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Deepbluediver
2013-05-31, 01:24 PM
This is a few changes and some clarification for summoning and controlling magical creatures. Its a few minor things that I've sort-of lumped together, partially aimed at balance issues, partially just for feedback. Feel free to PEACH any or all of it.
My ideal balance point for homebrew is tier 3. Obviously I can't alter entire classes with changes to just a few spells, but that's what I've got on the brain when I work on stuff like this.


Summoning Spells
This includes spells like Summon Monster, Summon Nature's Ally, Summon Swarm, but not spells like Gate (which is in the Calling subschool).

When learning this spells, rather than ganing access to the entire list of creatures named in the SRD, you select one creature which you have learned to summon. In essence, Summon Monster I becomes Summon Monster I- Celestial Owl version. You can learn the spell more than once, but each version must be prepared seperately, or counts as a different spell known for spontaneous casters. Summoning spells cannot be used to summon an increased number of creatures from a lower-level summoning spell.
The the duration of these spells is increased to 1 minute/level.


Controlling Creatures
Creatures created in this manner are essentially mindless quasi-magical constructs, which are physically indentical to whatever creature they mimic, except that they have no desires, motivations, or even instincts of their own. They are simply puppets under control of the summoner, and in combat, these creatures act on your turn, and only as you direct them. They must be directed to attack or move each turn; they will not even defend themselves without a direct command.

You may give one creature basic combat orders as a Move-equivalent action, 2 creatures as a Standard action, and 3 creatures as a Full-round action.
Out of combat, you may command a summoned creature to perform any action you direct that it is capable of, though this requires your full concentration. You also cannot give orders to creatures outside of the original spell's range.

Crafted creatures such as golems, or mind-controlled creatures such as those under the effect of a Dominate Monster spell may be ordered to carry out one action until they are directed to stop, and they will defend themselves as normal if attacked. Changing orders or giving new ones, however, falls under the same rules as above.


Feats

Augment Summoning [Metamagic]
Benefit
Each creature you conjure with any summon spell gains a boost to it's HD, Strength & Dexterity Scores, and the save DCs for any Extraordinary, Spell-like or Supernatural abilities for the duration of the spell that summoned it. In addition, you may direct augmented creatures with a swift action, and the range for giving orders is increased to Long.
An augmented spell uses up a spell slot two levels higher than the spellís actual level.



Caster-Level
HD, Ability, & DC Increase


1-4

+1


5-8

+2


9-12

+3


13-16

+4


17-20

+5


21+

+6



Proliferate Summoning [Metamagic]
Benefit
Whenever you conjure any creature with a summon spell, you instead summon 1d3+1 of that creature instead.
A proliferated spell uses up a spell slot two levels higher than the spellís actual level.

Milo v3
2013-05-31, 08:09 PM
You wrote SL rather than Sp as part of the Augment Summoning Feat, but other than that this looks fine.

Beheld
2013-06-01, 01:00 AM
No one in the history of the world has ever complained that it is unfair for Sorcerers to be able to actually use Summons at all. I mean, seriously, Summon Monster is not too powerful for Sorcerers. It isn't even powerful, all you did was guarantee that no one ever takes it.

These changes to do not fit with your description of "minor tweaks for balance."

I mean seriously, could you imagine actually wasting spells known of summoning a single monster from the Summon Monster list?

Der_DWSage
2013-06-01, 01:37 AM
Hoo boy. Where to start with this. Let's see, starting from the top...


Summoning Spells
This includes spells like Summon Monster, Summon Nature's Ally, Summon Swarm, but not spells like Gate (which is in the Calling subschool).
While duly noted, the calling subschool actually requires even more knowledge of the [Religion] or [Planes] type than typical summoning. I'm not sure why you'd leave that out.

Additionally, keeping Summon Nature's Ally under there does nothing, as Druids have access to their whole list.


When learning this spells, rather than gaining access to the entire list of creatures named in the SRD, you select one creature which you have learned to summon. In essence, Summon Monster I becomes Summon Monster I- Celestial Owl version. You can learn the spell more than once, but each version must be prepared seperately, or counts as a different spell known for spontaneous casters.
The the duration of these spells is increased to 1 minute/level.

This is the part where everyone's going to hate you. Why are you limiting Sorcerers this way? Was it so bad that they had options? And Wizards, who will have to prepare a different spell slot for each type? I think you're going to have to give some reasoning beyond 'it's for balance! Honest!' here.

If you're still wanting to limit them, at least make it something desirable. Say, an archetype like Pathfinder's Summoner class, where you have a bipedal, quadripedal, flying, crawling, and/or mystic type of summon that has X points to put into their class features. Like a version of the UA Generic Fighter, only toned down.



Controlling Creatures*Snip*
You may give one creature basic combat orders as a Standard action, 2 creatures as a Full-round action.
Out of combat, you may command a summoned creature to perform any action you direct that it is capable of, though this requires your full concentration. You also cannot give orders to creatures outside of the original spell's range.
I'm a bit on the fence with this one. On the one hand-if you're saying you only have to direct them once, and they persist until ordered again-then this is reasonable, seeing as how they're mere constructs.

Otherwise, it's just an unnecessary feat tax for augmented summons. At least make it a move action to only give orders to one of them, while making it a full-round action to order all of them, complete with concentration check if you're wounded during your turn.

Incidentally, under your rules, are you no longer allowed to summon 1d4+1 creatures? I see nothing for giving orders to more than two creatures, even under Augmented summoning. You may want to clarify this.


Feats

Augment Summoning [Metamagic]
Benefit
Each creature you conjure with any summon spell gains a boost to it's HD, Strength & Dexterity Scores, and the save DCs for any Extraordinary, SL or SU abilities for the duration of the spell that summoned it. In addition, you may direct augmented creatures with a swift action, and the range for giving orders is increased to Long.
An augmented spell uses up a spell slot three levels higher than the spellís actual level.

{table]Original Spell Level|HD, Ability & DC Increase

1st|
+1

2nd|
+2

3rd|
+2

4th|
+3

5th|
+3

6th|
+4

7th|
+4

8th|
+5

9th|
+5[/table]

Dear lord, three spell levels higher? That's a bit much. And no Wizard is going to want to summon a single, swiftly controlled Celestial 2HD Dog over a 5HD Celestial Lion. I'd say tone it down to +2 levels, or make it two separate feats-one for good control at +1 level, the other for increased HD/stats/etc at +1/+2.

My two cents? It's a decent idea, but you're going a little far into the nerf categories. Dial it back a bit. Taking a full-round action to control more than one is a good idea to my eyes, but giving up your precious standard actions to become a less effective fighter is...not so great.

Fizban
2013-06-01, 08:29 AM
Yeah, no one will ever take these. Summoning was already a weaker/more difficult option depending on how much you focused on it, and this makes it useless. You do realize that there are already summon spells that require concentration which are vastly more powerful than the basic summon monster line? And these still aren't considered very good, or at least I've never heard them mentioned in an optimization-off. A 1 min/level duration doesn't matter when you have to concentrate to make use of it, and the whole point of a summon is that it acts independently without having to concentrate. If I wanted to concentrate to make my magic attack, I'd use Flaming Sphere/Defenestrating Sphere/Ball Lightning, none of which require normal attacks at set bonuses to hit. A feat to increase your summon's hit dice is interesting, I've actually seen something similar before that was quite the tradeoff and I liked it. Charging +3 levels is an insult and is pretty much always worse than getting the higher tier creature, except of course for removing the restriction that you just put in-rather like the Ectopic Adept, allowing you to have two astral constructs when you didn't have a limit until Complete Psionic. The only use is if you very specifically need your piloted magical attack drone to last 10 minutes instead of 1 or 2 and your targets are soft enough to go down as easily as if you used real magic.

