Pathfinder - Practical Guide to Eidolons
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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.
The Eidolon is a fantastic concept: a pet which you build from the ground up with a pool of "evolution points". No two Eidolons look or behave the same way, and with a bit of planning you can make an Eidolon serve nearly any purpose and fill nearly any role in a party. Much like an Animal Companion, Eidolons typically fall into front-line roles as strikers or defenders, but due to their intelligence and ability to communicate, they can serve as very effective scouts.
HD: d10 hit points is pretty good, but it's important to note that Eidolons don't get hit dice at the same rate as their Summoner. The hit dice top out at 15
BAB: Full BAB is pretty great, but due to their hit die progression Eidolons' BAB will generally keep pace with 2/3 BAB.
Good/Bad Saves: Two good saving throws is pretty good, and the variable good saves depending on the Eidolon's base form introduces some interesting things to think about.
Skills: By default the Eidolon gets 4 skill ranks per hit die, but you can boost its intelligence to get extra ranks if you feel the need. See the Eidolon Skills section below for help with skills.
Feats: There doesn't appear to be a way to retrain Eidolon feats, so be sure to plan out your feat selections well in advance. See the Eidolon Feats section below for help selecting feats.
Armor Bonus: Take the bonus as a natural armor bonus every time. There is no case in which armor bonuses are better than natural armor, and there are several things which bypass armor bonuses but not natural armor. The bonus is pretty great, and will outpace armor and sheild bonuses very quickly.
Str/Dex Bonus: This will boost your Eidolon's damage, AC, and Reflex saves. The bonuses might seem small, but they keep pace with ability score enhancement items.
Evolution Pool: The Eidolon's heart and soul is its evolutions.
Max. Attacks: Perhaps the biggest limitation on Eidolons' damage ouput. Without this, Eidolons would be fairly ridiculous. Note that this is only a limit on the number of attacks that the Eidolon can make in a turn, not on the Eidolon's number of attack options.
Darkvision (Ex): Excellent on any and every creature in the party.
Link (Ex): The telepathy thing is cool, but the magic item part of the ability is far more important. Unlike Animal Companions, it is explicitly stated that Eidolons can use magic items which work in humanoid item slots. Give your Eidolon your belt slot for physical ability enhancements, and maybe a ring of protection.
Share Spells (Ex): Cool for some buffs.
Evasion (Ex): Fantastic, especially if your Eidolon has a decent Reflex save.
Ability Score Increase (Ex): A few extra ability points probably won't make a huge difference compared to the free strength/dexterity bonus, but you can boost your Eidolon's other abilities to get more hit points or skill ranks.
Devotion (Ex): Enchantment is a very scary spell school.
Multiattack: The rules don't specifically state that your Eidolon can take another feat in place of multiattack, but the general rules for bonus feats allow you to do so. Multiattack is very important, and you generally want it long before level 10. Of course, you can plan your natural attacks so that they are all primary attacks, at which point Multiattack is useless.
Improved Evasion (Ex): Always fantastic.
When picking your Eidolon's skills, remember that they do not gain hit dice as quickly as characters do, so even their best skills likely won't keep pace with a regular party member. Eidolons get 4 skill ranks per hit die by default, but this can be increased by improving the Eidolon's intelligence.
- Bluff (Cha): Why? Are you planning to feint? Eidolons don't get sneak attack, and they're not terribly charismatic.
- Craft (Int): Never.
- Fly (Dex): If your Eidolon can fly (and you want it to fly), one rank here can pay off very well.
- Knowledge (planes) (Int): Eidolons have 7 base intelligence, so they're at a huge disadvantage for knowledge skills. Coupled with their slow hit dice advancement, Eidolons will have a lot of problems contributing meaningful amounts of knowledge.
- Perception (Wis): The most rolled skill in the game, and even with just a few ranks one more set of eyes in the party could save your life.
- Sense Motive (Wis): Worth 1 rank if you don't need the skill ranks, but don't expect to keep up with enemy bluff modifiers.
- Stealth (Dex): Crucial for scouts or ambushing.
At 1st level, the summoner can choose 4 additional skills to be class skills for his eidolon. These free skills provide a lot of versatility for your Eidolon, so be sure to pick skills which support the role you want your Eidolon to fill.
- Acrobatics (Dex): Great for Strikers to move through combat without drawing attacks of opportunity.
- Climb (Str): Or you could make your Eidolon fly.
- Diplomacy (Cha): An Eidolon is not a Face.
- Disable Device (Dex): Excellent for Scouts, but Eidolons don't get Trapfinding.
- Disguise (Cha): Good luck disguising your pet extraplanar were-draco-pire-lich.
- Escape Artist (Dex): Very situational, and Eidolons tend to be scary in grapples as a side-effect of their general combat scariness.
- Handle Animal (Cha): Save this for the Druid.
- Heal (Wis): Someone with a Wisdom bonus should take Heal.
- Intimidate (Cha): An Eidolon is not a Face.
- Knowledge (Any) (Int): Eidolons have 7 base intelligence, so they're at a huge disadvantage for knowledge skills. Coupled with their slow hit dice advancement, Eidolons will have a lot of problems contributing meaningful amounts of knowledge.
