The Summoner at low level. An issue.


Round 2: Summoner and Witch


Hello Paizo and fans!

Well, I must say, both the Summoner and the Witch are extremely fun classes, I'd love to play them both. However a problem presents itself with starting level power curves and the Summoner.

At first level, you as a Summoner have 6-7 Daily uses of Summon Monster I, 2-3 1st level spells and 4 Cantrips usable At Will. WOW.

This is 4 spell slots more then a Focused Specialist Conjurer at level 1(AT THE MINIMUM!).
Frankly, if I were running a 1st level campaign and a player came up to me with a bard who would have the ability to Summon Monster I for 1minute(6 rounds, as opposed to 1 round for a Wiz..) 6-7 times per day, I'd just right out smack him on the head.
----------------------------------------

I've already asked my DM on a PbP game to let me use the Summoner for a soon-to-start game, however I fear he may share my opinion.

What can be done to elevate this issue of too much power at lower levels?


The summoner also has a very limited spell list compared to the core casters. As the wizard has proven, more spells available equals more power. I am assuming that may have been a factor, but since I have not playtested anything I can say is what looks good on paper may not work so well in a game(warlock anyone).


I'd say the Eidolon seems unbalanced at low level. +2 BAB and 2d10 HD at first level? That's a lot of health and basically another cleric attacker with the bonuses added in. It's not really unbalanced, but that Eidolon will have more HP and AC than a 1st level barbarian. At that level alone, it's not balanced. It does get better as they level, but at that level they're pretty good.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

Honestly... you should just give it a try! It's a playtest... sometimes things that look overpowered when you read them end up not being overpowered in actual play, and vice versa.


True, the spell list is a huge hit, but at first level, a Summoner is FAR OFF where a Wizard is, in terms of power.

He even has Grease(Which btw should be every Summoner's 1st spell selection).. Grease is a encounter finisher at levels higher then 1 too, that's how strong it is.

Also he has Mount, which frankly he doesn't need, since any prospectable Gnome Summoner will most likely ride his own Eidolon. :) But Mount places a large chunk of meat somewhere on the map, pure battle-field control. And it lasts 2hours at level 1 :D And you can use it for allies too.

Mage Armor sharing with Eidolon is also normal. However, a Summoner should never "know" Mage Armor. Use scrolls, or a wand.(Probably not available from 1st level, but still).


Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

By the way, A minute is 10 rounds, not 6.


James Jacobs wrote:
Honestly... you should just give it a try! It's a playtest... sometimes things that look overpowered when you read them end up not being overpowered in actual play, and vice versa.

True, but when I play it, I will try my best not to do any overpowered stuff. I don't want to make my DM cry, nor do I want other players to feel weak in comparison.

THAT is my problem. I can freely say to my DM: No, I won't use Summon Monster x more then once per encounter, or use it while a previous one is active.

But this won't stop some of the more rude players, and frankly DM's should be and are weary of such stuff, this is why I fear it to be disallowed by my DM.


Zaister wrote:
By the way, A minute is 10 rounds, not 6.

Even worse in my context :D Tnx.

The Exchange

I do not belive that there is much of a problem here.
first, you are assuming in your post that all summoners would have at least 16 as their charisma scores (and strongly hinting that an 18 charisma score is likely). there's a name for this type of charracters- Minmax PCs. so, surprise surprise, a minmax could be very powerful in certain aspects of his character. do not forget though, that by having a solid BAB and hit dice and the abilty to weare armor, the summoner shoul be expected to perofrm well physically in a combat, not just stand back and cast spells like a wizard.

also, its not like a 1st level summoner can cast 8 1st level spells a day or something, he can cast summon monster 1 6 times and another couple O spells. that's fine, because its not very modifiable. helpful, but not offering any tatical adventage aside from strength of numbers, which is only helpful under certain conditions.


