Thoughts on the Oracle

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Designing the Oracle

Originally there was no Oracle class. In 2004 when I started making what would become Chronos, there was only the Cerebral class. I felt strongly that there should be a “natural” form of magic not based on the Arcane or Divine Magical Arts. Cerebrals sounded like a good caster class alternative to the Sorcerers and Clerics. Many games have had this idea, so I wasn’t breaking new ground.

The Cerebral Class was going to be an anti-caster “caster class.” They would have Body, Mind, and Soul abilities based on what I called the Triad. In practice, I ended up with a few anti-magic abilities and special attunement powers. I needed to expand on the Triad concept, so I thought that the Cerebral could “specialize” in an area as they grew up. They would be feeling their powers manifest into different Aspects and they would have an edge with certain parts of the Triad. I still didn’t have a lot of direction at this point, so I let them sit for 4 more years until I met Jenn.

Jenn created the Cerebral Classes, I just refined them. Without her there would be no Oracle, Umbral, or Visceral. As a superhero and X-men fan, she felt an attachment to these “mutants” and knew where to go with them. She recommended I make the Cerebrals with some common powers but separate them according to the Aspects of the Triad. After a few days of brainstorming during trips and at the kitchen table, the first of the Cerebral classes created was the Oracle.

For the Oracle we felt we should pick the telekinetic power base and matter manipulation. I didn’t understand the full extent we would be able to take those powers until she started talking to me about our options. Our inspiration was Jean Grey and with Jenn’s knowledge of comics we had a quite a bit to work with. The Oracle evolved into two things, a healer and a damage dealer. The final product was a telepathic telekinetic mind reader that could make you think you were your own worst enemy. With the power to lift massive objects with her incredible mind, she could crush the life out her foes with a ton of crates. On top of those things she could create repulsor shields and heal wounds through psychic surgery.

The concepts were sound, but the Oracle’s role was not set in stone and their heals were not on par with a Cleric or a Druid. The Druid was my second Sentinel class but wasn’t finished, so we removed them in favor of the Oracle. The healing angle would need to be fleshed out further.

At this point, the Oracle was telepathic, telekinetic, and vitakinetic. These three things have stuck with the Oracle all the way to the current revision and I am very pleased with that decision. Some additional options have been added, but always in the flavor of these three areas.

Reactions to the Oracle

I feel that the Oracle has met positive reactions, except for one instance. In that case it wasn’t so much a faultof the class as the player was unhappy with their character concept. Even with the lack of excitement for the character–as a class–the tools offered to the team were integral to finishing the campaign that led to many funny stories about the adventures. The powers to make a Boss strike themselves with their own spell, lift them around the battlefield, and toss people about were always exciting moments.

The Oracle stands at the top list of played classes. It consistently finds a way into campaigns and makes a winning villain. In both of my longest standing campaigns, the Oracle was selected and has added interesting plot twists along the way. They offer many options for game style and flavor that have been used by players to great effect. For example, we’ve seen a powerful NPC’s behavior modified so they wouldn’t be in a constant drug induced brain fog and in another, impaled a serial killer on their very instruments of torture.

Our Oracles have always been characters. We have had a zany Oracle that thought he was a Cleric, an NPC child that was fostered by our iconic Raveena character, and an entire tribe of Oracles that hid out in the jungles of Dragonreach. I would have to say that the Oracle has always given us something to work with in the campaign, whether it was a memorable NPC, Villian, or a great Hero Class.

The bottom line reaction to the Oracle has been good and it has provided many headaches for me as a GM–something that also adds to its appeal!

 

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