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Pathfinder - Practical Guide to Summon Monster

Last Updated: April 19th, 2019

Disclaimer

I support a limited subset of Pathfinder's rules content. If you would like help with Pathfinder player options not covered here, please email me and I am happy to provide additional assistance.

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.

Introduction

Summon Monster is allows you to summon a wide variety of extraplanar creatures capable of filling a variety of functions. While Summon Monster is most commonly viewed as a way to summon a pet fighter, Summon Monster is capable of doing much more than that.

Because Summon Monster gains an alignment tag when summoning a creature with non-neutral alignment, divine spellcasters like Cleric and Oracles may not be able to summon every creature available.

The creatures summoned by Summon Monster are usually outsiders, and the easiest way to command them is to share a language with them. Outsiders like celestials and demons typically speak Common, but if you want to command things like elementals you may want to invest a few skill ranks in Linguistics.

Each level of Summon Monster is addressed below. The tables serve as a reference for the available summon options, a compilation of links to the creatures' stat blocks, and a quick reference for the creature's type and subtypes.

Summon Minor Monster

Easily overlooked because it's the same level as Summon Monster I, Summon Minor Monster is a decent spell with a lot of potential. The ability to summon any tiny animal means that Pathfinder's large collection of animals offers an impressively long list of potential summons. However, 1d3 creatures means that you'll occasionally summon 1 creature of a type too weak to summon with Summon Monster I.

If you're looking for combat threats, you'll find few here. Tiny creatures must move into their target's space to attack, which provokes an attack of opportunity, and if they survive that attack nothing available deals more than one damage per attack. Because they don't have a threatened area, they can't flank and can't make attacks of opportunity. You're also limited to summoning animals which won't be able to understand complex instructions, so the best you can hope for is to throw a bunch of weak animals at your enemies or to use Handle Animal checks to herd them into traps or something.

Table: Summon Monster I
Creature Type CR Stats Source
Archaeopteryx* Animal 1/4 Stats CRB
Compsognathus (Dinosaur)* Animal 1/2 Stats CRB
Bat* Animal 1/8 Stats CRB
Cat* Animal 1/4 Stats CRB
Chicken* Animal 1/6 Stats CRB
Flying Fox* Animal 1/3 Stats CRB
Flying Squirrel* Animal 1/3 Stats CRB
Fox* Animal 1/4 Stats CRB
Frog, Poison* Animal 1/2 Stats CRB
Hawk* Animal 1/3 Stats CRB
Lizard* Animal 1/6 Stats CRB
Monkey* Animal 1/4 Stats CRB
Otter* Animal 1/4 Stats CRB
Owl* Animal 1/3 Stats CRB
Platypus* Animal 1/6 Stats CRB
Porcupine* Animal 1/4 Stats CRB
Raccoon* Animal 1/2 Stats CRB
Rat* Animal 1/4 Stats CRB
Raven* Animal 1/6 Stats CRB
Red Panda* Animal 1/2 Stats CRB
Skunk* Animal 1/4 Stats CRB
Sloth* Animal 1/6 Stats CRB
Toad* Animal 1/8 Stats CRB
Tuatara* Animal 1/4 Stats CRB
Turtle, Snapping* Animal 1/3 Stats CRB
Viper* Animal 1/2 Stats CRB
Weasel* Animal 1/2 Stats CRB
* - This creature is summoned with the celestial template if you are good, the entropic template if you are chaotic, the fiendish template if you are evil, or the resolute template if you are lawful; you may choose any if you are neutral.

Archaeopteryx

Hawk is faster, gets more attacks, and does more damage.

Compsognathus (Dinosaur)

Decent speed and poison which deals Strength damage.

Bat

Flight and blindsense make this a surprisingly good option for locating invisible foes. Summon 1d3 bats, set them loose to attack your enemies, and watch wherever they stop to bite stuff.

Cat

It's a long-standing joke that house cats can kill an adult human in 3rd Edition/Pathfinder, and the cat's three attacks are the root of that math. Even at 1 damage each, three attacks makes it likely that the cat will hit at least once.

Chicken

Garbage.

Flying Fox

Basically a bat, but worse.

Flying Squirrel

Basically an Archaeopteryx, but it can't fly upward.

Fox

One of the few options which can do more than 1 damage, but at +1 to hit it's never going to hit.

Frog, Poison

+3 to hit with Constitution damage poison.

Hawk

Flight with excellent fly speed, two attacks at +5 each, and they can do a whopping 2 damage each.

Lizard

It has a climb speed, but so does the Monkey, and the Monkey is faster.

Monkey

Opposable thumbs are a big temptation, but because the monkey isn't smart enough to understand speech and won't know any "tricks" from Animal Handling, you'll have a hard time getting the monkeys to do anything other than attack stuff.

Otter

One of very few options with a swim speed.

Owl

Almost identical to the Hawk, but it trades a significant Perception bonus for a Stealth bonus.

Platypus

Poison, but it only deals 1 point of nonlethal damage.

Porcupine

The Porcupine's attack bonus is poor, but it deals a full 1d3 damage, which is impressive compared to other options. But the real appeal is that you can force enemies to take damage when they attack or grapple the porcupine.

Raccoon

Despite a relatively high CR, the Raccoon's stats are unimpressive.

Rat

Swim and climb speeds allow rats to get around easily, but they can't actually do anything significant in combat. They might be useful in social situations, like summoning rats in a restaurant, but they're clearly not a combat option.

Raven

Hawk and Owl are better options.

Red Panda

I have no idea why this is CR 1/2 compared to the Hawk CR 1/3.

Skunk

2 shots of Musk can nauseate/sicken enemies in a fight long enough to make a difference. The targets are still sickened if they pass the save, so this remains a useful option at high levels when enemies will nearly always pass the save. Quick Summon Minor Ally/Monster to summon 1d3 skunks, have the skunks use Musk to sicken a target, then hit it with a save-or-suck spell while their saves are reduced.

Sloth

Absolute garbage. -1 to attacks. How is this not CR 1/8?

Toad

No attacks.

Tuatara

A weasel with a slightly worse attack bonus.

Turtle, Snapping

Slow and weak.

Viper

Poison which deals Constitution damage. The viper's DC is lower than the Poison Frog's, but its attack bonus is higher. You're probably hoping for the target to roll a 1 anyway, so I would go for the viper over the frog.

Weasel

Attach is neat. The weasel can hang around dealing 1 point of damage per round, forcing Concentration checks on spellcasters, but otherwise not drawing enough attention for enemies to waste their turn detaching the weasel.

