Unchained Summoner Changes


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Now, to caveat:

Yes, the summoner is a very powerful class. Too powerful, probably. It compounds that by having a very high optimization floor, so a mediocre summoner looks that much better than a mediocre wizard, and by basically making every beatstick in the party look bad when they're played right. Everyone (more important, Paizo) agrees that the summoner has problems.

This thread is not arguing that the Summoner does not have problems. I am accept that premise before I make my point.

THAT SAID. Locking the Summoner into a narrowly defined list of pre-determined eidolon chassis is not the answer.

From a design standpoint, one of the best things about the Summoner class is how incredibly flexible it is and how great it is at providing the players myriad options for how to fluff their creature. There's a billion different ways for a player to imagine their eidolon conceptually and dozens of different ways to realize that concept mechanically.

Taking that all away by turning it into Pick-an-Outsider and then strap a few pre-determined evolutions on all that is awful.

Will the final product be more balanced? Maybe. Could go either way here.

But that's balancing the class away from one of the strongest points of its design. It would be sort of like declaring the Alchemist overpowered and balancing it by making it so it can't brew potions. Or declaring the Barbarian overpowered and trying to balance it by making it unable to use two handed weapons.

Bad analogies, I know, but the point is that balancing a class by taking away some of its most iconic and frankly best options isn't the answer.

You balance the Summoner by stripping some of its casting power (or hell, all of it), reducing on the fly eidolon flexibility and toning back its DPR capabilities, not by making Summoner players have fewer options.

This just creates a class that's less interesting without necessarily being any more or less balanced.


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Where did you find out what the Pathfinder Unchained changes are? Is a playtest version out?

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

The change does address the biggest problem with the Summoner, the tendency to make horriffic mistakes in building or auditing an eidolon.

The sheer number of threads on eidolon construction on this board does seem to call out the inability of many people to construct or audit the thing correctly.

In that sense UnChained! is doing exactly what needs to be done.


Some speculation for the unchained summoner:

1) Prepackaged eidolons. This seems to be a given, and will make the summoner vastly more GM friendly, among other things (seriously, designing an NPC summoner is an enormous pain in the ass specifically because of the eidolon.)

2) Summoner changing from a 1 to 9 class disguised as a 1 to 6 class to being an actual 1 to 9 class (with spell showing up at their correct levels). That would solve most of the spell list weirdness without actually changing the spell list.

3) Your choice of eidolon adding bonus spells to your spell list, like a witch's patron. It's unlikely, but would be pretty cool.


UnArcaneElection wrote:

Where did you find out what the Pathfinder Unchained changes are? Is a playtest version out?

This^


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*beep*


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

No playtest folks. The Op is using comments from the product thread to extrapolate from. There are no concrete details for us yet.


Pathfinder Lost Omens Subscriber

if it's equatable to picking a bloodline, or a order, or a domain, or an inquisition, or school of magic. it should be fine.


I'm pretty sure the prepackaged eidolon thing was only speculation/wishlisting by a user in the comment thread on PF Unchained.

I mean I'd also hate to see it happening (the summoner is my favorite class precisely because of the nearly unlimited possiblities of creating a unique critter as your pet), but I find it rather unlikely.


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Is it safe?


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Easily Combustible Strawman wrote:
Is it safe?

Of course it's safe, come on in


We still have no actual info from last time I looked around but there are plenty of ways to rework the class already

For example there is Demon Summoner archetype from Deep Magic. Replaces the Eidolon with an ever increasing stable of Demons from the beastiary. Easily tweak a bit to make a celestial version or whatever you need

and I would like to see something like Lucy from Fairy Tail, where a summoner would have to form contracts with different Creatures and call them up as needed.


