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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Blackjackg's Avatar

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    Default Summon Monster Variant: Pokemaeon?

    I was flipping through Unearthed Arcana the other day, and the summon monster variants caught my eye. I liked the idea of adding a little flavor to the otherwise-pretty dull spell tree. I came up with this variant which would allow players to build their own individualized summoning lists, giving themselves and their summoned creatures a little more mystique. It's fairly long (about two pages in my word processor), but my sense is that it's not particularly complicated. I'd appreciate any thoughts, questions, or other feedback.

    I've also included a brand new feat for this variant. Hope you enjoy.

    The subtitle of this thread is a joke reflecting my perception that this looks more like summoning in Final Fantasy or a Pokemon game than RAW D&D summoning does. Please don't judge the rule variant on the basis of the terrible, terrible subtitle.

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    In this variant of the Summon Monster spells, players build their own catalogues of summoned creatures. Each creature is a unique individual with its own name, developed by the player. For each spell level, the number of unique creatures that a character can summon is equal to the number of times that character could hypothetically cast “Summon Monster” in a given day.

    For example, at 3rd Level, Jozan is able to prepare and cast Summon Monster I up to three times per day, and Summon Monster II up to twice each day (counting bonus spells for high wisdom but not counting his domain spells, because neither of his domains grants the Summon Monster spell). Therefore, his catalogue of summoned creatures can have as many as three unique creatures suitable for the first level spell, and two appropriate for the second level.


    Creatures chosen must be of the Outsider, Elemental or Magical Beast types, and any Magical Beast chosen must also have the Extraplanar subtype if the spell is cast on the Prime Material Plane. They must also fall at or below a given Challenge Rating, which differs for each spell level as shown on the table below:

    Summon Monster I: Up to CR 1/2
    Summon Monster II: Up to CR 1
    Summon Monster III: Up to CR 3
    Summon Monster IV: Up to CR 4
    Summon Monster V: Up to CR 5
    Summon Monster VI: Up to CR 7
    Summon Monster VII: Up to CR 8
    Summon Monster VIII: Up to CR 9
    Summon Monster IX: Up to CR 11

    Players may either select a creature as written from the Monster Manual, or create a unique creature by applying one of the following templates to any Animal, Magical Beast, or Vermin: Celestial Creature (MM); Fiendish Creature (MM); Elemental Creature (MotP); Anarchic Creature (Plan); Axiomatic Creature (Plan). The unique creature must be at or below the given challenge rating after including CR adjustments for applying templates. In order to add a creature to a character's summoning catalogue, its alignment must be within one step of hers (with the exception of Neutral creatures, which can be summoned by any caster). Thus, a caster who is lawful good can only have creatures who are lawful good, lawful neutral, neutral good, or neutral in her catalogue.

    Once a creature is added to a character's summoning catalogue, it can not be changed except by the methods listed below: Upon attaining a new caster level, in addition to any new creatures gained, a character may “forget” one of her existing creatures and add a new one to her list. If a caster changes alignment, some of her unique creatures may become unavailable to her. In such a case, a caster may immediately add replacement creatures to her catalogue up to the maximum allowed by level.

    A caster may choose, rather than adding a new high-level monster to her catalogue upon gaining a caster level, to advance one of her lower level creatures. She may do so following the monster improvement guidelines given on page 290 of the Monster Manual, with the following restrictions: a creature may be advanced only by increasing hit dice, increasing size, or adding a special ability. Of course, the DM has final say on which advancements are acceptable.

    For example, upon attaining 11th level, Mialee becomes able to cast Summon Monster VI. Rather than creating a new creature for her catalogue, she decides to improve Misha, the celestial dire wolf (CR 4). Misha gains six additional hit dice (CR +2 for a magical beast), raising his attacks, hit points, saves and skills. Additionally, because Misha's hit dice are now higher than 8, she gains additional bonuses and another CR +1 from the celestial template. His total CR is now 7, which is appropriate for Summon Monster VI. Henceforth, Mialee can summon Misha only with a Summon Monster VI spell. She also has an open slot now in her catalogue at Summon Monster IV, which she can fill with a new creature, or advance one of her lower-level creatures.

    Unique creatures are just that—unique, and they may not be summoned more than once each at any given time. That is, Mialee can not summon Misha twice in two consecutive turns such that the wolf is in two places at once. She may, however, have more than one unique celestial dire wolf in her catalogue. Spellcasters may, if need be, use a higher level version of the spell to summon a lower level unique creature; however, a caster using this variant loses the ability to summon multiple creatures at lower levels with a single higher-level spell.

