Minion Rules?

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The new playtest report mentions specific rules for minions again:

>>>Quote: The walls were burial niches chock full of old corpses, and there were three big golden sarcophagi in the middle of the room. We tried to quietly file through without disturbing anything, but you can imagine how that worked out. In the blink of an eye a dozen vampires poured out of their hiding places in the walls, and mummies starting climbing out of those big sarcophagi. It seemed like every square in the room had something dead standing in it....
We discovered, much to our relief, that we were facing vampire minions—dangerous if they mob you, but otherwise easy prey for some big AoE attacks like the sort we were throwing out.

I first thought they'd handle "minions" just like non-heroics in Star Wars, which is to say, no special rules, they just have very low hit points. That may still very well be the case, but I'm wondering if there's not some other system in play, one that reduces bookkeeping.

I thought of an elegant system that would reduce the need to keep careful track of every single hit point of damage inflicted on minion mobbers.

It works like this: Minions have two damage thresholds, one a quarter of their full hit points, the other half their full hit points.

Score damage, in a single hit, less than a quarter of their hit points and you get inflict "one damage level" on the minion. Score damage above a quarter of full hit points -- again, in a single hit -- and you inflict two damage levels. Score damage in a single hit above half their hit points (the top threshold) and you simply destroy the creature in a sort of modified "massive damage" rule, but without the tedium of a saving throw. They are minions, after all. It's just not all that important in the scheme of things whether they live or die.

Each minion gets three damage levels it can suck up before being defeated. So scoring a low-damage hit (below the quarter hit point threshold) plus one higher-damage hit (above the quarter point threshold) would inflict a total of three damage levels on the creature, destroying it.

The benefit of this is that with large groups of opponents, one doesn't bother keeping precise hit point counts of all minions. Each attack is compared against the two thresholds -- quarter, half hit points -- and thus inflicts only three discreet damage states on a creature, wounded (one damage level), severely wounded (two damage levels), or destroyed, with a cumulative three damage levels worth of injury also equal to destroyed. So each creature can be kept track of via tick-marks, up to three.

The thresholds would probably have to be lower than one-quarter and one-half hit points; I just threw that out there as a for instance. It might be better to have the thresholds equal to one-fifth and two-fifths hit points.

Minions would thus both be weaker, going down with (at most) three damaging hits, often going down with a single hit, and easier to keep track of. Damage rolls would be made not to generate precise amounts of damage, but to check to see if the attack crossed the low threshold or the higher threshold, basically a damage roll made against a sort of DC based on hit points. An ogre minion might have thresholds of 10/20; damage is basically being rolled almost as a skill check to see if it exceeds either 10 or 20.

Part of this is justifiable based on the forgotten idea of Morale -- "minion" type creatures are unlikely to fight characters to the death; they're just not that invested in the fight. Rather than making morale checks for such creatures at half-hit points (which adds rolls to combat, and also monsters always running off isn't as dramatically satisfying as actually downing them), just create a similar game result by having them "defeated" (killed, too wounded to fight on, playing dead, etc.) after a relatively low amount of damage.

Non-minion forces have normal hit point rules, of course. Low-level monsters would probably not be subject to these rules at all, because they'd tend to go down on one or two hits anyway so these minion rules wouldn't simplify the situation much nor make them much weaker than they already are.