Am I doing it wrong? (summoning is overrated)


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TiaxTheMighty wrote:
Driver 325 yards wrote:
Ganryu wrote:

So I'm playing a level 8 conjuration specialist with augment summoning. Summons should be good, but they kinda suck.

No character is effective in all situations.

Most build characters that will shine in certain situations and not so much so in others. This makes sense when your GM varies his types of encounters. However, when you GM only has one strategy it makes sense to build a character that strives in that.

So your GM has surprise attacks that you can't anticipate, makes short lasting fights and takes away the feats that make you summon quicker. He hates rope trick. He has created an environment where summoners do not thrive.

Further, you have a group of melee attackers on your team that outshine summoned creatures all day everyday. So your group is not of a composition that requires a summoner. Further, they don't scout or have effective perception so they can't help you with your summoning.

Sounds like summoning does kinda suck for you not because summoning sucks but because the deck has been stacked against the summoner in your particular case.

Summoning will be relegated to a secondary spell for you. Get the utility out of it you can from the spells the summoned creatures can cast. Keep one big summon spell for that one time that you might need it. Otherwise focus on other spells.

I will say it again, focus on other spells. Don't fight an uphill battle against a GM. You will lose. The beauty of a wizard is that he can adapt to the GM through the spells he chooses to prepare.

This

Every GM is different. Find out what his style and try to make characters that thrive in that style. Although on a personal note I do feel bad for everyone here who's experience is that most combats last less than 5 rounds. That makes me very sad.

I've had many different GMs. Some GMs, there's no reason to ever play a rogue. Some GMs LOVE one particular race. Ranger = profit. For some GMs, Knowledge skills are...

The problem, though, is that I had very little idea about this GM's style beforehand.

I've only played in two adventures with him before (one was 3rd edition Tomb of Horrors, and 4th edition custom adventure) as completely different classes. (rogue and fighter respectively)

I will bring this up with the rest of the group, seeing that I'm fairly sure I can get two more players behind me. The inquisitor does not use any of his buff spells because they take rounds from combat, and the paladin rarely casts anything either.


What you should probably do is ask him whether you guys are being surprised by attacks because you are not using you skills appropriately or because that is his style of GMing.

You might be surprised what his take is on the situation.

Oh, and don't be confrontational. We don't want out advice you ruin your groups gaming.

At the end of the day though, you should politely challenge you GM to grow his skill set as a GM so that you can grow your skill set as a player.

It is kind of like golf, it is not as fun if you only get to use one club for the whole round and definitely won't make you as skillfull as you would otherwise be.


Driver 325 yards: I'm not going to be confrontational. I'll just point it out and politely ask, as you say, if there's some thought behind it, or some different expectations on rule use, etc :P

Liberty's Edge

Before I get started bashing summoning, let me say that Mad Monkeys is an amazing spell, and hilarious to boot. They can steal spell component pouches, rendering wizards harmless. That is the one exception to...

I think that summoning is overrated, at least with a good party. This is becomes apparent when you compare the "utility" people claim to get out of summons with what you can get out of equal or lower-leveled wizard spells. If you're going to play a summoning wizard, to it for flavor, not for power.

There is one situation in which summons excel, and that's in encounters with hordes of weaker enemies. Summons are generally under CR'd and thus are usually unable to hit whatever it is they're attacking, or damage it meaningfully when they DO hit. This usually precludes them from doing combat maneuvers. I've also heard it argued that summons soak up hits that would otherwise go to party members. This may be true with extremely stupid enemies, but even animals are capable of figuring out who the real threats are. When the fighter's landing 3 blows a round for 50 damage apiece, your T rex seems really small by comparison and will be ignored unless the DM throws you a bone and has the enemies to make poor decisions.

This is especially true when your party is well-built or you function really well as a team, and consequently the DM has to bring stronger enemies against you to up the challenge. Summons drop off REALLY fast.

Basically, for any summon spell, there is another tool in the wizard's arsenal that does the same thing better. Summoning spells make it easier to be moderately-prepared for a wide range of situations, but in any one situation there is a wizard spell that does a particular job better than Summon Monster (X).

Want to deal damage? Haste is better than any summon spell of any level.

Want to occupy a wizard in the back lines? Dimension Door with the fighter. Instant application of full attack way overpowers sitting for a round and asking to be interrupted and then finally bringing in a medium earth elemental.

Want to provide cover or control the battlefield? You could occupy a 5x5x5 cube or a 10x10x10 cube with a summon, or you could bring in a wall, a cloud, or a pit.

Want to protect yourself? Bring in a summon that can't hit what you're fighting and thus will be ignored, or turn invisible. Oh, and you turn invisible NOW, and your summon won't turn up until the goblin's already sunk a crossbow bolt into you and disrupted your spell.

