Unchained Summoner Codex
This supplement clocks in at 33 pages, 1 page front cover, 3 pages of SRD, leaving us with a massive 29 pages of content, so let’s take a look!
After a few nice bits of prose, we learn about how summoners work within the patchwork planet of Porphyra: This section may be brief, but it adds a significant amount of flavor to the class. To give you an example: “The “soul companions” that summoners supervise, called ‘eidolons’ in the magica lexica of the Colleges of Magic…“ – there are multiple aspects here that rock: By calling the relationship “supervising”, we establish a hierarchy and all its components; the mention of the magica lexica contextualizes the uncommon word eidolon; there are colleges of magic and by tying eidolons to the soul of the summoner, we can assume a place within the context of planar geography. It’s a small sentence and one that can easily be ignored, but at the same time, it may easily be employed to inspire the GM. As you know by now, a crucial conflict of Porphyra would be the one between the Deists that serve the NewGods and the followers of the elemental lords. As such, we get a new faith trait for +1 to hit (should probably be a trait bonus) against summoners and eidolons of the opposing faction. The trait can obviously be pretty easily extrapolated to instead apply to other organizations, should you choose to go that route.
In case the title wasn’t ample clue, this book is all about a massive array of unchained summoner stats, including the respective eidolons. If you’re like me and just don’t have the time to crunch the numbers of a ton of such characters, well, there you go. But are they any good, or are they just throwaway stats? Well, first of all, the range covered is pretty massive: We gets stats ranging from level 1 to level 20 (CR ½ to CR 19); It should also be noted that the builds employ the diverse and unique races that can be found on Porphyra, but you do not necessarily need access to the respective races – the statblocks are functional without them. It should also be noted that, and this is a plus, the respective characters get brief fluff-texts that range from a brief paragraph to almost a page. So if you need a CHARACTER instead of just a statblock, this book has you covered. If you also enjoy Porphyra, you’ll be happy to note that the statblocks mention the homeland of a character as well as their faith. It’s just a little line and something you can ignore in other settings, but I really enjoyed this component.
All right, let’s begin, shall we? The first character would be Q’kar, a zendiqi (think xenophobic ultra-hardliner servants of the elemental lords…one of my favorite ethnicities available for PFRPG, just as an aside); while his CR is only ½, he is a bit of a romantic, dubbing his eidolon “The Sands of Vengeance”, which may be played for laughs, should the GM choose to do so: The creature is a pile of smoking, sandy dirt…but from humble origins, prophets and leaders may be born…so yeah, nice. Minor complaint: The fluff-text sports a layout remnant: An italicization wasn’t properly closed, with only the (i) open before a term, but that’s a cosmetic hiccup.
Hailing from the war-torn lotus blossom steppes, Xioudhra is next, and the lady doe have a fitting, serpentine eidolon. Why “fitting”?, Well, she is a half-medusa, only recently exiled for dabbling in necromancy, and while she currently is selling her services and that of her demon-worm eidolon, her ambitions do reach much higher. Fheldind the nange is a member of the “Robot Patrol Legion”, an ultra-lawful “more law-abiding than thou” hassle…and, well, in a unique twist, he is actually in love with Parrs, his eidolon – a sentiment that may be mutual. Some interesting roleplaying potential here!
Eedrilar, at CR 3, would be a killer-for-hire; the karza-drow is a male and as such, he is not deemed fit for military duty, but his daemon-arachnid eidolon does make for a powerful adversary. Arozarza is a nice example that not all builds here are evil or straightforward: the feykissed lady has the fey caller archetype and is accompanied by the golden-furred fox-lady Serene; with a benevolent trickster-bent, the two make for really neat allies for the PCs. Anydene would be a saurian and her eidolon has been dubbed “green devil”, for the two behave as pretty tyrannical bullies. This is btw. as good a place as any to note that the respective characters do sport extensive noted on behavior before and during combat, as well as on morale. Whle these may be small components, it makes running the NPCs easier and adds further character to them.
Ashub is a very powerful foe: The strix and his eidolon Diassos are the lone guards of a remote pass, but considering their aerial supremacy, they make a formidable pair of assailants. Giram Bazamgun, at CR 7, is an anpur and, mechanics-wise had the unwavering conduit archetype applied. He and his silvery eidolon, which emulates an empyreal lord, are stalwart guardians of their city of tombs – a position that is equally likely to put them into conflict with the PCs or make them a potent ally. Vieletta would be an enigmon, seeking the means to heal her sundered homeland. Her eidolon is usually only called upon in combat. Okay, at CR 9, we have an ogrillon blood god disciple, a potent lady called Ibal, who is btw. not evil: She is a recruiter for the gladiatorial arenas, with her eidolon being serpentine – in fluff, it assumes the shape of a thick, wildly mutable rope (!!), adept at transporting recruits and targets: Whether you want to run this pair as pressganging or as hunters of escaped convicts etc. remains up to your needs as a GM.
