Minions

One thing that I liked and hated all at once from 4e was minions. In D&D Next I find myself ioccasionally wanting them back again.  

 

What I liked about 4e minions: Their ability to be strong in their attack and to hit a PC of a particular level.

What I disliked about them: The 1 hit point of health seemed a little silly and enables PCs to exploit some AoE attacks.

Problems with D&D Next solution: So far, it seems like the solution to the minions idea in Next, is to use creatures as they exist. The design seems to attempt to make it possible for low level monsters to be able to hit upper level PCs. While I like this concept, these creatures, with their +2 to attack, have little hope of actually hitting higher level characters that are running around with a 20+ Armor Class. Consequently, they see these creatures, such as a zombie horde, as a joke, and don't fear even a hundred of them.

 

Current Problem: 

We are currently running Legacy of the Crystal Shard at level 5 and the PCs are in the Dwarven Mines and are about to fight zombie hordes. I am trying to structure the fight so that there are large numbers of zombies that they have to deal with. They are not really that strong in that they have few hit points, however, if they get up in your business, they should be able to land an attack on you, even if the damage isn't lethal. If enough of them are on you, the damage will eventually take you down so shear numbers are a factor. I can't do this with the Zombie as it exists right now. They would hardly ever be able to hit the melee classes with High ACs, even when surrounding them with advantage, etc...

 

What I think I'm going to do: 

I am thinking of altering the stats of the Zombie, so that they have an appropriate chance to hit the PCs. I will not alter the damage or their Hit Dice, but I think they need to fear being surrounded and overrun by the creatures. Leaving their current HD makes them fairly vulnerable in that if a character lands an attack blow, it will one shot a zombie most of the time. 

 

How have others handled the need to large numbers of minions type creatures?

 

Have multiple zombies attack a single PC. Mechanically 2 or 3 attack while 2 or 3 assist. The attackers gain advantage. That'll be good enough. It will teach players to be careful around hordes and also it will teach you to manage monster group tactics. Bonuses all around. Plus no stat edits. 

bawylie wrote:

Have multiple zombies attack a single PC. Mechanically 2 or 3 attack while 2 or 3 assist. The attackers gain advantage. That'll be good enough. It will teach players to be careful around hordes and also it will teach you to manage monster group tactics. Bonuses all around. Plus no stat edits. 

 

Well, I thought about that, but a zombie with a +2 to attack a 5th level character with a 21 AC, which is not hard to achieve, still needs a 19 to hit. Even with advantage, they will be hard pressed to land a blow at all. Give a PC any kind of AC increasing item at all, which by level 5, most of them will have something to gain +1, and the zombies will need a natural 20 to hit him. He can just wade through them with little fear.

This is a problem with AC and bounded accuracy.  I played with 8-10th level characters with AC16-18 (no magic armour, a rogue/mage, rogue, and fighter in chain mail and shield with Dex penalty) and they were realy worried by a group of grimlocks.  I've long been worried at how easy it seems to obtain AC over 20.  It's going to knacker the mechanics until the maths are sorted.

The problem is just bad math for the monsters, and bad rules for AC. The zombie isn't a threat to a level 5 character for the same reason it's not a threat to a level 2 character, but if you bump it up to where it should be then it can do the same job against either level (more or less).

The metagame is not the game.

 

agree this demonstrates the weakness of the adv/disadv mechanic - at extremes it is near meaningless. a +5 bonus to your zombies on the other hand... fung shei and 13A have mooks - they are a better version of minions - one hp pool, but you kill off x mooks per xx hp dmg done. it is very interesting bec a mook horde of 12 starts out with heaps of attacks, but quickly shrinks in threat as the hp pool reduces and individual mooks die. its cool. maybe you could try something like that.

 

 

 

I kind of dropped out of the playtesting before the last couple of packet releases, but one of the things we were doing, was allowing advantage to 'stack' (up to a max of +2 dice). So, if you had a character surrounded by zombies (8)... each zombie would be rolling 2d20 to hit... or 3d20 if you played it that half were assisting the other half. +1 advantage for 'flanking', +1 or 'help'.

Leave the ACs and Attack Bonuses alone.

 

I quite like the idea that armor actually makes you safer from the attacks of monsters.

 

I don't want to see either AC bonuses decreased or monster attack bonuses increased; either solution will make it feel like it's less than worth it to wear armor.

 

I'm perfectly okay with a basic zombie having a 5-10% chance to injure someone in splint or plate.

