D&D 5E Minions with Damage Thresholds?

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Legend
I've been experimenting with ways to introduce "minions" in 5e, in the sense of monsters who I don't have to track hit points for - allowing me to use lots of them without too much mental overhead.

One of my stumbling block was the "feel" of the mechanics – how do I present a 1 hp monster so that it "feels" believable with all the other sources of damage and hit points in the game? I tried a couple things that worked okay if you kind of didn't look too hard, but I could see why they sometimes turned players off to the idea. Recently I've been experimenting with borrowing from the object Damage Threshold rules - an idea presented in the DMG (and seemingly abandoned) where, for example, a sailing ship might have Damage Threshold 15 and any damage source that would deal <15 damage has no effect on the ship.

Using a similar foundation, I tried to make it feel unique to the creature (e.g. slippery firenewt minions lose damage threshold when exposed to cold damage or when unable to move, while the slayer with its Acrobatic Foe can survive a fall of up to 19 damage...possibly a 40-or-50-foot fall).

I would love to get your feedback on how these rules sit for you in terms of "feel" and implementation? Do you foresee unintended problems arising at the table when trying these minion rules?

EDIT: I discuss design goals / issues I'm trying to address a few posts later here: https://www.enworld.org/threads/minions-with-damage-thresholds.701247/page-3#post-9204138

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Firenewt Minion
EDIT: 2nd draft here: https://www.enworld.org/threads/minions-with-damage-thresholds.701247/page-4#post-9204351
Medium humanoid (firenewt), neutral evil
Armor Class 13 (shield)
Hit Points 1 (see Slippery Foe)
Speed 30 ft.

STR DEX CON INT WIS CHA
10 (+0) 13 (+1) 12 (+1) 7 (-2) 11 (+0) 8 (-3)

Damage Immunities fire
Senses passive Perception 10
Languages Draconic, Ignan
Challenge 1/4 (50 XP) Proficiency Bonus +2

Amphibious. The firenewt can breathe air and water.

Slippery Foe. The firenewt takes no damage from an attack, spell, or effect that deals less than 10 damage, unless it is cold damage. While the firenewt is unable to move, it loses this trait.

ACTIONS

Fiery Scimitar.
Melee Weapon Attack: +3 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 4 (1d6+1) slashing damage plus 3 (1d6) fire damage.
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Imperishable Mamluk Minion
Medium humanoid (human), lawful neutral or lawful evil
Armor Class 17 (lamellar armor, shield)
Hit Points 1 (see Implaccable Foe)
Speed 30 ft.

STR DEX CON INT WIS CHA
16 (+3) 12 (+1) 14 (+2) 10 (+0) 12 (+1) 10 (+0)

Skills Perception +3, Survival +3
Damage Resistance fire
Senses passive Perception 13
Languages Common, Ignan
Challenge 1 (200 XP) Proficiency Bonus +2

Solidarity. The mamluk has advantage on saving throws if at least one ally is within 5 feet of the mamluk and the ally isn’t incapacitated.

Implaccable Foe. So long as the mamluk is within 5 feet of an ally, it takes no damage from an attack, spell, or effect that deals less than 10 damage.

ACTIONS

Pike.
Melee Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, reach 10 ft., one target. Hit: 8 (1d10+3) piercing damage.

Longsword. Melee Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 7 (1d8+3) slashing damage.

Shortbow. Ranged Weapon Attack: +3 to hit, range 80/320 ft., one target. Hit: 4 (1d6+1) piercing damage.
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Flamedeath Slayer Minion
Medium humanoid (human), lawful evil or lawful neutral
Armor Class 13
Hit Points 1 (see Acrobatic Foe)
Speed 30 ft.

STR DEX CON INT WIS CHA
10 (+0) 16 (+3) 14 (+2) 10 (+0) 14 (+2) 10 (+0)

Skills Acrobatics +5, Perception +4, Stealth +7
Damage Resistances fire
Senses passive Perception 14
Languages Common, Ignan (Primordial), Thieves’ Cant
Challenge 3 (700 XP) Proficiency Bonus +2

Acrobatic Foe. The slayer takes no damage from an attack, spell, or effect that deals less than 20 damage, unless the attack has advantage. While the slayer is unable to take reactions, it loses this trait.

Assassinate. The slayer has advantage on attack rolls against any creature that hasn’t taken its turn in combat yet. Also, any hit it scores against a surprised creature is a critical hit.

Oil of Liquid Stars. A creature struck by this oil ignites in flames, suffering 7 (2d6) fire damage at the end of each of its turns until the flames are extinguished as an action by it or another creature. The oil burns for one minute.
When applied to a weapon instead, the oil deals an additional 3 (1d6) fire damage when the weapon hits.

