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Valdar
10-09-2008, 03:34 PM
It seems that the role of minions is diminished after level 5- there are sufficient powers and abilities that automatically damage a target with no to-hit roll that killing minions becomes a minor action for certain characters, with no chance of failure. I think this makes them boring- sure, it's fun to be able to wade through a crowd of foes and drop them by the score, but it essentially becomes free xp for the party, as there's no chance of the minions being effective or surviving more than a round or two.

Has anyone else experienced this? If so, what do you think is the best solution? Here are a few I can think of:

--Reduce the XP value for minions, so six or eight of them are worth one standard monster
--Require that an effect must overcome the minion's defense before they're killed- this means that things like Rod of Reaving or Lightning Weapon can't be used to kill them automatically without a standard action.
--Stop using them entirely (this is my current plan).
--Figure out a story reason for there being minions on the party's side, take their xp value into account, and give the foes abilities to take them out without attack rolls.

Farcaster
10-09-2008, 05:46 PM
Well, one approach that I have used is to mix the minions with regular opponents, and try to keep it from being too obvious as to which are minions (aka one-hit-wonders) and which are not. It helps a lot if you don't keep the minions clustered together and thus easily hit all at once with some minor AE effect.

Kalanth
10-09-2008, 08:57 PM
There is a distinct usefulness shift in the minions as you increase in levels. I have not encountered the issue in the real campaign, but the occasional one shot play-test battle showed that weakness clear as day.

Give a listen to the new podcast on the Wizards sight as they say some interesting things about epic level play. One of the guys made it clear that minions were much harder to use effectively in the 21 - 30 range. Not sure if thats a design flaw or what, but it certainly perked my interst.

DeathByDM
10-10-2008, 06:37 AM
Most area attacks (which are the minions' worst nightmare) do require to-hit rolls, and minions aren't affected on a miss, so I believe they can still be effective at any level.

Just make sure you give them comparable defenses and attacks to other enemies of their level and don't bunch them up.

Remember, they aren't designed to be there the whole fight, just long enough to distract the heroes from the real threats and allow the main enemies to get a few more attacks in. A BBEG doesn't expect his minions to hold off the heroes forever, just long enough for him to escape or complete his master plan.

Inquisitor Tremayne
10-10-2008, 10:11 AM
I haven't looked it up in 4e yet but in SW Saga any opponent that the heroes defeat that is 5 levels lower than the PCs, they only receive 1/10th the xp for.

So in the case of SW Saga a CL 1 opponent for 4 6th level PCs (xp 200) only nets them 20 xp. And that is for the GROUP! Divide that by 4 and they each get only 5 xp!

I am sure something similar can be done in 4e.

Farcaster
10-10-2008, 10:21 AM
Minions are already only worth 1/4th of the normal experience for a monster of their level. I recently used minions in a level 11 game. While they were not deadly or fight turner by any means, they distracted the party for long enough for the primary bad guys to get into ideal positions. In fact, they were still in the fight three rounds into combat. So, I'd agree that they do a good job of being distractionary.

For real fun, you should also elude to a particular group of monsters as being minions, when in fact they are not. Just sit back and watch the wizard waste a spell or two trying to take them out.

Inquisitor Tremayne
10-10-2008, 10:34 AM
And add diverse encounters, don't have minions in every encounter and watch the player's surprise when that kobold they assumed was a minions doesn't go down in one hit!

I also noticed that as a GM I have to be much more careful not to spill the beans as to what kind of creature is which. As soon as they find out a creature is a minion their attitude seems to shift to thinking the fight will go easily.

Oh, and kobolds shifty ability, freaking awesome!

cplmac
10-10-2008, 10:35 AM
...For real fun, you should also elude to a particular group of monsters as being minions, when in fact they are not. Just sit back and watch the wizard waste a spell or two trying to take them out.

:lol: Not to mention the reaction when they realize that group is not actually minions, and the spells would have not had to been used then.

Valdar
10-10-2008, 10:56 AM
Most area attacks (which are the minions' worst nightmare) do require to-hit rolls, and minions aren't affected on a miss, so I believe they can still be effective at any level.


