Take the 2-minute tour ×
Role-playing Games Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for gamemasters and players of tabletop, paper-and-pencil role-playing games. It's 100% free, no registration required.

In the group of six players I am GMing (all on level 1), there is a player using a summoner who chose his eidolon to look like a human. The result is, that he has a lot of stage time (once for the summoner, and then for the eidolon), and he also double-rolls many skills like Perception, Trap finding etc. for his character and his eidolon. Moreover, the player chose to tell the group that the eidolon is just a companion of the character, and not an eidolon. So he constantly tries to do the summoning and dismissal in secret, and conceals the summoner/eidolon "forehead rune." (I don't know why the player did that)

The other players are starting to be annoyed by this, and in my opinion rightfully so. What would you recommend me to tell the player, so he does not feel cut off, but the group would feel better as well?

I thought of something like "your eidolon cannot speak", "skill checks may only be made by the summoner OR the eidolon" etc. What are your suggestions to make the game flow better?

share|improve this question
2  
I'm not sure I understand what the problem is. The title says "stage time", but then you mention double-rolling. Surely rolling twice doesn't take that much extra time, especially because they can be rolled simultaneously. Could you clarify what exactly he is doing when you and your other players are feeling like "man, would you hurry up already?" –  EnvisionAndDevelop Aug 18 at 19:03
    
EnvisionAndDevelop: he just started playing Pathfinder (like others in the group), and has not memorized his skill points etc. yet. The rolling is just one smaller part of the problem. The player also likes to put himself into the spotlight, but mxyzplk gave me some good ideas how to approach the problem. –  mawimawi Aug 18 at 19:19
    
So he keeps the fact he's a summoner secret, but from who? Do the players know? Do their characters know? –  doppelgreener Aug 20 at 0:45
    
Who cares? Let's only use comments for relevant clarification, the "concealed summoner" thing is a tangential sideline to the problem here. –  mxyzplk Aug 20 at 2:40
    
I think it would help if you told us a bit more about what kinds of situations this problem occurs in. In particular, does it happen mostly in or out of combat, or both? –  Ilmari Karonen Aug 20 at 13:52

4 Answers 4

up vote 13 down vote accepted

Problem: Too Many Toons

This isn't really specific to summoners and their eidolons - this is a common issue with anyone who has "other people" along - followers, intelligent familiars or companions, even just random unaligned NPCs like adventure paths like to saddle parties with. I've played Jade Regent and am playing Wrath of the Righteous and in each you end up with a bunch of NPCs in the party that require some spotlight time, and especially in combination with a large group it requires some handling.

Heck, it's even a problem with large parties of only PCs - just too many people spouting words and too many rolls eating up time. That last issue is addressed in How do I run a game for a larger group? but unfortunately most suggestions there are more "split the group"-ey.

Not The Problem: He's My Buddy

The part about him pretending his eidolon is just a buddy (assuming they can conceal the summoner/eidolon "mark" or explain it away as "we got matching magical tramp stamps on spring break in Varisia") is completely legitimate and they need to just get over that (in Sarkoris they believe eidolons are actually gods; varying explanations/cover stories/etc of eidolons are good story diversity). But more to the point it's irrelevant to flow issues.

Limit NPCs

GMs can and should oversee addition of "minion heavy characters" to alleviate this from happening - I've seen groups where every single PC ends up having various followers and summons and whatnot and it's really hard to manage. Especially if there's already 6 or so PCs as well; even if they are only "half a PC" it starts to push the game over the easy-flow threshold. So it's OK to set table rules about it and vet those kinds of PCs. One extra is well within the scope of reason though.

Be Efficient With Their Handling

Then, just have that discussion with the player - ask them to make sure they are being extra efficient. "Roll for both of you quickly, be Johnny on the spot so you're not taking double the time of everyone else..." If he's fumbling around with skill numbers and rolls and stuff you can and should encourage him/put a time limit on him.

Share the Spotlight

Also explicitly say to him "Please be respectful of spotlight time with the other players..." Just make sure they understand they need to keep their minion in a secondary role. Open and honest communication is the key, since it sounds like there's a lot of grousing either behind people's backs or in a passive-aggressive way in game, that's where you need to start. Maybe if he says he doesn't know when it's happening, arrange a signal you can give him when you think everyone's getting sick of the "guy and his minion show." Or encourage him to have his minion interact with the other players, to give them spotlight instead of taking it.

You should also be pressing spotlight-sharing as a GM - with a minion or not, some people are pushy; even out of combat you should be going around and making sure everyone gets an opportunity to participate, and don't hesitate to enforce "you're not there" in-game or even "let's hear what Joe has to say now" out of character.