Lord Snow wrote:

I do not belive that there is much of a problem here.

first, you are assuming in your post that all summoners would have at least 16 as their charisma scores (and strongly hinting that an 18 charisma score is likely). there's a name for this type of charracters- Minmax PCs. so, surprise surprise, a minmax could be very powerful in certain aspects of his character. do not forget though, that by having a solid BAB and hit dice and the abilty to weare armor, the summoner shoul be expected to perofrm well physically in a combat, not just stand back and cast spells like a wizard.

also, its not like a 1st level summoner can cast 8 1st level spells a day or something, he can cast summon monster 1 6 times and another couple O spells. that's fine, because its not very modifiable. helpful, but not offering any tatical adventage aside from strength of numbers, which is only helpful under certain conditions.

I STRONGLY resent anyone saying that anyone caring for a character and wanting to do what he thinks would make a character more powerful is a "min/maxer".

Honestly, if you just make a bleeding Gnome Summoner, you've done quite a bit of optimization all in itself. If you were starting with a Wizard would you start with 14 int? I don't think so. The same with a Summoner. I'd start with 16 Cha, and get +2 Racial and that's 18 already. What have you been playing all these years of 3.5e?

Also, any Summoner with a grain of salt in his brain wouldn't go Melee. He'd grab a light crossbow or a Shortbow( For elves) and whack away in range.. Or use his Acid Splash cantrip.


Lord Snow wrote:

I do not belive that there is much of a problem here.

first, you are assuming in your post that all summoners would have at least 16 as their charisma scores (and strongly hinting that an 18 charisma score is likely). there's a name for this type of charracters- Minmax PCs. so, surprise surprise, a minmax could be very powerful in certain aspects of his character. do not forget though, that by having a solid BAB and hit dice and the abilty to weare armor, the summoner shoul be expected to perofrm well physically in a combat, not just stand back and cast spells like a wizard.

also, its not like a 1st level summoner can cast 8 1st level spells a day or something, he can cast summon monster 1 6 times and another couple O spells. that's fine, because its not very modifiable. helpful, but not offering any tatical adventage aside from strength of numbers, which is only helpful under certain conditions.

Yes, the summoner can still have a wide variety of abilities at first level with 16 charisma. In total, compared to 18 charisma, it reduces his uses of summon monster by one... and that's it.

The folks who are really min-maxing will have 20 charisma. :D

Strength of numbers is excellent when

a) The extra guys can hit things and damage them/hinder them
b) The extra guys soak up damage
c) The extra guys take up space

Since Summon Monster scales with the level, it can be useful all the time. Just providing a focus for one enemy for two rounds with a one round action is good strategy, plain and simple, let alone using them for flanking material with your pouncing, tripping eidolon.

The summoner going into melee isn't really necessary, but having it as an option is nice. The eidolon can cover that as well, however, since it has more hp than you. And to cover its failings at high level, the two of you can transfer health back and forth.


Issues I see with the Summoner:

  • Summon Monster I should be renamed "Summon Monster" to clarify that it is indeed a single ability, and not 10 SLA's gained over 20 levels with each castable 3+Cha times per day. It should be noted that Augment Summoning works on it.
  • It is unclear why Augment Summoning doesn't work on the Eidolon(It was so stated by Jason Bulmahn). Summon Eidolon is a Summoning ability, same as Summon Monster. The wording on Augment Summoning: "Each creature you conjure with any summon spell gains a +4 enhancement bonus to Strength and Constitution for the duration of the spell that summoned it."
    Please note that since the feat specifically states "Spell" Spell-like ability should be out of the question, and yet it isn't. Adding a clarification on this inside the class description would be advisable.
  • Using "Empower Spell-Like ability".. RAW(Read as Written) you should be able to take Empower Spell-Like Ability at level 6+ and have it affect all your spell-like abilities you gain through "Summon Monster". Since it is a single ability(confirmed) and not multiple ones.
    I'm not going into weather your DM will allow you to take Monster feats.
  • Various Eidolon evolutions(mainly dealing with primary/secondary attacks) should be clarified or written more clearly.
  • Missing Languages known on the Eidolon

Things I feel should be changed:

