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HyperionSanctum
2011-01-13, 05:50 AM
how does one go about determining the CR of a monster that summons other monsters.
Ex: A Pit Fiend is a CR 20, which sounds all well and good, except it has a 1/day Summon of any Devil CR 19 or lower. Now I've been told a summoned creature can't summon other things even if they normally have the ability to, which is fine. But therein also lies another problem.
Here's my list of questions:

1) A Pit Fiend summons a CR 16 Barbed Devil. Is the Pit Fiend encounter still a CR 20?
1a) Was it a CR 20 before the Summon and is now higher than 20?
1b) was it lower than a CR 20 and is now a CR 20 because it Summoned?
2) It says CR 19 or lower. Obviously a Pit Fiend that summons a CR 10 vs one that summons a CR 16 isn't the same difficulty.
3) Most other Devils, if not all, also have the Summon ability (even though it can't be used) so is the Summoned CR 16 really a 16 if it can't Summon on it's own?


So if the Pit is a CR 20 before, then the Barbed is a 16 before so it's a 20 + 16 situation which is nice and clean and neat
But if the Pit needs a Summon to be a 20, then maybe its an 18 before, which means the Barbed would also have to be say a 14 when summoned, which is an 18+14 (much lower than 20+16)

This massive question also flows over into the character classes. Take Druid for example.
A level 10 Druid has an animal companion and the ability to summon monsters. I assume his effective character level relies on those extra bodies to be there and summoned. Kind of like how a Wizard with expended spell slots is easier to fight against.

Using all this info and basically trying to talk this though with myself, a Pit Fiend is only a 20 when it summons. Which would actually depend on the CR that it summons.

Thurbane
2011-01-13, 05:59 AM
I don't have it at hand, but I'm pretty sure the DMG (?) section on XP (maybe somewhere else) specifically states that you gain no XP for summoned monsters, stating that "the ability to summon creatures is built into the monsters CR" or something similar.

Personally, I think it's a massive cop-out, as it makes the battle significantly harder if the bad guys start summoning in reinforcements.

Karuth
2011-01-13, 06:01 AM
As far as I know the ability to summon monsters does not affect the CR. It is already included in the CR given.

Just as a NPC wizard's CR does not change when he uses summon spells instead of blasting or charming, etc.

Runestar
2011-01-13, 06:02 AM
The cr of the pit fiend already accounts for the 2 horned devils it can summon, assuming you summon them during combat. This means you do not get any extra xp for killing the summons. They are already factored in.

If you had the pit-fiend summon allies prior to the battle, then it is clearly tougher than just a solo pit fiend. However, since summons tend to be more vulnerable (dispel, can be stolen etc), consider awarding 50% normal xp for overcoming them.


A level 10 Druid has an animal companion and the ability to summon monsters. I assume his effective character level relies on those extra bodies to be there and summoned. Kind of like how a Wizard with expended spell slots is easier to fight against.

Not really. The reason why summons don't give xp is basically the same reason why the party doesn't get xp for surviving a fireball thrown by an enemy mage. The druid has to spend a full round summoning a creature. In that same round, he could be blasting them with a flamestrike, or otherwise doing something which damages the party or depletes their resources.

In the end, summoning a t-rex to bite the fighter isn't necessarily any more effective than meteor-swarming the party. Since a caster likely has more spells prepared than he will use in the span of that short combat, expending a slot or 2 on summons shouldn't make him any weaker.

I will quote the FAQ for this, since it answers it better than I ever can.

Do characters receive experience for killing a summoned monster? What about undead created with animate dead or an outsider called with planar ally?

As a general rule, any creature whose presence on the battlefield is a direct result of another creature using one of its special abilities (such as summoning) during the battle doesnít grant XP to characters defeating it. This is because the monster is counted as part of the challenge provided by the summoning monster. A pit fiendís Challenge Rating (and thus the XP reward granted for defeating him) already takes into account the fact that he can summon allies; without that ability, heíd be worth less XP.

However, there are plenty of situations where a DM should make exceptions to this general rule. Any time that a creature can bring an ally into play without reducing the resources it otherwise brings to the fight (or well outside of combat) you should strongly consider awarding XP for defeating that ally.
Letís look at a few examples to see how this might work in play.

Example 1: Over the course of many days, a powerful necromancer stocks his lair with undead created via spells. When the PCs fight the necromancer and these undead minions, the necromancer has his full array of spells, so the act
of creating these undead hasnít reduced the challenge he provides. Thus, the Sage recommends awarding full XP for defeating the undead.

