Two-hit minions (and another gaming hiatus)

One-Week Hiatus (from gaming, not blogging)

After three Fridays in a row of running my online D&D game, it looks like we’re finally going to have to take a week off.  My wife and I have a date Friday (yes, I have a life outside of D&D!) and two of the five players have scheduling conflicts or potential scheduling conflicts, so we’re going to take the week off.  This is probably a good thing since I’ll be on a business trip to New York next Monday through Wednesday and probably won’t have a ton of time to get ready during the trip (although I’ll admit that several hours on a plane with the laptop does make for a lot of D&D planning time if I wish).  I’m pretty much set for the next session already, so getting a little ahead would be a good thing.

TactiCon Prep

Dark Skull - The Black Knight of Arabel

I’m also going to start getting ready for the Living Forgotten Realms game that I’ll be running at TactiCon over Labor Day weekend.  I’ve been through the adventure once as a player, and I’ve just finished reading through the published version this evening.  The DM who ran it was pretty creative with rearranging things on the fly; I might take some of his modifications into the game when I run it.

One thing that the DM who ran this adventure did that I liked was making minions a little tougher.  Minions in D&D 4e are enemies that only take one hit to kill, no matter how little damage they take.  That’s fine – it gives the wizard in the party a gang to blow up.  But honestly, minions end up feeling a little bit pointless.  I’ve been making a lot of my minions two-hit minions instead, and I think it makes them more fun.  The rules I use are as follows:

Two-hit minions

  • Minions begin with two hit points
  • Whenever a minion takes damage, that damage is reduced to 1 hit point
  • This first hit bloodies the minion (so any PC abilities that kick in on bloodying an enemy kick in)
  • Damaging a bloodied minion drops it
  • Dealing a critical hit to an unbloodied minion drops it
  • Dealing damage to an unbloodied minion of a type that the minion is vulnerable to drops it
  • Rule of cool – anything that should wipe out a typical enemy drops a minion even if it’s not bloodied (massive damage, etc.)
  • And if the PC does something that would wipe out an unbloodied minion but the minion is already bloodied, feel free to have the attack drop the bloodied minion and then bloody an adjacent unbloodied minion (or drop another adjacent bloodied minion)

These aren’t hard and fast rules, but I think they make minions more interesting.  Now that Magic Missile is an auto-hit (my players have already started calling it “Magic Hittle”), regular minions just seem boring.  Sure, the wizard has to use his standard action to drop one rather than doing something awesome someplace else, but it still feels boring.  I am against boring!

MapTool Macro Updates

I’ve continued to tweak my MapTool macros on the Downlaods page.  First, I’ve discovered that WordPress supports a fixed-width font that lets me show you the proper indenting for the macros.  This makes IF blocks and WHILE loops much easier to follow.  Second, I’ve added new Basic properties and new code to PC macros to handle Brutal weapons.

A weapon with Brutal X means that you re-roll any dice that are X or lower.  So, a Brutal 1 weapon means you re-roll any 1s for damage, Brutal 2 means you re-roll 1s and 2s, and so on.  I first programmed this very manually for the dwarven fighter in my campaign who was using a Brutal 2 Craghammer.  Then I realized from searching online that a d10 weapon with Brutal 2 is exactly the same as a d8+2 weapon.  With d10 Brutal 2, you have an equal chance of getting a 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 or 10.  And with a d8 + 2, you have exactly the same chance of getting exactly the same numbers.  Sweet!

My code now contains the following lines:

[h: DamageDie=Wpn1Dmg-Wpn1Brutal]
[h: NumDice=1]
[h: DamageRoll=roll(NumDice,DamageDie)+NumDice*Wpn1Brutal]

So, if your weapon doesn’t have the Brutal property, Wpn1Brutal will be zero, and the damage roll will be one weapon die plus zero.  However, if it’s Brutal 1, the damage roll will be a roll of a die that’s one number smaller than the regular damage die, and then one point will be added to the roll.  Note that for Brutal 1 this means that you’ll be rolling a d9 or a d7 or something like that.  This is obviously impossible in real life, but MapTool doesn’t care!  Feel free to roll a d23 in MapTool if you like.

Summing up

I’ll be okay without my online game for a week, but I’m really hoping that the in-person game that I play in will start up again soon (the DM has not been feeling well for a while).  I’ll throw myself into future prep work, which, I must admit, has led me to keep on dreaming about the projector setup that I talked about last time.  What’s wrong with me?  :-)

I’m curious: Do any of you out there use house rules for minions, or are they all one hit all the time?

4 thoughts on “Two-hit minions (and another gaming hiatus)

  1. I haven’t changed the XP on them so far since the minions have just been supporting players in the battles I’ve used them in. If it were a battle that was really focused around a bunch of minions, I would adjust it upward by some amount – 50% feels about right to me, though I might only do 25%.

    I’m glad you like the idea!

  2. “Do any of you out there use house rules for minions?”

    Similar to yours:

    Minions have 3+lvl hitpoints. (Or maybe twice that… still playing around with the rule.) Doing this much damage (or more, obviously) kills them; any less bloodies them; any damage kills a bloodied minion.

    In practice, should work out the same as yours (crits and vulnerabilities will almost certainly push damage high enough to one-shot them), but without explicitly listing the exceptions.

    • Dale – interesting. If I were using your rule, I would definitely use twice the number you spelled out (so 8 hp at 1st level). Less than that and Magic Missile still takes out a minion in one shot at first level (dealing 6-7 damage).

      It’s cool to see someone else arrive at pretty much the same idea in a different way!

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