Want to provide a flanking buddy? This is probably, at most, worth a 2nd level spell slot. Any time you cast a 3rd level spell or above for the purposes of a flanking buddy, you have wasted a spell slot that could have been Haste, Slow, Stinking Cloud or the like and wasted the action of a 5th level wizard to, in one long round, give a temporary +2 bonus to one character's 2 attacks. Sure, summons provide flanking and other wizard spells don't, but that's not really the point here. The point is that other, low level spells more powerfully affect the outcome of a fight than giving someone flank.

Want to prevent Attacks of Opportunity? Glitterdust will do this better. Walls do this better. Clouds will do this better.

Want to trip somebody? Grease. Create Pit.

Want to disarm somebody? Grease. Added bonus here that they can't pick the weapon back up again or even use it without succeeding on a save.

Point is, most people say that the deck has to be stacked against summons for them not to work. My general experience is that the deck has to be stacked FOR summons and the DM has to play along to make them barely keep up with the other wizard spells in terms of efficacy.

Summons will do a passable job in many situations, but a smart wizard will always have a better tool.


magnuskn wrote:
Reynard_the_fox wrote:
Your fights only last 3 rounds? What kind of game of rocket tag are you playing?
I guess it's called "High level combat". 1-2 round fights are par de course after level 10 and 2-4 round fights are pretty normal at level 8.

A competently made level 1 party will make most combats last 2-5 rounds. That is the default for an average combat, and thank god for that. 10 round slogs should be reserved for climatic boss fights. A level 1 damage specialist should be averaging well over 10 damage per hit, when the average CR 1 monster has like 15 HP or so. That is just one guy fighting, add in the other 3, which at least one of should be about the same in damage (2nd damage dealer or a battle focused cleric or rogue), and another at least competent (the average cleric or rogue) and only 1 non damage character (the wizard type), and the average CR 1-2 encounter should mathmatically be over in 3 rounds.

As for that Set Piece with 20 rounds of fighting off waves of zombies? That is actually multiple combats with no rest between, not really the same thing as a single encounter. If its overall CR is balanced with the party, then its not a real challenge since each monster is far below being a real issue.

Also epic encounters are perfectly fine, as long as its not every combat, it gets to be boring if every fight is a long drawn out affair against "Impossible Odds" ect (or the worse version were combatants are armed with a flashlight and a nerf bat and have to hunt each other in the dark).


The good thing is, your playing a wizard. If summons don't work in your game, you can very easily change your style and not suffer greatly because of it. Even with your feat investment and picking conjuration wizard. There are plenty of good spells to take advantage of.


If you're being ambushed at short range round one haste is less important than you think.

Round one, assuming your internal initiative order is what TarkXT recommends, your non-archery hammers are closing the distance not full attacking. Unless the extra 30' of movement is critical to getting in to position to full attack next turn it's mostly wasted. You should go ahead and summon, open pits, lay down fogs, and otherwise do your job as anvil this round. Unless that Paladin is an archer you really get nothing from haste the first round even in Kingmaker since a bomber alchemist built for novaing can unload his entire complement of bombs in 3-6 rounds without haste (both rapid shot and the TWF tree can be applied to thrown weapons and as a medium BAB class targeting touch he should be able to afford them) and given your encounter record should really be saving half for night attacks.

Round two everyone should be in position to full attack and will benefit from haste.

If you see the enemy at long range and they're not shooting you closing the distance faster probably helps less than having a summon out anyways.


Driver 325 yards wrote:

By the way, when I GM some battles last for far more than 5 rounds. Maybe that is the case in modules, but I tend to not use modules.

Boy, if everyone only experiences 3-5 round battles, you don't know the fun you are missing out on with epic battles.

The last battle I GM'd put the party against 100 zombies that came in waves against a town that was somewhat fortified.

Fighting, protecting the fences, getting the townfolks out of harms way, area spells, hand to hand, etc... over about 20 rounds. Plus, I made the characters make their decisions quickly (no long drawn out turns).

It was a fairly quick 20 rounds and was absolutely thrilling.

Your summoner would have had fun.

My GM did something similar recently; we accidentaly went to close to an ants nest, and eneded up drawing out the entire nest; a few dozen giant ant soldiers, some "flying ants" (dragonfly stats) and an "ant queen" (drider stats).

Our druid (who is fun, but a coward) summoned several animals and was able to be quite effective at keeping some of the flack of of us (especially in the sky). Sumoning gets really useful in long combats. I prefer these battles than going up against a single guy, it allows you to be a bit more tactical.

Sovereign Court

The other thing to keep in mind in terms of summoning, is that it is unaffected by point buy. A 25 point buy summoner and a 15 point buy summoner will both summon exactly the same creature. But the 25 point buy summoner will have allies with better stats that do more damage, and likely will face tougher foes to make up for that, so the summons will seem comparatively less useful.

Party optimization and wealth also matters. A fiendish dire ape (or whatever) looks a lot different when compared with a high loot RAGELANCEPOUNCE Barbarian and an archer paladin than it does when compared with a sub par WBL base monk and finesse rogue as the party melee-ers.

Basically, summoning (and other fixed strength class features, like eidolons and animal companions) have their relative power inversely related to the point buy and general power of the rest of the party. For already optimized or strong parties, buffing is more helpful, because it's a force multiplier. For less optimized or low power parties, summons, which act as a constant force adder, become more valuable.