I run a pirate-themed game where the PCs are the command crew and they often take pirate NPCs along with them on "shore runs." I ask them to understand their pirate's stats and keep them close at hand, and we try not to let them bog down the game. Some of them are "top tier" NPCs (one PC married one of them!) and we try to give them enough speaking time that they have detailed and realistic personalities, but PCs are the ones that get the opportunities to shine. That's just informal, organic collaboration between the GM and players.

Rules Changes?

Doing things like not letting them roll or other rules mods is usually a bad idea. They are a person with the party, and they should get Perception checks etc. like anyone else. However, there's a couple common speed-ups that are relatively minor in impact that you could consider:

  1. You and all your minions going on your initiative count
  2. Minion using Assist Another on your rolls instead of rolling themselves

Now, these can be nerfs... If they deliberately jacked up the Init modifier of their eidolon they're not going to want to hear "go on your init," for example - but they also save time. See if they affect the dynamic largely before you use them. Really, if the player is being efficient, rolling 2d20 and declaring "I see it but Jimbo doesn't" doesn't take measurably more time if there's not something else going on (extensive fretting over/searching character sheets...). With our pirates, for example, we have them go on the controlling PC's initiative but have separate independent rolls. (Having one color d20 for you and one color d20 for the minion and rolling at once helps - pretty much all basic time management tricks help more the more entities are in play).

Things like "your eidolon can't speak" or "can't make skill checks" or "has to be obvious" are cheesy crutches for a basic inability to actually talk about and work through the issues in Efficient Handling above. Don't do that. Talk honestly about the problem with the group and just get everyone to help with making the game flow better.

share|improve this answer
    
One major difference between the OP's case and your pirate game is that, in the OP's game, that one player essentially gets to play two characters, and the others don't. I suspect the other players would find it considerably less unfair if they also got to play an extra party member sometimes. –  Ilmari Karonen Aug 19 at 16:07
1  
@IlmariKaronen That's a bit like saying it's unfair that the wizard character gets to cast spells and the fighter doesn't. Summoning is kind of a summoner's thing. –  GMJoe Aug 20 at 5:34

Your main problem seems to be that the player is basically playing the eidolon as an extra PC. Thus, in effect, you don't really have a six-member party — you have a seven-member party where one player is playing two of the characters.

Further, by hiding the nature of the eidolon and pretending that it's human, the player is, in effect, depriving the other players of any in-character reason not to treat the eidolon as an independent character and give it equal attention.

Now, since you and the other players seem to find this annoying and unfair, the obvious first step would be to have a talk with the player, explaining that they're hogging more than their share of the limelight, and politely asking them not to do it. Remind them that role-playing games are a shared activity, and that the point is for everyone to have fun and to get to participate equally.

The problem with this approach, of course, is that it depends on the player in question being sensible and/or polite enough to:

  • admit that the way they're playing their character(s) might be causing problems, and
  • give a damn about it.

You should still try this approach first, because you might get the player to just nod and say, "Oh, I hadn't thought of that. I'll let Eddie the Eidolon take more of a background role in the future." If so, problem (hopefully) solved.


However, let's assume that the player isn't so reasonable. They've designed their character in a way they believe to be within the rules, and pretty clearly they're having fun playing it just the way they intended.

In that case, one way or another, you're going to have to force the issue, or unilaterally find a compromise that everyone can live with.

One thing I would not generally recommend is adding house rules to limit the eidolon's abilities, at least after the game has already started. The player chose to play a summoner, and the eidolon is a pretty big part of that. Just telling them "sorry, I'm going to nerf your class so that you can't play it the way you intended" isn't going to make anyone happy at this stage.

That said, you still have several options to choose from, such as:

The in-game approach: Reveal the deception

Having the other characters realize the nature of the eidolon (or at least suspect that something strange is going on) might help solve the problem, or at least could give the other players the leverage they need to do something about it themselves, instead of just grumbling about it out of game.

There are several features of an eidolon that ought to make the other partymembers suspicious. Besides the matching forehead marks and the whole summoning ritual thing, don't the other characters never wonder about where the eidolon sleeps at night?

If the summoner is unconscious, asleep, or killed, his eidolon is immediately banished.

Also, while a humanoid eidolon may have its natural armor shaped to mimic a suit of armor, they can't actually remove that armor, as it's really a part of their body (and, of course, they cannot wear normal armor because it "interferes with the summoner's connection to the eidolon"). Assuming that the eidolon does (appear to) wear armor, wouldn't it eventually get a little bit suspicious that he never takes it off?

The out-of-game approach: Limit the spotlight

Just tell your player that he's free to play his character(s) any way he wants, but he's not going to get any more "stage time" than the other players get on average. Thus, any (real-world) time spent on the eidolon's actions will come out of the time available for the player's actual character.

