Newbie Summoner advice?


Advice


My brother is going to be playing his 1st campaign soon. He's decided he'd like to play a Summoner. I've never played a magic class before, so I haven't the slightest what he should be doing with this character.

What sort of feats/spells/items/etc. should he be getting? Any other tips for a Summoner? Anything you can advice me on would be greatly appreciated.


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The summoner is the most complex class there is. A new player should stay away from it.

Apart from that it is horribly broken even when build correct (and it is hard to build correct. At least the eidolon.) Be prepared that he spoils the other players fun.


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Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

The summoner needs a lot of preparation in order to play. I would not recommend it as the first character type someone tries to play. Every combat they will be controlling two entities -- their summoner and what ever was summoned.

Make sure that you make cheat-sheet cards for every creature they will be summoning. It will horribly slow down play if you need to look up each creature summoned.

The main feats are Spell Focus (Conjuration) and Augment Summoning. They improve the main feature of this class. The items you want are the same as most sorcerers, Pages of Spell Knowledge, Charisma items, etc. The only difference is you can wear armor if you have a high enough strength.

Read the Guide to Summoner.

You may also want to read Brewer's Guide to the Reach Cleric in order to understand some of the tactics that a standard action summons allows.


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Encourage him to avoid any eidolon concept that involves tentacles, multiple pairs of limbs, master summoner or synthesist. Encourage him to build around having the eidolon out at all times instead of build around the idea of having hordes of beasties. Advise him to crank the heck out of UMD. Advise him not to expect multiplle rends in a round.

If he's thinking of playing it because it seems mechanically superior or that it seems to have a lot of crunch, encourage him to play any other class. Not that he'd be mistaken to make the assumption, but that running headlong to one of the classes most notorious for curbstomping the rest of the party's fun is not a good 'first foray' into gaming.

Ask him what kind of summons he's looking forward to bringing to the table and ask him what his concept of his eidolon is. If it has tentacles, has more than 4 limbs, or 'forms a protective coccoon around him'... recommend he peruse some other class options.

Sovereign Court

I'll echo the concerns of Ginger and Bret - Summoner is a complex class, and if you don't have any experience with magic characters yourself, I would recommend he switch to a Sorcerer or Bloodrager.

That being said, here's my advice for a 1st-time summoner:

  • Give the summoner high Charisma and good Dexterity and Constitution, and keep him in the back lines; that way only one thing is in melee at a time, and the Summoner's fun offensive spells are more likely to work.
  • Keep the Eidolon's evolutions primarily to simple static bonuses, like Improved Natural Armor and Ability Increase. Bite + Claws is typically enough to make the Eidolon a fearsome force in combat.
  • For spells, make sure to pick ones that he can use in a wide variety of situations, and that don't require extensive math or difficult choices. Grease, Shield, Expeditious Retreat, Glitterdust, Invisibility, and Barkskin make fine 1st and 2nd level choices; Haste and Lesser Evolution Surge are excellent but a bit trickier.
  • For feats, Improved Initiative, Toughness, and save-boosters like Iron Will and Great Fortitude are great for the summoner; Power Attack, Toughness, and Weapon Focus are fine for the Eidolon.

Good luck! If he's a fast learner, he'll probably be fine.


In general I agree with the Ginger: classes with cohorts/companions/sidekicks/eidolons are more complex than other classes (fighter is probably the most easily played martial class, while sorcerer is the least complex caster- imo).

With that out of the way I would try and simplify character design as much as possible. See if your brother has something in mind for his summoner (essentially is he trying to be Yuna from FF-X? or Ash Catchum from Pokémon? Or something else? Lucy from Fairy Tail?) the motivation can help simplify the design function of the character.

Summoners usually stand behind their Eidolon and use spells to support their creature. I have found the Grease spell to be one of the more awesome summoner spells, but that may just be me.

Since it is his first time maybe after he finishes the character creation do a couple of practice battles (pit him against something in the bestiary or NPC handbook and see how well he holds up in combat) so he can get the feel of how his summoner/eidolon will function against enemies.

I have played a couple of games with other players being summoners and ONE where I played as a summoner myself. How the summoner views their eidolon is generally the most interesting part of their character. One player viewed their eidolon as a god and began worshipping it (it was ADORABLE!) and my summoner believed her eidolon to be the spirit of her dead son (and was REALLY upset when the party would allow incidental damage to her baby). For a character background I think that can be a cool thing that happens.


1st off, thanks so much for the advice guys.

2nd of all, I know it's a more complicated/powerful class, but he's pretty set on it. I'm willing to work through it with him, however, so I think he'll be ok.

Also, as for the concept he's going for, Idk how many of you guys have played the Nintendo game Pikmin, but his Eidolan is supposed to be a large Pikmin-like creature. So Bipedal, 2 arms/legs, pretty straightforward really. Hopefully that'll help simplify things.

Again, thanks for the advice everyone. I wouldn't have thought of half this stuff.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

One more thing, this class is officially being revised (pending release of Pathfinder Unleashed).

Not sure what's going to happen but the rumor mill is that the class will be hit with the nerf-hammer hard.


Then again the entire pathfinder unleashed book is considered 'optional rules' even moreso than the core books. If he's enthusiastic about an interesting dynamic or interesting fluff then summoner is one of the most rewarding and versatile classes there is.


Yeah, he really just wants to play a magic user and really likes the idea of an Eidolan. Even if it were nerfed, I'm sure I could find a way to make it work for him.

Thanks for the heads-up though!

Sovereign Court

A giant pikmin, huh? Interesting... Here are some evolutions that might fit that:

  • Slam - may be more appropriate than claws. Works great with Reach.
  • Improved Damage, Ability Increase (Str or Con), and Improved Natural Armor - those pikmin are pretty sturdy and capable of fighting things much larger than themselves.
  • Resistance and/or Energy Attacks - Fire for red, Electricity for yellow, Cold for blue. Blue might want Gills too.
  • Burrow - later down the line, but letting him come up from underground to ambush foes could be cool.


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Those are some great ideas! I love the flavor those add to the Eidolan, and I'm sure my brother will too.

What about Damage Reduction? Would that be worthwhile/fitting?

Sovereign Court

Sure, DR is a great investment - when fighting foes with multiple attacks, it can often save you 10-15 HP per round. Climb, Scent, and Skilled are also great 1-point evolutions to make your Eidolon more versatile. Scent + Skilled (Survival) makes your Eidolon a great tracker, and Skilled (Perception) or Skilled (Stealth) can also be great additions depending on your campaign and party.


This is a complex class for sure, once you start "key for every lock" playing.

You can play any Summoner pretty quickly if you simply limit yourself as to what you summon. All earth/air elementals is quite workable.

I actually experience the Master Summoner to be pretty smooth to play as it's just summon/swing/buff, as long as you have monster stat sheets and little minis in a bucket.

Tips:

1.) Have a printout of your summons by level.

2.) Roll hit/damage dice together.

3.) Premake hp tracking sheets or use dry erase.

4.) Pick one casting role and stick to it.

5.) For regular summoners, leveling your eidolon can become more complex by far than leveling your summoner.

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