Can I activate several summoning spells at the same time?


Rules Questions


According to my vague memory, in the video game Neverwinter Nights, if I cast Summon Monster, and then cast another Summon Monster, the previously summoned monster disappears immediately. But I found out that the rulebook doesn't specifically mention that I cannot activate several summoning spells simultaneously. So can I assume that I can control a huge number of monsters at the same time, by casting Summon Monster in round 1, casting another Summon Monster in round 2, casting Summon Nature's Ally in round 3, casting another Summon Nature's Ally in round 4, casting Summon Swarm in round 5...? If I can do this, then it would make spellcasters much more powerful than non-spellcasters, I'm guess.


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Have you considered the fact that you don't have a mind control over summoned entities, and you need to somewhat direct them to do what you want them to do?


Summon spells, for the most part, take full round to cast and giving a spell caster two or more rounds of unharassed, continuous casting (aka, buffing up) is going to make your day a pretty bad one. So, yes, you can summon concurrent monsters, back to back. You do have to order them around, using increasingly larger quantities of actions if you are giving them multiple, differing orders (aka, you attack him, you attack him, you use your special attack on that one, etc). Language becomes an issue too.

This doesn't make spellcaster's MORE powerful then non-spellcasters, it just means that the spellcaster can choose to go 'nova' with their entire daily allotment of abilities and be pretty much utterly useless the rest of the day.

You have to pick your means of measuring a lot more thoughtfully when you make these kinds of sweeping generalizations and remember that this is a team/group game. A non-spellcaster going up against a spellcaster should always have a spellcaster at their side, as should the enemy caster have their own non-spellcaster. Not everything can be weighed equally in a vacuum.


There is nothing in the rules that state you cannot cast multiple summon monsters in succession. The Summon Monster class ability of the summoner on the other hand does have a stipulation that you can only have one summon monster or gate active at one time and using the ability will cause any previously summons to end.

There may not be any rules in the game about having multiple summons, but a lot of people would consider this to be bad game etiquette because it can slow the game down to a crawl. Flooding the table with summon monsters to the point you are monopolizing the time falls under the rule of not being a dick.


Like Mysterious Stranger mentioned:

Yes, you can cast and have as many summoned creatures at a time that you want (unless the specific ability says otherwise). So you could certainly have 5, 10, or more if you can cast them.

They will attack your enemies to the best of their ability, that's something you don't have to direct them to do. You'd only need to be able to talk with them to have them not attack an enemy or specific enemy or do another task. Otherwise, yes, it would take some doing to direct them all, but it isn't mind-control or anything. It's no harder to guide or direct your party of normal PCs or NPCs (depending on the summoned monster and its intelligence). So unless you're breaking them into units or giving each of those units multiple different directives, it's a GM's call when he thinks your orders get excessive.

Unless you are directing them, it's perfectly fine for a GM to just run them and attack as they see fit or otherwise act like a normal creature of that type would (again, with the caveat that they'll attack your enemies, rather than running away or something, even if that's what a normal creature of that type would do).

Other than the meta-game aspect of slowing play down (which can be mitigated somewhat if the GM is running them and not trying to pull off complicated maneuvers), there's no Rules reason you can't have a whole bunch.

Liberty's Edge

Most summoning spells last 1 round/level, so, when you are casting your 5th spell probably the first is already halfway in its duration.
Plus, most summonings are noticeably weaker than a warrior (the NPC class) with your level.

A celestial boar (summoned by a 3rd level spell) has an AC of 14, 2 HD, and 18 hp. The majority of the martial characters can put it into negative hit points with one attack. As they have ferocity they will still be somewhat dangerous, so they can require 2 attacks.

You are trading a 1 round casting time spell (assuming you get to complete it) for 2 rounds of combat of a 5th level martial. If he is 6th level or has a reach weapon and gets an AoO it can even be 1 single round.

The advantage of the summonings is that they are versatile, but they aren't particularly powerful unless you specialize in them.


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Lots of things in the video games differ vastly from the tabletop experience. it's best to forget about one, while playing the other.


Having the GM run summoned monsters is not likely to speed up the game. All it is doing is dumping more stuff on someone who already has a lot on his plate. This is going to make the game even more boring than the player running them. Now the players are going to be sitting around while the GM is attacking his own monsters. The key to keeping the game interesting is to engage the player’s characters. Having one set of GM controlled NPC’s attack another set of GM NPC’s is not engaging the players. I have been in games where the GM did that and most of the players zooned out and even wandered off to do other things.

