Summon Monster… Mess and Project

It’s an interesting thing… I’ve been trying to work on a slightly odd cleric for my new character in the Pathfinder game I’m playing in and one of the things I wanted to focus on was making a cleric who made good use of Summon Monster spells… the problem is, well, Summon Monster is pretty awful as an option.

Well, to be fair, there is a certain small window in the middle levels where the creatures you summon are actually sort of worth it – especially if you’ve spent the feats to have Augment Summoning. Of course, for a good cleric this is doubly a trap because Augment Summoning needs Spell Focus (Conjuration) as a prerequisite. If you are a good cleric you find that you have no spells that you will cast that SF will ever improve the DC of. It’s truly odd. Of course, this plays into my current feeling that the cleric is kind of useless. I could be wrong but I don’t see the value of the cleric… but that’s completely different rant… this is about Summon Monster.

I suppose it’s possible that clerics aren’t really meant to be summoners – but why put the spell on their list then? More to the point, when you have Summon Monster and Summon Nature’s Ally both in the game… why is the Summon Monster list full of animals and elementals? Shouldn’t it be full of… monsters? I realize that these monsters get the Celestial or Fiendish templates but that hardly masks the fact that, well, they’re still animals.

Let’s put that aside for a moment. Two more things you’ll notice when you look through the Summon Monster spell lists is that some levels have very few options (the 8th level spell has 3 choices on it) and very few options that make sense for PCs of certain alignments. That 8th level list I mentioned – two evil and a neutral. So a chaotic good cleric who worships the Azatas gets what… an elemental? Maybe it’s just me but I’d like a few more options. On top of that, Pathfinder has several more Bestiaries since these lists were published and they are part of the core – available on the PRD on Paizo’s website so it’s not exactly like the average Pathfinder player wouldn’t have access to these creatures. So why no updates to the SM lists?

Additionally, the power curve for summoned creatures is wonky. Not that summoned creatures are terribly too weak in all cases – but in some they lag badly. And some options seem a little too good at times. Ultimately, I’d just like summoning to be a viable strategy for characters who don’t have Eidolons.

Well, my GM is a great lady who wants her players to be happy, so she’s offered to let me work on a few options for Summon Monster lists that stay within the bounds of the CRs established by Paizo but which offer more interesting choices than the current lists. Specifically, I’m tying the lists to alignment. My first project is a set of lists adding creatures for Neutral Good or Chaotic Good casters. It’s up to you which creatures to take off the lists. Please critique, comment, and if you know of any interesting alternate summon monster lists using only Paizo content (no 3PP) I’d love to hear about them.

Summon Monster lists for CG PCs
Summon Monster I
add
Sprite (CR 1/3)

Summon Monster II
add
Atomie (CR 1)
Grig (CR 1)
Mockingfey (CR 1)
(I wanted to add the Faun but it seems better than CR 1… use if you want.)

Summon Monster III
add
Agathion, Silvanshee (CR 2)
Faerie Dragon (CR 2)
Dweomercat, Cub (CR 2)
Foo Dog (CR 2)

Summon Monster IV
add (all CR 4)
Agathion, Bishop
Half Celestial Unicorn (this is a pretty cool sample creature)
Owlbear
Pixie (use at your own risk)

Summon Monster V
(*this level already has the Bralani Azata – the best overall value in Summon Monster period)
add
Agathion, Vulpinal (CR 6)
Djinni (CR 6)
Celestial Giant Owl (CR 6)

I’ll leave off there for now. I can always revisit the higher levels later. As I mentioned, please feel free to critique and comment. I’d love to hear what any of you have done with Summon Monster.

Thanks for reading.

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