I'd agree that I have little interest in the Unchained Summoner if he's stuck with prebuilt Eidolons. A power-down sounds fine to me (especially if it's neatly targeted at the low levels where he's most disruptive) but if the speculation is correct then it really sounds like throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

Any of the Summoner's class features on their own would be fine. The eidolon is quite powerful, but it's incredibly squishy and at high levels it runs into magic item slot conflicts. The Summoner's spell list is awesome and without a doubt the best 6-level spell list in the game, but it's still a 6-level spellcasting chassis with low DC's and number of castings per day to keep it check. The Summon Monster SLA is perhaps his most powerful ability at low levels due to its long duration and large number of uses, but the limit of one-at-a-time keeps it from going nuts (why hello there, Master Summoner). The problem is more the combination of all three of these powerful class features in one tight package. Even then, this issue is most pronounced at the 1st level and gets progressively less problematic as you level up. By 20th level, the Summoner is simply not an issue when stacked up against the game's other 20th level casters.

I can understand the attraction of simplification, but is this really an issue outside of PFS? That's a serious question, not rhetorical. I'm a technically competent GM so auditing an eidolon at a glance is pretty straightforward for me, but do other people really have such a hard time with it that they can't sit down and work it out before the session?


Dasrak wrote:


I can understand the attraction of simplification, but is this really an issue outside of PFS? That's a serious question, not rhetorical. I'm a technically competent GM so auditing an eidolon at a glance is pretty straightforward for me, but do other people really have such a hard time with it that they can't sit down and work it out before the session?

Yes.

Just do a search on summoners on the advice board.


TarkXT wrote:
Dasrak wrote:


I can understand the attraction of simplification, but is this really an issue outside of PFS? That's a serious question, not rhetorical. I'm a technically competent GM so auditing an eidolon at a glance is pretty straightforward for me, but do other people really have such a hard time with it that they can't sit down and work it out before the session?

Yes.

Just do a search on summoners on the advice board.

The board is a pretty small sample, and the advice board particularly is specifically populated by people who have problems with material.

There's no available metric for how many players and DMs have no problem with the Summoner as is.


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TarkXT wrote:
Dasrak wrote:


I can understand the attraction of simplification, but is this really an issue outside of PFS?

Yes.

Just do a search on summoners on the advice board.

Out of curiosity I did just that. The first page of results don't exactly support your position; there was exactly one "help me audit this eidolon" thread, and one "this eidolon is overshadowing the party" thread. Everything else was looking for general build advice, nothing out of the ordinary. Skimming a few more pages of results looks the same.

I get that the Summoner is a complicated class and people are more likely to look for help with figuring it out, but in a home game you've got time to work that out between sessions. Post a forum thread, ask a friend, sleep on it, agree to play it for a session and revisit it later. Is this class really so complex that people can't cope?

I totally get the issue in PFS where people can just show up without much warning, but in a home game you do have the time and leeway to make a forum thread if you're really confused.

Scythia wrote:
There's no available metric for how many players and DMs have no problem with the Summoner as is.

I totally agree, but I can still ask for anecdotes from people who have been there.


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Dasrak wrote:


Scythia wrote:
There's no available metric for how many players and DMs have no problem with the Summoner as is.
I totally agree, but I can still ask for anecdotes from people who have been there.

Quite true.

My anecdote: I had a summoner in a campaign I ran. Neither I, as the DM, nor the player found building the eidolon difficult. We're used to playing systems with point buy building mechanics, so that might help.

It also didn't seem overpowering, but I understand that depends greatly on playstyle and expectations.


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It might help to actually read the product description and focus on the UNCHAINED part. It isn't replacing the current summoner, it is only providing an alternative.

If you don't like it, don't use it.


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Unchained core race changes sound dumb

Look, I get that halflings are not as popular as fantasy staples like dwarves and elves.

That said, I think Unchained sets a bad precedent by completely replacing the halfling core race with a tiefling core race. It's true that tieflings have better flavor and stronger mechanics than halflings, but using that as an excuse to errata halflings out of existence is a bad move. Unchained should never have done that.

And by, "Unchained," I mean, "an imaginary game supplement I saw in a dream last night," because I've never actually seen a Paizo product suggesting that halflings be replaced with tieflings. But that's beside the point. A future Paizo product might say that, so I'm putting my foot down.

