Of Summons

Summons are a common theme in fantasy games, the following is a simplified summoning system

Scrasamax

Summons are typically non-corporeal beings that have been brought into the physical world at the behest of a magic user. Dungeons and Dragons does it dull, summoning a 10 step heirarchy of basically animals rising up to celestial and planar beings. Final Fantasy delves into the quasi-religious side, with Aeons (FFX) being the avatars of humanity fighting a timeless evil, with the summoners themselves being clerics and pilgrims of the highest importance. I rather disliked the painfully common approach of the typical pen and paper RPG where the hero summons a celestial badger. I prefer the notion that performing a summon is more than just casting a magic spell. The summoner is drawing for a creature from the immaterial, a servant of light, a powerful elemental being, or a minion of great and terrible evil. For the summoner it isn't something done lightly, not a parlor trick to be rolled out for the local children. To witness a powerful summon should be a near religious experience. The mundane sort of summoning can certainly still be used to call lesser creatures, and to assemble the physical likeness of animals and beasts from ephemera or cosmic ectoplasm. This system is for the more dramatic and epic sort of summoning.

Power

Summons have a scale of power, running 1 through 5.

1. non-combatant summons, specialist summons, mentors and magical tutors. These are few and far between as they typically are of very limited usefulness. A level one summon would have access to basic non-combative magic, and would be more likely to use buffing spells, healing, or would be consulted for divination purposes or some other non-awesome display of power.

2-3. The majority of summons fall into this range and range from 8 to 20 feet in height and have a wide range of powers and abilities. More physically aspected summons have decreased magical aptitudes, while the reverse is true, magically potent summons tend to not be melee fighters.

4. The strongest of the common sort of summons, these beings can be as large as 50 feet in height, and have the magical potence to wipe a battlefield clear, topple a fortress, or in a modern/futuristic setting, crush a mech in hand to hand combat. These are rare, often treasures of Faiths, or organizations, and are seldom used as the appearance of the summon being defeated could outweigh its usefulness in battle.

5. Often called Aeons,or Eidolons, these summons are the most potent beings, and each level 5 is a unique being, a treasure of a Empire, a figurehead of a world faith, or totem of myth and legend.

Affinity:

Each summon has a basic affinity, which affects the magic it uses, what it is weak against, and what it is strong against. A summon cannot be in opposition to the summoner, thus an evil character cannot summon a Light aspected summon, and vice versa. The most common aspects are: Air, Fire, Water, Earth, Light, and Dark. There are also non-aspected or neutral summons, but these are never more than level 4 in strength, and are uncommon. Without a strength, they lack a basic weakness, and can be summoned by anyone. Most neutral summons are not magic users.

Innate Ability:

Basic Weapon Immunity: Even the weakest summon is able to ignore mundane weapons, be they swords or handguns. As the summon increases in power, their innate invulnerability increases. Breaching this basic defence requires either magical weaponry, arcanotechnology, or increasingly heavy firepower. A level 1 summon would be vulnerable to high power rifles, while a level 4 summon could ignore tank cannon rounds, and a level five would only be vulnerable to bombs in the thousands of pounds range, massive artillery, and so on.

Basic non-physical Immunity: being summoned creatures, summons cannot be poisoned, physically blinded, or suffer critical wounds as they do not have actual blood, bones or organs that function as vital points. They do not make morale checks, do not suffer from fear effects, and cannot be intimidated.

Stability:

Being artificially projected into reality, there is only so long that a summon can be present before its hold on reality falters and it disincorporates back into the aether. This is represented in the number of rounds the being can remain automatically. Once this time threshold is passed, the summoner has to make sustained concentration check each turn to hold the summon in reality. Ideally the summon should run out of time, rather than be destroyed and dissipate. Often more powerful summons have shorter stabilities as their level of power is hard to maintain for prolonged periods of time.

Special Abilities:

A summon typically has 3-5 special abilities, be they special melee actions, movement actions, or magical attacks. Physically aspected summons tend to have fewer abilities, but exchange diversity for brute force. Magically attuned summons have a larger bag of tricks. Some special abilities require a certain amount of stability to use, such as final attacks that burn remaining stability for a final stab of power.

? Responses (11)

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Goto Author

While I like the basic premise, this system doesn't hold much that inspires me to use it.

The good: When compared to D&D, it definitely condenses things and offers a tiered system that is better for "rules lite" games. I appreciate the distinction you are trying to make between mundane summons and epic summons, and agree that summoning should be generally more awesome. I also like the stability mechanic as a way of restricting their power.

The "bad": I guess I would just like to see the system fleshed out a little more. Exactly how does one perform a summoning? Are there any materials/preparations that are needed? How common is this sort of magic? Is there any agreement that has to be reached with a particular being before you can attempt to summon it?

Other thoughts: Given the power of level 4 and 5 summons, I would almost expect that an entire group of seers/casters would be required to bring them forth and maintain their stability. I'm also a little concerned about the sheer amount of power that you give in immunities, but I guess that I can see the reasons for doing so.


Goto Author

The system is being worked up to be as simple as possible and not really intended for Role Playing as much as wargaming on a tabletop, or a bar table top as the intent actually is.

To answer the 'Bad' questions: One performs a summoning by declaring that the Summoner is going to call his summon as an activated ability. There are no materials or preparations needed. Summons are basically 'attached' to the summoner like a piece of equipment or weapon. This sort of magic is not at all very common. The most epic level summons generally have an ethos that has to be followed, but there isn't really a level of interaction between the summoner and summons.

Summon spells are attached to physical items, typically large crystals/materia. Common summons can be held in artificially made crystals, while the major summons can only be held by large natural crystals. As such, the summon crystals can be stolen, and a level 5 summon is basically a national, possibly a cultural treasure as well as a weapon.


Goto Author

Now that I understand the intent of the system, I can appreciate its simplicity. In light of your reply, I'll plan on re-voting once the database is no longer broken.

The crystal idea is neat, by the way, and provides enough of a disadvantage to summoning (the character must carry around a large-ass, possibly fragile piece of equipment) that it satisfies my inner concerns.


Goto Author

The physical aspect of the Crystal allows the summons to be an attached item, plus allows it to be 'stolen' by intelligence, espionage and thieves

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Goto Author

I like the basic premise, but the execution is ... incomplete. Especially from an RPG perspective.

Personally, I am all for named summons that a caster must actually gain through deeds, and not by learning Summon Fiendish Dire Weasel.


Goto Author

I am working towards a minimalist system. The system is intended for quick and dirty play, rather than dynamic and rich character interaction.

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Goto Author

Vote.

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Goto Author

Vote.

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Goto Author

Le vote.

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Goto Author

Revoting to reflect new information.

avatar
Goto Author

Slick. Summoning needs love and this is good.

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