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I've made an Oracle, 1st level, Mystery of Lore, Haunted Curse, and I took Sidestep Secret as my first revelation. I'm trying to decide if I should focus on melee combat and take relevant feats for that or if I should take metamagic feats, or something else. Also, any advice for building the character would be helpful. This will be my first Pathfinder character after a long period of 3.5 games. The statblock is Str 13, Dex 10, Con 11, Int 13, Wis 11, Cha 20, as a human.

At the moment the team composition is a fey sorceress, a druid (who wants to do lots of 'I'm a bear!' shapeshifting fun), and a zen archery monk. I don't want to neglect my spellcasting side, because I get the feeling my cures are going to be a big part of the composition, but I feel like I need to be out in front, mostly because at least two of the others in the group are going to be bad at it.

As for optimization, I like my mystery and my character, but I think that some level of min/maxing shows interest and respect for the game.

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4 Answers 4

This is a pretty interesting question. Without more clarity as @mxyzplk points out, I'll keep this at general suggestions, but I'll be happy to add more clear suggestions later if necessary.

First off, let's look at your ability scores. Your Cha 20 is going to be netting you +2 additional 1st level spells per day, which gives you a total of 5 (I'm going to leave 0th out of the answer, since they're however many times you want). Problem with Oracles is they get 2 1st level spells known per day at 1st level which if I'm not mistaken can't be modified by anything. This is also going to make the saving throw target number for your 1st level spells 16 (10 + Cha bonus of 5 + Spell level 1), which isn't too shabby.

Your Revelation makes your Cha bonus apply to your AC instead of Dex, and adds to your reflex save. You're going to be decently hard to hit, with a +5 bonus to your AC and reflex.

The rest of your abilities, though, cap out at a +1 bonus. So base, you're at a +1 to hit in melee (+0 BAB for starting Oracle), and a +0 for Ranged.

You're getting 4 + 1 skill point per level for the Int bonus, +1 for being human (and possibly an additional one if you do that with your favored class, which I'm assuming is oracle). The rest of your stats are +0.

The Lore mystery will play heavily into your skills. You'll be doing a decent amount of skill rolling outside of combat, and will be able to identify magic items with the best of them. Plus, being able to Brain Drain a captive to get information is just cool.

The Trickier bit is going to be combat. Here are a few suggestions to get you started:

Buff/Debuffer

Okay, so here's where we can branch out a little. My primary suggestion would be (depending on the composition of your party) do something with buffs/debuffs. Bless is a nice 1 min/level spell that gives every ally within 50 ft a +1 attack bonus and a +1 to fear saves. Couple that with your high-ish spell save DC and you could take Bane,Cause Fear, or Doom for a bit of early-on battlefield control. Your High Cha will give you a decent save DC, and additionally your AC will be pretty decent for your class. Also since you can Spontaneously cast Cure Spells whether or not you know them, you're a decent support healer in a fight as well. You can also up your Save DC with Spell Focus in the given school your chosen debuff spell is in.

Fighting Route

If you want to go the route of attacking things youself, I would suggest you take Magic Weapon and Shield of Faith (or Bless if you want to up your attack more, it stacks with the Enhancement bonus of Magic Weapon). You can take feats which make you a bit more effective with your chosen weapon (which, base, is limited to simple weapons), but you need BAB of +1 to get Weapon Focus, and you can't get anything past that without being a fighter.

Summoning Route

Alternatively, you could take Summon Monster I and a few feats to boost the effectiveness of the summon (Augment Summoning and it's prerequisite), to dole out some more damage.

TeeHee you can't hit me

If you want to do nothing but dodge attacks, you could: Take a combination of Entropic Shield, Shield of Faith, and Protection from Evil. Note that the AC bonus of Shield of Faith and Protection from Evil don't stack, since they're both deflection, but you get the idea. Nothing like a 20% miss chance from ranged attacks and a 20 AC at 1st level (+4 from armor, +4 from Cha, +2 from Spell). If you consider upping your Dex to 13 at the cost of say your Con, you could take Dodge as a feat, get another +1 to your AC, and then make up for the loss of a hit point per level with your favored class bonus.

Edit: I keep thinking of more things. Per your Metamagic Feat suggestion, since you're a spontaneous caster, keep in mind that any metamagic feat you take will force you to spend a full-round action casting the spell. (Aside from Quicken Spell, of course).

