Today, the playtests for the new Paizo Advanced Player’s Guide classes continue with the Summoner and the Witch. (Previously, it was the Cavalier and Oracle.) Go get ’em, it’s a free download from all from the Paizo store.
I was really looking forward to the Summoner, since I put a lot of work into playing a good summoner in 3.5e, the Internet-famous Valgrim the Malconvoker!
Hey, the summoner is really cool. It’s a CHA-based caster, has a custom spell list derived from both mage conjurations and also druid-type buffs (magic fang, etc.). However… 11 pages, Jesus Christ! This is one complicated class. It gets a pet called an “eidolon,” which finally explains what the hell that weird LucasArts game I had back in the day was about. Maybe.
You get to totally determine the form of your eidolon, which is neat. It uses rules completely different from the current animal companion rules, which is a little sad – with the Cavalier and Summoner they have decided “bah” to standardization on existing rules. But it’s pretty cool, they go up in level and toughness with you; they’re pretty buff – d10 HD and a strange nonstandard but semi-full BAB progression. And they have an “evolution pool” you can use to mutate them – there’s a long list of 1-4 point evolutions, from claws to SR.
And besides this, and normal spells – the summoner gets Summon Monster (whatever the highest level you can cast) 3+CHA times a day! OK, I love me a summoner, but DAMN. Once you put even a little optimization into this, it gets really good.
It’s certainly a very interesting class. I have to say, in general I don’t like splatbook and splatbook classes. You either get flavorless junk or bizarre crap. But these, even the weirder ones like the Oracle and Summoner, have a way high cool factor.
Now let’s look at the witch… Many people have many different takes on what a “witch” should be.
Surprisingly, they’re an INT-based caster. That’s nice, it’s good to see the flood of CHA-based casters stemmed, though I would have guessed they’d go with WIS instead for the “witchy wise woman” feel. The class is full of the good old witch tropes – pact with otherworldly power, hexes, a cauldron, a coven…
In a very cool twist, the witch’s familiar is the one teaching them magic, so they function kinda like their spell book – they can only prepare spells their familiar knows!
The familiar list is 80% the same as the sorc/wizard one, but has weird changes for no real reason I can determine. No weasel, but you can have a pig. Whatever. And the benefits by level are slightly different. Grrr. But then the coolness is that different familiars get different spells they can teach. The toad gets jump, for example. The witch spell list is a good combination of mostly enchantment, healing, and divinations.
There’s a bunch of cool but weird touches – a witch can be in a coven with hags, and a familiar can learn spells from another witch’s familiar. The hexes are OK but not all that much to write home about. In the end, a really good witch class, and a lot more balanced than some of these new ones.
I just wish they went a little more standard on these various critters, it’s going to be a nightmare to DM and to prepare NPCs when one familiar or animal companion is like another but different – adding new powers for a given class is fine, but like the Summoner’s companion has the same HD but different and nonstandard BAB progression than a druid one.
What do you mean about the Eidolon having nonstandard BAB? It has full BAB progression, it’s BAB is always equal to its Hit Dice. Granted, the Hit Dice is different from the ‘class level’ of the Summoner, but it’s the same for an Animal Companion’s HD vs. the Druid’s level.
The progression is annoyingly different – the eidolon ends with one more HD than the usual animal companion, and its BAb progression is different from the usual animal companion, and though the BAB does equal the HD the HD progression is weird and random (2 to 17). Is that one HD difference enough to make a system nonstandard? IMO no.
Well, the HD progression I will give you, but the BAB progression is all I was saying. The differences are just between Animal and Outsider. Animals get 3/4 progression (like Clerics/Bards/etc.) while Outsiders get full progression (like Barbarians/Fighters).
As for the different HD progressions, is that something that needs to be standard? The druid has a type of animal companion, the summoner has a better pet that gets more HD faster. Seems to fit to me. 🙂
It’s just more ticky little stupid rulesets. Why 2 HD and level 1 and 17 at level 20, with weird steps in the progression? Because I love looking shit up on a chart?
Both ACs and eidolons should have 1 HD per master level, period. Then, sure, animal BAB vs outsider BAB is a fine distinction and one you can make without table lookups all the time.
As a DM, I am getting really sick of how hard it is to generate NPCs without taking an entire evening of work per person. These kind of special-little-snowflake rules are the reason behind it. If familiars, animal companions, eidolons, special mounts, etc. used some same rules, then it would be a lot easier.
There’s an update to the Summoner. The class as written had been pretty overpowered. Besides the odd d8 HD for a wizard variant, the eidolon could be draped with magic items and the summoner had a bunch of Summon Monster spell-likes with one minute per level duration (standard action to cast + cast down a level to get a dX of critters + things like empower SLA = an army to sweep a dungeon with). Any one of these would have been questionable in isolation, in combination they were really problematic. Jason posted an update where the eidolon magic item use was clarified and the SLAs were nerfed down. Much better! Still loving all these classes, they fill clear niches unlike a lot of the old 3.5 splatbook cruft.
Heh, personally I would have preferred to have seen the eidolon nerfed down and the SLA’s left the same (with maybe the limit of one SLA active at any given time). I hate 1 round summoning and horribly low durations at levels 1-3 😦
Anyhow, I’m starting a summoner in my next PBP game, so we’ll see how well it works in actual play. It’s PF, but using the Spelljammer setting – so if I had played a witch, I could have PIIIGS in SPAAACE!
lol. Yeah, the 1 minute/lvl would be OK with the “only one in play” restriction.
Enjoy the spelljamming. Try to enslave a giant space hamster.