Melee-focused summoner--is it possible?


Advice


Since my PFS alchemist was a trainwreck due to an oversight, I've been looking into summoner, and I think it would be cool to try a melee-oriented character using the eidolon as a flank buddy and smashing everything. I've been looking at Half-Orc so I can wield a greataxe for free, but according to the guides multiclassing into anything for added attack is pointless (as much as I'd really love a dip into barbarian for more smashing) and there isn't much in the way for recommendations for melee. Does anyone have any suggestions on how to do a melee-based summoner halfway decent, or is it completely unfeasible and I should give up now?


take a look at the Blood God Disciple, a summoner archetype specifically for Half-Orcs


synthesist summoner = tank (synthesist takes up chest slot - no armor allowed with battlearmor aka eldion is your armor)
master summoner = amazing summoner
*cannot be both at same time*

vivisectionist / 1 fighter = tank with sneak attack and alchemist potions


I want to see a vanilla summoner focused for melee. Barring that, the rest is going to be standard gimmicks imo.


Not related much to this thread, but I've always wanted to make a Summoner that's, like, a little boy who summons a giant Japanese robot.

Also, maybe that guy above me is right, in terms of getting a bit of Fighter in that build.


I assume this is for PFS, since your alchemist was.

Synthesist Summoner, Master Summoner, and Vivisectionist Alchemist are not allowed in PFS.


FanaticRat wrote:
Since my PFS alchemist was a trainwreck due to an oversight, I've been looking into summoner, and I think it would be cool to try a melee-oriented character using the eidolon as a flank buddy and smashing everything. I've been looking at Half-Orc so I can wield a greataxe for free, but according to the guides multiclassing into anything for added attack is pointless (as much as I'd really love a dip into barbarian for more smashing) and there isn't much in the way for recommendations for melee. Does anyone have any suggestions on how to do a melee-based summoner halfway decent, or is it completely unfeasible and I should give up now?

I urge you to do this, I think it sounds fun as hell! 3/4 bab is workable, light armor a tough eidolon decent spells, early access to haste! I've heard worse ideas.


@Lamontius
If those archetypes are not allowed in PFS, then why would an archetype from Blood God Disciple be allowed?


Mapleswitch wrote:

@Lamontius

If those archetypes are not allowed in PFS, then why would an archetype from Blood God Disciple be allowed?

yep you are right

Blood God Disciple is not allowed in PFS either!


Vanilla Summoner makes a terrible melee'r. Eidolon's are decent back up dps, but make terrible tanks.


Blood God Disciple can do it - you get all the standard alchemist buff effects plus you can get evolutions when your eidolon kills stuff.


Terrible being relative. He could build for it and be satisfying with the aid of his powerful eidolon.

Dark Archive

Mapleswitch wrote:
Vanilla Summoner makes a terrible melee'r. Eidolon's are decent back up dps, but make terrible tanks.

Terrible is a state of mind. Consider summoner buffs on a 3/4 BAB chassis, along with some minor customization from Aspect. It's still better than a monk!

Terrible tank is something I have to disagree with as well. Consider just how cheap it is to get a sky-high AC for an eidolon. It is in fact very easy to have a great AC while still packing a serious punch in melee.

ANYWAY,

Here's a PFS summoner idea I'm planning on using with my next low-level character. It is based around the combination of the Varisian Weapon Training boon (to snag rapier proficiency), and the feat Butterfly's Sting, combined eventually with the teamwork feat Outflank.

Human Summoner

Str 12, Dex 18, Con 12, Int 13, Wis 8, Cha 14

1 Combat Expertise, Weapon Finesse
2
3 Butterfly's Sting
4 Dex +1
5 Combat Reflexes
6
7 Outflank
8 Dex +1
9 Lunge
10
11 Improved Critical (rapier)
12 Dex +1

Weapon of choice: +1 agile menacing rapier

Eidolon feat progression (biped)

1 Exotic Weapon Proficiency: Tetsubo
2
3 Power Attack
4
5
6 Outflank
7
8
9 Combat Reflexes
10
11 Weapon Focus (Tetsubo)
12

Weapon of choice: +3 tetsubo

Naturally the evolutions are mutable, but it would focus on strength and natural armour increases, as well as a slam attack instead of claws for personal aesthetic reasons. A size increase when high enough level can be combined with reduce person for a net +6 strength and +4 constitution increase with very few downsides, and reach for outdoor combats as well. Butterfly's Sting crits passed to a tetsubo-wielder (4x crits!) mean that the summoner sets them up and the eidolon knocks them down.

