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Summoning Variant Rules

posted Sunday, November 18th 2007 by Jonathan Drain
Player Advice

The other day I posted five house rules from my old Talen’s Forge archives. Another, more involved variant rule I used to employ involved monster summoning. The game rules as written are weak and often boring, but summoning exotic creatures should be interesting and involved! I decided it could use some livening up.

Preferred Summons: A spellcaster who is capable of casting summon monster or summon nature’s ally spells may choose one individual, named creature per caster level as a Preferred Summons. The caster is by no means limited to only summoning these creatures – he simply has a special rapport with each of them, who are above average members of their species. Each such creature gains the following benefits:

  1. Their ability scores and hit dice are rolled as if they were a player character
  2. The caster can choose the creature’s feats
  3. The caster can impart objects with the creature’s personal rune, allowing it to retain equipment across summons

Each time the character levels up, he may add one individual creature. It may be a creature he has summoned before, or a new one. Establishing a new Preferred Summons takes one hour. Additionally, each time the character levels up he may trade out one existing Preferred Summons for a new one.

A character with the feat Spell Focus (conjuration) treats as level as two higher for the purposes of Preferred Summons capacity. A caster able to cast both spells, such as a multiclass character, keeps two separate lists.


  1. ChattyDm

    November 18th, 2007

    I like it…. consider the rule borrowed until further notice… :)

  2. Tim

    November 19th, 2007

    Hmm.. what happens if the creature dies? What happens if it gets almost killed and is re-summoned 10 minutes later?

  3. Jonathan Drain

    November 20th, 2007

    @Tim: Summoned creatures who are “killed” remain so for 24 hours. A creature is always summoned at full strength, although you may find it more interesting to rule that injured creatures retain that injury for 24 hours.

  4. Wil

    November 29th, 2007

    Aren’t these pretty much the same as the variant presented in Unearthed Arcana (the new one)?

  5. Wil

    November 29th, 2007

    Nevermind, these rules are actually from the DMG (sidebar on page 37), though you’ve added feat choices and made giving them equipment easier (the DMG variant made you go to their plane and give it to them there).

  6. Robert

    January 7th, 2008

    I believe this is an excellent addition to the normal summoning rules that gives the caster more specifiv allies in combat and other types of difficult areas, such as tracking or knowledge based skills that one would normally not have. WIth this in mind, I believe the rolling of the creature in question should be left up to the DM, while the player can focus on feat selection and other areas of the creatures’ creation.

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