The trouble is the auto-kill powers that don't require a to-hit roll- some of the ones I've seen so far are:

Rod of Reaving: Does damage when a Warlock curses a target, no to-hit roll. If a minion is the closest foe, the Warlock can kill it with a minor action.

Stinking Cloud, Cloud of Daggers: Both do auto-damage.

Lightning Weapon: Area damage with no to-hit roll

Rain of Steel: Aura damage with no to-hit roll

Webhead
10-10-2008, 11:08 AM
I believe I've heard this issue referenced elsewhere but I don't recall the details.

As a GM, I would be inclined to rule that only damaging attacks that successfully overcome at least one of the minion's defenses (AC, Ref, Fort, Will) can "kill" it and that "auto-damage" would not. This goes hand-in-hand with the potential issue of things like "I pick up an apple and throw it at him...it hits? Okay, he's dead!" that don't really make sense. Sure, being hit by an apple hurts, but it's not going to instantly kill a minion...sorry...

I honestly don't know how that would positively/negatively affect minion play in 4e, but that's my gut instinct.

DeathByDM
10-10-2008, 11:08 AM
The trouble is the auto-kill powers that don't require a to-hit roll- some of the ones I've seen so far are:

Rod of Reaving: Does damage when a Warlock curses a target, no to-hit roll. If a minion is the closest foe, the Warlock can kill it with a minor action.

Stinking Cloud, Cloud of Daggers: Both do auto-damage.

Lightning Weapon: Area damage with no to-hit roll

Rain of Steel: Aura damage with no to-hit roll

And most of these aren't a problem if the minions aren't bunched up. If you give the players opportunities to use these abilities to take out a bunch of mobs, then you shouldn't be upset when they do just that.

clint
10-10-2008, 12:12 PM
Minions are decoration pieces. Mainly for me a timely release of minions are there to stretch out the peak portion, make a manageable battle appear crazy, without really increasing the threat level. Minions function as scenery or are there to provide setups for the main monsters ally related abilities, flank or attempt to bull rush a PC into a bad spot, grab them, etc. I don't see their function as a credible damage source or to be around for long, though they occasionally do deal damage.

If I use them in a combat I generally count all minions as 1 slot, rather than adding up for each individual minion. The minion slot is 1 standard monster of that level, whether I use 4 at once or have 8 coming from the surrounding area at 2 per round for 4 rounds. I usually use the latter, so that the main foes can be reliably assisted by their minions for more than one round.

Valdar
10-10-2008, 03:14 PM
If I use them in a combat I generally count all minions as 1 slot, rather than adding up for each individual minion. The minion slot is 1 standard monster of that level, whether I use 4 at once or have 8 coming from the surrounding area at 2 per round for 4 rounds. I usually use the latter, so that the main foes can be reliably assisted by their minions for more than one round.

I like this idea- that there will be 4 minons or so at any one time, so they become a persistent nuisance, but the PCs don't get 1/40 of their level in XP with every flick of a wand...

Also looking forward to confusing whether or not a target is a minion, which is pretty obvious in my current games- since minions don't track state, I can use identical counters for them, but I have to use differentiatable counters for non-minions... Ah well, I guess it was time I started paining minis again...

Jcosby
10-10-2008, 04:27 PM
I never cared for this idea in 4th edition. Why do you have to make 1hp creatures? It never made sense to me. You already have 1/4 CR, 1/3 CR and 1/2 CR creatures those can be minions just as well. As a DM I would never use 1hp creatures that have any substance. It's to munchkin. As a few people have stated in the thread there are to many ways to auto-kill them or kill them in mass. You are just wasting resources for the sake of wasting them.

Why can't the Orc, have a couple Kobold minions that are "regular" kobolds? I never understood the reason to put in 1hp creatures, other then to help make the players feel more "powerful"...

JC

Farcaster
10-10-2008, 04:43 PM
JC,

There are no 1/3 challenge ratings any more in 4th. And, you can have lower level monsters as support instead of or in addition to minions. This thread is about how to or if minions can be used in the higher levels of 4e. It will be more meaningful to those who are truly familiar with 4th edition mechanics and have played or run the game to see those mechanics in action.

