Minutes / day summoning and SLAs


Advanced Player's Guide Playtest: Final Playtest

Shadow Lodge

I know there has been a bit of discussion about the melee impact of minutes per day casting but I haven't seen much talk about the SLAs which are brought to the table and the impact of the extended duration.

One quick example I have is the Shadow Demon. An 11th level summoner can grab one of these and get access to:

Quote:

Spell-Like Abilities (CL 10th)

At will—deeper darkness, fear (DC 18), telekinesis (DC 19)
3/day—shadow conjuration (DC 18), shadow evocation (DC 19)
1/day—magic jar (DC 19)

That's a lot of extra spellcasting being brought to the table 88+ minutes per day, and much of it is 5th level spells. In particular, telekinesis at will and the Shadow spells. I'm not sure they can use magic jar, didn't dig through the summoning rules.

Lets look at a 9th level summoner (A good one this time), Bralani:

Quote:

Spell-Like Abilities (CL 6th)

At Will—blur, charm person (DC 13), gust of wind (DC 14), mirror image, wind wall
2/day—lightning bolt (DC 15), cure serious wounds

Nothing hugely overpowering for a 9th level character but with minutes/ day the party could easily walk into most encounters with everyone mirror imaged and blurred. The party is almost immune to cloud spells and many ranged attacks. Plus the archery, healing, 16 low level lightning bolts per day...

I don't want to poke through every single summons here, just wanted to bring up the topic and see what people think about it. In particular in light of the recent summoner 'nerfs'. Relatively speaking how much impact would this have on a typical game?

Shadow Lodge

As a further comment, consider at higher levels the summoner can have multiples of these available potentially casting 2-3+ 5th level spells per round.


Not really a big impact, actually. Or at least, no bigger impact than they already had for combat purposes. It's better than they used to have for NON combat purposes, which is just peachy as far as I'm concerned (it's why I havn't joined the "Summoners need healing magic of some sort" bandwagon -- they already have it. Just summon an angel or unicorn or so on).

Generally speaking, the Summoner doesn't gain indirect advanced access to many useful spells through the summon monster SLA. Those monsters are carefully chosen for their slots with summoners (lower case 's') in mind. It's been well-documented since at least the start of 3.5 that you're better off summoning spellcasting summons than combat brute summons because they're more useful at the level you get them and MUCH more useful in the 1d3/1d4+1 tiers.

The Summoner actually has a disadvantage, here, because they can only really get a top-tier summon once at any given time, whereas a Druid or Cleric or Wizard or Sorcerer can spam them if they want to.


Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Don't forget that ongoing spell effects caused by summon monsters immediately end once the summoned monster leaves.

Shadow Lodge

So the biggest impact is pre-combat buffing, post combat healing and the fact that the summoner can have summoned creatures available and active in the first round of combat.

The Exchange

0gre wrote:
So the biggest impact is pre-combat buffing, post combat healing and the fact that the summoner can have summoned creatures available and active in the first round of combat.

And 8 per day....

Shadow Lodge

cp wrote:
0gre wrote:
So the biggest impact is pre-combat buffing, post combat healing and the fact that the summoner can have summoned creatures available and active in the first round of combat.
And 8 per day....

This bugs me too, assuming it's balanced for a wizard using it then the assumption if that it's being used 3-4 times per day (and note that the SLA scales much quicker with CHA than the wizard's bonus spells) at the beginning of combat. Instead it's going to be used well before combat starts and will last well before and after the typical combat.

This isn't guaranteed, minutes per level is that weird duration where you aren't guaranteed it will be used but with 8+ castings per day (more likely 10+ by 11th level) you are most likely going to be covered.

If a conjurer or Sorcerer is doing the same summons they are going to burn their first round of nearly any combat just standing there summoning. So round 1 the summoner is popping off 2 spells, a buff and perhaps Wall of Fire/ ice (shadow) and his eidolon is attacking. It's the ultimate economy of actions. Sure none of the effects are as potent as some comparable to the highest level powers the wizard can bring to bear and the attacks don't do as much damage as the fighters but it's simply a lot of things going on.

