The Last Word: Minions

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Hello, and welcome to the first in what will hopefully be a long-running series: The Last Word!

There are some subjects that seem to come up time and time again on these forums.  Subjects on which everybody has an opinion, a houserule, and the burning desire to share it with the world.  Subjects covered by dozens of independent threads, each of which inevitably gets bogged down and forgotten in mounds of "Sure, but here's how I'd do it!"

The Last Word is a different way of looking at those subjects.  We're not interested in hearing all the different ways people patch their game, as interesting as that may be.  What we're interested in is finding the best patch for a given situation, and proving it to be so.

To that end, we look at all the houserules that have gone before, weigh them against each other, and through lengthy debate identify both the requirements of the situation and the solutions that best satisfy them.  In other words, instead of proposing a rule and asking for ideas, we start with ideas and end up with a new rule.

That doesn't mean we don't want to hear your houserule, mind you.  It's probably a pretty good rule, or else you wouldn't be using it.  But just telling us your good rule isn't enough; you need to tell us why it's good.  Why it's your rule.  Why it's better than that other guy's rule.

And in the end we'll have a rule.  The best rule.  And that, as they say, will be the last word on the matter.

Today's topic is:


Minions

Tougher Minions


I'm willing to bet that every homebrewer here has at one time or another thought that there was something missing from the rules for minions.  They're just too easy to kill.  Supposedly four of them are worth as much as one standard creature, but that's hard to believe when you're killing all four with a single Scorching Burst-- or even worse, with an autodamage zone.

WotC did address this problem in DMG2 and MM2, giving minions the same roles as other monsters, increasing their damage expressions, and decreasing their XP value to 1/5 that of a standard in paragon tier, and 1/6 in epic.  

But was that enough?  Some agree, some don't.  Minions certainly pose a greater threat now, but they die just as quickly as they always did.  What do you think?  Do they need to be made tougher?  If so, how?  Are you sure your fix won't unbalance them?

UPDATE: As of MM3, most minions have some way to avoid damage and/or get in an extra hit before death.  There's no single mechanic for this; every minion has its own trick.  I'm quite satisfied with this, although there's still the question of what to do with the older, trickless minions.

Note: Making minions worth more XP isn't the same as balancing them.  That's for the next part.



Elite Minions


Henchmen.  Underlings.  Two-hit minions.  Lackeys.  Redshirts.  El Pequeno Queso.  Whatever you call them, they're all the same thing: minions made big.  Specifically, they're a theoretical group role that provides twice the threat of a regular minion, but only slightly more work.  As a rule, they take the equivalent of two hits to kill and deal 2/3 the damage of a standard (as opposed to the 1/2 of regular minions).

There is of course some overlap between the concepts of 'minion' and 'elite minion'.  Not everybody agrees on how much punishment a regular minion should be able to take.  Some say regular minions should take 1.5 hits to kill, and elites should take 3.  Some say all minions should be elite minions.  With that in mind, when you describe your mechanics please include a note on how many hits your design is intended to take.  



The Crunch


There are a lot of things to take into account when designing and discussing a new mechanic.

The Basic Rules of Design


  • Balance.  A minion is worth 1/5 as many XP as a standard monster, and should provide 1/5 as much threat.  An elite minion is the same, except replace the 1/5 with a 1/2.  This is the most important thing you need to consider. 

  • Simplicity.  Ideally, minions should finish their turns in seconds and require little to no bookkeeping.  In practice, a little bookkeeping is to be expected... but the more things you have to track, and the more dice you have to roll, the harder the minion will be to run. 

  • Elegance.  A rule might be perfectly balanced, but if it's all exceptions and corner cases it'll be hard to remember and easy to mess up.  Simplicity is golden. 

  • Unity.  With the rest of 4e, that is.  Adapting an existing concept is generally better than creating a new mechanic.  That's cool if your patch works fine in your game, but will it work in every other game?  Your rule should flow naturally into the existing ruleset, with a minimum of stretching.



Specific Considerations


  • How many hits, on average, will it take to kill the minion?  How far can the number deviate from that average?  Too much variance, and you might end up with a lucky minion that takes ten hits and stays standing.

  • How many rolls will the minion have to make each round?  Classic minions rarely make more than one, so even one more roll will double your time investment.  Multiplied by four or more minions, that can get real big real fast.

  • How much information does each minion need to track, and how quickly can it be accessed and updated?  Each box you check or token you place is something to remember when the minion moves; each number you write is a calculation you have to perform.

  • How does the minion react to autodamage?  Does it suffer the full effects?  Ignore it entirely?  Something between the two?  What does this do to the effectiveness of autodamage powers in general?

  • How does the minion react to "big" attacks, like dailies, crits, or really lucky rolls?  Are they just like any other attack?  Or are they more effective, as with other creatures?  What about "big" attacks that deal low damage over a large area?

  • How does your rule interact with healing?  A minion that doesn't use standard hit points will need some reasonable way to react to a heal.

  • Do your minions get bloodied?  Is this worth the extra bookkeeping?

  • How does your rule impact the role of minions in the metagame?  Do they restrict your choices when you're building encounters?  For instance, they might only work in large groups or as waves of reinforcements.  Flexiblity is a good thing.



Popular Mechanics For Minions


  • X hits: the minion dies after a fixed number of hits, often one or two.

  • Saving Throw: the minion can make a saving throw to avoid some or all damage.

  • Threshold: the minion ignores damage that does not exceed some damage threshold.

  • Conditional: the minion ignores attacks that do not satisfy some other condition.

  • Hit Points: the minion has a small number of hit points, like a regular monster.

  • Respawn: instead of ignoring "non-mortal" wounds, the minion respawns elsewhere on the map.

  • Group: instead of tracking minions' health individually, damage is applied to an entire group of minions.

  • Weak Hybrid: the minion has two or more damage mechanics, any of which can kill it.

  • Strong Hybrid: the minion has two or more damage mechanics, all of which must be satisfied to kill it.



Some Proposed Systems

Some listed systems may be followed by optional variants, identified by different-coloured bullets.


  • Straight-up damage resistance: minions ignore any damage below some threshold (see "Thresholds" below).  0.5-infinity hits, depending on threshold.  

    • Tons of variants.



