Pathfinder: Summoner Playtest

I'm going to open up that Wayne Reynolds rocks, and needs to compile a D&D art book.

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... >_>

Moving on!

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.
So far we've got five pages and no stats for the pet, that finally rears its ugly head on page six, and boy its a doozy. See, at this point we've seen a lot of stuff for your character. Granted you still dont know what spells you can select yet, but you've got your own collection of stats, feats, skills, etc, right?

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.


  1. EVO: The Search for Eden was fucking awesome.

    The Summoner isn't fucking awesome.

  2. They've actually eratta'd the Summoner, so that they get less casts of Summon Monster, AND they last less long.

    Naturally, this created as much uproar on the forums as the original conditions did.

  3. If you don't like book-keeping play a fighter or a ranger. The vast differences between the complexity of classes is one of the strengths of 3.5/Pathfinder as it offers several different "modes" of play complexity/difficulty while still remaining the same game.

    As for the spells not comming until the end, that is good organization. The Pathfinder core book tells you how magic works and since this is an expansion you don't need that information since the core book is required to use the expansion. Spells have their own chapter near the back half of the core book, thats just the way the system is organized. You go from ability scores to races to classes to skills to feats to equpment to spells.

  4. @Wyatt: Yes, EVO was super-awesome. :-3

    @katallos: As I've said before, system mastery is a bad thing. "Easy mode" classes shouldnt be relegated to the mundane types, either. I much prefer the ability to play any archetype or concept I want without all the hassle.

    Also, having spells lumped in their own chapter is bad organization since it requires you to flip back and forth. A LOT. Makes it take a lot longer, especially if they kept the 3E format of organizing all spells in alphabetical order. -.-

  5. @Antioch: I have found no problem with the setup of 3E or Pathfinder. of course many like it easy as do many like a little more complexity to be truthful I have tried 4th I have found it very restrictive at first as opposed to 3.5 ect. and one other thing I've found about 4th E. is it seems to be more opted towards power gamers to many a times I have found that people take the rules and tweek them to make there characters practically god like.

    Personally I have played a summoner agreed they are pretty over powered but in alot of cases that power is more than useful in first lvl to ensure that all party members survive. especially when there is not much of a selection for a "Main Fighter" or a small group

  6. The fact that you described the class as basically TL:DR turned this post into the same for me.


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