Yes, a wizard is going to have this available too but not as often and they will only have a fraction of the duration to use all these spells. Another quick example. 11th level summoner has 160+ rounds of bardic song and the equivalent of 8 7th level bards casting using the Lillend. This includes casting cure light wounds 40 times outside of combat. Which could rival a clerics out of combat healing capability.

Sovereign Court

As of Last night and last weeks tackling of the Sodden Hold from Hall of Harsh Reflections, the Summoner's most anoying tactic was to summon several Fire Elementals to basically just walk in ahead of the party, set the place on fire and attack anything that moved before the Party even stepped in...

That got old quick. I mean it's a legitimate strategy, but it really smacks of PC cowardice IMO. Granted as DM I can just add some more monsters to even things out, but that's just more xp for the lazy party unless I gip them for good use of class abilities. Any suggestions there?

That tactic aside, the Summoners monster (a cheetah) were quite helpful in keeping a wizard in an elevated position busy until the party could deal with his meatshield and bypass several traps to reach him (the Summoner actually pitched face first into a spiked pit trap, the second one of the day!). A d3 of Water Elementals also helped bypass the Leech Swarms I threw at them via the Vortex ability.

--Vrock the House!


Zurai wrote:

The Summoner actually has a disadvantage, here, because they can only really get a top-tier summon once at any given time, whereas a Druid or Cleric or Wizard or Sorcerer can spam them if they want to.

Actually, I disagree with this interpretation.

The SLA specifically says:
"At 3rd level, and every 2 levels thereafter, the power of this ability increases by one spell level, allowing him to summon more powerful creatures (to a maximum of summon monster IX at 17th level). At 19th level, this ability can be used as gate or summon monster IX. If used as gate, the summoner must pay any required material components. A summoner cannot have more than one summon monster or gate spell active in this way at one time. If this ability is used again, any existing summon monster or gate immediately ends."

It doesn't say that you can only bring one single creature - it says that, the higher your level is, the more powerful your Spell-like ability becomes (up to Summon Monster IX and Gate). Now, with Summon Monster IX (for example), you can always decide to summon lesser creatures and having more of them.
"This spell functions like summon monster I, except that you can summon one creature from the 9th-level list, 1d3 creatures of the same kind from the 8th-level list, or 1d4+1 creatures of the same kind from a lower-level list."

Since the only real limitation of the SLA is that you cannot use the ability a second time without ending the effect of the previous SLA, you can still (for example) use Summon Monster IX (when allowable) to summon 1d4+1 creatures from the Summon Monster VII list - this is a single use of the SLA, not a multiple use.

The same goes for the Gate effect:
"If you choose to call a kind of creature instead of a known individual, you may call either a single creature or several creatures. In either case, their total HD cannot exceed twice your caster level. In the case of a single creature, you can control it if its HD does not exceed your caster level. A creature with more HD than your caster level can’t be controlled."

Again, since the SLA doesn't say 'you can ONLY summon/ conjure a SINGLE creature with a single use of this SLA' but says that you can only have one single SLA active at one time, you can easily bring several weaker creatures all at once, if you want.

Just my 2c.


Vrock:

Creative use of class abilities is worth full XP once.

After that though, they are basically using a tactic to ignore encounters altogether. They aren't expending meaningful resources and they aren't /learning anything/.

If they aren't learning, they aren't gaining experience. I'd probably start deducting 25% xp for each time they did that until they got nil for it.

-S


The Wraith wrote:
Zurai wrote:

The Summoner actually has a disadvantage, here, because they can only really get a top-tier summon once at any given time, whereas a Druid or Cleric or Wizard or Sorcerer can spam them if they want to.

Actually, I disagree with this interpretation.

You missed two words: top-tier.

