If you don't like minions - how would you do it?

Schmoe

Explorer
I've been reading the minions thread here with some interest. Personally, I think that minions are a very promising means to creating some tense, exciting encounters. At the same time, I can see why some people might be uncomfortable using minions.

So, for those with a fundamental opposition to minions, I'd like to know how you might create a similar encounter without using the minion mechanic. How would you create an ecounter against 40 opponents without creating a bookkeeping challenge, without overwhelming the party, and without creating an encounter with no real threat (eg, 40 rats vs. a party of 10th level PCs)?

I'll be forthcoming about the question. The reason I ask is that I think the minion mechanic opens up a lot of scenarios that are very difficult to achieve otherwise, and I have a hard time imagining an alternative that doesn't come with its own set of problems that are just as discongruous, or even more so. Still, I'd love to hear other's thoughts on this and perhaps be convinced that there is a better way.
 
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KarinsDad

Visitor
The reason I ask is that I think the minion mechanic opens up a lot of scenarios that are very difficult to achieve otherwise, and I have a hard time imagining an alternative that doesn't come with its own set of problems that are just as discongruous, or even more so.
I think the concept of minions is fine. I think the implementation is a bit lacking due to it's simplicity:

1) All minions (of the same type) do the same damage. A 20 means nothing.

2) All minions are killed with one hit. There is no chance to seriously wound or bloody one of them.

3) There appears to be a trend in the 4E community that PCs should know who minions are.

Minions seem like cardboard cutouts of creatures.


An alternative system that is not that much more complex is to:

A) assign each minion 1 to 3 hits that it can take. So, a minion with 1 hit is identical defensively to the minions in the book. A minion with 2 needs 2 hits to kill it, etc.

B) roll damage for minions.


This is not that much more complicated than what currently occurs. It would make minions still mooks, still threatening, but not minions with the word "Minion" stamped on their heads. Minions with 2 or 3 hits to kill would just be worth slightly more XP.
 
1) All minions (of the same type) do the same damage. A 20 means nothing.
Add a critical hit rider effect, then. "On a critical hit, this attack <does X>."

2) All minions are killed with one hit. There is no chance to seriously wound or bloody one of them.
That's the point. Threats to your well-being that have glass jaws, so you can mow down groups of mooks. If you gave them more hit points, you'd have to end up tracking them at various points, and it defeats the purpose behind minions being easily expendable and less work to deal with.

3) There appears to be a trend in the 4E community that PCs should know who minions are.
I see people saying that players should know when they're fighting minions, but the only people I see saying that characters know/should know about minions are those that have a problem with them.

This is not that much more complicated than what currently occurs. It would make minions still mooks, still threatening, but not minions with the word "Minion" stamped on their heads. Minions with 2 or 3 hits to kill would just be worth slightly more XP.
I think the 2-3 hit idea is a bad one, since there are standard monsters that die in 2-3 hits, and thus kinda defeat the purpose of making a minion into a 2-3 hit monster.
 

KarinsDad

Visitor
Add a critical hit rider effect, then. "On a critical hit, this attack <does X>."



That's the point. Threats to your well-being that have glass jaws, so you can mow down groups of mooks. If you gave them more hit points, you'd have to end up tracking them at various points, and it defeats the purpose behind minions being easily expendable and less work to deal with.



I see people saying that players should know when they're fighting minions, but the only people I see saying that characters know/should know about minions are those that have a problem with them.



I think the 2-3 hit idea is a bad one, since there are standard monsters that die in 2-3 hits, and thus kinda defeat the purpose of making a minion into a 2-3 hit monster.
So, to distill your response down, you are basically saying that since it is not how the 4E designers did it, it doesn't work.

The OP wanted suggestions for something that is not what the 4E designers did.

I think thou dost protest too much. :lol:


For example, players should be making in character decisions. If they are making metagaming decisions on how to attack minions because they are minions, they are in reality giving metagaming information to the PC so the PC can decide on how to attack.
 

Mistwell

Legend
I'd like to know how you might create a similar encounter without using the minion mechanic. How would you create an ecounter against 40 opponents without creating a bookkeeping challenge, without overwhelming the party, and without creating an encounter with no real threat (eg, 40 rats vs. a party of 10th level PCs)?...Still, I'd love to hear other's thoughts on this and perhaps be convinced that there is a better way.
If I really wanted to get a good answer to this, I'd probably ask it over at the house rules forum.

Not that you won't get some fine answers here as well, I just think that forum tends to have a lot of people skilled at house ruling stuff in a fairly balanced way, while this forum tends to specialize in folks who are good at interpreting the rules as written.
 