  • Saving throw to ignore damage... (all variants are widely endorsed)  
    Igfig's analysis
    1-hit: Saving throw at-will to negate autodamage.
       Pros: reduces impact of autodamage, no bookkeeping.
       Cons: Might not be tough enough.
    1.5-hit: Saving throw 1/encounter to negate any damage.
       Pros: Quite balanced.
       Cons: Requires bookkeeping, doesn't account for autodamage.
    2-hit: Saving throw at-will to negate any damage. 
       Pros: No bookkeeping.
       Cons: Might be too tough, doesn't account for autodamage.




  • Weak Hybrid of Two Hits and Threshold.  1 - 2 hits, depending on threshold.


    • Igfig variant (near bottom of post):  2 hits.

    • Cryoghoul variant: 1 hit.

    • and there are tons more variants.



  • Weak Hybrid of Two Hits and Conditional. 1-2 hits, depending on conditions.


    • Popular variant, with condition: hit by an attack (i.e. anything but autodamage).  1 hit.

    • Qube variant, with condition: attack is a critical hit.  1.9 hits.

    • Tequila_Sunrise's Goons, with many conditions.  1.5 hits.




Those are the four most popular systems.  Some others include:


  •  Blacksheepcannibal's Wave Minions: respawn every round until a global condition is fulfilled.



    • Krusk variant, with more variety in respawn rate



  • Babyj's Rule of Three: sort of a strong hybrid: one hit, then one saving throw. 1-3 hits total.

  • Qube's Cull The Herd: group minions, autodamage temporarily bloodies.  1 hit.

  • Straight-up 2-hits, which is actually pretty popular but I put it down here because it's a terrible idea.



Threshold Size

Getting the right damage threshold is both incredibly important and incredibly difficult.
For example
56761858 wrote:
Imagine two PCs: Sean the Sorcerer, with Cha 20, and Fred the Fighter, with Str 18.  They're fighting some minions with resist 4 all.  Sean lets loose with a Lightning Strike; with his +5 Cha mod, he's zapping two enemies every round.  Fred wades in with Cleave, but alas! His +4 Str mod just isn't enough to get through the resist 4.  His damage has been halved because of a single point of difference.

Keep in mind that the average PC deals about 10 + level damage with an at-will attack, and roughly twice that with an encounter power.

Here are some suggested thresholds, with my comments:


  • Level: stops autodamage at higher levels, not much else.

  • Level/5 (or whatever fraction): stops low-level autodamage at high levels, not much else.

  • Con score: stops autodamage, also attacks at low levels.

  • Fixed number + level: scales well with at-will attacks.

  • Con + level: scales nearly as well, and a little more elegant (standard monsters have Con + (8 x level) hp, after all)

  • Con + (2 x level): scales well with encounter powers, very elegant (for an elite minion, at least)

  • Minion's relevant defense (e.g. Fort defense against a Fort attack): basically it's just 12+level.

  • fixed number + level / 2: scales with autodamage, but can interfere with low-rolling regular attacks.

  • 1/4 (or whatever fraction) of standard monster's hp: sounds reasonable, but probably too big if you don't min/max.

  • Minion's base damage: scales well with autodamage, but gets mixed up by artillery and sneak attackers.



Bloodiness

Some people like the idea of minions being able to be bloodied.  Others don't, citing it as too much bookkeeping.  In any case, some proposed bloodiness triggers:


  • Minions are always bloodied

  • The minion is missed by an attack

  • The minion takes damage (in an X-hits system)

  • The minion ignores damage (in many other systems)

  • The minion takes autodamage (the damage itself is often ignored)

  • The minion is missed by an attack that deals damage on a miss

  • Half of the minions in the encounter are dead



And I'm sure more considerations will be added as the discussion progresses.



All right then!


So, there you have it: a partially complete list of the choices to be made in creating a system for minions.  Which idea is the best one?  I'll give my analysis and preferences in a bit, but first I want to hear your arguments.  Also any ideas I may have missed.

Now council convoke, now wise voices be heard;
On matters bespoke, let this be...

THE LAST WORD
What you call elite minions, I call goons, and my design philosophy is KISS. I explain goons in more detail here: docs.google.com/Doc?docid=0AV3rBX1CAB0XZ...

But the short of it is:

Goons have 2 hit points.
An at-will or auto-damage normally bloodies a goon on the first hit, and kills on the second.

If you want to kill a goon in one shot you have a few options:
Hit it with the striker's shtick (quarry, sneak attack, etc.)
Hit it with an attack it's vulnerable to.
Hit it with an encounter or daily power.
Crit it.

As to the 'minions are too easy to kill' complaint, I don't worry about it. As long as my players are spending resources (actions or limited powers) to kill minions and goons, I consider it a fair trade.
A minion rule I wrote, called Rule of Three, got some attention as a suggestion in one of the threads you mentioned. I made it a thread of its own, but then it go zero attention at that point (ha). Its for standard (but slightly tougher) minions:
community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/758...
Locke: [after mugging a merchant for his clothes] It's a little tight, but the price was right.
I run Minions where the Treshold = Minions base damage for simplicity sake. With the DMG2's minion rules, this makes Brute Minions more powerful, which is intentional.

So a Level 1 Soldier minion has a treshold of 4, while a L10 Brute minion has a treshold of 10. The treshold ends at 18 for Brute minions and 15 for the rest. This is the damage that an attacker needs to equal or overcome to drop a minion. Hits and autodamage has effect, but misses still have no damaging effect.
The second you give Hit Points to a minion is when the minion stops being what is was originally designed to be.

I have my own version of Elite Minions, tested already to be quite effective, resilient, and annoying, all without having to track Hit Points.

Simply stated, the Elite Minions have Resist to all damage equal to their Level. For some really tough ones, make the resistance Level +1,23,etc.

This means while a character might hit a minion, they'll need a minimum amount of damage in a single attack to bring it down. This is similar to your threshold but it's more consistent and integrates immediately with the current rules.

At one point, I had elite minions with a leader monster that was giving them temporary hit points. The elite minions were able to take quite the beating while still dishing out pain themselves.

Now you can later increase the damage output or even give your elite minions encounter powers, but all it takes to get them to survive is the resist damage.

I go with the respawn minion method. (Someone already pointed out it is literally the exact thing from gauntlet, TYVM)


Necromancer BBEG? He has a power, move action, recharge when the last minion is dead (Or if there is 1 minion left, and the PCs caugt on and are ignoring it.)This power summons 1d4, 3, 2d4, X skeleton minions into the fight. Kill the necro minions stop.


