Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Musings on the Summoner

From the Advanced Player's Guide. Illustration by
Wayne Reynolds
To be perfectly honest, I have always had mixed feelings for the Summoner class. I like the basic idea of having an arcane spellcaster who specializes in a strange pet and summoning other creatures, but I feel like the class we got has a few problems that result in me being incredibly hesitant to allow one into my Pathfinder games.

In my opinion, I think the biggest problem with the Summoner is actually its main feature: the eidolon. Like I mentioned above, I like the idea of an arcane spellcaster that focuses on a "pet". However, I feel like they went down the wrong path by including the eidolon. First, the eidolon mechanics allow a character to create a strange, weird monster that most likely has absolutely no place in the setting at large. Also, I feel like the person who should be creating new monsters is the GM, not the players.

Secondly, the eidolon has a lot more bookkeeping attached to it than a druid's animal companion or a wizard's familiar. Having to juggle an eidolon's evolutions and all those fiddly bits can be really annoying.

I believe the eidolon should be removed entirely from the class and replaced with something more akin to the druid's animal companion. However, instead of choosing an animal, the summoner receives a low-rank outsider as its companion. They could choose to have angels, archons, azatas, demons, devils, and any kind of outsider and can advance in the same way as a druid's animal companion. While there would still be some bookkeeping involved, it wouldn't be as much as with the current eidolons.

The other major change would be to grant it a full spellcasting progression instead of the shortened one they have right now. With the bard, I can understand why it has a shorter spellcasting progression. It's a class that has merely dabbled into the arcane arts. However, the Summoner is someone who has studied for years to be able to make a link with its eidolon and summon it, so I don't see why it shouldn't have a full progression.

Now, I know some people like the Summoner as it is, and I'm fine with that. Everyone is allowed to like whatever they want. These are just my opinions on the class and why I have some problems with it. I'd love to hear other people's thoughts on the class.