Monday, November 01, 2010

Pathfinder Summoner-Monk

Blogging was suspended three weeks as the medications fighting my sinus infection got the best of me, and I became intrigued with designing a Pathfinder Summoner that could actually ride his eidolon into combat safely and helpfully.  More blogging soon.  New Smiley videos are being uploaded as I type.  But first, to finish processing this and finally get it out of my head, I present my new Pathfinder character idea...

UPDATE: After playing a Summoner for a few levels I have given up on the character class in a primary melee role.  The rule granting maximum hit points at first level disguises how weak the PC and eidolon really are.  By fifth level either can be killed in one round by a CR 5 enemy; by tenth level either can often be killed in one attack by a CR 10 enemy.  True, the Summoner could use its many "buff" spells to make the eidolon stronger (see this complete Handbook about doing so), but this is inferior to a full-caster class buffing the party's Fighter.

The Summoner is a good buffer. In playtests it was too powerful when able to use its Spell-Like Ability while the eidolon is out.  This is not surprising: that's a darn nice SLA!  If the class had no eidolon and instead had some other class boost to either buffing or the summon SLA it would be much more solid.  A class that did two things very well would help a party more than a class that does three things moderately well.  (Perhaps a GM could design a house rule of a Summoner with no eidolon that instead chose either buffing or the SLA to focus on, similar to how rangers pick archery or two-weapon combat.)

The key insight from the Handbook is noticing that the Summoner's Spell-Like Ability summons a monster for several minutes, and the eidolon can be brought into play using the first of those minutes.  So if the Summoner has 66 seconds to prepare he can enter a battle with both a summoned creature and the eidolon.

Dr. Jouns Vond
Gnome Monk (Ki Mystic) 1 / Summoner 10 / Sorcerer (Arcane) 1 / Monk (Ki Mystic) ?

Ability Scores: STR 12, DEX 14, CON 10, INT 14, WIS 14, CHA 14
(twenty point build, at 4th and 8th levels raise CHA +1)
Gnome abilities: Low-Light Vision, Keen Senses, Master Tinker, Obsessive, Pyromaniac
General trait: Magical Knack
Kingmaker campaign trait: Orlovsky

Planned Skills: Each level take one rank in Ride, Spellcraft, and Stealth, as well as one other skill.  For thematic reasons, use the "free" skill point at first level for Craft (Weaponsmith).  Study Linguistics twice, to learn to speak Ignan and Terran.

Planned Feats:  During the first five levels pick up Combat Expertise, Deflect Arrows (free with Monk level), Improved Trip, and Improved Familiar.  At seventh level get Leadership, and at ninth level learn Coordinated Maneuvers.  At eleventh get Improved Share Spells (requires 10 ranks of Spellcraft at eleventh level).  Eschew Materials is gained with the Sorcerer level; Combat Reflexes upon returning to Monk at twelfth level.  At thirteenth level take Greater Trip.
(The feats Leadership and Improved Familiar help my character's story.  In general, more combat-worthy replacements would be Mounted Combat and Trick Riding.)

Planned Summoner Spells: Certain Summoner Spells are especially desirable to Jouns.  The feat Improved Share Spells will work well with the first level spells Mage armor, Shield, Expeditious Retreat, and Endure Elements; the second level spells Alter Self, Haste, Bull's Strength, and Barkskin; and the third level spells Displacement, Greater Magic Fang, Greater Invisibility.  He will also seek Slow, Black Tentacles and the variations of Rejuvinate Eidolon.

Planned Sorcerer Spells: Four more cantrips: Ray of Frost, Spark, Touch of Fatigue, Arcane Mark.  First level spells Disguise Self and True Strike.

