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I am currently playing a lvl 8 Half-Orc Life Oracle with the haunted curse in pathfinder and am very weak in the fighting aspect of the game, which is fine with me because I really like to heal (plus we have a paladin, barbarian, and wizard who handle that). I feel like there is little for my character to do when not healing so I would like to start buffing, so my question is, what are some good options for this with my next couple levels?

I am open to a prestige class, multi-classing, etc. If at all possible I would like to keep gaining divine spellcasting levels.

I realize I have buffing spells available to me but I would prefer to save those for healing, what I am ultimately after is a prestige class that lets me keep gaining divine spellcasting levels and gives buffing in prestige class abilities. If one of these is not available is there a class I can multi-class with that can give good options (I get there is Bard, but I am looking for other options if available). Outside of this, if there is none of that available, are there any options that would keep me from blowing through my spells that I want to keep in reserve for healing?

Str - 12 Dex - 10 Con - 12 Int - 13 Wis - 14 Cha - 19

Feats: Eschew Materials, Combat Casting, Selective Channeling, Uncanny Concentration

My GM is pretty open and has the philosophy of we should enjoy what we play.

And my available wealth at current level is only 1000gp.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ OK that's a lot more specific. Edited to take out some of the "or if not that then..." to keep it scoped. Do you have a specific kind of buffing in mind (pure combat effectiveness)? It might help to mention your party composition (if it's all wizards, bardic inspire courage won't help...) \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk Sep 2 '15 at 21:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ If I understand what you are asking, you want access to buff spells or class abilities that buff allies, but don't want to use your oracle spell slots/spells known for them? Since you are a Life oracle, you automatically know all the "cure" spells, so what is keeping you from choosing buffs for your "spells known"? \$\endgroup\$ – GreySage Sep 2 '15 at 21:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ Wow, that wealth is ludicrously low. Unless you signed up for a dirt-poor campaign and knew what you were getting into, I recommend talking to the DM about that. Anyway, more relevantly: what is your alignment, and which deity, if any, do you worship? \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Sep 2 '15 at 21:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ KRyan's answer is pretty great, but I want to point out that as a Life oracle you have access to Channel Energy. It looks like you already have it, since you've taken Selective Channeling, but really - there is virtually no reason to waste spells to heal when you have channel available. Your question is almost completely backwards - rather than using non-spell options to buff to save spell slots for cure spells, you should be using channel positive energy to keep your spell slots open for buff spells. :D \$\endgroup\$ – gatherer818 Sep 3 '15 at 0:36
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First, you are on the right track

I just want to confirm your thought processes here: spellcasters have many, many options, and while one of them can be the “fighting aspects of the game,” it is often better to leave those to other characters for two reasons:

  1. Many other classes don’t have much to do outside from damage-dealing, the “fighting aspects of the game.” Doing so yourself steps on their toes.

  2. There are other things you can do that other classes can’t, which means if you don’t, your party may lack them altogether.

Further, as you note, healing is not an all-day, every-day activity. In fact, the numbers work out such that you should generally prefer damage prevention over damage healing during combat. Damage that doesn’t happen doesn’t need to be healed, doesn’t risk someone dying before they can be healed, and mathematically, it’s simply more efficient (the same spell slot can prevent more damage than it can heal in most cases).

But buffing is done best with spells

Non-spell options for buffing are extremely limited.

  • Bard, and bard hybrids like skald, provide just about the only significant non-spell buffing options in the game. They are fairly good at this, but in order to get any significant buffing from these classes, means pretty much abandoning your oracle abilities. You can’t have both.

  • Dissident of dawn gives you some spells you wouldn’t otherwise have, and some (rope trick, mage’s private sanctum, mage’s magnificent mansion) actually help the party somewhat. But the only real reason to consider it is the communal mind blank you get access to as a 9th-level spell. If you get far enough to see 9th-level spells, that would be a great choice. Unfortunately, the entry requirements are brutal (two feats you will never use, plus being forced to take a spell you probably wouldn’t otherwise on a class with extremely limited spells known), so overall not recommended.

  • Envoy of balance is possible if you are neutral, and has some decent options for improving your channeling, but that’s healing, not buffing.

  • Arcane savant, bizarrely enough, works fine for divine spellcasters, and is... OK-ish. It loses a level of spellcasting, which is a huge blow, and while it gets some solid stuff, they’re not really worth it. None of them directly buff others, but the facility that the class offers with magic items potentially gives you access to a lot of buffs you wouldn’t otherwise have. The Dispelling Master feature is really solid.

  • Planes walker has some useful options, primarily in the abilities to counter summoning and teleport effects, and to use banishment. Loses a lot of spellcasting, though, not to mention your channeling.

  • Genie binder lets you create Lesser Elemental Seals, which can apply a minor all-day buff on someone. Only one person at a time can be buffed, though, and the feat requirements suck.

  • Holy vindicator has some rather-minor improvements to channeling, which isn’t buffing, and loses a ton of spellcasting levels.

  • Master of storms could benefit the party if you’re on a boat, maybe. Mostly, though, this is various blasting effects, i.e. stuff you don’t want or need, and again loses a ton of spellcasting.