Harsh? Probably, but not as harsh as those nerfs. What ever happened to make you think summoning was so unbalanced? I'm honestly curious. On while we're on it, why remove all the fluff and make them into non-creatures? The only thing can think of is a squeamishness at the idea of having a good character forcing other creatures to fight for them, which can be refluffed much better than just making summons into not summons.

Deepbluediver
2013-06-01, 08:51 AM
You wrote SL rather than Sp as part of the Augment Summoning Feat, but other than that this looks fine.

Sorry, I was thinking Spell-Like ability. I've corrected it by just typing everything out in full. Thanks. :smallsmile:


No one in the history of the world has ever complained that it is unfair for Sorcerers to be able to actually use Summons at all.


I'm not trying to pick on the sorcerer, but he's still a Tier 2 class. And I haven't taken anything away; he just needs to be a little more careful in the selection of certain spells. The vast majority of spells on the Sorc/Wiz list are single-use. Why is it so wrong for Summoning spells to be the same way?


These changes to do not fit with your description of "minor tweaks for balance".

You're probably right. It started out that way, and as I kept typing there was more and more stuff I wanted to add. Sorry for being misleading.


I mean seriously, could you imagine actually wasting spells known of summoning a single monster from the Summon Monster list?

Yes. :smallconfused: What would you take instead?
It's still a spell you can use any time you want that gets you a scout, a meatshield, or another pair of hands, and it's absolutely, unceasingly loyal to you. If it gets to the point where it's no longer useful, trade it out for a higher-level version when you level up.


While duly noted, the calling subschool actually requires even more knowledge of the [Religion] or [Planes] type than typical summoning. I'm not sure why you'd leave that out.

The idea was that summon'd creatures are not really creatures but magical constructs that just ACT like creatures. Called entities are actually real creatures with their own goals, ambitions, and motivations, and can't really be controlled like this unless they are mind-controlled. Otherwise they need to be bribed or threatened, and then they'll still carry out the deal in whatever way they think best that doesn't get them killed


Additionally, keeping Summon Nature's Ally under there does nothing, as Druids have access to their whole list.

You're right, I'd forgotten about that and was confusing different homebrew again.

I can see what the original writers where going for by giving druids and clerics access to an entire list, but with the addition of more core-class spells in every splatbook I think its gotten a little out of hand, and I'd like to see druids be more like wizards or sorcerers in terms of what spells they know and can use at any given moment.


This is the part where everyone's going to hate you. Why are you limiting Sorcerers this way? Was it so bad that they had options? And Wizards, who will have to prepare a different spell slot for each type? I think you're going to have to give some reasoning beyond 'it's for balance! Honest!' here.

No one likes a nerf, I can understand that, but what about this ISN'T balanced?
Conjuration is really REALLY [flipping] powerful school, and summoning creatures is a pretty good tactic. As it stands, Summon Monster isn't one spell, it's a dozen. If I load up on fire-spells, and then run into a red dragon or fire elementals, I'm [stuff] out of luck. But one Summon Monster spell lets me shift tactics on the fly.

Psionics did some of the blasting-spells a little better by letting you pick and choose which energy type, but something like that for arcane magic was outside the scope of this thread.


If you're still wanting to limit them, at least make it something desirable. Say, an archetype like Pathfinder's Summoner class, where you have a bipedal, quadripedal, flying, crawling, and/or mystic type of summon that has X points to put into their class features. Like a version of the UA Generic Fighter, only toned down.

I'll have to think about that.


I'm a bit on the fence with this one. On the one hand-if you're saying you only have to direct them once, and they persist until ordered again-then this is reasonable, seeing as how they're mere constructs.

No, I was saying you actually need to keep giving it orders every turn to get it to keep acting. The idea is that you are already multiplying your effective actions, without needing to endanger yourself in the slightest. This requires you to keep focused; although I might add in an exception for just having them "follow" you.


Otherwise, it's just an unnecessary feat tax for augmented summons. At least make it a move action to only give orders to one of them, while making it a full-round action to order all of them, complete with concentration check if you're wounded during your turn.

Ok, I can do that. I'll adjust it so it's "control 1 creature as a move action, 2 as a standard action, and 3 as a full-round action".


Incidentally, under your rules, are you no longer allowed to summon 1d4+1 creatures? I see nothing for giving orders to more than two creatures, even under Augmented summoning. You may want to clarify this.

I hadn't really thought about that, but I think I would say you are correct. I will clarify this above.

To me, the "summon creatures from other spells" bit seems to be saying that the entirety of the Summon Monster line is in fact one really wide-ranging Uber-spell. Which doesn't seem to make sense or be balanced in any way.


Dear lord, three spell levels higher? That's a bit much. And no Wizard is going to want to summon a single, swiftly controlled Celestial 2HD Dog over a 5HD Celestial Lion. I'd say tone it down to +2 levels, or make it two separate feats-one for good control at +1 level, the other for increased HD/stats/etc at +1/+2.

I'm not an expert on metamagic; I wanted to err on the side of caution. For now I'll drop it to +2 while I work on ideas to split it up. One issue is how would I mix and match the controlling of augmented and non-augmented creatures. Letting all augmented summons be controlled via a single swift action seems a little much, especially with the easy availability of meta-magic reducers (full-disclosure, I'm torn between the very creative things people can do to stack metamagic reducers, and the fact that it's so easy to [frell] up balance with them).


My two cents? It's a decent idea, but you're going a little far into the nerf categories. Dial it back a bit. Taking a full-round action to control more than one is a good idea to my eyes, but giving up your precious standard actions to become a less effective fighter is...not so great.

Thank you for the feedback. I've made a few adjustments and I'll keep thinking on what you've said. I've also added a line to my introduction to clarify the sort of result I had in mind when designing these.

Deepbluediver
2013-06-01, 09:23 AM
Yeah, no one will ever take these. Summoning was already a weaker/more difficult option depending on how much you focused on it, and this makes it useless. You do realize that there are already summon spells that require concentration which are vastly more powerful than the basic summon monster line?
My original post started out small, and quickly grew to moderate size. I have a full-magic fix thread; want to guess how many posts that required? I can't hit everything all at once.
Tell me what you're thinking of specifically I'll tell you how I would change them to keep them in line with these fixes.


And these still aren't considered very good, or at least I've never heard them mentioned in an optimization-off. A 1 min/level duration doesn't matter when you have to concentrate to make use of it, and the whole point of a summon is that it acts independently without having to concentrate. If I wanted to concentrate to make my magic attack, I'd use Flaming Sphere/Defenestrating Sphere/Ball Lightning, none of which require normal attacks at set bonuses to hit.

The problem is, as it stands you can summon monsters, send them to attack, and then STILL use all those other concentration-based spells. How is that balanced?


A feat to increase your summon's hit dice is interesting, I've actually seen something similar before that was quite the tradeoff and I liked it.

I was trying to cover all the bases for an kind of summon- health, melee attack power and accuracy, save DC.


Charging +3 levels is an insult and is pretty much always worse than getting the higher tier creature, except of course for removing the restriction that you just put in-rather like the Ectopic Adept, allowing you to have two astral constructs when you didn't have a limit until Complete Psionic. The only use is if you very specifically need your piloted magical attack drone to last 10 minutes instead of 1 or 2 and your targets are soft enough to go down as easily as if you used real magic.

