Pathfinder - Summoner Archetypes Breakdown
I will use content from the core rules, but will intentionally omit any content not published on the official Pathfinder SRD due to the unmanageable volume of non-SRD content, and the wildly varying quality of non-SRD content. If you would like me to write handbooks for specific content not published on the official SRD, please email me and I will consider it on a case-by-case basis. I will use the color coding scheme which has become common among Pathfinder build handbooks. Also note that many colored items are also links to the Paizo SRD.
- Red: Bad, useless options, or options which are extremely situational.
- Orange: OK options, or useful options that only apply in rare circumstances
- Green: Good options.
- Blue: Fantastic options, often essential to the function of your character.
Temporary Note: Pathfinder Unchained and Occult Adventures were both recently added to the SRD. I'm excited to explore them, and I am actively working on adding their contents to my collection of handbooks. I appreciate your patience while I make these changes.
The Summoner's ability to fill roles in the party depends entirely on the Summoner's Eidolon, and Summoner Archetypes don't really change the Eidolon's role in the party. Instead, Summoner Archetypes change how the Summoner works with the Eidolon.
The Broodmaster gets two Eidolons by default, and can get more later. Because of the way Broodmasters need to split their Eidolon resources, you may find that your two Eidolons have trouble keeping up with one strong Eidolon.
Eidolon Brood: The cornerstone of the Broodmaster archetype is the ability to have multiple Eidolons. Because you need to split your Eidolon hit dice, evolution points, etc., your Eidolons will need to make the most of their limited resources. Unlike Animal Companions, your Eidolons all get full BAB and saves, which makes them considerably more viable at high levels. Don't forget that your two Eidolons are small be default which has serious implications on your build choices.
Brood Link (Su): Use this very carefully. If your Eidolons start dropping, you're going to find yourself undefended and out of hit points.
Bond Senses (Su): Sharing senses with multiple Eidolons would be very confusing.
Shield Ally (Ex): Shield bonuses and circumstance bonuses don't stack, so this is essentially just a reminder of the normal rules.
Maker's Call (Su): Situational, and because you don't get any more uses per day than a normal summoner you may not be able to summon all of your Eidolons.
Transposition (Su): Teleporting to multiple places at the same time would be confusing.
Larger Brood: This saves you a lot of evolution points, and can allow you to get extra Eidolons if you don't mind them remaining small.
Greater Shield Ally (Su): Bonuses of the same type still don't stack.
Brood Bond (Su): This is a slight handicap because your brood of Eidolons will have less health than a single strong Eidolon.
Merge Forms (Su): Merging with multiple Eidolons would be very complicated.
Replaced Features: Eidolon
Compatible Archetypes: Evolutionist, Naturalist, Spirit Summoner
The Evolutionish archetype can be mostly replaced by the Transmogrify spell. This is made even more insulting by granting the Transmogrify spell as a spell-like ability as part of the archetype. The archetype's description sounds very appealing, but the reality is that changing your Eidolon's evolutions is too cumbersome a process to do frequently, and even casting Transmogrify in one minute instead of one hour does not provide a significant amount of extra versatility.
Mutate Eidolon (Su): Hopefully you don't need to do this often. The material component is very expensive.
Evolve Base Form (Su): Generally you pick one base form and build upon that foundation. Changing the base form likely makes many of your evolutions useless.
Transmogrify (Sp): This makes Mutate Eidolon totally useless.
Replaced Features: Maker's Call, Transposition, Greater Shield Ally
Compatible Archetypes: Broodmaster, Master Summoner
The Master Summoner cuts his Eidolon in half to focus more on the Summon Monster class ability. If you don't want to be entirely dependant on an Eidolon, or if you just really like Summon Monster, the Master Summoner is the way to go.
Lesser Eidolon: This hurts a lot.
Summoning Mastery (Sp): Do you want to summon monsters? Do you want to summon ALL of the monsters? Being able to use this ability multiple times at once is great, but don't burn through your daily uses too quickly or you will find yourself down to your crappy Eidolon. Keeping you Eidolon summone and running one use of Summon Monster is a good compromise, and it will keep your from eating through your daily summons too quickly.