Good explanation GralphidB. I've been getting the impression that there's a "gulf" between some kinds of players (as maning people saying summons/AC are overpowered as underpowered. Though eidolons will always be OP in my heart...). This explains why really effectively.


Thanks for the replies

GralphidB: Our party is underoptimized in my opinion. We are also 15 point buy. The most optimized character is probably my own, though I have intentionally made some suboptimal choices (illusion and necromancy are my opposition schools).


Ganryu wrote:

I'm playing Kingmaker and the group is very melee heavy:

Melee inquisitor build
Paladin
Two-handed fighter
Bomber alchemist
Wizard (me)

It may be difficult for damage dealing summons to shine with this party since there is so much competition. Especially if you are hasting the party and then summoning an unhasted monster.


keep in mind that summoned creatures can be used for more than straight attacking things.

Several of them come with useful spells or spell like abilities (Hurray for At-Will Aid by Lantern Archon).

they can also use Aid Another action. Consider Monster Summon 3 to summon 1d3 small Elementals each granting the Paladin or the Fighter +2 to Hit or AC. (or 1d4+1 Eagles doing the same if you have some way of talking to them)

Grand Lodge

Axebeard said some stuff:
Axebeard wrote:

Before I get started bashing summoning, let me say that Mad Monkeys is an amazing spell, and hilarious to boot. They can steal spell component pouches, rendering wizards harmless. That is the one exception to...

I think that summoning is overrated, at least with a good party. This is becomes apparent when you compare the "utility" people claim to get out of summons with what you can get out of equal or lower-leveled wizard spells. If you're going to play a summoning wizard, to it for flavor, not for power.

There is one situation in which summons excel, and that's in encounters with hordes of weaker enemies. Summons are generally under CR'd and thus are usually unable to hit whatever it is they're attacking, or damage it meaningfully when they DO hit. This usually precludes them from doing combat maneuvers. I've also heard it argued that summons soak up hits that would otherwise go to party members. This may be true with extremely stupid enemies, but even animals are capable of figuring out who the real threats are. When the fighter's landing 3 blows a round for 50 damage apiece, your T rex seems really small by comparison and will be ignored unless the DM throws you a bone and has the enemies to make poor decisions.

This is especially true when your party is well-built or you function really well as a team, and consequently the DM has to bring stronger enemies against you to up the challenge. Summons drop off REALLY fast.

Basically, for any summon spell, there is another tool in the wizard's arsenal that does the same thing better. Summoning spells make it easier to be moderately-prepared for a wide range of situations, but in any one situation there is a wizard spell that does a particular job better than Summon Monster (X).

Want to deal damage? Haste is better than any summon spell of any level.

Want to occupy a wizard in the back lines? Dimension Door with the fighter. Instant application of full attack way overpowers sitting for a round and asking to be interrupted and...

Two words. Action Economy.

Spending one round on a creature or creatures that can duplicate the effects of some of your spells, cast spells of its own, flank, buff your allies, deal damage, soak hits, while doing what you would normally be doing is definitely worth it in a lot of situations. Action Economy is the most powerful resource in this game, and increasing the power of your own force multipliers just makes you have an exponentially more powerful effect on the battle. I've turned tides of fights singlehandedly with three full attacking augmented hasted cheetahs. In a fully optimized party summoning is generally only useful if you know the encounter is likely to go long. But when you are going long, you're glad to have them.

Some people may use summons incorrectly, but they are still almost uniformly excellent spells worth memorizing. Also D-Door is inferior to Telekinetic Charge for the purpose of moving a fighter in general. And at the level you have access to a T-Rex, the average fighter is probably putting out more than 50 DPR.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Unless you have your own bard in the party, using Summon Monster VI to get a Lillend is an excellent idea to get an Inspire Courage +2 going.

I'd also recommend Summon Good Monster, which lets you summon a wide variety of useful good outsiders. As soon as Summon Monster V hits, you can get Remove Disease and Neutralize Poison that way, aside from good healing capabilities.


It sounds like the figther is deciding the pace of the figths. What is keeping the inquisitor and the paladin from buffing in the first round?
The figther have very limited options beside charging in but if the other meleers decide to play like him the battles will be lethal and over quick.
I second your plan to talk tactics with your team. One Day you will rule a kingdom so charging in at first sign of danger will one Day be obsolete as a problem solver.
For my own experiance with summoning at level 8. I like summoning a Giant scorpion in round 1 and then haste every body in round 2. But my GM is an expert in making dynamic battles so that may be bad advice for you.


This has been an enlightening thread.

I discussed this with the other players. The alchemist and paladin both agree. I haven't talked to the fighter, and the inquisitor is undecided.

Cap. Darling: The inquisitor and paladin both feel that by standing still and buffing they loose too much "initiative". The inquisitor in particular. The paladin tends to play more defensively. I haven't bothered to discuss it with them before because I hadn't really percieved it as a problem.