While this doesn't leave the summoner as the star, it leaves him or her as a capable melee opponent who is very adept at supporting the higher strength members of the party, both with spells and with flanking and Butterfly's Sting.


If there is one thing these boards are good for, It's often shattering preconceived notions regarding the "one true path".

Scarab Sages

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Mithral Breastplate
Longspear

Pack Attack
Outflank
Seize the Moment
Combat Reflexes
Weapon Focus
Spear Dancer
Arcane Strike

You could probably get by with a 12 starting charisma and pick up a headband later. Start with an 18 STR


Heck even a. 16 str 12 dex 14 con 10 int. 10 wis 13 cha might work.


Once upon a time, I also mulled over the idea of a longspear-using summoner & eidolon, so I don't think it's a crazy idea.

Artanthos wrote:

Mithral Breastplate

Longspear

Pack Attack
Outflank
Seize the Moment
Combat Reflexes
Weapon Focus
Spear Dancer
Arcane Strike

Why on Gorum's green earth would you ever take the feat Spear Dancer? The dazzled condition is not worth spending a feat on.


Flavor? An example of freedom in customization?


Daenar wrote:
Flavor? An example of freedom in customization?

In that case, I recommend Racial Heritage (kobold) instead. :-)

Scarab Sages

Building something for fun, not just hyper-optimized.


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Exactly. I think some people forget that is an option, and to a moderate degree it CAN even yield a viable character, although not one that meets optimization preset class performance standards. Playable and enjoyable nonetheless.

Paizo Employee Organized Play Developer

Step 1- use Heirloom Weapon trait to gain proficiency in lance
Step 2- use Large Eidolon as mount
Step 3- Cast appropriate buff/control spells
Step 4- Have Large Eidolon Pounce while attacking with lance from its back for multiplied damage
Step 5- repeat step 4 as needed.


Well, here are a few suggestions for vanilla summoners:

Half-elves are already viewed as some of the best summoners due to their favored class bonus, and they just happen to have an alternate racial trait that gives them a weapon proficiency of your choice at level 1. Take advantage of that. I'd advice something with a wide crit range, to help you compete with higher BAB classes. The falcata might be a good choice, since it has decent crit range and it does x3 damage.

I'd also look into Eldritch heritage due to the focus on CHA. It might take up some of your precious feats, but Bloodlines like the Orc or Abyssal, which are horrible on the 1/2 BAB sorcerer, are actually pretty nice on a summoner. Both offer scaling bonuses to your Strength, which would vastly such a build. This way, you are boosting yourself just like your Eidolon, no?


FanaticRat wrote:
Since my PFS alchemist was a trainwreck due to an oversight, I've been looking into summoner, and I think it would be cool to try a melee-oriented character using the eidolon as a flank buddy and smashing everything. I've been looking at Half-Orc so I can wield a greataxe for free, but according to the guides multiclassing into anything for added attack is pointless (as much as I'd really love a dip into barbarian for more smashing) and there isn't much in the way for recommendations for melee. Does anyone have any suggestions on how to do a melee-based summoner halfway decent, or is it completely unfeasible and I should give up now?

Arguably the most powerful character I ever made was a melee-oriented Summoner. He took one level of Dragoon at 9th right after his Eidolon became Large enough to ride as a mount. Levels 1-8 he fought with a longspear, keeping his eidolon between himself and danger for the most part, and once he reached 9th he used a lance.

There are a LOT of benefits to going this route if you know the tricks - if anyone is interested I'd be happy to post the build. The character was an absolute engine of destruction.


Build something hyper-optimized. You're in almost the same dismal situation as a rogue without sneak attack and are going to have to work hard to be relevant.


Damocles Guile wrote:
There are a LOT of benefits to going this route if you know the tricks - if anyone is interested I'd be happy to post the build. The character was an absolute engine of destruction.

Your ideas are intriguing to me and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter.


Damocles Guile wrote:
Arguably the most powerful character I ever made was a melee-oriented Summoner. He took one level of Dragoon at 9th right after his Eidolon became Large enough to ride as a mount. Levels 1-8 he fought with a longspear, keeping his eidolon between himself and danger for the most part, and once he reached 9th he used a lance.