- Linguistics (Int): An Eidolon is not a Face, and the only thing anyone really uses Linguistics for is to learn languages.
- Ride (Dex): You could, in theory, have your Eidolon ride another creature. It could even be effective.
- Sleight of Hand (Dex): Situational.
- Spellcraft (Int): With 7 intelligence, this isn't going to work well.
- Survival (Wis): Situational.
- Swim (Str): Just give your Eidolon a Swim speed.
- Use Magic Device (Cha): Eidolons don't really have enough Charisma to make UMD reliable, and they don't gain Hit Dice fast enough to offset the lack of Charisma.
All base forms get 5 points worth of free evolutions. The biggest differences are their starting ability scores and their good saves.
Unless you're in an aquatic campaign, you're going to need to spend evolution points to buy your pet fish some legs.
The Quadruped is a step above other Eidolon base forms solely because it gets the Pounce evolution. As the Eidolon grows and gains additional attacks, Pounce becomes crucial, especially if you intend to use your Eidolon as a Striker. This limitation is somewhat ridiculous because you can easily spend a few evolution points on any other base form to match all of the anatomical features of the quadruped base form. The Quadruped can also serve as a mount, which makes it very easy for the summoner to remain adjacent to the Eidolon to share spells.
The Biped is a very versatile option. Arms and good strength make it a great option for an area control defender, especially if you increase its size. Increasing size to Huge and taking the Reach evolution nets you a maximum of 20 foot reach.
The Serpentine base form is the slowest and has the least strength of all of the base forms. Because it has high base dexterity and starts with Reach, it can make a good Defender, but it will have trouble dealing damage until you enhance its strength. The Serpentine base form can be used as a mount, and because it can take Constrict, it is an excellent grappler.
Evolutions are your Eidolon's heart and soul.
- Basic Magic (Sp): All of the listed spells are bad or can be cast by the summoner.
- Bite (Ex): If your Eidolon's strength is really high, improving the strength bonus to 1.5 could be worth an evolution point. If your Eidolon is out of limbs to put claws on, a Bite is a decent choice.
- Claws (Ex): Two primary attacks, and you can put them on arms or legs. The gold standard of attack type evolutions.
- Climb (Ex): Even more situational than Swim.
- Gills (Ex): Really only necessary in aquatic campaigns.
- Hooves (Ex): Claws are considerably better, and you don't even need Hooves for the Trample evolution.
- Improved Damage (Ex): Really only good if you have a whole bunch of one type of attack, so if you plan to use this be sure to focus on one type of attack.
- Improved Natural Armor (Ex): Not very flashy, but additional armor never hurts.
- Low-Light Vision (Ex): Occasionally useful, but Eidolons already get Darkvision for free.
- Magic Attacks (Su): Great for bypassing DR, but can be replaced by the Eldritch Claws feat or permanent Magic Fang to save evolution points, and gaining DR/alignment allows your natural attacks to bypass DR of that alignment.
- Mount (Ex): Riding your Eidolon is awesome, but it can put you a bit too close to your enemies. Unfortunately, this is limited to quadrupedal and serpentine forms, so you can't ride your bipedal velociraptor.
- Pincers (Ex): Only take this if you plan to make your Eidolon a Grappler. Otherwise Claws are strictly better.
- Pounce (Ex): Crucial for Strikers. Take this as soon as you have two attacks to use it with.
- Pull (Ex): Add this to an attack type with reach, can you can use your reach attacks to pull enemies into range for your other attacks. This also allows you to significantly interfere with people trying to move past your Eidolon, making this an excellent choice for Defenders.
- Push (Ex): Why would you want to push things out of your Eidolon's reach?
- Reach (Ex): Crucial for Defenders. Not that this only applies to one attack, not one attack type, so you may want to take this twice if you plan to use Pull or similar abilities.
- Resistance (Ex): This is a very cheap way to get permanent energy resistance.
- Scent (Ex): Scent is great for chasing down invisible or hidden enemies.
- Skilled (Ex): If you want your Eidolon to be a Scout, throwing this in Perception or Stealth may be a good investment.
- Slam (Ex): It's not clear if this gives you a slam on both limbs, or if you only get one slam per pair of limbs. I assume that you only get one slam based on the difference in damage between Slam and Claws, but the difference between 1d6 and 1d8 damage is not enough to justify giving up a second primary attack.
- Sting (Ex): An extra primary attack is nice, but the damage is relatively small, and you need to spend two evolution points to get it. Of course, you can add poison to the Sting, which is good despite being expensive to attain.
- Swim (Ex): Very occasionally nice to have, but not crucial unless you're in an aquatic campaign.
- Tail (Ex): You really only need this for the Tail Slap or Sting evolutions, which aren't great.
- Tail Slap (Ex): Two evolution points for one secondary attack is a very poor investment. Sting is considerably better.
- Tentacle (Ex): Better than tail slap, but secondary attacks are still not as good as primary attacks. The primary appeal is that you can get this without investing in any other evolutions.
- Unnatural Aura (Su): This is very cool, but not very useful, especially for 2 evolution points.
