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This is my main concern with summoning.   Tossing an additional ally onto the battlefield, even if all it's doing is soaking up attacks, is immensely valuable.

One word on behalf of summoners: this enables the player to create a non-optimal party (e.g.lots of d4, d6, d8 classes; party leans heavily towards stealth or non-combat skills) and still make it through the campaign on Normal or Hard settings without incurring a discouraging number of TPKs. I can't tell you the number of times that summoning has saved my bacon.

 

If players wish to abuse summoning, then they're the ones detracting from the gameplay experience and have no one but themselves to blame. It need not be the ne plus ultra tactic for wizards, but it should be a potent and viable one.

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Go afield with a good attitude, with respect for the wildlife you hunt and for the forests and fields in which you walk. Immerse yourself in the outdoors experience. It will cleanse your soul and make you a better person.----Fred Bear

 

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I think the point, Tsuga, was that, even when your party is already optimal, you just get a free heaping dose of extra-character tossed out onto the battlefield. In other words, we should find a way for summoning to be able to be of great significance in certain situations without having it always be of the same significance.


Should we not start with some Ipelagos, or at least some Greater Ipelagos, before tackling a named Arch Ipelago? 6_u

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I think the point...

I understood the point quite well, thank you.


http://cbrrescue.org/

 

Go afield with a good attitude, with respect for the wildlife you hunt and for the forests and fields in which you walk. Immerse yourself in the outdoors experience. It will cleanse your soul and make you a better person.----Fred Bear

 

http://michigansaf.org/

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I understood the point quite well, thank you.

Well... I actually didn't claim you didn't, for what it's worth. I merely re-emphasized the specifics of the point, in case you didn't, as seemed to potentially be the case. Especially with your suggestion that the usage of typical summoning with a non-sub-optimal party is somehow "abuse."

 

That being said, if I am wrong, then I am both sorry and confused.

Edited by Lephys

Should we not start with some Ipelagos, or at least some Greater Ipelagos, before tackling a named Arch Ipelago? 6_u

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Evidently I failed to express myself clearly. I didn't mean to imply that powerful summoning was abusive; rather, I meant to say that it's a useful tool for less than combat-optimal parties. If a player with a well balanced party or a min-maxed, powergamed party wants to ruin their own gameplay experience by abusing powerful summons, then that's their business.


http://cbrrescue.org/

 

Go afield with a good attitude, with respect for the wildlife you hunt and for the forests and fields in which you walk. Immerse yourself in the outdoors experience. It will cleanse your soul and make you a better person.----Fred Bear

 

http://michigansaf.org/

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A party that (ab)uses powerful summons *is* a min-maxed, powergamed party. A party that doesn't use summons is a suboptimal party. If we're assuming roughly equal skill levels between players across the table (because the more skilled players are helping the less-skilled ones, or are underoptimizing on purpose so as to be a good sport), a party that can't build a decent fighter probably won't be able to shore up their weaknesses with effective uses of summons either.

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I hope I don't upset anyone with my views, but as a huge fan of summoning in games, I want to share my views on how I think it has been done best. Here's my two cents.

 

Although I absolutely love summoning, I have two pet hates when it comes to summoning in games:

 

1. Summons with duration.

 

2. Limits upon how many summons I can have, which don't relate to my power as a wizard.

 

With too many restrictions summoning just isn't fun. Summoners are megalomaniacs and want a pootent army. One or two skeletons is child's play and insulting.

 

I think the very original version of Diablo II, before there were any patches, did it right. You got a new skeleton with every point you invested in the skill. Five points in Summon Skeleton, you got to make 5 Skeletons. Each skeleton still required a corpse to be made, and still cost mana to create. The skeletons weren't limited by some silly number and because you could summon forth a decent army of skeletons you felt like a proper Necromancer. You were limited only by resources (corpses), ability (Summoning skill) and your mental capacity (mana).

 

It wasn't overpowered, because the skeletons were relatively weak and missed a lot. They were tough enough to endure a couple of hits each, but not more. There was a separate skill that increased the strength of the individual skeletons, but you only ever had 1 point to spend each level. So it was always a balance between fewer stronger skeletons, or an abundance of weak skeletons.

 

To complement the skeletons were also ranged skeletons (which hurled bolts of fire, frost, lightning and poison) and various types of Golems which acted as tanks.  Unlike the plentiful skeletons, you could only ever have one golem summoned at a time. Investing points in the skill just made the golem stronger. By level twenty or so you had a pretty good little unit: 5 or 6 skeletal mages, 5 or 6 skeletal warriors, and a golem. It was almost perfect, except I always wished for skeletal archers too.