I'd have made it less except for the prevalence of metamagic reducers. If I was using a full-on magic fix where they weren't stackable or where harder to find, it could certainly be less. I've reduced it to +2 at the suggestion of other posters.


Harsh? Probably, but not as harsh as those nerfs.

Oh god! Some one is being critical of me on the internet! Make it stop MAKE IT STOP!!!

/melodrama :smallamused:

I wouldn't post here if I didn't think I could take it. Be as harsh as you feel you need to be to get your point across.


What ever happened to make you think summoning was so unbalanced? I'm honestly curious.

Discussions about optimization and balance, my own attempts at homebrew, and my own gameplay experience.

I'm more of a role-player than min-maxer by nature, and most of my groups where not big optimizers. The most munchkin-y I ever got was playing a Conjuration-specialized grey elf Wizard; I thought this was quite clever of me (it was a while ago, before I discovered D&D forums). While the rest of my group got reasonably roughed up, I made it through the entire dungeon without taking a single point of damage.
(It wasn't a particularly hard or easy dungeon crawl, everything was pretty much average in fact; that was how our group rolled. Except for the fact that I walked out just as pretty as when I went in.)

Its not like I'm saying summoning spells are the only unbalanced thing in the game; its just the thing that THIS thread is focused on. Let me turn the question back around- What is the balancing factor for being able to summon and control multiple creatures instead just one (i.e. the one creature that is other PC's)?


On while we're on it, why remove all the fluff and make them into non-creatures? The only thing can think of is a squeamishness at the idea of having a good character forcing other creatures to fight for them, which can be refluffed much better than just making summons into not summons.

Because honestly, I can't see any real good reason for keeping them as actual creatures except for the ability to act independently, which is what I explicitly wanted to get rid of.
If you want something that acts on it's own, that's what calling-subschool spells are for. The tradeoff for an enhanced creature is (or should be) that there is an added cost or a chance that the creature won't obey you.

How would you prefer to refluff it?

DracoDei
2013-06-01, 01:44 PM
I have HEARD (OK, in one "de-motivator" poster), that low level summoning is weak for its level, and high level summoning powerful for its level.

The balancing factor for Summoning is the full-round casting time. More time to be interrupted, and you are giving up time NOW, for more effectiveness later. Generally the earlier a round is in a fight, the more important it is.

Of course, if you can manage to get control of the tempo of a fight (casting spells before kicking down a door to where you know there will be a fight before the duration runs out), then that negates those disadvantages, but GENERALLY I would call that "rewarding good tactics".

A sorcerer/wizard not getting damaged is actually not that unexpected to me. They sometimes aren't, because they can't afford to get hit much, so measures are taken by the party to make sure they aren't. Sometimes those measures work slightly better than average, and "only hit rarely" turns into "didn't get hit at all" for a while.

Also, until higher levels, I can't see RAW summons as being much good as scouts. In the original 1/round per level, they don't stick around long enough to both scout and give a meaningful report... and that is assuming you have some way to understand what they are saying. Which, COULD just be taking Celestial/Abyssal/Infernal as a bonus language, but you have to use something of a decent spell level before that kicks in, and even then they aren't usually very stealthy (unless I am forgetting something?).

Beheld
2013-06-01, 02:20 PM
I'm not trying to pick on the sorcerer, but he's still a Tier 2 class. And I haven't taken anything away; he just needs to be a little more careful in the selection of certain spells. The vast majority of spells on the Sorc/Wiz list are single-use. Why is it so wrong for Summoning spells to be the same way?

It is wrong because Summon spells are already very weak, and by taking away the one good quality for a Sorcerer, the ability to possibly address different situations with a single spell known, they become effectively worthless.

The reason that most spells are single use is because that single use is better than summoning a single monster.

I am not complaining that you unfairly nerfed the Sorcerer, I am complaining that your rules guarantee that no Sorcerer will ever cast or learn a summon spell ever for any reason.

You're probably right. It started out that way, and as I kept typing there was more and more stuff I wanted to add. Sorry for being misleading.


Yes. :smallconfused: What would you take instead?

Well at level 1 I would take Sleep, Color Spray, Silent Image, Grease, Wall of Smoke, Identify, Protection from X, Cause Fear, Blockade, Obscuring Mist, Enlarge Person, Reduce Person, and Ray of Clumsiness.
At level 2 I would take Glitterdust, Web, See Invis, Mirror Image, Invisibility, Shatter, Alter Self, Resist Energy, Wings of Cover, Cloud of Bewilderment, Ray of Stupidity, Kelgore's Grave Mist, Chain of Eyes, Create Magic Tattoo, and Fog Cloud.
At level 3 I would take Ray of Exhaustion, Wind Wall, Stinking Cloud, Slow, Haste, Deep Slumber, Icelance, Warcry, Bands of Steel, Ray of Dizziness, Arcane Sight, Mass Resist Energy, Dispel Magic, Magic Circle Against X, Manyjaws, Blacklight, Heroism, Fly, and Sense of the Dragon.

Do you want me to go on to level 4? That is just the list of good spells that are worth knowing, not even including the bad spells that still aren't as bad as Summon single monster.


It's still a spell you can use any time you want that gets you a scout, a meatshield, or another pair of hands, and it's absolutely, unceasingly loyal to you. If it gets to the point where it's no longer useful, trade it out for a higher-level version when you level up.

It will never be useful in the first place. Summon Single Monster does not give you those things. Summon Monster gives you a choice of creatures because some of them are okay scouts and some of them are okay meatshields, but those don't overlap. If you get Summon single monster, you only get one, and it can't do both.

Look at Summon Monster III. If I had to choose a monster off that list it would probably be either Earth Elemental or Dretch. The Earth Elemental has 11 HP, and you are a level 5 character summoning it. That is not a meatshield. I would choose it anyway to scout with Earthglide, but I'm not sure that is better than the level 2 spell Chain of Eyes and some rats, or Invisibility.

The Dretch has 13 Hp and can cast Stinking Cloud and Greater Teleport (Self Only). So I can use him to deliver messages and cast Stinking Cloud in combat by using a Full Round Action and a Standard action.

Or I can learn Stinking Cloud myself, cast it as a Standard Action with a much higher save DC, and then use the first level spell Animal Messenger instead.

Fizban
2013-06-02, 06:14 AM
The problem is, as it stands you can summon monsters, send them to attack, and then STILL use all those other concentration-based spells. How is that balanced?
There are already plenty of spells that keep working without concentration. Spiritual Weapon is the lowest level core "floating weapon" spell and isn't very impressive, but it also can't be attacked back or stopped short of getting out of range. Really, any spell that lasts multiple rounds is unbalanced by that description. Haste gives all those attacks without you doing anything, glitterdust keeps giving them a penalty without you doing anything, web holds them in place while you do whatever you want, stinking cloud forces more saves even if they make the first one, Wall of Fire (or something more interesting like Vortex of Teeth) hits a whole area every round. Sensing buff spells like Darkvision or Arcane Sight give you free info every round without actions or waiting for a scout to return. The default for any spell with a duration is that it works without further input and only the most powerful require concentration.

I'd have made it less except for the prevalence of metamagic reducers.
Ah, good sense being cautious then. My response is always to restrict the metamagic reducers, since they're the open ended effect that's throwing off other stuff rather than a self contained feat (metamagic was never written to be reduced or it'd be in the PHB).

