Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Unfettered Eidolon

Okay, a peek behind the curtain: I did a keyword search for “Daily Bestiary” and “summoner” and was pleased to see I’d used summoners in these seeds more times than I thought.  (The magus probably suffers the most neglect, as one of the newer classes, followed by the cavalier.)  I was pleased because—confession time—I simply haven’t spent enough time thinking about summoners: who they are, where they fit in the various worlds I think up each week, how society reacts to their eidolons (and vice versa), etc.  Too often, I haven’t done that work, and I need to.

But the unfettered eidolon I really dig, because its very presence is automatically a story.  From the Bestiary 3:

Occasionally, however, this link between eidolon and summoner is unnaturally severed, usually as a result of powerful magic or some bizarre death, freeing the eidolon upon the world.

A freed eidolon—or, more accurately, a severed one—is not meant for this world.  And so it tends to go mad.  And the runes that bound it become scars seared into its flesh. And it keeps evolving. 

That’s fantastic!

It’s easy to diss the summoner.  When the Advanced Player’s Guide came out, one member of my gaming group said, “It’s just Pokemon,” and went back to min/maxing his druid.  But every unfettered eidolon represents a story, a tragedy, a fluke.  A loss. 

That’s a GM’s dream monster.  I can easily imagine a whole campaign where your PCs are eidolon hunters, and your job really is to catch ’em all.  But you’d really be catching stories.  I’d play in that campaign—and with the right GM, I bet it would be outstanding.

The Crescent Realm has more than its share of unfettered eidolons, it being a land where summoners are prized.  These rogue outsiders are encouraged to settle near monasteries specially erected near places where reality is thin, to be tended by kind monks.  (These monasteries also serve as prisons for eidolons that cannot be trusted to roam freely.) But now Prince Tycho intends to go to one of these monasteries and claim an unfettered eidolon for his own.  Ashamed of his lack of summoning ability, he is forcing a group of adventurers to help him bond with an eidolon—even if they have to forcibly stitch one to his soul.

Sir Vartan was a synthesist who wore his eidolon as a suit of armor.  Drained of his life energy and hit with a disintegrate ray at the same time, Sir Vartan perished in an eye blink…but his eidolon remained.  The armor still stands vigil, though the thing it has evolved into looks more like a mammoth than a metal suit, and it cannot differentiate friend from foe.

Some bonds were never meant to be forged.  The eidolon Rakkarivarian hated his master Amos from the moment of his calling.  Eventually he snapped and killed his summoner, literally tearing out the sigil on Amos’s forehead that bound them together.  Now trapped in the material world, Rakkarivarian haunts a nearly lifeless plain, suffering no humanoid to live in his domain.

Pathfinder Bestiary 3 110-111

Why have I neglected the magus?  Or not brought up your favorite archetype/alternate class feature/etc.?  Well, if you think I’ve been slow getting through Pathfinder Adventure Path issues lately, you don’t even want to know how backlogged I am on the Ultimate hardcovers.  I have them all…I’ve looked at every page…but have I truly read them?  Let’s just say I need more than 24 hours in a day. 

(When I get backlogged I tend to prioritize from shortest to longest, so at least I’m pretty well caught up on Pathfinder Player Companion and Campaign Setting books.)

Speaking of which, in addition to catching up on some monsters I owe you all, I should spend some time talking about the cool books I have read recently.  I should have mentioned that during/just after my Florida vacation I finally finished the Reign of Winter Adventure Path.  I don’t know why it took me so long—I certainly waited anxiously for it leading up to its release—other than that I really wanted to savor it, since it checks off so many of my faves: Norse-esque setting, lots of fey, planetary/planar exploration, etc.  And it was definitely worth the wait.  I’m sure some groups probably cried “Railroad!” when they tackled it, but as a bathtub read and a source of inspiration it was tops.

I also recently finished Death in Freeport, Terror in Freeport, and Madness in Freeport, which I picked up at Otakon by chance last summer.  Chris Pramas and Robert J. Toth in particular deserve kudos for the perfect tone and personality they captured, both in the characters and in the advice to the GM.  I could easily see running that trilogy after only one or two read-throughs—that’s how effortless the writing seemed.  I can see why these modules were such hits back in the day while I was drooling over Scarred Lands.

Finally, I’m still chasing after Dungeon back issues.  If you have 1e and 2e-era Dungeon Magazine issues clogging up your shelves, keep me in mind.  Thanks!

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