Summon Monster I

Because it shares a level with Summon Minor Monster, it's easy to draw comparisons between the two. There is some overlap between the lists of options, and in those cases it's best to use Summon Minor to get 1d3 creatures instead of just 1. With the exception of the Eagle and Dolphin, Summon Minor is a better option.

Table: Summon Monster I
Creature Type CR Stats Source
Dire Rat* Animal 1/3 Stats CRB
Dog* Animal 1/3 Stats CRB
Dolphin* Animal 1/2 Stats CRB
Eagle* Animal 1/2 Stats CRB
Fire Beetle* Animal 1/3 Stats CRB
Poisonous Frog* Animal 1/2 Stats CRB
Pony (horse)* Animal 1/2 Stats CRB
Viper (snake)* Animal None Listed Stats CRB
* - This creature is summoned with the celestial template if you are good, the entropic template if you are chaotic, the fiendish template if you are evil, or the resolute template if you are lawful; you may choose any if you are neutral.

Dire Rat

Small, quick, with decent AC for its CR and both swim and climb speeds. Dire rats can get around easily to scout and retrieve things, but with only +1 to hit it's never doing to hit anything.

Dog

Largely the same as the dire rat, but it gives up the movement types for Scent.

Dolphin

Excellent swim speed and spectacular blindsight. The only aquatic option at this level.

Eagle

Basically a bigger hawk. It has worse attack bonuses than the Hawk, but does more damage, and without the limitations of tiny size the Eagle will probably be more effective because it won't immediately die when it moves close enough to an enemy to attack it.

Fire Beetle

Terrible at combat and isn't subject to Handle Animal. Fire beetles are only interesting because they glow. Torches cost a copper piece. Go buy one.

Poisonous Frog

Use Summon Minor to get 1d3 instead.

Pony

Cast Mount instead.

Viper

Use Summon Minor to get 1d3 instead.

Summon Monster II

Summon II brings creatures up to CR 1, but that's a tiny increase. The options here aren't significantly better than those of Summon Nature's Ally I, so your best bet will frequently be to summon 1d3 creatures from the Nature's Ally I list.

Table: Summon Monster II
Creature Type CR Stats Source
Ant, Giant (Worker)* Vermin 2 Stats CRB
Elemental (Small) Outsider 1 Stats CRB
Giant Centipede* Vermin 1/2 Stats CRB
Giant Frog* Animal 1 Stats CRB
Giant Spider* Vermin 1 Stats CRB
Goblin Dog* Animal 1 Stats CRB
Horse* Animal 1 Stats CRB
Hyena* Animal 1 Stats CRB
Lemure (Devil) Outsider (Evil, Lawful) 1 Stats CRB
Octopus* Animal 1 Stats CRB
Squid* Animal 1 Stats CRB
Wolf* Animal 1 Stats CRB
* - This creature is summoned with the celestial template if you are good, the entropic template if you are chaotic, the fiendish template if you are evil, or the resolute template if you are lawful; you may choose any if you are neutral.

Ant, Giant (Worker)

Impressive 50 ft. speed, grab, and poison that deals Strength damage. This is a good option to lock down physically weak enemies like wizards, but remember that the range on Summon Monster is short, so don't accidentally send your ant charging out of range.

Elemental (Small)

Elementals tend to be weak for their CR unless they're in a situation which very specifically caters to them. Air Elementals are better in the air, for example. At this level, earth elementals are a surprisingly good option. Their attack bonus and damage are respectable, provided that their target is also on the ground, so if you need a no-frills pet fighter, the small earth elemental is a solid choice. Don't forget that they have power attack. Their stat block doesn't apply Power Attack by default, so you need to command them to use it. Because small elementals only have one natural weapon attack, it works like a two-handed weapon so they get the extra 50% damage from Power Attack.

Giant Centipede

Bite with a poison that deals Dexterity damage. You'll have better results using Summon Minor to summon vipers.

Giant Frog

The giant frog's tongue is its big draw. Initiating a grapple at a distance is great for a creature that's going to be summoned to compete with creatures of much higher CR. Even at high levels this can be a great way to counter small troublesome enemies like pixies and vargouilles.

Giant Spider

Poor attack bonus, bad damage, weak poison. Summon vipers instead.

Goblin Dog

Basically the same the Dog on Summon Monster I, but with Allergic Reaction.

Horse

Cast Mount instead.

Hyena

Bite with a passable attack bonus and Trip.

Lemure (Devil)

Terrible stats, and all of the animal options will have similar DR and resistances with the Celestial/Fiendish/Whatever templates.

Octopus

The better of the two aquatic options. Grab and disappointing poison.

Squid

A bigger, worse octopus.

Wolf

The Wolf is almost perfectly identical to the Hyena, but with worse stats.

Summon Monster III

Summon III increases the CR of creatures to CR 2. At this stage the options start to become more diverse and interesting, and they become more useful as actual combat threats.

When you first get Summon III, the Crocodile and Leopard are decent combat options. However, as their attack bonuses fall behind the Lantern Archon remains a fantastic and reliable option in a variety of situations.

Table: Summon Monster III
Creature Type CR Stats Source
Ant, Giant (Soldier)* Vermin 1 Stats CRB
Ape* Animal 2 Stats CRB
Aurochs (herd animal)* Animal 2 Stats CRB
Boar* Animal 2 Stats CRB
Cheetah* Animal 2 Stats CRB
Constrictor Snake* Animal 2 Stats CRB
Crocodile* Animal 2 Stats CRB
Dire Bat* Animal 2 Stats CRB
Dretch (demon) Outsider [Chaotic, Evil] 2 Stats CRB
Electric Eel* Animal 2 Stats CRB
Lantern Archon Outsider [Good, Lawful] 2 Stats CRB
Leopard (cat)* Animal 2 Stats CRB
Monitor lizard Animal 2 Stats CRB
Shark* Animal 2 Stats CRB
Wolverine* Animal 2 Stats CRB
* - This creature is summoned with the celestial template if you are good, the entropic template if you are chaotic, the fiendish template if you are evil, or the resolute template if you are lawful; you may choose any if you are neutral.

Ant, Giant (Soldier)

Adding poison doesn't do enough to make the giant ant a meaningful combat threat. Worker ants weren't scary with Summon Nature's Ally II, and their attack bonuses don't change when they become a soldier ant, so they will face additional challenges trying to hit enemies which are now stronger and more resilient.

Ape

Despite their size and strength, apes are weak. Their attack bonus is just +3, and their CMB is worse than that of the Giant Frog. They have the advantage of human-like hands, but if you need something with hands you'll be better served by 1d4+1 mites.

Aurochs (Herd Animal)

Aurochs are good because of Trample. That is all that you need from them.