 

Of all the games I've played, no game has done summoning as well as Diablo II did back in 1999 or 2000 when it was released.

 

 

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There are a lot of games out there where you have a minion doing the fighting for you and these games can be charming. Recent game I played tales of maj eyal you can be a monster summoner in the game which plays different then all the games classes. You basically feel like a bad ass pokemon master summoning minotaurs and other crap to gang up and murder things. You do very little fighting yourself. It can be boring at times but its awesome feel when you a low hp weak pokemon master dude and you slowly summon up a horde of pals to beat up a bunch of rowdy orcs. 

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Of all the games I've played, no game has done summoning as well as Diablo II did back in 1999 or 2000 when it was released.

This is true, but, to be good at summoning, as the Necro, you had to kind of sacrifice your direct-damage capabilities (relative to any other character that wasn't summoning). In other words, you weren't a mega-powerful Necromancer (individually) who now has an army of summoned things. You were a Necromancer who was powerful BECAUSE he had an army of summoned things. If you were still uber-powerful on your own, PLUS the army of summoned things, then something would be wrong.

 

That's why it worked so well. The problem with some of the summons in games is that they're hardly a trade-off. "Choose a new Level 8 spell, Mr. D&D Wizard. Okay, you chose Summon Major NetherDemon." Awesome. Now you're a fully capable Wizard, on your own, with like 20 spells at your disposal, all WHILE a powerful NetherDemon basically joins your party for 20 rounds.

 

There are many adjustments to that that suck.

 

- "He only joins your party for 2 rounds." Great. Now summoning sucks, because you have such a small window in which for him to do things.

 

- "He's actually not that powerful." Great. Now everything else is a much better option than that summoning spell.

 

To name a couple. So, IF you're not just going to go with the whole build balance thing, like Diablo II did, where you basically rely on your summons as what makes you powerful, rather than your character's own spell-tossing capabilities, you've got to figure out SOME way to make the summoning a manifestation of your power, and not just a supplement to it. Otherwise, you've got the magic equivalent of a Warrior growing a third arm, complete with its own longsword +2, and you're fine with it because it's only temporary.

 

That's another problem with the way D&D does it, for example. Early on, you can summon maybe a wolf or something. Maybe you can even do this a couple of times. But you can only do it for a round. So, you get two rounds of wolf, and pretty much nothing else (if you used up all your memorization slots with Summon Wolf). That's literally as hardcore summoner as you can go, and it only gets you 2 rounds of wolf, that MIGHT actually be effective, maybe. Whereas, 2 Magic Missiles gets you a guaranteed 4-10 damage.

 

In Diablo II, at Level 1 (or 2? If 2 was the first level at which you gained allocatable skill points... I can't remember), you could choose "Summon Skeleton," and that skeleton would serve as the core of your effectiveness from that point on. It never felt like an addon to your Necromancer-ness, but rather a part of it.

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Should we not start with some Ipelagos, or at least some Greater Ipelagos, before tackling a named Arch Ipelago? 6_u

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I think 4th edition had the right idea: Your summons use the same actions as you. By itself it's not a perfect solution (you still have to deal with a summoned monster being stronger than a dedicated fighter-type PC, but 4E deals with that issue in other ways) but by far the most broken aspect of 3.X summon spells is that you could shatter the action economy.

 

(Gotta admit though, I love mass-summoning lantern archons. Pew pew pew!)

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Of all the games I've played, no game has done summoning as well as Diablo II did back in 1999 or 2000 when it was released.

This is true, but, to be good at summoning, as the Necro, you had to kind of sacrifice your direct-damage capabilities (relative to any other character that wasn't summoning). In other words, you weren't a mega-powerful Necromancer (individually) who now has an army of summoned things. You were a Necromancer who was powerful BECAUSE he had an army of summoned things. If you were still uber-powerful on your own, PLUS the army of summoned things, then something would be wrong.

 

 

You are absolutely right. A summoner in D2 was only strong while his minions were around, and that's exactly how it should be. D&D does it wrong because they make a wizard that is capable in his own right, and then he gets summons as well. Of course then it will be either overpowered, or the summons are so pathetically weak that they are useless.

 

A wizard that is capable in his own right (able to hurl fireballs and what not) should have weak summons. But a wizard who wants to be a powerful conjurer should be able to sacrifice all of that and get very good summons. That way summoning is fun, powerful, balanced and not a silly gimmick like it is in so many games. Someone who plays as a summoner doesn't want direct attack abilities anyway.

 

I think that for summoning to work best in Project Eternity they need  to have a mage sacrifice all his other abilities if he wants good summons. Better still, the summoner should be his own class with summoning related abilities and no, or few/weak, direct attack abilities. Without his creatures to protect him, he should be as helpless in a combat situation as a blind man in a wheelchair - or a warrior with no arms and no armour. That's essentially what the summons should be: the weapons and armour of the conjurer.