Ah...so basically it is a weaker version of RAGELANCEPOUNCE. I suppose you would not even have to optimize much since the style is fairly powerful. I mean, anywhere you could fit the huge eidolons that most summoners use would be about as good a place as any for a mount.

Note to self: gestalt mount build barbarian and summoner-best combo. I would say mounted fury, but that gives you an animal companion....and honestly? A horse? When I could literally build Sleipnir, the eight-legged bastard horse child of Loki? (also...mythology is weird...)


lemeres wrote:
Damocles Guile wrote:
Arguably the most powerful character I ever made was a melee-oriented Summoner. He took one level of Dragoon at 9th right after his Eidolon became Large enough to ride as a mount. Levels 1-8 he fought with a longspear, keeping his eidolon between himself and danger for the most part, and once he reached 9th he used a lance.

Ah...so basically it is a weaker version of RAGELANCEPOUNCE. I suppose you would not even have to optimize much since the style is fairly powerful. I mean, anywhere you could fit the huge eidolons that most summoners use would be about as good a place as any for a mount.

Note to self: gestalt mount build barbarian and summoner-best combo. I would say mounted fury, but that gives you an animal companion....and honestly? A horse? When I could literally build Sleipnir, the eight-legged bastard horse child of Loki? (also...mythology is weird...)

Pfffffffft.

Remember the Shield Ally bonuses, the ability to divert evolution points to yourself to increase your natural armor via Aspect and Greater Aspect, Arcane Strike, the ability to negate 1 attack each round against your Eidolon via Dragoon and of course, spell buffs.

Figure to get to you while mounted most baddies will have to brave reach and combat reflexes from your Eidolon (and your lance), add in the Eldritch Heritage feats for the Orcish Bloodline and you've got yourself a nifty little duo there...


Atarlost wrote:
Build something hyper-optimized. You're in almost the same dismal situation as a rogue without sneak attack and are going to have to work hard to be relevant.

phph so rogues get eidolon with full bab, d10 hd , custom specials AND 6 levels of spells? I don't see much basis for comparison.


Well, we are talking about what you would contribute, rather than your eidolon. What difference would there be if your summoner got paralyzed (but conscious) as far as combat goes? There would be one less buffer. He wants to create a character that is more than that.

While there is argument that he could self buff, what is the diffence between applying them to himself and applying them to his eidolon or that rouge.

Reach and the bonuses from being mounted seem like good starts for differentiating the character.


Damocles Guile wrote:


Pfffffffft.

Remember the Shield Ally bonuses, the ability to divert evolution points to yourself to increase your natural armor via Aspect and Greater Aspect, Arcane Strike, the ability to negate 1 attack each round against your Eidolon via Dragoon and of course, spell buffs.

Figure to get to you while mounted most baddies will have to brave reach and combat reflexes from your Eidolon (and your lance), add in the Eldritch Heritage feats for the Orcish Bloodline and you've got yourself a nifty little duo there...

Could you post the build, please? It is relevant to my interests.


I think a melee summoner is not only possible, it's as fine as any other combat direction you choose to go. I suppose the "optimized" choice is battlefield control, but I think a melee summoner can be very profitable.

I played a Master Summoner for 10 levels or so, dumping strength and using the battlefield control backup role. Outside of Augment Summoning and company, I took feats that were not combat relevant. I came to wish I could do something in combat other than throwing more monsters at the enemy. That part was great, powerful, and fun, but once the monsters were out there, my summoner just stayed out of the way, pretty much watching. The character was absurdly powerful (and fun) as it was - that's not the point.

If I were to make another summoner, I would play a standard summoner, and go melee focused, perhaps concentrating on teamwork feats with my eidolon.

How to do that? A summoner doesn't really need Charisma, just enough to cast her lovely buff spells. Make Strength your highest score, and have some points in Constitution and Dexterity. Intelligence or Wisdom become your dump stats.

Take Medium Armor Proficiency eventually, so you can use Mithral Breastplate. Take Toughness, so you can take some hits. Take Weapon Focus or Power Attack, or other standard melee feats so you can hit things better. Take the coolest weapon you can cheat a proficiency with - as mentioned above, a half-elf's Exotic Weapon Proficiency sounds great, or a half-orc's falchion. Wield it two-handed, since you aren't proficient with shields. Anticipate combat with your buff spells as much as possible, so you don't waste time while your allies fight. Flank things. Outflank things.

