D&D 5E Minions with Damage Thresholds?

Quickleaf

Legend
Yes, and that's why Flee Mortals includes a hit point rating that is compared in those circumstances. As quoted by Quickleaf:

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.
That's a good point! Sleep and Color Spray type magic needs to know hit points.

I've got a question for you and @Shardstone - we're talking about suspension of disbelief around minions.

Does the part with MCDM minions where they take no damage on a successful save vs. fireball not break your suspension of disbelief? You could have a bugbear leader and a handful of bugbear minions next to each other, and if the bugbear leader fails its save it could be incinerated while the minions could succeed and be unscathed.
 

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billd91

Not your screen monkey (he/him)
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?
I think there are difference. In the case of parry, most NPC stat blocks generally characterize it as a reaction that turns a hit into a miss. So that's fairly easy to conceptualize in the fiction. Uncanny dodge is a little harder, but since it's also a PC ability, it's a well known context and also incorporates the rogue taking some damage. So, again, fairly easy to conceptualize in the fiction.
And in both cases, parry and uncanny dodge are reactions. So the player can recognize they're in a limited-applicability context and have a reasonable expectation of when they're usable/expended. Frustrating, maybe, but that frustration level is contained.
 

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.
I used something similar in my 4E based Star Wars system.
I had a condition you recieved for seeking cover (a minor action that required you to have some sort of cover nearby) that would reduce ranged damage in half. (I wrote the system in German, the closest translation of this condition might be "entrenched"). Star Wars style ranged weapons dealt more damage than typical D&D weaponry (like 2d8 for a heavy blaster pistol vs 1d8 for a regular longsword), and ranged attacks by NPCs likewise used a higher average damage value. Jedi would have access to powers that allow them to become entrenced mostly be the virtue of wielding their light sabers and using a defensive Jedi form, so overall, melee combat with light sabers for Jedi worked out fine, but everyone else typically preferred ranged combat. And everyone loves catching enemies out of cover, or at least "unentrenched".

But for minions with 1 hp, entrenched wouldn't do anything normally, so instead, when entrenched and got hit, they got a save. Success, they're bloodied, otherwise they'd die as usual. If they were already bloodied, they'd just die.
Tracking bloodied isn't that hard, particular in Maptools or similar game tables, since it's simply a state you can put on the icon, and doesn't require fiddling with numbers.
 
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billd91

Not your screen monkey (he/him)
That's a good point! Sleep and Color Spray type magic needs to know hit points.

I've got a question for you and @Shardstone - we're talking about suspension of disbelief around minions.

Does the part with MCDM minions where they take no damage on a successful save vs. fireball not break your suspension of disbelief? You could have a bugbear leader and a handful of bugbear minions next to each other, and if the bugbear leader fails its save it could be incinerated while the minions could succeed and be unscathed.
It's important I provide some context here. I didn't like 4e and did NOT like its minion rules, partly on the believability/immersion issue. So MCDM's Flee Mortals is really my first situation where I'm actually contemplating using any iteration of minion rules in D&D. And yes, it's possible a bugbear leader could be killed by a fireball that leaves a minion alive with a successful save. But, given your typical hit point differential (and the hp rules in Flee Mortals), that bugbear leader was probably already pretty wounded to be that vulnerable and even making a save might kill those minions. So the credibility gap is somewhat narrowed.

Plus, I would generally describe the fireball as leaving some of the targets alive but not be particularly explicit about them looking badly burned or imply how much damage they took/failed to take. I mean, they're still no less vulnerable to a single directed attack than they were before. Now, the players might just infer that they were "softened up" by the fireball and that's why they're falling so easily to the dwarf fighter wading in with his hammer...
 

Quickleaf

Legend
I think there are difference. In the case of parry, most NPC stat blocks generally characterize it as a reaction that turns a hit into a miss. So that's fairly easy to conceptualize in the fiction. Uncanny dodge is a little harder, but since it's also a PC ability, it's a well known context and also incorporates the rogue taking some damage. So, again, fairly easy to conceptualize in the fiction.
And in both cases, parry and uncanny dodge are reactions. So the player can recognize they're in a limited-applicability context and have a reasonable expectation of when they're usable/expended. Frustrating, maybe, but that frustration level is contained.
When you say "contained", just for my understanding, do you mean "things like Parry and Uncanny Dodge are outliers not encountered too often" or do you mean "they are things that are easy for the player to imagine happening during the action"?

Because if you mean the first, that makes sense that it would be something to limit use of – just like many things in D&D are better as a restrained palette (e.g. Banishment & Planeshift & Maze).

If you mean the second, it would stand to reason that there could be an implementation of such a trait for minions that would mesh with what is readily imagined.
 

billd91

Not your screen monkey (he/him)
When you say "contained", just for my understanding, do you mean "things like Parry and Uncanny Dodge are outliers not encountered too often" or do you mean "they are things that are easy for the player to imagine happening during the action"?

Because if you mean the first, that makes sense that it would be something to limit use of – just like many things in D&D are better as a restrained palette (e.g. Banishment & Planeshift & Maze).

If you mean the second, it would stand to reason that there could be an implementation of such a trait for minions that would mesh with what is readily imagined.
Games always include troughs as well as crests. They should. If there were no setbacks and frustrations, just winning, the games wouldn't be very interesting for very long. But you want those frustrations to be bounded or, as I characterize them, be contained to manageable levels. So I think you'd want thwart abilities like parry and uncanny dodge to be occasional, not constant, particularly if you're on the end most affected by them or to have their boundaries be relatively knowable and relatively easy to overcome/or unreliable for the NPC (like parry generally is). The last thing you want is for someone to say "screw it, this isn't fun anymore" due to those frustrations.
 

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?
Its that I domt understand why the mechanic is included. I dont see the value in minions having this perm threshold to hit and ac. The features you mentiom use reactions or only apply to saves.
 

That's a good point! Sleep and Color Spray type magic needs to know hit points.

I've got a question for you and @Shardstone - we're talking about suspension of disbelief around minions.

Does the part with MCDM minions where they take no damage on a successful save vs. fireball not break your suspension of disbelief? You could have a bugbear leader and a handful of bugbear minions next to each other, and if the bugbear leader fails its save it could be incinerated while the minions could succeed and be unscathed.
No, it doesnt. Its the attack roll hitting and not doing anything repeatedly. A parry as a reaction is ok. I do not want to repestedly roll attacks to hit just to hit and do nothing several times in a row. It slows down combat. The saving throw aspect does not nearly as much.
 

billd91

Not your screen monkey (he/him)
No, it doesnt. Its the attack roll hitting and not doing anything repeatedly. A parry as a reaction is ok. I do not want to repestedly roll attacks to hit just to hit and do nothing several times in a row. It slows down combat. The saving throw aspect does not nearly as much.
On the topic of slowing down combat, minions with reactions will ALSO slow down combat. So whatever you end up doing, Quickleaf, I wouldn't add reactions to a minion's repertoire. They're supposed to be easy to run as a DM with minimal fuss on your part. Reactions are definitely fuss.
 

On the topic of slowing down combat, minions with reactions will ALSO slow down combat. So whatever you end up doing, Quickleaf, I wouldn't add reactions to a minion's repertoire. They're supposed to be easy to run as a DM with minimal fuss on your part. Reactions are definitely fuss.
Reqctions at least are engaging.

Regardless, I would still prefer the mcdm rules. They seem the most elegant and functional to me.
 

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