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I'm currently using a morningstar and heavy steel shield as my weaponry, which is a nice 1d8+1 and 19 AC (+5 revelation, +2 shield, +2 leather armor because I still have to treat Cha as Dex and Max Dex affects it.) and hearing that about metamagic feats makes me think that I should be focusing on other aspects outside of them. I'm not really familiar with the Pathfinder feat list, though, and it sounds like trying to go down the Weapon Focus line might be prohibitive. I like the Buff/Debuffer idea, but I also like the 'Can't Hit Me' bit. I'm not really worried about DPS, just holding the line. –  PratzStrike May 7 '11 at 14:53
    
Yeah, I went with hide to get a +4 AC from the armor, and it does lower your max Cha bonus to ac a +4, but throw your shield in over that and you're at a 20 base without shield of faith. I agree with @mxyzplk that Lore isn't going to make you a great melee master, and getting the weapon feats is going to be fairly impossible unless you multiclass into fighter or something. –  Cthos May 7 '11 at 20:09

Melee - Making The Best Of A Bad Deal

A Lore Oracle is never going to be a great meleer - if you really think you're going to be front lining a lot you might want to switch to Battle or similar. In the end, a Lore Oracle isn't really more suitable for melee than a sorcerer, but you can certainly do it if you want to.

Lore for Defense Only

You are not going to be an effective general melee damage dealer regardless of what you do. If you just need to occupy a hole in the front rank, however, you can rely on a super high AC to simply be a blocker. The problem here is that while your AC is very high for level 1, it's not going to increase with level as much as some other builds, or at least without aggressive investment in it. It will also rain on your spellcasting parade a bit because you'll be provoking AoOs. You will absolutely want Protection from Evil (much better than SoF for the first six levels and arguably even thereafter) going and will need to convince your party to do hurry-up offense while it's going.

Your damage will be helpful for the first about three levels, and then it'll be a drop in the bucket compared to everyone else's. You could just fight defensively and max AC without even bothering to attack, or - you could take Sanctuary and cast it and stand in the front line - many opponents won't be able to attack you at all. This fills a hole but all those attacks will just fall on the bear instead - of course, you'll be there to heal her, but melee damage >> healing over time. You have Int 13 and qualify for Combat Expertise - if you really want to burn feats on melee you should take this to further boost your AC, and then you can add on other subsidiary feats that will let you mess with people without having to actually deal a lot of damage (Imp. Disarm, Trip, Steal, Reposition).

Your first investments in gear should be masterwork armor, mithral armor (chain shirt), magic armor, amulet of natural armor, etc. I'm not sure why you're not using studded leather already, its max dex is +5? And Charisma buffers will give you double benefits. For your second spell, either have it be something actual Lore Oracle-y like Comprehend Languages, but if you are going full melee I'd say Divine Favor over Magic Weapon, as MW will start becoming irrelevant really fast as soon as you get masterwork/magic weaponry. But if you are spending all your feat and spell and everything selections on melee you'll be happier choosing a real melee character.

In fact, you know what? Part of the Lore Oracle's schtick is getting wizard spells eventually. If you invested in Use Magic Device you could use Mage Armor off a wand or whatnot and eliminate armor entirely; you'll be wanting to use Eagle's Splendor and the like to boost AC and spellcasting starting at level 3 so may as well. Then get a hot outfit like the iconic's.

Also, it doesn't hurt to ask your GM for some favors. "Hey man, looks like I'm roped into front lining... Can I get my deity's weapon as a proficiency or something at least?"

Once you hit level 2, see how it's really going. Are you really meleeing a lot? If so, consider a one level dip in e.g. fighter to get all the armor/weapon profs. Maybe the bear becomes Large and occupies the front line just fine, maybe someone gets murdered and rolls a barbarian, etc. Don't commit a light spell character to a permanent melee role too prematurely; hedge your bets in your level 1 build.

Stacking the Deck - Summoning

Monster Summoning and other battlefield control stuff can be used to "fill a hole in the front rank" reliably. This frees you up to be more of a proper caster and get into the sweet spot of buff/debuff/healing land. It's still good that you have the AC because you'll be subbing in on the front line when you don't have a summon.

I would probably go this route if you're OK with handling the complexity of summoning. There's an iPhone app for it actually called Summoner that has all the PFRPG creature stats in it and ready to go. The Augment Summoning feat beefs this up a lot - it does have Spell Focus: Conjuration as a prereq but guess what other spells are Conjuration - all your healing spells! If you plan on casting them offensively (like vs. undead) it'll help with that.

Now Cast!

Then you can focus on being an Oracle. Take Extra Revelation as your other feats. Take Arcane Archivist as soon as you qualify at level 11.

Metamagic feats are generally a trap. With your limited spell selection, I might take Heighten Spell if you have favorite tricks you'd like to work on higher level opponents, but that's about it.

