Lvl 5 Summoner playtest

Round 2: Summoner and Witch

I've been running this guy for a couple of sessions now, with similar strats in combat. Thought I'd share my experiences:

Lodin, lvl 5 Summoner

STR 10, DEX 14, CON 14, INT 14, WIS 10, CHA 19 (28 point stat buy)
AC 16 (mithral shirt) HP 46
Key skills: Diplomacy 9, Perception 5, Spellcraft 10, UMD 9
Feats: Imp Init,Toughness, Combat Casting, Spell Focus: Conjuration (anticipating Aug Summoning next feat)

Cinder, lvl 5 Eidolon (red dragon form)

STR 17, DEX 16, CON 13, INT 7, WIS 10, CHA 11
AC 19, HP 37
Evolutions: Claws, Flight, Energy Attack (fire), Pounce, Trip, Tail

Standard combat actions seem to be

1. Summon d3 Elementals (who serve as diversions/shields, essentially). Send Eidolon to attack.
2. Haste party
3. Cast invisibility
4. Battlefield controls (grease, re-summons)

We're playing with the 1 SLA summons at a time rule, but kept the minute per level and standard action rule.

1 SLA is definitely necessary. I've deliberately kept Summon Monster off my spell list, so the field isn't swarmed by small and largely ineffectual meat shields. A player who doesn't excercise this judgement could be a headache for DMs - nothing that a Druid can't do already, however.

1 minute per level allows summons to be used as longer duration scouts, and allows a little more versatility in their usage. I think this is a positive feature, not really advantageous in combat at all, but gives the Summoner some flexibility.

Standard Action Summons - haven't really played a huge role, as the 1 minute per level and the nature of our encounters thus far means I usually have my elemental goon squad up and running before the fight kicks off.

The Eidolon serves as dual tank, along with the party's paladin. We also run with a rogue, ranger (archer build) and cleric. Big E's damage output is good (bad rolls aside), the Energy Attacks evolution is very strong for 2 points - I'd suggest it be toned down by making it purchased for each group of attacks (claw/bite/tail,etc), 2 evo points per buy, or by matchign the EA dice to be no more than the attack it keys off (so, +d4 for claws).

Our Hps are generated thusly - max 1st level, then half/half +1 alternating each lvl after that. Resulting hp for Big E isn't great, but his AC while buffed with Haste and an extended Mage Armour is 24 - higher than our Pally. Unbuffed he's 19, which is decent for a tank - I'm not sure toning down E's AC would be a great move, and would likely reduce their tanking effectiveness dramatically. (yes I took Mage Armour, purely for big E, which some might view as a "wasted spell slot", making the need for base E AC even more pronounced).

In roleplaying terms, big E is pretty much never allowed into cities (he circles above) cutting down my effectiveness in any urban encounter dramatically, but I feel this is a fair trade off for the cool factor of having a "Dragon" for a pet outside town. I think any DM who allows monstrous E's into town without drama are probably doing it wrong :P

My Summoner's personal effectiveness in battles is limited mainly to casting Grease and renewing summons whilst staying Invisible - battlefield control, which is the role I wanted to play. IMO (and certainly my DM's) Intelligent monsters are going to work out pretty quick that the weedy (yet dashingly handsome) little mage guy shooting crossbow bolts at the back of the group has something to do with the fricken DRAGON eating up the frontlines (they have big matching glowy symbols on their foreheads, afterall) and annihilate him otherwise. Again, any DM who allows Bozo the Crossbow wielding summoner to be peppering his NPCs from a nice safe distance while Big E rips sh*t up center stage is probably doing it wrong. :P

I roll all attack and dmg dice simultaneously (colour coded for my convenience) - my turns don't take longer than anyone else's.

The Summoner feels like a very useful party member, upping everyone's dmg output (haste), saving squishies from reasonable amounts of dmg (summons soaking up hits before popping) while dealing out decent dmg on the frontline (via Big E).

I'd definitely put the class at one of the strongest in the game at this level. Bad DMs (allowing Summoners to operate unmolested in plain view on the rear line)and munchkin players (if your Big E has 20+ tentacles and nothing else, resembling a giant, two legged irradiated sea anemone, you're being a t~~%) can certainly turn the class into something incredibly lame (as they can with Druids, Conjurers and Sorcs).

But that's not a problem with the class, is it?

All in all, a very fun class to play. It has a real flavour to it, feels like a class that was built to do a job (essentially, one of battlefield control), and it succeeds in doing it well.

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