Hello and welcome to Eldritch Excursion, the blog where I reach into the depths of my mind palace and conjure up a magnificent, screeching amalgam of flavor and mechanics for your enjoyment. Today, we’ll be looking at my favorite of Paizo’s classes: the summoner. While there are a dozen different ways I can gush about this wonderful class, I’d like to dedicate this biweekly blustering to a very special once-in-a-lifetime moment that every summoner gets to experience.
Your First Summon
There’s a lot to be said about the relationship between a summoner and their eidolon, much of which I’ll explore in future entries, but let’s begin with the first time that a summoner conjures their eidolon. This is a special event for the summoner; Years of studying, countless hours of practice, and meticulous preparation all culminate in this one key moment. I would argue that this single scene within your character’s past is as important as their entire backstory, a highlight best given attention and detail.
When designing your own summoner, consider how it went for them. Were they a scholastic prodigy who called forth their eidolon as part of the final exam for a prestigious arcane academy? Did they offer unconditional aid to a fae in need, accidentally sealing a binding contract with their self-proclaimed “new best friend?” Perhaps they experienced an emotionally charged outburst at a site of great spiritual significance that opened their third eye, only to have that power accidentally draw out a phantom with a similar emotional resonance?
Not only is the moment of the first summoning worth considering for defining your character, but it can serve as the blueprint for your character’s magic. A lot of flavor and backstory can be succinctly shown just by describing the ritual you use to call your eidolon. One summoner draws a circle of intricate runes that hover in the air before gesturing with a trembling hand as they draw forth their servant through their superior willpower. Another blindly tosses a silver coin behind their back only to have an eidolon leap out of their shadow to catch it. Yet another focuses on the single happiest moment of their life, that moment of pure bliss within the chaos of battle allowing their eidolon to enter this world through their master’s serene mind-portal.
You may already have a vivid picture in your head when you consider the summoner’s actions, but that’s only half of the picture. Remember that you’re writing for two and consider how the eidolon feels about their arrangement. The first question you’ll want to ask is if the eidolon is considered an equal in their relationship. A classic trope involves a powerful conjurer employing a magically compelled servant to do their bidding, not unlike the nature of a familiar, though it’s entirely possible to have the eidolon play the domineering role to a summoner who acts as a conduit to their power. Whether it’s as friends, rivals, a single disassociated soul caught between two bodies, or something else entirely, considering how the duo interact is central to visualizing the pivotal moment of their first face-to-face interaction.
Conjure Yourself Some Stats
So, you’ve got a solid mental image of the summoning ritual, a folder chock full of Batman & Robin memes to express every interaction with your eidolon, and you’re wondering where to go next. If you’re a mechanically minded player who’s looking to add flavor to something you’ve already built, now’s a good time to review your choices and consider how they can influence all of the ideas you already have. Healing and support spells may signify a more nurturing relationship between the summoner and eidolon, and suggest a ritual meant to conjure a protective guardian. Damaging spells can flavor the summoning ritual with their particular element, doubly so if that element ties to the eidolon’s own attacks or resistances.
And if you’re the flavor-oriented sort who decided to paint as detailed a picture as possible before jotting down a single number, you’ve probably got a great guideline for what abilities you’ll want to choose to re-enforce your flavor and maximize your storytelling potential.
With all of this in mind, you’re well on your way to creating something that your fellow players will never forget!
Conjurer’s Journal, unknown date
It was supposed to be a simple ritual. Breach the barrier to an alien plane and bind one of its denizens to my service. Then I could pursue my own power in my own way, free from the asphyxiating oversight of my thrice-damned homeland. In my arrogance, I assumed the stolen scrolls were forbidden because they did not adhere to our short-sighted laws, but I quickly learned that it was for my own safety.
The moment I activated the runes, an overwhelming presence seized control and reversed the ritual. It tugged at my very essence, like the loose thread on an old sweater, and I found myself unraveling. I don’t know if it was sudden shock or the power of the ritual, but I felt no pain as the red ribbons that were once my body spiraled down into the keyhole-sized rift at the ritual’s center. I didn’t even have the sense to scream before I was taken.
My disembodied essence awoke on the other end of the rift. I had no eyes to see, no ears to hear, no body at all. But I could still sense it. A sphere of raw life, of raw potential, uncorrupted by the influence of Hell or Heaven or any other realm I had seen in my studies. Immeasurable in size, covered in a pristine layer of unbroken skin. Countless entities writhed within. Some were vaguely humanoid, some vaguely bestial, but they were all too raw and crude and pure to be identified. One of them broke the surface of the sphere, the skin still clinging to them like a layer of molten wax, blindly grasping my essence and drawing me into its primordial form.
It was at that moment that I became physical again. Alive. I felt that overwhelming presence again, I felt it’s… fingers? Tendrils? I felt it carefully bending and weaving my form. Tightening my flesh to form new bones. Reaching into my head to pull the hair out of my scalp. Breathing air into my body and turning the pockets into lungs. Piece by piece, it was carefully reconstructing my body, learning from reading the grooves in my own brain to make me exactly as I was.
The last of its gifts was to part the lids on my freshly grown eyes, and when my vision returned, I found myself laying on the floor of my basement, just at the edge of the summoning circle.
But I was not alone. A swaying chrysalis with a texture I was all too familiar with hung over the now-spent runes, suspended by tendrils of sinew. The moment I looked upon it, a presence within touched my mind. In this instance, we knew one another. Deeply and truly and completely. The memory of that alien realm lingered in my mind like a fading dream, and I knew what had to be done. My hands plunged into the chrysalis and began to shape and weave the being. My muscles moved from a memory my mind did not have.
As I began to give it shape (no, to give HER shape, she decided) I could hear her chuckle in the back of my mind with the voice I had not yet given her. She called me her precious little pupa.
Every day I practice this new art. Every day we evolve together. She’s more than I ever could have asked for.
She will be beautiful.