It's also not uncommon that by the time they get to act, they're already in melee OR they're forced into melee because the fighter has already rushed in.

I'll take a look at the giant scorpion.


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mplindustries wrote:
Reynard_the_fox wrote:
Your fights only last 3 rounds? What kind of game of rocket tag are you playing?

Er, huh? That's normal Pathfinder. It is extremely rare that fights last more than 4 rounds in my experience--and most are only 2 or 3.

A.

No, it may be common but it's not "normal". Our games don't work that way and when James Jacobs has described his games they don;t work that way either.

I think it's caused by hyper-optimized PC's, allowed to use any & all sourcebooks, who are allowed free reign in a magic-mart- VS the bog standard AP encounter. If the PC's are boosted that much, the encounters should be boosted that much.

Mind you, if "rocket tag" vs unbalanced encounters is what makes the game fun for you, it's not wrong.

Now, in the Op's sitrep this is not the case. but his DM's style of one "surprise" encounter per day vs a single opponent is not very standard either. Altho it's true that 'scry and fry" doesn't work if the DM is strict with the rules, it's still common.

But the game was designed for four encounters a day. These encounters are expected to last long enough so that once in a while a rounds per level spell wears off, and that so in combat healing is important. It's true that the foes will get the jump on the party more often that the other way around, but knowing that's there's something in the room ahead and being able to buf then enter is a major part of the game.


DrDeth wrote:
mplindustries wrote:
Reynard_the_fox wrote:
Your fights only last 3 rounds? What kind of game of rocket tag are you playing?

Er, huh? That's normal Pathfinder. It is extremely rare that fights last more than 4 rounds in my experience--and most are only 2 or 3.

A.

No, it may be common but it's not "normal". Our games don't work that way and when James Jacobs has described his games they don;t work that way either.

I think it's caused by hyper-optimized PC's, allowed to use any & all sourcebooks, who are allowed free reign in a magic-mart- VS the bog standard AP encounter. If the PC's are boosted that much, the encounters should be boosted that much.

Mind you, if "rocket tag" vs unbalanced encounters is what makes the game fun for you, it's not wrong.

Don't need to be hyperoptimized for it to happen, and wouldn't it being common make it normal? I've always though 2-3 was pretty average, even in the groups I've had that were unoptimized. What usually makes things take time is if there are waves of foes or the players can't hurt an npc for some reason, but otherwise its usually pretty quick and easy.


DrDeth wrote:

No, it may be common but it's not "normal". Our games don't work that way and when James Jacobs has described his games they don;t work that way either.

I think it's caused by hyper-optimized PC's, allowed to use any & all sourcebooks, who are allowed free reign in a magic-mart- VS the bog standard AP encounter. If the PC's are boosted that much, the encounters should be boosted that much.

Mind you, if "rocket tag" vs unbalanced encounters is what makes the game fun for you, it's not wrong.

First, in the games I run, I don't use any magic items at all, never mind a magic mart. And I hate running other people's stuff, so I will never run an AP.

3 rounds or so is still typical, however, because damage starts so high. 18 Strength with Power Attack and a two-hander (which is really basic and under no circumstances would I call it hyper optimized) is dealing 2d6+9 (15 average) at level 1. That one shots a typical level 1 enemy. It doesn't increase a lot after that, but the extra Power Attack damage and extra swings later on are enough to keep fights fast.

That said, do I like rocket tag? No, absolutely not. I don't think a 3 round combat is rocket tag, necessarily, but no, I'm not pleased with Pathfinder. It's a good game, but not exactly my favorite.


MrSin wrote:
DrDeth wrote:
mplindustries wrote:
Reynard_the_fox wrote:
Your fights only last 3 rounds? What kind of game of rocket tag are you playing?

Er, huh? That's normal Pathfinder. It is extremely rare that fights last more than 4 rounds in my experience--and most are only 2 or 3.

A.

No, it may be common but it's not "normal". Our games don't work that way and when James Jacobs has described his games they don;t work that way either.

I think it's caused by hyper-optimized PC's, allowed to use any & all sourcebooks, who are allowed free reign in a magic-mart- VS the bog standard AP encounter. If the PC's are boosted that much, the encounters should be boosted that much.

Mind you, if "rocket tag" vs unbalanced encounters is what makes the game fun for you, it's not wrong.

Don't need to be hyperoptimized for it to happen, and wouldn't it being common make it normal? I've always though 2-3 was pretty average, even in the groups I've had that were unoptimized. What usually makes things take time is if there are waves of foes or the players can't hurt an npc for some reason, but otherwise its usually pretty quick and easy.

No, by "common" I mean "not unusual" rather than "how most folks play". I don't think most games are played with rocket tag.

An encounter should be challenging- not "quick and easy",


DrDeth wrote:
MrSin wrote:
DrDeth wrote:
mplindustries wrote:
Reynard_the_fox wrote:
Your fights only last 3 rounds? What kind of game of rocket tag are you playing?

Er, huh? That's normal Pathfinder. It is extremely rare that fights last more than 4 rounds in my experience--and most are only 2 or 3.

