Slotless Summoner


Homebrew and House Rules


So... I like the summoner, rather a lot. On the other hand, I don't much like spell slots... but it occurs to me that spell slots aren't really integral to the summoner in the way they are to, say, the Magus. So you could conceivably make a variant that don't have them without tearing the heart out fo the class. It occurred to me further that the simplest way to do that might be to codify their value in class feats. So... what about cashing them in for class feats? People already spend class feats on getting spell slots via archetypes with some regularity, so there's at least some basis for comparison.

The issue is... I don't really have any idea what would be a fair rate of exchange. The Summoner loses their wave casting feature - the slots themselves, and the derived ability to use staves. (You keep your casting tradition and cantrips, though, so you still have access to scrolls and wands.) In return you get some selection of class feats, for a class that really rather likes its feats. It feels like it ought to at least be worth more than the cost of the Bounded Spellcasting Benefits (a 6th, a 12th, and an 18th) given that those max out at 7th instead of 9th, but beyond that?


I'm just amused at how quickly people have switched over to the idea that simply being able to cast cantrips means that you must obviously also be able to use scrolls and wands.

As for compensation for losing spell slots... I'm not sure. Because you haven't fully removed the spellcasting class feature - which is why they would still be able to use scrolls and wands. And spellhearts.

Normally a non-spellcasting class gets a 1st level feat and weapon/armor proficiency. Maybe some other class features as well. But not usually additional feats at higher levels.


breithauptclan wrote:

I'm just amused at how quickly people have switched over to the idea that simply being able to cast cantrips means that you must obviously also be able to use scrolls and wands.

As for compensation for losing spell slots... I'm not sure. Because you haven't fully removed the spellcasting class feature - which is why they would still be able to use scrolls and wands. And spellhearts.

Normally a non-spellcasting class gets a 1st level feat and weapon/armor proficiency. Maybe some other class features as well. But not usually additional feats at higher levels.

It's true that, in general, there's *no* way to get bonus class feats. At the same time, trying to cost it out in terms of "class features and proficiency progression" is going to be significantly harder than trying to do it with feats. In the case of feat-costing, we at least have a variety of examples to draw from to try to get an idea of how much a feat is worth, and the fact that you can mix and match is baked into the cost already, at least to a degree. Straight-up class feature modification doesn't get either of those.

The cost of cantrips is pretty standard. Cantrip Expansion is available to literally every full caster there is - a 1st-level class feat for 2 cantrips and a basic spellcasting proficiency to back them up. Similarly, the archetypes for full casters make it pretty clear that a lvl 2 class feat spent on a dedication will net you two cantrips (and associated scroll/wand/spellheart access) and two skills, or other features of roughly equal value. That part isn't the expensive part.

Now the part that gets tricky where I can see it is the feat levels and when you get them... because PF2 is pretty clearly balanced at least in part around the idea that there simply is no way to get level 14 feats before level 14 (or whatever). If you go by the archetype costs, a lvl 6 feat, a lvl 12 fet, and a lvl 18 feat will, when you're lvl 18, give you the casting proficiency of a lvl 17+ summoner and the spells of one that's lvl 11 or 12. At level 20, you're upgrading those spell slots to those of a lvl 13/14 summoner.

Now, this is made messier by the fact that these feats (which are otherwise the closest we're going to get to properly costing out the value of those slots) are generally considered to be overcosted/underpowered (mostly because they're meaningfully if not enormously worse than the progression for *standard* sepllcasting archetypes). It's worse than that, though because even at level 14, a level 18 class feat is potentially game-breaking, and that's leaving aside the fact that if you continue the progression, you wind up having to figure out something to do for a feat that's somehow higher than level 20?

...and, of course, it's made messier still by the general PF2 design philosophy of "yes, we'll offer you interesting and flavorful options, and they're all designed to cost you more than they're worth in raw power". Presumably, then, if we are to stay in theme it should be a somewhat lossy progression.


I think I would just change the proficiencies to better match a martial character. Give the Eidolon a Champion or Rangers proficiency level so it is more a full martial.


rant:

Sanityfaerie wrote:
the archetypes for full casters make it pretty clear that a lvl 2 class feat spent on a dedication will net you two cantrips (and associated scroll/wand/spellheart access)

You don't get the spellhearts because *facepalm*. At least some of the developers say that you do get the scroll/wand/staff usage with just the dedication, though I still disagree with that. But nothing and no-one has ever said that you get to use spellhearts or other 'activation: cast a spell' items without a spellcasting class feature - which from the multiclass archetypes come from the Basic Spellcasting feat. Not the dedication.

