Saturday, August 2, 2014

D&D 5e: Minions Rise Again!

In a previous article, I discussed a two-hit minion variant for both 4th and 5th Edition D&D. Today, I will take a step back to introduce the minion mechanic into the 5E rules. Although I reference 5e monsters and use the D&D stat blocks, the ideas in this article are equally applicable to any OSR system.

In 5th Edition, monsters have special traits that are denoted below the challenge rating in the stat blocks. Wizards of the Coast hasn't given an explicit name to this section of the stat block, but it corresponds to "Traits" in the 4th Edition monster stats, so I will use that nomenclature for now.

To correspond wth their 4E cousins, 5E minions have a trait that allows it to avoid damage unless it has been directly hit with an attack or a spell. They do not even take 1/2 damage where others normally would (one could tweaks this if it feels like too good of an advantage).

In terms of relative strength, I decided that a minion should not quite be as combat effective as its non-minion allies. This also roughly corresponds to the power tweaking minions get in 4th Edition D&D. If the normal creature is fairly strong or dexterous, I might step their attributes down by one level. Similarly, the grunt may not have quite as good armor as his full strength kin, so I might adjust his AC accordingly. EDIT: After some discussion, I lowered the XP from 50 to 25 for minions (25% of the original monster XP).

Why have minions?


Simple. It's a good way to throw a bunch of creatures at a party while reducing the paperwork for the DM. A horde is much easier to run when their dead or alive status is binary. Without hit point tracking, either they've been hit and they go down, or they stay in the fight.

Along the same lines, you might want to add a little extra challenge to the party without overwhelming them. Adding a couple Orc Minions to a group of Orcs helps challenge a low level party without necessarily ensuring a TPK. It will also keep your meta-gamers at the table guessing since the relative strengths of the creatures will not be apparent.

Examples


Hobgoblin Grunt

Medium humanoid (goblinoid), lawful evil

AC 14 (Chainshirt)
HP 1
Speed 30 ft

STR 12 (+1)    DEX 12 (+1)    CON 10 (+0)    INT 10 (+0)    WIS 10 (+0)    CHA 9

Senses: Darkvision 60 ft. Passive Perction 10
Challenge 1/4 (25 XP)

Minion. Damage is reduced to zero (0) hp if an attack misses. A successful save that results in 1/2 damage is reduced to zero (0) hp damage.

Actions

Club Melee +2 to hit, reach 5ft, one target.  Hit: 3 (1d4+1) bludgeon damage
Javelin (x2) Melee or Ranged +2 to hit, range 30 ft/120 ft, one target. Hit: 4 (1d6+1) piercing damage


Orc Grunt

medium humanoid (goblinoid), lawful evil

AC 13 (Hide armor)
HP 1
Speed 30 ft

STR 14 (+ 2)   DEX 12 (+1)    CON 12 (+1)    INT 7    WIS 11 (+0)    CHA 10 (+0)

Senses: Darkvision 60 ft. Passive Perception 10
Challenge 1/4 (25 XP)

Minion. Damage is reduced to zero (0) hp if an attack misses. A successful save that results in 1/2 damage is reduced to zero (0) hp damage.

Actions


Spear  Melee (Versatile) +4 to hit, reach 5 ft, one target.  Hit: 6 (1d8+2) piercing
Spear Ranged +4 to hit, range 30 ft/120 ft, one target.  Hit: 5 (1d6+2) piercing
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