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I have zero experience with D&D. It was with great reluctance that I agreed to make a character in Pathfinder for a campaign my friend is running. Now, in WoD (and somewhat in Shadowrun) the "advanced" characters — i.e. the ones you have to buy specialty books for — are usually pretty powerful compared to your typical characters, so I thought this might be true for Pathfinder.

So far, my Oracle (level 4) has been so ineffective that she might as well be a cannon-fodder NPC. My GM keeps saying, "You're just like a cleric." Except for being weaker, more restricted, and… my character's comic relief, and I wasn't expecting her to be.

I'm okay with her being comic relief, and I read two other posts on this site about how not to have a weak oracle, which should help, but is an oracle necessarily weaker than a cleric? And, by extension, are "advanced" character types in Pathfinder usually weaker than their more stereotypical counterparts?

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Hello and welcome to RPG.SE. The question and answer format of the site isn't really set up for discussion/opinion-fest questions (see the FAQ). If you could turn this into one or more specific questions with what could be a best answer, you'll get better results. "Critique this oracle build to optimize its healing," "How to build a good [healing, combat, etc] oracle," "Oracle vs Cleric," and "are advanced characters weaker" are separate and in order of increasing subjectivity... – mxyzplk Nov 15 '11 at 0:29

Oracle is to Cleric as Sorcerer is to Wizard. They are balanced by design and, in my experience, in play. You get to cast on the fly, which is good, but know fewer spells, which is bad. You have additional cool powers to put icing on top. There are plenty of good Oracle builds, but it's impossible to help you without knowing your build or what it is you think your Oracle should be doing - healing, combat, etc.

Pathfinder is different from 3.5 in that "splatbook" classes are not generally more powerful than the core classes. Their specific design goal is not to continually escalate power. They have taken care (in most cases) to not degrade the core classes and to make base classes, alternate classes, prestige classes, and templates balanced with core classes so that, for example, a level 12 fighter is never worse than a level 12 (combination of crazy stuff). There's only one real exception, the ninja is "just plain better" than the rogue. But besides that, the other classes are neither better nor worse, just different.

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Note that the 3rd party stuff is not necessarily as balanced as the books from Paizo. For an example look up the Priest class on on the SRD site. – C. Ross Apr 23 '12 at 12:40

@Kikimora: See my answer to this question, which explains what an Oracle does in detail, and how her mechanics work. An Oracle isn't more or less powerful than a Pathfinder cleric; she has a narrower range of spells; but, has more spell "ammo" than a cleric of the same level, and more flexibility about how many of which spells she can cast on a given day. She gets her highest-level spells one level later than an equivalent Cleric.

If you are having difficulty building a powerful Oracle, you may want to reconsider her spell selection and bonus abilities. Ask the DM if you can make changes.

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Might I offer… as a potential source for inspiration? – Cthos Nov 15 '11 at 15:28
The good news here is that, "Upon reaching 4th level, and at every even-numbered oracle level after that (6th, 8th, and so on), an oracle can choose to learn a new spell in place of one she already knows. In effect, the oracle loses the old spell in exchange for the new one. The new spell’s level must be the same as that of the spell being exchanged. An oracle may swap only a single spell at any given level, and must choose whether or not to swap the spell at the same time that she gains new spells known for the level." - Pathfinder APG p.43. So there is some built-in flexibility as you grow. – Tyri Apr 24 '12 at 2:00

Paizo designers have stated publicly that their main goal is to make character classes that are fun to play, and that balance is not as important to them. That's might be a reason why there are power differences in pathfinder that eclipse even the ones in 3.5.

If you want to play a truly powerful character, play a wizard, cleric or druid (as in 3.5), or play a summoner or witch.

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Playing a Tier 1 character isn't necessarily more powerful for a new player, and an Oracle can be plenty potent with the write spell/feat selection. – C. Ross Apr 23 '12 at 12:41
Indeed, but it was stated in the question that he/she thought advanced/splatbooks characters were more powerful, and he/she picked a splatbook character. So my suggestion might be appropriate, after all, since those are clearly classes that are very powerful out of the book, without much optimization needed. – Mala Apr 23 '12 at 13:25
I strongly disagree, a Wizard is not very powerful without game knowledge which the player obviously lacks. For a wizard, the old adage "Knowledge is power" is key. An experienced player playing a wizard can clean house, but a new player trying to play a wizard is likely to learn to hate the game. – C. Ross Apr 23 '12 at 13:32
That has not been my experience. People who like playing optimized characters will likely spend the time learning and reading up on possibilities (maybe asking on a public forum as this). And optimizing a wizard just a little (e.g. use spell suggestions from any of the many boards out there) is much easier than optimizing a fighter (having to dig through tons of splatbooks to find options). – Mala Apr 23 '12 at 13:39

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