Having bought, read through and played some of these, I am afraid the quality of this one doesn’t feel to be on par with the witches + or something I could call a well thought out supplement. There are several issues here;
The new mysteries especially feel very separate from the original ones and not in a good way.
Most of them give permanent, massive and constant debuffs to the oracle that are applicable to almost every situation in combat and outside of it. Since the curse doesn’t go down below from the minor stage after a focus spell is cast, meaning someone with these mysteries would have to play with constantly deafened character, constantly frightened one, constantly sickened one which affects everything the oracles would want to do outside of combat for the day. Especially the deafened one just closes one person out of any social encounters even to the extent of observing them properly.
Compared to Paizo ones, the downsides (especially minor ones) could always be worked around. Battle oracle doesn’t suffer penalties when they play in a way their mystery encourages, and only affects combat. Tempest only affects situations with non-magical lights around you. Time makes you enfeebled which affects rolls you don’t want to do in the first place as Time oracle etc.
And unlike the universal downsides of the mysteries, the benefits rarely are so. Beast oracles gain imprecise scent which really doesn’t matter against good amount of enemies, nor do they get much support or incentive to using said unarmed attacks due to not getting any + to hit bonuses until major stage while being terribly behind in + to hit progression to everyone else. Fate oracles turn crit failures on fear effects into failures, which won’t happen every fight but even when they do, the curse already makes them frightened 2 (which wouldn’t stack) making the effect somewhat redundant in most scenarios. Reveries just receive a permanent penalty to perception checks which again discourages out of combat maneuvering constantly.
I have to call out beast oracle specifically in terms of balance; Bestial Howl is very much overtuned with some technical design errors. It has the incapacitation for one despite not including any kind of incapacitating effect. At a base level, its better than Fear spell at 4th level, except you get hands on it even faster and it doesn't use a spell slot. Barbarians meanwhile can get a level 10 feat to AoE demoralize everyone within same radius 4 levels later, and one level of fear lower.
Frost Oracle is the only one I wouldn’t have much design complaints (might be partly due to their mystery only affecting encounter mode). Their focus spells leaves quite a bit to be desired unfortunately.
1) Trances (all); Using a trance disrupts all spellcasting without cursebound trait (something that Oracle can use in very limited amounts). This kind of brings the question what the oracle is meant to do once they enter a trance. The minor effects are hardly ever worth the downside (or even the opportunity cost of entering a trance), while the major effects replicate nigh gamebreaking effects. My players were actually really excited about the trances until they read the trait, and realized after going into a trance they pretty much became passive objects that buff others and get stuck there. I think the author has a bit different image of how often cursebound spells can be cast; Assuming you are already on minor level, you can only cast one spell during trance, and they usually are 1 action spells. A nice concept, that in practice ends up as one action to enter a trance into not participating in the game for the remainer of combat.
2) Inexplicable Knowledge (lvl 6). This one has to some extent the same design flaw as certain Paizo-made feats. Recall Knowledge is a secret check and you are not supposed to know the result of it, and there is a chance the information is false. This feat makes everyone practically immune to critical failures on recall knowledge checks since they will know that they crit failed by the virtue of not gaining a status bonus.
3) Intuitive Maneuver (lvl 8) might be the single strongest feat in the game on certain builds. Any oracle with a reach weapon with a trip or shove trait (like a whip for instance, since Battle Oracles can now use martial weapons baseline) can interrupt movement of any foe approaching from range, canceling their movement and dropping them prone. Any attempts to get up from the ground on future turns are immediately met with another trip since ‘Stand Up’ has the move trait. And due to the trance itself, the oracle has a very high likelihood in succeeding on said trip actions. Essentially, as a reaction you can take 2 actions away from an enemy that will extend to more if they cannot use those on their turn.
Gnomish Flickmace was considered a massive problem that had to be errata’d since it could do this on a crit. This feat does the same effect on a success, and with a status bonus on the roll.
Adding spells to expand the possibilities of expressing mystery thematics is a good idea. They do intrude on the sorcerer territory a little bit by the virtue of being straight added to repertoire to give them extremely large spell availability at all times when I think just making certain spells available to them could have done the trick. However they are not without their oversights, and most of theme seem to be oddly targeted at a certain mystery that was already having a bad time.
Ancestor’s Oracles gain Spiritual Guardian on 5th level. Casting Spiritual Guardian has a requirement of needing a deity, which oracles do not have. They can opt on level 4 to gain a deity, but giving a baseline feature that requires picking certain optional feats tends to not go without bitterness.
I shall leave it to individual opinions on whether soul fits better than death to ancestor oracle. The downside of this change though regardless of one’s opinion is that Ancestor’s Oracle has been quite widely considered to be the weakest of the oracle mysteries if not the weakest subclass in the game. Essentially, they suffer from a flaw where they are encouraged to make strikes without having anything that supports them being in melee or using strikes over spells even with penalties and bonuses calculated. Death Domain’s focus spell allowed them to gain a flow of temp hp that made being on close range manageable if suboptimal.
The rest, seems solid. Giving Lightning domain to Tempest seems especially fitting.
I do like the change on Life Link. But if we are buffing the underpowered focus spells why was the list of buffs confined to just Life link?
This pops up a lot now in this but if one is making errata to oracle to an extent where existing focus spells are buffed one could consider not even addressing Ancestral Touch is a design error on its own.
The spell is known to be a worse version of base demoralize action, with lower chance to succeed, touch range, focus point cost. The only real downside of base demoralize is once per target limitation and linguistic trait. Meanwhile most other mysteries gain access to immensely powerful effects on level 1 such as causing drained while almost all of them gain some value even if enemy succeeds on a save. On average, assuming the 50% chance to succeed, it deals 1.25 mental damage which is hardly a factor.
...and considering all this, the ancestor’s mostly took more hits without anything compensate. Any particular reason why?
Overall I like the base ideas and concepts presented. However, their execution does not really make this a viable product to be applied to a pf2e game without heavy scrutiny or modifications.
EDIT: After the most recent updates, most of the stuff here is fixed and updated to functional. Great job!
[3 of 5 Stars!]