A.

No, it may be common but it's not "normal". Our games don't work that way and when James Jacobs has described his games they don;t work that way either.

I think it's caused by hyper-optimized PC's, allowed to use any & all sourcebooks, who are allowed free reign in a magic-mart- VS the bog standard AP encounter. If the PC's are boosted that much, the encounters should be boosted that much.

Mind you, if "rocket tag" vs unbalanced encounters is what makes the game fun for you, it's not wrong.

Don't need to be hyperoptimized for it to happen, and wouldn't it being common make it normal? I've always though 2-3 was pretty average, even in the groups I've had that were unoptimized. What usually makes things take time is if there are waves of foes or the players can't hurt an npc for some reason, but otherwise its usually pretty quick and easy.

No, by "common" I mean "not unusual" rather than "how most folks play". I don't think most games are played with rocket tag.

An encounter should be challenging- not "quick and easy",

There is nothing "quick and easy" about a legit encounter that lasts only 2-3 rounds. Those 2-3 rounds have more danger in them than the 10 round slogs with nerf bats some people are saying should be normal. And I for one like to run more than 2-3 combats a night and/or get to the RP stuff quicker without mook fighting taking up the whole session.

Round one: setting up the field of battle, which means buffs, control spells, closing distance, finding a favorable piece of terrain to fight around, and summons.
Round two: full attacks, damage spells, crippling debuffs/lockdowns, ect. Note that these things often are enough to completely shut down the enemy if successful. Even with crappy pregens instead of reasonably built PC (holy crap the pregens are utter garbage).
Round three: FINISH THEM. This is clean up or garbage rounds. Last hits on damaged enemies, run down annoying enemies with damage mitigation (through mobility or static/active defensed), possibly kill off the mini boss of the encounter (in encounters with multiple monsters there is often a stronger enemy).

Note in single monster encounters or in all mook encounters that focused damage against solos or burst effects against mooks can make round 3 not happen.

Pounce builds and ranged builds can often skip round 1 tactics and go to round 2, battlefield dependent. Thus in certain situations you can have a 1 round combat due to skipping round 1 tactics and ability to focus down enough to remove the need for round 3 tactics.

Tactics that rely on incremental advantages over many rounds are often wasted in groups that play like this. That means haste isn't that thrilling when only 1 full round attack occurs (which means blasts do more damage), that means summons get 1-2 round of action (which means blasts actually do more damage). Since both summons and haste are meant to increase damage, and damage isn't really required in your party, perhaps its better to focus on high impact control spells. Dropping pits, fogs, and lockdowns. In all honesty though if I was playing in said group I would just save resources if it looks like a cakewalk encounter. Get a set of wands so you can contribute without expending spell slots, save spell slots spell for hard encounters. Arcane power should be saved till its actually needed after all.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
DrDeth wrote:
No, it may be common but it's not "normal". Our games don't work that way and when James Jacobs has described his games they don;t work that way either.

Do you play AP encounters or build your own stuff? Because AP encounters very often tend to favor fast fights in confined spaces.

DrDeth wrote:
I think it's caused by hyper-optimized PC's, allowed to use any & all sourcebooks, who are allowed free reign in a magic-mart- VS the bog standard AP encounter. If the PC's are boosted that much, the encounters should be boosted that much.

That's a whole lot of assumptions you are making there. I've seen every campaign devolve into rocket tag and only with a few slightly optimized characters. As for "magic-mart" problems, those are caused by big cities having big purchase limits and by item crafting. Which are both according to the rules as written.


magnuskn wrote:
DrDeth wrote:
No, it may be common but it's not "normal". Our games don't work that way and when James Jacobs has described his games they don;t work that way either.

Do you play AP encounters or build your own stuff? Because AP encounters very often tend to favor fast fights in confined spaces.

DrDeth wrote:
I think it's caused by hyper-optimized PC's, allowed to use any & all sourcebooks, who are allowed free reign in a magic-mart- VS the bog standard AP encounter. If the PC's are boosted that much, the encounters should be boosted that much.
That's a whole lot of assumptions you are making there. I've seen every campaign devolve into rocket tag and only with a few slightly optimized characters. As for "magic-mart" problems, those are caused by big cities having big purchase limits and by item crafting. Which are both according to the rules as written.

Two of three games are AP's the other one uses mostly 3PP stuff like Creighton Brodhursts modules.

Only game I have had that devolved into "Rocket tag" was our Epic 3.5 game. My current now 17th level 3.5 doesn't do Rocket tag, nor do any of my three PF games. Nor does my 4th ed game.

Heck, other than the Wyrm campaign, which did turn RT at the top levels, I have NEVER had a campaign with RT as standard. Not in 40 years of playing with dozens of groups and hundreds of players.


I maintain that our group is not at all optimized.

The fighter is probably the only optimized character in our group, and he was just replaced by a grappling-specialized fighter (in a campaign featuring almost no human sized opponents)

The inquisitor player is crap with the rules. He fails 50% of his attempts with bane because he never rolls skills to identify things. He keeps forgetting everything all the time. His main spell is true strike.