Fighting some guards in a guard house? Every 1d4 rounds, 1d4 minions come running from "Elsewhere". Only way to stop them is somehow bar the door.


Fighting an elemental lord? He has a bowl of his element. It summons 1d4 minions whenever the last minion is killed. (it might wait a turn or two, or have a die rolled for no reason first) Knock over the bowl, minions stop.


Notes on this method


  • I don't award XP to players. I use one summoning station as one monster of the level of minions it summons for encounter budgets.

  • I get to keep the ease of "One hit, no book keeping" minions. 

  • My players love fighting a horde of foes, and this can really pump up the number of foes in a fight. (Usually for a boss fight it is solo, 2 elites, 1-4 normals, and minions, for normal fights take out the solo, and maybe minions)

  • Ambient damage is so not an issue with this method. "Oh you killed 3 of the minions by standing next to them? Ok well more just came, I hope that power lasts all fight, and even still, now you have to stand where they spawn and camp it taking you out of the fight."

"In a way, you are worse than Krusk"                               " As usual, Krusk comments with assuredness, but lacks the clarity and awareness of what he's talking about"

"Can't say enough how much I agree with Krusk"        "Wow, thank you very much"

"Your advice is the worst"                                                  "I'd recommend no one listed to Krusk's opinions about what games to play"

Currently only rule we use is that minions can only be killed with a hit. Basicaly expanding the rules that minions arn't hit on a miss. All this ,means is that if a minion is hit by auto damage then the source of that damage must make a attack roll to effect the minion. If a effect does damage on a miss it gets a second attack roll. this way powers that damage on a miss are not wasted on a minion but also don't auto kill a minion also makes it so auto damage is still effective but not instent death to minions. (the hit roll for auto damage is a free action for the source)

Though I Do like the idea of damage resist elite minions.

An' ye harm none, do what ye will
I sometimes use Krusk's method of minion spawners, usually ones that can be disabled as a skill challenge. That way they can be rated as traps (4 checks to take it offline, or 6 if it's an elite spawner that makes minions faster or of higher level) and if you fail the challenge the spawner is disabled but not before it spawns either something nasty or a whole last lot of minions.
Epic Dungeon Master

Want to give your players a kingdom of their own? I made a 4e rule system to make it happen!

Your Kingdom awaits!
Update 5th Sep 2011: Added a sample kingdom, as well as sample of play.
I've used a minion-spawning method that continues spawning minions for as long as one minion exists. When done right, with several standard monsters and a continuous but not overwhelming number of minions (having a fixed number that spawns minions only when one or more minions die), you can use the minions to set up flanks and add damage into the combat.

The original core books said that this was our game too. It doesn't feel like that anymore.

I occasionally use 2-hit minions just to keep players guessing, but I find that most of the time regular minions are fun and effective if I use them well.

The one issue I have with minions is auto-damage.  I don't like requiring an attack roll to apply the damage, or giving the minion a saving throw to avoid the damage, since it sort of invalidates the "auto" nature of the damage.  Instead, I do this:

A minion hit by an auto-damage abilility on its turn dies at the end of its turn instead of immediately.  A minion hit by auto-damage when it is not its turn will die at the end of it's next turn.  This allows them some chance to act before getting auto-popped. 


I like to once in a while like to use the titan minion, hard as hell to hit, hits hard so is dangerouse all by itself. However once you get that hit in it falls. Has ben fun for player and myself the few times I have done it but autodamage ruins it. is why I like making auto damage not simply kill it off.  I mean if a area blast spell needs to make a roll to kill it makes sence to me that a standing arua would also have to. Also allows attacks with damage on miss to do something special against minions on a miss (getting to roll the attack again)

An' ye harm none, do what ye will
I'd like to draw your attention to this:

We're not interested in hearing all the different ways people patch their game, as interesting as that may be.  What we're interested in is finding thebest patch for a given situation, and proving it to be so.
...
That doesn't mean we don't want to hear your houserule, mind you.  It's probably a pretty good rule, or else you wouldn't be using it.  But just telling us your good rule isn't enough; you need to tell us why it's good.  Why it's your rule.  Why it's better than that other guy's rule.

So don't just present your rules.  Discuss them.  Criticize other people's rules, and defend your own from criticism.  Think about why you made the choices you did.

I'll get the ball rolling.

My design philosophy is KISS.

You and me both, brother.

Goons have 2 hit points.
An at-will or auto-damage normally bloodies a goon on the first hit, and kills on the second.

If you want to kill a goon in one shot you have a few options:
Hit it with the striker's shtick (quarry, sneak attack, etc.)
Hit it with an attack it's vulnerable to.
Hit it with an encounter or daily power.
Crit it.

I knew there was another great system I'd seen somewhere, but I couldn't remember how it worked or whose it was.  Thanks muchly!  I'll add it to the list.

I love how your system manages to handle damage without ever rolling a damage die.  It moves quickly, and it's way clever.

But it seems to me that your goons will die faster than they should.  An elite minion should be able to take half as much punishment as a standard creature, but most standards will take more than two striker at-wills to drop.  Striker shticks and vulnerabilities are only worth about 5 damage per tier, after all.  And many encounter powers are essentially "make an at-will attack against multiple targets".

Also, your rule is a bit on the wordy side.  Ideally, the rule would fit on a line or two of the standard statblock.

As to the 'minions are too easy to kill' complaint, I don't worry about it. As long as my players are spending resources (actions or limited powers) to kill minions and goons, I consider it a fair trade.

I completely agree.

The Rule of Three

I didn't mention the Rule of Three because from what I can tell it's just a combination of Hybrid and Stronger Hybrid, with a different constraint on each and three hits instead of two.  I suppose that's unique enought o warrant it's own entry, though.

Regardless, it's way too complicated.  You have to roll to hit, roll damage, compare that to a table, record the damage, roll another die, and consult another table.  That's more work than most standards.  I feel like there's something cool to be found in there, but it's buried under a pile of cruft.

I run Minions where the Treshold = Minions base damage for simplicity sake. With the DMG2's minion rules, this makes Brute Minions more powerful, which is intentional.

I like it, especially the improvement to brutes.

That's quite a low threshold, though; it'll stop autodamage, but not any actual attacks.  What was your intention there?  Also, note that artillery often have a high base damage and skirmishers a low one, which could cause some undesirable behaviour.

