View Full Version : Summoning anti-handbook

Indigo Knight
2019-01-12, 09:33 AM
The objective: create a reference sheet, to help DM with the application of summoning, by highlighting the more problematic abilities.

You're right that CR isn't a good benchmark for summoning, since it's meant to determine threat level in the DM's hands and not usefulness in a player's hands. What I'd suggest is coming up with a separate "utility rating" or "UR" metric for monsters, in a similar way to how LA is meant to judge the extra benefit behind HD that a player would have from being a monster (but without the numbers being deliberately off to screw players).

In that setup, an imp might have a very low CR and a high UR (wimpy stats, but a bunch of good SLAs plus telepathy), an orc might have low CR and low UR (wimpy stats and nothing special utility-wise), the Tarrasque might have a high CR and low UR (great stats, but a very straightforward monster that makes it only useful for combat), a Solar would have a high CR and very high UR (great stats, plus a long list of SLAs and cleric casting that makes it useful in a wide variety of contexts), and so on.

Then any spell that animates, summons, polymorphs, or otherwise does something with a creature to put its abilities under player control can have caps for both CR and UR. The base summon keyword might limit you to both CR <= CL and UR <= CL, so a mid-level caster could summon high-HD animals (hit the CR cap first) and low-HD demons (hit the UR cap first), you might have a "Combat Summoner" feat or equivalent that raises the CR cap for summons so you can summon stronger bruiser monsters without giving you correspondingly stronger utility, and so forth.

Granted, it's already hard to precisely judge CR so adding another somewhat-subjective metric wouldn't be easy, but having those two numbers is beneficial for more than just summoning; a DM could look at a monster with UR < CR and recognize that it'll be easier to run in groups, or look at one with UR > CR and realize it'll take more prep time to run, for instance.

I'm actually not aiming to create an exact numerical scale of abilities. A more general categorization is sufficient enough, I think. And by mentioning the abilities rather then the creatures themselves, it will be useful for newer items going forward.

Any assistance and ideas are welcomed. And if you of any material like this existing please do tell.

Indigo Knight
2019-01-12, 09:35 AM
List of Items

Polymorph - By gaining access to polymorph, a summoner can gain access to all sorts of things. Some, beyond the his current level.