    If a summoned creature is reduced to zero or fewer hit points, it is disabled and automatically dismissed from the plane. It can not be summoned again until the caster has rested and regained spells for another day. Summoned monsters who are dismissed deliberately or depart the plane when the spell expires may be summoned again with a new expenditure of the spell. As an optional rule, creatures summoned more than once in a day may be considered not to have rested-- that is, they do not regain lost hit points or expended special abilities in the interval between summonings. If this rule is used, unique creatures automatically regain all hit points and expended abilities when the caster regains spells for the day.

    In all other ways, the Summon Monster spells function as described in the Player's Handbook.

    Expanded Summoning [Feat]

    Prerequisites: Able to cast at least one “Summon Monster” spell.

    You are able to summon a broader range of otherworldly creatures.

    Benefits: Choose one creature type from the following list: aberration, construct, dragon, fey, giant, humanoid, monstrous humanoid, ooze, or plant. You may add creatures of that type to your summoning catalogue, provided they have the extraplanar subtype. When adding a unique creature to his catalogue, a caster may apply any one of the following templates: anarchic creature, axiomatic creature, celestial creature, elemental creature, or fiendish creature. Creatures chosen must still meet all other requirements for summoning.

    This feat may be taken multiple times. Each time, it applies to a different creature type. A wizard may select Expanded Summoning as one of his bonus feats at 5th, 10th, 15th or 20th level.



    Pros: More flavor, more fun (right?). Players may actually have some interest or investment in their summoned monsters.

    Cons: Fairly labor intensive--high level clerics, sorcerers and conjurers may have catalogues of 60 or more creatures. But the players do most of the work--DMs just have to check their math. And some players like that kinda crap.

    Not sure if it's a pro or a con: Changes the versatility of the spell. Far fewer options at first, potentially more options as you go. Give up some breadth in exchange for customizability.

    Could this work for Summon Nature's Ally or Summon Undead? Probably, but in my opinion it doesn't fit the concept as well.
    Awesome avatar courtesy of Dorian Soth.

    Optional rules I'm working on (please contact me if you have ideas for developing them!):
    Generic Prestige Classes; Summon Monster Variant; Advanced Dodges and Dex Bonuses; Incantations to Raise the Dead

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Orc in the Playground
     
    Flumph

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    Default Re: Summon Monster Variant: Pokemaeon?

    A summoner focused Master Conjurer would have... 7 monsters per spell level, before bonus spells. A ring of wizardry would add another 7 to that level.

    Enough to design a creature for every possible purpose.

    But how would this work with using a higher level spell to summon lower level monsters? Would you get multiples of the same creature? Or would you have to use separate monsters but from the lower level lists?

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    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Blackjackg's Avatar

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    Default Re: Summon Monster Variant: Pokemaeon?

    Quote Originally Posted by VirOath View Post
    A summoner focused Master Conjurer would have... 7 monsters per spell level, before bonus spells. A ring of wizardry would add another 7 to that level.

    Enough to design a creature for every possible purpose.

    But how would this work with using a higher level spell to summon lower level monsters? Would you get multiples of the same creature? Or would you have to use separate monsters but from the lower level lists?
    I hadn't considered how magic items that grant extra spells might affect the play on this variant. It's a good question, and I will give it some thought. Personally, I'm ok with a high level Master Conjurer having creatures for every possible purpose. What's a little harder to justify is that any run-of-the-mill high-level cleric is also going to have a pretty vast array of critters to choose from. In my thinking about this, it's been a pretty fine line to walk between giving too many options and too few, and the 1 critter/casting ratio makes the most sense to me.

    The response to your multiples question is in there, though I don't blame you for missing it buried down near the bottom-- in this first pass, I've just ruled that you can't use higher level spells to summon multiple lower level creatures. You can use them to summon one lower level creature (in the same way a sorcerer can use a 3rd level slot to cast a 2nd level spell if need be). But I'm open to suggestions if you've got a better way to handle it. Maybe a "twinning" metamagic feat?
    Awesome avatar courtesy of Dorian Soth.

    Optional rules I'm working on (please contact me if you have ideas for developing them!):
    Generic Prestige Classes; Summon Monster Variant; Advanced Dodges and Dex Bonuses; Incantations to Raise the Dead

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    Orc in the Playground
     
    Flumph

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    Default Re: Summon Monster Variant: Pokemaeon?

    Hmmm, maybe instead of making it hypothetical make it practical. They can only know a number of creatures up to the time that they do cast the spell.

    If a cleric only ever casts Summon Monster 1 once per day at most, they will only have one creature. But once they cast two per day, the second casting gives them the option of getting a second creature.

    If they go for an extended period of time without casting Summon Monster spells, they start to lose some of the monsters bound to them through it, or rather the space and losing the newest monsters first. So they would get those back as options to summon once more once they open up the strength of their summoning once again, spending more Summon Monster spells in a single day to open up their list again.