Boar

Boars are dangerous because of their Ferocity trait, but combining their negative hit points with their normal hit point pool makes them only slightly more durable than the options on the Summon Monster I list. Their attacks and AC are both weak, so the boar won't even work as a passable combat threat.

Cheetah

Fast with three attacks and trip. Not a terrible option, but summoning 1d3 hyenas may be more likely to trip foes simply because they can make more CMB attempts.

Constrictor Snake

Slow, but with both climb and swim speeds. Constrictor snakes are good grapplers, and their constrict damage is threatening. However, if you don't need the climb speed a crocodile has better numbers for similar tricks.

Crocodile

Crocodiles are great at grabbing one foe and locking them down. Their attack bonus is good and their damage is decent, and with Grab and Death Roll they can really take control of a grapple and keep enemies from escaping.

Dire Bat

Blindsense will allow the dire bat to locate invisible foes, which might be helpful, but otherwise it's unremarkable.

Dretch

Poor speed and mediocre attacks. The energy resistances and DR look tempting, but summoned animals will get similar protections from the alignment template granted by the spell. Dretches are intelligent and speak languages, which allows you to give them verbal commands if you speak the right languages, but they can't do much other than move, attack, and carry stuff around.

Electric Eel

Even in the water this is terrible.

Giant Crab

Comparable to the crocodile, but it gets two chances to grab rather than one. I think the crocodile's better damage output is the better of the two options.

Giant Crab is notably exclusive to Summon Nature's Ally, so everyone else using Summon Monster can't summon giant crabs. You should feel special.

Lantern Archon

Lantern archons have several amazing things going for them.

First, lantern archons are maneuverable. With 60 ft. fly speed, perfect maneuverability, and small size, they can get around easily in tight areas. With just 1 Strength and no hands that's not always helpful, but you can easily squeeze a bunch of lantern archons into crowded dungeons and other small spaces.

Second, from a purely martial standpoint, lantern archons are a reliable source of damage output. They get two touch attack rays which deal 1d6 typeless damage. At +3 to hit they can hit the average touch AC at any CR about 50% of the time at the absolute worst, so you can reasonably expect that a lantern archon can deal 1d6 damage every turn. This means that lantern archons are a reliable combat option in nearly any encounter, making them an excellent option when you can summon 1d3 or 1d4+1 of them with higher-level summon spells. These attacks are made at range, allowing your summons to attack enemies well beyond the spells range without putting the archon directly in harms way and therefore at risk of being unsummoned.

Third, lantern archons have Truespeech, so they can speak and understand any language. That makes lantern archons a perfect translator, replacing the need for spells like Comprehend Languages and Tongues for the brief duration of Summon Monster. You can also issue commands to the lantern archon in any languages.

Fourth, Aura of Menace. Sure, the DC is only 12 but if you summon a bunch of them, your enemies need to save against each aura separately. Even after the spell's duration expires, the effect lasts 24 hours.

Finally, the lantern archon's Spell-like Abilities, all of which are usable at will. Detect Evil is situational, and Summon Monster specifically prohibits both teleportation, and spell-like abilities with expensive material components (like Continual Flame) but that leaves Aid. You can use Aid to buff your party and have a lantern archon run around in combat continuously refreshing everyone's temporary hit points whenever they take damage.

Look at all that text. The Lantern Archon is so good that my assessment of why its great took up more text than every other summon option at this tier.

Leopard (Cat)

If you just want to kill something, the leopard is your best bet at this level. Three attacks, pounce, and rake will produce impressive damage output.

Monitor Lizard

The poison isn't meaningful because of the long onset, and crocodiles will do better at grappling.

Shark

Decent damage, but that's about it. 1d3 squids will do comparable damage and can easily grapple foes to keep them from counter-attacking.

Wolverine

Decent damage once rage starts, but the leopard does comparable damage without needing to take damage first.

Summon Monster IV

For the first time since Summon I, there is some variation in the CR of your summon options. At this level, Summon Monster and Summon Nature's Ally beginning to deviate more significantly in their summon options, with Summon Monster introducing more outsiders and Summon Nature's Ally getting a few more exclusive animal options in addition to magical beasts and fey.

Summon IV brings several very viable combat options. Giant Scorpion and Grizzly Bear are both great for locking down single targets, but if you just need a pet fighter your best bet is the Hound Archon.

Table: Summon Monster IV
Creature Type CR Stats Source
Ant, Giant (Drone)* Vermin 3 Stats CRB
Bison (herd animal)* Animal 4 Stats CRB
Deinonychus (dinosaur)* Animal 3 Stats CRB
Dire Ape* Animal 3 Stats CRB
Dire Boar* Animal 4 Stats CRB
Dire Wolf* Animal 3 Stats CRB
Elemental (Medium) Elemental 3 Stats CRB
Giant Scorpion* Vermin 3 Stats CRB
Giant Wasp* Vermin 3 Stats CRB
Grizzly Bear* Animal 4 Stats CRB
Hell hound Outsider [Evil, Lawful] 3 Stats CRB
Hound Archon Outsider [Good, Lawful] 4 Stats CRB
Lion* Animal 3 Stats CRB
Mephit (any) Elemental 3 Stats CRB
Pteranodon (dinosaur)* Animal 3 Stats CRB
Rhinoceros* Animal 4 Stats CRB
* - This creature is summoned with the celestial template if you are good, the entropic template if you are chaotic, the fiendish template if you are evil, or the resolute template if you are lawful; you may choose any if you are neutral.

Giant Ant, Drone

Adding flight and improved stats makes the giant ant a decent threat. The combination of grab and flight means that it can lift enemies into the air and drop them, or fly over other enemies to reach vulnerable foes fighting at a distance.

Bison (Herd Animal)

Much like the aurochs, bison are good for their Trample ability. The DC is 3 higher than that of the Aurochs, and it's unlikely that enemies have increased their save bonuses by 3 in the levels it took you to go from Summon Nature's Ally III to IV.

Deinonychus (Dinosaur)

With four attacks and pounce, the deinonychus is a decent combat options. However, the Griffon has similar damage output, better attack bonuses, and can fly, making the deinonychus redundant.

Dire Ape

Three decent attacks, large size, rend, and a climb speed. A good option to throw between you an something scary, though their AC is poor so their hit points will drop quickly.

Dire Boar

A big pile of hit points, especially when supplemented by Ferocity. At large size with one big attack, the Dire Boar is a good tank and their opportunity attacks are decent. However, their AC is poor and all that they can do offensively is damage so they're not versatile in the slightest.

Dire Wolf

I was really hoping that the Dire Wolf would be a decent way to trip stuff, but with just +8 CMB they're not especially reliable. You also need to hit with the dire wolf's single mediocre attack to trigger Trip. Overall you're getting very little damage with an unreliable chance of tripping things.