Oh god! Some one is being critical of me on the internet! Make it stop MAKE IT STOP!!!
I wouldn't post here if I didn't think I could take it. Be as harsh as you feel you need to be to get your point across.
Glad to hear it, snark is always so volatile :smallwink:

playing a Conjuration-specialized grey elf
Presumably you made use of some summoning spells then or you wouldn't be counting it as experience, but the biggest problem in conjuration are all the save or lose (glitterdust, web, stinking cloud) and stealing from every other school. Like Draco said, it's not surprising for a caster to take no damage. In my experience it's either avoid all damage or spend the entire fight unconscious, so naturally any time you did anything interesting you'd have taken no damage. Was it really summon spells that won the day, or was it the big three above that I loathe so?

How would you prefer to refluff it?
For summoning an extraplanar creature and having to order it every round? The summoning process is weak and unrefined, that's why you can do it at 1st level while calling is much more difficult. As a result, the summoned creature leaves a lot of it's essence on it's home plane, barely able to keep it's focus for more than a few seconds before drifting into a blank haze. In order to get one to do anything you must bolster the connection and issue orders constantly, and when the spell ends the creature snaps back to it's own plane regardless of any local effects (already part of the main rules).

Deepbluediver
2013-06-02, 05:18 PM
The balancing factor for Summoning is the full-round casting time. More time to be interrupted, and you are giving up time NOW, for more effectiveness later. Generally the earlier a round is in a fight, the more important it is.

Of course, if you can manage to get control of the tempo of a fight (casting spells before kicking down a door to where you know there will be a fight before the duration runs out), then that negates those disadvantages, but GENERALLY I would call that "rewarding good tactics".

Part of the increased duration is that they've gotten a lot easier to use like other buff spells, IMO, so I'd say the sort of thing you're talking about seems to fit perfectly.


Also, until higher levels, I can't see RAW summons as being much good as scouts. In the original 1/round per level, they don't stick around long enough to both scout and give a meaningful report... and that is assuming you have some way to understand what they are saying.

Again, that's a big part of the reason I changed the duration to 1 min/level. And I have used them for tactics like that. In the situation I mentioned above, I took all the elemental languages as bonus languages (Ignan, Auran, etc) and relied on even my short-lived elementals to give me lots of feedback or so that I could give them more complicated orders.


I am not complaining that you unfairly nerfed the Sorcerer, I am complaining that your rules guarantee that no Sorcerer will ever cast or learn a summon spell ever for any reason.

I'm not sure I agree with that, but it's mostly a matter of opinion on both are parts, I think.
Sure, some one will always make a list of "most powerful" spells, but if Summon Monster doesn't make that list I see it in the same category as Fireball- usefull but not broken. And players might still want a Summoned minion for a specific purpose that makes it worth it to them.


Well at level 1 I would take Sleep, Color Spray, Silent Image, Grease, Wall of Smoke, Identify, Protection from X, Cause Fear, Blockade, Obscuring Mist, Enlarge Person, Reduce Person, and Ray of Clumsiness.
At level 2 I would take Glitterdust, Web, See Invis, Mirror Image, Invisibility, Shatter, Alter Self, Resist Energy, Wings of Cover, Cloud of Bewilderment, Ray of Stupidity, Kelgore's Grave Mist, Chain of Eyes, Create Magic Tattoo, and Fog Cloud.
At level 3 I would take Ray of Exhaustion, Wind Wall, Stinking Cloud, Slow, Haste, Deep Slumber, Icelance, Warcry, Bands of Steel, Ray of Dizziness, Arcane Sight, Mass Resist Energy, Dispel Magic, Magic Circle Against X, Manyjaws, Blacklight, Heroism, Fly, and Sense of the Dragon.

Do you want me to go on to level 4? That is just the list of good spells that are worth knowing, not even including the bad spells that still aren't as bad as Summon single monster.

That was a poor way to ask the question, I guess. Let me try again. With all those other spells you've named would Summon monster have been on that list before the changes I suggested?

And what, if anything, would you want in a Summon Monster spell to bring it up to the same level as those others? What would be your evaluation of different combinations of changes, such as keeping the "concentration" requirement but going back to the "summon anything" version? What if we kept the "one creature only" change but allowed you to direct the creatures with free actions?


It will never be useful in the first place. Summon Single Monster does not give you those things. Summon Monster gives you a choice of creatures because some of them are okay scouts and some of them are okay meatshields, but those don't overlap. If you get Summon single monster, you only get one, and it can't do both.

Look at Summon Monster III. If I had to choose a monster off that list it would probably be either Earth Elemental or Dretch. The Earth Elemental has 11 HP, and you are a level 5 character summoning it. That is not a meatshield. I would choose it anyway to scout with Earthglide, but I'm not sure that is better than the level 2 spell Chain of Eyes and some rats, or Invisibility.

The Dretch has 13 Hp and can cast Stinking Cloud and Greater Teleport (Self Only). So I can use him to deliver messages and cast Stinking Cloud in combat by using a Full Round Action and a Standard action.

Or I can learn Stinking Cloud myself, cast it as a Standard Action with a much higher save DC, and then use the first level spell Animal Messenger instead.

Again, I disagree. You're right that I probably wouldn't pick the elemental for a meatshield, but if that's what I wanted I'd go with the Celestial Bison, which has 37 HP and thanks to it's HD and template- Damage Reduction.

You've also got creatures like the Hippogriff, Hellhound and Dretch, which can provide flying mounts and repeated-use SLA's, respectively.
Perhaps the spell has lost some of it's combat versatility, but I think its gained an equal amount of utility use for a clever player.

Also, since you like pointing out how limited in spells known a Sorcerer is, Animal Messenger + Stinking Cloud is two spells to the Summon Dretch's one.


There are already plenty of spells that keep working without concentration. *snip*

In my experience, they've seemed more limited in application though. And I agree that there are plenty of other spells out there that need tweaking as well, but I can't cover everything in one thread.

Also, very few other spells can multiply your effective actions in the way that summons can, and those that do (Time Stop, et al) are frequently cited as the most broken, or at the very least the most likely to cause problems.


Presumably you made use of some summoning spells then or you wouldn't be counting it as experience, but the biggest problem in conjuration are all the save or lose (glitterdust, web, stinking cloud) and stealing from every other school. Like Draco said, it's not surprising for a caster to take no damage. In my experience it's either avoid all damage or spend the entire fight unconscious, so naturally any time you did anything interesting you'd have taken no damage. Was it really summon spells that won the day, or was it the big three above that I loathe so?

The summon spells, actually. I don't even think the others where on my list, but it's been a little while and I don't recall all the details. I didn't lay it all out the first time but as I mentioned above, my high Intellect allowed me to take a bunch of bonus languages, and effectively command my minions to swarm and flank the enemy, set off traps, help us around obstacles and keep from being ambushed.

Now, I fully admit that the spell schools are badly defined and some individual spells are poorly balanced. I've got another thread where I suggested changes; give me a little while and I'll post a link.


The summoning process is weak and unrefined, that's why you can do it at 1st level while calling is much more difficult. As a result, the summoned creature leaves a lot of it's essence on it's home plane, barely able to keep it's focus for more than a few seconds before drifting into a blank haze. In order to get one to do anything you must bolster the connection and issue orders constantly, and when the spell ends the creature snaps back to it's own plane regardless of any local effects (already part of the main rules).

That seems very similar in effect to what I was going for. I have no objections and I've always said fluff was mutable; if you prefer it this way then go ahead.