Valdar
10-10-2008, 04:53 PM
And most of these aren't a problem if the minions aren't bunched up. If you give the players opportunities to use these abilities to take out a bunch of mobs, then you shouldn't be upset when they do just that.

Rod of Reaving isn't area, it's single-target. Cloud of Daggers isn't area, but it will auto-kill any minion running through its square, so it can seal a doorway against any and all minions. Stinking Cloud is a huge area- 5x5 on the map, and it can be moved on the Wizard's turn. Lightning Weapon and Rain of Steel affect any minion in melee range of the user.

So, you're suggesting that all minions be non-Melee, and never stand within 5 squares of each other? That's not terribly helpful...

Valdar
10-10-2008, 05:00 PM
I believe I've heard this issue referenced elsewhere but I don't recall the details.

As a GM, I would be inclined to rule that only damaging attacks that successfully overcome at least one of the minion's defenses (AC, Ref, Fort, Will) can "kill" it and that "auto-damage" would not. This goes hand-in-hand with the potential issue of things like "I pick up an apple and throw it at him...it hits? Okay, he's dead!" that don't really make sense. Sure, being hit by an apple hurts, but it's not going to instantly kill a minion...sorry...

I honestly don't know how that would positively/negatively affect minion play in 4e, but that's my gut instinct.

I'm tempted to go this route- it still allows the Wizard to blast a bunch of them, but doesn't allow the Warlock to auto-kill them with a Rod of Reaving (the Warlock would actually have to shoot the minion.)

I'll see how it goes- obviously, this will be more of a hazard to the party if there are twelve minions on the table vs. just four...

Webhead
10-10-2008, 05:43 PM
I never cared for this idea in 4th edition. Why do you have to make 1hp creatures? It never made sense to me. You already have 1/4 CR, 1/3 CR and 1/2 CR creatures those can be minions just as well. As a DM I would never use 1hp creatures that have any substance. It's to munchkin. As a few people have stated in the thread there are to many ways to auto-kill them or kill them in mass. You are just wasting resources for the sake of wasting them.

Why can't the Orc, have a couple Kobold minions that are "regular" kobolds? I never understood the reason to put in 1hp creatures, other then to help make the players feel more "powerful"...

JC

The purpose of "minions" (in any RPG, not just 4e) is to recreate those scenes from popular, heroic media where entire platoons of enemies are swarming the PCs without dooming the PCs to certain death while doing so and to make it easier for the GM to keep track of the hordes.

In a design discussion with WotC on the "minion" rules for 4e, they mentioned that the problem with using "low-level" monsters as flunkies in previous editions was generally a lot of work for no value. Low-level monsters tended to have such low stats that they would only hit with attacks or succeed at saving throws on a "natural 20", so DMs would spend each round rolling a dozen checks that would invariably fail and were just a waste of time.

They wanted to be able to allow DMs to throw large groups of monsters at PCs, even in low-level encounters, but they wanted those monsters to be "meaningful" in the sense that they could still effectively hinder or threaten the PCs. To keep encounters from being imbalanced and easier to manage with large groups of foes, they thought of the idea of giving such monsters only a few hit points or just a single hit die. The problem was, what if an attack still didn't do enough damage to take the "minion" down? Then the DM would still be in the same boat regarding game management, he would still have to track individual hit points for every single monster on the table. So, the thought that if a "minion" only had a single hit point, then the DM wouldn't have to track the individual status of each minion. Either the minion was alive, or it was dead. So, you could put 20 zombies out on the table, but you wouldn't have to track 20 different sets of hit points.

I understand what the designers were going for when they developed "minion" rules, and as I've prattled on about a million times by now (much to everyone's irritation, I'm sure), I've come across a number of other RPGs in the past that had rules for mooks/minions/flunkies/redshirts, and I like them. I like to be able to have my PCs fight through large groups of enemies without it slowing the game down or putting them on the road to an early grave. I haven't played 4e and so I don't know how "minions" influence that game, but I've really enjoyed the kind of freedom they lend me in other games.