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How about this: Summons turn hostile after a while. For instance after no enemies remain. (other than summons)

Now their use is a tactical choice, too strong, and you'll have to deal with them after your other enemies are defeated, too weak and they're useless.

You can summon as many as you want, but unless the enemy is harming them, you're going to have a problem if you summon too many.

 

That ought to solve the balance issue, make players balance it themselves.

Edited by JFSOCC

Remember: Argue the point, not the person. Remain polite and constructive. Friendly forums have friendly debate. There's no shame in being wrong. If you don't have something to add, don't post for the sake of it. And don't be afraid to post thoughts you are uncertain about, that's what discussion is for.
---
Pet threads, everyone has them. I love imagining Gods, Monsters, Factions and Weapons.

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How about this: Summons turn hostile after a while. For instance after no enemies remain. (other than summons)

Now their use is a tactical choice, too strong, and you'll have to deal with them after your other enemies are defeated, too weak and they're useless.

You can summon as many as you want, but unless the enemy is harming them, you're going to have a problem if you summon too many.

 

That ought to solve the balance issue, make players balance it themselves.

That's kind of, sort of how it works in Shadowrun. Except it's much more front-side prep heavy in that. You spend resources on a contract with said spirit, so you're guaranteed to get it for so many actions/rounds/hours, or whathaveyou. After that, you can, through sheer force of, ehh... not really will, but, sort of... dominance? You can basically resist its resistance. Or, I might be getting the Shadowrun:Returns method of handling it mixed up with the actual PnP rules now. I just remember there being some sort of "you can keep controlling it without any actual contract charges left, but you risk a lot at that point" bit. Also, people could actually make a check to wrestle control away from you. They could even accomplish this, THEN lose control of the spirit themselves. Sometimes the spirit, once under no one's dominion, would attack everyone in sight. Sometimes it would keep fighting for whomever it pleased. Sometimes it would simply pull a "ta ta for now!", wave, and go back to its plane or whatever.

 

Anywho, while that's a good way of doing it, it still doesn't handle the problem of a summoner being stupidly capable by simply adding manpower to the existing forces of a battle, especially if allowed to summon multiple things. Not that I'm against that type of mechanic by itself, or anything. The variable control over a summoned thing, I mean.

 

Also, I just wanted to point out, for what it's worth, that the sheer combat strength of summons is not their only utility. So, even if we're going with the D2 necro-type summoning, where you can basically be super potent by yourself and have very weak (combat/resilience-wise) summons, OR be pretty weak on your own but have numerous/potent summons that are almost constantly at your disposal (to functionally serve as your weapons). Even if you choose to go light on the summoning, they could still be quite useful with unique abilities/traits, regardless of how many hits they can take in combat or how much damage they do.

 

Having your summoned minions literally just be grunts in an army is but one use for them, which is yet another reason I think the "summoning as a manifestation of your potency/capability as a caster" blueprint is such a good one to go with. It really handles a lot of problems and provides a lot of choice, and there's a good bit of flexibility, still, with exactly how to do it. You could still have more potent, individual summons limit the amount of other things you can summon at the time, etc. Or have talents(feats) that serve to help progress your style of summoning in different ways, so that even when only going partial summoner and focusing more on caster non-summoning prowess, you could either tailor your summons more to being numerous and varied, or less numerous and more focused in role, utilitarian or straight up potent, ranged/stealthy or defensive/melee/tanky, etc.


Should we not start with some Ipelagos, or at least some Greater Ipelagos, before tackling a named Arch Ipelago? 6_u

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Seriously consider what a summoning spell does. It teleports an entity from some far flung location, and dominates it--adding another friendly combatant to the field.

 

This is very powerful when compared to other spells. Essentially, you get two things for one. A weapon that wields itself. How can this be balanced? Balancing summons has already been done. It's all about control.

 

If there is the potential to lose control over their summon, related to either potency, volume, or both. If your summon can potentially turn on you, it's an entirely different risk and decision to summon one. I believe it's really that simple.

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It's all about control.

 

If there is the potential to lose control over their summon, related to either potency, volume, or both. If your summon can potentially turn on you, it's an entirely different risk and decision to summon one. I believe it's really that simple.

Yeah, but the element of control is merely a chance factor that doesn't in any way handle the extreme value of the summon. It simply turns it into a potential value, with the potential for catastrophe thrown in.