Pickles JG

Visitor
1) All minions (of the same type) do the same damage. A 20 means nothing.
2) All minions are killed with one hit. There is no chance to seriously wound or bloody one of them.
3) There appears to be a trend in the 4E community that PCs should know who minions are.

An alternative system that is not that much more complex is to:

A) assign each minion 1 to 3 hits that it can take. So, a minion with 1 hit is identical defensively to the minions in the book. A minion with 2 needs 2 hits to kill it, etc.

B) roll damage for minions.
Rolling damage for 40 minions is a pain, I would just double crit damage.

The multiple hit thing seems OK - probably only 2 hits are needed before they are very close to normal guys.


Another solution would be to set a damage threshold (ie give them resist X all).

Mind you I like 'em & I like to know who they are - this is not a trend this is how I played Feng Shui 10 years ago
 
1: Take the advancement paths for HP, defenses, attack bonus, and damage, and normalize them. (Re-enable 1/2 level as bonus damage from Saga, say.)

2: Enable trade-offs. Defenders can boost HP, Strikers attack bonus and damage, Controllers mostly damage, and the like.

3: Grow minions as glass cannons, with high attacks, moderate damage, moderate defenses, and pitiful HP. Let's say that the PCs are level 10, with balanced level 10 bonuses across their attributes. A suitable minion-type creature might be level 6, with attack 8, damage 6, defenses 7, and HP 3.

Orcish barbarians that take Reckless Rage at their level 1 feat and have maxed Str and low Dex and Con are the canonical 3.XE example of such a character.

4: Enable the HP-pool option for minions below a certain level threshold. Assume that attacks directed to the mass of minions always hit the most injured minion, so that if each minion has 6 hp, an attack that deals 20 points of damage slays 3 minions outright and enables a 4-hp attack to kill a fourth.

Minions, as they exist now, strip from the game a great deal of the sense of advancement.
 

KarinsDad

Visitor
Rolling damage for 40 minions is a pain, I would just double crit damage.
One has to roll a to hit for the same 40 minions. It's not really that hard to roll a D20 and a damage die at the same time.

One has to move the 40 minions.

One has to determine Combat Advantage for the 40 minions.

If the DM has 40 minions in an encounter, there is still quite a bit of overhead involved.

And 40 minions in an encounter would probably be a TPK (or at least an extremely serious fight) if they are anywhere near the PC level. A Defender could not prevent them from mugging the rest of the team.
 

Plane Sailing

Astral Admin - Mwahahaha!
I'll move this over to House Rules.

I could see the value of making some minions "2-hit" minions, purely because then bloodied comes into the equation - whether it is allowing minions to have abilities which function when bloodied, or allowing PCs with special abilities that key off bloodied to get some use against minions (Tiefling bloodhunt?)

I'd also see a benefit of tweaking Minion damage, whether it is giving them "+1 per tier" to their damage on a crit, or giving them double damage (assuming that their minion fixed damage is equivalent to their average damage, which is about half of their max damage). Even rolling for minion damage is worthwhile (A PC recently decided to provoke an OA from the kobold skirmisher rather than the kobold minion because he only had 3 hp, and if the minion hit him it was all over, but the skirmisher might roll a 1 or 2 on his d8 damage if he hit...)

These things are just tweaks to minions though, and doesn't get around the basic issue.

Of course, in earlier editions it would have been possible to create functionally equivalent minions just by assuming that the bad guys rolled a "1" on each of their HD - giving the creatures minimum hit points.

I agree with the original proposition - minions make certain types of encounter much easier to produce. The only real alternative I've seen in 3e days was 'mob' templates, but they produced some grossly overpowered situations with the implementation which I'd seen used (in the Worlds Largest Dungeon).

Cheers
 
Apologies to anyone who has already read this from me in other threads, but the OP asked...

  1. Minions have 1/2 the hp of a monster of the same level, (or as close to the same level as you can get, rounding down).
  2. Characters who successfully hit a minion with any attack multiply damage by x10 at Heroic tier, x15 at Paragon, and x20 at Epic.

This allows for the large scale Jackie Chan-like group brawls that some folks want, but it also avoids any mental gymnastics or hand-waving to explain the 1 hp, and places the emphasis on the character making a great hit, (as opposed to making a normal hit vs a paper tiger).

MrG
 

frankthedm

Visitor
Rework HP and damage output from the ground up. Baseline foes {grunts] would have about half the current HP of a standard 4e foe and the default fights would be 10 foes vs. 5 PCs. Player's damage output would be enough to slay a grunt at about a 50%/50% chance.