Elemental (Medium)

At this level elementals' abilities have a decent DC which some creatures might actually fail. Air elements can use their Whirlwind to lift enemies into the air and drop them, while fire elementals can inflict ongoing damage with Burn.

Giant Scorpion

Giant scorpions are horrifying combat monsters. Two claw attacks with a good CMB being Grab, and their poison DC is high enough to actually matter. The Strength damage will reduce enemies' CMB and CMD, which means that the scorpion will gradually overcome enemies in a grapple as their Strength gradually fails.

Giant Wasp

Despite its better sting damage and higher poison DC, the giant wasp is actually worse than the giant ant drone.

Grizzly Bear

Thanks to grab, the grizzly bear mostly competes with the Giant Scorpion in terms of their combat function. Their stat lines are so similar that I can't figure out why Grizzly Bear is CR 4 but the Giant Scorpion is only CR 3. For your purposes, the question becomes whether you want the base numerical advantage of the bear (+1 CMB compared to the scorpion and 5 more hit points) of you want the poison damage on the scorpion's sting.

Hell Hound

Basically a dog with a terrible breath weapon and a little extra fire damage.

Hound Archon

A solid all-around option. Aura of Menace is a good debuff, Circle of Protection is a great defensive buff for you and your allies, the hound archon's attacks are decent with good damage and better attack bonuses than anything else at this level, and you can communicate with the Hound Archon using truespeech. If you want spell-like abilities it's easier to use 1d3 Lantern Archons because they can fly around to deliver the effects, but the Hound Archon is likely a better option if you need a summoned fighter.

Lion

Basically just a worse version of the tiger.

Mephit (any)

Mephits are mostly terrible. Their breath weapons are weak, and their fast healing won't matter because the duration of Summon Nature's Ally is so short. The big draw of Mephits is their spell-like abilities, which can get you access to some useful spells which you may not have prepared or which aren't on your spell list. Unfortunately these spells tend to be at most 2nd-level, so buying some scrolls is probably a better choice.

Pteranodon (Dinosaur)

I have no idea how these are CR 3. They're terrible.

Rhinoceros

You'll get better damage out of a charge from a tiger or griffon, and after the charge your tiger or griffon will continue to be scary.

Summon Monster V

Summon V adds an unusually large number of evil outsiders.

On land, Ankylosaurus is an unbeatable tank. If you need damage output, summon multiple options from lower-level spells. In the water, the Giant Moray Eel is terrifying. If you want to lock down a single physically weak target like a spellcaster, the Salamaber is an excellent grappler.

Table: Summon Monster V
Creature Type CR Stats Source
Ankylosaurus (dinosaur)* Animal 6 Stats CRB
Babau (demon) Outsider [Chaotic, Evil] 6 Stats CRB
Bearded Devil Outsider [Evil, Lawful] 5 Stats CRB
Bralani Azata Outsider [Chaotic, Good] 6 Stats CRB
Dire Lion* Animal 5 Stats CRB
Dolphin (Orca) Animal 5 Stats CRB
Elemental (Large) Elemental 5 Stats CRB
Giant Moray Eel* Animal 5 Stats CRB
Kyton Outsider [Evil, Lawful] 6 Stats CRB
Salamander Outsider [Evil] 6 Stats CRB
Woolly Rhinoceros* Animal 6 Stats CRB
Xill Outsider [Evil] 6 Stats CRB
* - This creature is summoned with the celestial template if you are good, the entropic template if you are chaotic, the fiendish template if you are evil, or the resolute template if you are lawful; you may choose any if you are neutral.

Ankylosaurus

A single attack with a good attack bonus and decent damage, but the real appeal of the ankylosaurus is as crowd control. Their Stun ability (which dazes foes rather than stunning them) is devastating. It's as effective as Power Word Stun and has a startling high DC of 23. And they can do it on every attack, including attacks of opportunity. At huge size with 15 ft. reach they can lock down huge sections of a battlefield and keep at least one enemy dazed perpetually until you get around to killing it. On top of all of that, the ankylosaurus has a decent AC and a big pool of hit points so it can keep on fighting for a long time.

Babau (demon)

The biggest appeal of the Babau is its ability to dispel magic at will. Rather than wasting a bunch of spell slots to dispel a pesky magical obstacle, summon a Babau and make it dispel repeatedly until it succeeds.

Bearded Devil

A passable combat option, but Ankylosaurus is considerably better. The wounding effect is tempting, but it's too small compared to the Ankylosaurus's ability to daze enemies.

Bralani Azata

The Bralania is a weird mix of abilities. It has some spell-like abilities, and both ranged and melee weapons. The spell-like abilities include the ability to cast Cure Serious Wounds, so be sure to use that before Summon Monster's duration expires. Unfortunately, the bralani's diverse skillset means that it's also not good at any single thing. When you can always summon a creature specialized to the situation, a generalist is a poor choice.

Dire Lion

A linear improvement on the lion and the tiger, dire lion doesn't add much additonal damage, but adds a bunch of extra attack bonus and hit points.

Dolphin (Orca)

120 ft. blindsight is great for finding hidden foes, but orcas are aquatic, their attacks are mediocre, and they don't speak, so at best they can find a hidden enemy and chomp at them impotently until you decide what else to do about them.

Elemental (Large)

Large elementals gain a second slam attack, making fire elementals a considerably more useful option because they now have twice as much opportunity to trigger Burn for ongoing damage against difficult foes. Air elementals remain the most relevant option for their ability to use Whirlwind to lift enemies into the air and drop them.

Giant Moray Eel

Excellent in the water, the giant moray eel is a fantastic grappler. Grab and Gnaw provide excellent damage output while grappling, and Gnaw allows the eel to make an additional secondary bit for a little bit more damage.

Kyton

Four attacks is great, especially if you have something like Inspire Courage running to boost the attacks' damage. Unfortunately, damage is the only thing that the Kyton can do, and its attacks do surprisingly little damage.

Salamander

The Salamander is the best single-target elimination option at this level. Its tail attack has both Grab and Constrict, allowing it to quickly grapple a target and burn through their hit points quickly.

Woolly Rhinoceros

Combining the benefits of the rhinoceros and the aurochs, the woolly rhinoceros does a does a file of damage on a charge, then follows it up on successive rounds by using Trample to knock foes prone and back away.

Xill

Four attacks with grab, and it can lay eggs in your enemies if you're crazy like that. Unfortunately the damage output is poor, so the Salamander is likely a more effective grappler.