The second you give Hit Points to a minion is when the minion stops being what is was originally designed to be.

I agree... mostly.  For an elite minion, hit points work pretty well in combination with a Two Hits system; since the second hit will kil anyway, the hitpoints act as a built-in damage threshold.

Simply stated, the Elite Minions have Resist to all damage equal to their Level. For some really tough ones, make the resistance Level +1,23,etc.

At low levels, that resistance is meaningless; nobody deals 1 damage on a hit.  At higher levels, an elite minion will be completely immune to the attacks of regular minions.

Various peole wrote:
minion respawning

Interesting stuff, but not really within the purview of this thread.  Minion-spawning traps and powers are something entirely different from elite minions.



And I guess I should say something about my own ideas, not just criticise everyone else's.  Okay.

Aesthetically, I'd prefer something where you never have to roll damage dice, like Tequila_Sunrise's system.  Adding up all those dice takes time.

Unfortunately, it's really hard to balance those well.  There are many ways to qualify an attack as "strong", as Tequila_Sunrise demonstrated,  but it feels kind of unnecessary to count them up when we already have a good, universal measure: damage.

Therefore, the rule I favour is a threshold-based one.  It loses a bit of time, but I think that the gain in balance and/or useability is worth it.  Anyway, as I said to PrimeSonic just now, hit points work surprisingly well with the Two Hits system.  My rule would look something like:

hp: 17; bloodied an elite minion becomes bloodied the first time it takes damage in an encounter.  A bloodied elite minion dies if it takes any damage.

It could stand to be more concise, but that's the idea. 

One thing that's neat is that you can often tell whether you'll kill the EM before you add up your damage roll.  If your flat bonus is close to the threshold, seeing a pile of high rolls in front of you is a sure sign that you killed your target.  If you get a critical hit, well, you've almost certainly killed your target.  A standard monster has enough hit points that you need to count them exactly, but with my elite minions you only need a ballpark figure.

Autodamage has to be taken into account, of course.  I don't know how I'd do it yet, but I don't think resistance is the way to go.  Imagine two PCs: Sean the Sorcerer, with Cha 20, and Fred the Fighter, with Str 18.  They're fighting some minions with resist 4 all.  Sean lets loose with a Lightning Strike; with his +5 Cha mod, he's zapping two enemies every round.  Fred wades in with Cleave, but alas! His +4 Str mod just isn't enough to get through the resist 4.  His damage has been halved because of a single point of difference.

I don't want to just let autodamage through, either.  Brashnir's delayed damage is an interesting idea, but it wouldn't make sense in the context.  Randomness, whether by saving throw or attack roll, looks like the only remainng option, but that would mean rolling another die, and that in a situation where a standard wouldn't have to roll anything at all.  Maybe if they ignored their first hit of autodamage, but let the rest through normally?  That requires bookkeeping, though.  Hmm.


Anyway, there're some more things to talk about.  Fire away!
it might mean a extra roll where the standard would auto take the hit but auto damage barely scratches a standard yet kills a minion so it makes it close, even if you miss 3/4 of the minions so it took 4 rounds to auto damage the 4 minions to death do you think a standard creature will die from just 4 hits of auto damage?
An' ye harm none, do what ye will

Exactly! It'd take way more than four rounds of autodamage to kill a standard.  A level 1 standard has about 30 hp; most autodamage at level 1 is going to be about 2 or 3.  That's at least ten rounds.  And it only gets worse at higher levels: a level 30 standard has about 275 hp, while autodamage is about 6 or 7.

So yes, there definitely needs to be something to reduce autodamage for elite minions.  If we can halve the impact of autodamage, it'll take about four hits to kill an EM; that's like taking eight hits to kill a standard, which isn't too unreasonable.

I see you're in favour of using a second attack roll for that purpose, stargazer_dragon.  Any reason why you chose that over, say, a saving throw? Just curious.

I prefer the attack roll for a few reasons
1) it lets the players feal like there in controle
2) it takes into effect the players ability to hit
3) Makes more sence to me thaat a attack roll be used since auto damage it a attack that automaticaly hits.
4) no issue with feats or anything that effects saves
5) actualy take into account the monsters defences so a very hard to hit minion is still hard to kill with autodamage.

over all just seamed more proper to use it basicaly. I thought about making minions immune to auto damage but I didn't like the idea that they couldn't be hurt, specialy since some autodamage is more or less there with minions in mind. The attack roll lets my players be in controle of the outcome. Kinda like the difrence betwean haveing the monster roll defence against a static attack or having players roll attack against a static defence. when the players get to roll they feal more satasfied with the resoults.
An' ye harm none, do what ye will
I'm going to try giving minions a save when they take auto-damage. Save and they don't go down; Failed saved means they go down.  Simple, no tracking and seems reasonable.

Reading this thread, I'm reminded of the Tainted Wraiths in the solo adventure (Dark Awakening). They have an encounter power that lets them roll a save to take no damage, and they're minions, essentially making them one-and-a-half hit minions. Granted, this is a roll with some minor bookkeeping, but it makes them substantially harder to take down than a normal minion.

Yeah, those were part of the inspiration for this thread.  Also Francis the Badger from Fool's Grove.

Those are some good points, Stargazer_Dragon.  Just to play devil's advocate, though:

Shouldn't the success of autodamage be tied more to damage than attack?  I mean, against a standard, your accuracy has nothing to do with the impact of your autodamage.  The only measure of autodamage is, well, damage.  With your system, the guy with a +10 attack roll who deals 1 autodamage will do way more against minions than the guy with a +5 attack roll and 10 autodamage.  Likewise, soldiers will be more resistant to autodamage than brutes.  That seems off to me.

Also, how do you choose what defense to attack?  Sometimes the autodamage will be a rider on an actual attack, I guess, but there are plenty of powers whose only effect is a zone of autodamage.  Consider, oh, the level 5 cleric daily Consecrated Ground. Enemies that start their turn in a zone take 1d6+Cha radiant damage.  It's description is "With a wave of your hand, jagged lines of radiant light spread across the ground around you like a crackling web, moving at your whim. Enemies that stand upon this ground suffer the wrath of your deity."  That's vague enough that it could refer to any defense.  Maybe the challenge is for the target to avoid your quickly-moving web; maybe it's to endure the stabbing radiance that fills the entire area; maybe it's to mentally steel yourself against the deity's wrath.

