In my Legacy of Fire game, Matt’s Cleric quickly developed a penchant for summoning animals which borders on obsession. He’s going hog-wild with this, and at one point wanted to be a Cleric with all summons spells (which he could spot-cast as Cure spells if need be). Then we pointed out that with his high Charisma bonus, he’d be a perfect candidate for a Cleric/Sorcerer heading for Mystic Theurge, and apparently sold him on that idea. Legacy of Fire is only supposed to bring characters to about 16th level, but since there’s only two of them, their advancement has been pretty solid so far, so I’m pretty sure he’ll be able to take Theurge all the way.
So, he’s still gunning for a ridiculous amount of summons though. With his army of Celestial Badgers, derogatively nicknamed Francis (plural, Franciseseseseseses), he’s managed to make short work of the gnolls and pugwampis. It’s almost like having another party member around for a couple rounds, and by damn, he’ll be able to get 1d3 Franciseseseses with Summon Monster II. It’s getting to the point where I need to buy about a dozen Celestial Dire Badger figures on eBay.
Looking around, I found a metamagic feat in the Player’s Handbook II that would fit right in: Imbued Summoning (page 92). For a +1 level adjustment on the summons spell, Imbued Summoning allows a caster to cast a prepared Touch buff spell of level 3 or lower on one summoned creature for free. Think about it: Francis would come in with a free Invisibility or Bull’s Strength, or whatever was prepared, when the Summon was cast. To fully utilize this, I made a quick list of good buff spells by level from the base SRD spell list. Starting with the Sor/Wiz spells:
- Mage Armor (Conj): Most summons, in fact probably none, have armor, so a +4 armor bonus is pretty dang hefty for any summoned creature. This puts a Celestial Badger’s AC up to 19, for example.
- Protection from Chaos/Evil/Good/Law (Abjur): The +2 deflection bonus and +2 to saves isn’t particularly awesome, but it also prevents enemies from using mind-controlling spells and abilities on the target—pretty good if you’re fighting illithids. That’s about it.
- Bear’s Endurance/Bull’s Strength/Cat’s Grace (Trans): The pinnacle three, a +4 bonus is pretty decent to any one of these three abilities, especially Bull’s Strength. I foresee Bull’s Strength getting cast the most, since it effectively gives a +2 to attack and damage rolls.
- Blur (Illus): Gives the target partial concealment, which means attackers miss 20% of the time.
- Invisibility (Illus): Overall, more tactical than useful, since as soon as the summons makes an attack it loses invisibility. But, an interesting consideration.
- Protection from Arrows (Abjur): Again, not terribly useful in most situations, but I could see some applications. Giving a summoned creature DR 10/Magic against ranged weapons is nothing to sneeze at, though.
- Spider Climb (Trans): Another interesting tactical choice, but not one you’ll probably make often—it’s not often that you’ll send your Dire Lion or Fiendish Dire Praying Mantis to the ceiling for some reason.
- Fly (Trans): Another fascinating tactical choice, if only for the option to give a variety of summoned dire badgers Flight 60 ft. for a few minutes.
- Heroism (Ench): Gives the target +2 morale bonus to attack rolls, saves, and skills. Probably not my first choice, but it lasts longer than the average summons.
- Rage (Ench): The target gets +2 to STR and CON, +1 on Will saves, and -2 AC. If the summon doesn’t come with a rage, this could be a good way to dish out a little extra damage and get a little extra hp, but it’s so marginal compared to other spells I can’t see using it.
The Cleric list is somewhat similar:
- Protection from Chaos/Evil/Good/Law: See the Sor/Wiz list.
- Remove Fear: +4 morale bonus to Fear for 10 minutes. Could be useful, probably isn’t.
- Shield of Faith: +2 deflection bonus, +1/6 levels. Again, Mage Armor will probably be more useful in all situations, though the two do stack.
- Aid: +1 to attack and bonus hit points is nice, but hardly a necessity. It’d be better to drop another spell on the summons than this.
- Bear’s Endurance/Bull’s Strength/Cat’s Grace: See the Sor/Wiz spell list, as these are the same.
- Resist Energy: If you’re going up against specific enemies in specific climes, this could be very useful—Resist 10 for a specific energy type, up to Resist 30 at higher levels.
- Protection from Energy: The big brother to Resist Energy, it provides energy Resist equal to 12/caster level.
- Water Walk: I’m not even sure why I bothered to list this; if you’re on the water, you’re more likely to summon a porpoise and use this on yourself than let your badgers walk on water.