Summon Monster VI

Table: Summon Monster VI
Creature Type CR Stats Source
Dire Bear* Animal 7 Stats CRB
Dire Tiger* Animal 8 Stats CRB
Elasmosaurus (dinosaur)* Animal 7 Stats CRB
Elemental (Huge) Elemental 7 Stats CRB
Elephant* Animal 7 Stats CRB
Erinyes (devil) Outsider [Evil, Lawful] 8 Stats CRB
Giant Octopus Animal 8 Stats CRB
Invisible Stalker Outsider [Air] 7 Stats CRB
Lillend Azata Outsider [Chaotic, Good] 7 Stats CRB
Shadow Demon Outsider [Chaotic, Evil] 7 Stats CRB
Shadow Mastiff Outsider [Evil] 5 Stats CRB
Succubus (Demon) Outsider [Chaotic, Evil] 7 Stats CRB
Triceratops (Dinosaur)* Animal 8 Stats CRB
* - This creature is summoned with the celestial template if you are good, the entropic template if you are chaotic, the fiendish template if you are evil, or the resolute template if you are lawful; you may choose any if you are neutral.

Dire Bear

Dire tiger has all of the same attacks, but has better attack bonuses and damage, and adds pounce and rake.

Dire Tiger

Your go-to murder machine. All of the appeal of the tiger, but bigger and with more damage. However, it needs to compete with the Shadow Demon's ability to attack with touch attacks.

Elasmosaurus (dinosaur)

A huge bag of hitpoints, but underwhelming damage. Summoning 1d3 Giant Moray Eels will almost certainly work better.

Elemental (Huge)

Another linear improvement to elementals. The air elemental's whirlwind continues to be a good option, but other elementals lag behind other comparable options.

Elephant

Another vehicle for Trample. The damage isn't any better than the Woolly Rhinoceros, but the DC is better.

Erinyes (Devil)

The Erinyes can cast Fear at will as a spell-like ability, so its best function is to spam Fear every single turn. The DC of 19 isn't spectacular, but even if the targets succeed on saves they are still Shaken, which makes them more susceptible to the next time your Erinyes uses Fear. Just wait until you can summon 1d3/1d4+1 of them and they can all produce overlapping Fear effects. Keep doing it until it works.

Giant Octopus

A fantastic grappler, the giant octopus applies grab on 8 tentacle attacks, making it largely guaranteed that the octopus will be able to start a grapple. The octopus's poison does Strength damage, so any protracted fight against the octopus will lead to the target gradually losing its ability to fight off the octopus's grapple.

Invisible Stalker

It's really neat that the Invisible Stalker is invisible, but its damage is garbage and it can't do anything except damage.

Lillend Azata

Summon a 7th-level bard! It has a handful of decent spells and spell-like abilities, and it can use Bardic Music to buff your party. If you have time, have the Lillend use its spells to heal you and your allies before your Summon Monster duration expires.

Shadow Demon

The shadow demon is incorporeal, so it can pass through walls and it takes no damage from non-magic attacks. Its attacks are all made as touch attacks, and with three attacks it can do a decent amount of damage, and it has both Pounce and Sprint so it can easily charge anything within your Summon Monster range. That alone makes it one of the best combat options at this level, but it can also cast Shadow Conjuration/Shadow Evocation three times per day, giving you access to a bunch of useful spells.

Shadow Mastiff

If you want to terrify enemies, the Erinyes can do a better job because its DC is higher, it can try again, and it doesn't affect you.

Succubus (Demon)

Not much of a combat threat, and with Summon Monster's limited duration a Succubus won't be much use in a social situation, but Dominate Person is really good if you're facing humanoids, and Profane Gift is a great way to buff party members.

Triceratops (Dinosaur)

A bigger, scalier version of the woolly rhinoceros, the triceratops adds more damage but uses all of the same tricks.

Summon Monster VII

This levels adds nothing conceptually new, but options continue to improve.

The giant octopus outpaces the giant moray eel in the water. The stegosaurus arguably gives the ankylosaurus a run for its money, but 1d3 ankylosaurus stuns will probably be more effective than just knocking enemies prone. For straight damage, the dire tiger is nice and murdery. The Bone Devil provides some excellent utility with Wall of Ice at will.

Table: Summon Monster VII
Creature Type CR Stats Source
Bebelith Outsider [Chaotic, Evil] 10 Stats CRB
Bone Devil Outsider [Evil, Lawful] 9 Stats CRB
Brachiosaurus (Dinosaur)* Animal 10 Stats CRB
Dire Crocodile* Animal 9 Stats CRB
Dire shark* Animal 9 Stats CRB
Elemental (Greater) Elemental 9 Stats CRB
Giant Squid* Animal 9 Stats CRB
Mastodon (Elephant)* Animal 9 Stats CRB
Roc* Animal 9 Stats CRB
Tyrannosaurus (Dinosaur)* Animal 9 Stats CRB
Vrock (Demon) Outsider [Chaotic, Evil] 9 Stats CRB
* - This creature is summoned with the celestial template if you are good, the entropic template if you are chaotic, the fiendish template if you are evil, or the resolute template if you are lawful; you may choose any if you are neutral.

Bebelith

Rot is 2 points of con damage with a DC of 23 to resist, and since it's not poison it still works on things immune to poison. It's especially useful against enemies in manufactured armor because it literally rips their armor off.

Bone Devil

Wall of Ice at will. Spam Wall of Ice until it solves your problems.

Brachiosaurus (dinosaur)

Yet another trample vehicle, with a DC of 32 almost nothing is going to avoid the brachiosaurus's trample.

Dire Crocodile

Though its direct damage isn't great for this level, the dire crocodile's grab and impressive +30 CMB while grappling makes it a fantastic grappler.

Dire Shark

Grab and swallow whole make a great combination. Nothing you can summon can compete with the dire shark in the water.

Elemental (Greater)

The air elemental continues to be useful due to Whirlwind.

Fire Giant

The fire giant has the best straight damage output of the options available to you at this level, but the dire crocodile's ability to grapple will likely make it a more meaningful addition to combat.

Frost Giant

Fire giant is strictly better unless immunity to cold or fire matters.

Giant Squid

While it's not a bad option on its own, the dire shark is a better grappler and will do more damage than the giant squid can.

Mastodon (Elephant)

Yet another trample vehicle, but the brachiosaurus's DC and damage are higher.

Roc

Flight and grab, combined with gargantuan size, mean that the roc can pick up enemies, carry them into the air, and drop them. Usually you want to use an air elemental to do this because they can do it to a group, but the roc may work better against small foes with good savingt throws.

Tyrannosaurus (Dinosaur)

The dire crocodile fills largely the same role, and the addition of Death Roll makes it a better option.

