Summon Nature's Ally... Really?!


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion


You know... after like 3rd level I really can't see my druid ever casting these spells. What good is a 4 hit die mob in a fight between 7th+ level PCs and 7-10th level bad guys?


Fatman Feedbag wrote:
You know... after like 3rd level I really can't see my druid ever casting these spells. What good is a 4 hit die mob in a fight between 7th+ level PCs and 7-10th level bad guys?

Those spells are awesome when they get higher. They dont get worse. Augment summon helps a lot also. Look at treantmonks guide to druids. He breaks it down quiet well.

Liberty's Edge

I once used the spells to summon a mob of small air elementals (two castings for 1d4+1 each) and swarm a few casting bad-guys that I knew most likely had readied actions. A couple of the air elementals took it to the face, but the rest were able to surround and help the party flank. The maneuver actually saved the party.

Dark Archive

In our 2nd darkness campaign our druid used it to summon 3 stirges They sucked the opposing spellcaster dry!it was pretty funny to watch him try to get them off him lol


Fatman Feedbag wrote:
You know... after like 3rd level I really can't see my druid ever casting these spells. What good is a 4 hit die mob in a fight between 7th+ level PCs and 7-10th level bad guys?

That's funny.

I always thought they were worthless until around 7th level. Before that, especially in the first two or three levels, they just don't last long enough to be worth a spell. They usually miss, when they hit it's for a couple HP damage, then the duration ends and they vanish.

By the time you get to Summon Nature's Ally IV you can count on the critters hanging around for 7 rounds, and you can find different critters for different needs (though this is more true of Summon Monster spells than it is of Summon Nature's Ally spells).

Or for kicks you can use Extend Spell and get 1d3 critters from Summon Nature's Ally III who hang around for 14 rounds.

Yeah, you're right, they don't run off and solo-tank the boss badguys. But they can handle a mook or two, or at least keep them busy so they're not grappling and killing your squishy spellscasters in the back. Remember, every hit the animals take is a hit that you or your companions don't take, and don't have to heal. If they damage, that's a bonus. If they grapple and constrict an enemy spellcaster, then that's a WIN!


Fatman Feedbag wrote:
You know... after like 3rd level I really can't see my druid ever casting these spells. What good is a 4 hit die mob in a fight between 7th+ level PCs and 7-10th level bad guys?

I am confused. Your not supposed to summon to replace other PC's in your party or to use them to dish out dmg.

Summons are one of the major ways to eliminate damage. If you summon a couple of bags of meat and they get nicely tenderized you just saved your front line players some dmg they would have taken.

As any caster that has access to these spells i always take and use them. Accept for at first level since 1 round of dmg soaking isn't that great compared to other level 1 spells (sleep, mage armour etc etc).

Once you look at the dmg they basically absorb you can realize how useful they are.

tbh, i would go over treakmonks optimizations for druid and wizard to see why they are far more useful then a lot of spells.


These are all good points. I'm playing a druid this time around and I'll give it a go to see how it works out.


DM_Blake wrote:
Remember, every hit the animals take is a hit that you or your companions don't take, and don't have to heal. If they damage, that's a bonus. If they grapple and constrict an enemy spellcaster, then that's a WIN!

Exactly. I discovered Summon as a 3.5 Cleric, and it became my DM's biggest headache. True, the summoned creatures seldom killed an enemy by themselves, and no, they didn't usually survive to the end of the spell. But every enemy that was swatting away attacks by a summoned creature was an enemy that wasn't causing our fighter to be flanked, or taking out our rogue. And that extra turn they were busy finishing off a Griffon or a Celestial Bear was just enough time to Cure Critical Wounds on a downed comrade.

Sovereign Court

MultiClassClown wrote:
DM_Blake wrote:
Remember, every hit the animals take is a hit that you or your companions don't take, and don't have to heal. If they damage, that's a bonus. If they grapple and constrict an enemy spellcaster, then that's a WIN!
Exactly. I discovered Summon as a 3.5 Cleric, and it became my DM's biggest headache. True, the summoned creatures seldom killed an enemy by themselves, and no, they didn't usually survive to the end of the spell. But every enemy that was swatting away attacks by a summoned creature was an enemy that wasn't causing our fighter to be flanked, or taking out our rogue. And that extra turn they were busy finishing off a Griffon or a Celestial Bear was just enough time to Cure Critical Wounds on a downed comrade.

