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Druids have a feat called Greenbound Summoning (Lost Empires of Faerun, p. 8), which has the following benefit: "All animals that you summon using summon nature's ally acquire the greenbound template (see page 173) for as long as the summoning spell lasts."

The Greenbound template can be found here: http://www.realmshelps.net/monsters/templates/greenbound.shtml

Now, my question: This template changes a creature, and add a +8 LA to the creature to make up for the changes. So, what happens if a druid with Greenbound Summoning casts a Nature's Ally 1 and decides on a wolf. Does he get a normal wolf, becasue he cast a level 1 spell, or does he get the Greenbound wolf, even though it is a much stronger monster than normally associated with such a low level spell? I take it that the level 1 wolf comes in as a Greenbound wolf, as he is summoned as a normal wolf, then the wolf gained the template as he is summoned. However, I think this makes this feat totally broken. A Summon Nature's Ally III will allow you to summon 1D4+1 wolves. This (potentially) gives you five creatures that can cast entangle at will, as well as one Wall of Thorns (a pretty effective L5 spell) each. Up to 5 Wall of Thorns for the price of a Level 3 spell, not counting near limitless Entangles?

Am I understanding this feat wrong, or is it broken?

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Greenbound Summoning works exactly as it says it does: you get a normal creature from the list, augmented with the Greenbound template. It “has” the LA/CR adjustment but that doesn’t really mean much of anything to a summoned creature anyway.

On the one hand, the Greenbound template is over-LA’d. Like most LA-carrying options, Wizards apparently decided it didn’t like the idea of players choosing them (but also apparently didn’t want to just flatly tell them “no”), so it chose LAs that are extremely high: they are there to discourage the option, and punish those players who do take it. Compare the LA adjustment to the CR adjustment, for example.

On the other hand, while Greenbound may not really be worth LA +8, it certainly is worth quite a bit. Way more than the costs associated with Greenbound Summoning. As a result, the feat is absolutely one of the most powerful feats in the game, probably second only to Natural Spell for a Druid. Even if one applies the +2 spell level adjustment that @mxyzplk found, it can be ridiculously good.

Now, does that mean it is broken? That’s harder to say. It’s dramatically more powerful than other options, but that doesn’t necessarily “break the game.” That’s a bit of a semantical argument, so I’m not going to say it is or isn’t broken by choosing one of those definitions. Instead, I want to discuss exactly what about it is powerful, and how that compares to the environment it’s set in.

In this case, the Druid itself is already extremely powerful – it is one of the “Big Five” most powerful classes in the game. The Druid has excellent crowd-and-battlefield-control, and he’s a master of polymorph effects (including Wild Shape), which are fantastically powerful. Summoning is but a small part of the overall package.

At low levels, Greenbound Summoning dramatically augments this. As you note, that’s a lot of entangles and walls of thorns. Even with the +2 spell level, you still get wall of thorns earlier than you usually could. At higher levels, it’s still quite good but not game-changing: the Druid was already doing those things anyway.

So it becomes a bit of a personal thing where one draws the line of “broken.” But to me, the Druid class itself is a much greater offender than the Greenbound Summoning feat is.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener May 31 '17 at 16:02
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It is broken for the reasons you note (way, way awesome results from a first level spell for having one feat - better than any other summoning augmentation available). There's a good reason for this - the author intended it to be a +2 level metamagic feat but that was omitted when it appeared in print.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Great find there; added a discussion of that to my answer as well. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan May 26 '13 at 16:44

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