Your personal numbers will never be as good as the inquisitor, definitely not on par with the fighter or barbarian. But you still have an eidolon, and hell, you can still fall back to battlefield control if you have to. At least you won't look like a stick in the mud while your pet wrecks face.


MElee summoners aren't jsut viable. They can be frighteningly effective.

I'm making a level 10 one atm that at lvl11 will be capable of full attack teleporting while his eidolon pounces. On top of this he can already use overland flight (his eidolon flies as well), he can teleport and bamf around quite a bit between him and his eidolon. IF i had wanted I could have used aspect to give him flight, an extra pair of arms, two pairs of claws (four attacks at full strength? Yes please!).

In short I've already been kind of sort of working ona guide to this style of paly. There's at least 4 distinct ways to go about it that I've found to be effective with a poential 6.

You can tag team with your eidolon exploiting team work feats. You can mount him. You can be a mobility beast bouncing around the battlefield unleashing full attacks at will. Or you can be soem terrible predator taking advantage of natural attacks and all the buffs and evolutions you cna use with them.


Also master summoner works just fine for this style too.

Think: Aid Another actions stack.


Lamontius wrote:
take a look at the Blood God Disciple, a summoner archetype specifically for Half-Orcs

OMDG! That is incredible combo with Synthesist! Rage effect you even if you are raging.


Daenar wrote:
Exactly. I think some people forget that is an option, and to a moderate degree it CAN even yield a viable character, although not one that meets optimization preset class performance standards. Playable and enjoyable nonetheless.

I wish someone would have told me this when I was making my first character.


For a melee vanilla Summoner, you would need a decent STR, DEX, CON and CHA, which is a little MAD. You could be less MAD by dropping STR and maxing DEX while taking the Dervish Dance feat. Otherwise, since using a shieldd gives you an arcane spell failure chance, I would suggest using a longspear for a STR-based Summoner. If both you (the Summoner) and your eidolon have reach, we are talking about some serious battlefield control here, and you even get a bonus to AC when fighting side-to-side with your eidolon. Without tumbling, a creature attacking you or your eidolon in melee would provoke 2 AoOs, one from you and one from your eidolon. Taking Spring Attack and/or Combat Reflexes for both you and your eidolon would let you make even more AoOs against your foes. You don't have to max out your CHA if you don't use spells that allow a saving throw. Since the Summoner spells list is full of buffing spells, a low CHA shouldn't hurt you too much.

Here's how I would build a melee Summoner with 25 points :

STR 16
DEX 15 +2 (Human or Half-Elf or Half-Orc)
CON 14
INT 10
WIS 8
CHA 14

Feats
Lvl 1- Dodge (+ Mobility if Human)
Lvl 3- Weapon Focus (Longspear)
Lvl 5- Spear Dancer
Lvl 7- Mobility (or Spring Attack if Human)

It's not an optimised build, but one that I would have fun playing. During the first round (or the surprise round) of every battles, use a buff spell on you, your eidolon or your party. Let the opponent come to you (and provoke AoOs) and tear them to pieces.

________________________________________________________________________

Spear Dancer

Prerequisites: Weapon Focus (any two-handed reach weapon), Perform 4 ranks.

Benefit: Each time you hit a creature with a two-handed reach weapon that you have Weapon Focus in, the creature is dazzled for 1 round.


hogarth wrote:


Why on Gorum's green earth would you ever take the feat Spear Dancer? The dazzled condition is not worth spending a feat on.

The dazzled condition, alone and naked, is indeed not worth spending a feat on, but it could be worth it depending on party composition (not best for a Pathfinder Society game I admit).

The dazzled condition stacks with Prayer (no save), Shaken (Dazzling Display), Slowed (Slow is on the Summoner spell list), Entangled (Rime Spell = no save), Sickened (Sickening Spell or Brutal Beating) and so on, so if other members of the party can also put other minor debuffs on the opponents, you can end up inflicting a significant to-hit penalty to your opponents.


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It's a simple but I feel uninspired build.