Ridis the lizardfolk is the heir of the tradition of island-keeper, tasked with guarding the ecosystem within the Rainbow Islands, and as such, sports the naturalist archetype. His eidolon takes the shape of an electric blue seal with articulated limbs. Yeah, awesome! I mean, come on: The idea of a lizardfolk nature protector isn’t new…but the lizard guy with the fast and deadly, blue seal-thing? Heck yeah, the PCs will remember this fellow! It’s just a few words, but they elevate the statblock and make the difference between fire-and-forget and remarkable.
Buma would be a muse, living in the futuristic ruins of Faldon town, her angelic eidolon guarding her sky-tower. She is also intensely disliked by the muse-leaders of nearby goblin and kobold factions. One paragraph – all it takes for an interesting adventure set-up. Talvius would be an eventual that has the evolutionist archetype. He is also an important guardian: In the oceans of Porphyra, there is a neutral ground, a meeting place for the gods, where even dreaded Mâl (typo here: “M^al”) respects the sanctity of the place. This island, masked from the most potent of magics, is where Talvius roams, with his potent eidolon guarding the place: A perfect, bronze warrior, this being is Talos. Yeah, you would be correct in assuming that this is a deliberate nod towards real-world mythology, one that is, btw., also explained in detail, should you not be familiar with it.
Okay, so, this goes above and beyond – next would be the goblin Milnun,a broodmaster – who comes not with one, but two distinct eidolons: The quadruped Cornerstone and the serpentine Slurry: This fellow comes with a fully depicted folk-lay of the Great Green. To give you an excerpt:
The Elemental Lords are gone,
banished, so is true-
That doesn’t stop the screams of pain
when Milnun comes for you…
His pets are fierce, their eyes they flash,
there’s none like them to view-
When Cornerstone and Slurry call,
they call, my friend, for you…
Come on, that is damn cool! I can actually hear this as a song/creepy ditty to foreshadow his arrival. An agent provocateur of sorts, he definitely makes for a cool and fearsome foe. (As an aside: Kudos for going the high road here: More often than not, archetypes that require more statblocks are not covered at all in such compilations, much less so at the higher levels where the stats require serious work…)
The orca-like humanoids called Orcam are one interesting race; the CR 14 summoner Mogarz sports an aquatic eidolon that is actually an agathion, whom she refers to as Endren, her water-spirit-self, adding a tint of the mystical to her take on her abilities. In a nice bonus, her ability to summon swarms is complemented by the fully statted samuqi swarm (CR 2), which may be called with the spell: A chubby fish that is actually quite tasty and may manifest as a rolling wave of silver and blue scales, teeth a-gleaming. Nice. The erkunae called Grunglei is a powerful CR 15 spirit summoner, who received her gifts as a result of blundering into a facility attempting to split dimensions, artificially bestowing her powers – the Advent Imperiax, the region where that happened, did not take kindly to this and thus, she had to flee home to Erkusaa, where she inherited Yrlyk’s ref ring of paragons, which allows the wielder to apply the elder beast template to summoned creatures (with a limit) and add nature spirits to the list of beings that may be called. Additionally, the powerful ring does allow for the 1/day summoning of a Medium (not capitalized) nature spirit as an SP…and the ring allows for something special: Once, and only once, the wearer can summon a frickin’ animal lord. The entity will demand the ring as payment, but oh boy. I really like this ring, but frankly, I think it is badly underpriced at 16K; I’d strongly suggest to make it a unique item that cannot be crafted or duplicated. Anyway, Grunglei’s eidolon behaves as a psychopomp, as befitting her ties to the spirit world. Once more, an intriguing character.
Thoning is a polkan. A really evil one. She will mess you up. Probably in melee. Wait, what? At AC 29, wielding a frickin’ impact greatsword with Improved Critical, she and her eidolon Crongy worship Ul’Ul, the Mad Maiden; There is a cult (members are known as “oolies” for licking raw Uliun ore) and she is a potent member…and a perfect example for another dimension, in which this pdf goes beyond what you’d require or expect: As you can glean from the uncommon build employed here, the book does a damn fine job of alternating builds and themes. There is no “this guy has the same build, just at a higher level”-case in this book; the respective summoners are all distinct, often radically so. This distinction is represented, in case you haven’t noticed, in both fluff and crunch. The character also comes with the spell uliun spray, which is imho a bit too strong for second level, spraying the drug-like substance, causing the targets to gain 1d4 Charisma while the drug’s effects persist, but also take 1d4 Wisdom damage. That being said, I do like the idea here and considering the flavor of the cult and the presentation, limiting access to the spell is very much intended, which kinda makes it okay.