  • The "Summon Monster" spell-like ability should be limited to having only one casting of the spell(whichever you cast) active at any one time. This should be rather self-explanatory. The ability is too powerful.
  • Summoner should be a Intelligence focused caster with a slight edge on Charisma. Not the other way around.
  • Remove Medium BaB and in return either grant more spells/day, spells known, or Good Fortitude save. Medium BaB is worthless since you *should* be casting spells nearly every combat round. And CMD will either way be boosted through the feat Combat Defense Training.
  • Perhaps add Augment Summoning as a bonus feat at level 3, either way EVERY Summoner will have it at level 3, this could be a good way to elevate the need for Spell Focus(Conjuration) which is a rather iffy feat, since most Conjuration spells don't even offer a save.(true, some good ones do, but do you see all of them at the Summoner's Spell list?)
  • IF it is decided to keep the Summoner as a Charisma focused caster, I'd recommend a skill boost to 4+int
  • A Summoner has excellent flavor of a "Knowledge, hidden Lore and Power" seeker. This is why I feel it is IMPERATIVE to add some kind of option to expand his spell known/available list.

That's it for now.. I think there is much more work to be done. Keep em coming and I'll try to update this post.


Madcap Storm King wrote:
I'd say the Eidolon seems unbalanced at low level. +2 BAB and 2d10 HD at first level? That's a lot of health and basically another cleric attacker with the bonuses added in. It's not really unbalanced, but that Eidolon will have more HP and AC than a 1st level barbarian. At that level alone, it's not balanced. It does get better as they level, but at that level they're pretty good.

It can't be too much better than an animal companion which gets similar treatment, and the important thing is there is no way to tell if something is broken without playing it.

My example for this will always be the 3.5 warlock.


Iliyan wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
Honestly... you should just give it a try! It's a playtest... sometimes things that look overpowered when you read them end up not being overpowered in actual play, and vice versa.

True, but when I play it, I will try my best not to do any overpowered stuff. I don't want to make my DM cry, nor do I want other players to feel weak in comparison.

THAT is my problem. I can freely say to my DM: No, I won't use Summon Monster x more then once per encounter, or use it while a previous one is active.

But this won't stop some of the more rude players, and frankly DM's should be and are weary of such stuff, this is why I fear it to be disallowed by my DM.

Don't try to underpower it, dont try to over power it, just play it. I think the designers need examples of what the worse case scenario is, and what a "normal" scenario is to see what to fix. Any class can be broken if you try hard enough, but its when a class is broken anyone without trying that it have an issue or two.

I really need icons on this site to display my mood. Here--> :)


Iliyan wrote:

Issues I see with the Summoner:

[list]
  • Summon Monster I should be renamed "Summon Monster" to clarify that it is indeed a single ability, and not 10 SLA's gained over 20 levels with each castable 3+Cha times per day. It should be noted that Augment Summoning works on it.
  • True it should be renamed.

    Summon monster has the class ability as a spell-like ability, and they can't be modified with metatmagic feats. Now if Jason said this is an exception to the rule that SP needs to become an EX.

    Quote:


    stuff about augmenting a summon and spell-like abilities

    The ability to call the Eidolon is uner the Eidolon heading and its nto labled as SP, SU, or EX. I think the default is EX when no listing is provided. Until it gets a descriptor it is not viable for any spell-like augmentation.

    Quote:


    [The "Summon Monster" spell-like ability should be limited to having only one casting of the spell(whichever you cast) active at any one time. This should be rather self-explanatory. The ability is too powerful.

    How is it to powerful. I see it could have moments where its really useful, but to have it overpowered would mean it basically dominates gameplay.

    Dark Archive

    concerro wrote:
    Iliyan wrote:

    Issues I see with the Summoner:

    [list]
  • Summon Monster I should be renamed "Summon Monster" to clarify that it is indeed a single ability, and not 10 SLA's gained over 20 levels with each castable 3+Cha times per day. It should be noted that Augment Summoning works on it.
  • True it should be renamed.

    Summon monster has the class ability as a spell-like ability, and they can't be modified with metatmagic feats. Now if Jason said this is an exception to the rule that SP needs to become an EX.