Augment Summoning: Augment Summoning is required for anyone planning to depend on Summon Monster, and getting it for free is nice because you don't need to waste a feat on Spell Focus.
Replaced Features: Eidolon, Summon Monster, Bond Senses, Shield Ally
Compatible Archetypes: Evolutionist
The Naturalist trades in some of the Summoner's less important abilities to grant the Summoner the ability to enhance the Eidolon with the Hunter's Animal Focus ability. While this trade cuts down on the Summoner's ability to defend himself, the bonuses to your Eidolon are fantastic.
Nature's Call (Sp): Summon Monster is strictly better than Summon Nature's Ally, so this is a small setback.
Animal Focus (Su): Animal Focus is a fantastic buff on anything, and the Eidolon is no exception. Because the buff lasts as long as the Eidolon is present, it's a great way to get enhancements to your Eidolon's ability scores if you don't need other Animal Aspects. Because many Animal Aspects cover situational abilities which you would otherwise need to use Evolution points to access, Animal Focus greatly improves your Eidolon's versatility, and frees up evolution points for more essential parts of your build. You give up Shield Ally for this, so your Summoner needs to remain further away from your Eidolon to stay out of harm's way.
Second Animal Focus (Su): Animal Focus is a fantastic ability, and this doubles its effectiveness.
Shared Focus (Su): While the Summoner likely can't make as much use of an Animal Aspect as his Eidolon, enhancements to defenses can work very well.
Third Animal Focus (Su): Animal Focus continues to improve with a third aspect. You could enhance all of your Eidolon's physical ability scores by +6, making it a truly fantastic physical specimen.At 18th level, whenever a naturalist uses his animal focus ability, he can apply three different animal aspects to his eidolon (one of which lasts until he decides to change it). This ability replaces greater aspect.
Replaced Features: Summon Monster, Shield Ally, Greater Shield Ally, Aspect, Life Bond, Greater Aspect
Compatible Archetypes: Broodmaster
The Spirit Summoner somewhat separates the Summoner from his Eidolon, removing many of the options for the two to work together in favor of greater spellcasting abilities for the Summoner. Shaman Spirits are a cool concept, but they're mostly mediocre, and the Spirit Summoner only gets a subset of the Spirit's already poor abilities.
Spirit (Su): Most Spirit abilities are mediocre, and because the Summoner is a 2/3 caster, they won't get all of the spells granted by the Spirit.
Eidolon: This probably won't cause you any problems. If you selected a Spirit, you probably wanted to do something related to that theme anyway.
Hex: You only get 3 Hexes (8th, 10th, and 16th), but Shaman Hexes often depend on Charisma for their DC, and Shaman Hexes also allow you to pick any Witch Hex. For help selecting Hexes, see my Shaman Hex Breakdown.
Replaced Features: Summon Monster, Aspect, Maker's Call, Merge Forms, and Transposition
Compatible Archetypes: Broodmaster
The Synthesist is very cool. While it sacrifices the action economy of having two characters, it makes up for it by being extremely easy to optimize and having perhaps the highest hit points of any character.
Fused Eidolon: While the Eidolon is summoned, the Summoner uses the Eidolon's physical ability scores. Unless you plan to walk around without your Eidolon (a foolish mistake), you can afford to completely dump your physical ability socres. Heck, make your character extremely old. 4 Consititution doesn't matter when you've got your Eidolon summoned.
Fused Link (Su): This essentially doubles your Eidolon's hit points.
Shielded Meld (Ex): You should always be melded with your Eidolon, so this is effectively a permanent bonus to AC and saves.
Maker's Jump (Sp): Extermely useful, and you get access to Dimension Door very early.
Greater Shielded Meld (Ex): More free AC and saves.
Split Forms (Su): This is a great way to get yourself killed. You spend 3/4 of your career as one creature, so you're likely not optimized for being two creatures. When you split, you get to keep your evolutions, but you revert to your garbage physical ability scores.
Replaced Features: Eidolon, Life Link, Bond Senses, Shield Ally, Maker's Call, Transposition, Greater Shield Ally, Merge Forms
Compatible Archetypes: None