At mighty CR 17, Irnu is a satyrine shadow caller and one of the most potent beings of her race. The mighty captain of the Shadowmask (whose full vehicle stats are included!!!) would probably be more prestigious, were it not for her worship of Lyvalia, anathema to her race. With a troubled past, her eidolon Yulalon is a manifestation of the kytons and adds a powerful ally to her already formidable capabilities. General Lairona is a level 19 master summoner of the fetchling race. She hails from the nation of Hesteria, which sports the planar anomaly called “The Wall of Sleep”; it is General Lairona that is the chief administrator of the wall, tasked with preventing it from disgorging unimaginable nightmares upon the land. Muted and effacing, one would not consider her to be part of the ruling council – though her potent angelic eidolon, her mirror-image, in a way, should make that very much clear. A true hero of a character and a great patron for the most potent of PCs.
The final character herein would be Guriel, a mighty dragonblooded unchained summoner, whose background speaks of the mighty Red King and other legends that are born on a regular basis; he is assumed to be no less than a cousin of the dreaded Red King, and his eidolon is often mistaken for a demon lord. Taking at look at its stats, I can understand why.
The pdf does come with a bonus file penned by Purple Duck mastermind Mark Gedak. The new creature herein sports one of the cutest artworks ever: Atop the critter, we can see a tiny faerie warrior riding it into battle. We are, of course, talking about the *drum roll* Cr ½ battle corgi!! And yes, beyond combat training, these cute doggies are particularly resilient against fear and despair, courtesy of their optimism special ability. Minor complaint: I would have loved to see animal companion stats for them.
Editing and formatting, on a formal level, can be situated between good and very good. While there are a few instances of minor hiccups, as a whole, this aspect is well-done. Regarding rules-language, the pdf is rather precise. Here and there, I disagree with minor components of the supplemental material, but the statblocks per se are impressive. While I did not attempt to reverse-engineer all of them, the ones I took apart are solid. Layout adheres to a two-column full-color standard and the pdf sports a couple of neat full-color artworks. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.
I’ll make this short. Buy this book. Now. Okay, you really want to know, in detail, why? All right, all right.
Justin P. Sluder knows his NPC-builds; the man that brought you the amazing stats of many of Rite Publishing’s complex and cool adversaries has a ridiculous talent when it comes to creating truly distinct and cool builds; Perry Fehr knows Porphyra like no other (with the exception of Mark Gedak himself) and is an immensely talented weaver of lore. The synergy between these two authors is inspiring to witness. This pdf goes one step beyond in pretty much every way possible: Not content with simple slapping some stats together, the book is steeped in truly amazing lore that would honestly make this worth getting on its own. This book acts as a formidable pitch of the Porphyra-setting; while the statblocks per se can be used in any game, the respective fluff is utterly inspiring, taking us on a grand tour through the patch-work planet…and, in the tradition of Purple Duck Games, the components can be scavenged really easily. From strange place to wondrous islands, even if you don’t play in Porphyra, you could easily just pick concepts and regions out of this book.
So, that’s how the pdf goes one step beyond in the fluff-department: We get an impressive array of inspiring material here. In the crunch-department, I was pleasantly surprised by the sheer diversity of the characters herein: We don’t get sequential builds that obviously are just higher-level continuations of previous stats, instead opting for wholly unique characters and builds. These builds run the gamut from the more classical to the utterly unexpected and often are utterly inspiring and fantastic. The unique races of the setting are employed efficiently and the pdf does not shirk away from more work-intense archetypes either. Heck, we even get a proper ship-statblock for the ship of one of the characters!
This is one of Purple Duck games’ patreon-releases, and it is glorious. It shows care, oozes passion. This is one of the rare NPC Codices that is actually a joy to read. Yes. You heard me. In spite of the massive statblock density, I had a blast reading this book. We all know how much work summoner statblocks can be. This book takes that burden from your shoulders and goes not one, but two extra miles. It provides thoroughly unique and captivating villains and allies, many of which could become recurring characters or even carry whole adventures or even campaigns. Heck, if this does not get your creative juices flowing, I don’t know what will. So, beyond being inspiring, this is also extremely handy and useful to have. Whether you only care about the stats, or only about the lore/character ideas, this pdf is worth getting. Suffice to say, I assume that you’ll care for both…and in such a case, you will beam with glee and wonder. My final verdict, in spite of a few glitches here and there, will be 5 stars + seal of approval. This is amazing.
You can get this amazing codex for the low price of 4 bucks here on OBS!
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Want some cool eidolon-options to further customize the builds herein (not that they’d need it…)? Everyman Gaming has released a tome for that purpose here!