Summonner playstyles suggestion

  • First, let me explain my point of view:

    After recent Summon Creature changes Summoner gameplay style has also changed significantly.

    For those who missed the changes, duration of the Summon Creature was significantly reduced. SF Conjuration now allows you to summon two creatures and prolongs their duration. GSF Conjuration now allows you to summon three creatures and prolongs duration even more.

    On my level 8 wizard, with GSF conjuration selected, summons lasted for nearly 9 minutes which may sounds as a lot on paper. In practice, due to being an RP server, we doesn't engage in optimized runs to squeeze most of the duration. AFK pauses, RP pauses, slow walking, long quests and events - all of it happens. It's all about effective usage and spell economy.

    About spell economy. Instead of preparing a summoning spell and then empower the conjured creature by investing more spell slots in it (buffing it) we now must prepare multiple Summon Creature spells to use multiple of them to swarm the enemy. Some themes like Spider theme is best suited for it, by offering ranged and melee units with various poisons, to help with the tough enemies encounters and swiftly dispatch weakened enemies. Others might prepare high level creatures and support spell to restrict the enemy capabilities, better suited for encountering big groups. What I am saying is that the each theme is better suited for certain scenario and requires specific spells layout to be used at the full capacity. And it's beautiful. But spells is very valuable resource that can't be easily replenished when you need them the most.

    I feel that it's important to clarify, I am not saying that this play style is weak. It's very potent and even scary when used correctly and can be enjoyed by many people, and some of the themes is perfectly suited for it already. I am just up for diversity, and yes, I do not hide that I enjoy the alternative more. Still, I don't try to derail the multiple summons style.

    One creature "bodyguard" summoning style is less about situational awareness and meta-knowledge and more about already being prepared. It's style you wan to use not for engaging in the fresh battle, but for wandering into the dangerous environment. You can get limited benefits of the summoning theme (can't use various spider venoms at the same time, for example), but use your spell slots to make this creature to last longer in small-scale engagements. It's not the stronger approach, it's different approach. In some scenarios one buffed creature is better than multiple seldom buffed or non buffed creatures. In some scenarios it's the other way around. When buffs run out, one creature certainly becomes weaker than multiple creatures. Even with buffs is can be weaker just because swarm offers you three times as many attacks, targets and flanking on top of it. But then, when swarm duration ends, even one creature is better than no creatures at all.

    Other thing I am concerned about is the fact that SF and GSF conjuration might feels like almost mandatory thing to make use of Summon Creature.

    Now, I want to clarify. It's not a complaint, it's a suggestions:

    Yes, it might require more brainstorming and discussion with the balance-savvy players and DMs, but it's what suggestions forum for, right? So let's engage in discussion. I see these possible solutions:

    1. Two versions of the Summon creature spell. First version allows summoning of multiple creatures for a shorter duration. Second allows summoning of only one creature for a longer duration. Both receive benefits from SF-GSF, first by increasing both amount of possible summons and duration, second by increasing duration. But these version can't be used at the same time, causing previous version creatures to be dismissed.
      It allows same characters to use both playstyles if they with to do so, and it makes Summon Creature spell to not be almost useless for non SF-GSF conjuration characters because they will be able to conjure one creature for longer duration.

    Alternatively: Version of the spell that allows summoning of the three creatures can be accessible by the non SG-GSF characters too, and feats then might only increase duration of both versions. Then duration of the swarm version need to be much lower by default, but the Spell Focus effect on this spell version must be made more drastic to compensate for it. This way short summoning burst might be used by any suitable spellcaster, but those built for it can hope to get multiple enemy packs or waves with their swarm.

    1. Alteration reagent like "Summoning focus" can be used instead to achieve the first suggestion effect instead of creating separate spell entities, but it provides more flexibility to the wizards and sorcerers since they don't need to play in advance which version they want to prepare or if they want to take both during the level-up.