Imagine if, in Return of the Jedi, instead of facing an "entire legion" of Stormtroopers, speederbikes and AT-ATs on Endor, the heroes only fought 4 Stormtroopers, 1 speederbike and 1 AT-AT because that's all that a "fair" encounter at their CR would allow. It would definately make the final battle to take the Shield Bunker less dramatic.

frank634
10-10-2008, 09:01 PM
I found minions at any level effective and worth the 1/4 xp they give. As a DM, they are perfect edition to any encounter as they draw fire away from the more powerful enemies.

It also helps tell a story. I used them to show how evil a person was as he kills his own minions just to get to the heros.

Since minions can not be killed by a miss, they can be just a dangerous to the heros at any level. They are used to increase numbers in any encounter group which is great in 4e. I don't know how many times I played d&d in previous editions and ran into the 1 monster encounter. How boring. The minions are so much fun to mow down. :p

Kalanth
10-11-2008, 10:34 AM
The more time the players spend concentrating on the Minion means the more time I have to kill them with the real threat, and I like that. I realize that some may want the minion to last longer in the fight, and the idea of using temp hit point powers around them is a good one, but I don't want to overpower the players with additional monsters that are much stronger than intended.

Krevon
10-11-2008, 05:15 PM
I love the minions, they help populate dungeons and fill in the gaps that done conventionally wouldn't makes sense or be theisable for low level characters to be in. I like how it mixes up combat. I also like to take appropriate level monsters and minions and put the skin on it that i need at the moment.

In short, they please me lol.

Grimwell
10-12-2008, 01:54 AM
The more time the players spend concentrating on the Minion means the more time I have to kill them with the real threat, and I like that.

This is the functional point that I've found value in with minions. So what if they die the minute you hit them? Doing so implies that you aren't hitting the enemies who offer more of a challenge.

The value in minions from the GM's perspective is that they soak up PC attacks and attention for very little cost which allows for the other combatants to get into the best possible position, and/or have more rounds to do their own damage in.

If you are using your minions as primary adversaries you are using them wrong. ;)

I don't mind the XP value in them because their presence makes the other enemies all the more dangerous (giving them more time to work their abilities). It balances out in my mind. YMMV

cplmac
10-12-2008, 07:08 PM
Actually, after reading through the various responses in this thread, I am going to use this new way of dealing with minions in my 2E game that we are currently running. By using this, it will allow me to have plenty of foes for the 9 member party to be busy with as opposed to a lot of encounters that may only have 1, 2, or 3 foes, and thus make it not to difficult since the party can at least double team or better against small number of foes. It will also keep from having the characters XP totals from increasing too rapidly.

victim666
10-18-2008, 06:24 AM
I also want to point out that at high lvls the PC is meant to kill a minion with a casual flick of a sword or wand. In 4e the heroes are exactly that.. Heroes. Much stronger than the average minion:).

I take great pleasure in standing at the top of a stairwell while mowing them down as they come up with effective use of Thunderwave.

But believe you me.. Those non-minion zombie hounds that came rushing up the stairs a few rounds later really surprised me :lol:

Valdar
10-20-2008, 04:52 PM
I also want to point out that at high lvls the PC is meant to kill a minion with a casual flick of a sword or wand.

If they can be auto-killed with a minor action, which PCs don't even use most of the time, then I don't really see the point of bothering with them- at that point, I might as well just toss in extra XP into the encounter for free...

fmitchell
10-20-2008, 05:22 PM
If they can be auto-killed with a minor action, which PCs don't even use most of the time, then I don't really see the point of bothering with them- at that point, I might as well just toss in extra XP into the encounter for free...

In our current game, a Dragonborn can waste a whole group of minions simply by using his fire breath, which I think is a minor action. (EDIT: As I recall, he still has to beat the Reflex defense of each person in the area, so it isn't really "auto-kill".)