The paladin is ok. Not sure how to evaluate if a paladin is OP or not.

The alchemist is probably the most effective damage dealer, mainly because a reincarnate spell lucked out. The player knows nothing about optimization. But deals very reliable damage.

My character is probably the most optimized of the lot, level 8 teleportation specialist, but I made some less than optimal choices intentionally. I have illusion and necromancy as my opposition schools.

All characters are built with 15 point buy. Dump stats are very rare.

We're not allowed to use anything from outside CRB and APG.


As to the party casting buffs, where is the scouting/divination to set things up?


This sounds like a Kingmaker problem. A lot of it involves fighting one monster per week. Even a four player group can normally bring down a single enemy in three rounds.
When I played it, I got irritated at my GM for turning encounters into unavoidable ambushes, but later I understood just how trivial it is to defeat a single enemy when you have time to prepare and no need to conserve spells.


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Ok, I will mention a few things that I have seen in some of the other replies but not terribly clearly stated (or they are worth repeating).

Summoning can be great. It isn't always great.

Whether it works out well can be as much a matter of your groups composition and strategy as your build and tactics.

You are continually surprised/ambushed by opponents. Do you not use any scouts or are they just not effective?

You have a group that is relatively strong in damage dealing and mostly melee at that. Correct?
What do most summoned monsters do? They are melee combatants but not quite as good as a PC built just for that. It really doesn't sound like that is exactly what your group needs. They already have that covered. Look into some of the other possibilities.

You might consider other uses for your summoned creatures. My sorc has a wand of speak with animals and has learned the elemental languages. I often use summoned creatures as short term scouts.
For example, we have arrived at a bridge over a deep chasm and can see a large cave on the other side. I summon a hawk to look over the bridge area for an ambush then report back to me. Then send a small earth elemental into the cave and report back.
No a non-summoner summons doesn't last all that long. But long enough to go have a look in specific situations.

Some of the higher level summons have crowd control spells or capabilities. For example, a lightning elemental is good at maneuvers on someone with metal armor. So bull rush him off the bridge or trip him. An earth elemental can use his earth glide to get you past many obstacles.

Very often raw damage dealing isn't the best option for conjurer in a decent sized group that can already deal a lot of damage.

Now if you have a 3 person group with an archer, channel cleric, and wizard: well the situation is very different. Then the summons can be your meat shields and melee damage dealers. But your group does not currently need that.


Scouting is impractical as we have no character suited to scouting

Paladin: Heavy armor
Fighter: Heavy armor
Inquisitor: Heavy armor
Alchemist: Huh?
Wizard: No. Just no.

I guess the alchemist would be the most suitable.

The GM nerfed my raven familiar, or rather threatened nerfing it, so I avoid using it except for the occasional quick surveying of the surroundings.

As for divination spells:

I've looked into using divination spells, but I see nothing that is practical for this purpose. Clairvoyance has an 8 minute duration and only 720 feet range and it's a level 3 spell. Arcane eye seems slightly more appropriate, but it's a level 4 spell and would only allow scouting for 8 minutes or so. I don't see how we'd use that in any practical way unless we only travel 720 feet per casting (with clairvoyance). If I use arcane eye I guess we can travel 8 minutes per casting instead, but I'm not that enthusiastic about spending all my level 4 slots on divination spells.

Kydeem de'Morcaine:

Yes the group setup has changed considerably from how we started (when my character was made). The original group was Ranger (archer), Witch, Cleric and Wizard (me).


Ganryu wrote:

Scouting is impractical as we have no character suited to scouting

Wizard:

Prying Eyes, [clap] They're watching you... [clap, clap]

They see your every move...
Prying Eyes, [clap] They're watching you...
Prying EEEEYYYYYYEEEEEEESSSSSSSSSSSSS

They're watching you
watching you
watching you
watching you


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Ganryu wrote:

Scouting is impractical as we have no character suited to scouting

Paladin: Heavy armor
Fighter: Heavy armor
Inquisitor: Heavy armor
Alchemist: Huh?
Wizard: No. Just no.

I guess the alchemist would be the most suitable.

The GM nerfed my raven familiar, or rather threatened nerfing it, so I avoid using it except for the occasional quick surveying of the surroundings.

As for divination spells:
...

Okay 3 rounds combats with most from ambush/surprise? And your attempts to be more adaptable are being thwarted by new house rules?

The point of scouting is that the summons scout for your party. So the fact that your party isn't stealthy isn't as big a deal.

There's still use for summoning. But if you GM hates it so much really I'd consider other spells such as:
Core
1-Grease, Obscuring Mist, Unseen Servant
2-Glitterdust, Web
3-Stinking Cloud, Rope Trick
4-Black Tentacles, Dimension Door
5-Cloudkill

APG
2-Create Pit
3-Spiked Pit
4-Acid Pit
5-Fire Snake(if you want some flexible damage), Suffocation

Most are Conjuration and will have a significant impact in and out of combat. Good luck!


