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Ontario Pathfinder Society | Asmodean’s Advice – Summon Monster, Part Two
Asmodean’s Advice – Summon Monster, Part Two

Asmodean’s Advice – Summon Monster, Part Two

Hello again Everyone,

First, I wanted to thank everyone for their comments both in person, and online.  Keep them coming so I can keep these posts informative, relevant and entertaining.  Let me know what you want me to write about.

Second, I wanted to respond to the comments from last time.  I won’t always do this, but many of you had some good comments that I felt should be reiterated and/or expanded upon.  Thanks to Adam, Paul, Sulaco and TheGreatBrain for their input.

I must heartily agree with everyone talking about being prepared if you’re planning on summoning.  An ill-prepared summoning specialist can really bog down a table if he or she needs to look up monsters and apply a template.  Have these stats prepped ahead of time.  I have all of my usual summons written out on index cards for easy access.  Each time I get a new level of Summon Monster, I write out new cards for monsters I think will be useful.  As an aside, when applying templates, remember that if you’re Good you can only apply the Celestial template and if you’re Evil you can only apply the Fiendish template (Neutral casters get to choose their template at the time of summoning).

Don’t overdo your summoning.  Let the others at the table have their moment in the limelight.  If you have a bunch of summoned creatures on the table, your turn is going to take forever and people will get bored.  You could also end up cutting everyone else off from attacking the enemy and they’ll get frustrated.  There are times when something like that is called for, but you need to know when.  Follow Wheaton’s Law folks.

Augment Summoning is not necessary if you’re playing a summoning specialist.  You can get by with the base creature and relying on Spell-Like Abilities (SLAs) – which normally aren’t affected by Augment Summoning.  If you do plan on using Augment Summoning, it does affect special abilities based on Strength or Constitution.  Monster poisons (and many other abilities) are Con based, but there are a few Str based abilities as well (such as the Beblith’s Dismantle Armour ability).  The Spell Focus Conjuration prerequisite is great for core spells such as Grease, Glitterdust, Web, and Stinking Cloud.  A few non-core spells (the Create Pit line of spells along with Snowball) were mentioned and are extremely useful.  My sorcerer uses most of these spells to great effect.

Without Further Ado, I give you:

Summon Monster IV
Here is where the monsters extra abilities start getting better.

* Mephits – These creatures are extremely versatile.  They give you access to a long list of SLAs.  These are nice for when you don’t have the right spell memorized, or on your spells known list.  Here is a short list of very useful, but situational spells that Mephits can cast: Blur, Gust of Wind, Wind Wall, Soften Earth and Stone, Scorching Ray, Heat Metal, Magic Missile, Chill Metal, Pyrotechnics, Acid Arrow, and Stinking Cloud.  Did someone cast cloudkill or stinking cloud on your party?  Summon an Air Mephit to cast Gust of Wind on it.  An invisible creature getting you down and you already used up your one casting of Glitterdust?  A friendly Salt Mephit can help you here.  You want to throw down some crowd control by casting Stinking Cloud?  An Ooze or Water Mephit is the answer here.  The Earth Mephit is also nice for getting through dungeon doors or walls with Soften Earth and Stone.
* The next size of Elementals are on this list as well.  They’ve gotten a little tougher, but nothing much has changed.  The Earth Elemental is the strongest tank of the bunch here and the Air Elemental can go after ranged or flying enemies.
* The Lion has pounce, grab and rake, making it a rather sadistic foe.  Its individual attacks don’t do quite as much damage as an Auroch, but it gets more of them.  It also gets DR 5/evil from the Celestial template or DR 5/Good from the Fiendish template.  Its resistances go up to 10 from the template as well.
* The Hound Archon is probably my favourite spell on this list.  It’s not the strongest or the toughest monster, but it has flavour and a couple of cool abilities.   The fighter’s been dominated by the BBEG?  No problem.  This guy has a permanent Magic Circle against Evil up – give your buddy a new saving throw with a +2 morale bonus and prevent further “instructions” from the BBEG.  It also has Aid at will.  Temporary hit points and a bless effect are nothing to sneeze at.  Unfortunately, as a summoned creature, he can’t use greater teleport or continual flame.

Summon Monster V

* The Babau has a couple at will SLAs to use – Darkness and Displel Magic.  It can let everyone know where the invisible enemy caster is at since it has constant see invisibility.  It has a decent melee attack and can sneak attack (which works well after casting darkness).
* The Bralani Azata is the diamond in the rough here.  It’s a good melee and ranged attacker.  It can cast Cure Serious Wounds twice a day – great for arcane casters who need to heal an ally.  It also gets two 6d6 lightning bolts.  When it runs out of spell like abilities, it can deal 3d6 damage in a 20’ line at will.
* You get an upgrade to Large Elementals at this level and they have a couple of new shinies. They get two slams per round now as well as DR 5/–.
* Dire Lion – More Charge, pounce, grab & rake.

