The versatility of both classes would make any Companion akin to religious or regional focus a daunting task. 'Religion' is very forward because it is built on a set code-and-penalty hierarchy, bards and rogues are not.
Both classes can be built/played in so many varied ways- so what would "a subject that lends itself to" include? A guide to storytelling and subterfuge would be awesome!
I'd guess maybe how to use the classes' versatility might be a start. Bard spells, Rogue talents, clever uses of each?
Is there much 'iconic' bard/rogue in the Pathfinder canon? Is that more what you are looking for? That would also be very interesting to read.
To the OP, I think this might work best as an fighter archetype rather than a new class.
Maybe Combat Expertise instead of Evasion. If your build is going to use Int, it makes for a more organic connection considering the ability score used for each.
Dropping to a d8 for HP will make this concept hard to play- if you are pumping up Int score, you are suffering somewhere a fighter-type needs numbers, like HP, or Str, Dex, Con, even Wis...
Reads like you want a smart, mobile fighter- perhaps you are looking to create an archetype rather than a class. I find the idea intriguing, a smart fighter using tactics rather than brute force as a weapon. I think a fighter archetype might work because of all the bonus feats allowed that class.
Find the feats that match your concept of the cagey fighter and incorporate those- it might work better than borrowing from the other classes. You can trade out fighter features like Bravery, Weapon Training, etc to balance the idea.
I like your upping the skill points, 2 is too little for a fighter IMO.
A good concept, keep at it!
I'd like to see a product that does go into some detail about these classes in terms of their versatility, rather than trying to re-create them with archetypes or prestige classes. Those exist and are nice flavors, but maybe these 2 classes (in particular) could use an in-depth examination.
I know they get killed on the boards here for their "weaknesses" but a product highlighting ways to play or how to consider the role of a bard or rogue in the game beyond combat mechanics would be nice.
I'm playing a bard (my first) for RotRL Aniv. edition, and a product highlighting how to maximize the class' versatility would be insightful.
Pathfinder 2.0- like 1.0 but you can use any published Paizo or 3rd party content for your game, or not, it's really up to you... wait a min-
Canonize the Inner Sea World Guide and gather all the (forgive my barbaric tongue) gods stuff into a hardback rulebook so that if we need daemons or divas, devils, angels or divs, we have them in one document.
Thanks in advance!
Have a Summoner in our group, and he's been playing since the class was released in the APG.
The Summoner class is as balanced as any other casting class- they struggle in the beginning, are awesome midrange, and then get a lot of options at higher levels. And they have a powerful pet.
The spell list is bad, our Summoner is struggling for spells (the list ends at 6th like a bard's does). But he makes good use of pit spells, grease, and glitterdust.
If anything, I'd like to see (and might house-rule in the future)a change for the Summoner class- "summon monster" limited by summoned's alignment vs the summoner's alignment, or use a concentration or caster level check to summon monsters a step or two (or totally) away from the summoner's alignment.
The eidolon is outdone by other classes in a 4+ player game, but can be indispensable in a small party of 2 or 3 players. In many cases, our Summoner dismisses the eidolon for another, more appropriate beastie.
Summoner-specific magic items are very rare. I tried to create a rod for the class and found it really was way too powerful for our particular campaign.
It is a class that until you experience it by playing or GMing it, it's going to seem wonky. Believe me, it's a very playable class.
The Summoner class should bring a diverse array of options to the party in the form of, ehh, summoned things. I play that the bad guys know summoned creatures have no xp value, but That Guy Over There is making them appear!
If you are looking for a mid to high-level adventure, maybe one of the books #4-6 of an AP could work. With some GM legwork, plot hooks and NPCs can be streamlined into the current campaign -or replaced/removed from the AP.
Two that I am familiar with as a GM that strike me as playable outside the AP- this factor of course is the linchpin- would be City of Seven Spears and Thousand Fangs Below from Serpent's Skull. 2 lost cities with tons of potential.
Also, Vaults of Madness from the same AP would be a great mid-level dungeon crawl, and adding a few more encounters would make it challenging for higher levels.