Lastly, what about those times when the player shouldn't be in control?  When the autodamage isn't an attack that automatically hits, but rather a passive obstacle that enemies have to avoid?  Falling off a cliff is a classic example of this: as it is, you make a saving throw to catch yourself avoid taking Xd10 automatic falling damage.  How weird would it be if the cliff had to make an attack roll against you to get you to fall off?
Most of the solutions I've seen in here fail on a few criteria of mine. I'll toss in my assumptions, and my conclusion (and thusly, my own house rule on minions).

Assumption 1: Players know which enemies are minions.
When the Hero steps into the Bad Guys Control Room, he looks around. He sees a bunch of soldiers that are obviously poorly trained, all in matching suits (with helms that hide their faces) and a ton of them. Guess who the mooks are?

Assumption 2: Players are hard to challenge.
My players know what they are doing. They role-play beatifully, but they also are some experienced players that know how to make the rules turn them into vicious killing machines. For this reason, I have several house rules that have turned my D&D 4e into "hard mode" to adequately challenge them.

Assumption 3: You should never, ever, ever have to keep track of minion hit points.
On my DMs Status Sheet I keep track of the status and hit points of all monsters; each monster gets it's own columns, and I group monsters by type. All monsters of a certain type go on the same initiative. Minions get a single column, no matter if I have 1 or 20; I do not want to keep track of minion hit points -ever-. Likewise, I don't think that players should need to roll damage rolls against minions, figure in math like resistances or temporary hit points or damage reduction, etc.

Assumption 4: Flexibility in how you use and abuse minions.
Sometimes I want to use minions as endless waves of enemies. Sometimes I want them to be henchmen that just stick around for a little bit, until they are easily dispatched. Endless waves are very appropriate sometimes; other times they don't make sense given the scenario.

Conclusion: There should be 2 types of minions; the traditional "Minion" should be discarded and "Elite Minion" and "Wave Minion" replace it.

Elite Minions: Whenever an Elite Minion takes damage, it recieves a saving throw. The players know not to make a damage roll, so this effectively replaces the time at the gaming table when they would be rolling damage. Auto-damage also requires a saving throw. If a minion fails this saving throw, they die. If they make this saving throw, they are blooded. A bloodied minion no longer makes saving throws. A critical hit does not allow for a saving throw. A minion that is healed in any manner (including given temporary hit points) simply becomes un-bloodied. Temporary hit points on an un-bloodied minion have no effect.

Wave Minions: Wave minions are present when initiative is rolled, just like any other monster. When a Wave Minion takes damage, it is killed (as per the RAW for minions). At the end of the round, a number of Wave minions equal to the number of minions slain that round join the fight in an appropriate way. This means that if there were 5 minions when initiative was rolled, at the start of every round, there will be 5 minions until and Ending Circumstance is met. This Ending Circumnstance can be anything from defeat of a certain enemy (usually an Elite or Solo), a combat skill challenge, or any other circumstance fitting the scenario.

Why I think this way is best (other than "because I like it"): Zero math, zero accounting, zero tracking of stats. Like most groups (from what I hear), we use something on the gaming board to keep track of bloodied enemies (we use glass tiles for enemies, so a simple red mark from a dry-erase marker does the trick; the red bead, red ring, or other effects work nicely too). It allows flexibility in how you present minions, and allows for adequate challenge for the players without minions feeling trite. It's not a predictable system, either; the players know which creatures are minions, but until they see that saving throw rolled, they don't know which kind they are. What kills one minion might not kill another. Area-effect powers also don't auto-slay all minions in their area; in fact, there is a good chance that several minions will survive a fireball or other Area-effect power. Some powers cue off of an enemy being bloodied - this is now possible with (some) minions. Wave minons are strenuous, especially when you tie the spawning of them onto an elite creature or even worse, a solo creature. There is the constant idea of "Do I try to take some of them out this round, knowing that they'll be back so that we don't need to worry as much about getting flanked or assisted against, or do I focus on taking down the summoning monster?".

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."

interesting system with the elite minions.  I think they should be bloodied by powers that miss and still do damage though like cleave and fireballs.

Those are some good points, Stargazer_Dragon.  Just to play devil's advocate, though:

Shouldn't the success of autodamage be tied more to damage than attack?  I mean, against a standard, your accuracy has nothing to do with the impact of your autodamage.  The only measure of autodamage is, well, damage.  With your system, the guy with a +10 attack roll who deals 1 autodamage will do way more against minions than the guy with a +5 attack roll and 10 autodamage.  Likewise, soldiers will be more resistant to autodamage than brutes.  That seems off to me.

**answer** I never tied it to damage since minions were never ment to be able to withstand even the slightest damage. however perhaps I should concider a set roll for auto damage like perhaps
D20 +1/2 lv +5 per teir or some other more appopreit math....On second though m concidering the save methode

Also, how do you choose what defense to attack?  Sometimes the autodamage will be a rider on an actual attack, I guess, but there are plenty of powers whose only effect is a zone of autodamage.  Consider, oh, the level 5 cleric daily Consecrated Ground. Enemies that start their turn in a zone take 1d6+Cha radiant damage.  It's description is "With a wave of your hand, jagged lines of radiant light spread across the ground around you like a crackling web, moving at your whim. Enemies that stand upon this ground suffer the wrath of your deity."  That's vague enough that it could refer to any defense.  Maybe the challenge is for the target to avoid your quickly-moving web; maybe it's to endure the stabbing radiance that fills the entire area; maybe it's to mentally steel yourself against the deity's wrath.

**answer** I usualy use reflex defence unless the autodamage is tagged to a attack, though I am starting to concider the save option more and more as I guess most attack keap with around a 50% 60% to hit (what exactly is the to hit suposed to be % wise?)



Lastly, what about those times when the player shouldn't be in control?  When the autodamage isn't an attack that automatically hits, but rather a passive obstacle that enemies have to avoid?  Falling off a cliff is a classic example of this: as it is, you make a saving throw to catch yourself avoid taking Xd10 automatic falling damage.  How weird would it be if the cliff had to make an attack roll against you to get you to fall off?

**answer** autodamage coused by none PC/NPC effects I don't require a extra roll for.





An' ye harm none, do what ye will
Two-hit or bloodied minions are good. As someone said, you shouldn't have to track HP.
Hits and damage effects bloody, or kill if already bloodied. Hits or misses that deal FORT defense in damage kill outright.
1/4 standard XP
My party goes through em like nothing. 
For the record I use minions and bloodied minions in my fights. Minions are 1/8 and bloodied are 14.

