Friday, September 1, 2017

The Avatar Summoner

"I don't see why we listen to that twisted little fetchling," Thiana said, idly tugging at the steel hoop through her lip. "We are the chosen of the Midnight Lord. We do not bow to a shadow from the Uskwood."

"Thiana, please," Zanders hissed, glancing round. "The dark has ears, and you never know who might be listening."

Thiana's scarred lips twisted, and she was about to retort, when they heard something. The scrape of steel on stone, and the rattle of chains. A figure who hadn't been there a moment ago leaned out of the shadows in the corner of the room. He was small, and slight, with wisps of black hair hanging in his too-pale face. Looming over him, wreathed in pure darkness, was the visage of a terror. A single red eye burned above a lipless mouth filled with fangs, and too-long, skeletal limbs clutched a barbed chain. The creature laughed; a harsh, rasping sound like a hacksaw hitting bone.

"Zanders gives good council, Thiana," the fetchling said, his voice far deeper than it should have been considering his thin chest. "What I hear, our Lord hears. I am his creature, and his doorway, into this place. But I do not need to remind you of that, do I?"

I am the gate, and the threshold, to darkness.

The Avatar Summoner

When it comes to drawing forth creatures from the ether, no one does it better than the summoner. Not only that, but an eidolon is a force to be reckoned with, especially since it grows in power along with its summoner. But what if a summoner contacted a being from the outer planes who was simply too powerful to manifest through the summoner all at once? A being who, metaphorically, could only poke the tip of its finger into our reality, as long as the summoner was there to act as his doorway?

Well, then you'd have what I refer to as the avatar summoner.

Yeah, that kind of avatar.
If you're not familiar with the term, an avatar is typically thought of as a manifestation of a deity in a physical, corporeal form. And often (though not always) an avatar is considered vulnerable. You can fight, and even kill, an avatar. That doesn't hurt the god who made it, but it can force them to re-establish their foothold on the material world.

Now take that concept, and apply it to a summoner's eidolon. The eidolon is formed at least partially from the summoner's own mind, but the entity they bond with could be practically anything. A forgotten aspect of a supposedly dead god trying to pull itself back to the material realm? That's a possibility. A powerful demon, a fiend, or even a celestial? Those are also options. Demigods, or beings from the outer fringe of the dark tapestry? You could do that, too.

The idea behind the avatar summoner is that there is a bigger story to their eidolon aside from, "this is an extraplanar creature that follows me around, and participates in my story." The eidolon is a glimpse through a keyhole at a being that is far larger, far more powerful, and potentially far darker, than it might seem. And as the summoner grows in power, then the gateway they make allows more and more of that entity to manifest on the material plane. First a finger, then a hand, then an arm, until the eidolon can draw on nearly the full power of the inhuman outsider who carries the summoner's soul in its pocket.

Recommended Mechanics

There are several ways you could mechanically represent your tie to a powerful outer being; even one worshiped as a god on the material plane (in a major or minor way). For example, taking feats that modify your eidolon by giving it more evolution points will allow you to increase its power, and help you bring across just how strange this tiny god is. If you're connected to an infernal or celestial creature, then feats like Summon Good Monster, or Summon Evil Monster, might show the influence your allegiance has on your magic. Traits like Possessed might mean your eidolon never really goes away, and that part of it lingers in your mind even when you sleep, or have its physical form dismissed.

It all depends on how weird you want to get with your character, and how deeply ingrained their connection is to their eidolon. You might even make them a priest who summons the hand of their god through prayer. Or someone who invokes ancient rituals to call forth a sliver of a faerie lord, or the shadow of an archfiend. The sky is the limit when it comes to just how far you want to go with the concept... though how much of what the character believes is actually true should be discussed with your game master.

For more inspiration, check out 5 Tips For Playing Better Summoners!

That's all for this week's Unusual Character Concept. If you enjoyed it, why not check out some of my other work over on the site Gamers? My archive is getting a little bigger every month. You can keep up on all my latest releases by following me on Facebook, Tumblr, and Twitter, and if you want to help support me, head over to The Literary Mercenary's Patreon page. All I ask is a $1 a month donation to help me keep Improved Initiative going, and in exchange I'll send you some free books as a thank you for your patronage.

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