Vrock

A nice mix of abilities, but the Vrock's attack bonuses are extremely poor compared to other creatures at this level. Instead, use the Vrock's special abilities. Spores does automatic damage, buff an ally with Heroism, stun enemies with Stunning Screech, or if you can summon multiple vrocks you can have them all do Dance of Ruin together to create a gigantic AOE.

Summon Monster VIII

At this level, Summon Monster and Summon Nature's Ally completely deviate.

With just three options, Summon VIII isn't especially interesting. Barbed Devil is great if you want a scorching ray cannon, but otherwise it will be more effective to summon multiple creatures from lower-level spells.

Table: Summon Monster VIII
Creature Type CR Stats Source
Barbed Devil Outsider [Evil, Lawful] 11 Stats CRB
Elemental (Elder) Elemental 11 Stats CRB
Hezrou (Demon) Outsider [Chaotic, Evil] 11 Stats CRB
* - This creature is summoned with the celestial template if you are good, the entropic template if you are chaotic, the fiendish template if you are evil, or the resolute template if you are lawful; you may choose any if you are neutral.

Barbed Devil

The Barbed Devil is a mediocre melee threat at best. Its true appeal comes from its spell-like abilities. Major Image can be useful if you're clever, but you're more likely to command your Barbed Devil to use Scorching Ray repeatedly to churn out reliable damage every round.

Elemental Elder

At this level you're summoning the most powerful elementals available. Nothing about them has really changed over the course of Summon Monster's progression exept for their numbers.

Hezrou

If you are facing a lawful or good-aligned outsider, the Hezrou is great because it can spam Chaos Hammer and Unholy Blight every round. Otherwise, the Hezrou is underwhelming.

Summon Monster IX

Surprisingly, Summon IX has more options than Summon VIII.

If you want something to hit things, summon an Astral Deva. If you want to disable a single creature, use a Nalfeshnee. If you want a pet cleric, summon a Trumpet Archon. If your GM is crazy, use a Glabrezu to get Wish for free.

Table: Summon Monster IX
Creature Type CR Stats Source
Astral Deva (Angel) Outsider [Good] 14 Stats CRB
Ghaele Azata Outsider [Chaotic, Good] 13 Stats CRB
Glabrezu (Demon) Outsider [Chaotic, Evil] 13 Stats CRB
Ice Devil Outsider [Evil, Lawful] 13 Stats CRB
Nalfeshnee (Demon) Outsider [Chaotic, Evil] 14 Stats CRB
Trumpet Archon Outsider [Good, Lawful] 14 Stats CRB
* - This creature is summoned with the celestial template if you are good, the entropic template if you are chaotic, the fiendish template if you are evil, or the resolute template if you are lawful; you may choose any if you are neutral.

Astral Deva

The Astral Deva is all about its Stun ability. Sure, it has spell-like abilities, but they're strictly worse than other options at this level. Instead, you send your pet angel to hammer enemies and stun lock them for the duration of the spell.

Ghaele Azata

Neat, but there are better options that fill the same roles. Trumpet Archons are better clerics, and you can get more light ray damage from a bunch of lantern archons.

Glabrezu (Demon)

Depending on your GM, you may be able to use the Glabrezu to get Wish for free. I would never allow that as a GM because I'm not insane, but maybe your GM is more fun than I am.

Ice Devil

Cone of Cold every turn is a decent source of damage, but if you want a bunch of ice walls you should summon 1d4+1 Bone Devils from the Summon VII list instead.

Nalfeshnee (Demon)

Feeblemind and Unholy Aura can easily disable a wide variety of enemies, or you can summon the Nalfeshnee to cast Greater Dispel Magic at will.

Trumpet Archon

Summon a pet 14th-level cleric. It can case Heal twice, on top of a handful of other staple spells from the cleric spell list. The Trumpet Archon casts spells rather than using spell-like abilities, which means that it can cast spells like Raise Dead despite the expensive material components, but you still need to provide those components.

Other Summon Spells

Summon Swarm

As a 2nd-level spell, Summon Swarm is accessible early in the game. It notably requires Concentration, so instead of summoning a monster and going about your business you need to spend your standard action each turn keeping the spell going. This is a difficult commitment to make, especially once you have enough spell slots that a single 2nd-level slot isn't a large expenditure of resources. However, swarms can be a serious threat on the battlefield, which can make Summon Swarm an excellent way to spend a spell slot. If you're worried about action economy, consider casting Flaming Sphere before you cast Summon Swarm so that you can spend your turn doing something more exciting than thinking about your swarm to keep it around.

Summon Swarm competes with Summon Monster II, and notably Summon Swarm can summon CR 2 creatures compared to the CR 1 creatures from Summon Monster II. Aside from the Concentration issues, Summon Swarm is a solid spell. Dropping a Swarm of Bats into an encounter can be hugely effective, even in high-level adventures where the damage isn't significant, because the bleed damage will force Concentration checks.

  • Swarm of Bats: The Swarm of Bats can fly and its speed is twice as good as the other swarms, making it much better than the other options already, but it also deals a point of bleed damage so you can pile the swarm on top of your enemies and run away while they slowly bleed out.
  • Swarm of Rats: Disease is rarely a useful option for players.
  • Swarm of Spiders: Poison, but the DC is terrible.

Feats

  • Fire Music: 5 points of fire resistance and +1 fire damage really isn't worth a feat.
  • Sacred Summons: If you're a cleric, summoning a creature as a Standard action may be very helpful. You notably can't finish a Summon Monster spell during a surprise round without Sacred Summons. However, being limited by your own alignment makes Summon Monster much worse for divine spellcasters.
  • Spell Focus: Required for more interesting spells.
    • Augment Summoning: At low levels, +4 Strength and the resulting +2 to attacks and damage are a significant boost for summoned creatures. The number won't matter as much at later levels where you're typically relying less on teeth and claws, but Augment Summoning remains the foundation of improving Summon spells at any level.
      • Evolved Summoned Monster: The fact that you get to pick this evolution every time you cast the spell means that you can always find an evolution which will work. Most of the time you're going to be adding an extra attack, adding gills so that you can summon things underwater, or using Improved Damage to emphasize an existing type of attack.
      • Ferocious Summons: Essentially 10 more hit points for your monsters. Nice, but not essential.
      • Superior Summoning: At most levels, summoning multiple creatures from lower-level lists is a good idea, especially with Augment Summoning buffing their stats. Adding one more creature summoned makes this an even better option.

Magic Items

Ring of Summoning Affinity (Aeon)

Aeons are weird, mostly because of their inability to communicate verbally. The ring's only good form is the Akhana, and honestly the Akhana seems pointless compared to existing options like the Trumpet Archon.