Scarab Sages

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Devil's Advocate wrote:
It's true that tieflings have better flavor and stronger mechanics than halflings

As a member of the Halfling Council of Cheliax, I'd like to point out a few things:

1) Halflings develop stronger flavor if you use slow cooking methods over low heat, rather than high heat. Tieflings are also high in sulfur, which gives them their unique flavor, however most consumers complain this causes pungent flatulence.
2) While tieflings may be on average physically stronger, Halfling mechanics have smaller hands and frames. This is perfect for servicing complicated machinery with fast moving parts, which is why Halflings are the preferred mechanics for Cheliaxian textile mills.

Halflings, mmm mmm good!


swoosh wrote:


THAT SAID. Locking the Summoner into a narrowly defined list of pre-determined eidolon chassis is not the answer.

It is actually the best possible answer to most complaints about eidolons.

And in doing that they'd make a good start to allowing a balanced summoner.


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Don't forget that halflings breed at a greatly accelerated pace compared to tieflings. So, when you mangle one, there's always another one at hand.


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B. A. Robards-Debardot wrote:
Devil's Advocate wrote:
It's true that tieflings have better flavor and stronger mechanics than halflings

As a member of the Halfling Council of Cheliax

I find things are much funnier when you read that country name as "Chillax".

Scarab Sages

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kadance wrote:
Don't forget that halflings breed at a greatly accelerated pace compared to tieflings. So, when you mangle one, there's always another one at hand.

True it's a commodity business. Halfling belly futures are traded on the Egorian Mercantile Exchange. One of the most interesting uses of Halfling products that many are unaware of is the use of Halfling foot hair in many high end adventuring apparel fabrics, for its durability, parasite resistance, and ability to maintain its shine and structure even after a hard day's journey through a swamp. Some people even say it's the source of a Halflings luck, however the Halfling Council Of Cheliax can neither confirm or deny this.


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OBVIOUS TROLL IS OBVEOS wrote:
Easily Combustible Strawman wrote:
Is it safe?
Of course it's safe, come on in

Thats what she said...

P.S. Sorry.


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Devil's Advocate wrote:

Unchained core race changes sound dumb

Look, I get that halflings are not as popular as fantasy staples like dwarves and elves.

That said, I think Unchained sets a bad precedent by completely replacing the halfling core race with a tiefling core race. {. . .}

Halflings?! I thought they were getting rid of Gnomes . . . .


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To be fair, it's an odd moment when you have to explain that you're unchaining a class by limiting what it can do. Not necessarily bad, but you may accidentally talk yourselves into an Abbot and Costello routine.


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Pathfinder 2E sounds like a blatant cash grab too.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

swoosh, you'd get better reception of your opinions, if you refrained from using words like "dumb" because someone, especially a group of people with professional chops in game design, went a direction you happen to disagree with.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Dasrak wrote:
TarkXT wrote:
Dasrak wrote:


I can understand the attraction of simplification, but is this really an issue outside of PFS?

Yes.

Just do a search on summoners on the advice board.

Out of curiosity I did just that. The first page of results don't exactly support your position; there was exactly one "help me audit this eidolon" thread, and one "this eidolon is overshadowing the party" thread. Everything else was looking for general build advice, nothing out of the ordinary. Skimming a few more pages of results looks the same.

I get that the Summoner is a complicated class and people are more likely to look for help with figuring it out, but in a home game you've got time to work that out between sessions. Post a forum thread, ask a friend, sleep on it, agree to play it for a session and revisit it later. Is this class really so complex that people can't cope?

I totally get the issue in PFS where people can just show up without much warning, but in a home game you do have the time and leeway to make a forum thread if you're really confused.

Scythia wrote:
There's no available metric for how many players and DMs have no problem with the Summoner as is.
I totally agree, but I can still ask for anecdotes from people who have been there.

The vast bulk of them never use the word audit, but that's what it comes out to when you look at people who brought up eidolon questions, we'd find out that they added their points wrong, or they used abilities without paying for pre-reqs. There were tons of building threads and many of them had audinting problems even if the word wasn't used.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Dasrak wrote:
I get that the Summoner is a complicated class and people are more likely to look for help with figuring it out, but in a home game you've got time to work that out between sessions. Post a forum thread, ask a friend, sleep on it, agree to play it for a session and revisit it later. Is this class really so complex that people can't cope?