If you have to resort to making offensive comments instead of making logical arguments, you deserve to be ignored.

Psikerlord wrote:
fung shei and 13A have mooks - they are a better version of minions - one hp pool, but you kill off x mooks per xx hp dmg done. it is very interesting bec a mook horde of 12 starts out with heaps of attacks, but quickly shrinks in threat as the hp pool reduces and individual mooks die. its cool. maybe you could try something like that.
Shhh. Don't talk about 13th Age Mook rules, around here, it will make heads explode and the overwhelming rage at such an "unrealistic" idea with teleporting swords and killing things 20 feet away will be able to power small cities.

Supporting an edition you like does not make you an edition warrior. Demanding that everybody else support your edition makes you an edition warrior.

Why do I like 13th Age? Because I like D&D: http://magbonch.wordpress.com/2013/10/16/first-impressions-13th-age/

AzoriusGuildmage- "I think that you simply spent so long playing it, especially in your formative years with the hobby, that you've long since rationalized or houseruled away its oddities, and set it in your mind as the standard for what is and isn't reasonable in an rpg."

Spykes wrote:

 

bawylie wrote:

Have multiple zombies attack a single PC. Mechanically 2 or 3 attack while 2 or 3 assist. The attackers gain advantage. That'll be good enough. It will teach players to be careful around hordes and also it will teach you to manage monster group tactics. Bonuses all around. Plus no stat edits. 

 

 

Well, I thought about that, but a zombie with a +2 to attack a 5th level character with a 21 AC, which is not hard to achieve, still needs a 19 to hit. Even with advantage, they will be hard pressed to land a blow at all. Give a PC any kind of AC increasing item at all, which by level 5, most of them will have something to gain +1, and the zombies will need a natural 20 to hit him. He can just wade through them with little fear.

Its hard to get that high unless your aiming at being a defensive tank.    Hells, monks cap out at 20 with max stats in dex and wis - way out of the range of level 5 PCs.  

I have been take the minimum on hit dice and using that for my minions. That has done well enough to reduce most creatures to a one or two hit creature.

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For me minions were too metagame for my tastes, but obviously practical minions work well.  With bounded accuracy, you can use a lower level monster effectively.

 

I've never felt though the rules for being surrounded or even being attacked by a second enemy, were severe enough.   I've considered a houserule where each additional assailant beyond the first gives a +1 bonus for everyone on the attack.   This forces PCs to behave very naturally and realistically.  It may hinder some of you though if you prefer your games even more cinematic than I do.

 

 

Maybe give minions 1 HP/ HD or level?

It's very true that recording the hit points for 50 skeletons can be annoying., but the solution to that problem is not the 4e minion.  

 

Minions are not an innovation IMO.  They make the game more complicated for the DM.    It's another set of special rules that the game requires.  

 

In 4e, minion creation was tied to the level treadmill.  In this case, an ogre could be a minion at high level play, but a solo at low level.   Everything was relative to the level of the party.   That made using the monster as is impossible.   IMO, I shouldn't have to alter the nature of a monster.

 

The other problem I had with minions is that their use was tied to class roles.   If you didn't include enough of them, then the controlers/AoE guys wouldn't have as much fun.   In that sense, I felt as if 4e was pushing my hand a bit too much.    When I didn't use them I always felt that I was removing a great deal of fun for some class roles.   

 

Lastly, I seriously hated it when players called out "minion" at the table and then proceded to use AoE powers on them.   "Hey everyone the red shirts are minions"   That's the kind of metagaming crap I hate. 

 

IMO, a simple one shot or two shot kill rule can replace the idea of the minion.    The MM doesn't need to waste space on minions.    We don't need a gamist class of monsters to simplify record keeping. 


A creature becomes a "minion" when the PCs have damage modifiers greater than the creature's HP.

Considering that weapons deal on their own at least 1 point of damage...

A goblin (3 HP) is effectively a minion against an archer with a 14 Dex. If the archer hits the goblin, there's no point in rolling damage. Minion.

A bandit (5 HP) is effectively a minion against an archer with a 18 Dex. If the archer hits the bandit, there's no point in rolling damage. Minion.

Minion Template: Take a monster and apply these changes. Divide HP in 4. Damage = minimum. Exp = 1/4 normal. 

 

Ex. A monster with 20 HP and 3d6+2 damage would be a minion with 5 HP and 5 damage. 

Imsolost wrote:

Minion Template: Take a monster and apply these changes. Divide HP in 4. Damage = minimum. Exp = 1/4 normal. 