And as Machiavellian as this sounds I think this is precisely why it's used. I still wonder, however, whether a neutral good druid might be at odds with his beliefs by using summoned animals as cannon fodder in this way.


Marcus Aurelius wrote:
MultiClassClown wrote:
DM_Blake wrote:
Remember, every hit the animals take is a hit that you or your companions don't take, and don't have to heal. If they damage, that's a bonus. If they grapple and constrict an enemy spellcaster, then that's a WIN!
Exactly. I discovered Summon as a 3.5 Cleric, and it became my DM's biggest headache. True, the summoned creatures seldom killed an enemy by themselves, and no, they didn't usually survive to the end of the spell. But every enemy that was swatting away attacks by a summoned creature was an enemy that wasn't causing our fighter to be flanked, or taking out our rogue. And that extra turn they were busy finishing off a Griffon or a Celestial Bear was just enough time to Cure Critical Wounds on a downed comrade.
And as Machiavellian as this sounds I think this is precisely why it's used. I still wonder, however, whether a neutral good druid might be at odds with his beliefs by using summoned animals as cannon fodder in this way.

Only if he had absolutely no understanding of magic what so ever. Summoned creatures are completely unhurt after the summoning. Even if they "die" in combat it does nothing to the real creature on the other plane.


[url=http://paizo.com/pathfinderRPG/prd/magic.html wrote:
Pathfinder Reference Document[/url]]Summoning: A summoning spell instantly brings a creature or object to a place you designate. When the spell ends or is dispelled, a summoned creature is instantly sent back to where it came from, but a summoned object is not sent back unless the spell description specifically indicates this. A summoned creature also goes away if it is killed or if its hit points drop to 0 or lower, but it is not really dead. It takes 24 hours for the creature to reform, during which time it can't be summoned again.

I think you don't have to be worried about cannon fodder...


As suggested above by others, the base Summon Monster/Ally v.XX spells aren't so much about dealing damage as they are about taking it, harassing the enemy (e.g. breaking concentration) and, very importantly, about gaining battlefield control.

Even if your summoned creatures do nothing but stand in a single spot and take damage, they occupy spaces that you can move through but your enemy can't. Opponents have to waste time and energy clearing those squares before they can end-run or attempt to flank you, and they eat AoOs the entire time.

Larger creatures can potentially provide soft-cover, and they don't even need to be involved in the main fight but instead can "guard the rear" or block a side-passage, or else serve as blockers and body-guards for the rear-line casters and archers.

It's been mentioned that the spells don't provide much benefit at low levels, but let's not forget that everyone loves sleep, including evil wizards. Facing up against an "evil adventuring party" (or orc band that includes a shaman) it might not be a bad idea to throw a couple summoned creatures into the mix. Even low-level PCs will still probably beat their HD, but since sleep works from low-to-high it's one less Save the PCs have to worry about and a wasted spell for the bad-guys ... plus, the summoned creatures still get to save and maybe stay in the fight another round or two.

HTH,

Rez


Actually Bison and Aurochs do stupidly good damage for their level and have Trample. Aurochs can be summoned at 5th level and deal 1d8+9, +7 to hit, and the Bison deals a whopping 2d6+12 with +10 to hit, 4th level summon. And that one has Power attack, like it needs it. Summon some over a few turns and then finish a foe with a Trample from a group of Aurochs dealing 2d6+7 per Aurochs with a reflex save for half for each of them.

The Druid has killed an EFREETI with this. It was incredibly silly.


Rezdave wrote:

As suggested above by others, the base Summon Monster/Ally v.XX spells aren't so much about dealing damage as they are about taking it, harassing the enemy (e.g. breaking concentration) and, very importantly, about gaining battlefield control.

Even if your summoned creatures do nothing but stand in a single spot and take damage, they occupy spaces that you can move through but your enemy can't. Opponents have to waste time and energy clearing those squares before they can end-run or attempt to flank you, and they eat AoOs the entire time.