Beheld
2013-06-02, 06:04 PM
Sure, some one will always make a list of "most powerful" spells, but if Summon Monster doesn't make that list I see it in the same category as Fireball- usefull but not broken. And players might still want a Summoned minion for a specific purpose that makes it worth it to them.

The issue is not that it is not one of the most powerful spells. The issue is that it is not a spell worth casting at all. It does not contribute towards facing level appropriate challenges.

If you made a level 6 Sorcerer who had summon single monster as his level 3 spell he would be an idiot to ever cast it instead of glitterdust from that slot.


That was a poor way to ask the question, I guess. Let me try again. With all those other spells you've named would Summon monster have been on that list before the changes I suggested?

Summon Monster without your changes fits on the list somewhere. It is not as powerful in combat as some of the most powerful combat spells. It is not as useful as the best utility spells. But by being 5th best at several things it is justifiable as a spell known for Sorcerers who don't have a lot of spells known to work with.


And what, if anything, would you want in a Summon Monster spell to bring it up to the same level as those others?

It needs to either be as good at the one thing it does as those spells or be worse but at least useful at a lot of things.


such as keeping the "concentration" requirement but going back to the "summon anything" version?

Then you have a spell that is absolutely useless in combat, but at least provides varied utility. You should probably rewrite the monster list to account for the fact that it can't do anything in combat.


kept the "one creature only" change but allowed you to direct the creatures with free actions?

Then it would be 90% identical to current Summon Monster, and therefore relatively decent.


Again, I disagree. You're right that I probably wouldn't pick the elemental for a meatshield, but if that's what I wanted I'd go with the Celestial Bison, which has 37 HP and thanks to it's HD and template- Damage Reduction.

This is my point. You said, falsely, that Summon Single Monster still gave you a scout and meatshield and, uuggghh, "another pair of hands."

And this is my point. Summon Single Monster can give you a Meatshield, or it can give you a Scout, but it can't give you both. (It also can't give you a meatshield if you have to concentrate, but that is a different problem).


Perhaps the spell has lost some of it's combat versatility, but I think its gained an equal amount of utility use for a clever player.

No it hasn't. It has lost utility. There is nothing about being able to Summon a Dretch that you have to concentrate to maintain that is more useful than being able to summon your choice of Dretch, Air Elemental, Earth Elemental, or Hippogriff that you don't have to concentrate to maintain.


Also, since you like pointing out how limited in spells known a Sorcerer is, Animal Messenger + Stinking Cloud is two spells to the Summon Dretch's one.

Stinking Cloud cast by a dretch is mostly useless. DC 14 save is not worth much when Stinking Cloud cast by the Sorcerer starts at DC 18 and scales with him. The point of including Animal Messenger is to show that if the best thing you are getting from your third level slot is a message delivered you are wasting that slot.


Also, very few other spells can multiply your effective actions in the way that summons can, and those that do (Time Stop, et al) are frequently cited as the most broken, or at the very least the most likely to cause problems.

And yet, Summon Spells never are. Because they don't multiply your actions. They give you a crappy monster that doesn't fight very well and if you are lucky wastes a round of time from your enemies attacking it when they should have just ignored it.

TuggyNE
2013-06-02, 09:13 PM
No it hasn't. It has lost utility. There is nothing about being able to Summon a Dretch that you have to concentrate to maintain that is more useful than being able to summon your choice of Dretch, Air Elemental, Earth Elemental, or Hippogriff that you don't have to concentrate to maintain.

I think his point was that 1 min/level is more useful out of combat than 1rd/level, which is certainly true; I'm not sure if it actually makes up for the loss of flexibility when casting, although it might. Maybe.

Deepbluediver
2013-06-02, 11:04 PM
Rearranging your post to reply to things in a certain order.

This is my point. You said, falsely, that Summon Single Monster still gave you a scout and meatshield and, uuggghh, "another pair of hands."


No, I did not. I specifically used the word "or".
And that was my original goal; you learn a spell that gives you in a combat-creature, or a spell that can be used for scouting, or whatever else you can come up with for your creature to do. But you don't get one spell that gives you everything.

If you're dissatisfied with the creatures, then there should be a better way of fixing things than just piling more sub-par samples onto the spell. If what you are saying is true, then the lists of creatures of full of things you'd never want to summon anyway.


(It also can't give you a meatshield if you have to concentrate, but that is a different problem).

I reduced controlling a single creature to a move-action, so you can still cast any Standard-Round spells while directing any single creature as much as you want.


No it hasn't. It has lost utility. There is nothing about being able to Summon a Dretch that you have to concentrate to maintain that is more useful than being able to summon your choice of Dretch, Air Elemental, Earth Elemental, or Hippogriff that you don't have to concentrate to maintain.


I think his point was that 1 min/level is more useful out of combat than 1rd/level, which is certainly true; I'm not sure if it actually makes up for the loss of flexibility when casting, although it might. Maybe.

Yes, that was my intent. During the handful of times I've used lots of summoning spells or the equivalent, there where relatively few combat situations that could have benefitted from being able to pick different creatures more than simply spamming the same thing repeatedly, and quite a few situations where I wished I didn't have to burn through multiple uses of the spell in a few minutes to accomplish different tasks (disarming traps, distracting enemies, rigging traps, scouting, etc).


Summon Monster without your changes fits on the list somewhere. It is not as powerful in combat as some of the most powerful combat spells. It is not as useful as the best utility spells. But by being 5th best at several things it is justifiable as a spell known for Sorcerers who don't have a lot of spells known to work with.
....
It needs to either be as good at the one thing it does as those spells or be worse but at least useful at a lot of things.
....
Then you have a spell that is absolutely useless in combat, but at least provides varied utility. You should probably rewrite the monster list to account for the fact that it can't do anything in combat.
....
Then it would be 90% identical to current Summon Monster, and therefore relatively decent.

As I said, I like the increased duration because I think it opens up a lot more options for the spell than just combat. And I like having to manipulate the creatures manual because then it feels like I'm actually controlling something, instead of just using another fire-and-forget spell.

But I do want the spell to be attractive as an option, so I'm willing to meet you halfway on this. What if we changed up the creature lists so that your single summon had a more meaningful impact on the game?

The simplest thing I can think of is to reduce all different versions by 1 or more spell levels, so the creatures where (relatively) more powerful. The list of creatures from Summon Monster III (SM3) gets pushed to SM2. SM9 becomes the new SM8, etc. SM1 can either become SM0 or just be scrapped entirely. And then we come up with a new list or creatures for the highest level version.

If that wasn't satisfactory, then I can put some thought into it and try to come up some alternative options that where either stronger in combat or more versatile out of it. If this route sounds more appealing to you, then please give me some example of things that might be level-appropriate summons, since we obviously have different opinions on the matter. For example, Hydras come in lots of different varieties; where might something like that fit on our potential list?

Fizban
2013-06-02, 11:37 PM
Okay, I think I get it now. So it sounds like the problems you had were 1: spamming summons gave so many actions in combat they seemed overpowered, and 2: trying to use summons for utility outside of combat was difficult because of the short duration. I'd expect your foes were pretty weak if 1 was a problem (do you remember what you were fighting?), and 2 is kind of the point since disposable minions can invalidate a lot of stuff. Even if I don't agree that it needs to be a longer duration/less combat ready spell, those two should balance out well enough changing what the spell is for. Still not quite sure why you thought having multiple options needed to go away, but that's really seeming to be the issue here.