The other characters aren't likely to be super smart, so you need to focus on your Lore-ness and not just melee - you are going to be the sage of the group. Let the sorcerer pick up some of the fight if you have to; you should be the one with the Knowledge out the yinyang and all the decipher-stuff spells.

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I'd say Protection From Evil is situationally better than SoF...namely that you have to be fighting something evil. If you get attacked by a bear you're SOL. –  Cthos May 7 '11 at 20:11
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One might hope you could be able to take on bears and stuff without extensive magical help. AC vs everything is fine, but AC and saves and mind protection against all the worst foes you face is better. –  mxyzplk May 9 '11 at 13:00
    
Mind protection is not to be undervalued ... My casters always have scrolls of Proc <Something> –  C. Ross Apr 23 '12 at 13:21

I went a completely different route with this.

Playing a demon blooded teifling you can get an effective spread of 14 10 14 12 8 18

With pal 2 you can utilize your Cha to all saving throws. Cha to 1/day smite evil.

It won't make you a great front liner but it will give you a small boost in hp and a boost in saving throws.

Then with side step you get a +4 AC, add kilo armor +5 and defender of the society for another +1 and we haven't even added a shield yet. With a buckler/heavy shield you get +1+2

Now with Tiefling you can take alternate traits and exchange your casting one/day for powerful build and be able to wield a large weapon without penalty.

So with exotic weapon bastard sword you can essentially take the iconic Amiris idea and be able to slam opponents with a large bastard sword for 2d8+3 per hit so at level 3 you have AC 20 21/22 if you go one hand/bowman route.

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Could you expand the contractions? I presume pal is paladin based on context, but what is Kilo armor? (Bear in mind not all of us are system experts super immersed in all the Pathfinder community slang) –  Jonathan Hobbs Feb 22 at 7:35

Here is an extremely useful document for getting the most out of your stats. It has a list of feats, spells, traits and class abilities sorted by ability scores.

As a lore oracle you can drop your Int and Dex to build more combat focused if you wanted to. You can add your Cha score to AC, Reflex saves, and Knowledge checks through revelations. You can also take the Noble Scion (scion of war) feat to add Cha to your initiative as well, making dexterity a much less useful ability score since it is not used for AC, reflex, or initiative anymore. Since your knowledge skills are using Cha instead of Int, Int is also not as important to your role as a Lore Expert. Plus, with spells like Chain of Perdition and Pilfering Hand, if you were planning on using combat maneuvers you won't even need to bother with taking 13 Int for any combat maneuver feats. The spells let you make them using your caster lvl + cha modifier at range, so only casting will provoke AoOs. With the BaB and Str/Dex being replaced with better numbers, you are probably going to have better modifiers than trying to use combat maneuvers the normal way, which saves room for combat feats if you really want to try to deal damage.

The Lore oracle can be good at tanking in combat, but I do not think it will be good at dealing damage unless you put a lot into your Str score and invest in some good combat feats, which is not too difficult considering you don't need two of your stats. You may be able to chain spells with your attacks, for example: sound burst to stun (and with high charisma your DCs will be difficult) and then on the next round attack. Most of your usefullness will be your tanking ability though. With the Armor Expert trait you can easily get high AC with no armor check penalty. For example, mithril chain shirt with a masterwork heavy shield is +4 armor, +2 shield, a max dex of +6 and no armor check penalty if you have the trait. Add the spells Shield of Faith and Magic Vestments and your AC will add up quickly for very little cost (saving money for offensive magic weapons).

I also think having at least one metamagic feat, preferably either Heighten spell or Reach spell, is an excellent idea for any oracle. Even though it ups the cast time to a full round, in the event you run out of spells of a certain slot you can use metamagic feats to spontaneously cast them in a higher slot. The reason I think reach and heighten are great choices are because they have a varying increase to spell level, so there is much more flexibility, plus reach heals/communal spells are very handy. Later on you can get the Spontaneous Metafocus feat to let you cast a single spell with metamagic feats and not increase the cast time. So cast something like cure critical wounds, or even breath of life, at reach as a standard action can be a lifesaver. Only downside is this comes into play later since oracles have to wait longer for their higher level spells.

Another thing to keep in mind if you are having a hard time choosing between healing/supportive spells and combat spells. If you are a human (there may be other races that can do it, its in advanced players guide) you can choose an extra spell known at each level instead of taking the hit point or skill point for favored classes. Only drawback is it cant be the same level as your highest spell level known, so you have to wait a while for the higher spells.

I just put feats, traits, and spells in bold for people who don't like reading, that and most of these answers didn't have anything specific for feats :)

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