When running minions in combat, I suggest using them to aid another often. +2 to hit or defence for a solo or elite is way better than 5 damage. Don't forget that extra +2 they get for providing flanking. 

Also, have the minions move around to grant flanking while also giving players opportunity attacks. This helps damage the players and the enemies more, making combat faster. 
Blacksheepcannibal!: Yes!  Perfect!  This is exactly the kind of discussion I'm looking for here.

 I agree completely with all your assumptions and your conclusion, although I've got some questions about your final implementation.

First and foremost, was it really necessary to replace classic minions with wave minions?  If flexibility is so important (and it is), why should minions be restricted to a single type of encounter? Don't get me wrong, I love "Endless Waves" encounters... but there are some cases where all you want is a single minion, and even an elite minion would be too much.  A civilian running through the battlefield, for instance; there's no way he can survive even one sword thrust, and he's not going to respawn if he dies.

Second of all, what kind of XP are your minions worth?  Your "Elite Minions"are more like one-and-a-half minions; in your experience, are they a better fit to the "4/5/6 minions = one standard" rule than classic minions?

Third, have you found that saving throw modifiers have an effect on the survivability of your elite minions?  My current character, a bard, has an aura that inflicts a -5 penalty to enemies' saving throws against Charm effects.  Is it reasonable that he can kill minions 50% faster than his friend the rogue?

Lastly, what's your opinion on real elite minions? The kind that are worth half as much as a standard creature.  Would a two-hit system be straightforward enough, or are Tequila_Sunrise's goons better?  Or are both systems too weak?  And what do you think of damage thresholds?
propositions for discusion

Mechanism: "Thinning the herd"


Start: We start with save-for-bloodied minions (if they get hit & are not bloodied, they get a save. on success, they are bloodied instead of dead).

Downside: The problem is that they still require book keeping: at least, you need to identify which minions are bloodied and which aren't. This slows down the game

Explenation of the mechanism: Instead of each minion having a 'bloodied' state, the group of minions has a 'weakened' state.
If a minion gets damaged by a non critical hit or effect damage, you roll a save.
on failure, the minion dies.
on success, the herd goes from normal to weakened and the minion doesn't die. or the herd goes from weakened to normal and the minion dies. (just like the bloodied state, but now on group level)
Practically: you can keep a single coin as status of the herd (head being normal, tails being weakened). When batch of minions get hit, you roll saves. For each two successfull saves, a minion survives. on a odd number of successfull saves, change the status of the herd (flip the coin). If you flip to tails, an other minion survives.

Upsides:
- if you blast a couple of minions, you're guaranteed to kill a few
- minions aren't autokilled
- you don't need bookkeeping (except for a single coin)
- minions can't live around for ever (even without bookkeeping or hit points, they eventually die)


Mechanism: Strong minions
Effect: minions have resist all  equal to their level divided by 5.

Reason:
lvl 30 warlocks with a +1 rod of reaving in their off hand (curse deals auto-1 damage), wizards with 12 wisdom and cloud of daggers , etc ... are kind of gamebreaking, unrealistic and IMO not intended powerplay.

Mechanical effect:
- powers intended on killing minions (rods of reaving, autodamage, ... ) still work as intended
- minions aren't worth more XP, but instead players don't powerplay as much
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This is a fantastic discussion, and I agree 100% with Blacksheep's assertion that at no time should we have to keep track of a minion's hp.

I'm not a fan of having minions become bloodied as a global rule, but I'd like it for a few types of minions. A saving throw to see if they die anytime they take damage I think is a perfect solution, and if the four minions (based on 4:1 standard) are all hit each round, it'd take approximately 3-4 rounds to kill them all barring lucky rolling.

I don't see a reason to alter or even care about powers that alter saving throws. At the end of the day it's still a minion, who really cares if the bard is slightly better at taking it out than the fighter?

As a DM, I hate that automatic damage kills minions by the handful... when I did a few 'constantly spawning minion' encounters, they just threw a consecrate or other zone on top of the spawning area. As a player, I often choose auto damage because of its flexibility in killing minions. If minions somehow ignored it outright, I'd be upset.

However, Qube's example of the Rod of Reaving is exactly the kind of **** that players do just to ignore minions, and I do want it controlled or limited somehow. Is that kind of item/ability rare enough to get away with just caveatting it away? Cloud of Daggers I don't have the same issue with, it's a significant character choice and it's one square. A low level offhand item making the party immune to minions is on a different level.

As it stands, even at heroic I go 6:1 and that usually feels like too few to get my XPs worth out of them. I'm going to try out going back to 4:1 and giving minions a save to avoid dying at my next game, see how it works.
Just to define the situation a little more precisely:

A standard creature will take about four solid hits to kill at heroic, five at paragon, and six at epic, assuming only basic optimization.  Therefore, it's reasonable to expect that 4/5/6 minions, requiring 4/5/6 hits to kill, would be an equivalent challenge.

The difficulty lies in the word solid.  A solid hit generally means a single-target attack, made as a standard action, dealing at least 1[W] + modifiers.  This causes balance problems with multitarget powers, extremely accurate powers, and powers that don't use a standard action, because they generally balance themselves through reduced damage.

For a rule about minions to be perfectly balanced, it needs to ensure that halving the damage of an attack will halve its effect on a minion.  Of course, perfect balance would preclude perfect simplicity and perfect speed, so we'll have to compromise.

From the discussion in this thread, I've come to be convinced that a saving throw of some sort is probably the best compromise when it comes to speed.  Like you said,
At the end of the day it's still a minion, who really cares if the bard is slightly better at taking it out than the fighter?

However, I feel like allowing a saving throw against any kind of damage isn't the right way to help minions, for two reasons:
  1. Keeping track of whether a minion is bloodied or not (i.e. has used their saving throw power) is a lot like tracking hp.  True, it's just one tick mark with no math involved, but you still have to roll an attack, roll damage (or rather, saving throw), and write something down.  That's only a little faster than a standard.  Twice as fast, maybe; but we want something four times as fast.  In fact, since every minion will have to roll its own saving throw, an attack that hits a lot of minions might take as long or longer than if it had hit a standard!