Sneak Attack (1/turn). The slayer deals an extra 14 (4d6) damage when it hits a target with a weapon attack and has advantage on the attack roll, or when the target is within 5 feet of an ally of the slayer that isn't incapacitated and the slayer doesn't have disadvantage on the attack roll.

ACTIONS

Scimitar.
Melee Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 6 (1d6+3) piercing damage.

Bomb (3 bombs). The slayer throws a bomb up to 60 ft. All creatures within 5 feet of that point suffer 10 (3d6) fire damage and are lit on fire as per Oil of Liquid Stars. A successful DC 12 Dexterity saving throw reduces this damage by half, and avoids being lit on fire.

BONUS ACTIONS

Cunning Action.
As a bonus action, the slayer can Dash, Disengage, Hide, or apply poison or oil to a weapon.
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TheHand

Adventurer
I tried a similar thing in my 4e games, but with the twist that if the damage was below the damage threshold, the minion became “bloodied”. A second hit on a bloodied minion would then kill them. What this did was take away some of the sting the players felt when hitting a foe but not doing enough damage to do anything.

I’ve often thought of bringing the idea back in my 5e games but haven’t yet. I’d be interested to know how the damage threshold minions work out at your table.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
My only concern would be that the idea of killing something in a death-by-1000-cuts manner (e.g. lots of attacks with small weapons, missile fire, etc.) couldn't work: those many small-damage attacks wouldn't be able to touch one of these minions and yet would be able to slowly whittle down and kill a "real" one of these creatures.

With the slayers you also have the slightly silly situation where if two of them were to fight each other, if neither was surprised the fight would last forever as neither could exceed the other's damage threshold (though I suppose they could eventually poison each other).
 

billd91

Not your screen monkey (he/him)
I tried a similar thing in my 4e games, but with the twist that if the damage was below the damage threshold, the minion became “bloodied”. A second hit on a bloodied minion would then kill them. What this did was take away some of the sting the players felt when hitting a foe but not doing enough damage to do anything.

I’ve often thought of bringing the idea back in my 5e games but haven’t yet. I’d be interested to know how the damage threshold minions work out at your table.
The problem with “bloodied” minions is you’re basically back to tracking hit points for minions again. And I’m not sure that a damage threshold really does much better.
if you’re gonna use minions, might as well lean into it.
 

Eyes of Nine

Everything's Fine
I tried a similar thing in my 4e games, but with the twist that if the damage was below the damage threshold, the minion became “bloodied”. A second hit on a bloodied minion would then kill them. What this did was take away some of the sting the players felt when hitting a foe but not doing enough damage to do anything.

I’ve often thought of bringing the idea back in my 5e games but haven’t yet. I’d be interested to know how the damage threshold minions work out at your table.
Cool idea
 

TheHand

Adventurer
The problem with “bloodied” minions is you’re basically back to tracking hit points for minions again. And I’m not sure that a damage threshold really does much better.
if you’re gonna use minions, might as well lean into it.
Fair point, but since we were playing with miniatures and lots of tokens anyway, I’d just stick a red “bloodied” bead next to the injured ones, so it saved me some hp tracking.
 

jgsugden

Legend
I experimented with minion rules at the start of 5E - but quickly realized it was a waste of time in my games to worry about rules for it. For creatures I want to see treated like minions, I just let them die when damaged. I ask the players for their attack roll and damage - and don't even listen to the damage. If the PCs realize their minimum damage kills - I just stop asking for damage.
 

jeffh

Adventurer
I tried a similar thing in my 4e games, but with the twist that if the damage was below the damage threshold, the minion became “bloodied”. A second hit on a bloodied minion would then kill them. What this did was take away some of the sting the players felt when hitting a foe but not doing enough damage to do anything.

I’ve often thought of bringing the idea back in my 5e games but haven’t yet. I’d be interested to know how the damage threshold minions work out at your table.
This is what I do. It's also seen in several of the Zeitgeist adventures, from the publishing arm of this very site. It seems to play well, with minimal tracking (some, but far less than if they just had hit points, even relatively few).

In Roll20, I give every minion a hit point bar with 2 hit points, and use a script that automatically shades any token red when it becomes bloodied. So if they get hit for less than their DT I just ding them by 1 and Roll20 does the rest, also giving the players the relevant information in a simple, visually appealing way.

Usually the damage threshold is around their level +5, or slightly more, but I vary it a lot. I remove their immunity to miss damage as well, so any damage at all bloodies them.

Essentially they play as though they had some number of hit points, initially unknown even to the DM, between 2 and their Damage Threshold inclusive, but they're a lot easier to keep track of than if that were actually the case.
 
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Hussar

Legend
A damage threshold of 10 seems very high. That's pretty close to the maximum damage in a single hit that most weapon uses can do. Which isn't quite what you want for a minion. When my 7th level fighter hits Mr. Minion four times after an action surge and still doesn't kill it because I keep rolling ones and twos on my damage die, that's a bit harsh.
 

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