Summoning Handbook

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Summoner's Guide

IMAGE(http://www.wizards.com/dnd/images/EPIC_Gallery/Gallery1/44206_C1_druid.jpg)


This guide is designed to help people create a caster focussed on summoning creatures to aid them both in combat and in social situations. I do appreciate that the best casters are generally good at lots of things, and focussing on one is suboptimal. However, focussing on one can be more enjoyable.

Also, there are a large number of guides about which monster to summon. Because there are several different spells that can be used to summon, I will include links to some previous links, but will not be including them myself. This guide is intended to be useful regardless of your summonable creatures.

What has Come Before?


There have been several works on summoning done, but these have had most of the focus on the Summon Monster list. This guide focuses on other aspects, such as feats, prestige classes, tactics, etc… Previous work done includes:

Ready to Summon Monsters - A list of all the Summon Monster creatures, and all their statistics.
The Comprehensive Summoning Thread - Rather good, but also thoroughly outdated.
The 3.5 summon monster list - a list of popular creatures on the Summon Monster list.
Mastering the Summoned Monster - a comprehensive guide - a detailed listing of creatures that can be summoned with summon monster, and the reason that you may consider summoning them.
Best uses of Planar Ally/Binding? - As the title says, it's a list of what can be summoned with planar ally and planar binding. Didn't get too far, unfortunately.
Druid Handbook Revived - The only link that I have found that examines anything from the Summon Nature's Ally list.
Mastering the Malconvoker - Looks into the Malconvoker prestige class, which is a nice summoning prestige class.
The Conjurer's Handbook - not specifically about summoning, but if conjurer's are up there in the list of best summoners, and the occasional fog spell or what not can really help you out.
Legal 3.5 Summonable Monster List - List of all summonable creatures from MMIII, MMIV, MMV, and a bucketload of other books.
Summon elemental Reserve Feat: Optimization Request - A list of uses for the summon elemental reserve feat, covering both in-combat and out-of-combat use. This feat is a major boost to your versatility, and is definitely worth looking at.

Public access

This guide has been created with a public account. If you want to make changes, ask me for the password. Send an email to [email]chaos_redefined@hotmail.com[/email], or PM me. I have included extra posts to allow for whatever may be added at a later time.
Well, the main reason you might consider summoning is because you think it’s cool. If this isn’t the case, then summoning isn’t the best option for you. But obviously, summoning has to offer some advantage over other spells, right? Well, here are some:

  • Summoned creatures almost always work. There is no concern about saving throws, spell resistance, hitting allies, etc… You summon, and the creature starts bashing. Or whatever else it wishes to do.
  • Summoned creatures can take the hits your allies would be taking instead. This means that your healer is less strained; your tanks are less in danger, and so on.
  • Summoned creatures can die, and you won’t care that much. This means that you can send them to scout for traps and the like, and, if they die, you can summon another one.
  • Summoned creatures offer versatility. Depending on your opponent, different creatures might be helpful in different situations. For example, if your opponent flies, you would most likely summon an air elemental rather than an earth elemental, even though the air elemental is physically weaker. Also, there are a large number of spell-like abilities, even of the same level as the summon spell. The versatility available through this is very potent.
There are a variety of options available for where you pull your spell lists from. I probably haven’t touched upon all of them here. But, in no particular order, the most common options for summoning include:

  • Wizard PHB: The wizard has a large number of variant class features available to it, allowing it to summon as a standard action, gaining augment summoning for free, etc…
  • Cleric PHB: The cleric is physically stronger than the wizard, and can wear armor. Since summoning is a full-round action, the ability to avoid some hits is exceptionally useful.
  • Druid PHB: The druid has natural spell + wildshape to help avoid being hit, spontaneous casting of summoning spells, allowing the preparation of other spells, and better summons, due to the greenbound feat. The druid is often considered the best summoner available.
  • Psion XPH: The psion is often considered a rather good summoner, comparable to the druid. While I consider the druid to be better, the psion is still rather effective. Unless requested, I am omitting psion-based feats and prestige classes from this guide.
  • Sorcerer PHB: Spontaneous version of a wizard. Doesn’t get the substitute levels to make it viable, except for some at high levels, but at this point, you are better prestiging out.
  • Favoured Soul CD: Spontaneous version of a cleric. Doesn’t get domains or anything similar, but it does still get the ability to wear armor. Domains don’t make that big a difference at higher levels, so this is a viable option for those who like spontaneous casting. However, at level 1, a cleric can get +3 to CL, which means an extra 3 rounds.
  • Spirit Shaman CD: Spontaneous version of a druid. Druids already get spontaneous casting of the summoning spells, but the spirit shaman also gets the spirit guide, who can focus on the concentration-based spells while you cast more. There is some belief that spirit shamans are better summoners than druids, based on the larger amounts of spells that can be cast per day, and the spirit guide’s ability to concentrate on spells. At the very least, it is a better caster.
  • Archivist HoH: Archivists have the option of learning any divine spell. So they can make use of spells like summon monster, planar ally spells, summon nature's ally spells, etc. They don't get any other class features, but SNA is good for the lower levels, and SM/planar ally is good at the higher levels.
  • Dread Necromancer HoH: Dread Necromancers make good summoners at the lower levels, due to the summon undead chain, however, since this chain stops at Summon Undead 5, they aren't as effective at later levels.
Feats

There are many feats available to summoners, allowing them to improve the creatures summoned. There are several available only to those who summon using Summon Nature’s Ally, specifically Greenbound and Ashbound. If you are making a druid or spirit shaman who can use these feats, they are both exceptionally good. It is also important to point out that Greenbound and Rashemi feats are campaign specific and are broken. When I looked them up I realized that by RAI they're supposed to be DM's rewards to the players for doing something awesome. Talk to your DM if you want them!

General Feats

These are feats available to all summoners, and will always apply (or, in the case of Beckon the Frost, can be applied when appropriate at no cost).