The only time something like this would not slow down the game is if it is done in such a way that it can be handled without actually running the combat. For example, if a player wanted to summon up a bunch of monsters to buy the party time to get away from a horde chasing them that would not be so bad. In that type of situation, I would just use the narrative approach and not actually run the combat.

Summoning up one or two groups of monsters is not too bad. If you are summoning a single powerful creature per spell a few more are ok. But running the summoned monsters start taking longer than the rest of the combat it is too much. Again, this is not a game rule, but rather good etiquette.


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

You can cast multiple summon monster or summon nature's ally spells and all of the creatures stay until "killed" or the duration expires.

However, a summoner using their summon monster spell-like ability class feature is restricted to a single use being active at a time ("Drawing upon this ability uses up the same power as the summoner uses to call his eidolon. As a result, he can only use this ability when his eidolon is not summoned... A summoner cannot have more than one summon monster or gate spell active in this way at one time.").


If too many summons threaten to bog down the table, there are several options: You can distribute them among players. You can try to keep them all similar, in the best case there is only one relevant stat-block. You can prepare each creature on a card, vastly simplifying the stat-block. You can use Roll20 scripts or similar to speed up things, even when you play at a real table.


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Our group never found this to be a problem, as summoned monsters tend to get killed off fairly quickly. So a caster using this strategy mainly accomplished the goal of protecting the party by putting living speed bumps between the party and their foes.


Mysterious Stranger wrote:
Having the GM run summoned monsters is not likely to speed up the game. All it is doing is dumping more stuff on someone who already has a lot on his plate. This is going to make the game even more boring than the player running them.

It is to an extent, but the truth is that if there's one person who is capable of doing it, it's the GM. No one's saying they have to, only that it's an option to keep players from not only taking too long deciding their own turns, but also all their summoned monsters or rearranging their turns into complicated maneuverings. The reason it's usually problematic is that it slows games down and that's because players take too long.

On average, a GM is the one most experienced in handling running multiple NPCs and creatures with different stats and abilities and how they react or the numbers needed to hit and damage, as well as the target's DR and other effects. Let alone their already vested interest in moving combat along. Sure, dedicated summoner players might have spreadsheets of all their commonly summoned creatures, but if they aren't slowing the game down, then this doesn't pertain to them.

A GM doesn't have to roll like a player. They don't have to roll, then say "I got a 20," Then the GM have to ask, "A 20 total, or a natural 20?" or anything else, then look for confirmation on if it hit, then possibly roll damage if they didn't already (which is something a good player would do). Then wait for confirmation on what happened; did the opponent fall? Time to change targets... but they didn't know that might happen, so know the player has to think and reevaluate.

Whereas the GM already knows if a creature is close to death and whether they needs to roll damage at all in the case of some hard hitting summoned monsters. They can roll the attack and damage and already be marking it off and moving on to the next wing or hoof attack and the next summoned monster.

GMs have a lot on their plate, but it's likely still faster for them to handle combat between NPCs (which is summoned monsters) in cases like this example (not just one or two). Not in every case or in regards to every summoner, but in almost all situations across the spectrum, a GM is the most qualified for dealing with multiple disparate and individual combatants. Ultimately, it's little different from a non-summon combat where the PCs yell for help and 1d6 guards show up the next round (other than the spell's details, which has the summoned creatures attack the caster's enemies and vanish at 0 hp, obviously).


while the question is a bit muddled
Yes, a caster can cast spells(such as conjuration summonings) round after round. The spell durations will naturally overlap.
The caster need not issue instructions as the spell has the default It attacks your opponents(foes) to the best of its ability which is usually what is desired. Foes *should* be obvious but the creatures will use their abilities (and spell duration) to seek them out and then the GM has to adjudicate things...

-commentary-
is it a powerful strategy?
hmmm... IF the caster has 2+ feats (Spl Focus(C), Augment Summoning) then yes. Even better if he is a Summoner class but there are give & takes there. Longer spell duration isn't all that given combats end pretty quickly and they don't happen consecutively (it is rare).

I'll refer you to the Class Guides


Totally Not Gorbacz wrote:
Have you considered the fact that you don't have a mind control over summoned entities, and you need to somewhat direct them to do what you want them to do?
DeathlessOne wrote:

...