Standard summon monster is one of the ultimate utility spells: you can choose from an array of creatures with different movement modes, senses, and abilities to go do something for you. You can even bring up a whole bunch if you need more than one whatever. If you want something to fight, you can pick the perfect option right at casting, and even though it's not very strong it will at least be perfectly suited to what you need it to do. Using the normal lists and then restricting them to one creature means the spell is no longer choosing the best tool for the job, and instead is just a roundabout way of doing something you could have accomplished better with a different spell (why use a meatshield spell when I could make a wall, why use attack rolls when I could use a Sphere or Vortex, etc). Compared to a standard summon there should always be another spell at the same level that will do the job better. One takes summon monster, like shadow evocation, because they want maximum on the spot versatility (really, if you want to proxy fight then get an animal companion).

Basically if you want to have summon spells that summon only one type of creature, you've got to write a new list for them specifically and compare each individual option to other spells of it's level. You really can't use the same list as a spell that assumes you have the full choice at time of casting, and just shifting the levels around isn't going to cut it.

Deepbluediver
2013-06-03, 10:22 AM
Okay, I think I get it now. So it sounds like the problems you had were 1: spamming summons gave so many actions in combat they seemed overpowered, and 2: trying to use summons for utility outside of combat was difficult because of the short duration.

Yes and yes.
When I could flood the battlefield with 3x(1d4+1) creatures, my turn frequently took as long as everyone else's combined.
And I ended up blowing a lot of low-level summons doing things to basically replicate Mage Hand, except better because I could manipulate more than one object and the 5-lb. limit didn't apply.


I'd expect your foes were pretty weak if 1 was a problem (do you remember what you were fighting?), and 2 is kind of the point since disposable minions can invalidate a lot of stuff.

I don't remember exactly what we where fighting; this was several years ago at this point. I think it was a fairly standard collection of humanoid NPC enemies and monsters, in a cave/dungeon, and the final boss was some sort of half-demon something or other; we where mid-level 7-9-ish, I think. Our group tended to run a lot of one shots and very short campaigns, because everyones schedule was so busy that finding a time that the same people had free two weeks in a row was very difficult.

Some of the tactics I employed included:

Summoning a monter on the far side of chasm and having it operate the mechanism to extend the collapsable bridge for us
Having a flying monster carry a rope ladder to the top of a cliff and tie it off.
Have disposable creatures open doors and gates, or just plow through barricades (we didn't have a rogue with us).
Buffing a fire elemental with Expeditious Retreat and having it set the battlefield aflame before we moved in for mop-up.
Summoning minions behind barricades or the enemies defensive line, then flanking and swarming. Even with weak stats and DC's, if you make 6+ disarm, trip attempts, or caster-interupting AoO every turn, chances are the target will fail at least once.
Piling creatures 3-4 rows deep, so that even if the enemy cuts through one each turn or tries to bullrush or overrun I have plenty of time to evade.
Flying, sneaking, or climbing around to scout and get a better angle on enemies, then distracting them or leading them out of our path.



Even if I don't agree that it needs to be a longer duration/less combat ready spell, those two should balance out well enough changing what the spell is for. Still not quite sure why you thought having multiple options needed to go away, but that's really seeming to be the issue here.

Standard summon monster is one of the ultimate utility spells: you can choose from an array of creatures with different movement modes, senses, and abilities to go do something for you. You can even bring up a whole bunch if you need more than one whatever. If you want something to fight, you can pick the perfect option right at casting, and even though it's not very strong it will at least be perfectly suited to what you need it to do.

Casters are already at least one order of magnitude more versatile than melee-heavy classes; I didn't feel it was necessary to increase that further with a single spell that was ALSO more versatile than entire melee classes.


Using the normal lists and then restricting them to one creature means the spell is no longer choosing the best tool for the job, and instead is just a roundabout way of doing something you could have accomplished better with a different spell (why use a meatshield spell when I could make a wall, why use attack rolls when I could use a Sphere or Vortex, etc). Compared to a standard summon there should always be another spell at the same level that will do the job better.

A meatshield can serve as both offense and defense in a way that a wall cannot. A creature can use manuevers, change targets, flank, pick pockets, and distract the enemy in ways that a single damage-spell cannot.

And if you are willing to ignore mechanics for a moment, sometimes I think it's just more fun. :smallwink:


One takes summon monster, like shadow evocation, because they want maximum on the spot versatility (really, if you want to proxy fight then get an animal companion).

I don't like Shadow Evocation for two reasons: first, it doesn't feel like an illusion, and second because of the above-mentioned versatility imbalance.

And as I've outlined, there are things you can do with minions, particularly disposable minions, that would be much harder with an animal companion, even if it's more effective in combat (which is debatable; one on one yes, it's better, but I'm sure I could find ways to screw with even a druid's full-power animal companion if I spam the same thing on it or can use multiple summoned monsters).

And I'm not trying to argue that using hordes of minions is more OP than the other things that a full caster than do, just that what a smart player can do with it seems like a little much.


Basically if you want to have summon spells that summon only one type of creature, you've got to write a new list for them specifically and compare each individual option to other spells of it's level. You really can't use the same list as a spell that assumes you have the full choice at time of casting, and just shifting the levels around isn't going to cut it.

I wouldn't say "no" to that, but then I have the same question for you- any suggestions for the kind of thing you'd like to see in a revised list? Most of the summoned monsters seem to be about 1/2 the CR you'd expect in an encounter of the appropriate level; for combat how high should I push it? 2/3 CR? 3/4?
For versatility, utility, or SLA/SU users, what options do I need?


Edit: I also added a new feat to mimic the effect of the old summon-more-lower-level creatures, but without the implication that all Summon Monster spells are actually the same spell.

Fizban
2013-06-03, 10:27 PM
I think it was a fairly standard collection of humanoid NPC enemies and monsters, in a cave/dungeon
Standard indeed. Humanoid NPCs are quite outclassed by summons, even with full NPC gear a human warrior can't compete with summon monster, and stuff like lizardmen that have more raw stats rarely get the gear and end up worse. And a dungeon has narrow spaces that are quite conductive to your given tactics.

Some of the tactics I employed included: [awesome stuff]
The more I read the more I wanna say that it just looks like you know what you're doing and of course you'd walk all over them, you're a smart guy playing a wizard.

Casters are already at least one order of magnitude more versatile than melee-heavy classes; I didn't feel it was necessary to increase that further with a single spell that was ALSO more versatile than entire melee classes.
I've personally accepted that casters are fully intended to be more powerful than everything else, it's just part of dnd and I'm okay with it. Nothing wrong with wanting to change that, but the whole system is balanced against spellcasting and it's a lot of work to go in and change everything.

A meatshield can serve as both offense and defense in a way that a wall cannot. A creature can use manuevers, change targets, flank, pick pockets, and distract the enemy in ways that a single damage-spell cannot.

And if you are willing to ignore mechanics for a moment, sometimes I think it's just more fun. :smallwink:
Eh, definition of meatshield then. I chose to respond in the meatshield=wall sense, but yeah of course a creature's more vesatile and fun.

I wouldn't say "no" to that, but then I have the same question for you- any suggestions for the kind of thing you'd like to see in a revised list? Most of the summoned monsters seem to be about 1/2 the CR you'd expect in an encounter of the appropriate level; for combat how high should I push it? 2/3 CR? 3/4?
For versatility, utility, or SLA/SU users, what options do I need?
I find it more difficult to make choices assuming both minutes out of combat and concentration in combat, so I don't really know. I do know that you shouldn't pick based on CR or HD, always based on what they can actually do, compared to spells and players of that level. That said, for existing 1 round/level concentration based summons, it generally looks to be about CR=minimum caster level or 1 less. The examples I know of are Elemental Monolith (Car/SpC), Hound Archon, Bralani Eladrin, Bearded Devil, Babau Demon, Elementite Swarm, Greater Elemental, Phantom Wolf, and Phantom Bear (SpC), and Aspect of Bahamut (RoD). I can't do much more than suggest what to compare to since I've never researched it myself, being as I like summons being versatile and would just invent or find dedicated spell if I only want one effect.