Larger creatures can potentially provide soft-cover, and they don't even need to be involved in the main fight but instead can "guard the rear" or block a side-passage, or else serve as blockers and body-guards for the rear-line casters and archers.

+1

From my Wizard Guide:

I love summoning. So much so, that I need a special section to explain why you should do it. So why summon? Here's a few reasons. There's more than this, but these are the main advantages.

1) Doing Damage: Summoned creatures aren't a one shot damage spell. Summons do damage every round, the blast spell that keeps on blasting. <snipped the bit about celestial/fiendish creatures>

2) Taking Damage: Every time the enemy attacks a summoned creature you win. That's an attack that would have gone towards you or your allies. Whether it hits or not really doesn't matter all that much, because you never need to heal a summoned creature after battle.

3) Battlefield Control: Summoned creatures do more than attack, they also grapple, trip, and block the enemy, they also provide cover. Many summoned creatures are amazing grapplers.

4) Extra Spellcasting: Is casting one spell per round getting you down? Well, there are always quickened spells, but they are so darned expensive. What if you summon a creature with Spell Like Abilities? Then you cast, the summoned creature casts, and it's like your own little quickened spell every round.

5) Mounts: Sometimes you need a quick way to get your pet Big Stupid Fighter up to the big bad guy with wings. That's where a quick summoning can be very handy. A Dire Bat or any number of large (or larger) flying creatures can make effective quick mounts to get your party where they need to be.

6) Perception: Ever had that invisible guy you just couldn't find? You have a glitterdust but don't know where to aim it, and you left your see invisible spell unmemorized today. No problem, a quick summoning spell and your Dire Bat will be attacking the offending square using its blindsense. Now you know where to throw that glitterdust spell.

Sovereign Court

Abraham spalding wrote:
Marcus Aurelius wrote:
MultiClassClown wrote:
DM_Blake wrote:
Remember, every hit the animals take is a hit that you or your companions don't take, and don't have to heal. If they damage, that's a bonus. If they grapple and constrict an enemy spellcaster, then that's a WIN!
Exactly. I discovered Summon as a 3.5 Cleric, and it became my DM's biggest headache. True, the summoned creatures seldom killed an enemy by themselves, and no, they didn't usually survive to the end of the spell. But every enemy that was swatting away attacks by a summoned creature was an enemy that wasn't causing our fighter to be flanked, or taking out our rogue. And that extra turn they were busy finishing off a Griffon or a Celestial Bear was just enough time to Cure Critical Wounds on a downed comrade.
And as Machiavellian as this sounds I think this is precisely why it's used. I still wonder, however, whether a neutral good druid might be at odds with his beliefs by using summoned animals as cannon fodder in this way.
Only if he had absolutely no understanding of magic what so ever. Summoned creatures are completely unhurt after the summoning. Even if they "die" in combat it does nothing to the real creature on the other plane.

Oh but the pain and the suffering, before being booted back home in one piece. Just sayin.


Fergie here.

Another thing to remember about summoning is that it is a fairly "fixed" spell. The summon cast by a 30 pt buy wizard with 2X normal loot is the same as the summon from an adept with nothing but a loin cloth and spell pouch. Now that I think about it, summon is a good spell to put on a scroll or in a wand because it doesn't use anything but caster level.

Party composition also has a big effect on how useful a summon is. Bards, channeling clerics, and rogues add to the power of a summons, while some other characters or (large) groups might not really benefit as much from a summon.

To me, the biggest benefit is the versitility of the summon spells. There is nothing else that can do as many different things as a clever use of a summon.

vvv EDIT: james, you are right about that, but I find a scroll of summon 4 for a 9th level caster, for example can still be effective on a budget. You are probably right about the wands though. vvv


L. Ferguson wrote:

Now that I think about summon is a good spell to put on a scroll or in a wand because it doesn't use anything but caster level.

I'll disagree here. In general you want to use your top level spells for summons, except it special circumstances.

And in general spending for a consumable (scroll/wand) of your top level spells is too pricy to be worthwhile for you.

