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Inquisitor Tremayne
12-12-2009, 04:31 PM
So there are several Saga folks out there who think minions from D&D 4e should be incorporated into Saga. I disagree. Here is a quote from Sascha:


I adapted the Spirit of the Century minion rules for a one-shot, 'bout a year ago; they work largely the same as they do in SotC, just with d20 trappings. Since minions aren't supposed to be anywhere near a "challenge" (rather a complication to a challenge), an individual minion is weak; their strength lies in the number set to a given task ("shoot that PC", mostly)

Single Mook: Defenses all 10; 1 HP; BAB +0; no skills, feats, Force points.

Multiple Mooks:
- For 2-3 minions, +2 to attack and damage rolls
- For 4-6 minions, +4 to attack and damage rolls
- For 7-9 minions, +6 to attack and damage rolls
- For 10 or more, +10 to attack and damage rolls

(Yes, this means that minions lose effectiveness as they lose numbers; this is intentional in FATE and quite in the spirit of Star Wars.)

The one-shot was low-level, so I didn't adapt minion quality from SotC, but it wouldn't be too difficult to tweak the base mook stats or gains from multiple minions to reflect a tougher minion.

I am still not sold on minions in Saga. So far I haven't seen anything that a minion can do that a nonheroic can't. Even at higher levels I don't see the use of having minions that should be able to challenge the PCs. I mean a squad of stormies is still a challenge to my group of 9th level PCs. Granted not MUCH of a challenge but Combined fire, auto-fire, and an occasional crit do have an impact, plus those stormies fall over in a single hit from these guys. Or if I need a mook to have a certain ability (something I have been doing a lot lately inspired by Dawn of Defiance and its frequent use of classed advasaries) i will give them a level or two or three in a heroic class. They last a few rounds more like a high level minion would due to more hitpoints, yet a good hit can take them out completely. So I just dont see the use for actual minion rules in Saga.

See, the thing is, in 4e minions actually ARE a challenge. The most common house rule I have seen for 4e minions is that they do not take damage from indirect damage, thus they survive longer. At higher levels the minions have higher attack bonuses so they can actually hit on occasion AND they do static/guaranteed damage when they hit. they are very good at picking away at the party and wearing them down. Which this works in 4e because healing is much more readily available so the PCs can recover more often than in Saga.

I think I am kind of rambling now. I will post a "high level" mook that I will be throwing at my PCs soonish so you can get an idea of what I am taking about.

Sascha
12-12-2009, 06:07 PM
It's mostly because I can't see the justification for non-heroic levels. The statblock for the Imperial Stormtrooper is cluttered with stuff I'll just ignore anyway (like skills, feats, hit points, gear), and makes it extremely unfair to toss ~4 per PC in the early game, which is about how I like a good, solid action scene.

What I failed to put in that post is that a group of minions operate as a single unit, which is why quantity gives bonuses. Also, the mook rules would replace anything that isn't a PC, major villain, or right-hand man: stormtroopers, battle droids, swoop gang thugs, all of 'em.

Inquisitor Tremayne
12-12-2009, 10:02 PM
It's mostly because I can't see the justification for non-heroic levels. The statblock for the Imperial Stormtrooper is cluttered with stuff I'll just ignore anyway (like skills, feats, hit points, gear), and makes it extremely unfair to toss ~4 per PC in the early game, which is about how I like a good, solid action scene.

Then all you need to do is edit the stat block down to usable parts.


What I failed to put in that post is that a group of minions operate as a single unit, which is why quantity gives bonuses.

Which can be accomplished with Combined Fire and Coordinated attack. With that feat and that combat option your squad of stormies now auto-succeed in assisting a single stormie. Which, again, you can easily write into the stat block those bonuses.

What justification for non-heroic levels can't you see?

Too many hitpoints? As the GM you can give NPCs as many or as few hitpoints as you want.

Skills? Add them in a stat block or don't, still a GM call.

Feats? Don't list them in the stat block. Or just make a not of the page number for easy reference or a sentence of what the feat does.

Defenses? A level 10 non-heroic still has crappy defenses.