 

Ex. A monster with 20 HP and 3d6+2 damage would be a minion with 5 HP and 5 damage. 

 

It really is that easy.  I don't see the big deal if you want minions.  I don't want them mechanically but I assume we all use something akin to them in our games.

The very concept of a Minion screams MMO Instance Scaling. Why do we want this in our TTRPG?

 

I just said something and you just read it. Sorry about that.

I preferred to use swarms of humaniods (usually based on the tide of wretchedness, which was a swarm of dretch) instead of minions for the most part in 4e.  Pretty much anyone entering the swarm is going to take damage, so it is still challenging.  I usually houseruled that the swarm shrunk as it took damage, but that it left rough terrain (all those dretch or ghoul bodies).  I did like the minions that exploded when they got hit.

kill_the_wiz_first wrote:
The very concept of a Minion screams MMO Instance Scaling. Why do we want this in our TTRPG?
Mostly because it was a fun and easy way for DMs to handle large fights with multiple monsters that could be added with easy to up the difficulty or easily subtracted. 

@mikemearls The office is basically empty this week, which opens up all sorts of possibilities for low shenanigans

@mikemearls In essence, all those arguments I lost are being unlost. Won, if you will. We're doing it MY way, baby.

@biotech66 aren't you the boss anyway? isn't "DO IT OR I FIRE YOU!" still an option?

@mikemearls I think Perkins would throat punch me if I ever tried that. And I'd give him a glowing quarterly review for it.

Grifford wrote:

A creature becomes a "minion" when the PCs have damage modifiers greater than the creature's HP.

Considering that weapons deal on their own at least 1 point of damage...

A goblin (3 HP) is effectively a minion against an archer with a 14 Dex. If the archer hits the goblin, there's no point in rolling damage. Minion.

A bandit (5 HP) is effectively a minion against an archer with a 18 Dex. If the archer hits the bandit, there's no point in rolling damage. Minion.

But that ends once a monster hits ~10 hp. Barring magical weapons a character does at most 2d6+5, aka a good chance that he'll be hiting for less than 10 per attack and you're back to writting down hp for a bunch of 10hp monsters.

It comes down to minions are a tool. Use them for their purpose or don't. No big deal. 

 

They shore up a horde without any bookkeeping and provide cheap assists. They can be infinite monsters. They work well after your PCs level, showing off their power by mowing through enemies that were once challenging. They're also convenient road blocks - moveable obstacles. 

 

If none of that is to your taste, that doesn't make minions bad. It makes them useless to you. 

 

But as for your guy with AC 20 being unhittable (practically) by level 2 zombies. By making these character choices, he's telling you "I want to be hard to hit" & also "gimme your best shot."  You should absolutely swarm and overwhelm that guy. He'll feel awesome soaking up 19/20 attacks and after he starts losing HP eventually he'll adapt to horde-fighting tactics. 

 

Dont thwart your players or look for ways to mitigate their awesomeness. Instead, show off their strengths and reveal areas of weakness. "Yeah, you can take on 20 zombies on your own. But how will you help your friends when zombies have dogpiled you and 20 more are chasing down the rogue & wizard?" 

If the zombies are swarming:

- Some of them will be attacking the lower AC party members.

- Some of them will be behind the high AC party members.*

- Add in Bawylie's suggestion (half of them attack, half of them assist, for Advantage) and you're going to have some hits

 

* Wait...do you still lose dex/shield bonuses if you're attacked from behind? I just did a quick search and didn't see anything in the packet.

"Therefore, you are the crapper, I'm merely the vessel through which you crap." -- akaddk

Arent all DDN monsters like minions?

bawylie wrote:

It comes down to minions are a tool. Use them for their purpose or don't. No big deal. 

 

They shore up a horde without any bookkeeping and provide cheap assists. They can be infinite monsters. They work well after your PCs level, showing off their power by mowing through enemies that were once challenging. They're also convenient road blocks - moveable obstacles. 

 

If none of that is to your taste, that doesn't make minions bad. It makes them useless to you. 

 

But as for your guy with AC 20 being unhittable (practically) by level 2 zombies. By making these character choices, he's telling you "I want to be hard to hit" & also "gimme your best shot."  You should absolutely swarm and overwhelm that guy. He'll feel awesome soaking up 19/20 attacks and after he starts losing HP eventually he'll adapt to horde-fighting tactics. 