The tricky part with this approach is that, to make it stick, you may need to start exerting a lot more control and authority than either you or your players are used to. In combat, you'll need to tell your players that they have a limited amount of time to decide their actions for each round, and that if they don't, their character will just stand there and do nothing. (There are tricks to making this work, like planning and even rolling your actions in advance. Teach your players to use them.) Out of combat, you'll need to start keeping track of how much stage time each player has had recently, and if necessary, get into the habit of simply interrupting stage-hogging players to ask the others "OK, what about you, Bob? What are you doing in the mean time?"

On the other hand, the up side of all this is that, once you and your players get used to a bit of time pressure, this approach can result in a much quicker and enjoyable game than spending minutes dawdling over every die roll, even if you don't have any actual problem players. It's just the transition that can be painful for everyone involved.

The rules-as-written approach: Division of control

While it says right in the class description that "a summoner and his eidolon function as individuals," and while the summoner can telepathically command the eidolon at any time and over any distance through its Link (Ex) ability, the rules don't actually say who decides what the eidolon does when not explicitly commanded, or how the eidolon decides to carry out any unspecified aspects of the summoner's commands.

Now, obviously, the usual way to handle that is to just let the same player play both the summoner and the eidolon, simply because that's usually the easiest and most comfortable way to do it. However, if the player is clearly abusing that privilege, there's nothing in the rules that says the DM can't assume control of the eidolon's actions, of course subject to any explicit orders the player gives.

What counts as "clear abuse", then? Well, that's up to you and your group to decide, but I'd say that treating the eidolon as a "second PC" certainly counts, or at least gets close. If the eidolon really is as active in the party as the player's actual character, then it should have an independent personality — if both the summoner and the eidolon are, say, having a conversation at the same time, there's no way the summoner should be able to control every word the eidolon says.

Mind you, this option might be most effective as just a threat — a simple offhand remark to your problem player about the fact that the rules don't say who gets to directly control the eidolon just might be enough to get them to reconsider their playstyle.

On the other hand, it could also be that the player might like having the DM play the eidolon like that; it certainly could produce some interesting dynamics, if the summoner and their eidolon may occasionally have different ideas about what "take out that orc" or "convince the guards to let us pass" really means. Who knows, it might be worth trying.

Ps. See also PRD: Companions (Ultimate Campaign)

The last-resort approach: Drawing the line

Finally, if nothing else seems to help, remember that it's your game, and you don't have to put up with any behavior you consider harmful to the gaming experience. If the player insists on hogging an excessive amount of attention, refuses to yield the stage voluntarily and complains (or causes trouble) when you call up other players instead of him, you have the right to tell him to play nicely or stop playing.

Of course, hopefully things will not get that bad. Still, if it looks like they might, even just sitting down with the player(s) and saying that you've considered this option might serve as a wake-up call. Or it might not, but at that point, what is there left to lose?

share|improve this answer
    
What does detecting that the eidolon is an eidolon help with any of this? It can talk just as much, act just as much... –  mxyzplk Aug 20 at 2:43
    
@mxyzplk: True, but (assuming that the other characters know what an eidolon is), it gives them an in-character excuse to say things like "No, your eidolon doesn't get a vote." or "No, your eidolon definitely doesn't get a share of the loot." or "You already know the plan, so I'm not going to waste time explaining it to your eidolon too, even if he was in the other room while we planned it." –  Ilmari Karonen Aug 20 at 13:05
    
As opposed to your real NPC friend, or henchman, or hireling? This distinction doesn't make any sense; the problems you're citing have nothing to do with "eidolon or not." –  mxyzplk Aug 20 at 13:08
    
@mxyzplk: A real NPC friend has free will, and, if their role in the party is non-negligible, should be played by the DM. An eidolon has a constant telepathic link to the summoner, and (played the way the OP's group seems to be playing it) effectively only as much free will and independent personality as the summoner wants it to have. But yeah, if the other characters are willing to tell the disguised eidolon "Sorry, Eddie, you don't count, you're just a henchman / hireling / NPC," then there's no problem. It just didn't seem to me that was the case. –  Ilmari Karonen Aug 20 at 13:46

One important thing you should keep in mind is the 'double-rolling' checks.

I would highly recommend you NOT have everyone roll a perception check - instead, let one person roll a perception check, and anyone else who wants to roll can do an 'aid another' for perception - giving the main roller a +2 to the check.

This will automatically mean he's not able to roll twice for perception and take the better roll just because he has an eidolon. Instead, he just gets a +2 for perception.

Similar elements can be used for other similar problems.

share|improve this answer

I think it's less of a problem with mounts, more with PC-like humanoid sidekicks. Other reasons why some players don't like others having followers, etc. might be

  • they think it's a kind of "cheating", by allowing a player to basically have more actions in combat.
  • often they feel "fake"
  • they stretch limited party resources needing healing, buffs etc.

Although it's probably obvious:

  • only primary characters get loot
  • don't forget to affect secondary characters with area spells, fear auras, item-destroying effects and fees
share|improve this answer

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.