  2. It doesn't fix the imbalance between autodamage and regular attacks.  Sure, the minions will be able to survive longer on average, but autodamage will still be just as effective as regular damage.

With that in mind, I'm in favour of allowing saving throws against autodamage (and only autodamage), as we were discussing earlier.  It addresses my first concern by avoiding all bookkeeping entirely: if a minion can roll a save every time it takes autodamage, we don't have to track whether the power has been used or not.  It addresses my second concern by making autodamage about half as likely to kill a minion as a regular hit.

It's still not perfect, because with classic minions autodamage is twice as effective as a regular attack.  Even if autodamage allows a saving throw, it's still nearly as good as a regular attack, because a regular attack has to roll to hit.


Qube--

Your first proposal certainly speeds up save-for-bloodied minions, but it has the same weird dynamic as blacksheepcannibal's Wave Minions, where it addresses minions as a group rather than as individual creatures.  It's like a houserule for a houserule.

As for your second proposal, 
Autodamage has to be taken into account, of course.  I don't know how I'd do it yet, but I don't think resistance is the way to go.  Imagine two PCs: Sean the Sorcerer, with Cha 20, and Fred the Fighter, with Str 18.  They're fighting some minions with resist 4 all.  Sean lets loose with a Lightning Strike; with his +5 Cha mod, he's zapping two enemies every round.  Fred wades in with Cleave, but alas! His +4 Str mod just isn't enough to get through the resist 4.  His damage has been halved because of a single point of difference.

I think allowing minions a saving throw against auto damage is the most balanced and effective fix I've seen posted. I would probably use several different types of minions depending on the style of combat I wanted. I'll call the first type Tough Minions and they will use the saving throw against auto damage method. The next type I'll call Swarm Minions and they will use some varriant of the 'waves of respawning warriors' method. Type three I'll call Horde Minions and they will use a group 'hit point' system which works like this: all horde minions on the map are counted as one group.  When a player hits any horde minion, a 'hit' is marked down on the group. For every two hits the minion group receives, kill the minion that took the second hit. And I might want to use the normal minions at some point so I'll throw them in the mix as Underlings. This should provide the DM with the means to cover a variety of different combat scenarios using minions. It's not perfect, but then nothing is.
Blacksheepcannibal!: Yes!  Perfect!  This is exactly the kind of discussion I'm looking for here.

 I agree completely with all your assumptions and your conclusion, although I've got some questions about your final implementation.

First and foremost, was it really necessary to replace classic minions with wave minions?



My reasoning here is that regular minions simply aren't a legitimate challenge to my players. Bearing in mind of course, that I use this system because it fits my group of players with our playstyle. As I've said, my players are pretty good at figuring out the system, and it is very difficult for me to challenge them without changing some rules.

A civilian running through the battlefield, for instance; there's no way he can survive even one sword thrust, and he's not going to respawn if he dies.



Civilians/Non-combatants are generally less than minions. For the most part, Farmer Joe and the like don't even have combat stats, let alone defenses, hit points, or attacks. If something happens in which the players might actually attack them, I simply assume that there is no attack roll needed. If the monsters attack these non-combatants, I don't roll, I simply decide if they hit or not depending upon what seems more appropriate for the encounter. (On a side note, one of my players once saved a woman from a goblin about to run her through; part of the treasure from that encounter was her personally presenting him an art object - a family heirloom sword. He's kept the sword out of sentimential reasons since.)

Second of all, what kind of XP are your minions worth?  Your "Elite Minions"are more like one-and-a-half minions; in your experience, are they a better fit to the "4/5/6 minions = one standard" rule than classic minions?



As I have said, I consider regular minions to be simply not challenging enough to be worth XP. They're a minor distraction, no better or worse than, say, cumbersome or useful terrian. For both Elite and Wave minions I use the standard quarter/fifth/sixth xp value for a standard monster of their level.

Third, have you found that saving throw modifiers have an effect on the survivability of your elite minions?  My current character, a bard, has an aura that inflicts a -5 penalty to enemies' saving throws against Charm effects.  Is it reasonable that he can kill minions 50% faster than his friend the rogue?



For the "live or die" saving throw, I assign no penalties or modifiers at all; it's always 10 or higher to live. I've thought about doing so - particularly with boss monsters that give their elite minions bonuses to the save - but it seems like too much trouble for the return.

Lastly, what's your opinion on real elite minions? The kind that are worth half as much as a standard creature.  Would a two-hit system be straightforward enough, or are Tequila_Sunrise's goons better?  Or are both systems too weak?  And what do you think of damage thresholds?



I think the saving-throw-live-or-die method is slightly superior to damage thresholds, simply because it takes much less time and effort to roll a d20, check the number, and see if it's higher than 10 or lower, as opposed to a player's damage roll (is he still getting that damage bonus from bob? Does he do more damage on bloodied opponents? Well, roll the dice, add them up, wait don't forget the temporary +2, etc etc).

As far as "real elite minions" I don't think you need a "equal to one-half of a monster" sort of power level. This may be colored on my pre-existing opinon that it's nearly impossible RAW to challenge players without presenting a nearly overwhelming encounter (which is true for -my- group, but I understand that this may not be the case for most groups). You generally want either a monster, a particularly powerful monster, or filler that is pretty easy to steamroll (without being totally ignorable).

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."

Yesterday I DMed an encounter using 4 lvl 13 Canoloth Harriers against a level 10 party. Before it, I told them I was going to test out the idea of giving them a saving throw against any damage. If they make it they live, if they don't they die. Aside from those particular monsters having very high defenses, it went surprisingly well.

One of the minions died the first time they got hit, the second took two hits... the third I removed with DM caveat after I succeeded the third save in a row. The fourth was where I think this kind of system succeeds best. The cleric hit the area with a flame strike, killing that first minion outright. The fourth didn't die, but since he was hit he had the ongoing fire damage. He died at the start of his turn from the auto-damage.

The player of the cleric didn't like the saving throws, because he's pretty inflexible,  but the rest of the players like how it went down. It was simple and while I made the saving throw on that fourth minion three times in a row, it made them think more about how they wanted to spend their resources.

The goal isn't to make minions hard, it's to make the fight more fun for everyone. 
Okay, so.  It looks like there are three schools of thought on how regular minions can be improved:

1-hit: Saving throw at-will to ignore autodamage.
1.5-hit: Saving throw 1/encounter to ignore any damage.
2-hit: Saving throw at-will to ignore any damage. 