 

Dont thwart your players or look for ways to mitigate their awesomeness. Instead, show off their strengths and reveal areas of weakness. "Yeah, you can take on 20 zombies on your own. But how will you help your friends when zombies have dogpiled you and 20 more are chasing down the rogue & wizard?" 

 

Bawylie, 

 

Even though you like 4e, your posts are always spot-on. Would love to play at your table, any edition.

 

--EC

"Therefore, you are the crapper, I'm merely the vessel through which you crap." -- akaddk

Elfcrusher wrote:

 

bawylie wrote:

It comes down to minions are a tool. Use them for their purpose or don't. No big deal. 

 

They shore up a horde without any bookkeeping and provide cheap assists. They can be infinite monsters. They work well after your PCs level, showing off their power by mowing through enemies that were once challenging. They're also convenient road blocks - moveable obstacles. 

 

If none of that is to your taste, that doesn't make minions bad. It makes them useless to you. 

 

But as for your guy with AC 20 being unhittable (practically) by level 2 zombies. By making these character choices, he's telling you "I want to be hard to hit" & also "gimme your best shot."  You should absolutely swarm and overwhelm that guy. He'll feel awesome soaking up 19/20 attacks and after he starts losing HP eventually he'll adapt to horde-fighting tactics. 

 

Dont thwart your players or look for ways to mitigate their awesomeness. Instead, show off their strengths and reveal areas of weakness. "Yeah, you can take on 20 zombies on your own. But how will you help your friends when zombies have dogpiled you and 20 more are chasing down the rogue & wizard?" 

 

 

Bawylie, 

 

Even though you like 4e, your posts are always spot-on. Would love to play at your table, any edition.

 

--EC

 

It's almost like "being a cool dude" isn't edition dependent or something! :P

 

[/joking]

 

 

 

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It's worth noting that the developers have acknowledged that monster math needs to be worked on, so I think your issue is more issues with the math than with the "minion" concept in the first place.

 

WhiteHarness wrote:

I'm perfectly okay with a basic zombie having a 5-10% chance to injure someone in splint or plate.

I agree, but it's not a ton of fun to have zombies be basically ineffectual against everyone. Zombies are supposed to be scary. Remember, the mage is walking around with AC 18 in this scenario, as well.

The metagame is not the game.

Switch it up and have a bunch of zombies plus a few ghouls. 

 

The zombies appear to be merely an annoyance. But when the ghouls paralyze a PC and the zombies get free damage and eat a guy in one round, it'll be scary pretty much immediately. 

 

Oh, and have the ghouls be indistinguishable from the zombies except for state of decay. They're only obviously ghouls after some post-destruction study. I'd say autopsy, but...

Remember, "I want to run zombie horror," isn't limited to the zombie entry of the MM. Zombies are an environmental hazard or immediate threat of overwhelming. Treat them like a pending flood. It's what minions are for. 

 

Shore up or underscore this pervasive threat with more credible, higher level creatures pursuing contrary agendas. 

 

Like a survivor group trying to accumulate resources and not share them. They represent 2 threats - their capabilities and the diminishment of resources. The minions only feature in combat when the PCs have stumbled into them, been tricked into them, or purposefully engage them. 

 

Watch your genre & understand your tools. 

It is kind of how hordes worked in OSR D&D.20 Kobolds in a room, odds are most of them could not hit you and the fighter would have a blast. 

 

 I did like some of the abilities from 4E monsters though like the one where you got +1 to hit for each extra attacking mook. Kind of represents overwhelming numbers. ooks like D&DN has gone over board in reducing bonuses to hit though. 4E was an over reaction to 3rd ed, D&DN is an over reaction to 4th ed.

 

 It is ok IMHO to havesome modifiers to hit (flanking, mounted etc) and some sort of swarm fighting ability on the right type of monster makes sense IMHO. 

 Fear is the Mind Killer

 Fear is the Mind Killer  

Zard, arguing Next is an overreaction against 4E in one thread and has too much 4E in another thread. 

 

"For my next trick, I will cite 4 year old sales figures from Paizo."

 

i think, though, we can mostly dispense with stacking bonuses. Most target numbers are achievable. The real art to Next is situational difficulty, not mechanical impossibility. In other words, challenging your players, not their class & level. 

If you want a special "zombie horde" monster, the DM is free to make one special for the occasion.   D&D zombies have not traditionally been horde zombies.   I like the horde concept myself so I applaud the creativity.   Just figure out the "feel" you want and make a new monster that fits that feel.   