Swap out elements to fit your game; PCs should expect to gain 3-4 or more levels in each volume.
A great topic, thanks for the read!
If you as the GM feel like you need time to work towards your intended end-game, many good suggestions here. Use the stall technique, set up a CR-appropriate challenge followed by a puzzle of some sort (a maze, a logic test, a pick-a-door scenario).
Busting in on the BBEG reveals a cult of winter-werewolves. Fight!
If you're going archer, ditch Dodge for something else. You can pick up that bonus elsewhere- especially if you don't plan on melee being a primary attack option. Rangers can wear enough armor where Dodge doesn't matter as much, especially if it's your 9th level feat- may I suggest Crit Focus? +4 to confirm crits yes please!
For Fav Enemy options, are you thinking of People of the North? There is an Ulfen Role, 'Ulfen Raider' that lists dragon, fey, humanoid (giant) and (human).
Ask your GM about Favored Ranger Stuff. Choosing what's appropriate for your background is a good start, though. Your GM might give you a vague idea in regards to what you might often encounter, or what you might never encounter, to guide your choices.
Do you use the Hero Point rules? Now would be a great time to use a Hero Point. Or 3.
Baleful polymorph? Assuming you can overcome SR 29 and a +21 Fort negate, +19 will to the save...
Creative casting might save the day. Do the sorcerers have the ability to create magical distractions allowing the party to win the day and stay under the radar?
Get a copy of the first adventure in the Serpent's Skull AP, titled "Souls for Smuggler's Shiv." (designed for levels 1-4)
If you expand the landmass a bit and add a few of your own tweaks, it's perfect for a Survival-like game.
It uses the elements as well as natural hazards, location, creatures, and other stuff I won't spoil against the PCs to make it a true test of survival. It includes a lot of rules for (redundantly) surviving in tropical climes.
Plus shipwrecks to explore!
Also, you can apply the Broken condition to a weapon to increase its fragility. And you can always have.... something take off with their stuff.
This adventure will provide with enough ammo in-text and ideas found elsewhere to have a good time of watching the party slowly turn on itself- or rise to the occasion and get rescued.
Well, giving a weapon to someone who rarely uses it is disappointing all the way around.
How about giving a combo of other items?
Cleric- a ring of Freedom of Movement (40k) and a Liberator's rod (30k) would make for a great addition to his repertoire.
Alchemist- I'm not too familiar with the class and how bombs work, but could you design an item that gives the bombs weapon properties like ghost touch or bane? Or perhaps an item that lets her create bombs with ammunition magic properties, like slaying or seeking?
Perhaps such an item could be a formulae priced as a weapon with that magic type? (Is that how bombs work? ihdk)
Does it harm a fighter with 7 INT to take a level of wizard to get a few 'perks'? Yes, it does. You waste a level gaining a random low bonus when you could've been getting better at smashing things. 7 INT for a wizard, c'mon now. ;)
I'd say that many of the bonuses granted by a wizard's familiar can be found through magic items. If I'm building a fighter, I'm assuming the small adds I'd get from the wizard class with a 7 INT can be found elsewhere. I personally wouldn't trade out a level of anything for a level where I'm dealt a big penalty to the PR ability of the second class.
Fighters smash, slash, bash, push, punch, trip, gouge and kill stuff in their way with weapons. They wear armor. If my fighter character wants an ocelot in his backpack, I'm buying one (the cutest one) and lettin' him chill in my masterwork pack. I don't need the bonus because I kick ass with weapons and will find that bonus through another source, not a class with stuff I mostly can't use[using the OP's scenario].
Since they're kids, encourage reading the Bestiaries, and then use that research through an appropriate Knowledge check. They are young, and the line between "what I know" vs "what my character knows" is thin if existent at all.
Adjust the Knowledge DC lower for someone genuinely interested- it will allow them to give (on your count) several specific traits of the enemy. That kid will be very proud to give the party an account of a chimera's ecology, or what to expect from a ghoul.
Reward them, they are kids and that's part of the fun for them, absorbing and expounding information.
