Quick’n’Dirty’n’Optional Summoning Guidelines

So, you don’t like our soft-rules approach[1] to summoning & binding in DFRPG. That’s okay. Here’s some extrapolated-straight-from-the-rules[2] perspective on how to make that a little more concrete.

You want to take Summoned Creature X, which has a statblock that you and/or the GM have designed, and figure out what it takes to make it come into being and do your bidding.

Doing your bidding is the real tough part, so I’m going to focus there. I’d run it along the lines of what it takes to create a spell that kills such things. Think about it: taking out a target means you get to utterly define what happens to it. Such as “becomes subservient to me”. So what would it take to build a thaumaturgy spell that one-shot kills the above? That’s probably the equal or the ballpark of what it would take to utterly control such a creature.

Shorter-term control could orient on reliably inflicting consequences of an impermanent nature (control for a scene? Mild; control for the adventure? Moderate or Severe).

But not all things that can be killed for the same effort carry around the same amount of power. You (the GM) may want to account for that as well. If so, I might also tack on a difficulty surcharge equal to twice the refresh cost of the creature’s abilities (drawing directly from the stated logic in stunt construction that 1 refresh = 2 shifts of some kind of effect; therefore, 1 refresh = +2 to the binding difficulty).

That’s two pieces-parts that you can use to guide your approach, depending on the sensibilities of the GM/the table/etc. If your GM doesn’t find the notion of “you must ‘kill’ it to control it” appealing, you could just use the refresh-based part to set the target, maybe with a surcharge for the intended duration of the binding.

That said, the ultimate authority in the DFRPG isn’t us, it’s you. How would you run it? What sort of finesse would you apply to the above? Share your thoughts!

[1] It’s that way because you’re summoning something with a personality and a history and context, and sometimes that’s more than you can chew, and can only really be evaluated on a case by case basis.

[2] The breadth of magic in DF is so great, we do expect people to extrapolate from existing principles rather than provide explicit step by steps for every possible thing. The magic chapter was already long enough! That said we may have relied on that overly heavily with summoned and constructed creatures, but that’s partly because the books do not give us tons of examples of such things. And to complicate matters, sometimes a “construct” isn’t really a creature at all — for example, Cassius’ snakes might simply be the lightshow you get when he throws an evocation your way, or the lightshow on a damaging ward, etc, rather than acting as a “real”, semi-autonomous creature-like entity.