  1. Paracletus: Useless in combat, and Commune is off limits due to the expensive material component.
  2. Theletos: The Theletos's spell-like abilities aren't especially useful, and the attacks are weaker than those available to other options at the same level.
  3. Akhana: In combat, the Akhana has four attacks with Grab on each of them, and if it can somehow grapple things with its horrid +16 attack bonus, it can use its tail to inflict 1d4 negative levels every turn. Beyond that, the Akhana can cast Cure Serious Wounds at will, and it can cast Raise Dead once per day without the expensive material component.

Ring of Summoning Affinity (Agathion)

The only really good option is the Leonal at Summon 8, which adds access to some powerful healing options earlier than the Trumpet Archon at Summon 9.

  1. Silvanshee: Useful solely for its ability to cast Commune without the expensive material component.
  2. Vulpinal: The spell-like abilities are mostly terrible. However, the Vulpinal can cast Remove Disease three times per day, which may be a helpful option for Sorcers and Wizards who otherwise don't have access to it.
  3. Avoral: Dispel Magic at will, but by this level you're more reliant on Greater Dispel Magic.
  4. Leonal: Finally a worthwhile option! Fireball at will is nice, though with such a low DC most creatures will be taking half damage. The real appeal is the healing spells, including Heal once per day.

Ring of Summoning Affinity (Angel)

The Movanic and Monadic devas offer some interesting spell-like abilities.

  1. Cassian: Aid and Commune each once per day. Otherwise worthless.
  2. Movanic Deva: Passable combat stats, including flight. The Movanic Deva's spell-like abilities are good, too, including Aid and Dispel Magic at will, Cure Serious Wounds 7 times per day, and Antimagic Field, and Holy Aura once per day. Awaken is off-limits due to its expensive material component. Holy Aura is a powerful buff that's exclusive to the cleric/oracle list, and as an 8th-level spell you get it a spell level early.
  3. Monadic Deva: Basically a Movanic Deva with slightly different spell-like abilities and attacks. Notably includes Heal once per day.

Ring of Summoning Affinity (Archon)

Almost every option is redundant with base options.

  1. Harbinger: Cure Light Wounds three times per day will heal more than Cure Serious Wounds, and it can cast Commune once per week.
  2. Legion Archon: Decent, but the default summon options are just as good and can do all of the same things.
  3. Shield Archon: Constant Magic Circle Against Evil, but at this level that's not very exciting. Decent stats for a tank, but almost no damage output. The spell-like abilities aren't very exciting, but with Shield Another you can use your Shield Archon to soak up damage for an ally.

Ring of Summoning Affinity (Asura)

The Agashura is a helpful addition to Summon 8's dismally short list of options, but it's probably not enough to justify buying the ring.

  1. Tripurasura: Some situational spell-like abilities.
  2. Adhukait: The spell-like abilities are situational at best, and the combat stats aren't any better than the default options.
  3. Upasunda: Again, mediocre spell-like abilities and mediocre combat stats.
  4. Aghasura: Better combat stats than the default options, but nothing special in terms of spell-like abilities.

Ring of Summoning Affinity (Daemon)

This ring notably provides the most summon options of any Ring of Summoning Affinity, totaling 8 new options compared to the typical 3 or 4. Once you're able to cast Summon 6, the 10,600gp cost of this ring is easily affordable and the ring is well worth its price. The Summon 6 and above options are nearly all fantastic.

  1. Cacodaemonto: Cast Commune without the expensive material component, and eat dead people to put their souls into gems. You might be able to use those gems to bargain with evil outsiders if your GM is willing to let you do that.
  2. Ceustodaemon: Strictly a combat option, and the default list has better combat options.
  3. Hydrodaemon: An interesting mix of abilities, the Hydrodaemon is a threat at any range. Acid Arrow at will allows it to fight at ranges of well over 700 feet, and at closer ranges the Hydrodaemon's Sleep Spittle allows it to put individual foes to sleep at will. If those options fail you somehow, the Hydrodaemon's attacks are decent, though they won't compare to those of the Erinyes. When you progress to higher levels, the Hydrodaemon may remain a viable option because Acid Arrows is a touch attack. 1d3 or 1d4+1 of them can become a terrifying artillery array, dealing out piles of d4s at long range and quickly wearing down powerful enemies.
  4. Leukodaemon: Despite being on the low end of the CR scale for Summon 7, the Leukodaemon has a lot to offer. Harm 1/day and Contagion on its longbow attacks allow the Leukodaemon to deal out a bunch of damage in a burst or to pile problematic status effects onto enemies. Dispel Magic at will also offers some helpful utility, though at this level you'll be much more reliant on Greater Dispel Magic.
  5. Piscodaemon: Easily outpacing the Bebelith as a combat threat, the Piscodaemon's claws are terrifying. 18-20x3 crits backed up by Critical Focus and Sickening Critical, with both Grab and Bleed, followed up by impressive Constrict damage. With a swim speed and the ability to cast Fly three times per day, the Piscodaemon works in nearly any situation, and against a variety of foes. On top of all of that, the Piscodaemon's tentacles inflict poison which deals Constitution damage with an alarmingly-high DC of 22.
  6. Derghodaemon: The Derghodaemon has a CR of 12, placing it above the CR of the creatures on the default list of options. However, many of its abilities are removed by the text of Summon Monster. Because Summon Monster disallows teleportation or summoning other creatures, the Derghodaemon is limited to its constant Spell-Like Abilities and Fear 3/day, dramatically reducing its efectiveness. However, at Summon 8 the Derghodaemon has little competition, and the Derghodaemon easily outpaces other combat options. With 5 attacks with a better attack bonus than other options, decent damage, and Rend which deals Constitution damage, the Derghodaemon can easily become a problem from your enemies simply because it has so many opportunities to roll well and get past high ACs. On top of all of that, Feeblemind Aura allows the Derghodaemon to neutralize arcane spellcasters.
  7. Meladaemon: Nonlethal damage is easily removed or ignored by a wide variety of creatures, but even if the nonlethal damage works the Derghodaemon works better.
  8. Thanadaemon: Energy Drain is a great way to kill things, but the DC to resist it is only 21 and your Thanadaemon needs to hit with an attack first, so you have two points of failure. Instead, rely on Fear Gaze. The DC is still only 21, but rather than slightly debuff the target, Fear Gaze causes the target to cower, allowing you or your allies to attack the target at their leisure while the target is cowering.

Ring of Summoning Affinity (Div)

Divs can see in magical darkness, including Deeper Darkness, making them a helpful option for spellcasters who like to use magical darkness. The ring provides a mixed bag of options across a wide range of spell levels, making the ring worthwhile, but not so good that you would regret not buying one.