 

I agree with the control thing, however, but I look at it differently: The COST of control. The most prominent/easy-to-think-of example being "I summoned this big strong thing, so now I have a caster AND a big strong thing, but I can only fully control one at a time." Obviously there's leeway there, and it depends on the potency of the caster and the potency of the summon. If you're level 15, and you summon a little badger, I don't think that should cost you full control. But, maybe all your spells are 15% less effective while part of your energy is going toward the dominion of that magical badger friend. Heck, maybe the big strong baddie summon could still do things while your caster also retains control of himself, but suffers an 80% penalty to spell/ability effectiveness while they're both being controlled. *shrug*

 

I think the easiest way to handle that is simply the "if you start casting a spell, you have to divert your efforts of control back to your caster to effectively work the spell to full effect, so the summoned thing is just going to go dormant while you're casting. Then, when you're able to devote full attention to control of that minion, it can function to its fullest."

 

Basically, you have two characters worth of utility. You simply can't have to share active energy between both of them. You can't have your summoned demon thing be casting Hellstorm WHILE your caster is casting Energy Shield. One or the other. Again, doesn't have to be that way. Could be some hybrid.

 

But, I don't think "there's a percentage chance this thing will break out of your control and go apeshyte on everyone in the area, but so long as that doesn't happen, he still gets to be an additional, fully-functional party member" really handles the problem. That isn't to say the "potential to lose control of your summon" idea is useless or dumb. I just don't think it's enough to handle the issue at hand on its own.


Should we not start with some Ipelagos, or at least some Greater Ipelagos, before tackling a named Arch Ipelago? 6_u

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Seriously consider what a summoning spell does. It teleports an entity from some far flung location, and dominates it--adding another friendly combatant to the field.

 

This is very powerful when compared to other spells. Essentially, you get two things for one. A weapon that wields itself. How can this be balanced? Balancing summons has already been done. It's all about control.

 

If there is the potential to lose control over their summon, related to either potency, volume, or both. If your summon can potentially turn on you, it's an entirely different risk and decision to summon one. I believe it's really that simple.

That's only one method of balancing it, and I don't think it is a particularly fun or enjoyable one. While it makes sense for powerful demons, it doesn't make sense for other things.

 

Take for instance, a golem. This is a relatively mindless and subserviant construct. Perhaps the golem was made from a mixture of the summoner's blood and a large amount of clay. Its lifeforce depends upon the summoner because it is from the summoner's blood/lifeforce that the creature is derived. It's not going to suddenly turn hostile upon its creator. It's merely a vessel to serve, a weapon to be wielded with the mind. Like any weapon, if the wielder becomes too fatigued to use it will stand idle without orders. A warrior's sword doesn't all of a sudden decide to stab its wielder. Like any weapon, wielding it also has requirements. Like a warrior only has one hand with which to wield a sword, a summoner might only have one golem summoning slot with which to wield his golem. Or perhaps the amount of mana reserved to maintain the summon is the restricting element, and more golems could be made if they were weaker or the summoner had more mana with which to control them.

 

Not all summons are creatures to be dominated. Some serve willingly. Take for instance a Druid and his pack of wolf companions. They have a natural affinity or understanding with each other. The druid doesn't force them to be there, he requests their help. His standing/reputation with nature is represented by his summoning skill, and his gift to nature in return for their services is represented with mana or a spell slot. They won't all of a sudden, because of a rather thoughtless method of balance, decide to attack their master. He has already paid the price for them to be there. It doesn't make sense lorewise, and it isn't fun for the player.

 

No, I'm sorry, but beyond the summoning of demons your method of balance is not applicable.

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What if part of the damage dealt to summons is also dealt to the caster?

or alternatively, what if part of the damage dealt to summons is dealt to the caster's stamina, and each summon requires a stamina upkeep?

Edited by JFSOCC
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Remember: Argue the point, not the person. Remain polite and constructive. Friendly forums have friendly debate. There's no shame in being wrong. If you don't have something to add, don't post for the sake of it. And don't be afraid to post thoughts you are uncertain about, that's what discussion is for.
---
Pet threads, everyone has them. I love imagining Gods, Monsters, Factions and Weapons.

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What if part of the damage dealt to summons is also dealt to the caster?

or alternatively, what if part of the damage dealt to summons is dealt to the caster's stamina, and each summon requires a stamina upkeep?

 

I do actually like that idea.

 

If a caster creates (not teleports from elsewhere, actually creates) a being that is bound to his lifeforce, it could be that when that creature dies the caster is significantly damaged. For example, if the caster has 125 health and each of his summons "reserves" 25 of his health in order to be maintained, then if he has 5 minions summoned and one of them dies then I think it's actually quite an interesting mechanic if when that creature dies the summoner instantly loses 25 of his health. That means that for every creature destroyed, it directly wounds the summoner.

