One of the founders of our hobby and one of the most unsung contributors to Dungeons & Dragons, Len Lakofka has passed away at the age of 76.
Along with the many adventures, classes, spells, and rules he created, Len was also father of the Suel in Greyhawk, designer of their gods, and namesake of the Lendore Isles.
The value of his work goes without saying, but his presence will be sorely missed. The adventures of Leomund go on.
This question pertains to the 6th level Summoning clerical spell, "Aerial Servant."
The cleric uses this creature, summoned of the Elemental Plane of Air, to fetch either an item or creature and return said item or creature back to the cleric. The duration of a day per level implies that the cleric 'knows' this task may take a while, and the summoned elemental may have to travel a vast distance to retrieve the item or being.
My question is...
-How does the summoned Aerial Servant know where to find the desired item or creature?! Is this an imparted innate ability granted to the elemental, perhaps by the summoning spell itself?
If not, then the cleric would have to know exactly the item or creature to be fetched is located. The spell description says NOTHING about this being the case. All that needs to be done, according to what is written, is for the cleric to give a description of the item or creature, and then the Servant is off to get it.
The spell has little in the manner of flexibility, unlike many other Summoning spells. The Aerial Servant does NOTHING but fetch. It won't fight for you, won't defend you, won't guard, etc. Given the extreme focus of the purpose of the Elemental, I would imagine that the Aerial Servant somehow can innately 'zero in' on the location of the item or creature to be collected.
I see you are back to true form finding the most insane conundrums.
Pretty good one here. The spell says what it does, so that is what it does.
Caveat: within reason.
By that I mean the aerial servant is not omniscient. It will not be able to find the fabled Lost Blade of Azoth, which is only even hinted at in millennia old legends from legendary times themselves. My opinion is that the caster must know the general area where the item/person is located, or at least a place they were known to have been somewhat recently, or must have personally seen the item/person. How the aerial servant finds anything is a matter of conjecture. "First, the aerial servant talked to the Winds of the East, but no whisper of what it searched for was on the wind." Could work in a very fairy tale-like manner, but then it could be necessarily influenced by at least some vague knowledge of the caster's, which is enough for it to go on its quest.
Orders to find someone/thing unknown, too vague/subjective, or impossible to retrieve, such as "Bring me Thrommel's kidnapper." or "Bring me the best weapon smith in all the land." or "Bring me the Wand of Orcus." would likely result in the aerial servant attacking the caster outright. I would say there has to be some known specificity given to the aerial servant to be able to complete its task, unless the person/object sought is very general in nature, such as "Bring me the nearest young Oeridian man." or "Bring me the nearest diamond the size of a dove's egg or larger." or "Bring me the nearest unholy symbol of Demogorgon." If such targets are nearby, the aerial servant should be able to eventually find them, unless they are located in some place not accessible to a creature made of air. It can find keys if things are locked up, or use its strength of 23 (and tools/weapons) to bash things open as well. _________________ - Moderator/Admin (in some areas)/Member -
Last edited by Cebrion on Thu Aug 08, 2019 5:02 am; edited 2 times in total
I totally agree with your caveat statement and appreciate your input on the mechanics of the spell.
What if the summoning priest turns the Aerial Servant loose to fetch the person or item, then changes his/her position thereafter? I don't imagine the priest is just gonna sit tight and wait, day after day, in the same locale. He/she might even move hundreds of miles from his/her previous location in the span of several days (11 days, minimum, for even the base minimum level needed to cast the spell!).
Does the Servant, through the connection of the spell, innately know how to return to the priest (granted the priest is still on the same plane of existence)?
No take-backsies! Once the servant is unleashed, it is set to its task. If the caster changes his mind, the spell must be cast again and the new aerial servant be given the new directive. The cleric still needs to be prepared for the first aerial servant to either return with what was originally asked for, or for it to return and beat the cleric down in the event the sought after person/thing was unattainable.
I agree the aerial servant can innately find its way back to the cleric (the spell creates a bond between them, so to speak), so long as the cleric is on the same plane of existence. You might have not being on the same plane and other factors block the servant from being able to locate the cleric, at which point the aerial servant will auto-fail its task and be rather unfriendly if it actually does manage to locate the caster at a later time. _________________ - Moderator/Admin (in some areas)/Member -
Last edited by Cebrion on Fri Aug 09, 2019 11:15 am; edited 1 time in total
The summoning priest, the spell notes, must have erected a Protection from Evil spell, stand within a protective circle, or possess some type of device to control the Aerial Servant, or it attacks the cleric.
Some priests with major access to the Summoning sphere do NOT have any access to the Protective sphere! Ex: clerics of Iuz and Incabulos!
Thusly, if they employ this spell, they obviously CANNOT erect a Protection spell, thus making this spell pretty much useless to them unless...
The only recourse, barring a device (exceedingly rare no doubt), is to use the second option, some type of protective circle. I am under the impression this means a pentagram, or some-such other geometric design (perhaps as outlined in the 1st edition DMG) scrawled on the floor. If so, can it be drawn in chalk, ink, etc., or does it need to be in some kind of rare material, like powdered iron, or silver? Or does this protective circle have to be more elaborate than what I described?
I would think that a simple non-permanent summoning circle would suffice for this spell. Versions of the protection from evil spell require holy water, incense, powdered silver, or powdered iron, and then it is just sprinkled/moved around in a circle. The most expensive of those is 25 gp., so I would put the cost of creating a simple summoning circle at no more than 100 gp, because this is an arcane construct not powered by magic at all, so its cost should be higher, but not extravagantly so. Set the cost depending on what exotic materials you deem required to ward against an air elemental. You could also look up spells that may use a non-permanant summoning circle and use their cost criteria. However, some powerful summoning spells require unique (and expensive) materials/processes due to the nature (and power) of what is being summoned, so some of those requirements could be viewed as over the top for casting this much safer/simpler spell. _________________ - Moderator/Admin (in some areas)/Member -
I just had a lucky epiphany...got a crit success on a memory (or research) roll and cracked out my 1st edition copy of "The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth." Somehow I vaguely remembered (maybe b/c of my 'recent' utilization of that EPIC module in my own campaign setting...see Campaign postings, incomplete as they are) there being a section about this very same topic!
Check out pages 26-28 on the inserted pages entitled "Magical Diagrams." HUZZAH! That section goes over just what I've been asking about, in part. For some reason I thought this very same material was written down in the Unearthed Arcana, but I don't see it printed in that book.
Just thought I'd share in case anyone else needs this information and you are lucky enough to own this module. If not I am more than willing to share.
There you go. Another source might be the 1e Manual of the Planes, and then there is the slew of PLANESCAPE material I am not too familiar with, but which I have to think would have something on this. _________________ - Moderator/Admin (in some areas)/Member -
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