D&D 5E Minions with Damage Thresholds?


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Quickleaf

Legend
I think this version of damage thresholds isn't intuitive. Essentially, if I'm rolling low on damage and hitting beneath its threshold, I'm doing nothing to it. No matter how many times I hit the minion with something weak, I can't kill it. This is as compared to a normal enemy, who even if I hit it repeatedly with something weak, I am in fact hurting it, and could eventually kill it. Because of this, it breaks my personal sense of verisimilitude.
So the monster trait, e.g. Slippery Foe, doesn't help you reconcile that narratively?

Is it the fact that "I hit its AC, so I should see some result of hitting it?" that is the versimilitude stumbling block?
 

Stalker0

Legend
1) "My damage is "wasted" on minions." This was a player complaint – sort of the opposite of @Clint_L 's feedback about my house rule disfavoring monks – that heavy hitter PCs weren't as valuable against minions. Basically, by taking HP completely out of the equation, players with PCs doing high-damage felt they weren't able to contribute as meaningfully.

2) All minions go down equally, irrespective of the monster being modeled (i.e. 2 damage takes down the firenewt minion or the ogre minion). That can lead to cognitive dissonance for some players/groups – why is the big bulky ogre dropped as easily as the sinewy firenewt? Similarly, a fire bolt dealing 2 damage could kill a firenewt minion – and that's working against the expectation we have that "firenewts are resistant to fire damage." This was both a player complaint and my complaint as the GM.

3) Minion-clearing tactics influenced by meta-game, rather than story. For minions, it doesn't matter whether they roll a saving throw against an effect dealing half damage, so spells like burning hands suddenly are more valuable against minions. They just die. Same thing with auto-damage effects (Magic Missile, Cloud of Daggers, etc). This was my complaint as the GM.
A good outline thank you. Lets dig in.

On number 1, sure the big damage dealers aren't doing as much....and they should be trying to get around the minions and hitting the big bad. An area effect player would also feel weaker against one single monster. Different encounters favor different types of players, nothing has changed there. If your big greatsword barb is feeling weaker against minions, maybe they should grab a couple of short swords to bust out once in a while and go to work!

Number 2, I think this comes down to certain creatures are not meant to be minions. Anything that is "big" and "bulky" is just not minion material, at least minion in the context of a complete throwaway creature. Minions are meant to be tiny fragile creatures.

Number 3, again to me this is the very point of minions. Suddenly spells like magic missile which are ok in normal scenarios get a really cool use in this one. Same with various area effects. letting minions make those effect shine to me is not a problem....its the very reason for minions to exist!
 

Stalker0

Legend
I use defensive abilities on minions, including damage thresholds, when I want them to be higher level minions or when they're quick and dirty versions of high level monsters whose CR is significantly derived from their defensive abilities.
The other thing 4e did with high level minions is often make you not want to kill them. Minions would often explode or release some noxious gas or XYZ when they died, effectively turning minions into battlefield hazards.
 

3) Minion-clearing tactics influenced by meta-game, rather than story. For minions, it doesn't matter whether they roll a saving throw against an effect dealing half damage, so spells like burning hands suddenly are more valuable against minions. They just die. Same thing with auto-damage effects (Magic Missile, Cloud of Daggers, etc). This was my complaint as the GM.
Regarding this, if I was using minions in 5e, I'd definitely adapt the 4e rule that minions never take damage on a miss to minions taking 0 damage on a successful save that would normally be half damage.
 

the Jester

Legend
Regarding this, if I was using minions in 5e, I'd definitely adapt the 4e rule that minions never take damage on a miss to minions taking 0 damage on a successful save that would normally be half damage.
This is how I put it in my stat blocks:

Minion. A missed attack never damages a minion, and a successful save prevents all damage the minion would take from an effect.
 

This is how I put it in my stat blocks:

Minion. A missed attack never damages a minion, and a successful save prevents all damage the minion would take from an effect.
I think it is weird that fireballing a bunch of normal low level enemies is basically guaranteed to kill them all, yet if they are minons their chances of survival drastically increase.
 

So the monster trait, e.g. Slippery Foe, doesn't help you reconcile that narratively?

Is it the fact that "I hit its AC, so I should see some result of hitting it?" that is the versimilitude stumbling block?
I bolded the part. The thing is, if I narratively have a hit and I'm not any closer to achieveing my goal, it's like I basically just missed. So I get the "Oh, I hit!" and then the "Oh, but it didn't matter because I was below the threshold..." which IMO breaks my suspension of disbelief + doesn't feel good from a game perspective.
 

billd91

Not your screen monkey (he/him)
I think it is weird that fireballing a bunch of normal low level enemies is basically guaranteed to kill them all, yet if they are minons their chances of survival drastically increase.
Yes, and that's why Flee Mortals includes a hit point rating that is compared in those circumstances. As quoted by Quickleaf:
Minion (MCDM). If the minion takes damage from an attack or as the result of a failed saving throw, their hit points are reduced to 0. If the minion takes damage from another effect, they die if the damage equals or exceeds their hit point maximum, otherwise they take no damage.
That hit point rating would also be used for spell effects that check that sort of thing like sleep. It's a nice correction for that sort of thing.
 
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Quickleaf

Legend
I bolded the part. The thing is, if I narratively have a hit and I'm not any closer to achieveing my goal, it's like I basically just missed. So I get the "Oh, I hit!" and then the "Oh, but it didn't matter because I was below the threshold..." which IMO breaks my suspension of disbelief + doesn't feel good from a game perspective.
So what if an enemy Parries? Or if an enemy has a power like the rogue's Uncanny Dodge but it reduces an attack to 0 damage?

Functionally, it's the same kind of reversal of fortunes.

But I think you're saying that for you as a player there's a different experience... or maybe more buy-in?... if the fiction is they Parry versus they soak up the damage?
 

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