20 Minions = 10 Grunts = 5 Toughs = 2.5 Elite = 1 Solo
 

charlesatan

Explorer
In 3.5, I'd make them a Swarm.

I guess nothing's stopping you from converting them into a Swarm in 4E as well. That "one creature" you're attacking now? That's really four people occupying one square, trying to gang up on you.

(HP could be Con + HP/level appropriate for its role; then for damage, you could either give it iterative attacks and deal the same minion damage or simply give it one attack and give it an aura that deals minion damage to creatures adjacent to it at the start of its turn [or it gets a free basic attack against creatures that starts their turn adjacent to it]).
 

Schmoe

Explorer
I think the concept of minions is fine. I think the implementation is a bit lacking due to it's simplicity: <snip>
First, I admire your courage. I realized after posting that my topic could be seen as "Hey, post your alternative minion concept so everyone can rip it to shreds and prove you don't know diddly." For any who might think that, let me be perfectly clear: I do not want this to devolve into some contest where people put down anyone's suggested alternatives to WotC's design. Leave your agenda at the door, please.


1) All minions (of the same type) do the same damage. A 20 means nothing.
I definitely see your first point. When I saw that minions all had fixed damage, my first reaction was, "How boring." In my experience, rolling a couple dice doesn't add much to bookkeeping or time. It seems like this is more a matter of preference than something fundamental to the concept.


<snip>
Minions seem like cardboard cutouts of creatures.
I'm not sure I see that as a criticism of minions. You could almost say that's the point of them.

An alternative system that is not that much more complex is to:

A) assign each minion 1 to 3 hits that it can take. So, a minion with 1 hit is identical defensively to the minions in the book. A minion with 2 needs 2 hits to kill it, etc.

B) roll damage for minions.


This is not that much more complicated than what currently occurs. It would make minions still mooks, still threatening, but not minions with the word "Minion" stamped on their heads. Minions with 2 or 3 hits to kill would just be worth slightly more XP.
I wonder if there might be a better way to have minions that take 2 or 3 hits to kill? There's not that much difference between tracking hit points and tracking a couple of hits, whereas the difference between no bookkeeping and some bookkeeping is huge when you have a lot of opponents. What if any "hit" or point of damage had an 80% chance to kill a minion? That way a small percentage will take more than 1 hit, a vanishingly small number will take more than 2, and you still preserve no bookkeeping. It would add a roll, but you're still saving the damage roll, so it doesn't seem like a big deal to me.
 

Schmoe

Explorer
If I really wanted to get a good answer to this, I'd probably ask it over at the house rules forum.

Not that you won't get some fine answers here as well, I just think that forum tends to have a lot of people skilled at house ruling stuff in a fairly balanced way, while this forum tends to specialize in folks who are good at interpreting the rules as written.
True enough. I was hoping to attract some of the people from the Rules forum who are vocal critics of minions, to see what they might do differently. But you're right, this is more of a House Rule topic.

And I see the moderators agree. Thanks PlaneSailing. :)
 
I wonder if there might be a better way to have minions that take 2 or 3 hits to kill? There's not that much difference between tracking hit points and tracking a couple of hits, whereas the difference between no bookkeeping and some bookkeeping is huge when you have a lot of opponents.
Well, bookkeeping on 'add bloodied mark' isn't horrible, which is the standard for a 2-hit minion.
 

Schmoe

Explorer
1: Take the advancement paths for HP, defenses, attack bonus, and damage, and normalize them. (Re-enable 1/2 level as bonus damage from Saga, say.)

2: Enable trade-offs. Defenders can boost HP, Strikers attack bonus and damage, Controllers mostly damage, and the like.

3: Grow minions as glass cannons, with high attacks, moderate damage, moderate defenses, and pitiful HP. Let's say that the PCs are level 10, with balanced level 10 bonuses across their attributes. A suitable minion-type creature might be level 6, with attack 8, damage 6, defenses 7, and HP 3.
But isn't that what's been done already? Minions already have "normal" attributes for creatures of their level, except the HP. I guess I don't understand the difference.

4: Enable the HP-pool option for minions below a certain level threshold. Assume that attacks directed to the mass of minions always hit the most injured minion, so that if each minion has 6 hp, an attack that deals 20 points of damage slays 3 minions outright and enables a 4-hp attack to kill a fourth.
That's an interesting idea. Would you abstract this to single-target attacks as well, so that an attack doing 2 points of damage subtracts 2 from the pool? I suppose if you had minions of multiple types you could just have a pool for each type.