 

So essentially it could be that Summoning as a whole requires a variety of different methods for different types of summons. I think that is the ideal solution.

 

A. Demons/Powerful Summons

For the summoning of unpredictable demons Mr. Magniloquent's idea is very good. The idea that a demon would want to break free from your control and kill you is very plausible and a good way to balance a powerful, yet unpredictable and unwilling, ally. Powerful forms of undead might also be applicable in this category, such as banshees, vampires, liches, wraiths and various other spirits.

 

B. Constructs/Creations

When a summoner creates a minion himself from raw materials, it should be 100% loyal to its master but its life had to come from somewhere. Ideally, that would be the caster himself. Whenever a creature created in this manner dies, the master is directly effected. For a weaker summon, he is wounded. For stronger summons, he is perhaps severely or fatally wounded. This is where the summoner pays in blood for every summon... literally.

 

I do believe simple undead creatures fall into this category. Skeletons and zombies, they are mindless vessels. Golems and things which are artificial creations would also fall into this category. These creatures wouldn't be as powerful as those above, but they'd form the reliable bread and butter force.

 

C. Other

For the summoning of other creatures where the creature is not subjugated or created, like when a druid summons wolf allies to his aid, perhaps a simple reserve on stamina/mana/whatever like JFOCC suggested is best. These creatures serve of their own will, so not going to turn on you like creatures A. Nor will they damage you upon death like creatures B. Instead the fact that these creatures serve of their own accord is their weakness. Perhaps if a fight begins to turn sour, the wolves will retreat and abandon their druid. They want to help their friend, but won't pay for it with the blood of the whole pack. Perhaps the strong and powerful bear is only willing to help for a short period of time, or only once a day. That is how these creatures could be balanced.

 

What do you all think of that?

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Seriously consider what a summoning spell does. It teleports an entity from some far flung location, and dominates it--adding another friendly combatant to the field.

 

This is very powerful when compared to other spells. Essentially, you get two things for one. A weapon that wields itself. How can this be balanced? Balancing summons has already been done. It's all about control.

 

If there is the potential to lose control over their summon, related to either potency, volume, or both. If your summon can potentially turn on you, it's an entirely different risk and decision to summon one. I believe it's really that simple.

That's only one method of balancing it, and I don't think it is a particularly fun or enjoyable one. While it makes sense for powerful demons, it doesn't make sense for other things.

 

Take for instance, a golem. This is a relatively mindless and subserviant construct. Perhaps the golem was made from a mixture of the summoner's blood and a large amount of clay. Its lifeforce depends upon the summoner because it is from the summoner's blood/lifeforce that the creature is derived. It's not going to suddenly turn hostile upon its creator. It's merely a vessel to serve, a weapon to be wielded with the mind. Like any weapon, if the wielder becomes too fatigued to use it will stand idle without orders. A warrior's sword doesn't all of a sudden decide to stab its wielder. Like any weapon, wielding it also has requirements. Like a warrior only has one hand with which to wield a sword, a summoner might only have one golem summoning slot with which to wield his golem. Or perhaps the amount of mana reserved to maintain the summon is the restricting element, and more golems could be made if they were weaker or the summoner had more mana with which to control them.

 

Not all summons are creatures to be dominated. Some serve willingly. Take for instance a Druid and his pack of wolf companions. They have a natural affinity or understanding with each other. The druid doesn't force them to be there, he requests their help. His standing/reputation with nature is represented by his summoning skill, and his gift to nature in return for their services is represented with mana or a spell slot. They won't all of a sudden, because of a rather thoughtless method of balance, decide to attack their master. He has already paid the price for them to be there. It doesn't make sense lorewise, and it isn't fun for the player.

 

No, I'm sorry, but beyond the summoning of demons your method of balance is not applicable.

 

 

It makes sense for almost all summons. Summons are generally monsters, elementals, djinni/efreeti, demons--things with no relation to the Wizard. All of those summons were transported their without their consent and forced into a battle that does not concern them. Most non-intelligent creatures would merely seek to flee as soon as possible, while intelligent monsters might seek revenge. Even Druidic summons have little incentive to fight. They do not differ from other summons in being brought into a battle that doesn't concern them, it is merely the magical compulsion which gives them motive to fight.

 

What you described are not summons, but animal companions. Companions have a vested interest in a battle, as they are connected to the participant. Summons do not. I like your example of a golem being directly controlled by the conciousness of a Wizard similar to a warrior's sword. Even without that caveat, it makes sense that for minions that are created rather than merely summoned by the caster would not be concerned with control or betrayal, as that would be implicit in the creation of any servant. Summons that are ideologically aligned with the caster might decide that they will continue the fight at the Wizard's behest. Non-intelligent creatures would be more likely to do this, but intelligent creatures are more complex and have motives of their own. That attitude might also change if the summon were to suffer friendly-fire from the Wizard as well.