("Ignoring damage" can mean either negating the damage, or respawning elsewhere.  Balance-wise, the two are nearly identical.)

Each has its pros and cons, and I think we've come close to the point where pure theoretical discussion isn't enough to choose one over the others.  What we need right now is more playtest reports, like Draconobalen's just above.  Repeated in bold, for visibility: We need playtest reports.


Although... the discussion's not done just yet.

My reasoning here is that regular minions simply aren't a legitimate challenge to my players. Bearing in mind of course, that I use this system because it fits my group of players with our playstyle. As I've said, my players are pretty good at figuring out the system, and it is very difficult for me to challenge them without changing some rules.

[...] This may be colored on my pre-existing opinon that it's nearly impossible RAW to challenge players without presenting a nearly overwhelming encounter (which is true for -my- group, but I understand that this may not be the case for most groups). 


Yeah, that's reasonable.  I know well how hard it can be to challenge a party of optimizers.

On the other hand, not everybody is an optimizer.  If your minions are a good challenge for your players, is there a chance that they'd be too much for the average player?

I think the saving-throw-live-or-die method is slightly superior to damage thresholds, simply because it takes much less time and effort to roll a d20, check the number, and see if it's higher than 10 or lower, as opposed to a player's damage roll (is he still getting that damage bonus from bob? Does he do more damage on bloodied opponents? Well, roll the dice, add them up, wait don't forget the temporary +2, etc etc).


Agreed.  For standard minions, at least.  And ditto for hard thresholds, like resist all.  But an elite minion with a soft threshold, like my suggestion above, might be more reasonable.  After all, you'll usually know the ballpark value of your attacks: my controller deals 1d6+10 most of the time, your rogue deals 4d8+22.  I'll never one-shot an elite minion with 45 hp; my friend might if he rolls high.  Whatever.  We don't care about our exact damage rolls: all that's important is whether our first attack killed it or not.  After the first attack, we don't need to roll at all: either it's dead, or the next attack will kill it.

As far as "real elite minions" I don't think you need a "equal to one-half of a monster" sort of power level. [...] You generally want either a monster, a particularly powerful monster, or filler that is pretty easy to steamroll (without being totally ignorable).



Sir, I beg to differ!  Y'know how in martial arts movies, the hero starts by fighting waves of basic unarmed mooks, but then after a while the BBEG sends out his "best warriors", who have weapons and armor and take more than one punch to put down?  They're strong enough that they might take out some of the hero's unnamed NPC allies.  Elite Mooks, the TVTropers call them.  The Crazy 88.  The Persian Immortals.  Clonetroopers, maybe.

Anyway, those guys are elite minions.  Minions are the unarmed mooks, and standards are the "level boss" guys that fight the hero in one-on-one duels.  (This assumes a solitary hero; things get mixed up in larger groups.)


Yesterday I DMed an encounter using 4 lvl 13 Canoloth Harriers against a level 10 party. Before it, I told them I was going to test out the idea of giving them a saving throw against any damage. [...] It went surprisingly well.

One of the minions died the first time they got hit, the second took two hits... the third I removed with DM caveat after I succeeded the third save in a row. The fourth was where I think this kind of system succeeds best. The cleric hit the area with a flame strike, killing that first minion outright. The fourth didn't die, but since he was hit he had the ongoing fire damage. He died at the start of his turn from the auto-damage.


Sounds like that worked out well.  One thing, though: Do you think your four minions provided as much challenge as 4/5 of a regular level 13 monster, or more?  After all, it took 7 hits to kill them, whereas 4/5  of a standard would take 4.  Plus, the fact that you had to DM Fiat the lucky third minion is a little worrying.
I'm a little late to this discussion but I have a different idea for Minions. (I use electronic record keeper so YMMV.)
I use HP = Level.
So, for the most part a hit on a minion is going to kill a minion. However, there is a chance that piddly at-will auto damage might not kill a high tier minion.
I have been doing this for 2 years now.
I love it.
Minions almost always go down on 1 hit.
But there have been those rare few times when a minion didn't drop on a hit, and the group knew these minions were serious. (Level 7 party vs. level 12 minions)

It does take record keeping, but it's so minimal, it just doesn't matter to me. The pay off is much worth it.
Viva La "what ever version of D&D you are playing right now!"
Well...
The second you give Hit Points to a minion is when the minion stops being what is was originally designed to be.


See, the thing about minion hit points is that the record keeping is not, in fact, minimal.  Oh sure, they might die in one hit... but if, like many people, you use zones and autodamage to handle minions, they probably won't.

Imagine you're a level 20 druid.  You drop a Flame Seed in the middle of a cluster of minions.  The guy you hit takes something like 1d6+6 damage.  Everybody adjacent to him takes maybe 7 damage for starting their turn in the fiery zone.  Your wizard ally then catches your original target and one of the adjacent ones in the area of his Thunderwave, dealing 1d6+13 damage (minus the minions' resist 10 thunder).

Quick, tell me: who's dead?

If it takes you more than ten seconds to answer, you're taking too long.

Now, maybe your electronic record keeper takes care of the math, I dunno.  Unfortunately, most people don't have electronic record keepers.  Can you really recommend your method to the average DM?
I've updated the OP to be a bit clearer.

Also, I think I was way too hasty in claiming earlier that save-to-live minions were the unanimous best minion systems.  Looking back over this and other threads, it looks like Threshold, Save-to-Live, 2-Hits/Threshold Hybrid, and 2-hits/Condition Hybrid are all popular and supported to various degrees.  

Unless anybody wants to argue otherwise, I think those are our most likely candidates.  We should focus on those four, comparing each against the others and picking the best, before we pick any specific variants.

I've already made clear my views on all of these, but I'll reiterate briefly because why not.

  • A pure Threshold system is a bad idea because it creates sharp divides in PC effectiveness if the threshold is low, and makes autodamage irrelevant if it's high.

  • 2-hits/Condition Hybrid has the same problem as any 2-hits system: bookkeeping.  Some variants might be appropriate for elite minions, but even those can get pretty fiddly.

  • I favour Save-to-Live for regular minions, because it has no bookkeeping and my preferred variant also handles autodamage well.

  • 2-hits/Threshold Hybrid is my favorite for elite minions, with a threshold of Con + 2*level.  Not much bookkeeping, and elegant to boot.