  • Augment Summoning PHB: This is a must for any serious summoner. The only reason not to take it is if you get it for free somewhere else. (requires Spell Focus(Conjuration).)
  • Beckon the Frozen Frostburn: A small boost to the damage your summons deal, and the cold subtype. It is optional to use, which is very important when fire is about. Also note that the extra damage is ignored if the opponent has any noteworthy cold resistance. (requires Spell Focus(Conjuration) and Augment Summoning.)
  • Summon Elemental CM: The ability to spontaneously summon something as a standard action. Useful as a trap monkey, flank buddy, and a potential polymorph target. As written, these benefit from all your other Summoning Feats, however, you may wish to check with your DM. (requires the ability to cast 4th level spells.) (Thanks to BenSan for pointing out that, RAW, they benefit from your other summoning feats)
  • Extraordinary Concentration CV: There are a couple of nice summon spells that rely on concentration. The cream of the crop is Summon Elemental Monolith. The ability to summon one of these, and then cast another spell is exceptionally handy. Ideally, you want to get this to a swift action, since summoning spells generally involve full-round actions. (requires concentration 15 ranks.) Note: This is kind of weird. It specifies that you can't keep concentration on two spells at once, which would indicate that you can still cast another spell, but can't concentrate on it. However, in the SRD, it specifies that you can't cast a spell while concentrating on another. RAW, you shouldn't be able to cast another spell, but RAI might suggest otherwise. If going by RAI, keep it as blue. If going by RAW, it changes to red.
  • Rashemi Elemental Summoning UE: Makes your Earth Elementals and Air Elementals scarier. Summoning air elementals can now act as a blasting spell, thanks to the cone of colds. This can do considerably more than Meteor Swarm, the typical level 9 damage spell. (no prerequisites.)
  • Augment Elemental Magic of Eberron: Your summoned elementals get a +2 enhancement bonus to attack and damage rolls, and temporary HP equal to twice their HD. For combat purposes, this is basically a second Augment Summoning on your elementals. Easy prerequisites (a few ranks of K: Planes). Suggested by BenSan.
  • Dragonmarked Summoner Dragonmarked: Not really all that great, but it is a summon-enhancing feat. Summoned creatures get a small deflection bonus to AC based on the strength of your dragonmark. Very much Eberron-specific for obvious reasons. It's okay if you're already playing a dragonmarked character, but still not a top priority. Suggested by BenSan.
  • Demon Mastery Fiendish Codex I: +1 caster level for summoning demons, +2 to Charisma checks for planar binding and similar spells involving demons. Might be useful for Malconvokers. Or maybe not. Suggested by BenSan.

Metamagic Feats

There are several metamagic feats that boost summoning abilities. Most of these have low level adjustments, meaning you can still get decent summoned creature.
  • Imbued Summoning PHB II: +1 level adjustment to give a free buff spell. Unfortunately, buffs that work off enhancement bonuses (i.e. Bull’s Strength) if you have Augment Summoning. (although dex-based, and mental buffs still work) (requires Spell Focus(Conjuration) and Augment Summoning.)
  • Extend Spell PHB: +1 level adjustment to potentially carry the summoned creature into the next battle. (no prerequisites)
  • Rapid Spell CD: +1 level adjustment to summon as a standard action. (no prerequisites)
  • Sudden Maximize CA/Miniatures Handbook: Summon more of the lower list creatures. Usable 1/day. (requires any metamagic feat)
  • Metamagic School Focus CM: Reduces metamagic costs, as long as you stick to one school. How about conjuration? You will most likely meet the prereq of SF(Conj), since it is also a prereq for Augment Summoning. (requires Conjurer level 1 or Spell Focus(Conjuration))
  • Rapid Metamagic CM: For spontaneous casters who wish to summon with metamagic. (requires the ability to cast spontaneously, Spellcraft 12 ranks)

SNA-specific Feats

These feats have the prerequisite of being able to spontaneously cast Summon Nature’s Ally. This is limited to druids and spirit shamans.
  • Greenbound LEoF: Makes animals that you summon a lot stronger, but you can’t use animal buffs on them. It is ridiculously good, until you get Animal Growth. At this point, greenbound is comparable to animal growthed summons. Once elementals start to appear Rashemi Elemental Summoning is superior. (requires the ability to spontaneously cast Summon Nature's Ally)
  • Ashbound ECS: A bonus to hit, and a free extend effect. Allows summons to be useful earlier on, and allows them to last into the next battle later on. This is marked so high because of the free extend effect, making a druid summoner useful a lot earlier. (requires the ability to spontaneously cast Summon Nature's Ally)

Arcane-specific Feats

These feats have the prerequisite of being able to cast arcane spells. As a result, it is limited to wizards and sorcerers.
  • Arcane Thesis PHB II: All your metamagic feats involve a +1 level adjustment. This negates that. Only applies to one spell though. (requires the ability to cast arcane spells and 9 ranks in spellcraft)
  • Arcane Disciple CD: The summoning domain adds some very useful spells to your spell list. Sorcerers may be better off taking the Domain Access alternate class feature from Complete Champion. Allows qualification for the Thaumaturgist. (requires the ability to cast arcane spells, knowledge(Religion) 4 ranks, spellcraft 4 ranks, and an alignment that matches your deity's alignment. The only deity that has this as a suitable domain is Thritherion, who is Chaotic Good.) Thanks to Chando for this suggestion.
  • Infernal Sorcerer Heritage PHBII: +2 caster level for summoning evil outsiders. Can be taken at first level, but only by sorcerers. Suggested by Bonzai.
  • Celestial/Fiendish Summoning Specialist Planar Handbook: Work with your DM to find another creature to add to your summon lists. Note that you are limited to one set of heritage feats, so choose carefully. Suggested by Bonzai.
  • Nexus Method Dragon #319, lets a Wizard swap out non-Conjuration spells for a Summon Monster of the same level or lower. It's wizards-only, and you have to be from the Solnor Compact in Greyhawk (But that can be changed). Suggested by Taeldrin Laesrash



Domain-specific Feats

These feats require a domain. As a result, they are pretty much exclusive to the cleric, although if you are using Complete Champion, a sorcerer can use them as well.
  • Domain Focus Complete Divine: Domain spells you cast have a +1 CL. A level 1 Cleric can end up with summons that last 4 rounds with this feat and the right domains. Thanks to Bonzai for suggesting this.
Prestige Classes

There are a few prestige classes available for summoners; however, you may wish to just take a prestige class that boosts a caster’s abilities in general. The minimum level entry is the earliest level that you can take a level in this prestige class. For example, assuming the prerequisites are set up properly, a characters 6th level can be alienist.