 

 

Summoning changes the fundamental nature of an engagement. It introduces new participants with potentially spells and abilities. A difficult battle can be made intermediate when you summon a creature to even the odds. A trivial battle might be made into an intermediate threat should you lose control of the summon you just conjured to take out the trash. Save-scummers aside, the potential for a summon to turn on your party has a dampening effect in that the player will summon when necessary, rather than because they can. Even when needed, there would be no garauntee. It's also creates the potential for specialization, as a dedicated summoner would then take feats and skills which both diminish the risk and expand the benefits of summoning; therefore, forgoing other benefits to spellcasting.

 

 

Consider and experince I had in Temple of Elemental Evil. I was fighting the final boss, but I was having alot of trouble damaging it. I was coping with its abilities, but it was a battle of attrition that I was not in my favor. During the course of the battle, the villain summoned a Glabrezu--which would have easily torn through my party. Luckily, my Wizard cast Charm Monster, and it worked! I couldn't believe it! Thus, my party held the villain and its lesser minions at bay, while the Glabrezu shredded through the boss.

 

Do not underestimate the potential for having even a 10-15% chance of your summong turning against you as the principal balancing factor. For every reason you want a summon on the field, you do not want it to be against you. Think of it terms of other spells. If that fireball spell has a 10-15% chance of detonating directly on top of your party rather than across the field where you want it to go, you will seriously contemplate using the spell and self-censor accordingly.

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Just a thought based on the game mechanics as we know them (gaining modal and active ablities). Let's say a Druid or Wizard wants to invest in summoning. May he should need to select an active summoning ability to increase his summons. So, for example, each active ability adds a new summoned creature. He could then also choose modal abilities to improve the quality of summons. Of course, had he not chosen these he could have improved his other spell casting abilities. I think this would be cool, as you could really specialize a character. I could have a mage who is a powerful damage dealer who maybe can summon one weak servant, or a necromancer with an army of undead, who can pelt enemies with weak missles to soften them up for his monsters.

I love playing summoners. Both in Diablo 2 and Arcanum I did my first run through as summoners. My Arcana character was a true wimp. She had all of her points in charisma and summoning and by the end of the game I think I had about 8 followers and a mass of summons. The game was just about as easy the second time around with a melee based techbased no charisma dwarf. That's the way it should be.

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Mr. Magniloquent... while what you say has merit, I dare say you hold to a very strict definition of the word "summon," as if any other does not exist. There are plenty of instances of summoning in plenty of RPGs in which the caster simply conjures an entity into existence (or, if you wanna get extra technical, converts energy/material into an animated or even "living" entity). Look at the Diablo 2 example of the Necromancer. You don't call skeletons from the plain of Skeleton Minions and dominate their will to your bidding. You literally animate a physically existing corpse under your own power as a Necromancer. In other games, a Wizard may summon a wolf made of pure mana/energy, which disperses after its allotted "lifespan." In this way, josan motierre's golem example was rather effective.

 

Granted, this doesn't mean that SOME forms of summoning aren't the forceful teleportation and domination of an already-existing creature/entity from another realm (or even the dominion of an entity in the same realm/environment). But, there's hardly any reason to dismiss animated things and constructs, and hardly any reason to allow them, but insist that they must come from a different plane where they frolic in their own ecosystem and possess wills of their own.

 

If that fireball spell has a 10-15% chance of detonating directly on top of your party rather than across the field where you want it to go, you will seriously contemplate using the spell and self-censor accordingly.

I don't think it quite achieves the effect you describe. If that fireball always dealt 15% damage to the caster, at the cost of dealing lots of fire-splosion damage to your enemies, THEN you'd seriously contemplate using the spell and treat it as a weighty decision, every single time. When it simply has a chance to produce only a positive effect, and a chance to produce only a negative effect, there isn't really much to consider. All that's really left is hope and finger-crossing.

 

I dare say percentages and chance are not the best means of balancing a creature's potency and semi-permanent existence.

