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Minions are too easy!
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Thread: Minions are too easy!

  1. #1
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    Minions are too easy!

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    I've seen a few posts that DM's and players complain that minions are too easy. The minions template is one of my favorite things about 4th Edition. It allows you to kill a room, give the players a little hack and slash and make them feel powerful by killing tons of orcs, with one well placed fireball...but...after the 20'th time of doing that, what's the challenge? It seems that the DM is only using minions to make the players burn their best AOE spells.

    Try the idea of 'Elite Minions'...

    Rather then one hit one kill, Make the players roll damage ( they bought the dice, let them use them ). And, if they don't do damage thats greater then a monsters healing surge ( 1/4 their total hitpoints ), then the monster is still alive.

    To really make this challenging, don't keep track of the ongoing damage, and just watch to see if they do 1/4 the total hitpoints on one hit. Might make them wonder if that minion seems to be still standing after taking 10 points of damage over and over.

    It also makes it a little more fun, if those magic missles might or might not kill a minion in one shot.

    What do yall think?

    Have Dice, Will Travel

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    Another option might be to give them a save against anything that does automatic damage. That way a poison cloud doesn't instantly-kill all minions when they start their turn there, for instance. And if the fighter uses his stance to do weapon damage to everyone in his aura, against a minion he is still required to try to hit. That would help give them a lot more survivability without having to keep track of any more hit points.
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    Its an interesting idea for sure. I have to agree minions are fun for a while, but they get pretty useless quickly. Aside from making the party keep AoE spells handy they haven't had much useful effects in my games.

    This idea of merely weaker enemies is interesting though. I'm not sure about needing a single hit thats 1/4 of their total HP, that'd make them pretty tough I'd think. Perhaps health more like the Shaman's spirit guardian, 10 + 1/2 their level, would be a bit more reasonable for a minion style enemy.

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    Spycraft has a system where minions don't have HP. At all. Rather, the damage you do as a player, cut in half, +10 = their Death Save. All the nameless minions have a Death Save Bonus which is added to their roll as they try to roll over this target number, generated by the damage they receive. If they survive, the DS number does not go down.

    So, Minion A has a DS Bonus of +4. You shoot him for 15. His DS target is 17. He rolls a 15+4, so he survives, but has been shot. The next time, you shoot him for, say, 12. His new DS is 23. He rolls a 10+4, so he dies.

    Special NPCs do not have Death Saves, they have Vitality and Wounds just like a PC does.

    Minions have a place... when you WANT them to die in droves. They serve no other purpose. Minions are not legitimate threats, unless they are ignored for extended periods. They may kill a PC through attrition, but that's about it. Perhaps they are to distract your controller from locking down a monster for a few rounds whilst he deals with minions. Perhaps they are there to slow your PCs down by creating overlapping nets of Opportunity Attacks. But a legit threat to your PCs? Not a chance.
    Fighter: "I can kill a guy in one turn."
    Cleric: "I can kill a guy in half a turn."
    Wizard: "I can kill a guy before my turn."
    Bard: "I can get three idiots to kill guys for me."

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    At face value, I like this elite minion concept, and will probably use it at some future point.

    However, I have to say that I haven't found minions to be too easy for the players in my tabletop games (haven't had a chance to employ them online yet). Indeed, the scariest encounters they've been through were composed of over 50% minions. I'm sure the introduction of these "elite minions" will really give them fits.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Q-man View Post
    Perhaps health more like the Shaman's spirit guardian, 10 + 1/2 their level, would be a bit more reasonable for a minion style enemy.
    I think i like your idea a lot better...It would be a lot easier to figure out, and still give them something that needs a little more power behind a swing to kill.
    --- Merged from Double Post ---
    Quote Originally Posted by korhal23 View Post
    Minions have a place... when you WANT them to die in droves. They serve no other purpose. Minions are not legitimate threats, unless they are ignored for extended periods. They may kill a PC through attrition, but that's about it. Perhaps they are to distract your controller from locking down a monster for a few rounds whilst he deals with minions. Perhaps they are there to slow your PCs down by creating overlapping nets of Opportunity Attacks. But a legit threat to your PCs? Not a chance.

