Pathfinder’s New Summoner Class

Paizo has released a new character class called the summoner, compatible with Pathfinder RPG and D&D 3.5. The concept is an arcane spellcaster who has a permanent summoned companion that increases in power when the character increases in level. The class is also a specialist with summon monster spells.

The summoner’s spell list mainly contains arcane abjuration and conjuration spells, making this a good support mage class. His summoned monsters can be used to set up flanking manoevers and such, reach enemies in difficult positions, block opponents from charging, and all sorts of useful things.

The best way to explore this class is to examine it at various levels, which I’ll do now.

At level 1, the summoner begins with cleric’s base attack and hit dice, and the good Will save. He knows 4 cantrips and 2 first-level spells, and can cast unlimited cantrips (as Pathfinder rules) and one first-level spell per day, casting spontaneously using Charisma like a sorcerer. In addition to normal spells he can cast summon monster i as a spell-like ability, a number of times per day equal to 3 + Charisma modifier, and use this as a standard action with a duration of 1 minute per level (instead of a full round to cast and a duration of one round per level). He also has an eidolon, a summoned companion like a familiar but about as strong as a wolf.

At level 5, the summoner has 6/4/3 spells known and casts unlimited/4/2 per day, and his summon monster i is upgraded to summon monster iii. His eidolon is about as strong as a brown bear, has evasion, and has 8 ‘evolution’ points to spend on improvements, which for example can buy water breathing, +8 to one skill and two extra sets of arms with claw attacks dealing 1d4 damage as secondary attacks.

At level 10, the summoner has 6/5/5/4/2 spells known and casts unlimited/5/4/3/1 per day, now able to cast summon monster v. Twice per day he can teleport his eidolon to him, or teleport to switch places. His eidolon is as powerful as an polar bear or slightly more, and has six more evolution points to spend, which can buy fire immunity, increased damage dice on three attacks, and the ability to overcome damage reduction to magic. It also gains increases to Strength, Dexterity and natural armor.

At level 15, the summoner has 6/6/6/5/4/4 spells known and casts unlimited/5/5/5/4/3, with summon monster viii as his spell-like ability. Any time the summoner takes enough damage to kill him, the eidolon takes enough of the damage instead to keep the summoner alive. The eidolon gains another six evolution points, which it can spend on gaining Huge size growth (or spell resistance or fast healing) and flight.

At level 20, the summoner has 6/6/6/6/6/5/5 spells known and casts unlimited/5/5/5/5/5/5 (maxing out at level 6), and can cast summon monster ix or gate as his spell-like ability. He can assume the form of his eidolon for one minute per level, and his eidolon is now about as powerful as a Huge earth elemental, gaining another six evolution points, which the summoner can alterantively spend on himself to gain 12 points of evolution abilities.

Now as this is only a playtest release of the class, it might have a few broken spots. For example, there have been some complaints that a well-configured eidolon can be more powerful than a fighter of its level, and that it can be configured with a ridiculous number of attacks. Lets look at a 11th level summoner’s eidolon, a 10HD creature with 15 evolution points.

A biped type eidolon of this level can have 22 Strength, 12 Dex and 13 Con, with 10HD (65HP), +10 natural armour, saves as a cleric, and two secondary claw attacks dealing 1d4 damage. For 7 points we can increase it to Large and then Huge size, for 38 Str, 8 Dex, 21 Con, +8 natural armour (in total), +4 to Fort, -2 to Ref, +6 to hit, -4 AC (including changes to Str and Dex), and increasing to 105HP. With 8 points we can buy a bite attack, two new sets of arms, two sets of pincers, and let it overcome damage reduction to magic and its own alignment (practically mandatory).

Its full attack is as follows: bite +22 (2d6+16), four pincers +20 (2d6+8), two claws +20 (1d8+8). Alternatively, the 8 points spent on attacks could buy a bite and eight tentacles, as so: bite +22 (2d6+16), two claws +20 (1d8+8), eight tentacles +20 (1d8+8). At level 10, you’ve got a minion with better attacks than Valeros, Pathfinder’s iconic level 14 fighter, roughly equal AC and saves, and 75% as many hit points. Why play a fighter when you can summon one?

Oh, and there’s a witch class in the PDF too.

Comments (5)

Brandan Landgraff (December 7th, 2009)

Why would anyone play a fighter at all, ever? This pretty soundly makes them obsolete, as if they weren’t already…

Another issue I can see with this class is that the player is potentially taking three turns for everyone else’s one, between summoned monster, eidolon, and the summoner themselves. It could pretty easily lead to long turns for one player, and that in turn can lead to everyone else at the table being annoyed.

Dragon_Child (December 8th, 2009)

Pathfinder hates fighters. Pathfinder specifically nerfed the fighter and buffed the wizard, the opposite of what should have been done. Is it any surprise that Paizo is putting out more useless, badly balanced material?

gatherer818 (August 5th, 2010)

Nerfed the fighter? All the new combat feats make the fighter tougher than ever, the only nerf I can think of them getting was the changes to Cleave and Great Cleave.

The fighter in our group only ever fails to out-damage my eidolon and summoner together when there’s lots of charging going on (since I crafted the Eidolon with Pounce to full-attack on a charge, which the fighter can’t do).

And that’s not counting the damage he causes US to do, with Greater Trip and Greater Bull Rush, and all his combat options… (Greater Bull Rush kicks on Shield Slam, by the way - he’s Two-Weapon Fighting with Heavy Blade and Spiked Shield, shield as primary weapon, getting free knockback-that-provokes-opportunity-attacks with every shield hit). His Armor Training and Weapon Training abilities give him the highest AC and damage output of the party…

what game are you playing?

DragonChild (August 7th, 2010)

Certainly not Pathfinder. If you do the math - and if you do the math *as it was when I made that post*, the Eidolon’s DPR was in the 100+ range at level 10, while the fighter’s was in the 40-60 range. 100>40. Now, I don’t know what it’s like now, but it was 100% true that eidolons were amazingly better than fighters when these posts were written.

In addition, the majority of monsters in the monster book past level 10 are immune to tripping. So… saying “Just trip them” is silly. And it takes MORE feats to do the same thing you could do before. Only, in some cases, you flat-out can’t, as an extremely small chance to trip turns into an “immune”.

None of the fighters actual problems were fixed - doing the math, and in playtests, it’s clear they’re still underpowered. “Actual play”, where a DM is trying to keep things balanced, counts for nothing.

Hecknoshow (November 3rd, 2010)

Well the Eidolon was scaled back and a few of the evolution costs were re-worked (see increased) to bring the it more in line. Its HD progression was in relation to the summoner’s level was reduced as well.

As for underpowered fighters, I really am confused, unless you’re only taking damage dealing into account, in which case they do still fall behind at later levels, but buy significantly less than before. Also trip isn’t the only viable combat option.

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