Summoners are unique among the magicians of Gaia. Where traditional Red, Black, and White Magicians and their offshoots manipulate the arcane energies that suffuse the planet, Geomancers and Gaimen bring themselves closer to the spiritual and physical center of the world, and Blue Mages befriend the monsters of Gaia and learn their secrets, a Summoner is part mage, part diplomat, as well as a physical, living bridge between the mortal plane and the realms beyond. While they have the talent for more common magics, and may learn spells as any other mage, their true talent lies in their abiity to deal with the Lesser and Greater Spirits, whose needs and minds are incomprehensible to most mortal folk. The path of the Summoner is as fraught with danger as any other adventurer, in some ways perhaps more so, for a Summoner is dependent of the whims of beings far above their ken, and may be expected to make a sacrifice in exchange for the power they will wield. Make no mistake, however, for the power at their call is great indeed.
However, as no two mages of the same school may work in precisely the same manner, so it is with the Summoners. The common image of the Summoner is one who calls the power of the Spirits into the mortal plane, their enemies stricken by Odin's gaze or incinerated by Ifrit's fires, their allies restored by Sylph's kiss or cleansed in Undine's healing waters.
But, these are not the only Summoners that walk Gaia's face. Also in the world are those who draw the power of the Spirits into their bodies, becoming the living symbol of the Spirit's power. The warrior-maiden who wields the Sword of the Valkyrie, the sailor who plucks a cannon from the Doom Ship, the warrior who grows Cerberus' terrifying heads to loose destruction upon his enemies, these are the Spirit Channelers, summoners who become the vessel through which the Spirits wield their might.
Then there are those Summoners whose nature allows them to draw the Spirit, whole cloth, into the mortal realm to fight in their place. By trading their own ability to act, they beseech the Spirits to act in their stead. Few will argue the disparity of this exchange, however, as they stare down Ixion's sparking horn, or tremble before the gleaming blades of Gilgamesh. These are the Avatar Fixated, those rare few Summoners who are the very essence of the bridge between Mortal and Spirit
The Pact is the source of a Summoner's power, the spiritually binding contract by which the spirit agrees to provide the use of their power at need, in exchange for some service to the Spirit. Typically, this takes the form of a quest, or deed the Spirit will ask to be done, the completion of which will grant the Summoner some measure of the Spirit's power. For a typical Summoner, this will take the form of the spell that calls the Spirit's power as described. For the Channeler, these common pacts grant them the ability to summon an artifact tied to the Spirit, bolstering their abilities and granting them greater potential for victory.
For the Avatar Fixated, this allows them the means to draw the Spirit into the mortal realm, though in their case the power they wield grows as the Summoner grows in knowledge and ability, allowing them to draw through a greater portion of the Spirit's power as they become more powerful themselves.
Types of Pacts
As stated above, the typical pact grants a Summoner some measure of a Spirit's power in exchange for a token service and the coin of Mana, paid when the Summoner needs the power granted. This is merely a typical example, however, for there are those Summoners who pledge deeper servitude to the Spirits in question, sacrificing something of themselves for still greater power. What is required and granted differs for each type of Summoner, as explained below.
- Level 1 - Flash Summons (Customer) -- This is the typical Pact, where a Summoner convinces the Spirit to agree to lend their powers once Mana is paid.
This does not count as a pact, it is more a business arrangement, the summoner spends Mana the spirit will lend the summoner power equal to the mana spent. This is represented by purchasing the Summon-Components in the Summoner Job.
- Level 2 - Minor (Customer)-- This is the first level of pact with a spirit. It requires the summoner to put up a +request under Spirit and the Spirit Wiz Silvante will arrange a time to run the pacting TP. The summoner has to travel into the spirit, world, seek out the spirit they wish to pact with. Often the spirit will just wish to talk to the summoner and have them perform some test to see if they have the type of temperment and personally they wish to pact with. If successful a minor pact will be agreed upon. A +5 boost to the spirits summon component and if they are lucky maybe a little extra power as well. An example of this would be Undine's granting the summoner an ability to remove status ailements for 20mp.