Summoners do not get the top-tier level of summon monster in their spell list. Once they hit summon monster III on their SLA, their spell list will always be behind by 1-2 tiers.


I am so happy with the minutes-per-day change I don't really know how to verbally express my gratitude.


Zurai wrote:
The Wraith wrote:
Zurai wrote:

The Summoner actually has a disadvantage, here, because they can only really get a top-tier summon once at any given time, whereas a Druid or Cleric or Wizard or Sorcerer can spam them if they want to.

Actually, I disagree with this interpretation.

You missed two words: top-tier.

Summoners do not get the top-tier level of summon monster in their spell list. Once they hit summon monster III on their SLA, their spell list will always be behind by 1-2 tiers.

Now I understand what you were saying, my bad. And you are right saying this.


I like the minutes per day summoning because it really does make the summoner distinct from the specialist conjurer, even without considering the Eidolon.

Someone cited the possibility of summoned creatures buffing the party with mirror image . This spell isn't an issue; mirror image is personal range only and can't be cast on others. Blur can be, but it's nowhere near as powerful.

Ken


Vrock your the DM play nasty when characters start bypassing stuff. I like the summoner class and think it is a cool class. I think they nerfed some things about the class as well. I also have yet to have a party last longer beyond 12th level beforethey want to start over with new characters and such. So I chuckle when I see all this number crunching for lvl 20 characters and such, because in reality most campaigns never last that long for characters to reach that lvl. A good DM can counter any rule or character class that Piazo can throw out there. But in your case here's my idea. Each room has a d6 number of sigils scribed somewhere about the room. As soon as a summoned creature enters a sigil dissapears each round. When they are all gone the summoned creatures are sent back. Except for the Big E, I'd let him be unaffected. So party walking into rm x I would roll d6 and get a 2. Summoner brings in fire elemental after 2 rounds it's gone. I'd hide the sigils behind tapestry's and under rugs so they never know how long their summoned monsters last. Plus it will keep them guessing as to why there allies keep winking out. Thats the fun part about being DM you can do anything you want.

Sovereign Court

Hadesblade wrote:
Vrock your the DM play nasty when characters start bypassing stuff.
Selgard wrote:

Vrock:

Creative use of class abilities is worth full XP once.

After that though, they are basically using a tactic to ignore encounters altogether. They aren't expending meaningful resources and they aren't /learning anything/.

If they aren't learning, they aren't gaining experience. I'd probably start deducting 25% xp for each time they did that until they got nil for it.

Yes this is actually the 3rd time he's used this, though the first time was with a scroll of Animate Undead when he was a Sorcerer (before the Summoner came out). He made Fire Skeletons and sent them into wipe out the opposition in the 1st two rooms of the dungeon.

So I can't really say it's a new paradigm I have to get used to. On the one hand I completely created a scenario that practically required him to use a summon monster to bypass a hazard (2 leech swarms in a water filled room) but on the other hand if I consistently nerf that tactic my players will call foul. Fortunately with the escape of one foe I have a reasonable excuse of the enemies in this campaign know his tactic and can prepare for it. Too bad Protection from X doesn't provide as much Protection as it used to...

--Naval Vrockade!


It seems most people who have problems with the summoner SLA really have a problem with summoning in general.

With the new changes made to the summoner spell list it did make me rely more on my SLA.

I would be just as happy with rounds + charisma bonus or even give the sumoner free extend. That being said I don't think the minutes per level is all that game breaking and I hardly ever go over 1 minute use anyway. I did summon a Dire Bat and I used handle animal to ferry the party across an obstruction so the minutes per level is nice in some applications.

As a DM if a summoner summoned a bunch of dogs or elemental and just sent them off into the dungeon to burn it down or trip all the traps. I would think that tactic could have some bad repercussions to the party. Like activating more then one encounter.

Sovereign Court

Yeah that would be a good consequence alerting the dungeon and combining more than one encounter.