In terms of score it's pretty much okay but not really suited to using a two hander. I don't see a point in a high odd dex if you're based around strength. SO!

Str:16+2+1+1
Dex: 14
CON: 14
Int: 10
Wis: 10 (why take a hit to saves and perception checks for 0 gain in soemthing else?)
Cha: 14

I certainly would have taken Arcane Strike over spear dancer. A -1 penalty that doesn't scale is bad especially if you don't even get it until level 5. Best bit is you can take it at 1st level.

NExt I really like the AoO angle which I think you kind of fall short with by grabbing dodge/mobility/spring attack. You're not exactly generating a lot of AoO's here. Instead let's focus on using our resources to build our AoO beasts.

Feats

H: (Toughness or IMP init are faves of mine here)
1: Arcane Strike
3: Combat Reflexes
5: Broken Wing Gambit
7: Paired Opportunists

USe a Long Spear/Cestus combo. You can let go of the long spear to counter punch with the cestus.

Now your eidolon has to match this as well.

1: Combat Reflexes
3: PAired Opportunists
6: Broken Wing Gambit

So what all have we accomplished? +4 on AoO's plus two AoO's on enemies when using Broken Wing gambit (trading one attack from them for two of yours is good). You also get combat reflexes.

On top of this you open yourself up for getting Outflank at 9th with your eidolon.

This kind of action advantage generation is what the summoner class is built for. As a melee fighter you definitely need to leverage the class's strengths, the summoner is great at mobility, amazing at action advantage, and through buffs/debuffs and tactical positioning can push some big numbers too.


TarkXT wrote:

It's a simple but I feel uninspired build.

In terms of score it's pretty much okay but not really suited to using a two hander. I don't see a point in a high odd dex if you're based around strength. SO!

The point was to increase initiative bonus and maximise AC for a chain shirt (+4 max DEX bonus) with 18 DEX at level 4 (and maybe use a mighty bow as a secondary weapon) and then put everything into STR from then on, but it does hurt your DPR with the longspear indeed. Call me paranoid, but I feel naked when my AC is not maxed out for my class, especially if i got only d8s for hit dice. ;)

I don't think 8 to WIS hurt that much for a class with a good will save progression. Beside, you got an extra pair of eye with your eidolon for perception checks.

However, your selection of feats is very good and I can only approve your build. Broken Wing Gambit is my favorite teamwork feat so I don't know why I haven't thought about it. I think I'll steal your build for my own use, if I ever get the chance to play a summoner.

EDIT: What kind of eidolon would you use? A bipedal eidolon equiped with a reach weapon would be nice, especially once you get the size increase evolution at level 8. The push evolution would be a must for this build IMO.


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I´m currently playing a pfs melee summoner (just lvl 3 at the moment) based around reach, the helpful trait and bodyguard on both the summoner and the eidolon. This build is more of a support character, where you are more active giving out buffs via Aid Another.

Human, Str 17, Dex 14, Con 14, Int 10, Wis 8, Cha 14

Feats: Combat Reflexes, Bodyguard, Improved Initiative

Eidolon Feats: Additional Traits (Heirloom Weapon:Lucern Hammer (Lead Blades Wand+Enlarge for 4d6 base damage), Adopted:Helpful), Combat Reflexes

Evolutions: Skilled(Perception),Skilled(UMD),Skilled(Stealth), Climb, Scent

So far it worked at pretty good, even as I didn´t use any combat evolutions on the eidolon. Having two reach characters who you play alone is a tremendous advantage. The positioning is important, to get the maximum possible AoO´s and being able to use bodyguard on allies.

I´m not doing the best damage in the group, but it is still useful. And giving someone +8 on one attack makes people happy.

When the fight moved to the "full attack until dead" stage and the area is limited, so you can´t really use the reach anyway, you can switch to an melee weapon, stand next to the fighter, giving him +4 (later, when the eidolon has it as well +8) AC against most attacks via bodyguard.

Out of combat your skills will also be quite good (using human favored class bonus for skillpoints on the eidolon). I´m having 8 skillpoints per lvl between the summoner and the eidolon, with a nice amount of classskills (you can choose with your eidolon which classskills you want) and +8 one the important skills. My eidolon also functions as a scout (+14 stealth and perception, darkvision, scent and climb at lvl 3). The summoner is the face (Extremely Fashionable (Diplomacy)), who gets a +4 bonus from the eidolon on his social skills about 70% of the time. Using aid another on skills, even if your bonus itself is small, can give allies +8 on their check.

