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Summon monster, broken spell


Pathfinder RPG General Discussion


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I run an 11th level conjurer in a weekly pathfinder campaing. She kicks but-- especially with summon monster 6.

But the whole experience (coming from the topic both as a DM, and a player) has made me think that the summon monster spell is a big mistake.

At a level when the monsters are good, summon monster is pretty much better than any other spell, because it is so flexible, and because it attacks the action economy of your foe (the monster means extra actions for you, but actions that the foe must devout to defeating your monster).

Instead, one should have to first create a bargain with their monster for each summon monster spell. A spell caster can have 1 bargain per spell level + 1 per point of charisma modifier. The spell caster would choose one creature and make a diplomacy roll (other skills might substitute). The duration, allowed requests (attack, use spell like abilities, fight onto death) would be based on the results of the roll, as would the duration of the summons.

Then, cooler creatures could be included in some of the lackluster charts, and the spell would be balanced.

Andoran

Hmm interesting thought on summoning contracts reminds of some anime or another, rather then contracts you could make a it matter of learning creatures true names and reason its limited because such knowledge weighs heavy on mortal minds and spirits.

Andoran

It is generally a full round action to summon, meaning you are standing around vulnerable for a full round waiting for whatever you summon to appear.


No one would use the summons if you needed to do that. Don't worry many other spells match, if not surpass its power.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Maps, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

If Summon Monster was a singular spell, I might agree with you, but since it's divided up amongst nine different spells, I think it's pretty balanced.

Grand Lodge

I feel its balanced enough, especially since a.) its easy to interrupt a summoner, and b.) the duration is actually pretty small for higher level spells. If someone uses summoning magic, the easy thing to do is just shrug, go "oh, that's too bad," and then just shoot everything you have at the squishy wizard behind the giant winged demon thing.

Summoning is scary in the hands of a legit Summoner, and a Master Summoner is just overkill, but as ordinary spells they're fairly mundane.


I'd say the fact that intelligent enemies know that if they knock out the conjurer, they knock out his summoned creatures balances this out nicely.

Osirion

I've noticed that DMs tend to be too liberal in what summoned creatures can do (and in some extension, animal companions as well).

And considering the casting time, duration, and the fact that there are specific spells to dismiss summoned creatures (along with dispel magic), and it's not all that overpowered.


Yes, it's countered by a first level spell: Protection from X.

Osirion

roguerouge wrote:
Yes, it's countered by a first level spell: Protection from X.

That pretty much ends the debate right there.


Against monsters without protection from x, that are determined to fight and not run/hide/skirmish and fight later, summon is pretty good.

Some summons are fast, some are beefy, but yeah, if you counter them, you win the pokemon battle.

Dms bring their monsters to fight the party, the summoner brings more monsters, so yeah, it can be easy. One of my favourite prestiges is the bonded summoner.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

You can cast summon monster while invisible, it ignores spell resistance, and protection spells only help against the appropriate alignment, and only against melee attacks. You can cast summon monster from behind a wall of x, and have it move around the wall to attack.

And then consider all of the different spell like abilities, bard abilities, skills, etc. they give you access to.

But most of all, it is the fact that you are getting more actions, and your opponents are getting fewer (since they have to deal with the summoned creature-- even if all they do is cast protection from evil/dispel magic/banishment you have used an action on a major (spell casting) opponents part.

If the spell was such that you had to prep which monster came, it wouldn't be such a swiss army knife spell. Also, a larger variety of creatures could be included in the tables without unbalancing the spell (since you would have to prep which of the creatures were summoned).


If the monster can move around the wall to get to the bad guys then the bad guys can move around the wall to get to you, and if they have good mobility they will get to you before you finish casting the spell

Most of them don't give bard abilities. Some of them give spells, but that is at very high levels. I don't know of any that give bard abilities..

The idea is to make the enemy use more actions on them. If they did not do that, they would not be worth summoning. The spells can also be used against the party.

What is broken or OP is subjective. Just because your group does not like it or it causes issues at your table that does not make it broken. At best you can say your group has issues with it. Many of us don't have issues with it.

There will be enemies/situations that it will be very good against, and enemies/situations where trying to summon where the caster will just lose the spell.

Also if the party uses a spell to cast summon monster, and the bad guy uses a spell to get rid of the monster then it can also be said that they party lost an action since their action was just negated. It is not a one-way street.


Jal Dorak wrote:
roguerouge wrote:
Yes, it's countered by a first level spell: Protection from X.
That pretty much ends the debate right there.

Not in Pathfinder. Note, too, that celestial/fiendish beasts aren't good/evil summons, even though they're summoned by good/evil spells - so large parts of the summons lists are neutral and unblockable with protection from whatever


The monsters with the * take on the alignment of the caster, but if the caster is neutral he can choose which template to use to summon them. PoX spells are still useful, but not as useful.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
wraithstrike wrote:


Most of them don't give bard abilities. Some of them give spells, but that is at very high levels. I don't know of any that give bard abilities..

