelation from a mystery other than your own
Tactical Spellcasting – Move before and after spellcasting
Touch Spell Control – You are less restricted in how you hold a charge from touch spells
Transfer Spell (Metamagic) – Change the range of a spell from personal to touch
Two Wand Technique – Activate one wand in each hand as a single action
Wand Casting –  Cast spells with a wand in your hand, augmenting spells of the same school


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3 Responses

  1. Thanks for the review! And from a fellow L5R enthusiast no less 🙂

    I’m glad you enjoyed the comments. I wanted to try to do some different things with Advanced Feats and see how they go over. The comments have been pretty well received, the builds a bit less so. (they builds are sometimes the hardest parts of the book to do) but they also help me write some of the feats since it forces you to consider if a feat is really worth taking or really works for the class or not.

    Thanks for all your input! The reviews really help be get a perspective on what to work on for future projects.

    • Us L5R enthusiasts are found everywhere!

      I understand that reason for creating the builds it makes good sense. But I’m not sure that reason places them in the book logically.

      Glad someone got some use from the review!

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