I'm currently running a pathfinder game and am running into balance problems with a Master Summoner.
It's a low level game (started from level 1) and the summoner is currently level 4 but about to reach level 5 and I'm seriously worried. The player has been deliberately holding back in encounters so the others get to do things but the balance is already out of kilter and it's about to get even worse.
He can summon every round. The summons last for 4 minutes (so basically a whole fight) and he can summon 9 times per day.
He summons earth elementals that tank/hit well. (Three of them together are dealing as much damage as a fairly well optimised two handed fighter is doing). He's taken Summon Good Monster so he also has access to Fauns that cast two separate disable spells each along with other monsters. He can also summon swarms of lesser creatures. He completely breaks the action economy and is ridiculously flexible at the same time.
- Flying opponents: Air elemental, eagles
- In tunnels: Earth Elementals (which not only have tremorsense so they know where every hostile within 60' is but can actually charge through the walls using earthglide!)
- Mobile opponents: Mud elementals to entangle
- High dex/low will opponents: Fauns for hideous laughter and sleep.
- Need a tank: A Choice of Several creatures with high AC and/or DR depending on the opponent
The list goes on.
In theory already at this level he can
- Round 1: summon a faun, have it cast hideous laughter
- Round 2: summon a faun, have it cast hideous laughter. First faun cast sleep.
- Round 3: summon a faun, have it cast hideous laughter. 2nd faun cast sleep, 3rd faun can do full actions.
And he can continue doing this for another 6 rounds!
Next level he gets summon monster 3. He already has a feat to boost the number of summons so each round he will be summoning 1d3+1 fauns, elementals, or whatever.
In other words on average if he followed the sequence above he would be able to cast 6 spells per round and then use them for meat shields/whatever. Or he can summon 3 elementals per round with them essentially each lasting for the full fight. If he wanted to he could field a small army of 27 elementals!
As I said the player has been holding back and not using them excessively but the others are starting to notice that he is holding back and when he advances to the next level it's just going to get ridiculous.
So how do I fix it?
A few small encounters doesn't work as he gets 9 summons per day. If an encounter is small enough to fit 9 of them into a session he wouldn't bother summoning for that encounter. We are playing Western Marches so they get a period of downtime between sessions.
I don't want to just give every encounter a way to get rid of summons, that gets old fast.
I can't effectively target him as he has good positioning and the rest of the party defend him well. He's taken damage a few times but not once gone down, and these are in very tough fights against multiple high CR opponents. He can also instantly summon an elemental to block off any enemy that does try to attack him. He can even ready actions to summon blocking monsters as soon as anything charges him or any of his allies.
I could just ban Master Summoner and Synthesist as they seem to be the two most broken Archtypes. Do some suitable in-game explanation and give him a free retraining and maybe something nice as a thank you/apology for forcing a restat.
I'd much rather let him keep the flavour of the Master Summoner without being so ridiculously broken and overpowered though so I'm looking for some simple houserules that would fix this.
For example if it allowed one summon and his Eidolon to be active at once but didn't allow the unlimited summons then that would improve things a lot. He would still be strong but not so insanely strong.
I'm looking for ideas and options really on how to stop his power spiralling out of control.