Rogue Ramblings: Alternate Summoning Spells

By Owen K.C. Stephens (owenkcstephens.com)

Summoning is an extremely popular form of spell. It gives large benefits in actions per round, gives a broad variety of options at each level, and can be used easily for offense, defense, and even some utility efforts. It’s so popular it has a spellcasting class based on the idea (the summoner) but is also easily utilized by a broad range of arcane, divine, and even psychic spellcasters. As a result, it’s difficult to do much more with summoning magic without increasing their total effectiveness to a point that might be disruptive to gameplay.

But it can be done if you get creative.

These alternate summoning spells use the existing summoning rules and lists to create brand new effects by giving up some of what the summoned creatures can do, to make room for new options beyond the scope of any existing summoning spell. They emulate either the summon monster I through summon monster IX spells, or the summon nature’s ally I through summon nature’s ally IX spells, or both depending on what spell list they are cast from. Rather than listing the spells nine times, each set of alternate spells have a single stat block that notes what classes they are available to. For example, summon mercifer I-IX has all the information you need for all 9 summon mercifer spells. Summon mercifer I is a 1st level cleric, druid, shaman, and witch spell, and it functions as either summon monster I or summon nature’s ally I (depending on what class list it comes from) and works as those spells except as detailed in the spell description.

Alternate summoning spells can be modified or altered by anything that modifies or alters the summoning spells they are based on. Thus if a cleric has the Evolved Summoned Monster feat (Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Advanced Class Guide), it applies to creatures the cleric summons with the summon mercifer spells as well. However, these alternate summoning spells can only be cast from the listed class spell lists – the fact a summoner has access to the summon monster spells does not give them access to the summon mercifer spells, since summon mercifer doesn’t list summoners as a class that gains the spells. However since oracles and warpriests case spells from the cleric spell list, they do gain access to summon mercifer.

New Spells

Summon Guardian I-IX

School conjuration (summoning ); Level antipaladin 1-4, bard 1-6, cleric 1-9, psychic 1-9, spiritualist 1-6, summoner 1-6
Casting Time 1 round
Components V, S, F/DF (a tiny bag and a small candle)
Range close (25 ft. + 5 ft./2 levels)
Effect one (or more) summoned creature (see text)
Duration 1 round/level (D)
Saving Throw none; Spell Resistance no

These spells act as summon monster I through summon monster IX, with the following exceptions.

The creatures summoned cannot make any of their normal attacks, deal damage, or impose penalties or conditions on creatures on their turns. They do threaten, can be used to flank a foe, and can take attacks of opportunity.

Each summoned guardian can grant cover or partial cover to you or one ally. The cover or partial cover applies only the summoned guardian is adjacent to the creature it is granting cover to, and does not combine with any other form of cover to increase the total cover level. If the summoned guardian spell normally used to summon a single one of the guardian creatures is a 1st-3rd level spell, the summoned guardian can grant partial cover. If such a spell would be 4th-6th level spell, the summoned guardian can grant cover. If such a spell would be 7th-9th level, the guardian can grant cover and gains the Bodyguard feat as a bonus feat.

Summon Mercifer I-IX

School conjuration (summoning ); Level cleric 1-9, druid 1-9, shaman 1-9, witch 1-9
Casting Time 1 round
Components V, S, F/DF (a tiny bag and a small candle)
Range close (25 ft. + 5 ft./2 levels)
Effect one (or more) summoned creature (see text)
Duration 1 round/level (D)
Saving Throw none; Spell Resistance no

These spells act as summon monster I through summon monster IX (if cast from the cleric or witch spell lists) or summon nature’s ally I through summon nature’s ally IX (if cast from the druid or shaman spell lists), with the following exceptions.

The creatures summoned cannot make any of their normal attacks, deal damage, or impose penalties or conditions on creatures. They do not threaten, cannot be used to flank a foe, and cannot take attacks of opportunity. They gain a deflection bonus to AC and a resistance bonus to saving throws. These bonuses are equal to +1, and increase by an additional 1 for every three levels of the spell.

