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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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CodexAr'ael ( Lifeforms ) Constructed - Any
Potentially the most powerful summon created, the Final Judge of Man and Earth
Avatar of Pain ( Lifeforms ) Constructed - Any
Some things come from places so dark they don't have names
Meles the Tenacious ( Lifeforms ) Unique - Forest/ Jungle
Meles, the eyes in midnight bands
the plagues would see him dead
yet Meles, his brood unchained
they ate the plagues instead