D&D 5E Minions with Damage Thresholds?

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
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.
Well, ideally you-as-player wouldn't know you were below the threshold. You'd know you'd hit it, and hopefully the DM would narrate the thing taking a bit of damage but not falling over just like with any other opponent you had damaged but not killed.

It's not like the minions are wearing "Less Than 10? U Can't Touch This" t-shirts.
 

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Well, ideally you-as-player wouldn't know you were below the threshold. You'd know you'd hit it, and hopefully the DM would narrate the thing taking a bit of damage but not falling over just like with any other opponent you had damaged but not killed.

It's not like the minions are wearing "Less Than 10? U Can't Touch This" t-shirts.
I dont think theres a point in this smoke and mirrors show. I dont understand what purpose the threshold has. As a DM, why am I checking it if my players should never know? What is the difference between a 10 damage threshold vs giving the newt 15 hp? What am I trying to reflect in the narrative world?
 

Quickleaf

Legend
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.
Yeah that’s a very good point. I know someone, I think @Stalker0 , mentioned the exploding minions in 4e. And my experience was that the more complex 4e minions got - whether exploding, auto-damage auras, action economy management with bonus/minor actions +move actions +reactions - the more that worked against speed of play.

That was actually why I removed the recharging Spit Fire from the VGtM firenewt warrior when I made a firenewt minion.
 

Yeah that’s a very good point. I know someone, I think @Stalker0 , mentioned the exploding minions in 4e. And my experience was that the more complex 4e minions got - whether exploding, auto-damage auras, action economy management with bonus/minor actions +move actions +reactions - the more that worked against speed of play.

That was actually why I removed the recharging Spit Fire from the VGtM firenewt warrior when I made a firenewt minion.
Minions def need streamlined mechanics on average. I think their best use is to provide out of intiative combat though. For example, you turn the corner and a fire newt leaps out at you. No need for the full combat procedure here. Instead, the newt does its thing and you respond and try to take it out.

In other words, minions with complex mechanics are best used as traps. Moving, living, interactable traps. The exploding newt is a trap. The lava-breathing newt is a trap. The fire aura newt is a trap. And you can throw one of these into combat to spice it up etc. There is just so much potential in minions imo. And if some minions have a threshold, thats ok. Maybe a heavy armored newt. But really, a damage threshold is just a two step AC.
 

Quickleaf

Legend
I dont think theres a point in this smoke and mirrors show. I dont understand what purpose the threshold has. As a DM, why am I checking it if my players should never know? What is the difference between a 10 damage threshold vs giving the newt 15 hp? What am I trying to reflect in the narrative world?
So, I don’t know if you saw it, but I actually fielded the WHY / design purpose question that @Stalker0 (rightfully) asked a few posts back: https://www.enworld.org/threads/minions-with-damage-thresholds.701247/page-3#post-9204138

I think asking “what is this reflecting narratively is a bit of a slippery slope because any attempt at introducing minion rules (including MCDM’s great implementation) is focused as much or more on gameplay reasons than strictly narrative ones.

Let me think a bit more to really get clear on the narrative specifically, and see if I can offer something cogent.

Actually! Your comment around “minions as traps” was really interesting because one of the great things about traps are the creative countermeasures involved. Funnily enough, that was one of the things you can see me including (or trying to include) with my minion traits like the firenewt’s Slippery Foe! So even if we’re coming with different perspectives, we’re actually orienting towards a similar goal there.

EDIT: latest version of Slippery Foe: Slippery Foe. If the firenewt would take less than 10 damage in a turn, it takes no damage, unless it is cold damage. While the firenewt is unable to move, it loses this trait.

Also, just wanted to say I am not wedded to my version - it’s an experiment and I want to improve/change it, and if that means admitting in the end “hey MCDM or someone else does this better than I ever will” then that’s the way it goes!
 
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So, I don’t know if you saw it, but I actually fielded the WHY / design purpose question that @Stalker0 (rightfully) asked a few posts back: https://www.enworld.org/threads/minions-with-damage-thresholds.701247/page-3#post-9204138

I think asking “what is this reflecting narratively is a bit of a slippery slope because any attempt at introducing minion rules (including MCDM’s great implementation) is focused as much or more on gameplay reasons than strictly narrative ones.

Let me think a bit more to really get clear on the narrative specifically, and see if I can offer something cogent.

Actually! Your comment around “minions as traps” was really interesting because one of the great things about traps are the creative countermeasures involved. Funnily enough, that was one of the things you can see me including (or trying to include) with my minion traits like the firenewt’s Slippery Foe! So even if we’re coming with different perspectives, we’re actually orienting towards a similar goal there.

Also, just wanted to say I am not wedded to my version - it’s an experiment and I want to improve/change it, and if that means admitting in the end “hey MCDM or someone else does this better than I ever will” then that’s the way it goes!
I think maybe I was a little too harsh as well in my opening statements, so allow me to reframe the discussion a bit.