  • Alienist CArc: Don’t do it. You give up the ability to summon a lot of rather nice things, such as elementals. In return, you get the psuedonatural template instead of the fiendish/celestial ones, and an extra slot. The slot is nice, but the templates are roughly equal. Minimum level entry: 6
  • Mindbender CArc: This is a 1-level dip only. The ability to telepathically command your summons without notifying your opponents what you’re doing is very helpful. Minimum level entry: 6
  • Master Specialist CMage: Rather nice bonuses. Combined with the Rapid Summoning from Unearthed Arcana, the last ability means 3 quickened summons per day. Also grants some extra hit points and makes them harder to dispel. Minimum level entry: 4
  • Wild Soul CMage: I haven’t tried this once, nor have I heard any opinions on it, but it adds some extra creatures to the Summon Monster list. One of these is the unicorn, which is a mini-cleric. So, it definitely has some use. Also allows the spontaneous casting of a bunch of spells, including Time Stop. minimum level entry: 6
  • Paragnostic Apostle CChamp: The Call of Worlds ability grants fast healing to your summons, and there are a few boosts to any buff spells you cast on them. minimum level entry: 6
  • Thaumaturgist DMG/SRD: Boosts summoning, and gives a planar cohort. Contingent Conjuration seems rather useful. Pretty much entirely for clerics. Minimum level entry: 8
  • Malconvoker CScou: Removes the restriction of what clerics can summon, and makes it easier to summon evil things with Planar Binding. Also provides extra fiendish creatures when you summon them. Minimum level entry: 6
  • Moonspeaker Races of Eberron: Offers some bonuses to druidic summoning, but gives up some wildshaping. Can be taken by clerics, but will require the Education feat or something similar to get past the prerequisites. Minimum level entry: 9
  • Shadowcraft Mage Races of Stone: This is a variation of the normal build. With the third level ability, you can emulate Conjuration(summoning), Conjuration(creation) and Evocation spells with certain spells such as silent image. Look at the shadowcraft mage handbook for more advice on this prestige class. Minimum level 8
  • Constructor link: Suggested by Tealgorthian, this prestige class gives additional forms for Astral Constructs to take, bonuses to their AC and features, and the ability to turn them, effectively, into visible unseen servants. Minimum entry level: 7
  • Fiendbinder Tome of Magic: Suggested by Klode-me, this prestige class allows you to summon from a small selection of demons. I'm not too sure how good the class actually is, so, all I can really do is link you to the handbook: http://forums.gleemax.com/showthread.php?t=709926. Minimum entry: 7.


Also, there are some prestige classes that add some summoning spells to your spell lists, such as the Hathran (Player's Guide to Faerun). However, other than this feature, they do not offer any benefit to your summoning powers. In some cases, they add spells not normally available to you. Hathran allows for Druidic and Arcane Thaumaturgists. Thanks to Chando for this point.
Strategies

The most obvious way to use a summoned creature is to get it to attack the opponent. However, this is only one method, and several other methods take advantage of the sheer versatility available to a summoner. Also, summon spells are quite usable outside of combat.
  • Scry ‘n’ Die: Use some scouting method, either with a rogue looking ahead or a scrying spell. Figure out the weaknesses of whatever you will soon be facing. You can then plan according to those weaknesses. A lot of summonable creatures can take advantage of specific weaknesses quite easily.
  • Aiding/Flanking: Summoned creatures of sufficient size can aid another, or flank. Flank means rogues get sneak attack. Aid another means allies get bonuses to hit or bonuses to AC.
  • Skills/Spell-like Abilities: The skills of some summoned creatures will be helpful to the party, especially if a key member of the party is currently down. Also, a lot of higher-level summons have spell-like abilities, which may even be comparable to spells of that level.
  • Meat Shield/Trapmonkey: Summon something that can take a beating and let the party do other things while your enemies beat up on the summoned critter. In a similar vein, let the summons trigger all the traps, while your party walks through unscathed.
  • Grapple/Trip: A lot of summonable creatures are going to be big and have really good strength. This makes them excellent grapplers and trippers.
  • Polymorph: This opens up a much larger number of options. By summoning, say, a small elemental, you can then cast polymorph on it and turn it into another elemental with an ability that you want. If anyone can find some uses for this that are not mentioned below, mention them, and I’ll (eventually) add them.
    Currently no options have been submitted, and I haven’t found any.
  • Scouting: Summons can be used as scouts, if the spell has a long enough duration. Especially useful with the higher level spells that use concentration, but don’t offer a maximum length to the valid time. Chain of eyes or tongues, can help this immensely. It is highly beneficial to know Terran, Aquan, Ignan and/or Auran, as elementals often serve as good scouts, and being able to speak their language allows you to save a spell. A dip in Mindbender gets around this, though.
  • Transport: Even at lower levels, you can find some flying/swimming mounts that allow forms of transport that are otherwise unavailable to the party.
What to summon?

There are a variety of creatures available to summon, and there are a large number of lists to choose from. Between Summon Monster, Summon Nature's Ally, Astral Construct, Summon Desert Ally, Summon Undead, Summon Swarm, and so on, the amount of possibilities of what you can summon is ridiculously large. So, rather than give individual lists, I have decided to include a list of what to look for. It is highly recommended to have sheets containing all the information about the individual summons. This will involve some additional paperwork, and some research before showing up.
  • High skills: These make great back-up rogues, or party nightwatchmen, or whatever else you need. The nightwatchmen thing has obvious limitations, due to the short duration of most summoning spells.
  • High Strength + Size bonuses: These make great grapplers, allowing them to easily remove opponents from combat. Ideally, these guys should also have large amounts of natural armor, and reasonable hit points, as they lose their dex while in a grapple.
  • High Strength + Large numbers of attacks: These make great damage-dealers. Once again, they should have reasonable armor and hit points, since they will probably take a few hits while they are on the field. Ideally, these creatures should have pounce, in case the opponent decides that he doesn't want to face them.
  • High Defensive Capabilities: These make excellent tanks to hide behind. Good constitution, good AC, damage reduction, energy resistance, etc… all help this role. The damage-dealing capabilities of these is less important, since they are designed to take damage, as opposed to dealing it.
  • Spell-like abilities and similar: Druids don’t get meteor swarm. Instead, they summon d3 storm elementals, and have them use their Thunder and Lightning ability. Similar, they don’t prepare any healing spells at level 4, instead they summon a unicorn. Spell-like abilities makes your summon spells a lot more versatile.
  • Any other unusual things: Earth Elementals have the earth glide ability. What’s the point of that, you might wonder… Well, an Earth Elemental can have a look through the dungeon wall to see what’s on the other side, come back, and tell you.
  • Large HD: Allows you to use the polymorph trick mentioned above.
Alternate Class Features/Racial Substitution Levels

There are a large number of boosts for wizards that make him a reasonable summoner, and a few racial substitution levels available to druids that boost their summoning power. These abilities aren't necessary, but they do help.