My baseline is this- "You are adventurers for one reason or another. In your travels/sedentary lives, you've heard/read/experienced stuff about monsters. There's a chance [Knowledge] you might have a snippet of info about this beastie."
Knowledge is power! I assume that an adventurer's downtime is taken up by many things, one of which would include gaining a perspective on the world.
Encourage your inquisitive players, they will likely be able to see, test, and respect that gray area better than others.
Sorry, I missed it! UMD is great if you're going with Cha/ willing to give that skill some love (as a half-orc, it's tough!). Witch is a very good choice if you want to handle all the casting duties at once.
My thoughts are that you could go with a life oracle as well. Being a spontaneous caster in this small party will work in your favor. You could also be the face of the party with the higher CHA requirement of an oracle.
Our Serpent's Skull campaign has a Life Oracle/Tongues curse. He's awesome. Except for his saves. His Diplomacy
Was so good that he almost single-handedly raised an army himself in Book 6, was within 5 for every single check. DCs being 30-40 or more.
Your cleric is great, but you do lack arcane power. Anyone have ranks in UMD? If so, the cleric is a great addition to the two melee fighters.
You might find the witch to be more versatile than a bard as far as casting goes; but if you need Knowledge checks, bard is the better choice.
An archer-rogue type would also be useful- UMD, traps, sneak attack.
EDIT: Right, missed the "archer-in-other-games" part. Whoops!
So unless a GM is trying to actively tpk every session he's playing wrong? Or that non-optimized parties are playing wrong?
The most important rule: Don't be a jerk.
Everyone has their own interpretation of an AP; I think a party comprised of more arcane casters than melee characters is interesting in its own right.
OP, if you fear your tank might leave and the new guy might fit that role better since you've got casters, then say it. Be adult about it, discuss it in terms of party survival. I'm sure the new guy is just excited to play and wants to learn the group dynamic. Really, since your wizard is a veteran of the campaign, it makes less sense for him/her to fade into the mist. You've invested more into yours than the new guy. That's a pretty simple and straightforward way to approach it. There's nothing less productive than wishing something was said; approach it now- maybe the new player will be a breath of fresh air and re-invigorate the rogue player. A second melee type might make the rogue feel like s/he's not tied to that role.
I'm with CB, 'filling roles' can be less fun when it's mandatory, but sometimes it's fun to play that necessary role, especially if you're new to a group and can be immediately useful. (speaking from experience)
Sounds pretty balanced. No dedicated healer or divine caster, but that's not a coffin nail since you're a summoner.
It sounds like a fun party that's going to whip some tails. Don't stress over the eidolon, it becomes like any other animal companion (forgotten by level 10) except this one you can dismiss for cooler stuff and it won't pee on the rug in retaliation ;)
Is the summoner a DMPC? just wondering, if so you might want to change that to avoid having your brain oozing out your ears.
The Inquisitor's teamwork feats are very meaty and make the class viable in combat. Use them.
Not "doing everything you can do in one round to its fullest" is part of the game. The ranger character is weird and house-ruled and sounds like it should really be a druid not a ranger. Sometimes too many ingredients blanch the broth- it seems this one is trying to do too much with too many options and should be revised or re-envisioned to simplify matters.
A lot of house rules seem to be in-play, maybe elaborate on them to help the community help you? All in all, they all sound fun to play, very personal and intricate in design.
And sometimes "wildly different" power levels work themselves out over the course of a campaign (ask wizards). Parties that mesh find their own strengths and niches in-play, not simply in a build or "on paper." Have fun!
So he's nerfing feather fall. Yikes. With rules from a backwards-compatible, non-Pathfinder source that seems to be very specific in its origin.
bf or not, kind of a dink move. If it were me, I'd be callin' shenanigans on this one.
A fair amount of GMs would let you cast that spell to prevent your character's death due to falling. Dying from a fall is at least as bad as a Rocks Fall death, no?
Sure, might be realistic, but hey, this is a fantastic table-top game...