Check out the lilend azata at level 6.

So, I have been playing high level pathfinder wizards for a while now, and have a number of tricks to get my monsters summoned safely:

invisibility + flight
fog clouds
walls of force (that I dismiss once I am invisible and I have a good legion of monsters ready).
resiliant spheres (use like walls of force, but you can only fit 1-3 medium sized monsters in it with you, I prefer babau demons in this context.)
wall of stone (or anything really) and then summon earth elementals who will use earth glide to traverse the wall. Note that elementals are neutral, and so ignore protection from evil/good.


moon glum wrote:
wraithstrike wrote:


Most of them don't give bard abilities. Some of them give spells, but that is at very high levels. I don't know of any that give bard abilities..

Check out the lilend azata at level 6.

It would actually make it a cooler spell if you had more monsters to pick from, but had to choose when you memorized the spell.

I forgot about that, but that is only one monster, and the other spells you get at that level are very strong also. For a spell/feat/etc to be broken it has to cause issues to a very high percentage of tables.

The spell is supposed to be effective most of the time. I don't have an issue with the spell as a GM or player. The fact that I can lose the spell makes it risky enough that I can't just cast it whenever I want against intelligent enemies.


roguerouge wrote:
I'd say the fact that intelligent enemies know that if they knock out the conjurer, they knock out his summoned creatures balances this out nicely.

What?

That sounds like a house-rule. The duration of Summon Monster X is not "Concentration".. it is "1 round/level (D)". That means that the creatures remain for 1 round per level unless the caster actively chooses to dismiss them earlier. Being knocked out does not dismiss them.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I think that it would be more interesting if there were multiple spells, one for each monster, and the list of monsters was larger. It would be neat to summon proteans, and demodands.

But summon monster 5, 6,7 are the best spells of their levels. Need true seeing? Summon an eyrines. Need a face? Summon a succubus. Telekineses? Summon a shadow demon. Tons of dispel magic too. And it will be exactly what you need because you can pick the monster.


Just because the monster has true seeing that does not mean you have true seeing. It can point out which square the enemy is in, but you still have a 50% miss chance if you are using attack rolls, and if you are using spells that have to target a creature you can't target it.

The monster is also likely to be behind the bad guys in terms of spellcasting levels so its dispel magic will fail so that means you summoned a monster, and then the monster failed to dispel whatever it was that you wanted dispeled. Of course you can go and try to dispel it on your own, and that would have saved you a spell had you done it first.

I am not knocking the summon monster spells. I like them myself, and am dying to get to play a summoning specialist, but for all of their versatility they are not OP.

Summoning the other outsiders would be nice. I would ask a GM for a permanent swap of certain monsters to get something from the 2nd and 3rd bestiaries.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Have the eyines telepathically tell that party what the reality of the environment is like. If there are invisible things, she shoots arrows at them and you cast glitterdust at them.

Against blurred/displaced things, use your wand of farie fire (750 gp, negates blur, invisibility, displacement, but is subject to spell resistance).

The spell is a little too good at medium to high levels (not completely broken, granted). As a player, I am loath to complain, but it would probably make the game better if monster summoning were a little different, and I think adding additional options would keep people happy.

If I had to choose ahead of time to summon huge earth elemental vs. summon anarchistic dire tiger vs. summon tarry demodand (not sure a tarry demodand would be level 6, but you get the idea), that would be OK with me.


In regards to the succubus as face, remember that unless it is extended the succubus will be leaving in a few minutes and good luck using that trick against evil detecting persons. I think Summon Monster are better for a quick meat-shield/transport rather than an extra party member.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

At will suggestion, and a dominate person, or one quick bluff check. No, you can't use here to infiltrate an order of templars, but still, she is a quick and powerful solution to many social problems.


moon glum wrote:
At will suggestion, and a dominate person, or one quick bluff check. No, you can't use here to infiltrate an order of templars, but still, she is a quick and powerful solution to many social problems.

I am inordinately amused by the idea of summoning a succubus for "a quick bluff check". "Your questions will be answered momentarily, but first, allow me to summon my completely trustworthy legal advisor and bring her up to date on the subject. Please ignore the smell of brimstone as she arrives; she's sensitive about it."

(also, if you want to "solve" your social problems with Dominate Person, why are you spending a higher-level slot to summon a succubus to do it for you? Cut out the middleman here.)


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Poor troll is poor.


MG you have to prove the spell is an issue for "the game", but since the spell is championed by GM's and players alike I don't think you can do that. All you can do is say that it is more powerful "than you would like it to be", but that is a subjective view, not an objective one. It is no different than saying psions or ToB is broken.