  • Rapid Summoning UA: Summons as a standard action. It’s like rapid spell being applied to your summoning spells, but without the cost. Requires you to be a conjurer, and does not allow the immediate magic option from Player’s Handbook 2, since both require you to give up your familiar. Originally suggested by Bonzai.
  • Enhanced Summoning UA: Gain the augment summoning feat instead of the scribe scroll feat. Also give up the 5th level feat for a +2 boost to resist attempts to dispel your summons. You may prefer to take Master Specialist at level 4, since the gain at 5th isn’t entirely notable, especially since you gain a bigger bonus at Master Specialist 7. Requires you to be a conjurer.
  • Spontaneous Summoning UA: Allows you to give up a spell to cast a summon monster spell of a lower level. The lower level thing is kind of harsh, so you may prefer just to keep your extra spells. Requires you to be a conjurer, and give up your extra spell slot.
  • Focused Specialist CMag: Allows you to cast more spells per day. But, it requires you to give up another school. Depends on how comfortably you feel casting from fewer schools. Remember that you need Conjuration (for obvious reasons), Transmutation (for spells like haste), Abjuration (for dispel magic) and Divination (‘cause you can’t give it up anyway). That leaves Evocation, Illusion, Enchantment and Necromancy. You will want to keep either evocation or illusion, so you can cast contingency. If you give up 3 schools, you will probably have to give up enchantment and necromancy. The remaining one will be either illusion or evocation. Requires you to be a specialist mage. I suggest Conjurer.
  • Domain Access CChamp: You give up 1 spell known/spell level to gain access to a domain. You can only cast each domain spell once per day, but you still gain some different spells, as well as a boost to your caster level. Requires yo uto be a sorcerer.
  • Metamagic Specialist PH2: Gain the ability to cast metamagic on the run, without increasing the casting time. Limits on times/day, so the rapid metamagic feat might be preferable, but you only give up your familiar.
  • Immediate Magic PH2: While not related to summoning, this deserves special mention. The ability that a conjurer gets from this is very powerful, however, the ability to rapidly summon is often considered better for a summoner. You can only have one.
  • Beast Spirit Races of Eberron: Gains the ability to give a boost to a summoned creature as a move action, and the ability to summon as a standard action. Also gives a couple of other handy features. Only available to shifter druids. Costs you your animal companion though.
  • Augment Nature’s Allies Races of Destiny: Gain the effects of Augment Summoning. However, you don’t actually get Augment Summoning and it doesn’t stack with Augment Summoning. The feats have the advantage of acting as prerequisites for other feats. In any case, the fact that you lose 1 wildshape/day hurts until you have enough to last all day. If you are really worried, use one of the feat slots you saved to get Extra Wildshape. Only available to Half-orc druids.
  • Elemental Bond Races of Wild: You give up access to earth spells, but gain early access to air elementals. Earth elementals make great scouts, and great warriors, so the drawback can be pretty noteworthy, however, the early access to air elementals is probably worth it. Only available to raptoran clerics.
  • Elemental Bond Races of Stone: You give up the ability to summon elementals except the earth elemental, but moves the earth elemental up in the list. At higher levels, air elementals are the best fliers available, storm elementals can act as druidic meteor swarms, and water elementals are the best things to summon when you are underwater. If you are OK with sacrificing those abilities, than this ability is great. There are a few other creatures that he gives up, and a few other creatures that he gains access to, but these are the main ones. Only available to goliath druids.
  • Spontaneous Planar Summoning PlH: Effectively, you add the Summon Monster spells to your spell lists, in exchange for only being able to summon certain things off the list, and one 6th level spell known. This wouldn't be too bad, except there are better things to be doing than taking your 6th level of sorcerer, yet alone 13th. If it was back at 8th level, tops, then I would consider it, but as is, you give up too much from prestige classes to make this worthwhile. Only available to sorcerors.
Items

Elhonna's Brooch CC: Dirt cheap. Gives your summons +1 hp/HD. You must worship Elhonna.

Nature's Children CC: Dirt cheap. Gives you +1 CL for summoning. You must worship nature.

Metamagic Rod of Extend Spell: Extend Spell is one of the best metamagic feats out there effectively double the power of your duration spells. This is especially true for summons.

Ring of Mighty Summons CM: 3/day, max hit points, but half duration. If your DM allows, use this to summon summon a bunch of smaller critters.

Ring of the Beast CC: Your Summon Nature's Ally spells are treated as one level higher (III as IV, for example).

Strand of Prayer Beads: If you're a divine caster, the Bead of Karma means +4 or +8 rounds to the duration of your summons.

Summoner's Totem MIC: This item makes Imbued Summoning PHB2 redundant. Although, while your DM may rule that Imbued Summoning copies the buff when you summon several smaller critters, Summoner's Totem explicitly states that it works only on single summoned creatures.

Worldmeet Glade CMag: This is actually a magical location, but it gives a large number of bonuses which stack with everything else.
Builds

Conjurer 1 / Druid X
Take Rapid Summoning and Enhanced Summoning alternate class features for the Conjurer, then just go regular Druid. RAW, this doesn't work, but you may be able to convince your DM. If you're allowed Precocious Apprentice trick then go...

Human Conjurer 1 / Druid 6 / Arcane Hierophant 10 / Mystic Theurge 3
and pick Precocious Apprentice and Education as your 1st level feats. Buy Summoner's Totem and surprise your enemies with invisible bears.

conjurer 3/master specialist 4/thaumaturgist 4/malconvoker 9
These are generally the best prestige classes available for a conjurer. Saru has put this forward as a good balance between the multiple classes.

Cleric 7/ Skypledged 3/ Contemplative 1/ Skypledged +7/ Contemplative +2
http://forums.gleemax.com/showpost.php?p=13399678&postcount=75
Summons large amounts of rocs at higher levels, and has some suitable options at low levels. Focuses more on air elementals and birdies, so not for the type of campaign with low rooves.

conjurer 3/master specialist 4/thaumaturgist 4/malconvoker 9
Posted by Saru. Hopefully self-explanatory.

Conj 2/Sor 1/Conj +2/UM 10/Mast Spec 5
http://forums.gleemax.com/showpost.php?p=13367932&postcount=67
An attempt at using Ultimate Magus. This is probably not the best idea, but if people want to try and make an Ultimate Magus summoner, then here is a starting point. If people do try it, and it turns out to be good, please tell us. My opinion on this is entirely based on a theoretical standpoint. Although I would probably go Arcane Disciple (summoning) and Thaumaturgist instead of Master Specialist. You've already lost some CL from going UM, so malconvoker isn't so good.

Changeling
Conjurer 3 / Master Specialist 4 / Recaster 5 (Races of Eberron) / Thaumaturgist 5 / Master Specialist 5-7
http://forums.gleemax.com/showpost.php?p=13520747&postcount=85
Uses Recaster to qualify for Thaumaturgist. And also gets nice little bonuses such as sudden extends and sudden maximizes. Definitely a good lead-in.

Simple Moonspeaker
Shifter Druid 8/Moonspeaker 12
-or-
Shifter Druid 9/Moonspeaker 11 with Shifter Racial Sub and the Natural Bond feat to gain Rapid Summons for free
http://forums.gleemax.com/showpost.php?p=14790361&postcount=134
Exchanges wildshape for better summoning abilities.
Noteworthy Summons

I was originally avoiding talking about specific summons, since it begins to make the guide favor one style of caster over another. I already felt guilty about not giving psions any love. But, there seems to be some demand for it, so here goes.