No, there is no check needed, nor is their a need for any errata for this spell. That's just plain over-thinking things. It is plainly stated in the rules. If a player or GM wants to read too much into it... Well, turn your focus to twf or the wish spell, you'll have more fun with those tangents.
In response to the OP,here is how we dealt with my cohort in Shackled City. It's kinda specific, but maybe this would help:
I asked the DM to take the feat, he OK'd it, first step done.
I was playing a dwarf cleric, and he attracted a dwarf favored soul. I was allowed to make the cohort, he came with standard gear, maybe a magic weapon, I can't really remember. Anyways, the DM did a great job tying the cohort's appearance into the story- turns out my cleric was a long-lost son of Clan Splintershield!
Being as he was a few levels behind the party, and a healer, the cohort stayed out of the way, basically tagging along behind the damage-dealers to heal them so the Cleric could focus on other spells.
Whenever there was treasure, the party divided it up amongst ourselves. When a magic item was replaced by a better one, the lesser item was offered to the cohort, who graciously accepted it.
The cohort was simply excited to be following the new clan leader on his epic adventure.
Nah, wrest control of the character for an encounter. Let the player roll and act, of course, but make sure they understand their character's mindset has changed. They move to protect their "new friend" in whatever capacity is called for- they don't become mindless minions of the caster, but they act in accordance to the flavor of the spell(s) the OP listed. It's a great opportunity for fun all around.
And a well-placed Dispel Magic can work wonders.
Have fun with it! Scare them with the flavor of the campaign. None of these are permanent effects, and if you want to see a group band together, Dominate the tank and let the casters figure that one out- it'll be FUN!
We did it in Serpent's Skull and everyone had a good time.
No one has really addressed though the question of whether I should be detecting evil on pretty much any and ever NPC I interact with. Is that normal, or am I going overboard? My DM is trying to prevent me from doing it by saying that I have to hold my holy symbol and chant for 10 seconds and it's super rude + obvious to the person I'm doing it on. I disagree...
this might be your DM's way of subtly asking you to stop using detect evil on every person you meet.
Maybe try and focus on how those you meet interact with the party, chat 'em up, rifle through their stuff when they're asleep or in the bathroom, shake down some known cohorts, find some possibly evil motivations... and then detect evil.
Roleplay the detecting of evil schtick rather than blindly relying on the spell.
Because really evil folk will have undetectable alignment up, anyways...
I'm not sayin' anything, just sayin' ....
Aroden would be a candidate.
A good reason for Earthfall would be to destroy a too-powerful aboleth, bent on taking the slaves away from the masters. And then hey, he survives and raises the Starstone.
And the rest, as they say, is history...
Mark Hoover wrote:
Ok, so I'd ask again - how to relate history?
Where there's History, there's History Buffs-
A wizened local, who once heard the shrieks of the hag, and can recite verbatim the town's history, both general and specific...
An up-and-coming local bard, who has put together a short presentation on the history of the ruined manor.
An overly-enthusiastic type who claims to have knowledge of the occult, very eager to help the party out- this could manifest in many ways, maybe ghost-hunters, gold-diggers, paranoid cultists, what-have-you.
The descendent of a bastard son or daughter from the original noble house, intent on proving their bloodline.
The appearance of a specific monster from the dungeon in town/near town that reveals an aspect of the dungeon- "Hey, kobolds! Haven't seen them since Ol' Whats-his-name started digging that hole over on Deadman's Ridge..."
Another option might be to consider who the Major Players in the dungeon are, and how they might manipulate/dupe/cajole the local population to meet their nefarious ends. Like charming the local druid to throw off the trail, or drawing the militia into a battle against raiding orcs while simultaneously poisoning the town well, etc.
Use the megadungeon's surroundings and supporting cast to your advantage. Is it a place with strong ties to the locals? Do many families have a tie to it? If they do, maybe some or all have reason to support (or block) the party from accessing the dungeon.
Hope that helps!
Here is what I cooked up. It was first tied to some Mythic Adventures Playtest stuff, so I changed a few things as that wouldn't work for the rules.
I tried to spin the Inquisitor class from hunting to finding...