Jouns spent his early adulthood with other Pyromaniac Gnome Tinkers trying to develop fire-based weapons.  But Jouns became fascinated with Irori, and switched from researching devices to the path of monastic self-improvement--secretly hoping that meditating on candle flames would inspire him to invent a new fiery martial art form.  Ultimately, however, Irori had other plans for Jouns.  When adventurers are assigned the task of taming some wild lands and establishing a town, Jouns is joins the chartered group.  Soon afterwards, Irori sent a strange creature slightly like an earth elemental to Jouns, instructing him to focus on rock instead of fire as the source of a new meditative style and a martial art ("The Way of Stone and Shadow").  When the new town is founded, Jouns establishes a small monastery for followers of Irori.

Partway through his adventures (at fifth level), Jouns is surprised again when some elemental magic in his veins awakens.  He learns some new spells and gains a small Earth Elemental familiar.

Toward the end of his campagin (at twelfth level, with ten levels of Summoner) Jouns feels he has learned all that he can from the ways of a Summoner: he has trained his eidolon to be an accomplished grappler, he can summon large Elementals and cast fourth-level spells, and he can shift elemental energies into his own body.  With Irori's blessing, he declares his study of elemental-themed energy complete and shifts his efforts of self-improvement back to the traditional monastic paths.

Jouns rides his eidolon during combat.  As a Master Tinker, he is proficient with a whip he braids himself.  During the first two levels the eidolon seldom charges, instead using its five foot step after a Full Attack to provide reach for Joun's whip to attempt a trip or disarm.  Starting at third level he attacks with Flurry of Blows to make two trip attempts each combat round, unless using the whip to disarm is smarter.  When a tripped opponent attempts to stand up, both Jouns and his eidolon (and often their allies) can make an AOO

Jouns is indeed a bit vulnerable in the midst of combat.  He is slightly aided by his Monk training (adding Wisdom modifier to AC, the feat Deflect Arrows), which also allows more magical items to help him defensively (any that increase Wisdom, Monk's Robe).  Mostly he relies on hindering adjacent foes with his trip and disarm, his eidolon's grapple, and spells such as the bard's Grease and the druid's Entangle.  He also wears Mage Armor most combats and in risky situations uses Shield.
For some reason the Pathfinder SRD does not have the alternate Monk Archetypes from the Advanced Player's Guide.  The Ki Mystic is unchanged at the first two monk levels, and then has the ability Still Mind replaced by the following new ability:
Ki Mystic (Su): At 3rd level, a Ki Mystic gains a pool of ki points equal to his Wisdom modifier. The pool increases to 1/2 his monk level + his Wisdom modifier + 2 at level 4. If the monk has at least 1 point of ki in his ki pool, he gains a +2 bonus on all Knowledge skill checks. As a swift action, the monk can spend 1 ki point immediately before making an ability or skill check to gain a +4 insight bonus on the check.

medium quadruped eidolon (a rocky lizard, somewhat like a stumpy alligator)

Planned Skills: The eidolon gets four flexible class skills: use Acrobatics, Disable DeviceSurvival, and Use Magic Device. With every eidolon hit die take one rank in Perception, Stealth, and Use Magic Device.  After putting one rank into Survival to activate the class skill bonus, alternate the fourth skill rank between Acrobatics and Disable Device.

Planned Feats: Power Attack, Improved Grapple, Coordinated Maneuvers, and Greater Grapple.

Planned Evolutions: Always have Mount, Claws, and Pounce.  Once qualified, always have Rake and Energy Attacks.  Ozzie will eventually have twelve evolution points: his final form will have Mount, Claws, Pounce, Improved Natural Armor twice, Skilled (Stealth), Rake, Energy Attacks, and Trip.

Ozzie often charges.  He attacks with his bite and both claws in combat rounds when being grappled is too dangerous.  But most of the time he grapples, since each grappling "damage" attempt attacks with bite and two raking claws, which does the same damage but further hinders the opponent.  After ninth level grappling really shines because the feat Greater Grapple allows two sets of bite and two raking class each turn.

When Ozzie grapples then Jouns cannot use the "Cover" Ride action and must keep one hand on the horn of his military saddle.

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