--Vrock n' Roll1d20 + 13 ⇒ (13) + 13 = 26


King of Vrock wrote:
Hadesblade wrote:
Vrock your the DM play nasty when characters start bypassing stuff.
Selgard wrote:

Vrock:

Creative use of class abilities is worth full XP once.

After that though, they are basically using a tactic to ignore encounters altogether. They aren't expending meaningful resources and they aren't /learning anything/.

If they aren't learning, they aren't gaining experience. I'd probably start deducting 25% xp for each time they did that until they got nil for it.

Yes this is actually the 3rd time he's used this, though the first time was with a scroll of Animate Undead when he was a Sorcerer (before the Summoner came out). He made Fire Skeletons and sent them into wipe out the opposition in the 1st two rooms of the dungeon.

So I can't really say it's a new paradigm I have to get used to. On the one hand I completely created a scenario that practically required him to use a summon monster to bypass a hazard (2 leech swarms in a water filled room) but on the other hand if I consistently nerf that tactic my players will call foul. Fortunately with the escape of one foe I have a reasonable excuse of the enemies in this campaign know his tactic and can prepare for it. Too bad Protection from X doesn't provide as much Protection as it used to...

--Naval Vrockade!

Annother thing is to make some of the things they need/are valuable into burnable objects. Oh look, these documents you need just went up in flames, the party finds some charred paper. First time they lose out on some valuable intel or loot because of a combat tactic will cause the party to think twice about it.

Shadow Lodge

Hadesblade wrote:
Vrock your the DM play nasty when characters start bypassing stuff. I like the summoner class and think it is a cool class. I think they nerfed some things about the class as well. I also have yet to have a party last longer beyond 12th level beforethey want to start over with new characters and such. So I chuckle when I see all this number crunching for lvl 20 characters and such, because in reality most campaigns never last that long for characters to reach that lvl. A good DM can counter any rule or character class that Piazo can throw out there. But in your case here's my idea. Each room has a d6 number of sigils scribed somewhere about the room. As soon as a summoned creature enters a sigil dissapears each round. When they are all gone the summoned creatures are sent back. Except for the Big E, I'd let him be unaffected. So party walking into rm x I would roll d6 and get a 2. Summoner brings in fire elemental after 2 rounds it's gone. I'd hide the sigils behind tapestry's and under rugs so they never know how long their summoned monsters last. Plus it will keep them guessing as to why there allies keep winking out. Thats the fun part about being DM you can do anything you want.

If a GM has to make a special dungeon to counter a character's ability then there is something wrong with the GM or with the ability. It's akin to having huge sections of anti magic in a dungeon because you think casters are too powerful.

Shadow Lodge

Mahrdol wrote:
It seems most people who have problems with the summoner SLA really have a problem with summoning in general.

I'm trying to figure out who this post is addressed to, since it's my thread and I suggested some concerns with the ability I suppose that's me. This is where your reply confuses me, summoning is great, and as far as I can tell nothing in my post says otherwise.

The examples in my original post have nothing to do with sending creatures off to aggro the dungeon which makes me wonder if you read my post beyond just the first few bits. Heck, if you read the thread title you'd have gotten that it was not about riding dogs or elementals.

My post was about the summoner having access to tons of spell like abilities by proxy for long periods of time. Things like the fact that the 11th level summoner can cast by proxy all the spells of 8-10 7th level bards and 160 rounds of bardic song to go along with it.


0gre wrote:
My post was about the summoner having access to tons of spell like abilities by proxy for long periods of time. Things like the fact that the 11th level summoner can cast by proxy all the spells of 8-10 7th level bards and 160 rounds of bardic song to go along with it.

You can already do that with Planar Binding. Lasts days/level, just can't do it in combat.