Some inquisitors forgo their duty to quarry heretics and instead focus on finding those strong in field and faith to further their faith's hold in the River Kingdoms. The dredger’s unswerving efforts for their faith find heroes in the miasmic River Kingdoms. Among the false kings and bandit princes, few shine brightly enough to attract the favor of the divine; so as independent agents of divine will, dredgers seek talent, allying themselves with convenient principalities and keeping up on local goings-on, always ready to meet new adventurers and tackle deadly monsters in the River Kingdoms. Their ultimate calling is to bring a paragon to their faith, be it a found ally or the inquisitor herself. Dredgers gain their namesake for their willingness to test foes in the field, or simply drag them off the slag-heap or barroom floor. Dredgers know heroics.
Class skills: A Dredger adds Knowledge (Local) to her class skills.
Armor Proficiency: Dredgers are only proficient with Light Armor and Light Shields.
Divine Blessing (su)-At 1st level, A Dredger is blessed with permanent resistance.
Fervor (su or -ex?) At 3rd level, Dredgers find themselves in the divine tapestry. They choose a second domain from their patron, and receive access to these domain spells (retroactively) as if they were a cleric using their inquisitor level. This ability replaces Solo Tactics.
Rally (ex) At 5th level, a Dredger calls upon her faith to assist her allies. Once per day, she can grant any ally within 30’ her Wisdom bonus to any d20 roll as a swift action. Rally’s duration is rounds/level equal to the total levels of Inquisitor the Dredger possesses. A dredger can only Rally one ally at a time. She can end a rally as a swift action. This replaces Discern Lies.
Divine Rush (su) At 14th level, faith urges you forward, and a dredger gains the Judgment Surge feat. This replaces Exploit Weakness.
Paragon At 20th level, your faith is paramount. You gain Perfect Self and Timeless Body (ex) as per the monk and druid class, respectively. You also gain DR 10/-.
Outsea Delver. This archetype does everything it is supposed to do in this competition: it is well-written, makes sensible trades in powers, and is so steeped in the region I wanted to play one.
Green Knight is neck-and-neck, but since I can only choose one...
The Outsea Delver really comes alive in its description, it adds to its class despite taking things away, and I find it to be a very interesting archetype to play because it has such strong ties to the flavor of the River Kingdoms.
It creates a real niche for its class by giving alchemists a reason and a need to be in the River Kingdoms, something some other archetypes lacked. I would choose this over another half-dozen well-designed archetypes.
I'm happy to see you thought it a strong keep. It is powerful by design and I hoped to balance that with a high cost and a specific set of Creation requirements. Thanks for the critique!
Thanks for the review, I really appreciate it! I'm glad you liked the name and found the mechanics solid. It is similar to a pearl of power but it holds any spell for a set time, not just one the user can access.
It also can be used to scribe a scroll as a standard action, again holding it for a set time.
Not a harsh review at all, IMO. Very helpful, thanks again!
Thanks for the reviews of immediate chant- especially Thomas LeBlanc, Nazard, Jacob W. Michaels, Clouds w/o Water, and Shammond 42.
To sum up their critiques and then add my 2 cps-
The name obfuscated its function, check.
Reason: I felt any reference to "scroll" worse than a vague item name. Best I could muster was "Scroll of the Archmage" as an alternate. I liked the poetics of "Immediate Chant" and appreciate its detachment from the lexicon.
The idea was to provide access to a 4th level or lower spell to any character in one of two ways, either by capturing it as it was cast or purposefully casting on the immediate chant.
The item's UMD check is correct- "Use a Scroll" is DC 20 +CL, this item being a CL 11.
A spell like control weather was given as an example of the item's 'abuse'- but as it's a 7th level spell, the owner would need to use the Scribe Scroll function of the item to gain it for 24 hours, thus using up a spell slot (must have spell prepared). Same example, divination -yes, you forgo the casting time, but it's only beneficial if you can capture the spell, otherwise, you use a casting as per Scribe Scroll.
And to the choice of Arcane Bond- well, someone didn't do his homework; my defense being only, "Uh, makes it a more rarer item?"