Unicorn: This is a nice little mini-cleric, allowing you to cast a bunch of nice little healing spells when you need them. Appears on the Summon Nature's Ally IV list, and is added to the Summon Monster IV list by the Wild Soul prestige class.

Earth Elementals: As stated earlier, these guys can ignore walls, allowing you to find out what is going on behind that door without going there yourself. Requires the ability to speak Terran, or some form of Telepathy, or Chain of Eyes. This can also be used to search for hidden passages, pit traps, and to act as a nice surprise for the enemy. (Summon some Earth elementals, get them to earth glide to underneath the enemy, and pop out at the beginning of the fight.) Earth Elementals appear on the Summon Nature's Ally, and Summon Monster spell lists, at various levels. Thanks to Jason_Synder for the additional ideas on how to use them.

Creatures with large numbers of attacks: Jason_Synder suggests the use of these against Mirror Image using opponents. They make good summons anyway.

Fire Elementals: Allows you to attack wooden structures. Thanks to Jason_Synder for this idea. Fire Elementals appear on the Summon Nature's Ally and Summon Monster lists.

Pixies: Repeated, although weak, dispel magics. Best used on an opponents items, or against low-level casters. Appears on the Summon Nature's Ally VI list.

Soltares puts forward the following advice: (Bold added by me)
Thoqqua particularly rock in any sort of underground adventure. Doors, walls, etc. become meaningless as your lava beasties burn a new tunnel straight to your objective. Want to modify terrain in a hurry (to make traps, escape chutes, prepare a massive cave-in?), they're the ones for the job. Plus they do some nice damage for their level, if you want to just throw them at mobs.

The Thoqqua appears on the Summon Nature's Ally III list. These guys speak common, so you don't need to worry about knowing their language. (Anything that doesn't have a language specified, and has an intelligence of 3 or greater knows common by default)

BenSan has been kind enough to go through all the books that list monsters, and provide this list. It is rather long, and he has mentioned that he will possibly go through and cut all the stuff out that is irrelevant at a later date

I gave all my sourcebooks a quick skim looking for monsters that are explicitly tagged as summonable with Summon Monster. Since I was looking mainly for things which bear further examination for spell-likes, I did not note animals which can be Fiendish/Celestialed (they only appear in PHB and Stormwrack, anyway) and since I was doing it for a binder I didn't take notes for Summon Nature's Ally.

So, here it is.

Show

PHB:
SM2: Lemure (devil)
SM3: Small elemental, Hell hound, dretch (demon)
SM4: Lantern archon, mephit (any), yeth hound, howler
SM5: Hound archon, medium elemental, achaierai, bearded devil, shadow mastiff
SM6: Bralani eladrin, large elemental, janni, chaos beast, chain devil, xill
SM7: Avoral guardinal, djinni, huge elemental, invisible stalker, red slaad, bone devil, babau demon
SM8: Lillend, greater elemental, blue slaad, hellcat, vrock
SM9: Couatl, leonal, elder elemental, green slaad, barbed devil, night hag, bebilith (demon), hezrou (demon)

BoED:
SMIII: Bariaur, Coure Eladrin, Musteval Guardinal
SMIV: Cervidal Guardinal, Rhek
SMV: Leskylor
SMVI: Equinal
SMVII: Asura, three-headed leskylor
SMVIII: Hollyphant, lupinal guardinal, warden archon
SMIX: Firre eladrin, moon dog, owl archon, quesar, sword archon, ursinal guardinal

MM3:
SMIV: Small storm elemental
SMVI: Medium storm elemental
SMVII: Arrow demon (replaces babau), large storm elemental
SMVIII: Huge storm elemental
SMIX: Greater storm elemental

MM4:
SMII: Clockwork Mender, Howler Wasp
SMIII: Windrazor
SMIV: Wrackspawn, Voor (yugoloth)
SMV: Dwarf Ancestor
SMVI: Inferno Spider, Corruptor of Fate (yugoloth)
SMVII: Justice Archon

Complete Arcane:
SMIV: Elemental grue

Fiend Folio:
SMII: Kaorti, varoot (nerra)
SMIII: Bacchae
SMIV: Aoa droplet, Skulvyn (demon), bloodbag imp, euphoric imp, filth imp, kalareem (nerra), skeroloth (yugoloth)
SMVI: Winged warrior formian. sillit (nerra), mud slaad
SMVII: Movanic deva, armadon formian, ferrumach (rilmani)
SMVIII: Maelephant, piscoloth (yugoloth)
SMIX: Farastu (demodand), Wastrilith (demon), monadic deva, observer formian, cuprilach (rilmani)

Ghostwalk:
SMVI: Artaaglith (demon) [5th-level cleric casting, spell-like Animate Dead]

Magic of Incarnum:
SMVII: Souleater (replaces huge fiendish scorpion)

Planar Handbook
SMI: Elysian thrush (replaces celestial owl or monkey)
SMII: Ur'Epona (replaces celestial riding dog)
SMIV: Lesser nightmare (replaces fiendish dire wolf or hoowler)
SMV: Energon (replaces medium elemental)
SMVI: Elementite swarm (replaces large elemental)
SMVII: Pack fiend (replaces Huge fiendish scorpion)
SMVIII: Elsewhale (replaces celestial cachalot whale), Gaspar (replaces celestial triceratops or Colossal fiendish centipede), Limbo stalker (replaces blue slaad)
SMIX: Unraveler (replaces green slaad)
Anarchic, axiomatic, entropic, vivacious can replace celestial/fiendish

Sandstorm:
None specifically named, see below regarding:
SMIV: Glass mephit, sulfur mephit

Stormwrack:
Several new animals to template
SMVIII: Caller from the deeps (replaces greater elemental), echinoloth (yugoloth) (replaces blue slaad)


Two special notes bear mentioning. First is that the PHB lists "mephit (any)", so while there are no new summons explicitly granted in Sandstorm, the new mephits may be summonable depending on DM.

The other is that formians and imps were summonable in 3.0 but were removed from the list in revision. The result is that technically the odd variant formians and imps in Fiend Folio are summonable (because they are marked as such in their entries and were never reprinted without it) but normal formians and imps are not (because the only tag for them as such was in now-superceded 3.0 text.) Individual DMs may reasonably feel differently about this. On a personal note, I miss having formians on the list; as a result of their removal there are no core summonable LN monsters.

It's my intention to give these a more leisurely trawling and mark up unusual or valuable abilities on these creatures, but I can't promise when.