Summon Monster VI
This is where the summon monster line really begins to shine.  Many of them have high level SLAs, scary melee and/or ranged options.

* Dire Tiger – nothing special, just a straight upgrade on the Dire Lion.  Sometimes 1d3 Dire Lions might be better though.
* You get Huge Elementals at this level.  Not too much new here aside from more reach.  The one standout for me is Awesome Blow feat that the Earth Elemental gets.  It’s not an overpowering ability, but the idea of sending an opponent flying into walls or other enemies is just too awesome to ignore.
* The Erinyes is a scary archer with a flaming longbow.  It can also cast unholy blight, but that can be a risky proposition as it doesn’t work on evil opponents and may hit your party.
* The Succubus has several excellent SLAs to choose from.  Charm Monster and Dominate Person have obvious benefits.   You can use its detect thoughts ability along with the aforementioned Charm/Dominate abilities to interrogate someone.
* The Shadow Demon has several nice SLAs.  Deeper Darkness and Telekinesis at will.  It’s ability to cast Shadow Conjuration and Shadow Evocation 3 times a day offer endless possibilities. These spells can emulate any conjuration spell of 3rd level or lower and any evocation spell of 4th level or lower.  Once per day it can cast Magic Jar.  If you can manage to pull it off, Magic Jarring an enemy can be priceless.  You’ll need to supply a focus for it though.  Just make sure you know where the focus is and that your team stays away from it.  If successful, having your enemy’s body controlled by the shadow demon has all sorts of fun consequences.  Finally, it’s also incorporeal which lets it pass through walls and report anything that’s on the other side.
* The Lillend Azata is far and above my personal favourite for this spell level.  What can’t this creature do?  It’s the equivalent of a 7th level bard.  This gives it up to 3rd level bard spells including Cure Serious Wounds, Charm Monster and Hold Person.  It can also inspire courage for a +2 on attack, damage and fear saves.  In melee it has a longsword and a tail slap with grab and constrict.  Out of combat it can inspire competence as needed.

The summon monster line of spells gives a lot of choice at the table.  It also can bog down game play if not handled properly.  I hope I’ve given you some ideas on how to use them and planted the seed for ideas of your own.

If there’s something you want me to talk about next time let me know.  That’s all for this time!


  1. Blaise

    Blaise - October 7, 2013, 11:18 pm

    The Lillend Azata has saved my Cleric’s bacon more than once! Nice work here Brian.

  2. rogueeidolon - October 9, 2013, 4:09 pm

    No battle bison on Summon Monster IV? To shame I say! Trampling is fun for everyone. Even the mighty Season IV 7-11s saw need to fear the might of the battle bison.

    • Brian - October 11, 2013, 12:05 am

      You know how I said the Aurochs were one of my favourite low level tanks with Summon Monster III? This goes just as well for the Bison which is an upgraded Auroch. You just have to decide between 1d3 Aurochs and 1 Bison. Stampedes are fun and let you trample large creatures.

  3. Adam

    Adam - October 10, 2013, 12:01 pm

    I’ll admit I never noticed how versatile summoning any mephit is. I’ll keep it in mind with my wizard! 🙂

  4. pfssocalhelp - October 11, 2013, 5:48 pm

    This is a fantastic article. I appreciate the work it took to put it together and you definitely put a lot of work into it. I shared it with the Southern California community and we love it.
    I have one question. You mention that the shadow demon magic jar requires a focus but magic jar is a spell-like ability. I was under the impression that spell-like abilities didn’t require any components so the shadow demon just possesses the target. URL is below and I’ll post the text from the universal monster rule below that.
    Spell-like abilities are magical and work just like spells (though they are not spells and so have no verbal, somatic, focus, or material components).
    Thanks again, I look forward to seeing more.

    • Brian - October 14, 2013, 4:17 pm

      Pfssocalhelp – you’re correct that spell-like abilities don’t require a focus. However, Magic Jar needs something to put the Shadow Demon’s soul in before it can hijack someone else’s body. If you don’t have a gem, your GM may prevent you from using it. At the point you can cast Summon Monster VI, spending 100 GP is negligible to avoid table variance.

  5. EricMcG

    EricMcG - October 14, 2013, 5:19 pm

    One point to mention: if you summon an aligned monster, the spell is of that alignment. Divine summoners would not be able to summon monsters who are opposed to either their alignment OR their god’s. Arcane summoners do not have the same hard restriction, but it is better role playing form to stay as close to your professed alignment as possible regardless of mechanical considerations.

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