- Wing Buffet (Ex): The attacks are secondary, but you do get two of them for one evolution point.
- Ability Increase (Ex): Put this on Strength, and potentially Dexterity and Constitution if you feel like you need it.
- Channel Resistance (Ex): Hugely situational.
- Constrict (Ex): Essential for grapplers.
- Energy Attacks (Su): That's potentially a ton of extra damage if you have enough attacks to attach it to.
- Flight (Ex or Su): Flight is crucial, especially at high levels.
- Gore (Ex): A second primary attack on your head which works alongside your bite attack. For one more point you can get an extra set of arms and claws.
- Grab (Ex): Essential for grapplers. Choose Pincers for the extra +2 bonus unless you plan to use Swallow Whole.
- Head (Ex): One head is usually plenty.
- Keen Scent (Ex): This would be fantastic if it worked above water.
- Immunity (Su): Much better than resistance. At only two points you can afford to take immunity to several elements.
- Limbs (Ex): Essential to meet your maximum number of attacks.
- Minor Magic (Sp): All of the spells are fairly weak, and will become insignificant at high levels. Vanish might be the only option which remains useful at high levels.
- Poison (Ex): The DC scales so it will stay good at high levels. Strength damage is pretty good, but spending two points to change it to constitution damage is extremely tempting.
- Rake (Ex): Rake is normally pretty great, but you need to be grappling to use this evolution. Quadrupeds tend to be more about charging and pouncing than grappling, and for good reason.
- Rend (Ex): Get a whole bunch of claws, get Improved Damage for your claws, and take Rend. Rend things for huge piles of damage.
- Trample (Ex): The damage isn't great, and using Trample draws a lot of attacks of opportunity without even knocking the target prone.
- Tremorsense (Ex): Blindsense is one more point and considerably better.
- Trip (Ex): A Fantastic addition to anything with a bite. Lead your quadruped's charges with a tripping bite attack, then mess them up with your pile of claws.
- Undead Appearance (Ex): Really only useful in an evil party.
- Weapon Training (Ex): Your Eidolon's natural weapons will do nearly as much damage as any weapon, though their critical hits won't be as good, and you can't enhance natural weapons. You can also use the Eidolon's feats to get weapon proficiency if you really want it. If your Eidolon has high enough BAB to get additional attacks, remember that you only get iterative attacks with weapons.
- Blindsense (Ex): Fantastic for pinpointing invisible or hidden enemies. Easily worth the three evolution points.
- Burrow (Ex): Great for infiltration or escape.
- Damage Reduction (Su): DR is always nice.
- Frightful Presence (Ex): Making opponents shaken or frightened makes them quite a bit easier to kill.
- Major Magic (Sp): Very few of the spells are worth taking, and using them once per day is hardly enough to justify 3 evolution points.
- See in Darkness (Su): Blindsense is miles better, and supernatural darkness is extremely rare.
- Swallow Whole (Ex): A great way to take enemies out of a fight, especially small and physically weak enemies.
- Web (Ex): Cool, and fairly effective, but can be replaced with a net and a ranged touch attack.
- Dimension Door (Sp): Once per day and you need to invest a ton into improving your Eidolon's Charisma.
- Blindsight (Ex): Totally negates the advantage of invisibility, and instantly locates enemies. Not strictly necessary, but certainly worth considering.
- Breath Weapon (Su): The damage and AOE are both decent, but 4 points for a once per day breath weapon is just too expensive. Extra points for additional uses is nice, a maximum of 3 uses is still not fantastic.
- Fast Healing (Su): Take at least one point on every Eidolon. As long as your Eidolon doesn't get dropped to 0 in a given fight, it's back at full strength before the next fight. If you're a Synthesist Summoney, this makes you nearly unkillable.
- Incorporeal Form (Sp): Situational.
- Large (Ex): Fantastic for a wide variety of builds. Grapplers need it to grapple big creatures, Defenders need the reach, and every Eidolon benefits from the huge amount of bonus strength and constitution. Upgrading to Huge is even better in many cases.
- Lifesense (Su): Blindsight and Blindsense are much better.
- No Breath (Ex): Too situational to justify the cost.
- Spell Resistance (Ex): Greatly reduces the need to worry about saving throws.
- Ultimate Magic (Sp): If you wanted to cast spells you should have been a Sorceror.
The Summoner's feat choices are just as important as those for the Eidolon.
- Defensive Eidolon: Basically Combat Expertise for your Eidolon. Excellent for Defender Eidolons.
- Extra Evolution: More points means a better monster. The "special" section of the feat text appears to be incorrect; it should say "feat" instead of "evolution". Take this feat as often as possible.
- Focused Eidolon: There are much better ways to get bonuses on Concentration checks.
- Improved Share Spell: Nice for sharing buff spells, especially those with long durations.
- Resilient Eidolon: The duration is fairly short, but this might save your life.
- Summoner's Call: A +2 ehancement bonus is nice, but it only lasts for 10 minutes after summoning your Eidolon. Since most Summoners will keep their Eidolon around all day long, you won't see this bonus often.
- Vigilant Eidolon: Skill Focus is better, which is pretty sad.