Welcome back to Stupid Battle Gimmicks. This month's stupid gimmick is Summoned Monsters. Have you ever wanted to call allies to your aid? We've got you covered here with not one but two methods to pull this off.
Enemies as Allies
This is the more common and perhaps more obvious method: summon an enemy that acts like an ally. Advance warning: lots of spawning required.
First, you need to reserve an element that isn't used for anything else. Let's call it the Summon element. Make an invisible, targetable enemy that we'll call Summoner. Now make every other enemy in the game spawn Summoner when hit with a Summon-elemental attack. With me so far?
Now, decide what summoned monsters are going to be available in the game. You can go back and change them or add more later, but for now, just create a few summoned monster enemies. You'll eventually want to give them attacks and such. That will be covered later.
The Summoner itself should spawn a different summoned monster for each possible element besides the Summon element. Your summon spells should consist of a non-damaging single-target Summon-elemental attack (to spawn the Summoner) chained instantly to a multi-target no-damage elemental attack (to make Summoner spawn the appropriate monster). If you have fewer summoned monsters than elements, great. If you have more, this is a possible problem – but there is a solution! Don't worry, you can have an unlimited number of summoned monsters if that's what you're into. Caveat: if you do decide you need more summons than elements, you're in for a bit more work. If you're fine with just a few summons, skip the next paragraph.
For unlimited summoning potential, here's what to do. First, reserve an enemy type. We'll call it Not-a-Summoner. Assign the Not-a-Summoner enemy type to every enemy besides the Summoner. For the first set of summons, you can follow the process described above. When you need more summons, create a Summoner2 enemy with the same properties as Summoner, but a different set of spawns. Can you see where this is going? To access Summoner2, you'll first want to spawn Summoner, then chain to a multitarget instant-death attack that fails on Not-a-Summoner enemies. Assign that attack an element, and make Summoner spawn Summoner2 when hit by that element. You can keep up this process indefinitely, making Summoner2 spawn Summoner3 and so on.
Now that you're able to summon the monsters, what to do with them? Well, the exact behavior is up to you, but remember that they're still technically enemies. If you have a summon spell that's supposed to heal the party, make it target all enemies. If the summon is supposed to hurt the enemy, make it target allies. You can make the summoned monster die off after it attacks, or you can make it stick around awhile. Up to you.
Finishing touches: Give your Summoner(s) 1 HP, 999 Speed, and an attack that silently commits suicide. We don't want the Summoner sticking around after its job is done. You will also want to Hide Damage on all of the attacks described above; they should be invisible to the player.
To make this technique look good, you'll want to adjust your battle formations so that all of the visible enemies are at the end of the list rather than the beginning. Set up the position of the enemies at the beginning of the list and blank them out again. The game remembers these locations even when there are no monsters in those slots. The reason for doing this is that you are usually going to want your summoned monsters to face left, away from the party and towards the enemies. It looks silly if your summoned monster is floating off to the left of the enemies, looking into space.
Surgeon General's Warning: You will need a few empty slots in every battle formation to use this technique. This technique may interfere with regular monster spawning. Keep out of reach of children.
To the best of my knowledge, Crystal Chasers is the first and only game to use this particular technique. The concept is simple: use an invisible party member with zero HP, then summon it in battle by healing it into existence. In Crystal Chasers, the blue kid uses an ally-summon in his Ninja and Druid classes.
There's not much more to this technique than described above. You need to make sure the summoned ally is always in the same slot (it's a good idea to add the summoned hero just before the battle and remove it just after) and make sure the summon attack can only target that slot. There are obvious downsides to this method: you have to decide before the battle begins who's going to be summoned, you're limited by the number of heroes in the party, and so on. On the plus side, you have a fully controllable ally (if that's what you want; in Crystal Chasers, the Ninja's summon is a zero-speed clone that does nothing besides soak damage).
Obviously, this puts heavy restrictions on how the party is formed. This is something you need to plan your game around if you're going to use it
That's all, folks! Two stupid gimmicks to summon allies to your side. As always, you don't have to credit me if you end up using any of these, but I'd consider it a personal favor if you drop me a line and let me know if you do. See you next month! (Got a topic you'd like to see addressed? Let me know!)