Treantmonklvl20 points out that summoning a fiendish centipedes generally have more HD than other creatures of the same level. This is exceptionally handy with polymorph, allowing you to get, for example, a Bebelith with a 6th level spell and a 4th level spell. If you want to do it in the same round, you will need either Quicken Spell and an 8th level slot, or the Master Specialists 10th level ability.
Summoning Spells

There are many spells that can be used to summon creatures. This section will cover the noteworthy ones.

  • Summon Monster PHB: Summon Monster is the bread-and-butter spell for wizard/sorcerer/cleric summoners. With a nice range of versatility in what can be summoned, you will always be able to find something appropriate.
  • Summon Nature's Ally PHB: The bread-and-butter spell for druids and spirit shamans. Once again, you will generally find something useful on it.
  • Summon Desert AllySandstorm: A replacement for Summon Nature's Ally, these guys get nice little features such as a breath weapon, damage reduction, and all those nice construct traits. I personally prefer Summon Nature's Ally.
  • Summon Undead Spell Compendium: Only usable through low levels, since it stops at level 5, there are some useful critters on this list.
  • Conjure Ice Beast Frostburn: Converts any of the creatures from the Summon Monster or Summon Nature's Ally list into constructs. Has the annoying problem of being Conjuration(Creation), therefore not benefiting from all your nice feats, but still, a nice boost to have.
  • Summon Dire Hawk Races of the Wild: This doesn't have the versatility of other spells, however, it does have the nice feature of lasting for minutes/level. It is available to druids as a second level spell, and to clerics with the sky domain, as a second level domain spell.
  • Summon Swarm PHB: More powerful than most of the other 2nd level summon spells, but it does have duration concentration, so you expect it to be. Also, remember that you don't have direct control over the summon. However, it does have swarm traits, such as immunity to criticals, and being mindless, and immune to a fair few spells.
  • Summon Elemental Monolith Complete Arcane: Go look at the Elemental Monolith stats, then continue reading, because you would have already figured out why it's good. If the concentration is worrying you, then cast Sonorous Hum or be a spirit shaman. If your DM allows it, use extraordinary concentration.
  • Summon Elementite Swarm Planar Handbook: Summon Swarm, but make the swarm better, and make it listen to you.
  • Gate SRD: Summons whatever you need, almost. A lot more research required than for the other options, since you have a lot more options.
  • Planar Binding SRD: A very potent summoning spell, but you will need to do your homework before using it. This includes the lesser and greater versions as well.
  • Planar Ally SRD: Divine version of above. Once again, includes the lesser and greater versions. I do want to look into what to summon with these spells, since very little has been examined on the matter.
Reserved 12
Reserved 13
Whoever edits next, please cite the sources for everything.
Quickly added that. Sorry.

Other than item and build sections, what else is helpful to this?
You've got the sources of Greenbound Summoning and Rashami Elemental Summoning mixed up.
Quickly added that. Sorry.

Other than item and build sections, what else is helpful to this?

Prerequisite restrictions for feats eg Spell Focus Conjuration for Aurgment Summoning.

Subsitution levels for enhancing summoning? Eg. Goliath Druid (Races of Stone) which gets Elemental bond at first level that allows them to summon a nature ally one level higher if the ally has the earth subtype.

You may also want to expand on the wizard variants.

Otherwise, great start so far
You've got the sources of Greenbound Summoning and Rashami Elemental Summoning mixed up.

Fixed that.

Prerequisite restrictions for feats eg Spell Focus Conjuration for Aurgment Summoning.

Subsitution levels for enhancing summoning? Eg. Goliath Druid (Races of Stone) which gets Elemental bond at first level that allows them to summon a nature ally one level higher if the ally has the earth subtype.

You may also want to expand on the wizard variants.

Otherwise, great start so far

Added.

It should be pointed out that this is my first attempt at a guide. There are a fair few guides to summoning, but they often just say which creatures on the summon monster list are best. There are a few that had suggested feats, but the best advice I've seen on summoners actually came from the Druid Handbook.

Of recent, a fair few posters have requested aid for their summoners. While I might not know them the best, I figured some new resource was necessary, since the old ones didn't answer the questions they asked. While the old resources are definitely helpful, there is a large amount of information untouched.

To compensate for my lack of knowledge in the area, I did my best to find the good feats and prestige classes, and I have made this public access. If you believe something is missing, either email me and I'll send you the password, or mention it here, and I'll add it myself. Worst case scenario, I'll mention that the option exists, but other options may be preferred.
A couple of feats you didn't list:

Augment Elemental (Magic of Eberron): Your summoned elementals get a +2 enhancement bonus to attack and damage rolls, and temporary HP equal to twice their HD. For combat purposes, this is basically a second Augment Summoning on your elementals. Easy prerequisites (a few ranks of K: Planes).

Dragonmarked Summoner (Dragonmarked): Not really all that great, but it is a summon-enhancing feat. Summoned creatures get a small deflection bonus to AC based on the strength of your dragonmark. Very much Eberron-specific for obvious reasons. It's okay if you're already playing a dragonmarked character, but still not a top priority.

Demon Mastery (Fiendish Codex I): +1 caster level for summoning demons, +2 to Charisma checks for planar binding and similar spells involving demons. Might be useful for Malconvokers. Or maybe not.


Out of these, probably only Augment Elemental is really useful; it gives good benefits and can be combined effectively with Rashemi Elemental Summoning and Augment Summoning. Adding on the Goliath sub level would make your earth elementals truly slamtastic.

Incidentally, one note of questionable wording that may or may not be worth mentioning: the Summon Elemental reserve feat includes the note "as if summoned with a Summon Monster spell". Depending on DM interpretation, this may allow your various summon-enhancing feats and abilities to apply, making this feat more attractive the more invested you are in summoning.
i'll take care of the layout.
I've got your msn nepence, so we'll talk on the matter later.
Augment Summoning: This is a must for any serious summoner. The only reason not to take it is if you get it for free somewhere else. (Found in Complete Divine, requires Spell Focus(Conjuration).)

Augment Summoning is Core, on the PHB or the SRD, not in the complete divine.

Thaumaturgist: Boosts summoning, and gives a planar cohort. Contingent Conjuration seems rather useful. Pretty much entirely for clerics. (Found in Dungeon Master's Guide or SRD, minimum level entry: 12)

you only need to cast lesser planar ally, not planar ally, so the minimum level entry is at 8 with 7 cleric levels. Also, the Hathran prestige class (Players Guide to Faerûn) adds the lesser planar ally (among with other spells, including the planar binding chain) to your class list (bisides beeing a good PrC), making a druid or wizard Thaumaturgist viable at level 9.

The Arcane Disiple (summoner domain) feat (found in the Complete Divine) should be noted as a arcane enter to Thaumaturgist as well.

