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So you've been playing Jack the Adventurer for a long time. Maybe months, maybe more than a year, maybe several. Who knows exactly? But it's been one hell of a campaign and things are escalating. The climax is coming up next session. If Jack is your character, how many of you are expecting Jack to be fighting a BBEG for his final challenge?

What I'm curious to see is how many people have actually finished a campaign with a heist? Or by overseeing delicate, high tension, peace talks at a summit? Or by making a discovery so great that it takes the world into a new age? Or by making a full scale siege on a fortress? Or anything other than just fighting a BBEG?

Now to be clear, I'm not talking about campaigns that end by TPK or end prematurely for whatever reason. I'm just curious to see how many people have had a climax to a campaign that did not involve a fight with a BBEG. If you have, what was it? Was it as satisfying for you as killing a big scary evil guy? And was it just the one time or does your DM do a good job of mixing things up?

If we were to completely wipe the slate clean and begin work on a brand new TTRPG system, the first thing we would need to do is set what our objectives are. What I mean by objectives is a goal that is broad and describes what we want the game to do for the players.

Objectives are meant to represent our philosophy about how to best facilitate fun for a group getting together to play our game, whether that be online or around the kitchen table. Your objectives should always be created keeping in mind that the game is, in fact, a game, and that it is being played by real people. Objectives could include things like: "Each player should be actively engaged and participating in the game", "Character creation should take no more than 5 to 10 minutes", "Combat should take more than X number of minutes", or "Limit the number of ambiguous rules to as few as possible" etc.

Pretend for a moment that we are creating a new RPG. Or that someone else is creating it but you get to have some input. Whatever. What do you think is important for an RPG to do for its players? What objectives would you have if you were making your own RPG?

This thread is an extension of my previous thread Class Balance and Cupcakes

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What I'm going to try to do is to take a new approach in presenting an argument for why some classes contribute more meaningfully than others in Pathfinder and D&D (and a laundry list of other RPG's). And while there is already an ongoing thread dedicated to comparing fighters and wizards, the poster children for such arguments, my argument doesn't really belong there for two reasons. The first is that my argument is an approach to game balance that extends beyond the argument of magic and mundane. The second is that the baggage associated with those classes causes people to lose focus very quickly. So to help convey my point, we are going to discuss a fictional RPG: Cupcake Crusades.

Imagine for a moment that you have just purchased a brand new TTRPG: the aforementioned Cupcake Crusades. The concept is that the players are siblings who inherit a run down bakery. The object of the game is to take the bakery from a lesser known local bakery to a world renowned brand name. The players have a small number of choices they get to make at character creation. They select a class, pick some skills and talents, make some aesthetic choices, and then they're done.

Now flipping through the players guide one of the classes you come across is the Brand Manager. The Brand Manager can scout, hire and manage employees. He can sabotage competitors and run smear campaigns. But his primary focus is to market and promote the products. And as he continues to level up his ability to do things that aren't related to marketing and promoting the brand begins to diminish. But man can he promote the hell out of some cupcakes.

You continue to flip through the classes, passing by a few, until one catches your eye. It's the Pastry Pope. He gains the ability to scout, hire and manage employees; sabotage the competition and run smear campaigns; market and promote the brand; represent the brand in competition; and of course to design and bake delicious treats.

Cupcake Crusades is not a game that has any semblance of class balance. Even if the Brand Manager is better than the Pastry Pope at managing brands, as long as the Pastry Pope has the ability to participate in the marketing and promoting aspect of the game and succeed at level appropriate challenges and participate in aspects of the game that the Brand Manager has NO meaningful way to participate in, than the Pastry Pope will continue to be a more useful class.

This will remain true even if you put limitations on the Pastry Pope like having his abilities fueled by Red Bull which he gets a limited, daily amount of. Because despite this limitation, he can participate AT ALL and the Brand Manager cannot.

Now lets say that Cupcake Crusades was handed to me personally and I was asked to fix it. My design goals are to re-balance the classes, constantly engage the players, and to give everyone a fair time to shine.

The first thought many of you had was to nerf the pastry pope. But that has a serious problem. You see every time a character is participating in an aspect of the game that another character cannot there is a PLAYER who is not playing. That isn't very engaging. It may solve the balance issues but and it may SEEM like it grants everyone a time to shine, but the truth is that you have simply become a one dimensional character who waits for his turn to do anything at all.