It's a class that's a veritable minefield, when you have a lot of players who are running Summoners as their first characters ever especially if the GM running them is also new to the class.

It IS a complex class, perhaps the most complex class in the game.

Shadow Lodge

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First off, I love the Summoner class. I play two in PFS and have played in home game.

Some comments I've seen by James Jacobs and other creators, I think the thinking on Summoners is somewhat going in the wrong direction.

I admit I don't know for sure because I haven't seen the changes. I hope to be surprised.

What annoys me about the Eidolon aspect of the class is the lack of real options other than melee combatant. Options for spell caster eidolons are there, but they are so sub optimal that they might as well not be. Ranged combat options either restricted to high level or very expensive and rather sub optimal.

Skill monkey Eidolons are possible, but if you want certain things, say an eidolon who is charismatic or intelligent, particularly at low levels, it's pretty much impossible.

Putting together a bunch of similar eidolon "recipes" that I suspect are all probably based off making different kinds of swallowers, grapplers, high damage dealers or whatever is not what I want to see. I can design my own, thank you very much.

Basically thinking by Paizo reminds me of what I saw w/WOC with sorcerers in 3.5. Basically, options are limited because the designers have are thinking the class ought to be this and we've made some design/flavor choices already and so you're stuck with them. This is served with a side of besides, we really don't like the class and we've decided that the haters are right so we are gonna pull back as much as possible. Evidence for this is the delay in the Iconic Summoners story, the lack of summoner NPCs (grand total 1) in published materials. A lack of magic items that are Summoner or even anti Sunmmoner centric.

What would be welcome--

A way get higher mental stats in exchange for lower physical ones, AT FIRST LEVEL and without spending evolution points. Basically, an alternative "base".

Workable AND BALANCED supernatural ability evolutions.

Including Summoners in the world a bit more.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Assuming malice on the part of the game designers is going to get you real far in how they view your input.

/sarcasm mode off.

"Designers thinking the class out to be this..." You understand that is the first step in designing any class? It does have to be something to start with. Just because it does not line up with your vision of what it is doesn't mean they were out to get you. And with all the love that Paizo gave and continues to give sorcerers, they can't be said to "hate the class."

Summoners are a problem. the feedback has come in from all the players and GMs that find the class problematic or downright confusing. Unchained! is a response. No one is requiring you to change the way you play the class if you and your table are happy with it.

The Eidolon does not need to be a spellcaster. The Summoner is a pretty potent caster as it is.


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My answer to the summoner is to remove both spell slots and the eidolon. Bwuahahahaha!

*Our group playtested that. It can be a little strong.


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LazarX wrote:


Summoners are a problem. the feedback has come in from all the players and GMs that find the class problematic or downright confusing. Unchained! is a response. No one is requiring you to change the way you play the class if you and your table are happy with it.

The Eidolon does not need to be a spellcaster. The Summoner is a pretty potent caster as it is.

Ah, but Chaining something in a book called Unchained is a little bit confusing, no?

I mean, that is what the Devs have said they might do. Chain the Eidolon.


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In the past James Jacobs has stated that he would have preferred the summoner companion be from a list of predetermined outsiders and to rework the class spell list.

Someone in the Ask thread today asked "Is the Summoner variant in Pathfinder Unchained, the version you wanted to see in print in the first place?"

He said it is.

So I think it is safe to assume that the variant summoner is loosing the eidolon and getting a variant spell list.


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Well that f$@!ing sucks


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Pathfinder Companion, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I'm reserving my judgment, waiting to see what the final product is like. I'm not sure I'm fond of the notion of being restricted by selecting outsider types, but if they take the opportunity to do things the current eidolon system can't do well - for example, I don't think they should have just copied animal companion progression for the most part. It makes sense that animals would primarily get stronger and quicker, but outsiders should be more varied, perhaps have the option for smarter ones, or even restrict them so they can't get the same bonuses to strength and dexterity an animal companion can, but could potentially do better when it comes to intelligence, charisma, wisdom, and other such.