Evil Dave is Evil wrote:
Ganryu wrote:

Scouting is impractical as we have no character suited to scouting

Wizard:

Prying Eyes, [clap] They're watching you... [clap, clap]

They see your every move...
Prying Eyes, [clap] They're watching you...
Prying EEEEYYYYYYEEEEEEESSSSSSSSSSSSS

They're watching you
watching you
watching you
watching you

Not a bad spell, but I'm level 8, not 9.

Rerednaw wrote:

Okay 3 rounds combats with most from ambush/surprise? And your attempts to be more adaptable it continually thrawted by the GM?

The point of scouting is that the summons scout for your party. So the fact that your party isn't stealthy isn't as big a deal.

There's still use for summoning. But if you GM hates it so much really I'd consider other spells such as:
Core
1-Grease, Obscuring Mist, Unseen Servant
2-Glitterdust, Web
3-Stinking Cloud, Rope Trick
4-Black Tentacles, Dimension Door
5-Cloudkill

APG
2-Create Pit
3-Spiked Pit
4-Acid Pit
5-Fire Snake(if you want some flexible damage), Suffocation

Most are Conjuration and will have a significant impact in and out of combat. Good luck!

As I said before, the problem with scouting is that we have no realiable way to scout, because we don't know when we will need it.

Suppose we explore wilderness. When do we scout? I mean I can send out a summon to scout, but exploring a "hex" can take more than a day. I cannot maintain a summon to scout ahead during that time.

What will happen is that we will explore, then we will get into an encounter and we will roll initiative and start fighting.

I don't think it's an issue of a malicious or summoning-hostile GM, but simply that he doesn't see his own bias in favour of unprepped combat.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Ganryu wrote:

Scouting is impractical a...

Suppose we explore wilderness. When do we scout? I mean I can send out a summon to scout, but exploring a "hex" can take more than a day. I cannot maintain a summon to scout ahead during that time.

What will happen is that we will explore, then we will get into an encounter and we will roll initiative and start...

That makes more sense, thanks for clarifying. I would have done something like this:

"Hey GM, as a rule, my familiar flies ahead of the party say a 1/2 mile or so. If he sees something of interest (say opposed Perception vs. Stealth check), he knows to return to me and then when I'm within say 100 feet, I'll send a summoned creature/ready to summon to examine the area more closely/act as appropriate."

If the GM is willing to work with that okay. If not, stick with battlefield control for when the ambush hits.

In one of my games with a conjurer wizard when my party came to say a crevasse with no means across, I summoned fliers to ferry the party across. We could have manually climbed down and such, but this saved time. Also useful if we're running and come to a dead end situation. I've also used summons to surround an enemy caster that had his buddies acting as blockers.


I'll chime in again for the party composition vote.

Summoning has been great on occasion for my lvl 9 PFS conjurer, and for my lvl 8 PFS cleric. But before memorizing spells for the day, I check to see what the party looks like. All archers and squishies? Yup, memorizing at least 3 or 4 SM III, IV, V. As well as a II and I for scouting and setting off traps, etc, as needed. All tough frontline guys? Well, maybe still a SM IV for 1d3 Lantern Archons in that situation, or for a Hound Archon in case we run into something evil that wants to dominate the frontline fighter. But really not nearly as many SM's memorized in this second case, which is the case you find yourself in.

But as a wizard, you get to decide what role to play more than almost any other class, by deciding what spells to memorize that day. Look at your party, take yourself out of it, figure out where they'll die without you, and then fill that role.

If you can first round go first, knowledge, discover something nasty that'll nullify the fighter/paladin frontline combo (DR, attacking with weapons can break their weapons, flying SLA's, etc.,) let them know and summon something that'll at least delay the BBEG while everybody comes up with a solution. In a balanced campaign, straight ahead melee parties should run into some situations they can't handle without spellcasting help. If everything dies quickly with straight ahead melee, then your character is unnecessary in that campaign, as it is being run, at least.

Not saying you should try to make summoning work given your current party composition, but there may be something the GM can do differently that would make your character more essential to the party if you're feeling ineffective, since it sounds like that might also be at play here.


Great! This has been a very helpful thread to see some new perspectives on things.

I'll make note of that use of the familiar. I'm fairly sure the GM is not going to opposite it. What he WAS opposed to with regards to familiars is the ability to essentially roll twice for knowledge skills and perception checks.


Rerednaw wrote:

That makes more sense, thanks for clarifying. I would have done something like this:

"Hey GM, as a rule, my familiar flies ahead of the party say a 1/2 mile or so. If he sees something of interest (say opposed Perception vs. Stealth check), he knows to return to me and then when I'm within say 100 feet, I'll send a summoned creature/ready to summon to examine the area more closely/act as appropriate."

If the GM is willing to work with that okay. If not, stick with battlefield control for when the ambush hits.

I don't think the GM is willing to work with this. He's already threatened to nerf the Raven familiar, and he may just threaten to kill it if he uses it like this.