I don't know about the Tome, but psions aren't broken! ;)

Now, a bunch of Lantern Archons that use their Aid spell-like on each other and then zap the Big Bad to death... maybe.


moon glum wrote:

I run an 11th level conjurer in a weekly pathfinder campaing. She kicks but-- especially with summon monster 6.

But the whole experience (coming from the topic both as a DM, and a player) has made me think that the summon monster spell is a big mistake.

At a level when the monsters are good, summon monster is pretty much better than any other spell, because it is so flexible, and because it attacks the action economy of your foe (the monster means extra actions for you, but actions that the foe must devout to defeating your monster).

Instead, one should have to first create a bargain with their monster for each summon monster spell. A spell caster can have 1 bargain per spell level + 1 per point of charisma modifier. The spell caster would choose one creature and make a diplomacy roll (other skills might substitute). The duration, allowed requests (attack, use spell like abilities, fight onto death) would be based on the results of the roll, as would the duration of the summons.

Then, cooler creatures could be included in some of the lackluster charts, and the spell would be balanced.

Nobody tell this guy about Summoners who cast as standard actions instead of full round actions, have durations marked in minutes rather than rounds and get WAY more per day than a Wizard ever could...

Oops.


Azten wrote:

I don't know about the Tome, but psions aren't broken! ;)

Now, a bunch of Lantern Archons that use their Aid spell-like on each other and then zap the Big Bad to death... maybe.

Heh, I have a Halfing Paladin (Holy Tactician)/Master Summoner who summons a pack of Lantern Archons, buffs them with Haste spells and the Target of Opportunity teamwork feat and 'hunts' evil monsters.


I think that feat was made for actual physical weapons not weapon-like affects. It does specifically mention weapons in hand, and otherwise spells with a ranged touch attack could be activated as an immediate action.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Benly wrote:
moon glum wrote:
At will suggestion, and a dominate person, or one quick bluff check. No, you can't use here to infiltrate an order of templars, but still, she is a quick and powerful solution to many social problems.

I am inordinately amused by the idea of summoning a succubus for "a quick bluff check". "Your questions will be answered momentarily, but first, allow me to summon my completely trustworthy legal advisor and bring her up to date on the subject. Please ignore the smell of brimstone as she arrives; she's sensitive about it."

(also, if you want to "solve" your social problems with Dominate Person, why are you spending a higher-level slot to summon a succubus to do it for you? Cut out the middleman here.)

Your amusement is indeed inordinate. Obviously you would not summon her in front of the dupes.

And you are missing the point about use summons to cast spells, they give a flexibility that a wizard , especially a specialist with say a opposition school of enchantment, lwould otherwise lack.

But OK, the spell is not quite broken, just overpowered once you get to decently high levels.

Consider if there were no summon monster spells, and instead there was a 6th level spell just like summon monster but it only summoned a succubus, or it only summoned a huge earth elemental, or it only summoned a celestial dire tiger. Would you take it instead of, say, mass suggestion?

I would definitely consider it, at the least.


It is not overpowered either. Mass suggestion is not a spell I would choose anyway. I had forgotten the spell existed.

A succubus at level 11 would not make the cut for me. Now if I could get something that is a CR 9 I might look at that.

Going back to your example, if I could get Summon Succubus, which is basically what you are suggesting or
Dispel Magic, Greater
Find the Path
Harm
Heal
Planar Binding
Disintegrate
etc

I will not choose mass suggestion or summon succubus.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

You should compare the monster to the spell that the monster would be replacing. So succubus vs. mass suggestion, celestial dire tiger vs. harm, etc. I think it would be more balanced.


Mass suggestion is a weak spell imho so neither one makes the cut, but if I had to choose I would take mass suggestion. I can cast it as a standard action, and affect several people with a higher DC than the monster could.

As for the tiger or harm, I am going with harm. That tiger is not likely to give me 110 points of damage with a touch attack. If I feel like I need a fighting monster I will just use planar binding or planar ally to get something more powerful if the spell is going to limit my choices in such a manner.

Yeah it cost more money, but it won't take me a full round action, and whatever I am calling will be useful. I might even be able to get it to stick around for more than one fight, and if myself and the monster have similar agendas it might give me a discount.


moon glum wrote:


Your amusement is indeed inordinate. Obviously you would not summon her in front of the dupes.

On the one hand, the particular image I used is an exaggerated one that I thought was funny. On the other, though, you've got your succubus for less than two minutes, during which time you summon her out of sight of the mark, explain the con in full, send her to execute the con, complete the con, and get her back out of sight before she vanishes again without arousing suspicion. Unless it's a very simple job you're pulling, it's simply not enough time, and if the job is that simple you can probably find a non-succubus way to do it.

I mean, don't get me wrong, Summon Monster is a great spell and very versatile, but this particular suggestion struck me as a bit of a stretch given the duration.

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