It still adds bookkeeping, but a very small amount. It does seem you'd be creating a lot of work for minions that aren't below your threshold, though.

Minions, as they exist now, strip from the game a great deal of the sense of advancement.
How so? Do you mean, specifically, advancement in the realm of damage-dealing? I can think of several realms of player advancement that are challenged by minions. Care to explain?
 

Syrsuro

Visitor
I think the greatest improvement while keeping the general spirit would be for some to survive their initial hit to become bloodied.

Using the 'bloodied' state to make them more durable retains the spirit (they are still pretty easy to mow through), while keeping them easy to keep track of (still no hit points, you just need to pop a bloodied marker on those that survive).

As for how you determine which ones die on the first hit and which ones survive to become bloodied - there are several approachs and nothing which says that you can't use different rules for different creatures.

At present I am leaning towards the following.

1) Any critical hit will kill a minion, regardless of total damage.
2) Any attack which does less than 10 points of damage on a hit or which does any amount of damage on a miss will bloody the minion. If the minion is already dead, this damage will kill it.
3) Any attack which does more than 10 points of damage will kill the minion, regardless of whether or not the minion was previously bloodied.


This retains the simplicity (no need for bookkeeping - minions have only three states (uninjured, bloodied, dead) and determining when they move from one state to another is clear and easy.

But it gives them just enough durability to make them relevant when they occur, while still allowing the players to mop them up quickly.

Of course - I haven't had the chance to test this yet, so its a purely theoretical approach at this point.

Carl
 
1) Any critical hit will kill a minion, regardless of total damage.
2) Any attack which does less than 10 points of damage on a hit or which does any amount of damage on a miss will bloody the minion. If the minion is already dead, this damage will kill it.
The amount should be level-dependent, and should be set so a typical at-will is not a kill. 10+level seems like a good threshold.
 

KarinsDad

Visitor
The amount should be level-dependent, and should be set so a typical at-will is not a kill. 10+level seems like a good threshold.
There are a lot of PCs that will not be doing 40 points of damage unless they use a Daily (and maybe not even then) at level 30.

I would suggest 10 +5 Paragon +10 Epic instead. Below the threshold, the non-bloodied foe is bloodied, the bloodied foe is killed. Equal or above the threshold, the foe is killed.


I also like the concept that I introduced some months back of "Tough Minions". For me, Tough Minions solve all of the issues I have with minions. A Tough Minion is identical to a normal minion except:

1) 2x XP of minions.
2) Dies on even damage, lives on odd damage (this gets changed randomly from encounter to encounter)
3) Dies if hit 3 times.
4) Bloodied if hit 2 times and does not die.
5) Both Tough Minions and normal minions roll damage.

#2 can be changed to other criteria so that the players do not figure it out (such as odd or even total to hit rolls, etc.).

If the DM sometimes throws Tough Minions in with regular minions, the players do not know for any given encounter whether any given opponent is a minion or not. Even gaining the name of the monster with a Monster Check will only hint to the player that the foe is a minion, it will not indicate whether it is a regular minion or a tough minion.

And, Tough Minions fill the gap between one hit minions and 4+ hit other monsters. This gives the DM more encounter options because he effectively has another monster role he can use.
 

dragon23ca

Visitor
Elite Minions

I like the minions, but I also find too many of them and the PC's just tag them all. So in my next game I plan on running minions and elite minions, its a template I made (got the idea from someone here) that you add to a minion to make it just a little tougher. I plan on taking the 4 minions = 1 standard and instead going 2 minions, 1 elite minion and not let the PC's be able to tell them apart (eg use the same minitures for both and just pick 1 out of 3 to be the elite, maybe which ever gets hit by an attack too low to kill the elite)

Elite Minion
Humanoid or Undead XP Elite (twice normal minion)
Defenses +1 AC, +1 to any two other defense
Attacks +1
Hit Points 2 (Missed attacks never damage a tough minion, unless its bloodied.)


Tough Resolve [Con bonus] (immediate reaction, when hit by any attack; no action)
When a Tough minion is hit by an attack if the damage is less then its Tough Resovle mark the minion as bloodied with 1 hp left. Any damage taken after kills the minion. (note: con bonus = con mod + ½ level)


Desperate Strike (free action; encounter; recharge when bloodied)
When a tough minion hits with a standard attack, increase its damage by +3 normally listed. (note: use this on crits but don't make it more then 2 attacks in total)
This increases to +5 damage at 11st, and +9 damage at 21st.
 

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