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I’m trying to build a character for a 4e game but I’m having trouble picking a class and powers that go with the feel I’m looking for.

I want to effectively play a Final Fantasy style or a Tales of Symphonia style summoner wherein they have some minor powers but mostly can focus on calling summons out and having them control the field. Effectively one PC chanting or in a trance.

I want the powers to feel generally more innate to what they are than learned and generally I’m more in favor of versatility than out and out power. I don’t really care too much about the source but I’d prefer it to not be demonic. If it could feel either natural (not necessarily nature but inborn quality) or holy it would be best but that’s not necessary.

I’ve never really played a controller or leader before, so I would also like some tips as towards what sorts of things to try and keep an eye-out for as this type of character so I can adjust better.

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I don't have an answer for this, but I've found Eberron to be very FFish, so I'd suggest looking at some Eberron material to start. – migo Apr 4 '11 at 14:50
I'd suggest an Artificer. I'm too lazy to give a fully explanation of how they fit into your Final Fantasy dream. – Caden Raikoujin Iyori Apr 4 '11 at 21:28
I recommend removing the character growth question from this question and asking it in another question, as it depends on which character you pick. For general character builds, take a look at… – Brian Ballsun-Stanton Apr 5 '11 at 13:19
up vote 3 down vote accepted

The best summoner I know of is the Shaman. While daily summons are nice in theory, I've always had a great deal of trouble getting any functional utility out of them in play. They add, for my tastes, way too much complexity for their return. Keep an eye out for the Necromancer though, while he'll require a touch of reflavouring (just an itty bitty bit...) he'll have the most modern summon mechanics.

To reiterate, the Shaman with the at-will spirit companion is the clear winner in my mind. You can call upon different spirit forms as flavour, and if you rename your encounters to be more interesting spirits, you would have a whole host of summons at your command. It also means you spend most of the time away from the front lines... controlling your "summon."

From my memories of Final Fantasy, Summoners are less about summoned creatures and more about summoned gods splashing damage all over the battlefield. Invokers seem to fit your flavour well and are all about blatting down huge damagy areas. You'll need to call the powers different names, but they're exceptional at that style. Mages can be decent, though it's a woeful waste of resources to focus on blaster-wizard. Still, a mage/wizard can fit the bill well.

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Basically, the options I know of that allow for something like you want are:

  • Druid with animal companion (animal companions are actually summons)
  • Warlock with Fey Pact (there's also the Infernal pact if you change your mind about demons).

Both the Druid and the Warlock are featured in the Essentials Heroes of Forgotten Kingdoms book, the first is a primal leader, the second an arcane striker, IIRC. Of these, the Druid would go the most for your "innate" flavor, and also for your "use the character to do minor actions (well, healing, not so minor) and the summoned creature for the attacks" idea. The Warlock is a bit more centered in the character using the powers associated with the pact blade.

As for the rest of your wishes: the book outlines a clear path for either character from level 1 to 30, includes different races, and also has many tips and lots of help on how to play either class. It's also relatively cheap.

EDIT You could also reskin your pact summon or the whole pact, leaving the same mechanical effects but reflavoring the idea to make it fit with your ideas. Obviously, you should coordinate this with your DM, to make sure that the things you want are feasible in-story.

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