This is a good and needed handbook. Very good job. :D
I just want to take the time to say this is a good guide, and something has been needed. I wanted to write one, but I have barely had time to work on my Warlock guide.

Greenbound summoning is too good. I used it on a Druid that I started at level one. It made most encounters trivial. Even when I had Animal Growth, Greenbound was usually preferable. If you take it, make careful use of it.. otherwise the game is just no fun :P
At some point someone should put in the best monsters to summon for various settings (ie, water, flying, underground, vs. casters and caster-like, vs. melee, etc).
At some point someone should put in the best monsters to summon for various settings (ie, water, flying, underground, vs. casters and caster-like, vs. melee, etc).

Well, at lower levels, it pretty easy. Far and away the best monster on the SNA1 list is the Wolf. Good attacks, and free trips. Eagle is good for scouting.

SNA2 has the Crocodile for a grappler and the dire badger and black bear for straight up asskicking. I prefer to summon the Dire Badger

SNA3: Lions can get silly when they are buffed up, thanks to pounce. Dire weasels do a sick amount of Con damage. Constrictor seems like a no brainer for grappling

SNA4: If you need some healing help, summon a unicorn. Giant crocs for grappling. Elementals can be good here, depending on your enviroment. Still, I think a giant croc is a better grappler than an earth elemental. For all around asskicking needs? I'd go with a tiger.

SNA5: Dire lions all the way. They can grapple, and kill. If you need an outright grappler, summon a giant constrictor. Rhinos make good chargers.

Not really sure after that. Never played a Druid above 10, and I have never played a Arcane summoner.
At some point someone should put in the best monsters to summon for various settings (ie, water, flying, underground, vs. casters and caster-like, vs. melee, etc).

To follow up with this... I think that while the ideas for builds and the lists of creatures are useful, it would probably be just as useful to come up with as big a list as you can create of "concrete ideas for summoned creature use". For instance, your suggestion of using an earth elemental to go around a door was a good one - a novice summoner would not necessarily think of that and will go "Oh! Good idea!". Similarly, unicorn + healing, and so forth. Don't assume that certain combinations are obvious.

Some possibilities:
- Hydra (or other multiattack) creature versus defender with Mirror Image
- Fire elementals/fire-related creatures to attack wooden ship
- Send summoned earth elemental to not only scout what's in next room... but also to see if there are any secret passages (i.e. is that wall a wall, or is it something else). They can earthglide to check for pits, or to hide right below the BBEG and jump out when the party bursts in. This can be very handy if the players have to cross a good distance while being shot at by the BBEG. The earth elemental can keep him busy until they close the distance.


My point being that the background section here is pretty good... but lots and lots of concrete examples of "use of summoned monsters to solve problem" would be handy too.
how can you mention summons and not mention the thoqua? most powerful creature possible at 5th level...
nice Handbook ...... for the link

:D
Thoqqua particularly rock in any sort of underground adventure. Doors, walls, etc. become meaningless as your lava beasties burn a new tunnel straight to your objective. Want to modify terrain in a hurry (to make traps, escape chutes, prepare a massive cave-in?), they're the ones for the job. Plus they do some nice damage for their level, if you want to just throw them at mobs.

Combined with Augment Summons and perhaps Augment Elemental (from Magic of Eberron), using SNA II to Summon Earth Elementals makes for some fun control critters, as they end up with a Str 21 and improved Bull Rush potential. They can Earth Glide up behind your foes and smash them right into whatever Entangle / Black Tentacles / Grease / Wall of Fire spells or Caltrop fields you've prepared. Or just into reach of one of your buddies, or out of reach to get that Full Attack they were about to perform on your hapless arcanist.

Augmented Air Elementals also have a lot of potential with their Flyby Attack option, possibly being effectively invulnerable to retaliation, if the terrain works in their favor, save versus enemies who specifically ready actions to strike them on the 'drive-by,' in which case they become enemies who are not taking actions against the party.

Note that a summoning specialist, barring a one level dip into Mindbender, is going to want to pick up some extra languages, to request these sorts of special services. Terran, Auran, Ignan and / or Aquan become quite useful. (Terran particularly so, as both Earth Elementals and Thoqqua are extremely useful out of combat.)
Ashbound: A bonus to hit, and a free extend effect. Allows summons to be useful earlier on, and allows them to last into the next battle later on. (Found in Eberron Campaign Setting, requires the ability to spontaneously cast Summon Nature's Ally)

I think it's worth mentioning in the guide that Ashbound Druids feel that all arcane magic is evil. Makes them challenging to put in mixed parties.

Fighter: "What's that on the fire making strange green and blue flames?"
Druid: "I'm burning Maxwell's book of evil spells. It has a corrupting influence."
Maxwell (Wizard): "Nooooooooo, I'll kill you!!"
DM: Everyone roll initiative

While many DMs and players simply ignore this as being flavor text, it says it specifically in the feat description.
Perhaps a section on gameplay tips (or how to make summoners less painful for everyone at the gaming table)? I'll submit this as the first gameplay tip:
Have a combat stat sheet for all potential summoned critters prepared before game time. This saves valuable in game time and allows casters to pre calculate buffs from augment summoning or similar effects.

And while it doesn't require a section I have a quick comment about character flavor. As an alternate to the meat shield theory of summoned critters we use individualized summons. Rather than summoning a generic "Meat Shield" wolf players who utilize summoned creatures name them similar to the way they name their familiars or animal companions. It doesn't affect game play but it adds a bit of flavor to the game.
Can Summons be chained according to RAW? it they can thats almost a must have for summons. it would multiply the summons by your caster level.
Whoa... lot's of responses. I didn't expect it to be so popular. Thanks for everyone's support.

As mentioned, there are a few mistakes in there, and I will be fixing them up after this post. I will also add the suggestions that people have made.

TheioVrefos, I would highly appreciate someone else taking care of the layout. I've used your works as a rough guide, but I'm not entirely familiar with who you got some of the effects.

As stated, I don't want to make lists of all the best summons. Those are already available, and if added to this guide, it makes it specific to a certain type of summoner. There are too many lists available. Already, people are suggesting X from the SM list, and Y from the SNA list. And I want the guide to be useful to people who play a wizard focusing on Conjure Ice Beast, Summon Desert Ally, Summon Undead, etc... I already feel bad for leaving out psions so much, since Psions are one of the better summoners. (Yes, I am aware that Druids and Spirit Shamans are better, but Psions are still better than wizards, sorcerers, clerics, favored souls, etc...)

BenSan, I am going to have to copy your descriptions as is, since I don't have those books. Until I am presented with enough information to make my own opinion, I can only work with everyone elses. And I will add the bit about Summon Elemental. Do you have any experience in using that?

