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I want to create new spells in Pathfinder inspired by the status effect cards. One version would be a single target with a save vs. Will or Fortitude, depending on the effect. The other version would have an area effect of 20' radius.

I'm certain that the spells would be named something like Chaos Blast and Chaos Ball and would inflict a random status on the person affected by it, ranging from as little as Daze all the way up to Death. But since there are a lot of effects that are not lethal, I don't know what level these spells should be.

Thanks in advance.

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2  
Uhhh... Daze is one of the most debilitating and dangerous status effects in the game. Quite possibly second only to Death. Daze is extremely difficult to find immunity or even resistance to. –  KRyan Dec 2 '12 at 18:23
    
@KRyan +1 I agree with you. I believe the term you are looking for, Greamlive, is "dazzle." –  LitheOhm Dec 3 '12 at 0:22

3 Answers 3

I would argue that this is bad game design unless the random effects are all pretty close in power to one another, for precisely the reason you imply by this question: it’s impossible to set a level to.

Overpowered effects aren’t bad merely because they make the game too easy: they’re also bad because they are unexpected by the rest of the game’s design. Challenges for low-level characters usually assume that the characters cannot easily fly, teleport, or dig through solid material. They also assume that they won’t have any defenses against or remedies for things like, e.g., petrification, outright [Death] effects, or imprisonment.

So a spell that has a 1% chance of petrifying someone at low levels is bad not because that’s a very powerful effect: it’s bad because low-level characters cannot easily get stone to flesh. You have a 1% chance of breaking the game with a spell like that. You cannot balance that out.

But if you put the spell’s level high enough that even the worst case scenario isn’t too bad, you now have a spell that’s usually far too weak for its level.

And this ties into the general idea of random chance and swinginess. A game uses randomness to keep things interesting, but ultimately the amounts of randomness has to be very carefully monitored. A player being very clever and finding a way to stop the BBEG’s evil plot several levels early is bad, but at least rewarding for the player. But if it’s sheer random luck? Not particularly engaging for the player, and really boring for his teammates. The flip-side is also true: dying is never fun, but if you were fighting it out, and maybe you made took a risk when your HP was getting a bit low, and you got killed, or you died fighting for something too important to run, that’s at least a death you can accept. It’s something you can prepare for, try to mitigate, and that you can take actions to try to prevent. A random, 1% chance of your character just being wiped out, though, is not something you can do anything about. It’s just an arbitrary “sorry, you get to sit out for the next couple of scenes.”

None of this strikes me as a good thing to add to the game.

So try to keep the effects relatively close to one another in power, so that if the worst-case happens, well maybe it was a little early for that effect but with some effort you can solve the problem.

And you’re going to have to put the spell’s full stats here for us to really be able to even try to give it a level.

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The problem with "pricing" this spell is the lack of detail. A spell with a 25% chance of death is completely different from a spell with a 1% chance of death.

If you want a good set of opinions, I would recommend providing the specific spell effects so that the experienced crew here can provide some recommendations.

One important this to consider is spells "over level". Death effects generally start at 4th level with Phantasmal Killer (which requires two failed saves). So in general, something with a death effect would be at least a 4th level spell. Any 3rd level version with a death effect would likely require like a 1% chance of death and a 1% chance of something like a full heal.

That last point is key. If you want a truly chaotic spell, consider that some of the options should be helpful. Also consider other spells at the same level a start point to "mix and match".

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I would go with Bard 3 / Wiz&Sorc 4 for the spell level.

I am basing my answer off of the spell required to create the following magic item.

Magic item: Rod of Wonder

A rod of wonder is a strange and unpredictable device that randomly generates any number of weird effects each time it is used.

spell: confusion

note: I do not know if this item exists in pathfinder, it is from a 3.5 source.

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It does –  Cristol.GdM Nov 30 '12 at 16:19
    
That really heavily depends on the possible effects. Since "Death" is included in it, it should probably be higher. Also, Rod of Wonder requires CL 10 to create, and includes some 6th level spells in the effects list, so I'd think a 5th level spell minimum. –  Cthos Nov 30 '12 at 18:02

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