    2. Duration-amount of creatures limitation might be included in the Summoning themes themselves. It strengthens the themes identity and diversity, and allows existence of potentially mighty themes with the very short timer (minuscule even without the SF and GSF). However it doesn't allows variety of the playstyles to be used by the same themes Summoner.

    That's about it. If I would have new thoughts about it I'll add them during discussion.

  • Summons need either a flat +5 AC/AB/DAMAGE and more health across the board at least, much more in some situations, with some still needing adjustments to be brought up to par with new changes, or system needs to be fixed again. They were balanced for 24 hours or even hour/level duration. Now they are not and we're back in a situation of them being just trash unless every summon in every theme has a complete overhaul by someone who has been playing an active summoner PC.

    Problem is summons are no longer a rp thematic element. They're no longer anything special to a summoner. They're no longer viable as a damage source or as a protection source, and no longer an investment since most of them you can't buff weapons anyway but now waste of time to buff armor or abilities. They also aren't going to even last the duration of a quest assuming they survive the first encounter, which many won't without buffs- tested with 4th and 5th circle animal and vermin and spider to show how fast they splat without buffs. Double so for events and spice. They're just not good. System was balanced for what they were. The problem created now is that summons are only viable when mobbed as a 3 drop, and only certain summons of certain themes, and that only works on specific boss sort of encounters where you only need it for a quick burst and things where there is enough space for them all to fit in the first place.

    The suggestions to fix the problems are good. Allowing swarms to be an optional and a spell focus specific benefit. It's cool to have swarms be a choice, but shouldn't come at the cost of breaking the well balanced summoning system as it was as a whole to make it the only viable way to use it. Allow one long duration mode, and one swarm mode for spell focusers. Multiple summons will always be stronger for individual encounters. Also let spell focus provide a buff to the summons. Maybe +2 AB and +4 con per spell focus feat, going up to +4 AB and +8 con with GSF. Though some of the summons need their levels adjusted because a con bonus to increase hp doesn't help if you have a 4th circle summon that is a level 4. Summons were so very close to perfect the way they were... just needed an extra benefit for spell focuses

  • Going to use our most recent quest as an example. Between two people, six summons were brought on. five 4th circle one 5th circle. Previously this would have at least been enough to reach the end of the quest. It was not, even refreshing as soon as the duration of one ended, even healing summons so they could last. Assuming it survived, which is a big assumption, because now buffing summons is not a viable option. Summons themselves were good, but not good enough without buffs, but they were designed and tweaked around 24 hour duration so buffing them was viable. Unbuffed summons which we have to use now are not viable- none of them are. Except for 5th circle spider for situational use, but that is super niche and requires above average level spellcaster.

    These are high level high value spell slots and the damage done by the summons does not compare to the damage capable of being done by offensive spells or extended haste, and the protection they might offer even as expendable shields to soak some hits doesn't compare to imp invis or stoneskin. There is no prestige to them either because no time to rp with summons or even really see them since they can only be used in the heat of combat now, so if you have some special or exotic rare theme... it's not special anymore. Now it's just numbers on a character sheet that is put into a meat grinder, and maybe it has better numbers than a different character sheet, or can compare to other spells of similar slot.

  • Perhaps the best idea would be to make them turn based, like aid and bless?

  • While an improvement turns would still require all the summons being adjusted and powered up, because that is yet too short of a duration for buffing, and summons currently require buffs or occasional healing- healing ending up being a waste if no long term investment comes from it due to short duration. Really they just need to be put back to the way they were designed and balanced for instead of re-inventing the whole system and remaking all the summon themes to match it. Then provide a bonus for spell focuses to help differentiate their specialty. There are so many other things that need to be fixed, rather than breaking something that was working fine, so that it can be added to the list of things to fix.

  • Admin [DM]

    Summoning duration is being addressed as are the perks for SF and GSF. As I understand it, part of the system from v5 was imported to address some issues we were having. Some of the customization did not transfer.

    Stay tuned. I think you will like what we are thinking.

    Going to lock this one for now. Once we roll out the new system a new topic can be made for suggestions/discussions.


Log in to reply