    I agree with this too. To put it in 300 Sparten terms. The regular Persian Troops would be minions. The 10,000 sons would be elite minions.

    You always need the minions that are nothing more then fodder. But i have found that a healthy mix of week and strong minions gives players a little more something to enjoy, without you having to worry about the record keeping too much.
    Last edited by winslon; 07-14-2009 at 07:44 PM. Reason: Automerged Double Post

    Have Dice, Will Travel

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    Ok... Here's this then. What if the combat encounter is supposed to be against waves of enemies that are supposed to be able to cause TPK if it goes badly, but individually, they are easy to take out? I tried an encounter where there were 29 minions for a level 1 party to fight. In 3 turns, the encounter was over because the party decimated them... How do you simulate an instance where minion-like monsters can obliterate the party simply in combat? Because the campaign I am running, the party wants it to be rather gritty and they want to fight a monster theme that isn't actually in D&D, but the monsters are and aren't like swarms, and the swarm type doesn't give the party the right feel...

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    I think you'd be better served by tons of weak but not minion enemies instead of minions. Also, something tells me you mobbed the PCs from one direction in a big clump and they got AoE'd to death. Surround the players, and keep the enemies spread out. Minions are never meant to be the main threat, ever. They are just that, minions of someone else.
    Fighter: "I can kill a guy in one turn."
    Cleric: "I can kill a guy in half a turn."
    Wizard: "I can kill a guy before my turn."
    Bard: "I can get three idiots to kill guys for me."

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    Quote Originally Posted by korhal23 View Post
    I think you'd be better served by tons of weak but not minion enemies instead of minions. Also, something tells me you mobbed the PCs from one direction in a big clump and they got AoE'd to death. Surround the players, and keep the enemies spread out. Minions are never meant to be the main threat, ever. They are just that, minions of someone else.
    I did surround the players. Problem is, I didn't really have any mob-strength rules where if enough minions surrounded a player, that player was dead...

    Anyway, when you say weak but not minion enemies, how do you mean? Say, half or quarter the normal hp of the monster? The reason I ask is mechanically, there are a lot of minion-y types in this theme and while I could, at certain points insert dragons and other dragony types into the encounters, the focus should be on the minions I am making and the masters they serve...

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    Look at it this way: You know what else has 1HP? Normal, plebeian villagers. That's what minions are: normal, plebeian villagers who the Big Bad said "Here's a sword, you guard here" to.

    So you probably want, yeah, either half or quarter hp monsters... perhaps half HP for soldier types, quarter for the ranged types. You don't really need any "mob strength" rules. If you really want one, I'd say give them all the ability to sneak attack in modified circumstances... not by virtue of being clever or tricky like a rogue, but by just being too many blows to dream of being able to see them all and deflect... say, any time a PC has 3 or more adjacent mobs, the mobs all get an additional 2d6 damage, and any time they manage to have 6/8 adjacent squares filled their attacks also daze. That should be sufficiently deadly.
    Fighter: "I can kill a guy in one turn."
    Cleric: "I can kill a guy in half a turn."
    Wizard: "I can kill a guy before my turn."
    Bard: "I can get three idiots to kill guys for me."

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    Quote Originally Posted by korhal23 View Post
    Look at it this way: You know what else has 1HP? Normal, plebeian villagers. That's what minions are: normal, plebeian villagers who the Big Bad said "Here's a sword, you guard here" to.

    So you probably want, yeah, either half or quarter hp monsters... perhaps half HP for soldier types, quarter for the ranged types. You don't really need any "mob strength" rules. If you really want one, I'd say give them all the ability to sneak attack in modified circumstances... not by virtue of being clever or tricky like a rogue, but by just being too many blows to dream of being able to see them all and deflect... say, any time a PC has 3 or more adjacent mobs, the mobs all get an additional 2d6 damage, and any time they manage to have 6/8 adjacent squares filled their attacks also daze. That should be sufficiently deadly.
    That was kind of the point. I wanted something where a mob of guys around you was not necessarily an instant kill, but if you let it get like that, you are pretty ****ed.