Aaaand... that’s pretty much it. Those are the only prestige classes in the game that advance divine spellcasting and have anything remotely to do with buffing. As you can see, they mostly don’t have much to do with buffing.

Healing, on the other hand, is best done with items

Because healing is inefficient, many players only use healing out of combat and in emergencies. In both cases, it’s usually superior to use relatively low-power healing options: even 1 HP of healing will stabilize a dying ally, and out-of-combat, you can take the time to repeatedly use low-power, low-cost options.

Specifically, a wand of cure light wounds or (better, if you can handle alignment issues) wand of infernal healing are the most cost-efficient methods of healing in the game. Just owning one of these can allow you to heal the entire party back up to full HP after every combat, saving you a ton of spell slots that you could use for buffing.

Specific Recommendations

Multiclassing: Thou shalt not lose spellcasting

Spellcasting is by-far the best way to buff anyone, and there are almost-zero options for significant buffing outside of spellcasting (especially if you also want to keep your spellcasting). Thus, whatever class you take should advance your spellcasting.

But oracles have other class features that prestige classes, even those that advance spellcasting, aren’t going to advance, and usually have burdensome feat or spell-selection requirements. Really, straight oracle is your best bet.

Recommendation: Single-classed oracle.

Feats: Buff early and often

Improved Initiative is a rather-solid, if boring, feat for just about everybody. Buffing works a whole lot better if your buff is active before your allies try to attack or get attacked. For that matter, don’t be afraid to recommend to allies that they Delay until after your turn, if you’re both going before the enemy: that way they can act with the buff (obviously, this is not usually going to be worth letting an enemy go first, which is why you want to have high Initiative in the first place).

At lower levels, Extend Spell can be awesome, and it’s never terrible. Note, however, that extend metamagic rods are eventually pretty cheap.

At higher levels, Quicken Spell is worth... considering. The 4-spell-level increase is extremely painful, of course, which is why it’s often better to try to get quicken metamagic rods rather than actually take the feat.

If you cannot find or buy wands of cure light wounds, then Craft Wand suddenly becomes very desirable. Seriously, you want those wands. They will free up so many spell slots and allow your entire party to start every fight at full HP, guilt-free. Better yet, they literally just take one day to make, since they cost 750 gp and Craft Wand takes one day per 1,000 gp in the base price of the wand.

The arcane Eldritch Heritage is also very well worth considering. Improved Eldritch Heritage, in particular, is very nice, and Greater Eldritch Heritage allows you to pick up some spells from the sor/wiz list, which is excellent.

Recommendation: Buffing sooner (improving initiative), buffing longer or better (e.g. extending duration), buffing more often (e.g. quicken) are all possible. Eldritch Heritage can get you aspects of the arcane sorcerer bloodline, which enables better metamagic and gets you a few spells you’d otherwise miss. Craft Wand is very desirable if it’s the only way to get wands of cure light wounds.

The spells

Going through all of the oracle spells would be too much for an answer, but I will point you to this fairly-solid guide. I’ll also comment on some stand-out spells:

  • Infernal Healing – this is the most efficient healing spell in the game. The [Evil] descriptor is bizarre (3.5 had the same spell but unaligned, as lesser vigor), but if you can handle it, this is the spell to use for healing.

  • Cure Light Wounds – this is the healing to spell if infernal healing is out.

  • Heal – at high levels, the extreme potency of heal changes the conversation: unlike all other healing spells, heal can out-heal damage-dealers. Heal can be worthwhile to use in the middle of a combat, even if it is not quite an “emergency” situation.

  • Compassionate Ally – this takes an enemy out of combat, and gets an ally help, at the same time. [Mind-Affecting] is problematic, as is the Will save on something that works best against spellcasters, but if you can get it to land, it’s pretty awesome.

  • Life Pact – basically, no one in your party dies unless all of you die. Can be risky (a huge single-target effect could down your whole party, in theory), but ultimately should be quite a lot of durability.

  • (Communal) Protection from Alignment, Magic Circle against Alignment – these provide great protection against a lot of effects, namely those that establish ongoing mental control or possession. Note that this protection is not alignment-based.

  • Shield Other – mostly better than life pact, but this allows you to protect allies and ensure that healing is always available to those who need it most (because that’s most likely going to be you).

  • (Greater) Dispel Magic – every spellcaster ever should have both of these spells, period.

  • Magic Vestment – solid improvement to armor that you can hand out.

  • Greater Magic Weapon – excellent improvement to weapons that you can hand out.

  • Death Ward – eliminate most of a school of magic and most of an entire, common creature type. Must-have.

  • Freedom of Movement – shut down a smorgasbord of effects. Must-have.

  • True Seeing – expensive, so less must-have, but this is another effect that eliminates an entire school of magic.

  • Blasphemy/Dictum/Holy Word/Word of Chaos – out of theme, but these are extremely powerful effects. Worth considering.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I seriously applaud that answer, that is the exact information I needed. Thank you so much, I am new to this class and character type so I was confused on how to be most effective. I like the idea of using wands and using spell-casting to buff. Thanks again, seriously, super applaud! \$\endgroup\$ – Wulfgaar Sep 3 '15 at 1:45

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