And yes, I do think it becomes a problem. Extended summons with a focus on SLA's is A) adding a focus on the summoner by having essentially another character to play for practically the entire day and B) adding to the summoner's power via versatility that cannot always be measured at a glance. Summons are powerful and versatile to begin with, adding to that mix is further diminishing other players' contributions. We've seen the damage caps for spells at various levels (enough to make direct damage a mostly inefficient choice of action use) and this only widens that gap. Creating an enhanced summoner will prove to be problematic without serious ability reduction in other areas. I've never heard anyone complain that a regular Wizard/Sorcerer who focuses on summoning was inherently weak and needed a focused improvement. Sorry for that, end of rant.


Robert Young wrote:
0gre wrote:
My post was about the summoner having access to tons of spell like abilities by proxy for long periods of time. Things like the fact that the 11th level summoner can cast by proxy all the spells of 8-10 7th level bards and 160 rounds of bardic song to go along with it.

You can already do that with Planar Binding. Lasts days/level, just can't do it in combat.

And yes, I do think it becomes a problem. Extended summons with a focus on SLA's is A) adding a focus on the summoner by having essentially another character to play for practically the entire day and B) adding to the summoner's power via versatility that cannot always be measured at a glance. Summons are powerful and versatile to begin with, adding to that mix is further diminishing other players' contributions. We've seen the damage caps for spells at various levels (enough to make direct damage a mostly inefficient choice of action use) and this only widens that gap. Creating an enhanced summoner will prove to be problematic without serious ability reduction in other areas. I've never heard anyone complain that a regular Wizard/Sorcerer who focuses on summoning was inherently weak and needed a focused improvement. Sorry for that, end of rant.

I routinely hear that summoning focused wizards suck, and if you read most of these threads lots of people seem to think that the SLA of the summoner is barely worth it other than a meat shield and flanker. I haven't checked out what spells a summoner gets access to thanks to this, but I'm personally not that worried about it. I would like to see a list at some point though, it would be useful to use.


Caineach wrote:
I routinely hear that summoning focused wizards suck, and if you read most of these threads lots of people seem to think that the SLA of the summoner is barely worth it other than a meat shield and flanker. I haven't checked out what spells a summoner gets access to thanks to this, but I'm personally not that worried about it. I would like to see a list at some point though, it would be useful to use.

You're right, they're not overly powerful. Here's a brief list:

Summon IV, (Hound Archon) detect evil, magic circle/evil, aid, continual flame, message

Summon V, (Babau Demon) darkness, dispel magic, (Bralani Azata) blur, charm person, gust of wind, mirror image, wind wall, lightning bolt, cure serious wounds

Summon VI, (various) fear, minor image, unholy blight, charm monster, hold person, invisibility, sound burst, cure light wounds, hallucinatory terrain, speak w/animals/plants, deeper darkness, telekinesis, shadow conjuration, shadow evocation, magic jar, detect thought, suggestion, vampiric touch, dominate person, detect good, tongues

Summon VII, fly, dimensional anchor, major image, wall of ice, quickened invisibility, telekinesis, heroism, mirror image

But these are in addition to being a meat shield, flanker, extra set of arms/legs/combat maneuvers/attack actions. There is also SR, DR, energy resistances/immunities to consider. And you can buff'em, too.


You left off the Lantern Archon which got dropped down to summon III. It deserves some special mention for having a great means to mess up things in antimagic fields.

Summon IX gets you Trumpet Archons and Gheale's both of which function as good level clerics (at level 17 you get a level 14 cleric to help you from the trumpet archon and he gets all his archony stuff too).

Bralani has other special abilities too.


Abraham spalding wrote:

You left off the Lantern Archon which got dropped down to summon III. It deserves some special mention for having a great means to mess up things in antimagic fields.

Summon IX gets you Trumpet Archons and Gheale's both of which function as good level clerics (at level 17 you get a level 14 cleric to help you from the trumpet archon and he gets all his archony stuff too).

Bralani has other special abilities too.

Lillend Azatas also mimic 7th level bardic abilities.


Orge mentioned it so I left it off since it had been brought up already.

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