Should players know minions are minions from a rules/tactics PoV?

I'm running a minion-heavy game tomorrow, and I'd like to know what the rules crowd think. Should the players know that minions are minions? I ask, because the DMG and MM seem unclear on the matter, yet it seems like a very serious tactical consideration. I mean, there are obvious clues, like the fact that minions tend to appear different to others of their race/type (not always, though), and if, y'know, there are 10 kobolds with javelins, the players will probably clue in that javelin = minion.

However, should I be making sure the players know minions are minions and therefore one-shot-able? It seems a little bit like cheating to do otherwise. The other main game I played with mooks was Feng Shui, and you did know that a mook was a mook there.


I'd mix it up.

Some (most) should be obvious (at least after the first one drops); sent in waves by the leader type.

Some can be a surprise... hopefully pleasant. I like the Schrodinger's Minion approach myself... decide if it's a minion or not once they land a hit (some people hate this approach).


I wouldn't flat out tell them when you place the creatures on the board, but once the players make an inquiry about the monsters descriptions or a check, I think you would naturally point out which ones have the more ragged equipment, look more/less dangerous or differentiate those that seem to be in charge giving orders, vs simply those slinking along trying to stabby the PC's in the way minion's are wont to do.


A mook is a mook is a mook.

Ok that was bad. But per Mearls, the players should know what is and isn't a minion. You can describe them as smaller, or dressed in ragged clothing, or wielding rusty swords, or as a mob being ordered around by their boss.

Having said that, if a devious lich wanted to use decoys of himself by dressing some skeletal minions up, or if a spy dressed up as the common folk on the street, these would be reasonable exceptions.


If a PC makes a suitable Knowledge check they get to know quite a bit about a monster, certainly enough to know it's a minion - things like name, type, and their powers. The DCs are rather easy to pass as long as your PCs have training in the right skill for the enemy they're facing.

Beyond that it all comes down to description and what minis you put down. Even if THAT isn't enough all it will take is a hit or two for the PCs to begin differentiating between minion and monster.

I wouldn't come right out and say "these guys are minions," though.


It's also obvious when the wizard casts cloud of daggers or scorching burst and a bunch of them die...

I wouldn't tell them, but if your players are moderately intelligent, I'm sure they'll figure it out ;)


This is a great question and one I know a lot of us have considered.

I did not tell my players the first few sessions and they really struggled. I thought they would pick up on it a little sooner. But none of them are 4E DMs or on these boards, so they weren't looking for it.

I am now considering doing everything except coming right out and saying, "This is a mook. This is a mook. This is a dragonshield..."

I think I'm rolling with the advice: Make it as obvious as you can in description without actually informing them of monster stats, then let them put two and two together. Whether you're talking about which one is a minion or which monsters have reach, or whatever.


At least one player at my last game had this same issue when I identified the enemies. In this case I was using dice for minions and minis for non-minions, so it would have become obvious quickly. I think some players would prefer not to know to make the game more exciting. Those who really want to know will ask leading questions until they find out.

My approach is going to leave it open until someone asks.


What I do is describe them different.
Warrior Kobold "This red skinned draconic humanoid holds his spear with skill and authority. A look of determination in his eyes"

Kobold Minion "The nervous looking creature holding his spear in sweaty hands, it is clear he is not used to hardened battle."

Couple thing here, you don't want to tell them the rules behind the game. That tends to ruin the suspension of disbelief. Allow your players to feel a bit on edge. If they are smart (and most who play D&D are) they will figure it out soon enough. But even if they do - I wouldn't confirm or deny.

When you know the rules behind a creature it looses its mystery (at least in my experience)

However, 4E has a lot of creature with nasty little surprises that PC's are not always aware of and it is very important you communicate these to your players so that they are not caught too far off guard.

Good examples would be the Kruthik's Aura of damage or the Boneclaw's threatening reach (or any threatening reach)

You want to make sure that your players are as aware of these things without actually saying That guys got reach on you type of statements.

Just my opinion



One time I threw down a big pack of zombies and the players were all like: "ah hah! zombie rotter slaughtering time!" but then came to the realization that every single one of them were regular zombies with full hp and got kind of quiet and contemplative.


Sometimes yes, sometimes no.

I think for ease of play concerns and player tactics, the default example should be "yes". Knowing which opponents are minions allows players to be more confident in their tactics and will result in battles being run in a different way.

However if the DM wants to run a "gotcha" encounter where the players aren't sure which creatures are minions, he's perfectly justified in doing so and let them puzzle it out.


Agreed that the default should be "Yes". It's a game, don't make the PCs play it blind. Minions are their chance to go a little over the top, describe their killing blows in interesting (and excessive) ways, etc.


Sometimes yes, sometimes no.

While learning the game - say with KotS - allow the players to pick up on the concept of "minion" pretty easily. Maybe even describe the masses of lesser bad guys as "minions".

Then - after everyone's comfortable with how these things work, mix it up a bit. I'd recommend using regular monsters of a much lower level instead of the minion template.


Couple thing here, you don't want to tell them the rules behind the game. That tends to ruin the suspension of disbelief. Allow your players to feel a bit on edge. If they are smart (and most who play D&D are) they will figure it out soon enough. But even if they do - I wouldn't confirm or deny.

When you know the rules behind a creature it looses its mystery (at least in my experience)
Great advice.

A good DM gets to know the rules inside and out and much of it to him is a numbers game. You should never present it to the players that way though. If you do, after a while it loses the "cool" factor. It loses the mystery. If it becomes just number crunching and probability... well, the pool of players that would enjoy that kind of game is pretty small.

Keep the mystery, but give out clues.

blargney the second

blargney the minute's son
Mystery's overrated. Let me know it's a minion and I'll help everybody at the table have fun by describing my interaction with it in an entertaining way, and they can do the same.

yu gnomi

my 2 cents = spotting minions in the middle of combat should be reserved for characters who either: have been trained in the appropriate knowledge skill or have fought against this type of minion before and seen firsthand how wimpy it is.

It seems a bit off to me that people fighting for their lives would scrutinize creatures to see how nervous they are, or how unused and second rate their weapons and armor are.

If a character does have the opportunity to scrutinize in a non- life or death situation, then I think clues of minion-hood are fine.


minions and mooks are literary concepts and as such should not be spottable in character.

Its great to think of a bunch of mooks with crap clothing and armour and no determination when your dealing with kobold minions, but when you stop and think that their are minions for every level your left with a level 30 abysal badass that the other abysall badasses picked on or who's heart isn't really in the cause and who's vorpal sword is really as vorpal as everyone elses?

Think of storm troppers who are in a lot of ways a great example of minions, was their anything wrong with their kit, armour, or attitude


why did they suck then, cause they weren't the heroes? How will my players figure it out, when i don't ask for damage rolls and just start flipping them over. or once they realize a whole bunch of them don't take more than one hit to kill.



Minions are just as precise as normal monsters :)

Heck, if you think about it, they're a bunch of levels ahead of their 'peers' (like Ogre Minions being 8 levels higher) so they're _really_ accurate.