Aside from comparing to those, I think you already know what you want: don't let them overshadow anything else. Max cohort level is party level -2, and since a min/level duration lasts for multiple fights they shouldn't be better than anything a party member could do at that level. Since you want to limit versatility, no more than one special ability, weather it's a movement mode, Su attack, or SLA, and that should be worth no more than a spell 1 level lower than the summon itself, preferably 2 in order to account for multiple uses or ignoring daily limits since they're disposable. You'll probably end up with a pretty short list of candidates since most monsters have a lot of abilities as they're meant to fight adventurers.

Der_DWSage
2013-06-05, 06:26 PM
You've done some good work here, and I feel you're closer to what would be reasonable for you, while still maintaining the 'changes to summoning' feel that you wanted. So, lemme take another go-round at this.



When learning this spells, rather than gaining access to the entire list of creatures named in the SRD, you select one creature which you have learned to summon. In essence, Summon Monster I becomes Summon Monster I- Celestial Owl version. You can learn the spell more than once, but each version must be prepared seperately, or counts as a different spell known for spontaneous casters. Summoning spells cannot be used to summon an increased number of creatures from a lower-level summoning spell.
The the duration of these spells is increased to 1 minute/level.
This is the major point of contention, still. I'd still point towards a 'custom summon' deal similar to the Pathfinder Summoner, or perhaps separating them in another way. Otherwise, it really does feel like you're penalizing Sorcerers, who will be unlikely to take this spell otherwise. A few suggestions.

1:Separate them into Animal/Element/Humanoid/alignment, and expand the lists for each. Animals are more suitable for tracking and shielding, elements are flavorful and incorporate the power of each of the four elements, humanoids allow you to have the Eladrin and their magical powers, and alignment is more a concession to Clerics-they can only summon what they share the alignment of.

2:Allow Sorcerers to have access to the unfettered 'Summon Monster' deal, simply so they don't feel as gypped. Wizards have a hundred different ways to feel special already. Not quite as elegant, but sometimes you need a hammer rather than a scalpel, and Sorcerers are good at being hammers.

3:Seeing as how they're merely 'not-quite-real stuff' anyway, perhaps you should replace the entire Summon X line with the Astral Constructs from the Psionics Handbook.

Just a bit more fuel for thought there. Again, this is the major point of contention that's left.



Controlling Creatures
You may give one creature basic combat orders as a Move-equivalent action, 2 creatures as a Standard action, and 3 creatures as a Full-round action.
Out of combat, you may command a summoned creature to perform any action you direct that it is capable of, though this requires your full concentration. You also cannot give orders to creatures outside of the original spell's range.

I do like making full use of the action economy, and summoning one thing and directing it while sacrificing your own move actions seems like a fair tradeoff, especially if they're more powerful than the norm.

I still feel like the jump from 2 to 3 is a little sudden though (I'd prefer 4 or more is a full-round, but that's just a gut feeling with little rationale behind it) and it should get clarification anyway. Is it that 3 or more creatures are a full round action, or that you can only direct up to 3 creatures a round, even if you have more than that summoned?


Feats

Augment Summoning [Metamagic]
Benefit
Each creature you conjure with any summon spell gains a boost to it's HD, Strength & Dexterity Scores, and the save DCs for any Extraordinary, Spell-like or Supernatural abilities for the duration of the spell that summoned it. In addition, you may direct augmented creatures with a swift action, and the range for giving orders is increased to Long.
An augmented spell uses up a spell slot two levels higher than the spellís actual level.

{table]Original Spell Level|HD, Ability & DC Increase

1st|
+1

2nd|
+2

3rd|
+2

4th|
+3

5th|
+3

6th|
+4

7th|
+4

8th|
+5

9th|
+5[/table]
Just for clarity's sake-does this supersede the original Augment Summons feat? If so, does it still require Spell Focus:Conjuration?

I would also modify it slightly. It's tied to the spell slot level, but why not the caster level? If it's purely from their own abilities, it would feel better to give it similar progression, but tied to caster level. Something more like...

{table]Original caster Level|HD, Ability & DC Increase

1st|
+1

2nd|
+1

3rd|
+1

4th|
+2

5th|
+2

6th|
+3

7th|
+3

8th|
+4

9th|
+4

10th|
+5

11th|
+5

12th|
+6

13th|
+6

14th|
+7

15th|
+7

16th|
+8

17th|
+8

18th|
+9

19th|
+9

20th|
+10[/table]

Making the bonuses match Sorcerer spell progression, and beefing them up a little bit. The HD bonuses get a little hefty, but they also help justify that +2 slot you're spending. Alternatively, you could take out the HD bonus and simply make it twice that bonus to STR, CON, and DEX.



Proliferate Summoning [Metamagic]
Benefit
Whenever you conjure any creature with a summon spell, you instead summon 1d3+1 of that creature instead.
An proliferated spell uses up a spell slot two levels higher than the spellís actual level.

I'm assuming you're taking out the 'Summon 1d4+1 of the list two levels lower' with this? Making it cost a feat is a little hefty, but within realms of possibility. I'd make it slightly nicer for the feat/spell slot loss-perhaps making it so they can summon from the entire list when they use this metamagic, or if used out of combat, the duration lasts for Hours/level at the cost of making them have only 1 HP, 10 AC, and no special abilities that can be used offensively.

I feel you've made some progress though. Keep it up!

Deepbluediver
2013-06-07, 12:40 PM
The more I read the more I wanna say that it just looks like you know what you're doing and of course you'd walk all over them, you're a smart guy playing a wizard.

Eh, it was mostly by chance. I've played lots of unoptimized characters, and that Wizard was really just a one-time thing (I normally preferred sorcerers because I HATED managing spell lists).


I've personally accepted that casters are fully intended to be more powerful than everything else, it's just part of dnd and I'm okay with it. Nothing wrong with wanting to change that, but the whole system is balanced against spellcasting and it's a lot of work to go in and change everything.

Ok, but I'm not ready to give up just yet. I LIKE balancing things; to me homebrewing is itself fun, even if its just to revamp existing stuff.
I'm willing to put in the effort needed to fix things, and honestly if we beef up the lower tiers a bit, I don't see too much stuff that will prove entirely unbeatable. Frankly, I think that any encounter that required a Pun-pun(C) Brand WizardTM to beat wasn't a very good encounter anyway.

Also, I don't object to some classes beating out others on either the power OR versatility axis, and there needs to be room for player-skill as well, but full casters tend to be BOTH significantly more powerful, and almost infinitely more versatile than melee. I figure we can cover 80% of the changes needed with 20% of the effort, and I would sweat the rest of it less.