 

 

Oh! Josan:

 

What if, in regard to your "Other" category above (the wolves simply being called as allies), such allies were subject to some kind of morale system? If you wait 'til the battle's looking dire, they come in with full morale, but a smaller pool. And/or maybe if one or more of them die, wolves are less likely to come to your aid soon after (extended cooldown or some similar effect)? Also, it might be interesting if you could convey general intent to such creatures (tell them when to attack, or fall back, or defend, and maybe indicate targets), but you couldn't actually control their individual actions and attack timings? I mean, wolves, for example, wouldn't be Pokemon. So you wouldn't really be able to be all "Now, use BITESTORM!!!" :). That's what could differentiate such allies from actual animal companions and familiars and the like. *shrug*

Edited by Lephys
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Should we not start with some Ipelagos, or at least some Greater Ipelagos, before tackling a named Arch Ipelago? 6_u

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If that fireball spell has a 10-15% chance of detonating directly on top of your party rather than across the field where you want it to go, you will seriously contemplate using the spell and self-censor accordingly.

I don't think it quite achieves the effect you describe. If that fireball always dealt 15% damage to the caster, at the cost of dealing lots of fire-splosion damage to your enemies, THEN you'd seriously contemplate using the spell and treat it as a weighty decision, every single time. When it simply has a chance to produce only a positive effect, and a chance to produce only a negative effect, there isn't really much to consider. All that's really left is hope and finger-crossing.

 

I disagree. 15% of X damage 100% of time is not the same as 100% of X damage 15% of the time. If using a spell incurs a 15% risk that you party will incur a loss of half, or even more than half of their total HP--that is incredibly different from being garunteed to only losing a significantly smaller fraction.

 

Mind you, losing control of a summon doesn't necessarily mean it will turn hostile. It may stand idle, go berserk, or flee, some may even decide to remain and help--but under their own direction. Either way, it's an effective check on summoning, as it will have invalidated the player's action to summon. Summons generally function like a damage over time spell--they must be out over durations to reach their full cost effectiveness. When you summon a creature, you incur an opporuntity of cost of producing some other more immediate effect. Having that action invalidated through loss of control, or it being countered by another Wizard is a very real detriment.

 

A check to remain control can occur as frequently or infrequently as designers deem at whatever difficultly deemed necessary to balance out the presence of a summon. Balancing out the quantity of summons on the field is the easiest and best way of balancing summoning spells. By giving a spellcasting mechanic and in-game reason for quantifying how many summons are on the field, it allows developers to create summons which are effective and/or plentiful, while simultaneously granting freedom to the player to determine what degree of risk they are willing to accept in exchange for such power. That feels like a distinctly suitable price for a summoning specialist.

Edited by Mr. Magniloquent

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^ I believe you may have misunderstood. That may have been the fault of my wording.

 

Let me attempt to clarify:

 

Being able to make decisions that actually alter the risk chance, itself, is FAR more effective than simply dealing with a static risk chance.

 

In other words, "Oh, we're fighting around lots of flammable dried up brush in this wooded area. The offensive effects of my fireball here would definitely be beneficial to me, but at the great risk of starting fires beyond my control that might hurt me. Do I risk it in this situation, or do I express caution and use it only in less risky circumstances?"

 

THAT'S a weighty decision. Much more so than "Every single time I try to summon this thing, no matter what, it could, purely by chance, turn on me and my allies, or at the very least be beyond my control. Should I risk casting this?" There's not really a decision to make there, beyond "Do I think this spell's even worth ever using, or do I not?"

 

I mean, maybe you're cautious by only using it when you pretty much have no other choice? "Well, the party's about to die, so, what have I got to lose?" But then, you're still just flipping a coin and hoping. You can't mitigate your risk at all.

 

Now, where I DO see value in this factor is in sort of capping your summoned numbers, so to speak. I don't think the sheer act of summoning a single thing should ever come with a static chance of horrible failure. But, maybe you've got 2 things summoned, and you want to summon a third, and now you start getting a chance of loss of control. You can actively choose to be careful and only summon 2 things at any given time (purely for example), or risk summoning 3 or more.

 

I still don't quite enjoy the thought of the extremes of that, though. Through sheer luck, you could end up with 6 summoned allies, negating any and all challenge balancing at play.

 

Also, maybe some combination would work better? Maybe you always summon successfully (so you always get the positive benefit of the summoned ally, instead of it possibly being a purely negative injection into the battlefield), yet there's a chance of suffering a negative effect? Maybe you could become stunned for 10 seconds, because you failed a Will check. Heck, maybe it even does as it pleases while your caster is stunned, but he then regains his senses and regains control of the creature, with a shorter effective duration of controlled, summoned aid?

 

I simply don't think the pure either-or approach is a very good means of control. No one likes a 10% chance to EITHER get to play the role of summoner effectively OR accidentally slaughter their entire party, each time they consider summoning.

 

Look at AOE friendly fire. You manage the risk. If 2 of your party mates are within the circle, maybe you still cast it because you hope the damage to your enemies better allows you to end combat quickly to make the damage to your allies worth it. Or maybe you lay down a firewall knowing that you'll have to keep your allies away from it.