But I think now I am just being a distraction. Back to your regularly scheduled homebrew discussion.

-----

I think it would be easier to balance removing the spell slots from Summoner if you removed the entire spellcasting. Make the Summoner character a light martial class like a Rogue, Investigator, Monk, Inventor... and just have the Eidolon being the additional class features that these light martial classes get.

Heavy martials being the harder hitting classes like Fighter and Barbarian.


breithauptclan wrote:

** spoiler omitted **

But I think now I am just being a distraction. Back to your regularly scheduled homebrew discussion.

-----

I think it would be easier to balance removing the spell slots from Summoner if you removed the entire spellcasting. Make the Summoner character a light martial class like a Rogue, Investigator, Monk, Inventor... and just have the Eidolon being the additional class features that these light martial classes get.

Heavy martials being the harder hitting classes like Fighter and Barbarian.

As for the spoiler - I admit that I don't much care about spellhearts. I don't even care much about wands/scrolls. You can get staff usage with just the dedication because in order to actually put a charge into a staff you need to have at least one spell slot available to you... but that stuff is a sideshow.

Taking it to light martial is way more complicated in a lot of ways, because suddenly you're talking about chassis changes, and balancing those gets weird. It gets especially weird because of balance effects with the eidolon and the shared MAP.

The casting that's left isn't so very strange, though. It's basically a stack of cantrips, plus the casting proficiency of a monk/champion (expert at 9, master at 17). They get it the same time they get their class DC bumps. Ranger/Alchemist/Inventor/Gunslinger get class DC bumps at the same time.

Really, though, what's so hard about putting a price on the spell slots themselves? I mean, I'm not all that clear on it myself, but that's because I'm very much not a caster, and I expect that I'm particularly bad at this. Is it just way more complicated than it seems from the outside?


Sanityfaerie wrote:
Really, though, what's so hard about putting a price on the spell slots themselves?

Sure. Easy. It is the gold cost of 5 wands. Or 5 scrolls that renew daily. Though technically that would better approximate prepared casting rather than spontaneous casting. The two types of casting are theoretically balanced against each other though.

Maybe look at the Scroll Trickster archetype for another power level comparison.

My point is that if all you are taking out is the spell slots, then you aren't really giving up very much. You can get that back with just equipment.


breithauptclan wrote:
Sanityfaerie wrote:
Really, though, what's so hard about putting a price on the spell slots themselves?

Sure. Easy. It is the gold cost of 5 wands. Or 5 scrolls that renew daily. Though technically that would better approximate prepared casting rather than spontaneous casting. The two types of casting are theoretically balanced against each other though.

Maybe look at the Scroll Trickster archetype for another power level comparison.

My point is that if all you are taking out is the spell slots, then you aren't really giving up very much. You can get that back with just equipment.

Gold is deceptively valuable in PF2, though, and carrying capacity matters too. Like, "I get this stuff for free" is at least half of the alchemist's entire class. A lvl 17 summoner has two lvl 8 and two lvl 9 slots. That's 8600 gp, if you measure it in scroll cost. Lump sum character wealth for a lvl 17 character is 30,000 gp - enough to keep up that level of expenditure for a bit more than 3 days. The next level has a WBL of 45,000 gp - a bit over 5 days at "I pay for my spell slots with scroll money" prices. Even if we crank it up to lvl 20, and take advantage of the fact that summoner casting doesn't go anywhere after 17, we're still looking at a lump sum of 112,000, or just under 13 days. Importantly, that's the lump sum numbers. It's supposed to represent all the wealth you've ever accumulated, and pay for all of your gear. High level scrolls aren't as cheap as you seem to think they are.


I agree that consumables ( or permanent items like wands ) are not so cheap, but I also know for sure it's something which can drastically change from table to table.

We rushed the first 2 books of AoA, resulting into almost no gold, permanent items or consumables. If our party had instead dedicated a generous amount of time to downtime activities, it would have gotten lot of stuff.


Well, mostly I was considering wands as the monetary value of the spell slots. It still isn't a perfect comparison because spontaneous spellcasting slots are a bit more flexible than an equivalent number of wands. But the core power level is similar.

Sanityfaerie wrote:
The issue is... I don't really have any idea what would be a fair rate of exchange. The Summoner loses their wave casting feature - the slots themselves, and the derived ability to use staves. (You keep your casting tradition and cantrips, though, so you still have access to scrolls and wands.) In return you get some selection of class feats, for a class that really rather likes its feats. It feels like it ought to at least be worth more than the cost of the Bounded Spellcasting Benefits (a 6th, a 12th, and an 18th) given that those max out at 7th instead of 9th, but beyond that?