I decided to allow the spell to remain on a failed UMD check because it's a wondrous item. Magic items that either defer or deter power to the PCs are quickly frowned upon and sold, so I've seen.
Switching all castings to a Standard Action was a mistake, reading the reviews. I agree in hindsight. Gaining the opportunity to capture a spell, the casting time should remain the same.
For being too overpowered, I considered the price vs the max spell level allowed, and it seemed fair.
And a very grateful thanks to those who took their time to critique my item. Your words are gold!
Silly as in "hahaha!" Not silly as in, "Well, that is just plain silly." Good mechanics and a fun name. Congrats on submitting!
Aura moderate transmutation; CL 11th
Once per day, upon command, an immediate chant scribes the first spell of 4th level or lower cast within a 30 foot radius of its square as per the Scribe Scroll feat, ignoring requirements of cost, time, and materials. An immediate chant will hold this spell for 24 hours, after which it is lost.
Alternately, an immediate chant can be ensorcelled using the Scribe Scroll feat. One spell of any level may be scribed as a standard action, provided the user has access to the spell and materials needed as outlined in the Magic Item Creation guidelines. Any spell scribed in this manner but not cast within 24 hours is lost. Speaking the command word casts the spell as a standard action, regardless of its original casting time.
An immediate chant uses rules for activating a scroll, except there is no chance of a Scroll Mishap. If the spell transcribed is unavailable to a user due to class, alignment, race or ability score, a Use Magic Device check (DC 31) is required as per the skill description. If an attempt to cast a spell from an immediate chant fails, the spell remains until it is either successfully cast or the 24 hour time limit passes.
Next year, I'll save a version with formatting for this thread- it was 100% on the initial entry, if I missed something here. I know why I would not vote for it and why I would vote for it, so any critique is welcomed.
I will admit I had a ton of fun writing it, and thought it might make it, but have my own list of reasons it might not. (Foremost the "scroll" redundancy, but Morlock hide was too gross, IMO ;) )
My item made your list. This, plus seeing it just once while voting, makes me happy. Glad you liked it!
I'll confess that I am not sure I'm qualified to choose between "cool" and "Superstar", to me they can be one in the same.
I treated each entry like I'd never seen it before, read the text, checked the price, reread the text, checked the requirements, then went to the right column and repeated.
Once I'd seen a 'meh' item several times, I really put the screws to it.
If it was cool, I voted for it. If it was lame or less-cool, nope.
Cool/Superstar to me hit one or several of these-
- the item's 'thing' (what it 'does') was unique enough to be crafted into a wondrous item
^ like theheadkase pointed out upthread, some of them just rang true on first read.
I did trend away from items (mostly recurring ones) that were mechanically broken, jokes, priced too high or low, combat-bonuses-in-a-can, and anything requiring or involving blood or body parts.
After a while, I also found myself voting against a few particular groups of items, just on principle.
In no order, items that mimic existing items, joke items, gross items, items way over/under priced, and attack-bonus-in-a-can items often swayed me the other way.
Though a lot of poorly designed items kept popping up- aggravating at first- it ends up really driving home all the great designer advice from the developers and judges at Paizo. I feel better prepared for next year already!
A great big round of applause for previous years' Round 1 Judges- that really is a whole lot of wheat for the chaff. Your dedication is amazing.
If you're going to conspire, get DM approval first, so s/he can work your contract idea into the game, and let the other players know that the Chelaxians are scheming by creating the appropriate scenes.
To answer your question... First, you'd want to establish the participants in the contract, and their loyalty or fealty at the time of signing the contract. It will be null and void unless all party members are compliant.
You'd (as Chelaxians) assume rights to any and all items important to Chelish history, of course. This would disallow any non-Chelish members of the adventuring party a monetary cut of the sale or redistribution of said items.
Consider Tacticslion's post. You'll need to address what it is exactly your Chelish "faction" wishes to gain. I'm in this AP now, so I do not want to spoil anything.