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Should we not start with some Ipelagos, or at least some Greater Ipelagos, before tackling a named Arch Ipelago? 6_u

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Now, where I DO see value in this factor is in sort of capping your summoned numbers, so to speak. I don't think the sheer act of summoning a single thing should ever come with a static chance of horrible failure. But, maybe you've got 2 things summoned, and you want to summon a third, and now you start getting a chance of loss of control. You can actively choose to be careful and only summon 2 things at any given time (purely for example), or risk summoning 3 or more.

 

We are in agreement. This was my intention. I believe I may have not explained myself as well as I should have, also. I thought it was implicit in that the balance of the number/potency of the summons could be balanced for any desired level. One high-powered demon might be as difficult to control as three lesser monsters, etc. Every summon would have a type of..."exertion score" that would play against the summoner's relevant casting skill/mental attribute. This would be entirely adjustable as the designers see fit to balance the type and number of summons controllable by one person given X abilities at any one time.

 

I see it as an opportunity to allow summoners to have both potency and volume, while potentially creating a character development path for such an archetype. The required investment of feats and skills would cause the wizard to forgo other benefits of casting. In this way, as others have pointed out, would sub-due to powerful combination of summoning a horde while casting other spells at maximum effectiveness.

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Mr. Magniloquent... while what you say has merit, I dare say you hold to a very strict definition of the word "summon," as if any other does not exist.

 

Precisely. The kind of summoning Mr. Magniloquent describes is only one kind of summoning with a specific focus on D&D style summoning, prevalent in games such as NWN and NWN2 - which is by no means the best variety that has been utilised in games. It has been done better in other games.

 

I honestly think that this summoning problem is something that cannot be properly fixed with one solution. To be done best, it requires different mechanics to properly reflect the nature of the different summons. When it is a D&D style summon where something has been taken and subjugated from another plane of existence, Mr. Magniloquent's methods are good. However that is only one face of a cube we are discussing. There are still five other faces to be addressed. 

 

Or alternatively we could just stick with purely D&D style summons and have ALL the problems that previous D&D inspired games have had in the past. Summons that are too weak... A badger that lasts 15 seconds and does no damage... Only one badger can be summoned at once... If Mr. Magniloquent's idea of balancing summons is truly the only solution, then maybe that badger might also have a 15% chance of breaking free and attempting to slay the player. Mr. Magniloquent, I must also apologise if I ever sound too critical of your ideas. I mean no offence.

 

Please, don't let me enter a cave in this game to kill a necromancer who has a vast horde of really cool undead minions, while my sad excuse for a necromancer would have to cope with his one skeleton. A skeleton weaker than any other skeleton in the game, that only hangs around for 20 seconds. Please... not again. We can do better.

 

Oh! Josan:

What if, in regard to your "Other" category above (the wolves simply being called as allies), such allies were subject to some kind of morale system? If you wait 'til the battle's looking dire, they come in with full morale, but a smaller pool. And/or maybe if one or more of them die, wolves are less likely to come to your aid soon after (extended cooldown or some similar effect)? Also, it might be interesting if you could convey general intent to such creatures (tell them when to attack, or fall back, or defend, and maybe indicate targets), but you couldn't actually control their individual actions and attack timings? I mean, wolves, for example, wouldn't be Pokemon. So you wouldn't really be able to be all "Now, use BITESTORM!!!"  :). That's what could differentiate such allies from actual animal companions and familiars and the like. *shrug*

 

I think that's a good idea. I think that if you summoned a group of wolves to fight a Balrog, the morale would be quite low and they'd all just run away... but if you summoned them to finish off a group of bandits or a pack of Goblins they'd be ideal. Perhaps this timidity could be partially negated by some other skill the druid has. Furthermore, while a wolf pack is a more powerful group of creatures that you would want to keep alive and use situationally to maintain morale, a swarm of bees is a different story. They are more likely to go berserk with little regard for their own lives. I'm skeptical of how much a damage a bee's sting could inflict upon a Balrog, however.

 

Although, I worry about a morale system like that because it is not simple. It could be that a druid has a quantity of wolves per day that he can summon, a number determined by his prowess as a summoning druid. For example, let's say this number is 10. He can summon 10 wolves, but if one dies he can't get that wolf back for a while. After all, they aren't in numerous quantities in some other plane, nor are they created by him. And while there are probably many wolves in the world, he probably only has the allegiance of one pack. Therefore if he is careless with his wolves, their displeasure is demonstrated by their inability to serve again until they have recuperated. They might also flee from the battle.

 

In other words, these summons might be a resource in themselves.

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