D&D 5E Minions with Damage Thresholds?

GuardianLurker

Adventurer
Eh. I've found that unless my PCs are significantly over-powered than the ostensible minion AND I'm running gobs and gobs of the minions, I'm better off just using the monsters as written. If I'm running gobs and gobs of minions AND I want them to be a threat, I use swarm/mob/horde rules. Otherwise, I let the PCs treat them as difficult terrain, marking squares cleared as the PC crosses the battlefield. And maybe flowing the holes closed over time if there's a big enough reserve.

Note that by significant I mean the minions CR is 6 to 8 (or more) below the PCs.

I do like the concept as minions-as-traps. I also think minions-as-a-BBEGs-reaction could be very useful.
E.G.
BBEG (Reaction) Trigger: The BBEG will be hit by a weapon attack or fails a save. Effect: The BBEG loses a minion, but takes no damage, or succeeds at the save.
BBEG (Action): The BBEG summons sufficient minions that each empty 5' square adjacent to its space is filled by a minion.

I'd also give minions a number of hits equal to their CR/HD.

But honestly, the real time I use minion rules is when I have NPC force battling NPC force while the characters are participating on the battlefield.
 

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Stalker0

Legend
Perhaps instead of doing this as a general matter of course, you could create minions with differing rulesets.

For example, here's an idea. Have a type of minion that:
1) If you do less than 10 damage, it "dies" but splits off into a new minion, that only does 3 damage instead of 5 or something (a small but noticable change).
2) If you do 10+, you kill the minion outright.

So in theory the players feel a sense of progress either way. If they hit low they still are "weakening" the board, but if they hit big they really lower it. You are basically doing the same as with your damage threshold but it "feels" like the players are still always moving the combat forward rather than "sorry bud you did 9 better luck next time".

This could be useful with some kind of ooze minion or shapeshift minion, etc.
 

Stalker0

Legend
Eh. I've found that unless my PCs are significantly over-powered than the ostensible minion AND I'm running gobs and gobs of the minions, I'm better off just using the monsters as written.
So I find that the best use of minions (both in 5e and 4e) is often the Help Action.

Sure those 2 crap guys will die the second someone sneezes on them, but they are giving advantage to the two super ogres using Great Weapon Mastery kind of thing.

Sometimes I won't' even roll damage for the minions just to keep things moving, I just assume my big monsters have advantage against players my minions are adjacent too until the minions are cleared out
 

@Quickleaf, how about giving minions a certain # of hit points and a minion trait.

Minion Vulnerability. If the fire newt minion takes damage less than its hit points, it is reduced to 1 hit point.

If they take damage that exceed their HP, obviously dead. If not, the next hit will definitely kill them. Spells and effects relying on HP still work, but otherwise the HP act like your damage threshold.
 

Quickleaf

Legend
Anywhere from 2 or 3 to (in theory) hundreds, but when I have enough I prefer to use a mix of swarms that generate minions when bloodied/destroyed and plenty of individual minions.
Nice! Very synchronous situation, as I've been hacking a Horde of Firenewts that works very similarly, releasing firenewt minions as it hits certain quartile damage thresholds.
 

Quickleaf

Legend
@Quickleaf, how about giving minions a certain # of hit points and a minion trait.

Minion Vulnerability. If the fire newt minion takes damage less than its hit points, it is reduced to 1 hit point.

If they take damage that exceed their HP, obviously dead. If not, the next hit will definitely kill them. Spells and effects relying on HP still work, but otherwise the HP act like your damage threshold.
Yeah, that's a nice way to work it so that the HP stay relevant.

The trick with minion rules is that when you address one problem, there's the potential to inadvertently create new problems. For example, with my damage threshold being punitive towards Monks, Magic Missiles, etc. And each approach also is fighting against suspension of disbelief. That's going to manifest differently for each individual.

My objection to your approach has to do with gameplay, and is the same reason I deliberately omitted the Spit Fire (recharge 5-6) ability that Firenewt Warriors get from my firenewt minion design. ANY amount of "built-in" tracking for minions is TOO much tracking for me personally. Yeah, there are player spells and effects. But I don't want to have 18 minions in play and have to track HP, "hits", recharges, who has used their reaction, etc. None of that. I don't want to track anything that would require differentiating one firenewt minion from another firenewt minion (unless it's coming from the player side).

So while I'm more willing to suspend my disbelief on the minion narrative front, I am stricter about what I want from the gameplay experience. But others might be flip-flopped, or strict on both, or laid back on both.
 

NotAYakk

Legend
Not in the slightest.

And they still do.
No, in your model foes are defeated based on your whims. The deadliness of the foes auto-scales with PC numbers.

A goblin doesn't die or live based on a PC's individual choices, but on DM's whims. Monster threat doesn't scale with the number of goblins, goblin numbers are pure set-dressing; PCs cannot scout and count goblins and know how tough the fight will be.

A huge number of mechanics are nullified by your description.
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
No, in your model foes are defeated based on your whims. The deadliness of the foes auto-scales with PC numbers.

A goblin doesn't die or live based on a PC's individual choices, but on DM's whims. Monster threat doesn't scale with the number of goblins, goblin numbers are pure set-dressing; PCs cannot scout and count goblins and know how tough the fight will be.

A huge number of mechanics are nullified by your description.
I’ll chalk this up to something that works in practice for me but not in theory for you. I’ve run games like this for some time and had no complaints from players. No loss of authority or autonomy or choice. Mechanics are not nullified.
 


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