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    Quote Originally Posted by emblasochist View Post
    Ok... Here's this then. What if the combat encounter is supposed to be against waves of enemies that are supposed to be able to cause TPK if it goes badly, but individually, they are easy to take out? I tried an encounter where there were 29 minions for a level 1 party to fight. In 3 turns, the encounter was over because the party decimated them... How do you simulate an instance where minion-like monsters can obliterate the party simply in combat? Because the campaign I am running, the party wants it to be rather gritty and they want to fight a monster theme that isn't actually in D&D, but the monsters are and aren't like swarms, and the swarm type doesn't give the party the right feel...
    At that point it becomes more about terrain and tactics. If all the minions attack from the front then AoE will decimate them before they get close. If they stay spaced out as they come in, particularly if you can get them coming in through different doors in a room, then they can't be taken down as fast. Which means more of them get to the party and can take swings. They may not last long individually, but slowly your teeming mass of minions will chip away at the party.

    From another thread (I don't recall which one or I'd link it) you can use the minions to harass the party. Put the players in a situation where they have to move quickly, lets say they are being chased by an angry lich or something. Scatter minions down the hallway, they aren't doing much just the odd attack of opportunity and slowing the party down when they have to take out a few. The intention is to allow the lich to close in on them, not to have the minions kill the party.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Q-man View Post
    At that point it becomes more about terrain and tactics. If all the minions attack from the front then AoE will decimate them before they get close. If they stay spaced out as they come in, particularly if you can get them coming in through different doors in a room, then they can't be taken down as fast. Which means more of them get to the party and can take swings. They may not last long individually, but slowly your teeming mass of minions will chip away at the party.

    From another thread (I don't recall which one or I'd link it) you can use the minions to harass the party. Put the players in a situation where they have to move quickly, lets say they are being chased by an angry lich or something. Scatter minions down the hallway, they aren't doing much just the odd attack of opportunity and slowing the party down when they have to take out a few. The intention is to allow the lich to close in on them, not to have the minions kill the party.
    That does mean that my encounters will be more varied if I do that, but there is the fact that that puts a lot more work into having to build the dungeon, and it means that I have to use more monsters than I was prepared to do. So be it. I think it will end up making a better encounter overall even if it strays from the theme...

    The question then is this: if you have the theme of Slivers (from Magic the Gathering), what other monsters would you have in regular encounters? I think I want to have about 100 actual dragons in the campaign as bosses for the night, or something similar. A lot of chromatic/metallic young and adult dragons. However, the ultimate end of the campaign will be a showdown as a skill challenge of diplomacy with the Sliver Queen, the Sliver Overlord and the Sliver Legion, which if failed, can become a massive fight to eliminate the entire hive.

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    An option for that would be to make the artillery be minions. Put a few brutes and skirmishers in the faces of the PC's, and put the minions off in the distance firing into the melee.

    At a distance you can spread the minions out enough so that AoE can't wipe them out in a few rounds. If they have good ranged attacks they can still present a challenge to the PC's. Try to block in the PC's so that their melee guys can't get to the artillery minions without taking multiple attack of opportunities. Which leaves the parties ranged strikers to but down the minions, with the positioning right it could distract them for a while. With the lack of focused attacks on the brutes in the melee they will last for a while, meaning that the fight should end up being a challenge and taking a toll on the party.

    The times I used minions they were always melee, so they ended up right in the face of the party where they were cut down like so much wheat. With them off at a distance it should be much more difficult for the party to take them down as quickly.

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    I'm going to make different roles for my minions, yes, but flavorwise, what do you think goes well with the flavor of Slivers? I want to avoid having dragons in the run of the mill random encounter; they'll be bosses interspersed in the dungeon enough as it is that it will almost be old having to fight dragons. So, maybe yuan-ti, or kobolds, or dragonborn, or what?

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