-James

Liberty's Edge

A good one that comes to mind is SM8 and the purple worm. As it comes, it's already a great grappler (and has the swallow whole special ability). Add in augment summoning and an enlarge animal and you're looking at a colossal worm with an additional +12 to STR and a CMB somewhere around 45...now that'll ruin anybody's day!


Fatman Feedbag wrote:
You know... after like 3rd level I really can't see my druid ever casting these spells. What good is a 4 hit die mob in a fight between 7th+ level PCs and 7-10th level bad guys?

In second darkness I used a 3.5 summoning druid to great effect.

Spoiler:
In a fight with a whale, Kleg Zincher, a bunch of drow, and a drow cleric waterwalking over the bay (we had no ranged fighters) who could solo our whole group I summond four hypogriphs and sent my dire bat companion after it. They grappled, pinned, and mercilously slaughtered an NPC who really should have TPK'd us. Using porpoises to get groupmembers out of the water was also entertaining as the whale was one shotting them.

Also summoned creature's sometimes have SLA's and other useful abilities hard to duplicate or innefficient to duplicate yourself. They can take up a lot of space on the map and block/flank. Summons are not powerful the way save or die spells are, but every time an enemy hits your ettin he isn't hitting you or one of your companions.


Xpltvdeleted wrote:
A good one that comes to mind is SM8 and the purple worm. As it comes, it's already a great grappler (and has the swallow whole special ability). Add in augment summoning and an enlarge animal and you're looking at a colossal worm with an additional +12 to STR and a CMB somewhere around 45...now that'll ruin anybody's day!

Well, not his day, but at least a swift or standard action needed to dispel the worm ;-)

After level 13+ I've never ever had an encounter with not at least 1 or 2 mobs that could dispel (at will often).


Funkytrip wrote:
Xpltvdeleted wrote:
A good one that comes to mind is SM8 and the purple worm. As it comes, it's already a great grappler (and has the swallow whole special ability). Add in augment summoning and an enlarge animal and you're looking at a colossal worm with an additional +12 to STR and a CMB somewhere around 45...now that'll ruin anybody's day!

Well, not his day, but at least a swift or standard action needed to dispel the worm ;-)

After level 13+ I've never ever had an encounter with not at least 1 or 2 mobs that could dispel (at will often).

Yeah... did you check the Concentration check for casting while grappled? Not happening against that purple worm.

The Exchange

Madcap Storm King wrote:

Actually Bison and Aurochs do stupidly good damage for their level and have Trample. Aurochs can be summoned at 5th level and deal 1d8+9, +7 to hit, and the Bison deals a whopping 2d6+12 with +10 to hit, 4th level summon. And that one has Power attack, like it needs it. Summon some over a few turns and then finish a foe with a Trample from a group of Aurochs dealing 2d6+7 per Aurochs with a reflex save for half for each of them.

The Druid has killed an EFREETI with this. It was incredibly silly.

LOL, Bison vs Efreet, might beat my summon nature's ally story.

Spoiler:
During the Age of Worms campaign my druid had great success with Earth Elementals. Near the bottom of the Fire Giant fortress we were ambushed by a Marilith. With the party near out of spells, I pulled a hail-mary, summoning in three huge earth elementals who grappled the demon into submission, while we straight damaged it to death.

Ryn, who likes pile-ons

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Treantmonk wrote:
5) Mounts: Sometimes you need a quick way to get your pet Big Stupid Fighter up to the big bad guy with wings.

I prefer something with very long arms and good pitching skills. :)

Wolverine: "Colossus! Fastball special now!"


Summoning is the best tool casters have (and that, even without abusing PrCs).

It can:

a. Prevent damage to PCs (the creature takes the hit)
b. Control the battlefield (creatures with SLA like Walls of Ice)
c. Give you access to spells not on your list (creatures with cleric levels as a wizard)
d. Deal decent damage (with Augment summoning, using celestial/fiendish creatures on evil/good opponents)
e. Help you flank (invaluable for rogues)

Of course the creatures need to be of lower CR than you... Otherwise it'd be too good (which it arguably already is, IF you know how to use it).

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