I'm also hoping for some more supernatural abilities, like being able to snag change shape or being less punishing when it comes to getting spell-like abilities, perhaps restricting the available spell-like abilities based on the chosen type to avoid cherry-picking all the good spells, but still offering some nicer choices and more uses per day, perhaps buying spell-like ability 'packages'. After all, an outsider might be less animalistic than an animal, but it should also be more supernatural in nature, and the current eidolon doesn't really reflect that, tending to reward focusing on a bunch of natural attacks and becoming as big and as strong as possible in general. Not that that's not fun, I'd just like there to be more valid routes.

In short, using the restrictions to offer new options in exchange for those restrictions could be interesting, though the original summoner will probably have a place in my heart regardless. And if all else fails, perhaps the probable modified spell list combined with a spirit summoner will arouse fewer concerns among DMs. We'll just have to see.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Buri Reborn wrote:
Well that f@$+ing sucks

Why? is the PRESENT version of the Summoner that bad for you? If you like it, that class IS NOT GOING AWAY.


LazarX wrote:
Buri Reborn wrote:
Well that f@$+ing sucks
Why? is the PRESENT version of the Summoner that bad for you? If you like it, that class IS NOT GOING AWAY.

I have a sneaking suspicion it'll replace what's thought of as the defacto summoner in future Paizo materials and gaming groups. It's simply a matter of time. I'm fully expecting to see Balazar's art for it as well. The original class wasn't so bad as to be worthy of that treatment. So, my "that f%$#ing sucks" was both summation and anticipation of a realization of a then unspoken prophecy. Gut reactions and all that. And, no, I'm not "wrong." It's simply suspicion.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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Balazar's art, and his buddy, are not changing. He's still the iconic summoner.

All will be made clear in time.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Buri Reborn wrote:
LazarX wrote:
Buri Reborn wrote:
Well that f@$+ing sucks
Why? is the PRESENT version of the Summoner that bad for you? If you like it, that class IS NOT GOING AWAY.
I have a sneaking suspicion it'll replace what's thought of as the defacto summoner in future Paizo materials and gaming groups. It's simply a matter of time. I'm fully expecting to see Balazar's art for it as well. The original class wasn't so bad as to be worthy of that treatment. So, my "that f%$!ing sucks" was both summation and anticipation of a realization of a then unspoken prophecy. Gut reactions and all that. And, no, I'm not "wrong." It's simply suspicion.

It hasn't worked that way in the past. PFS Scenarios for instance aren't loaded archetypes of classes, some may be included though. Nor will the iconic Summoner be losing is present Eidolon.


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James Jacobs wrote:

Balazar's art, and his buddy, are not changing. He's still the iconic summoner.

All will be made clear in time.

Woohoo!


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LazarX wrote:
It hasn't worked that way in the past. PFS Scenarios for instance aren't loaded archetypes of classes, some may be included though. Nor will the iconic Summoner be losing is present Eidolon.

Seltyiel was retconned to be a magus. So, it has happened before. With as unpopular as the summoner is here and seemingly at Paizo, it was a perfectly valid apprehension.


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If Unchained Summoner isn't a 'build-a-monster' type of thing or less of one it would be way less interesting but remembering many summoner threads I understand. I suspect that Occult Adventure's Spiritualist is close to what I expect. I also expect fights about it. If it's less interesting but mechanically easier and stable class it will be desirable for GMs who have had problems with the Summoner class and real or perceived inbalances, and I know a lot would probably want to ban normal summoners in favor of it. Same could go for any of the class rewrites but I think the Rogue, Monk, and Barbarian rewrites will cause very few fights no matter their nature.


Malwing wrote:
If Unchained Summoner isn't a 'build-a-monster' type of thing or less of one it would be way less interesting but remembering many summoner threads I understand. I suspect that Occult Adventure's Spiritualist is close to what I expect. I also expect fights about it. If it's less interesting but mechanically easier and stable class it will be desirable for GMs who have had problems with the Summoner class and real or perceived inbalances, and I know a lot would probably want to ban normal summoners in favor of it. Same could go for any of the class rewrites but I think the Rogue, Monk, and Barbarian rewrites will cause very few fights no matter their nature.