Example 2: The same necromancer is on the run, knowing the PCs arenít far behind. He spends some of his precious daily allotment of spells to animate a few zombies, only minutes before the PCs bust down his door and attack. Thatís a lot more like summoning, since the creation of the undead represents a direct drain on the necromancerís immediately available resources. Still, he doesnít have to spend any rounds of combat casting the spells, so itís not quite the same. The Sage recommends awarding one-half XP for defeating the undead.

Example 3: An evil cleric uses lesser planar ally to call a succubus to serve him as a spy for 7 days, and sends her up against the PCs (without being present himself). The Sage recommends awarding full XP for defeating the succubus. If the PCs then track down and defeat the evil cleric before heís
able to prepare spells again, itís tempting to reduce the XP award for the cleric by a little bit (since heís down one 4th level spell), but itís probably not worth the effort.

When in doubt, err on the side of awarding XP. The DM shouldnít be looking for opportunities to deny the PCs fairly earned XPóif they bested the challenge, they should reap the reward.

TakeABow
2011-01-13, 06:06 AM
Officially, maybe it does not impact CR... but what about realistically? Some ballpark estimates?

Say we believe the CR on Pit Fiend to be correct. If it were to (for some reason) unable to use the summon ability, what would the 'adjusted' CR be?

HyperionSanctum
2011-01-13, 06:08 AM
The cr of the pit fiend already accounts for the 2 horned devils it can summon, assuming you summon them during combat. This means you do not get any extra xp for killing the summons. They are already factored in.

If you had the pit-fiend summon allies prior to the battle, then it is clearly tougher than just a solo pit fiend. However, since summons tend to be more vulnerable (dispel, can be stolen etc), consider awarding 50% normal xp for overcoming them.



Not really. The reason why summons don't give xp is basically the same reason why the party doesn't get xp for surviving a fireball thrown by an enemy mage. The druid has to spend a full round summoning a creature. In that same round, he could be blasting them with a flamestrike, or otherwise doing something which damages the party or depletes their resources.

In the end, summoning a t-rex to bite the fighter isn't necessarily any more effective than meteor-swarming the party. Since a caster likely has more spells prepared than he will use in the span of that short combat, expending a slot or 2 on summons shouldn't make him any weaker.

Don't care about the XP gained... care about the difficulty of the fight.
Disagree that Meteor Swarm = Summons... more bodies to kill is generally harder than taking spell damage, seeing as usually the extra bodies also cast spells/do damage.

Using your logic, a Druid who only uses damaging spells vs a Druid who only summons creatures is a coin flip fight. Sadly that's horribly incorrect. It's much harder to account for multiple attackers than it is one attacker flinging spells at you.

TakeABow
2011-01-13, 06:26 AM
It's much harder to account for multiple attackers than it is one attacker flinging spells at you.

This applies in the situation where it generates action economy.

You lose an entire round summoning the thing (-1)
The next turn you act and so does it (back to +0)
The turn after that you glean an advantage (+1) over simply fighting yourself (provided you and the summon were equal in combat, which is also untrue, as summons are usually weaker than PCs.)

It should be noted, however, that single monsters stand to gain tremendously from summoning an ally, as their fraction of combat actions just increased by a significant fraction, and the PC fraction of combat actions decreased. Summoning extra stuff is extremely powerful because two things attacking with intelligence can synergize and be far more threatening than either could on their own. So the coin has two sides - you lose action economy to make action economy, at a risk and a cost. But you also gain tremendous upside which is the benefit of choosing the right summon (Toolbox) for the situation that compliments the encounter.

But in the end, it is hard to argue that summoning a CR 19 to fight alongside you as a CR20 is worse than most (any?) other options. Meteor Swarm could do a bunch of damage, sure - but unless spending the turn to summon the CR19 that would stop the Pit Fiend from casting Meteor Swarm. it next round (probably not), that effect still also occurs, with the added tactical benefit of an ally also contributing actions to the combat.

Cyrion
2011-01-13, 11:01 AM
My experience is that anything that stops to summon for an entire round is simply dead. If that pit fiend has not summoned before the battle, unless he already has significant allies to distract the party, stopping to summon is a death sentence. The entire party will focus on disrupting that summons, doing a crapload of damage in the process, and the fiend hasn't done accomplished anything that round that significantly disturbs the party's equilibrium.