Each summoned creature is also able to heal you and your allies or grant bonuses to saving throws against ongoing effects. Each summoned mercifer creature can, as a full-round action, heal one target touched of hp equal to 1d3 x the level of the spell normally used to summon a single one of that mercifer creature. If you use summon mercifer III to summon a single mercifer lantern archon, it can heal a single creature of 3d3 damage. If you used summon mercifer III to summon 1d4+1 mercifer small air elementals, each of the small air elementals would be able to heal a single creature of 1d3 damage (as summon mercifer I is the spell used to summon a single mercifer air elemental, and it is a 1st level spell).

Higher-level mercifer creatures can heal multiple times each time they are summoned. Each successive effort to heal after the first heals half as many d3 of damage as the previous healing. For example, a mercifer lantern archon can heal a single creature of 3d3, and then heal another creature (as a separate action) of 1d3 (half of 3d3, rounding down). Since half of 1d3 is 0d3 (when rounding down), it cannot make a third effort to heal.

The healing granted by mercifer creatures heals only living creatures and, despite being a form of positive energy, does not harm undead.

Alternatively, rather than heal a target with a touch a mercifer creature can give that target a bonus to a saving throw against an ongoing effect. The bonus is a resistance bonus equal to half the number of d3 of healing the mercifer creature could deliver, and counts as a use of healing for purposes of how many times (and for how many d3) the creature can heal. The target gains this bonus to its next saving throw against any ongoing effect it is already affected by, such as a poison or hold person spell, as long as that saving throw occurs before the end of the summoning spell’s duration.

Summon Spotters I-IX

School conjuration (summoning )[light]; Level psychic 1-9, ranger 1-4, shaman 1-9, sorcerer/wizard 1-9, summoner 1-6, witch 1-9
Casting Time 1 round
Components V, S, F/DF (a tiny bag and a small candle)
Range close (25 ft. + 5 ft./2 levels)
Effect one (or more) summoned creature (see text)
Duration 1 round/level (D)
Saving Throw none; Spell Resistance no

These spells act as summon nature’s ally I through summon nature’s ally IX, with the following exceptions.

The creatures summoned cannot make any of their normal attacks, deal damage, or impose penalties or conditions on creatures. They do not threaten, cannot be used to flank a foe, and cannot take attacks of opportunity. They do gain a special Perception ability, giving them a total Perception bonus equal to their HD +7 (thus a summoned spotter with 5 HD gains a total Perception bonus of +12). The summoned spotters can also illuminate themselves as if affected by a light spell or create illumination that acts as light but in a cone with a range of 5 feet per Hit Die.

They also gain special additional senses, based on the level of spell normally used to summon a single summoned spotter of that type, as defined below. Summoned spotters gain the senses for their spell level and every sense from a lower-level spell.

Even if not normally able to speak, a summoned spotter can aid another to help other creatures see things it has successfully spotted with a Perception check, and use any language you know to describe the thing it is aiding others in seeing.

Spell Level Additional Sense
1 Low-light vision
2 Darkvision, 60 feet
3 Darkvision, 120 feet
4 Scent
5 Blindsense 10 feet
6 Blindsense 30 feet
7 Detect magic (as the spell)
8 Blindsight 5 feet
9 Blindsight 15 feet.

New Feat

Adjustable Summoning Spell [Metamagic]

You can adjust what kind of creature you summon on the fly.

Prerequisites: Spell Focus (conjuration), ability to prepare summon monster or summon nature’s ally and at least one alternate summoning spell from this article.

Benefit: When you prepare a summoning spell as an Adjustable Summoning Spell, you can choose when you cast it if it will act as a standard summon monster or summon nature’s ally (whichever is on your spell list) or as an alternate summoning spell of the same spell level or lower from your list of spells known or spells available to you. An Adjustable Summoning Spell takes a slot one level higher than normal.

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About Owen K.C. Stephens

Owen K.C. Stephens is Lead Developer for the Starfinder RPG by Paizo Inc. a developer for Green Ronin Publishing, and the owner and Publisher of Rogue Genius Games. He has his own blog and a Patreon!

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