The rogue can use some TLC given how the other new classes have trended since the CRB's release. I never saw the monk as in trouble, though. It simply wasn't a class that appealed to me like bards don't either. Barbarians have always been outrageous damage dealers. I really don't have any idea what they could be doing there. If Unchained is trying to bring all those classes up to the ACG in levels of power (bringing the summoner down according to some), that's going to be some sheer ridiculousness for the barb.


Buri Reborn wrote:
Malwing wrote:
If Unchained Summoner isn't a 'build-a-monster' type of thing or less of one it would be way less interesting but remembering many summoner threads I understand. I suspect that Occult Adventure's Spiritualist is close to what I expect. I also expect fights about it. If it's less interesting but mechanically easier and stable class it will be desirable for GMs who have had problems with the Summoner class and real or perceived inbalances, and I know a lot would probably want to ban normal summoners in favor of it. Same could go for any of the class rewrites but I think the Rogue, Monk, and Barbarian rewrites will cause very few fights no matter their nature.
The rogue can use some TLC given how the other new classes have trended since the CRB's release. I never saw the monk as in trouble, though. It simply wasn't a class that appealed to me like bards don't either. Barbarians have always been outrageous damage dealers. I really don't have any idea what they could be doing there. If Unchained is trying to bring all those classes up to the ACG in levels of power (bringing the summoner down according to some), that's going to be some sheer ridiculousness for the barb.

With Rogue I'm not sure why it's getting an unchained version. I heard that there were going to be new debuffs that are rogues only so I guess the main rogue has less focus from other classes co-opting what it does.

I don't know what's going on with the Monk. I haven't heard any news.

Barbarian I heard was getting a rewrite purely because of math. I saw statements of streamlining it to reduce the amount of math that rage affects so that it's easier to use.

I think summoner was along the same lines. There are complications, that can't really be fixed because the classes are out now, that keep the classes from being as simple. In the Barbarian's case I see it as a frequent go-to for new players who don't want to track spells and all that junk and gravitate to a fur underwear beatstick because it's simple to understand and run, but you have rounds of rage to track, keeping track of all the things that the strength boost tracks, numerous rage powers with some of them having per day or per rage limits that you have to track, and you have to do a lot of work just to have clothed in nothing but underwear and still be effective. In the summoner's case it doesn't becon promises of being simple but one of the biggest complaints I've seen about summoners is that players often get how it works wrong. Now I don't see it because it doesn't seem that complicated but I do see a lot of people make mistakes because it has a ton of things to track, mostly evolutions.

Overall I think that the summoner sounds like it's being rewritten to be simpler.


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Interesting. I typically play wizards and found summoners extremely manageable, even the master archetype. When I played a barbarian the other month it was one of the simplest things I've played in a long, long time.


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Buri Reborn wrote:
Interesting. I typically play wizards and found summoners extremely manageable, even the master archetype. When I played a barbarian the other month it was one of the simplest things I've played in a long, long time.

I can understand it though. I deal with a lot of new players and didn't really get into Pathfinder until not that long ago so I'm kind of sensitive to some new player issues and Summoner/Barbarian hit on some of the worst things starting out.

With Barbarian it's fluctuating variables. Power attack already grants you two versions of what each of your melee attacks to work out but with rage in the picture you have four different versions. Then there's everything that comes with fluctuating Con and Str.

With Summoner's its choice paralysis. This can happen to any class but choosing a class/archetype is as simple of selecting a desirable flavor of ice cream. Feats spells and Talents are where you have to do some serious digging to figure out what you want even if you limit the books you use and the only real way around it is to have general knowledge about what the options are commonly agreed to be the best. Rage powers do thins but Evolutions take this to a whole new level where you have what's essentially a point based talent system that you reorganize each level. Not only do you feel the instinctively pressured to get the most out of your money and choose things, but you have to do it each level.

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