I find it more difficult to make choices assuming both minutes out of combat and concentration in combat, so I don't really know. I do know that you shouldn't pick based on CR or HD, always based on what they can actually do, compared to spells and players of that level. That said, for existing 1 round/level concentration based summons, it generally looks to be about CR=minimum caster level or 1 less. The examples I know of are Elemental Monolith (Car/SpC), Hound Archon, Bralani Eladrin, Bearded Devil, Babau Demon, Elementite Swarm, Greater Elemental, Phantom Wolf, and Phantom Bear (SpC), and Aspect of Bahamut (RoD). I can't do much more than suggest what to compare to since I've never researched it myself, being as I like summons being versatile and would just invent or find dedicated spell if I only want one effect.
Aside from comparing to those, I think you already know what you want: don't let them overshadow anything else. Max cohort level is party level -2, and since a min/level duration lasts for multiple fights they shouldn't be better than anything a party member could do at that level. Since you want to limit versatility, no more than one special ability, weather it's a movement mode, Su attack, or SLA, and that should be worth no more than a spell 1 level lower than the summon itself, preferably 2 in order to account for multiple uses or ignoring daily limits since they're disposable. You'll probably end up with a pretty short list of candidates since most monsters have a lot of abilities as they're meant to fight adventurers.

I'll use the D&D monster-finder to try and help me out. I'm still planning on trying to come up with some sort of alternate list; I've just been very busy lately.

I'm also willing to pair down the options a bit; I don't need a dozen choices for every level, since redudancy past a certain point is just confusing. I'm thinking a meatshield, a striker, a scout, and 1-3 utility/random monsters per spell is plenty.


This is the major point of contention, still. I'd still point towards a 'custom summon' deal similar to the Pathfinder Summoner, or perhaps separating them in another way. Otherwise, it really does feel like you're penalizing Sorcerers, who will be unlikely to take this spell otherwise. A few suggestions.
1:Separate them into Animal/Element/Humanoid/alignment, and expand the lists for each. Animals are more suitable for tracking and shielding, elements are flavorful and incorporate the power of each of the four elements, humanoids allow you to have the Eladrin and their magical powers, and alignment is more a concession to Clerics-they can only summon what they share the alignment of.
2:Allow Sorcerers to have access to the unfettered 'Summon Monster' deal, simply so they don't feel as gypped. Wizards have a hundred different ways to feel special already. Not quite as elegant, but sometimes you need a hammer rather than a scalpel, and Sorcerers are good at being hammers.
3:Seeing as how they're merely 'not-quite-real stuff' anyway, perhaps you should replace the entire Summon X line with the Astral Constructs from the Psionics Handbook.
Just a bit more fuel for thought there. Again, this is the major point of contention that's left.

Yeah, those are all decent ideas, and I can understand where you are coming from here. I'll give it some more thought, and if I can come up with a way that doesn't call out the Sorcerer specifically, I'll implement it.
Also, if I make the creatures stronger and the choices slightly less, maybe people will have less to be concerned about, since more options will be half-decent in multiple situation instead of having one (and only one!) perfect tool for every problem.


I still feel like the jump from 2 to 3 is a little sudden though (I'd prefer 4 or more is a full-round, but that's just a gut feeling with little rationale behind it) and it should get clarification anyway. Is it that 3 or more creatures are a full round action, or that you can only direct up to 3 creatures a round, even if you have more than that summoned?

The way I figured it was just basic math: Full=Move+Standard, 1+2=3.
And it was intended to be a maximum of 3 with a Full-round action; if you have more they just sit there. But so long as they aren't taking damage, the extended duration would (hopefully) mean it was less of a waste.

Right now, I'm considering a 3rd feat, called Master Summoner or something. This one would be non-metamagic, and it would make it easier to control summoned creatures, instead of tacking that function on the the other meta-magic stuff.
Something like 1 creature with a swift or free action, 2 with a move, up to 4 with a standard and "all of them" with a Full. That way anyone who still wants to play the "minion master" can do so, provided they build for it.


Just for clarity's sake-does this supersede the original Augment Summons feat? If so, does it still require Spell Focus:Conjuration?

Yes it does, and no it doesn't (respectively) :smallcool:


I would also modify it slightly. It's tied to the spell slot level, but why not the caster level? If it's purely from their own abilities, it would feel better to give it similar progression, but tied to caster level. Something more like...
{table]Original caster Level|HD, Ability & DC Increase

1st|
+1

2nd|
+1

3rd|
+1

4th|
+2

5th|
+2

6th|
+3

7th|
+3

8th|
+4

9th|
+4

10th|
+5

11th|
+5

12th|
+6

13th|
+6

14th|
+7

15th|
+7

16th|
+8

17th|
+8

18th|
+9

19th|
+9

20th|
+10[/table]

I was just trying to find some one to make it scale with level. Caster-level is probably an easier method of doing so; I'll update the chart in my original post.

I was also considering other special effects at higher levels, such as increased size.


Making the bonuses match Sorcerer spell progression, and beefing them up a little bit. The HD bonuses get a little hefty, but they also help justify that +2 slot you're spending. Alternatively, you could take out the HD bonus and simply make it twice that bonus to STR, CON, and DEX.

I keep going back and forth on what exactly the bonus should boost. The benefit of using HD is that it gives health, BAB, and Save-boosts, all of which can be important from a defensive standpoint if you don't want your creatures getting steamrolled. This bit is still WIP/open to suggestion.


I'm assuming you're taking out the 'Summon 1d4+1 of the list two levels lower' with this?

Yes, like I said it seemed odd that I could summon creatures from other spells which I might or might not now. You are free to disagree, but to me it felt like saying my "fireball" spell can also be "lightning bolt" or "magic missile" whenever I want it to.

This gives you pretty much the same thing-for spells two levels lower you get multiple creatures instead of just 1. I reduced it from 1d4+1 to 1d3+1, because of the limits on what you can control, but I'll think about reversing that in light of other modifications I'm considering.


Making it cost a feat is a little hefty, but within realms of possibility. I'd make it slightly nicer for the feat/spell slot loss-perhaps making it so they can summon from the entire list when they use this metamagic, or if used out of combat, the duration lasts for Hours/level at the cost of making them have only 1 HP, 10 AC, and no special abilities that can be used offensively.

Part of what went into my consideration for designing all this was that the the original mechanics where too powerful, so if you are saying "as compared to the original...." the I would say this is successful. If you think that it's too expensive compared to my intended balance level, then let me know.




Summon monster and the polymorph line make up enough versatility to cover virtually all scenarios and are both eminently spammable. The lowest level summon monsters can be swapped out for other spells every even level from 4th up.

Fizban
2013-06-08, 06:31 AM
For a way to give sorcerers less being stuck with one creature-ness, you could implement a wider sorc buff: any time you learn a spell that's part of a series you get access to the whole series. The is usually for stuff like whatever/mass whatever, but is particularly juicy for the summon lines (and if you wanted to compare to something existing :smalltongue:, Astral Construct gives you the whole summon line in a 1st level power). It's also been used for stuff like hate+slow or darkness+daylight, the idea obviously being that once a sorc learns the basic effect they figure out the standard variants and polarity reversals without any more effort. The wider one had some convoluted cha mod number of extra spells limit but you can limit it however you want. I found that trying to maximize spells known by picking only reversable a series spells made for a very boring list.

Weather you'd want to give them one of each level or all at the same level or one "opposite" version at the same level would simply be tied to the summon spells, since you can define the parameters of each spell series separately once you decide the idea is in play. I think I prefer the "reversal" method: if you choose the monsters in thematically opposed pairs across roles (like a meatshield celestial and a dps fiend) then you can list them that way and boom, a sorcerer can reverse the spell to get two different roles.

Heh, I just reminded myself of a 3rd party spellcraft use that let you convert one spell to another on the spot. If you thought spellcasters were versatile before. . . . (I actually kinda like it, in an "I've banned most of your bonuses for this roll so the only chance you have is burning a hero point and risking critical failure" kind of way).