I only dislike Slippery Foe is many minions have it, or if its expected that I'm doing a full combat procedure with those minions + I'm expected to do several combats with those minions. But having one annoying firenewt that is slippery in either a combat or exploration conflict is 100% cool and encouraged by me. For example, I could use the firenewt you made with Slippery Foe to steal something from the players mid-combat, forcing them to try unique ways to lock it down. This is because, if attacks won't work, I need to try something else.

I hope this makes sense for what I'm trying to get across. Really, super basic minions as the standard, and then different modding options to accomplish different things in the game.
 

NotAYakk

Legend
Use a HP pool for all minions of a type. The HP per minion becomes a death threshold. HP is encouraged to be 5, 10, 20, or some other easy number to do math with.

Damage to any minion damages the pool. If it is over the death threshold, it instead just kills a minion. If it is under the death threshold, it adds up. Every death threshold damage a minion dies regardless.

So suppose your creature has 5 minion HP. If a fighter hits for 15, it just dies.

If a fireball goes off and hits 7 of them, 7 of them die.

If a bard mocks one and it takes 3 damage, it doesn't die. But then the wizard fires a crossbow and does 3 damage. The damage pool hits 6 - a minion dies.

If the damage threshold is 20 and an AOE for 15 damage hits 7 of them, they take 105 damage -- 5 of them die, 5 damage remains.

No individual monster HP tracking, just one pool. Damage to any minion damages the pool, but never more than "target is dead".

No immunity to minor damage.

(You could allow cleave rules and allow up to 2x damage from weapon attacks if you want.)

Each minion is alive or dead. No tracking bloodied status on individual minions.

In play, it should feel a lot like you are doing manual tracking. Yes, you could get unlucky, and one minion takes (threshold -1), then another minion takes 1 and dies, then the first takes (threshold-1), and repeat. But in the chaos of combat that is unlikely.
 

Use a HP pool for all minions of a type. The HP per minion becomes a death threshold. HP is encouraged to be 5, 10, 20, or some other easy number to do math with.

Damage to any minion damages the pool. If it is over the death threshold, it instead just kills a minion. If it is under the death threshold, it adds up. Every death threshold damage a minion dies regardless.

So suppose your creature has 5 minion HP. If a fighter hits for 15, it just dies.

If a fireball goes off and hits 7 of them, 7 of them die.

If a bard mocks one and it takes 3 damage, it doesn't die. But then the wizard fires a crossbow and does 3 damage. The damage pool hits 6 - a minion dies.

If the damage threshold is 20 and an AOE for 15 damage hits 7 of them, they take 105 damage -- 5 of them die, 5 damage remains.

No individual monster HP tracking, just one pool. Damage to any minion damages the pool, but never more than "target is dead".

No immunity to minor damage.

(You could allow cleave rules and allow up to 2x damage from weapon attacks if you want.)

Each minion is alive or dead. No tracking bloodied status on individual minions.

In play, it should feel a lot like you are doing manual tracking. Yes, you could get unlucky, and one minion takes (threshold -1), then another minion takes 1 and dies, then the first takes (threshold-1), and repeat. But in the chaos of combat that is unlikely.
You could probably streamline this into a very cool clock imo.
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
Another great way to do this is presented in Doctors & Daleks. Disconnect the stats of the encounter from the number of monsters.

Use the official monster design system (crap as it is), or any one of the wonderful do-it-yourself monster design systems (like Forge of Foes), and build one stat block for the whole encounter. Then decide how many monsters that represents. The stat block for the encounter covers all the monsters, however many you want that to be. The encounter gets as many attacks as there are PCs. Describe those attacks however makes sense for those monsters. You want this goblin to die with one hit, it does. You want this other goblin to last two hits, it does. You keep track of the total hit points for the whole encounter rather than individual monsters. Just don't be cheesy with it and it works great. Also covers those weird moments when a minion jumps in front of the boss to take the hit. Great stuff.
 

NotAYakk

Legend
Another great way to do this is presented in Doctors & Daleks. Disconnect the stats of the encounter from the number of monsters.

Use the official monster design system (crap as it is), or any one of the wonderful do-it-yourself monster design systems (like Forge of Foes), and build one stat block for the whole encounter. Then decide how many monsters that represents. The stat block for the encounter covers all the monsters, however many you want that to be. The encounter gets as many attacks as there are PCs. Describe those attacks however makes sense for those monsters. You want this goblin to die with one hit, it does. You want this other goblin to last two hits, it does. You keep track of the total hit points for the whole encounter rather than individual monsters. Just don't be cheesy with it and it works great. Also covers those weird moments when a minion jumps in front of the boss to take the hit. Great stuff.
... and a PC's abilities become disconnected from the fictional reality the DM portrays.

I mean, improv is a fun game. But part of the fun of D&D is that the players have mechanical and narrative control, not just the DM.
 

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