TL:DR Support melee summoner has a lot of options and is very versatile in building and playing. I like it a lot, so give it a try.


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So you're saying that your eidolon, a powerful outsider, has had a nonmagical lucerne hammer passed to him from generation to generation in his family? And on top of that, he was adopted by halflings?

Sometimes I wonder what kind of game people on these boards are even playing...

Edit: back on topic: I really like Tark's build. I think his way is better than using your eidolon to flank, as you really want to be adjacent to your eidolon, rather than flanking with it, to make the most out of shield ally. But a flanking build could work as well, in which case you should definitely get both of them outflank.


Yes, it does. Why people are so strict in thinking I will never understand. Coming up with a backstory for unsual concepts is quite fun...

Spoiler:

Backstory short: 2 human girls, grown up as the adopted children in a halfling tribe who is all sorts of weird (adopting different races, customs and so on, because they think versatilty makes them strong). One of them used the weapon who was passed down in the tribe, the other one was the more magic inclined one. After some events, older sisters dies, younger sister tries to get her back with the help of a wizard from Cheliax, fails (not in her eyes), but gets her back anyway as a kind of possessed entity (going for a possessed angel style with the eidolon) and now thinks show owns the empire her service.

Yes, I do like weird backstory a lot more then the usual "I´m Bob, fighter from the fighter academy, all my folks died due to orc raid"-common stuff.


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I must say you've managed to talk it together pretty smoothly, but to me, it's definitely a bit over the top. Thinking about good heroes in any sort of fiction I like, none of them have a backstory even half that unlikely.

A halfling from a family that has passed a medium sized lucerne hammer along for many generations despite the fact that none of them can use it, who then takes up the weapon in a noble quest: that's an interesting hero.

Someone fighting alongside the possessed ghost of their deceased sister, that's an interesting, if somewhat creepy hero. I would be a bit bothered by the huge difference between outsiders and spirits, as well as by the restrictions on when an eidolon can be present not fitting very well with a spirit, but you could get that houseruled somehow.

Both of those at the same time though, and it just sounds like an unlikely story made up to get a bunch of ill-fitting mechanical options together. If I was in a whole party with those kinds of stories I would definitely wonder what kind of ridiculous anime I'd ended up in.


soupturtle wrote:

So you're saying that your eidolon, a powerful outsider, has had a nonmagical lucerne hammer passed to him from generation to generation in his family? And on top of that, he was adopted by halflings?

Sometimes I wonder what kind of game people on these boards are even playing...

Edit: back on topic: I really like Tark's build. I think his way is better than using your eidolon to flank, as you really want to be adjacent to your eidolon, rather than flanking with it, to make the most out of shield ally. But a flanking build could work as well, in which case you should definitely get both of them outflank.

The good part is, you don't even need to be adjacent to your eidolon to benefit from Shield Ally, you only need to be within his reach. Thus, it is possible to flank with your eidolon while receiving the Shield Ally bonuses.


I'm no optimizer, but I've had good results with a pouncing eidolon mount (via enlarge person) and a mounted combat build for the summoner.


Evil Lincoln wrote:
I'm no optimizer, but I've had good results with a pouncing eidolon mount (via enlarge person) and a mounted combat build for the summoner.

Was this a quadruped evolution? I thought enlarge person only worked on humanoids.


Via Share Spells enlarge person works on your eidolon.

On the topic of shield ally. Absolutely a great ability whether you flank buddy with your eidolon or fight side b side or heck even go mounted. IT's a shield bonus makign the inability to carry a shield pointless and the bonus to saves is extremely handy and may somewhat negate the fact you amy have to give your cloak to your buddy.


FanaticRat wrote:
Evil Lincoln wrote:
I'm no optimizer, but I've had good results with a pouncing eidolon mount (via enlarge person) and a mounted combat build for the summoner.
Was this a quadruped evolution? I thought enlarge person only worked on humanoids.

It is the effect of the share spells ability for the eidolons at level 1. You can use spells with a target of "you" in this way, as long as they are on the summoner spell list. (too bad summoners are just about the only full caster without the paragon surge. Enhancements to stats and an extra feat would be sweet on an eidolon)

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