 

Personally I think the zombie archetype is pretty broad and perhaps we need a lot of different zombie subtypes.  

 

 

Thanks everyone. I got some really nice suggestions here. I will probably stick with the generic zombie for my horde creature and just throw lots at them with the chance to overwhelm. In addition, I like Bowlie's idea of the ghoul. I have actually constructed my own Zombie, like Emerikol suggested, that fits with the adventure, having been affected by the Black Ice that will have the Ghoul effect. They won't be distinguishable from the other zombies, but will have increased stats to make them much tougher to kill. A few of them thrown into the mix should make for a nice scary encounter.

If your players are clever, they'll end up asking how to ID your black ice zombies & distinguish them from the horde. If they survive and study, give them a way to make that distinction. The next encounter, they'll look closely. If you want the "oh crap" horror moment, make like half of the second encounter the black ice zombies. 

Couldn't zombies grapple -- no AC issues -- or help and hinder in large groups in ways that make even a well-armored PC, at the very least, exhausted with having to deal with it all?

 

 

bawylie wrote:

Zard, arguing Next is an overreaction against 4E in one thread and has too much 4E in another thread. 

 

"For my next trick, I will cite 4 year old sales figures from Paizo."

 

i think, though, we can mostly dispense with stacking bonuses. Most target numbers are achievable. The real art to Next is situational difficulty, not mechanical impossibility. In other words, challenging your players, not their class & level. 

 

 They left to many 4Eisms in the game (or at least not that optional) and they have decided all modifers to hit are to be replaced by advanatage/disadvantage which is a fine mechanic but not as a replacement ofr everything IMHO. +2 to hit flanking, +1 higher goround/mounted basic things like that are not hard or complaicated.

 

 

 Stacking a huge amount of modifiers from powerz is a bit moe complicated. 

 Fear is the Mind Killer

 Fear is the Mind Killer  

Mirtek wrote:

 

Grifford wrote:

A creature becomes a "minion" when the PCs have damage modifiers greater than the creature's HP.

Considering that weapons deal on their own at least 1 point of damage...

A goblin (3 HP) is effectively a minion against an archer with a 14 Dex. If the archer hits the goblin, there's no point in rolling damage. Minion.

A bandit (5 HP) is effectively a minion against an archer with a 18 Dex. If the archer hits the bandit, there's no point in rolling damage. Minion.

 

But that ends once a monster hits ~10 hp. Barring magical weapons a character does at most 2d6+5, aka a good chance that he'll be hiting for less than 10 per attack and you're back to writting down hp for a bunch of 10hp monsters.

 

If 10 HP means you're not one-shotting them, then they're not "minion class" monsters for your party. Pretty simple, really.

 

Grifford wrote:

If 10 HP means you're not one-shotting them, then they're not "minion class" monsters for your party. Pretty simple, really.

A difference is that something might be "minion class" for some members of your party but not others.

The metagame is not the game.

IMO it's "minion" class if it's killable w/avg damage. Like if you generally expect them to go down in a single attack. You're still wading through, even if the odd one or two needs an extra attack. 

1HP doesn't need to mean "punch! dead!".

Minions were just a weakly implemented Morale system, and little more.

The underlying culprit of this argument is, in order, targeting, combat structure, codifying of time measurement, and lack of Morale checks.

 

Time measurement plays a pretty big role in wanting to beef up the amount of Monster Properties to undermine the characters. Once you get down to a tick-system many actions become refined to a point that removes many interactive elements of "playing" through combat. Instead it becomes number parsing and conditional checks.

 

Targeting. No... well, sure, eventually and by circumstance and how many opponents are present. The "minion feel" can be present without the use of gamist mechanics [of gimping]. The field of play atop the combat pillar doesn't need to be locked to one element of combat. It's a fray and allow the DM to decrease HP appropriately based on distance and presence of danger. Combat doesn't have to be precise and having the chaos heightens the sense of resolution and excitment.

 

Don't have 1/2 the encounter rely on random results and the other decided solely on the DM discretion. Bring morale checks back. If the feel of the morale chance works the DM should use this method to determine flight-or-fight. The spectrum of ranges that are attainable (by class, or level, etc) that runs the combat machine should be evenly matched with other ranges of probability.

 

Combat structure leaves to much closed to interpretation. It's too tight to allow imagination to work... as it once did. ~grumbles~

 

Also something (something something) about the game implementing a tactics based system (3e+) from a strategy based system. That was delete from another thread so screw it.

 

 

 

I just said something and you just read it. Sorry about that.