You do have to order them around, using increasingly larger quantities of actions if you are giving them multiple, differing orders (aka, you attack him, you attack him, you use your special attack on that one, etc). Language becomes an issue too.
...

Well, as far as I remember, talking is a free action in D&D 3.5 and Pathfinder First Edition. So even if I have to issue several different orders to several different monsters every round, that would cost me only a free action, right? Though now I totally understand that it would be very impolite to actually use this tactic since it would slow the game down to a crawl.

Liberty's Edge

Aenigma wrote:
Totally Not Gorbacz wrote:
Have you considered the fact that you don't have a mind control over summoned entities, and you need to somewhat direct them to do what you want them to do?
DeathlessOne wrote:

...

You do have to order them around, using increasingly larger quantities of actions if you are giving them multiple, differing orders (aka, you attack him, you attack him, you use your special attack on that one, etc). Language becomes an issue too.
...
Well, as far as I remember, talking is a free action in D&D 3.5 and Pathfinder First Edition. So even if I have to issue several different orders to several different monsters every round, that would cost me only a free action, right? Though now I totally understand that it would be very impolite to actually use this tactic since it would slow the game down to a crawl.

Issuing orders to intelligent monsters that share a language with you is a free action, as long as the orders are concise (a round is 6 seconds).

Handling animals and magical animals is a move action if they are doing something for which they are trained or a full round action if untrained (most summons aren't trained). And it requires a skill check.

RAW you handle one animal at a time, but with intelligent creatures you can issue orders to the whole group at the same time.


Diego Rossi wrote:
Aenigma wrote:
Well, as far as I remember, talking is a free action in D&D 3.5 and Pathfinder First Edition. So even if I have to issue several different orders to several different monsters every round, that would cost me only a free action, right? Though now I totally understand that it would be very impolite to actually use this tactic since it would slow the game down to a crawl.

Issuing orders to intelligent monsters that share a language with you is a free action, as long as the orders are concise (a round is 6 seconds).

Handling animals and magical animals is a move action if they are doing something for which they are trained or a full round action if untrained (most summons aren't trained). And it requires a skill check.

RAW you handle one animal at a time, but with intelligent creatures you can issue orders to the whole group at the same time.

This is pretty much the right of it. There is only so much that can happen during your turn, especially in the amount of 'free actions' that you can take, and that is explicitly left up to the discretion of the GM to determine based on what you are doing. Issuing orders, even to intelligence minions, takes time and while it can be done as part of other actions (ie, a free action), it must be something that can take place within 6 seconds. So, unless you've got detailed battle tactics sorted into specific callouts that require shouting a single word or phrase to direct your minions (which likely takes prior training), it must be limited by necessity.

If it helps, try using a voice recorder and time yourself giving an order to a minion. Then two different orders to two different minions. Something are not directly translatable from real life to D&D, but free action speech? That tends to be one of them.

Liberty's Edge

DeathlessOne wrote:
Something are not directly translatable from real life to D&D, but free action speech? That tends to be one of them.

:-)

I recall an article about Twilight: 2000 (a realistic post-atomic war game). The one that wrote it had played while being in the US Army in Germany. One of the players argued that his carry capacity allowed his character to go around in full combat gear plus several other kinds of equipment. They decided to try it.
After moving for some minutes, the guy decided to reduce the equipment his character was carrying around.
It wasn't a matter of weight (they were young, well-trained soldiers), but a matter of encumbrance. The gas mask had a tendency to get entangled with the spare ammunition pouches and so on.
A lot of the BW illustrations in Pathfinder and D&D 3 had that problem, too much equipment.


There are actually a LOT of things that are directly translatable from real life into D&D/Pathfinder, carry weight especially when one understands how the encumbrance rules work within the framework ability scores were meant to originally reflect.

A typical soldier in real life? Probably has a 14 to 15 strength score as a human being in Pathfinder terminology (let's not assume ability scores are static though, as real life muscle development vary). We are talking about 58 lbs to 68 lbs being their limit on a 'light load'. Most infantry forces in the American military typical carry around 70lbs of gear when they move (medium load). You'd need a strength of 16 to keep that as a 'light load', and if think of the packs they carry as specifically designed to help distribute that load, we can call them a masterwork backpack. That's all the 'bump' a Strength 15 solider needs to get that load to a light load.

Yeah, I've spent a lot of time digging into the verisimilitude of the ability score system. It is actually fairly sound.

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