    Makes it so that a summoner will have a lot of creatures, but the average cleric that walks about with Summon Monster in one or two slots doesn't have a miniature army at their beck and call.

    Balanced or not, I don't know. I just remember a story I liked that a summoner treated the elementals he summoned as actual thinking and feeling beings, like people, so he would summon them for a day off every so often, to let them relax in whatever they would do. Might not fit in DnD, but meh.

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    Orc in the Playground
     
    RedSorcererGirl

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    Default Re: Summon Monster Variant: Pokemaeon?

    Quote Originally Posted by VirOath View Post
    Hmmm, maybe instead of making it hypothetical make it practical. They can only know a number of creatures up to the time that they do cast the spell.

    If a cleric only ever casts Summon Monster 1 once per day at most, they will only have one creature. But once they cast two per day, the second casting gives them the option of getting a second creature.

    If they go for an extended period of time without casting Summon Monster spells, they start to lose some of the monsters bound to them through it, or rather the space and losing the newest monsters first. So they would get those back as options to summon once more once they open up the strength of their summoning once again, spending more Summon Monster spells in a single day to open up their list again.

    Makes it so that a summoner will have a lot of creatures, but the average cleric that walks about with Summon Monster in one or two slots doesn't have a miniature army at their beck and call.

    Balanced or not, I don't know. I just remember a story I liked that a summoner treated the elementals he summoned as actual thinking and feeling beings, like people, so he would summon them for a day off every so often, to let them relax in whatever they would do. Might not fit in DnD, but meh.
    Then the caster takes a few days off and fills all his slots with summon monster and still has a miniature army at beck and call.

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    Orc in the Playground
     
    Flumph

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    Default Re: Summon Monster Variant: Pokemaeon?

    Quote Originally Posted by Infernalbargain View Post
    Then the caster takes a few days off and fills all his slots with summon monster and still has a miniature army at beck and call.
    Was a suggestion to keep open slots from those that wouldn't use them. Being told by the system that you get to make up 7 summons for that level when you really only want one or two, and being told this for every level is a bit concerning.

    If they want all of those monsters, then they can stat them up and control them. By it's a limiter for those characters that don't want or need that many mobs.

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    Orc in the Playground
     
    RedSorcererGirl

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    Default Re: Summon Monster Variant: Pokemaeon?

    Quote Originally Posted by VirOath View Post
    Was a suggestion to keep open slots from those that wouldn't use them. Being told by the system that you get to make up 7 summons for that level when you really only want one or two, and being told this for every level is a bit concerning.

    If they want all of those monsters, then they can stat them up and control them. By it's a limiter for those characters that don't want or need that many mobs.
    Eh, I personally love the variant. A little worried about the power of opening it up to advancing monsters but seems good. I might try it one time.

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    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Blackjackg's Avatar

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    Default Re: Summon Monster Variant: Pokemaeon?

    Thanks for your feedback, I really appreciate your thinking on this. VirOath's suggestion that the slots only get filled as they are needed makes a lot of sense for prepared casters-- if they prepare more SM spells than they previously have, they stat out an extra creature or two. Simple, not overwhelming. It's a little trickier with spontaneous casters, because they either have to guess how many spells they'll cast in a day or risk statting on the fly if they cast more than they expected. Ultimately, having the full giant ridiculous catalogue still makes the most sense to me.

    The most reasonable-seeming alternative to that is to rule that these are not actual unique creatures, but Aspects of those creatures and so can be summoned multiple times each. That way a player would only need to design a handful. That would also solve Infernalbargain's advancement concern because it doesn't make much sense to advance aspects of some mythological-type critter.

    Incidentally, any thoughts on the attached feat? I'm considering narrowing the field somewhat-- leaving off humanoids and monstrous humanoids because they mostly advance by class levels; and leaving off fey and maybe plants because that's more Summon Nature's Ally territory. I'm also not really sure about Constructs... that would leave Aberration, Dragon, Giant and Ooze as options to be taken.

    Final thought-- there are other extraplanar templates that could be made available for creature creation. I had intended to include Vivacious and Entropic (Planar Handbook) in the original post. There's also Shadow Creature (I'm a little less stoked about that because it doesn't scale the same way as the rest). Probably some others I haven't even thought about (though I intentionally excluded Pseudonatural--I figure you gotta be an Alienist). How many could/should I include as options? I generally err on the side of more customizability, but I don't wanna go bananas.

    EDIT: Oh yeah, and the Paraelemental Creature templates... I think they're from a Dragon Magazine.
    Last edited by Blackjackg; 2011-03-22 at 06:54 PM.
    Awesome avatar courtesy of Dorian Soth.

    Optional rules I'm working on (please contact me if you have ideas for developing them!):
    Generic Prestige Classes; Summon Monster Variant; Advanced Dodges and Dex Bonuses; Incantations to Raise the Dead

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