Deathwishjoe, you can't chain summon spells, since they do not target. You can chain the Animate X series of spells, such as animate fire, snow, wood, water, etc..., and having 8 small water elementals after casting a create water spell is definitely something to consider. But, it won't benefit from your summoning feats.
You may want to add the "have your cake and eat it too" option for summoners: The Archivist. Why decide between Summon Monster and Planar Ally spells OR Summon Nature's Ally and Summon Ice Beast as a cleric or druid when you can have them all on your spell list? Further, the various knowledge abilities (I forget what they're called) give you easy buffs for your party, which of course includes any active summoned creatures.
Don't forget about the Dread Necromancer base class (Heroes of Horror) who can cast all the Summon Undead spells spontaniously, speaking of which the summon undead spells deserve their own section too.
I wish to avoid writing sections on each possible method of summoning. If I include Summon Undead in it's own section, I would have to give a section to Summon Nature's Ally, Summon Monster, Conjure Ice Beast, Summon Desert Ally, Miscellaneous Summon spells, etc...

And then people would complain that I haven't given recognition to the Alienist version of the Summon Monster list, the Greenbound version of the SNA list, a list of what happens when you add Rashemi Elemental Summoning, Augment Elemental, etc... and you get the idea.

If someone wishes to make a list of good summons from the Summon Undead list, I will include a link to it in the first post. Same for all the other lists. But as stands, I'm listing what features to look for, and any noteworthy summons mentioned.

Also, I have no familiarity with the Dread Necromancer besides what I've heard on the boards. Can someone give me a brief description.
The dread necrcomancer is basically a lot like the beguiler and warmage in being a spontanious caster that knows all of its spells as soon as it is able to cast them. but it's obviously geared towards necromancy and undead instead of illusion/enchantment and blasting.
As stated, I don't want to make lists of all the best summons. Those are already available, and if added to this guide, it makes it specific to a certain type of summoner. There are too many lists available. Already, people are suggesting X from the SM list, and Y from the SNA list. And I want the guide to be useful to people who play a wizard focusing on Conjure Ice Beast, Summon Desert Ally, Summon Undead, etc... I already feel bad for leaving out psions so much, since Psions are one of the better summoners. (Yes, I am aware that Druids and Spirit Shamans are better, but Psions are still better than wizards, sorcerers, clerics, favored souls, etc...)

I don't know, I think it could definitely be worthwhile to go through the various spell chains and take a look at particular standouts from them - not a full-fledged article for each, but at least an overview of the chain's strengths, weaknesses, and highlights. Choosing creatures well is one of the trickier parts of playing a summoner. The chains that come to mind are SNA, SM, Summon Undead, Summon Desert Ally, and Conjure Ice Beast, with Planar Ally/Planar Binding/Gate as a related set. SNA/SM are really the big two, since pretty much every primary caster has access to one or the other (or both). Summon Undead has pretty short lists and Conjure Ice Beast uses the SNA/SM lists with a template; SDA has some short and some long lists. I might start taking a look over them, but I can't give really comprehensive advice.

BenSan, I am going to have to copy your descriptions as is, since I don't have those books. Until I am presented with enough information to make my own opinion, I can only work with everyone elses. And I will add the bit about Summon Elemental. Do you have any experience in using that?

Only a little, to be honest. Its main value comes if you either speak the relevant language or have telepathy (the latter being preferred); having it as an unlimited-use ability means that it's a lot more feasible to use elementals as versatile problem-solving tools and scouts. With telepathy, an earth elemental can scout through walls, can go into stone dungeon surfaces and bash up the trap mechanisms inside, and so forth. Air elementals make good birds-eye scouts and if large enough can act as ferries (so can water elementals, across water.) An air elemental, even a Small one, can also kick up a cloud of debris that provides concealment and forces Concentration checks for spellcasting. Fire elementals have limited noncombat utility unless you want to set things on fire, but they sure are cute.
If the DM allows summoning feats and abilities to apply to Summon Elemental, their power becomes much more significant. Rashemi Elemental Summoning in particular is a drastic power-up. It makes Summon Elemental a better damaging reserve feat than any of the actual direct-damage reserve feats, since a summoned orglash can pop out Cones of Cold for three rounds while you do other things. A summoned Large thomil in boulder defense form is a very effective barricade thanks to its 15/- DR; if you have a Paragnostic Apostle dip to give it fast healing, this is even more vexing.
Still, in direct combat you'll probably prefer casting actual spells. Talk to your DM and see if your character can be assumed to refresh his summon when it expires while the party is exploring and he's not taking other actions, since the real cost of Summon Elemental in combat is the action you could be spending to summon more level-appropriate hitters.
The dread necrcomancer is basically a lot like the beguiler and warmage in being a spontanious caster that knows all of its spells as soon as it is able to cast them. but it's obviously geared towards necromancy and undead instead of illusion/enchantment and blasting.

How does it fare as a summoner? If the ranking goes something like Cleric, Wizard, Psion, Druid/Spirit Shaman, where does he fit in?

Also, I'm starting to wonder what methods can be used for non-arcane casters to gain telepathy. Surely there are some cleric/druid spells available for this, somewhere?
How does it fare as a summoner? If the ranking goes something like Cleric, Wizard, Psion, Druid/Spirit Shaman, where does he fit in?

Also, I'm starting to wonder what methods can be used for non-arcane casters to gain telepathy. Surely there are some cleric/druid spells available for this, somewhere?

Dread Necromancer is awesome up to 10th level, and is particularly strong at 6th, 8th, and 10th. Allips and Shadows absolutely kick butt against every creature at that level, and the meaty undead from lower level Summon Undead rock, too.

After that he starts sucking. Why?
1. There is no Summon Undead 6-9, and d4 to d6 ability damage just doesn't matter;
2. He has no Magic Circle spell to attack to Planar Binding;
3. His Undead Mastery class ability and the Corpsecrafter feat arguably only effect undead made from Necromancy and Creation spells, of which the Summon Undead line are not.

Now, if you were to expand "Summoning" to include all "minion" archetypes, then the Dread Necromancers are really good, but as is I put them just below Druids up to 10th level, and below Wizards past that.
I don't understand why the build suggested in the thread

....

Take Rapid Summoning and Enchanced Summoning alternate class features for the Conjurer, then just go regular Druid. If you're allowed Precocious Apprentice trick then go
Human Conjurer 1 / Druid 6 / Arcane Hierophant 10 / Mystic Theurge 3
and pick Precocious Apprentice and Education as your 1st level feats. Buy Summoner's Totem and surprise your enemies with invisible bears.

...
has the level of conjurer in it, I would imagine that the Conjurer Varients do not effect the spells cast as a druid....am I wrong? Why is it so good?
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