    Quote:


    stuff about augmenting a summon and spell-like abilities
    The ability to call the Eidolon is uner the Eidolon heading and its nto labled as SP, SU, or EX. I think the default is EX when no listing is provided. Until it gets a descriptor it is not viable for any spell-like augmentation.

    Jason Answered that, its supernatural. Augment SUmmon also doesn't work on it.

    Quote:
    Quote:


    [The "Summon Monster" spell-like ability should be limited to having only one casting of the spell(whichever you cast) active at any one time. This should be rather self-explanatory. The ability is too powerful.
    How is it to powerful. I see it could have moments where its really useful, but to have it overpowered would mean it basically dominates gameplay.

    To support this, while having it a lot means they are useful longer at higher levels. Without the spell on the actual spell lists you're using this spell like ability up rather quickly to get minimal gain. You either get one strong monster, or bunch of weaker monsters, who are relegated to flanking.


    Dissinger wrote:
    Jason Answered that, its supernatural. Augment SUmmon also doesn't work on it.

    He said Augment Summoning works on the SLA, but not on Eidolons, to be clear.

    Quote:
    Without the spell on the actual spell lists you're using this spell like ability up rather quickly to get minimal gain.

    Uh, Summoners not only have the summon monster spells on their list, they get it at an advanced progression.


    Did he say anything about an updated version of the pdf with the corrections coming out sometime this week.


    concerro wrote:
    Did he say anything about an updated version of the pdf with the corrections coming out sometime this week.

    If yes, I haven't seen it yet.

    PS. Ouch! Just found a bloody needle in my keyboard O.o wth?!

    Dark Archive

    What the heck is a needle doing there?!

    Anyhow, I agree that the summoner seems pretty ridiculous at low levels, though I think part of that is that we're comparing it mostly to the caster classes like conjurer, which are generally pretty weak at 1-2 and then begin to ratchet up quickly.

    I suspect the summoner will be quite strong for 1-4 (maybe dropping the eidolon to 1HD at 1st level would be a good idea), but I don't see a significant power increase afterwards compared with the full casters, who should match it by 5th and probably surpass the summoner in utility, versatility, and overall power by 11th at the latest.


    Akalsaris wrote:

    What the heck is a needle doing there?!

    Anyhow, I agree that the summoner seems pretty ridiculous at low levels, though I think part of that is that we're comparing it mostly to the caster classes like conjurer, which are generally pretty weak at 1-2 and then begin to ratchet up quickly.

    I suspect the summoner will be quite strong for 1-4 (maybe dropping the eidolon to 1HD at 1st level would be a good idea), but I don't see a significant power increase afterwards compared with the full casters, who should match it by 5th and probably surpass the summoner in utility, versatility, and overall power by 11th at the latest.

    I think it should be compared across several levels also. The 3.5 warlock starts off pretty good, but falls off later.

    Dark Archive

    I think limiting it so that you can only have one active use of your spell-like ability to summon would help balance things out. That way you can't have your eidolon stealth up a ways, see that there is a large battle up ahead, and then cast your daily allotment of summon monster x and have them rush into combat. With the 1 min/level duration change it definitely opens up the door to having a ton of summons active at once if you don't limit it to only 1 summon being active at any given time.


    Iliyan wrote:
    PS. Ouch! Just found a bloody needle in my keyboard O.o wth?!

    In this case, I hope the term 'bloody' is a swear word and not the actual physical state of the needle!

    Dark Archive

    If we are going for optimization, the current Summoner takes the cake hands down. If we are going for balance the Summoner needs some limitations to at least be on par with other arcane casters at low levels. Some or all of the below might remedy the vast disparity between the summoner and other casters.
    1.)drop light armor
    2.) drop summoners HD to 1d6
    3.)full round casting for monster summons (its already basically unlimited in duration as far as combat rounds go)
    4.)BAB of a Wizard
    5.) a light penalty imposed on the summoner during the time between an eidolon's "death" and a resummons (given he/she "shares a shard of the other's soul")

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