See, I like to have as much detail as possible in my stat blocks because my PCs often capture enemies and interrogate them. Or they don't always end up fighting them so I need to know that non-heroics skills and/or feats or will defense, or even Dark Side Points because some Jedi talents key off an NPCs DS score.

So here is a typical CL 2 nonheroic that I use.

Soldier CL 2
Medium human nonheroic 6
Dark Side 0
Initiative +1; Senses low-light vision, Perception +2
Defenses Ref 15 (flat-footed 14), Fort 11, Will 10
Threshold 11; Condition
hp 22;
Speed 6 squares
Melee vibroblade +4 (2d6)
Ranged blaster rifle +5 (3d8) or
Ranged frag grenade +5 (4d6)
Grapple +4
Atk Options
Auto-Fire; Standard Action; +0 (3d8); the medic sprays a 2x2 square area with blaster fire. Missed targets take half damage.
Coordinated Attack; Standard Action; the soldier automatically succeeds on the aid anotherís attack or suppress an enemy as long
As the target is adjacent or within point blank range.
Abilities Str 11, Dex 13, Con 13, Int 10, Wis 10, Cha 10
Languages Basic, Bothese
Skills Endurance +6
Possessions vibroblade, blaster rifle, 2 frag grenades, combat jumpsuit (+4 armor, helmet package), comlink, field kit (2 condensing canteens with purification systems, sunshield roll, (7) food rations, glow rods (2), breath mask (2), filters (24), atmosphere canisters (12), all temp cloak)

For me, this is the minimum info that I need to effectively play this non-heroic. With 22 hitpoints facing off against the 9th level PCs hardly stands a chance, yet coordinated attack with others allows this character to at a minimum grant a +2 to attack for another character. So this nonheroic is serving the same role as a minion as defined by 4e.

Sascha
12-13-2009, 02:45 AM
Minions are a method of paring down stat blocks; I really can't see a situation where I'd need more than that out of a mook. Using the same basic block for all non-heroic characters means they're so unimportant, they don't need to be differentiated from all the other non-heroics out there. Additionally, it's far easier on me to run on the fly, than having to look up or adapt a block mid-session.

(I've also said in another thread it'd be easier to play FATE, except that my current group isn't interested.)

Webhead
12-13-2009, 10:05 AM
...(I've also said in another thread it'd be easier to play FATE, except that my current group isn't interested.)

That's the biggest roadblock to good RPG ideas out there...not having players willing or interested to giving a go at something. If I had a nickel for every cool idea/campaign/system that only made my players say "meh"... :rain:

I like minion rules for most games and I like (and actually already informally used) the idea of "minions" for Star Wars Saga by way of having most minor bad guys drop after a single hit from a blaster or lightsaber. You just never see a Stormtrooper get back up after being shot once in the movies, so I tend to try to emulate that feel in my games. The problem with Saga then (by way of the d20 System) is that, as written, even average Stormtroopers can be dangerous to the party at low levels because of their attack bonuses and damage capability. Give them each their own independant hit points and its hard to throw more than 3 or 4 of them at the PCs without "overbalancing" the encounter in the bad guys' favor. This tangetially relates to my "zombie" example from another thread. I prefer (when appropriate) bustling combats with dozens of enemies for the PCs to wade through and the d20 System doesn't really accomodate for that very well.

Even the 4e minion rules, while interesting, do not entirely grok with me. I like the idea of "minion groups" from SotC or Risus, or even the idea of "minions as set-pieces" from Wushu.

Inquisitor Tremayne
12-31-2009, 09:20 PM
You just never see a Stormtrooper get back up after being shot once in the movies, so I tend to try to emulate that feel in my games. The problem with Saga then (by way of the d20 System) is that, as written, even average Stormtroopers can be dangerous to the party at low levels because of their attack bonuses and damage capability. Give them each their own independant hit points and its hard to throw more than 3 or 4 of them at the PCs without "overbalancing" the encounter in the bad guys' favor. This tangetially relates to my "zombie" example from another thread. I prefer (when appropriate) bustling combats with dozens of enemies for the PCs to wade through and the d20 System doesn't really accomodate for that very well.

I disagree. For 2 reasons. I am a firm believer that Imperial Stormtroopers are the most elite fighting force in the galaxy and thus they should be extremely deadly. But that is subjective and thus I will drop it.

