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.