  1. Doru: Cast Commune without the expensive material component.
  2. Aghash: Cursed Gaze can stun a single creature for 1 round at will, or the Aghash can cast Bestow Curse at will. Both have a DC of just 16, but their effects are extremely powerful. Summon one or a bunch of these and have them focus on a single target until it's so heavily debuffed that it's not a threat. Curses are permanent, which makes this a great option for bringing down foes that you need to capture or imprison. Hit them with every curse option available and they'll be mostly helpless, making them easy to drag around or throw into a cell.
  3. Pairaka: Bad combat stats and few spell-like abilities, none of which are interesting.
  4. Ghawwas: The Ghawwas can do a number of really great things. First, it can cast Deeper Darkness at will, and as a Div it can see in magical darkness. Second, its spear attacks are on par with other summon options at this level, and deal decent damage coupled with a Strength-damaging poison with an impressive DC of 22 and unusually 1d6 damage. Third, the Ghawwas can cast Curse Water at will without the expensive material component, providing a way to create limitless quantities of unholy water.
  5. Shira: Almost purely a combat option, but its combat stats are terrible. The Shira's sole appeal is its constant Trye Seeing ability.
  6. Sepid: The Sepid's best ability is Rain of Debris, which deals decent AOE damage with a reasonably high DC for half damage. Beyond that it has a number of spell-like abilities, but none of them are especially high level. Animate Dead is sadly off limits due to the expensive material component.

Ring of Summoning Affinity (Inevitable)

Not worthwhile until very high level, but at Summon 8 and above this is a bargain.

  1. Arbiter: Commune without the material component, and Make Whole three times per day. The arbiter can be a useful utility option, but it's worthless in combat.
  2. Zelekhut: Three attempts at Hold Monster could be nice, but the DC is low, and the Zelekhut's attacks are weaker than other options on the default list of summon options.
  3. Kolyarut: Enervation at will.
  4. Marut: The Marut's CR of 15 is above the CR of every default summon option, and it's good enough to justify its high CR. Constant true seeing, Circle of Death once per day without the material component, and Greater Dispel Magic at will. On top of that, the Marut's attacks are accurate with impressive damage and the ability to blind or deafen targets.

Ring of Summoning Affinity (Kyton)

Kytons tend to fall at the bottom of the CR scale for each version of Summon Monster, sometimes even falling below the other options at the same summon level. In addition, the abilities of the creatures are weak compared to similar options already on the Summon Monster list.

  1. Augur: Lantern Archon is considerably more effective in combat, and the Augur's spell-like abilities are awful.
  2. Sacristan: Passable as a combatant, but the Sacristan's big draw is its Shadow Scream ability. Unfortunately, the Sacristan can't see in magical darkness, so it's as blind and deaf as everyone else.
  3. Interlocutor: The Interlocutor is lower in CR than any of the default CR 9 summon options. As a result, its combat abilities lag behind those of other options. The Interlocutor notably can cast both Restoration and Breath of Life without paying expensive material components. However, at such high level you have a variety of other options which can get you those spells or similar effects.

Ring of Summoning Affinity (Protean)

Don't rush to get this until you can cast Summon 6. The Voidworm is comparable to similar rings of summoning affinity at Summon 3, and the ring's good options don't come online until Summon 6 and 9.

  1. Voidworm: Cast Commune without the expensive material component.
  2. Naunet: Passable in combat, the Naunet gets several attacks and has the ability to apply rounds of Confusion. I don't like confusion, personally, so if you're like me you may instead want to use the Naunet as an Acid Arrow cannon. The Naunet can cast Acid Arrow at will. With a CL of 7, you'll get three rounds of Acid Arrow, totaling 6d4 damage per arrow with a range of over 700 feet.
  3. Imentesh: At a CR of just 10, the Imentesh is fully 3 CR steps below the weakest creature on the default Summon 9 list. As a result, its attacks lag significantly behind those of other options. However, it has some notable advantages. +4d6 Sneak Attack damage makes it a potent flanking partner, possibly allowing it to match the damage output of other Summon 9 options. The Imentesh has a number of interesting spell-like abilities, including Major Creation at will. Finally, Inflict Warpwave gives the Imentesh a single-target ability with a mix of debuffs, save-or-suck abilities, and a handful of heals. You can command your Imentesh to use it as a both a Standard Action and as a Swift Action, and since you don't care if the Imentesh survives you don't need to worry if the Imentesh is harmed by its own Warp Wave when it fails the save.

Ring of Summoning Affinity (Psychopomp)

The few passable options here are situational or redundant.

  1. Nosoi: Haunting Melody is the only good thing on the Nosoi's stat block, and you can get a better DC from a spell that you cast.
  2. Catrina: Against a humanoid with poor Will saves, the Catrina can be a win condition. If the Catrina can affect the target with Compel Condemned, then you just hope that the Catrina can kiss them to death before the duration of Summon Monster expires. This is a very weird monster.
  3. Vanth: The Vanth is scary because of its Fear Aura ability, but by the time you can summon it the 10 HD cap means that almost nothing you fight will be affected.
  4. Morrigna: Passable as a combatant, but its spells and spell-like abilities aren't very interesting at such high level.

Ring of Summoning Affinity (Qlippoth)

Few truly great options, but everything on the list is useful.

  1. Cythnigot: Commune without the material component, and both Soften Earth and Stone and Warp Wood which are normally exclusive to druids.
  2. Shoggti: Braincloud is the Shoggti's only interesting ability, but it's pretty good. 1d4 Wisdom damage doesn't seem like much, but it's enough to be a real problem for divine spellcasters and if you summon multiple Shoggti (Shoggtis? Shoggties? Shogtii? No idea.) they can bring down a single target in short order.
  3. Nyogoth: The Nyogoth is all about acid, and as long as your enemies aren't resistant to acid they're extremely dangerous to enemies of nearly any CR. Acid Fog is a 6th-level spell, and getting it out of Summon 7 is impressive on its own. Combine that with Acid Arrow at will, and the Nyogoth can run around in the fog firing acid arrows wherever it finds enemies and gradually wearing them down while you hang out safely outside the area of the Acid Fog.
  4. Chernobue: 5 attacks, three of which deal con-damage poison, and Chaos Hammer at will. If you're fighting good-aligned outsiders this is a fantastic option.
  5. Augnagar: A decent combat option, but not significantly better than the default options.

Summoning Shackle

A Rod of Lesser Metamagic (Extend) costs less, works on other spells, and doesn't add the ridiculous 30-foot distance limitation,

Summon-Slave Crystal

The possible combinations here are massive. It's tragic that this only functions once per day, but there's nothing stopping you from buying more than one except your limited funds. However, remember that you lose many of the target creature's abilities, including Extraordinary, Supernatural, and Spell-like abilities, so the best options are typically big dumb brutes like animals.