However, you as the GM can give your stormies whatever attack bonus/ hit points you want even within the nonheroic creation rules. They get a d4 hitpoints at first level, that could easily be 1 hitpoint. Plus +1d4 hitpoints each additional level which could also be just 1 hitpoint.

Also, Star Wars rpgs have always been deadly at low levels and mowing through enemies just isn't something we see a lot of in the movies. True Obi Wan and Anakin do destroy a lot of droids but they can also get overwhelmed by a group of those same droids.

Webhead
01-01-2010, 04:05 PM
I disagree. For 2 reasons. I am a firm believer that Imperial Stormtroopers are the most elite fighting force in the galaxy and thus they should be extremely deadly. But that is subjective and thus I will drop it.

I (partially) agree. While I don't view Stormtroopers as the most elite combat troops in the Empire (see the various Imperial Spec. Forces and other advanced operatives), I do view them as professional soldiers with excellent training and the basic real-world equivalent to the U.S. Marine Corps. They are expertly trained and very good at what they do.

What I liked about the D6 rendition of Stormtroopers is that it didn't make them easier to defeat by being less capable, rather, it assumes that the PCs are the "heroes" of the story and are thus more capable than average citizens. They still can present a challenge, however, both to beginning and experienced characters.


Also, Star Wars rpgs have always been deadly at low levels and mowing through enemies just isn't something we see a lot of in the movies. True Obi Wan and Anakin do destroy a lot of droids but they can also get overwhelmed by a group of those same droids.

Not "mowing" through enemies per se, but the general idea that an encounter area(s) might be flooded with opponents. Like the chase through the Death Star in A New Hope or the Battle of Endor.

I liked that the "dangerous" feel of combat pervaded new and experienced alike in D6 by way of it being a non-level based system and thus not heavily "scaled". A blaster rifle is as deadly to a newb as it is to Han Solo. It's best not to be hit at all. That just cautions players about starting fights that they shouldn't be starting.

Inquisitor Tremayne
01-02-2010, 01:27 AM
What I liked about the D6 rendition of Stormtroopers is that it didn't make them easier to defeat by being less capable, rather, it assumes that the PCs are the "heroes" of the story and are thus more capable than average citizens. They still can present a challenge, however, both to beginning and experienced characters.

How is this different from Saga and how does that make "minions" something that should be used in Saga?

Stormtroopers as presented in the SECR are very much a threat to low level heroes and, in the right numbers, are still a threat to high level heroes, at least at the levels that I have played Saga thus far which is 9th and 10th. The threat at high levels is due to coordinated attack and crits. Like I mentioned earlier a squad of 6 stormtroopers using coordinated attack grant an auto +10 to hit bonus to one of their companions. That is a +14 to hit, pretty good for a level 4 nonheroic to challenge even a level 10 character. Add that to a crit for a total of 34 and it becomes challenging for a Jedi to deflect as well. But with only 10 hitpoints that level 1 or 2 hero could easily drop that stormie in a single hit. A level 10 hero and a stormie is basically a nuisance but a nuisance that could do some damage!

Webhead
01-02-2010, 02:52 AM
How is this different from Saga and how does that make "minions" something that should be used in Saga?

Sorry, went off on a bit of a tangent more related to Stormtroopers themselves and how I tend to view them as opponents.

One of the problems I have with level-based "hit point" progression is that, generally speaking, as characters accumulate more hit points, weapons become less threatening. Saga Edition actually does curb this *slightly* both by having weapons that do more damage in general and by allowing characters to add half their level to damage rolls, but this progression still falls behind as levels advance. I agree that tactics, Feats and factors like crits can swing this a little, but there is still a noticable difference between the threat of a blaster pistol to a 2nd level PC and that of an 8th level PC.

But back to minions, one of the reasons I favor them as a GM is because it helps to reduce book keeping. Having to worry about an attack only dealing 8 of the Stormtroopers already pitiful 10 hit points introduces an extra level of tracking that I think could just as easily be done away with. Plus, to me, it seems a bit more "Star Wars-y" to watch the boys in white crumple with the impact of an impecably aimed blaster bolt than otherwise. But that's just my gut reaction to the thing. Feel free to refute.