The annoying thing about minions, though, is that they can attack back as if they were regular monsters/NPCs. So minion characters, especially ones with ranged attacks, high mobility, or good defenses, can do some serious damage to a party before the minions die and PCs get to the "tough" opponents.

frank634
10-20-2008, 06:14 PM
In our current game, a Dragonborn can waste a whole group of minions simply by using his fire breath, which I think is a minor action. (EDIT: As I recall, he still has to beat the Reflex defense of each person in the area, so it isn't really "auto-kill".)

You hit a very valid point about minions that many people forgot. You still have to HIT a minion. Just because a miss does half damage in many powers, a hit roll must register a hit before it can kill a minion. If a wizard or cleric uses an area effect spell, or a dragon born uses a breath weapon, doesn't guarantee the removal of the minion. In affect, a minion is immune to anything that does not require a to-hit roll.

Some of the higher level minion have high defenses which makes them very interesting to throw at the party.

DeathByDM
10-21-2008, 07:32 AM
Rangers and Fighters have abilities which effectively insta-kill minions that stand next to them, without an attack roll (Stormwarden, Rain of Blows)

Interestingly enough, my current party has neither a Fighter nor a Ranger...

Kalanth
10-21-2008, 07:46 AM
Rangers and Fighters have abilities which effectively insta-kill minions that stand next to them, without an attack roll (Stormwarden, Rain of Blows)

Interestingly enough, my current party has neither a Fighter nor a Ranger...

And these powers exist for many of the classes, but how are the minions being used in the fight? A lot of people tend to clump the minions together and rush as a mob but if you break them into smaller groups and then attack it changes the dynamic of the minion and makes them more problematic. Just making the players think about the minion as a problem is good enough for me, so if I can generate a bit of confusion by changing up their tactics (occasionally spreading out, sometimes coming in a group, etc) then I feel like I used them well.

Inquisitor Tremayne
10-21-2008, 10:21 AM
Minions can also benefit from temporary hit points.

My new favorite tactic for kobolds is to get the minions close for one round and have the war caster rally them so they all get 5 temporary hit points.

Makes minions MUCH more dangerous.

Valdar
10-21-2008, 12:01 PM
In affect, a minion is immune to anything that does not require a to-hit roll.


If that were the case, then I'd be golden. But that would constitute a house-rule- the following kill minions without to-hit rolls, and I'm sure there are many more:



Rod of Reaving: Does damage when a Warlock curses a target, no to-hit roll. If a minion is the closest foe, the Warlock can kill it with a minor action.

Stinking Cloud, Cloud of Daggers: Both do auto-damage.

Lightning Weapon: Area damage with no to-hit roll

Rain of Steel: Aura damage with no to-hit roll

wbrandel
10-21-2008, 03:17 PM
In my games the minion monsters are no more than catapult fodder so the real threats can move into postion and let's be real the value of the minion is there. what about flanking a pc so the true threats can gain a combat advantage. In doing that the minion ceases being a pest and becomes a threat that has to be dealt with, and they can do that at any level. this is much the way I used the 1/4, 1/3, and 1/2 CR monsters in 3.5. Think about it all the rules in there that can turn a minion into a threat.

tesral
10-21-2008, 10:01 PM
http://phoenixinn.iwarp.com/SS_Modeler/smallminions.jpg

Webhead
10-21-2008, 10:08 PM
Ooh! That rat desperately needs some photoshopped Force Lightning shooting from his paws! Seriously, how wicked would that look?

Any photo manipulation gurus out there! Come on! Darth Small!

frank634
10-24-2008, 02:26 PM
To continue on my comments on minions. My party tried to avoid the minions completly. They had the same idea that they can be ignored and simply go get the more important foes. This brought some interesting results.

Almost every party member was eventually flanked and therefore was granted combat advantage. Although the minions did little in damage, the big guys hit more.

almost every party member was hit at least twice by the minions.

The minions still died before the main monsters of the encounter, but the heros were hurt more.

In short: The minions were a perfect addition to the encounter. The main monsters were tougher and did more damage because of them. The players could not ignore them at all. In fact, they should have dedicated at least one or two heros to eliminating the minions while the rest handled the larger monsters.