I know my own GM has done the same thing to my Hawk Familiar. As a level 9 Wizard, my Hawk has a 23 perception, and if I send him scouting, then he tends to spot almost everything he's trying to have sneak up on us.


If you are going to scout with the familiar you might want to consider the Familiar Melding spell from Ultimate Magic.

Gets a little risky if you are sending him long distance but there are advantages to seeing things first hand


Cap. Darling wrote:

It sounds like the figther is deciding the pace of the figths. What is keeping the inquisitor and the paladin from buffing in the first round?

The figther have very limited options beside charging in but if the other meleers decide to play like him the battles will be lethal and over quick.
I second your plan to talk tactics with your team. One Day you will rule a kingdom so charging in at first sign of danger will one Day be obsolete as a problem solver.
For my own experiance with summoning at level 8. I like summoning a Giant scorpion in round 1 and then haste every body in round 2. But my GM is an expert in making dynamic battles so that may be bad advice for you.

This.

In the Jade Regent game i play in we have the same issue, the fighter charges in the first round of combat and then the two battle clerics are left with the choice of buffing one round and letting the opponents come to us through the wizards control spell OR charge behind the fighter so that he isn't full attacked by every oponent.

@OP
It's a Kingmaker problem, i have played Kingmaker nearly up to the end so, believe me when i tell you that it's a Kingmaker problem. When you hit book 3 things will get a little better since you will do some dungeon crawling.
Btw at book 4+ you will face humanoid enemies, quite a few actually.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Ganryu wrote:

Great! This has been a very helpful thread to see some new perspectives on things.

I'll make note of that use of the familiar. I'm fairly sure the GM is not going to opposite it. What he WAS opposed to with regards to familiars is the ability to essentially roll twice for knowledge skills and perception checks.

<begin hijack>

Erk? Wow...that really dings many classes. Does he allow Druids, Rangers, Summoners, Witches, Sorcerers with familiars or for that matter any character with the Leadership feat have their familiar/animal companion/follower do anything except be a bag of hp? Sorry off-topic.

Sounds like he's set on ambushes. Of course, how do his baddies keep knowing where to find you in time to set up ambushes? :)
<we now return you to your regular thread>


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Tels wrote:
Rerednaw wrote:

That makes more sense, thanks for clarifying. I would have done something like this:

...If the GM is willing to work with that okay. If not, stick with battlefield control for when the ambush hits.

I don't think the GM is willing to work with this. He's already threatened to nerf the Raven familiar, and he may just threaten to kill it if he uses it like this.

I know my own GM has done the same thing to my Hawk Familiar. As a level 9 Wizard, my Hawk has a 23 perception, and if I send him scouting, then he tends to spot almost everything he's trying to have sneak up on us.

Well as I said I ask the GM. If for some reason everything under the sun attacks ravens or say they are out of season/their environment then I wouldn't use my familiar in that fashion. I don't use familiars in combat as a rule, but I do like using them in non-combat situations. If it's a fortress for example, I'd buffed the familiar with a few spells like invisibility and so forth.

If the GM doesn't want to play then battlefield control spells will have enough bang for your spellcasting buck.

+23 Perception sounds pretty high. How did your raven get that? Most of my PCs that take Perception (when it isn't a class skill) are in the +10-15 range by mid-levels.


Well in Kingmaker, part of the point of the AP is to set off into unexplored/untamed regions. You have to clear the land of threats before you can settle it.

The problem is that basically means most of the encounters in Kingmaker is going to be surprises, if not ambushes. It's basically scenarios like, "You guys are trudging through the woods, mapping what you see, when you come across a rise. On the other side, you see a trio of trolls. Were any of you being stealthy?"

"No, not really, we're exploring."

"All right, the Trolls heard you coming and were waiting for you. Surprise round! Roll Initiative."

It could be bears, orcs, goblins, manticores etc. It's basically how the first 3 books or so go (my group just took down the big-bad in the Varnhold Vanishing and we're now in the exploration phase).


Huh, a more sensible way to clear the area would be to examine it as you go, ask questions if possible at inns and pubs about what's out there, or farmsteads. Get an idea of what you might be looking for. Then scout the area, like a grid. Look for signs of bad things carefully. Yes, go stealthy, find tracks, follow tracks, and ambush the bad things on your own terms, hopefully. Also giving you the chance to summon and buff.

If your party has no tracker, hire one.

Yeah, I'd expect a party of idiots that just go stomping blindly through the wilderness would have a great chance of disappearing.

I don't know the AP, don't know if your GM could get that much flexibility out of it... how much work it would be to rewrite allowing for smarter strategies and possibly increasing CR's of encounters to compensate for the PC's ambushing the baddies a lot, etc. I kind of figure you guys would already be trying to turn it around on the baddies by gathering intel, tracking, etc, so I'm guessing your GM just prefers to ambush you. Maybe have a talk with him about this, how it could still be challenging and even more fun if he tried to let you guys be smart.

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 16

Summoning is fine, your group just isn't being challenged enough for you to need to use it.

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