Inquisitor Tremayne
01-03-2010, 02:38 PM
But back to minions, one of the reasons I favor them as a GM is because it helps to reduce book keeping. Having to worry about an attack only dealing 8 of the Stormtroopers already pitiful 10 hit points introduces an extra level of tracking that I think could just as easily be done away with. Plus, to me, it seems a bit more "Star Wars-y" to watch the boys in white crumple with the impact of an impecably aimed blaster bolt than otherwise. But that's just my gut reaction to the thing. Feel free to refute.

Refute I shall! :D

A nonheroic 4 can have however many hitpoints you want to give him/her AND still utilize the nonheroic rules.

As a side note, what I think Star Wars RPGs have always done well is treat "minions" still as characters that live in the Star Wars galaxy, they aren't simply there for the PCs to slaughter. And giving them a creation method similar to the PCs, I think, instills that feeling.

Webhead
01-03-2010, 07:32 PM
...As a side note, what I think Star Wars RPGs have always done well is treat "minions" still as characters that live in the Star Wars galaxy, they aren't simply there for the PCs to slaughter. And giving them a creation method similar to the PCs, I think, instills that feeling.

To be clear on my stance concerning minion rules in a general sense, I like to use them as more of a tool to ease book keeping than as a way to allow my players to rack up a kill count. In most situations it's not about making the enemies less threatening to the PCs or about turning them into push-overs (unless it happens to be a campaign of the sort that I want the PCs to feel that way). Some "minion" systems can emulate that sort of thing better than others.

It's not only about rules of "one-hit kills" but also for allowing a GM to better track large groups of NPCs or "massed" enemies like swarms and such.

The sort of "minion group" rules presented in games like Risus and Wushu also help facilitate abstract combat systems by creating a way to avoid having to worry about whether a PC is attacking goblin #3 or goblin #7. It allows me as a GM to be able to "set a scene" for the NPCs during a round of combat rather have to maneuver each individual NPC. I know that Saga heavily recommends a grid-and-minis approach to combat by-the-book but, as I'm sure comes as no surprise by now, I like to avoid such a thing as much as possible.

Sascha
01-03-2010, 08:51 PM
As a side note, what I think Star Wars RPGs have always done well is treat "minions" still as characters that live in the Star Wars galaxy, they aren't simply there for the PCs to slaughter. And giving them a creation method similar to the PCs, I think, instills that feeling.
Giving any character more systematic meaning (whatever the stats of the game are) does further the investment, especially in the "lived-in universe" feel. Using minion rules would strip such NPCs of that potential importance.

And I'm saying that's sometimes a good thing. As a story, Star Wars presents the world as being lived-in and worn, and you'd assume that each of the extras have a name and reason for being in-frame. Which, of course, they do, though it's irrelevant to the story being told (Anakin's fall and redemption in the films; whatever the PCs are getting themselves into in RPGs). My games try to emulate that feeling - if it's important, it'll get mentioned; if it's not important, move on.

I'm a rules light-ish gamer; the lived-in feel should come from narrative, not mechanical, investment. It's why I vastly prefer FATE, as mechanical investments are narrative investments. FATE's not always an option, hence the hacked Saga Edition.

Webhead
01-03-2010, 10:05 PM
I'm a rules light-ish gamer; the lived-in feel should come from narrative, not mechanical, investment.

I think this is what ties into my view as well which is why I am okay with a greater level of abstraction for the (initially) less developed or "important" characters. It doesn't mean that they are any less a resident of the game world, just that their story isn't important until the game makes it so. Should the circumstances of a scene or the direction of the players' role play demand that further layers to depth be added to an NPC, I will add them at that time, but I'd rather not devote the time and effort to mechanics if they are not likely to be significant or even draw any attention at all from the players.

Part of the fun of many of my GMing experiences stem from watching the players latch onto totally extraneous NPCs, thus demanding me as a GM to develop them in much greater detail on-the-fly. This also perhaps ties into my methods of character creation in general when I am a player in a lot of games. I tend to start with a very basic concept or theme and establish a few important bullet points. Then, as the actual game sessions progress, continue to "grow" the character and flesh them out as I learn more about the GM, the party, the campaign and the play styles.