- Level 3 - Major (Employee)-- At this stage, the summoner has gone beyond the average agreement of mana for power, and has pledged service to the Spirit's ideals. Many Spirits require a Ban upon their pledged Summoners, restricting them from a certain aspect of life or requiring that they act in a certain manner as needed. King Rabite's Summoners, for example, may never eat meat, while Taoryu will require the occasional menial task, as well as that his Summoners never ever pick up a firearm. In exchange for these restrictions, the Summoner will gain greater power in the Summoning spell, as well as additional persistent benefits in keeping with the Spirit's domain. Some Spirits are mutually exclusive (Shiva and Ifrit will never bond the same Summoner) while others may be Pacted, but only in a certain order. (Hades refuses to Pact with one bonded to Phoenix, while the reverse is allowable, if annoying.) This level requires a Pacting TP
- Level 4 - Master (Agent)-- The Summoner has pledged his utter servitude to the Spirit, becoming their agent upon the Mortal Realm. At this stage, the Ban placed upon the Summoner is not only stronger, but also the Summoner becomes the Spirit's servant in death, removing them from the Wheel of Rebirth altogether. For such a massive sacrifice, the rewards are frequently the culmination of major TPs. A Summoner may pledge eternal servitude to Odin in exchange for the return of his life, only to find upon his return that he is ageless, and tasked with stamping out the presence of the Undead wherever it may arise. When slain, he will then become one of the Einherjar of Valhalla, spending eternity in mortal combat until Ragnarok comes.
- Level 1 - Minor (Artifact)-- The Channeler who performs the service dictated by the Spirit will be granted an Artifact bonded to the Spirit's power, to be called at need. This Artifact will usually be a weapon or piece of clothing, though some manifest as tokens held in hand. The Cannon of the Doom Ship, Vhale's searing helm, Carbuncle's Lantern, are examples of such an Artifact.
- Level 2 - Major (Aspect) -- Going beyond the use of tokens and weapons to wield the Spirit's power, the Channeler who enters into pacts of servitude as the Summoner above take on a physical resemblance to the Spirit they channel. Cerberus' heads, the wraithlike arm of Ghost, Valkyrie's armored wings are examples of a Channeler Aspect.
- Level 3 - Master (Avatar) -- At this stage, the Channeler who has given themselves over to the servitude of a Spirit become nothing more or less than that Spirit's Avatar on the mortal plane. A Channeler of Ifrit will burst into flame, tearing into his enemies with searing claws of firestone, while Hades' Channeler becomes a skeletal figure wreathed in darkness and smoke, his every word bringing doom to his enemies.
Due to the curious nature of these Summoners, the deeper levels of Pacting do not grant an immediate increase in the spell's effect; only the Summoner's own personal power and knowledge affects the power of the Spirit drawn through. However, an Avatar Summoner will gain the benefits and bans that their Summoner brethren gain, and are likely to gain a close relationship with the Spirits they bring over, in time.
In system terms the formula for Avatar Fixated summons is as follows -
Character Level + Caller Job Level + Summoner Job Level + Master Summoner Job Level /3 for Minor pacts, /2 for Major Pacts and No division for Master pacts
This obviously leads to more powerful avatars depending on the Summoners skill and level. The avatar takes the form of a puppet via the +beast system under the control of the Scene Judge, with the Summoner able to direct it and give commands.
As the bridge between realms, more often than not a Summoner find that in order to Pact a Spirit, one must travel to the Spirit's home realm to gain audience. This is a dangerous journey, for in the Realms it is very easy to become lost, or wind up in a hostile Realm. More on the topography of the Spirit Realms may be found here.
There are many, many Spirits who claim dominion over an aspect of Gaia, spirits Lesser and Greater who are the very embodiment of their Domain. For a list of the Who's Who of the Spirit Realm, go to this page.