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I recently agreed to GM a small Pathfinder campaign with three players who are interested in playing as a group of Summoners. They have requested that, at the start of the campaign, we play out a scene where they all complete their first summoning and bond with their eidolon for the first time.

I would like to create an interesting scene for them but in my research I have come up with little information about how this initial summoning and bond between summoner and eidolon occurs. I have questions like, "Is it in the summoner's mind?" "Do they physically travel to a different plane?" "Would the summoning be dangerous or involve any fighting?"

I need advice for how and/or where is best for finding the answers to these questions. What resources are available that would help?

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There is not a single canon way this works in Pathfinder, it's left open to interpretation. However, there are several documented interpretations of how this works.

The most colorful is the god callers of Sarkoris in Golarion. They believe that they are not "creating eidolons" but instead are bonding with and manifesting representations of divine creatures, and that the a given god chooses a god caller every generation to manifest through, but it's the same entity every time. The god callers of Sarkoris have a role in the Pathfinder Tales novel King of Chaos by Dave Gross - read Count Jeggare's thoughts on them in this excerpt. Most summoners on Golarion have very different thoughts on the process, of course.

This demonstrates that the process of bonding with an eidolon is not something found in the core rules. The core rules just have rules. The details you want can and should be specific to a given campaign setting and even a specific culture or belief system within that setting. It can be as clinical as an arcanist like Jeggare would have it, or as mystical as you want. In this case, designer Wesley Schneider wrote extensively about how he devised the god callers, by drawing on Irish clan/druidic myths.

There's also a "Meet the Iconics" bit about the iconic Summoner, Balazar, that explains his own background and tie to his eidolon.

Ask yourself what your campaign is about, what the themes are, what your campaign setting is about, what its themes are, what your characters are about, what would resonate with them. Then do that.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Good sources and sound advices. thank you, I may end up using that myself. \$\endgroup\$ – Harmelyo Jan 14 '15 at 7:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ In the case of my summoner, the back story was that the Eidolon (an infernal hound, of sorts) found him. \$\endgroup\$ – Theo Brinkman Jan 14 '15 at 17:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ Note that the whole "manifestations of divine creatures" thing has gotten more ground with the Unchained Summoner, who is required to pick type of Eidolon, and many of said options are based on Outsiders. \$\endgroup\$ – Thomas Jacobs Aug 4 '15 at 8:48
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Part of the charm, I think, of the Summoner is that there IS no explanation. I've seen and built Summoners with lots of different bond concepts to them. I'd encourage your players to invent some solution themselves.

One of mine was a Summoner who hailed from Korvosa (From the Crimson Throne Adventure Path). Since the city is a colony from Cheliax, a lot of the magic there stemmed from the parent nation's study of Devils. My Summoner Anna was a student at an academy in the city who was training to be a wizard, but she couldn't ever properly summon a Devil, the only thing she could call across the planes was this weird creature that became her eidolon. (Thank fully it knew how to speak Infernal and helped her fake her way through her exams!)

Another one of my concepts was a DM PC, summoner with a humanoid eidolon. After examining its mannerisms and appearance compared to its summoner, the party managed to guess that her eidolon was a version of herself from a parallel universe.

Lastly a summoner PC from a campaign I was told about but not in, was the physical manifestation of a fragmented part of its summoner's mind. Unfortunately that meant it took on all his paranoid neuroses while the summoner himself was left quite relaxed and level-headed. That might be an interesting angle to play for characters in the future.

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