And don't be surprised if other party members want no part of a contract. It's a great rp move on your end, but the rest of the party might be hesitant to your advance. Your group, your game.
And it seems that there is a core resolve in your gaming group. Use that in your contract build. Can/Will the other players be swayed to follow your lead? Are the Chelaxians leading this adventure through tact and deed?
A great idea for the AP, good luck!
I find artwork very useful. I use paper minis for the AP I'm running, and will do so for the next one simply because I don't have to say "This large plastic unicorn is actually an ettercap, and that medium soldier is a skeleton, and the halfling mage mini there is a goblin."
I like to print and use the artwork for the BBEG's, too, to put a face to the name.
Is this an elf-only council? Bring in dwarves, gnomes, humans as casters. Bards and witches, summoners, too. Non-traditional 'arcane casters.' Elves are their own hierarchy, so arcanists removed from the inner circle should be fair and impartial investigators.
And if he's powerful, he's got a bunch of crystal balls with all the trimmings to scry the pants off everyone. If all his elven kin were arcanists then they'll have a boatload of stuff they 'left to him' in their wills.
Plus as the main villain he's got mooks to shadow their movements, report back, interrupt the PCs. If he's smart, he's not even around to meet them, being off on some 'hot trail' to find Brother 3's killer or whatever, leaving a lieutenant to meet, evaluate, and battle the PCs, scrying the lot of them all-the-while.
Aeris Fallstar wrote:
Hey, thanks, Ironskull! For the info and for not making me feel stupid. :)
Lots of good advice after my last post, too. Will Cooper's link to Anthony' Adams work is well worth it (thanks for that, btw!)
My method this year is using MS word 2010 and, using one document, writing the first incarnation, labeled [first], then copying it and making changes as [second], using strikethough text and highlighting additions. Copying that to [third], poking holes in it and listing rules to reference and other facts to check.
After doing that I move onto [fourth]...
All my drafts are present and I don't lose that 'idea' from another draft. Not a ground-breaking approach, but it does help to stay organized.
Aeris- me neither, but I've entered before and will again this year.
Take a deep breath and look at the code and understand how it all coordinates to create bold and italic text you see in the publications.
[b] is bold [/b]
A very simple introduction- brackets hold the key to changing your text. There is (was) a guide in the submission box last year to help us non-coders out. zz if I'm remembering right is your own value for that entry, like caster level, school...
the / ends your change to the text. But I'm no savant with these things, just my experience.
Go from there. It still gives me jitters, but don't let it stop you from submitting. What I've done is typed my entry into the submission field and opened up my Core Rulebook. If what I typed matches line-for-line the book, I'm set. If not, follow the guides here to figure out corrections.
Remember the Preview button. Hit it like a dozen times before you submit, you'll be fine.
And the judges are more concerned that you be awesome in 300 words or less, a miss or two on the template might not be so bad.
Our summoner uses both the eidolon and the summoned beasties to good results. Our party is 14-ish in level, the eidolon is scarce as the summoner's Summon Monster ablity allows him to quickly summon specific allies for nearly any situation. It can bog things down, but it depends on how you play and what you need. I would recommend taking some time to create a summoner's folio, so you have all your summoned friends at arm's reach for table play. Good luck!
Spells to consider- Grease and all the Pit spells from the APG. Any spell you can cast to alter the battlefield or disrupt other casters or debuff opponents are solid gold.
Leave the incendiary attacks to your summoned beasties. They will provide flanking, healing, arcane casting, tank, whatever your party needs.
Beyond that, maybe a +1 crossbow, just because.
You can add the celestial template if you are either good or neutral-aligned-
"When you use a summoning spell to summon a creature with an alignment or elemental subtype, it is a spell of that type. Creatures on Table 10–1 marked with an “*” are summoned with the celestial template, if you are good, and the fiendish template, if you are evil. If you are neutral, you may choose which template to apply to the creature. Creatures marked with an “*” always have an alignment that matches yours, regardless of their usual alignment. Summoning these creatures makes the summoning spell's type match your alignment."
Hope it helps, have fun, the summoner is a lot of fun.