Its been awhile since I've looked at anything 3rd Edition, but I was curious to see how Paizo would attempt a summoner class, for better or for worse. At a glance, the paragraphs upon paragraphs that only explain individual functions is a harsh reminder of but one reason I got out of 3E.
For example, Spells alone goes through five paragraphs to explain how many spells a summoner gets and how she trades them out at specific levels. The fucked up thing is that this doesnt actually tell you what spells you can choose from, or how magic even works in 3E. Even worse? Cantrips gets its own section, but at least wraps itself up in a single paragraph.
The main schtick of a summoner is its pet, referred to as an Eidolon. The eidolon class feature ate up four paragraphs, but to sum it up they can be summoned once per day and if they die you lose them for the entire day...which is fucking redundant since you can only use it once per day anyway... >_>
They can look like whatever you want, has stats based on your level like a druid/ranger's pet, and can be modified via "evolution points"...
So far, pretty ho-hum. Cribbing the pet mechanics from the druid is about what I'd expected, and this doesnt disappoint insofar as I was expecting to be disappointed in this way.
Life Link allows summoners to toss hps at their pet in order to stop it from going back to wherever the hell it lives, which is handy assuming the summoner isnt within reach of something particularly nasty to beat it to death. What I really hate about this class feature is the massive paragraph devoted to telling you how much weaker the pet gets depending on how far away from you it is. You get distances of 100+ feet, 1000+ feet, and 10,000+ feet. Oi.
The rest of the shit can be abridged fairly easily:
- Bond Senses lets you share senses for a limited number of rounds.
- Shield Ally gives you a defense bonus when the pet is close by. Greater Shield Ally lets the pet grant all allies a defense bonus, and the summoner a better defense bonus.
- Maker's Call lets you use dimension door to recall the pet if its within range. Presumably, you check the range from yourself to your pet, and if you could normally teleport to it, then it appears next to you.
- Transposition lets you swap places with the pet.
- Aspect lets you spend Evo Points on yourself. Greater Aspect lets you spend more Evo Points.
- Life Bond lets you transfer excess damage from yourself to your pet when you would normally be dropped. The paragraph points out that shit like flesh to stone still kills you (a-duuuuh).
- Merge Forms lets you use fusion with your pet, which I guess keeps you safe and still lets you cast spells and stuff. Its three paragraphs long...fuck it.
- Twin Eidolon lets you transform into your eidolon. You get all the shit it does.
Eidolons have their own class table and stats for you to track! Yaaaaay...
Eidolons come in three flavors: four legs, two legs, or snakes. Each type gives you a collection of base stats, and from there you get to blow Evo Points to change shit up. Evolutions cost from 1-4 points, and there's a little over four pages worth. I'm sure many vary considerably in usefulness and power, and frankly I dont give a fuck enough to run through the list.
Have fun with this super-complex character that wont do much except make routine melee attacks over and over again. -.-
Finally, actual spells. The summoner doesnt get a lot, they cap out at six, and can cast summon monster whatever a shitload of times per day. The real kicker is that the duration is measured in minutes instead of rounds, so I suspect that this will grind the game to a halt as the summoner basically gets to play his own goddamned party.
This class is a mechanical nightmare. You need at least two character sheets, and you will want to carefully plan out what summons you will use so that you can have abridged stats on hand (even though they only really exist to make melee attacks and serve as meat shields). I have no idea if Pathfinder has feats that modify summoned monsters, which is only going to make things worse.
I would pity the group that lets a player roll one of these on the fly, but thats 3E for ya: phenomenal, cosmic book-keeping...itty bitty payoff.