This seems like a reasonable approach to go with to replace one set of class features for another. If you can distill those class features into a similar archetype (even though it will likely lose some amount of power in the process), then replace that archetype with the benefits of a different archetype. But you need to replace the entire archetype. Including the dedication.

So taking the spellcasting of Summoner, equating it to a spellcasting archetype, replacing it with a different archetype, and giving benefits of that archetype as class features would probably work. But that would also remove the ability to use the spellcaster items. Getting a couple of cantrips as innate spells would only be equivalent to ancestry or skill feats.


breithauptclan wrote:
Well, mostly I was considering wands as the monetary value of the spell slots. It still isn't a perfect comparison because spontaneous spellcasting slots are a bit more flexible than an equivalent number of wands. But the core power level is similar.

Wands have the same issue. A single 9th-level wand is going to run you 40,000. That's more than you can possibly afford at lvl 17, and only just within "all the money I have in the world" budget for lvl 18. A level 20 character, if they buy nothing else, is just barely short of being able to afford two lvl 9 and two lvl 8 wands. That kind of money is a big deal, really.

breithauptclan wrote:

This seems like a reasonable approach to go with to replace one set of class features for another. If you can distill those class features into a similar archetype (even though it will likely lose some amount of power in the process), then replace that archetype with the benefits of a different archetype. But you need to replace the entire archetype. Including the dedication.

So taking the spellcasting of Summoner, equating it to a spellcasting archetype, replacing it with a different archetype, and giving benefits of that archetype as class features would probably work. But that would also remove the ability to use the spellcaster items. Getting a couple of cantrips as innate spells would only be equivalent to ancestry or skill feats.

Okay, sure, but the class version goes way beyond the archetype version. The archetype casting proficiency lags a bit, they have two known spells and two cantrips, and they max out at spell level 7. The actual summoner starts with 5 cantrips, has a running load of 4 spells known, and maxxes out at spell level 9. That's a lot more than just "some amount of power"... and if you insist that it cash in everythign associated with the dedication as well, then you're getting rid of the eidolon which means you're nuking the entire class. Sure, at the end, you can say "well, I know for sure that this wont' be overpowered", and you'll be right, but that's because you'll have basically destroyed the character's ability to function as a viable adventurer.

I wouldn't call that "fair". My hope had been that we might be able to come up with something that would be not overpowered and also be an interesting and viable character who could adventure next to same-level allies and pull their own weight. "Cash in all of your class features for four feats in the archetype of your choice" isn't going to do that.


Trading the cost of spells to feats or money does not make a ton of sense. Martial's do not have extra feats or money, they have better proficiency. The only exception is Martials get a level 1 feat.

Materials also usually get some schtick to increase damage and such. The simplest way would be to give the Eidolon Martial Proficiency, and then instead of getting a 1st level feat, they have their cantrips.

It is slightly more powerful than a level 1 feat or level 2 dedication feat, but it makes up for the Eidolon to not have the other martial tricks like rage damage or hunted prey or something.


inshal chenet wrote:

Trading the cost of spells to feats or money does not make a ton of sense. Martial's do not have extra feats or money, they have better proficiency. The only exception is Martials get a level 1 feat.

Materials also usually get some schtick to increase damage and such. The simplest way would be to give the Eidolon Martial Proficiency, and then instead of getting a 1st level feat, they have their cantrips.

It is slightly more powerful than a level 1 feat or level 2 dedication feat, but it makes up for the Eidolon to not have the other martial tricks like rage damage or hunted prey or something.

Okay. Then how would you balance *that*? What levels would you have the proficiencies progress at? I mean, I was suggesting feats because I figured there was at least a place to start from in figuring out the balance. Making changes directly to the chassis seems (to me) like it would be even harder to balance.

I agree that trading it to money doesn't really work, because we don't really have a mechanic for "Congratulations for leveling up. Have some cash." The point of doing it for feats is that people are already (at least to a limited extent) effectively trading feats for spell slots via archetypes - or, indeed, through Summoner and Magus class feats. There seem to be a decent number of people out there for whom the opportunity to trade feats for slots is appealing, and yet I've not seen anyone argue that those feats are particularly OP.


It seems reasonable to me that the Synthesist Summoner should have an equivalent attack bonus and AC of a martial at their level. If you look at all the proficiencies, there seems to be a clear tradeoff between having spells and having good proficencies.


Sorry I meant to say slotless summoner!

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