Instead, every single class needs to participate in every single aspect of the game. Right now there are some of you who are thinking that this means that everyone can do everything. But that isn't the case. Because each aspect of the game will be divided into many subcategories and the way your character will interact with those elements will be different from another characters. It's okay that the Brand manager only know how to wash fruits and vegetables and peal potatoes, as long as he gets to participate in the cooking mini-game at all. The same goes for the Pastry Pope, it's okay that the way he promotes the brand is just by being super polite and like-able to the customers so that they want to come back and occasionally appearing in a commercial that the Brand Manager set up. As long as he has a way to remain engaged and his participation has a meaningful impact.

And that brings us back to Pathfinder and D&D. As long as some classes are excluded from certain aspects of the game, they are going to continue to be flawed classes that are overshadowed by the Pastry Pope. But martial classes aren't even the only ones with this problem. All classes need to have ways to participate in each aspect of PF/D&D. The method in which the character interacts with that element has to be meaningful. But it doesn't have to be equal. When players are able to give noticeable contributions to overcoming the challenges the party faces, they are more likely to be engaged and interested, even if it isn't their time to shine.

This thread is about one thing: New spells. Whether those spells are variations on existing spells or entirely new spells of your own design. Criticism is not only welcome but but encouraged.

Here's a template to keep things nice and neat. Just delete what you don't need :)

Spell Name
School: text; Level: class Domain text
Casting Time action
Component text
Range text
Effect text
Target text
Duration text
Saving Throw text; Spell Resistance text
Resistance text

New spells:

Open Portal
School: Evocation[force]; Level: sorcerer/wizard 1
Casting Time 1 standard action
Component V
Range medium
Target one portal, up to 20 sq. ft./level
Duration 1 min./level (D)
Saving Throw none; Spell Resistance no

"They tried to flee into the safety of the castle...they failed"

This spell magically holds open an already open door, gate, window, or shutter of wood, metal, or stone. The magic creates a rod of force at the edge of the portal extended from one side to the other that holds it open. The rod can be damaged by weapons and supernatural abilities, but has a hardness of 5 and a number of hit points equal to 10 per caster level (to a Maximum of 100 Hit Points at 10th level). Alternatively a successful Strength check (DC 25) can be made to pull the bar from the door (which destroys the bar). A successful dispel magic spell can negate an Open Portal spell.

Summon Armor
School: Conjuration(creation); Level: cleric 1, sorcerer/wizard 1,
Casting Time 1 standard action (see text)
Component V, S
Range Touch
Target Creature touched who is not currently wearing any armor
Duration 1 hour/level
Saving ThrowWill negates (harmless); Spell Resistance no

"I hate having to take the time to put on full plate in the morning"

The subject of this spell is outfitted with an armor of your choice. The armor is of masterwork quality and has the same statistics as it normally would. It can be made of any common wood, leather, metal or stone appropriate to that type of armor (use your best judgement). You could make a full plate out of stone, for example, but you could not make a chain shirt out of wood. This spell does not grant an proficiency with the summoned armor and cannot be used to summon shields.

You can cast this spell as an immediate action. When cast in this way the range becomes Personal and you suffer the penalties for donning armor hastily.

Nizznevr's Quantum Magic Redistribution
School: Transmutation; Level: alchemist 2, magus 2, sorcerer/wizard 3
Casting Time 1 standard action
Component V, S
Range Touch
Target 1 weapon, armor, or shield touched
Duration 1 hour per level or until released (D)
Saving Throw Will negates(object); Spell Resistance no

"Ghost tough is nice against ghosts. Not so much against owlbears"

You alter the state of a magical weapon, armor, or shield with one or more special abilities with a base price modifier of +1 or higher. The special property is converted into an ordinary enhancement bonus equal to its base price modifier for the duration of the spell or until the items wielder spends a standard action to return the item to normal. For example, if you cast this spell on a +1 Long Sword of Icy Burst(a +2 special ability) you would have a +3 Long Sword instead.

In the case of items that have multiple qualifying abilities that can be converted, you may choose any number or combination of these special abilities to convert. You could convert a +1 Ghost Touch Long Sword of Icy Burst, for example, into a +2 Long Sword of Icy Burst, a +3 Ghost Touch Long Sword, or a +4 Long Sword.