Back when I ran 4E D&D I used a lot of minions in combat. The concept was great; creatures with fixed damage and 1 hit point. Minions were there both to eat party resources and to give controllers (and other roles with attacks capable of hitting swaths of enemies) their moments of glory, taking out obstacles in the way and clearing the path towards more important targets. In my games, players despised getting hung up on minions. Generally I let everyone at the table know what was a minion and what wasn’t, since even a 1st level fighter should understand kobold A is weaker, kobold B is the true threat, and react accordingly. My favorite superhero game at the time, Mutants & Masterminds 3E, also used minions (they took the maximum result from any attack), and for similar reasons. In comics there’s always hordes of grunts the evil villain throws at the hero. Think of the Battle of New York from the first Avengers film, or all of Ultron’s sentries in Age of Ultron.
As a game master I found them easy to track, but unsatisfying in play. I decided what I needed was something more powerful than a standard minion but less than a full on Monster Manual version of a creature. Something to use in random encounters or to spike the difficulty of a fight while still keeping overall hit point totals low.
As an aside, yes; I know I can cut hit points down for monsters. That’s very old-school, randomizing rolling hit points for creatures, but I like having encounters trackable on a 3×5 card. Thus, if I can track damage on the board some how, that’s preferable than scratching numbers out on a sheet.
With all that out of the way, here’s the alternative minion rules, or 10/2 minions. There’s a lot of two-hit minion examples online; here’s one from Dungeon’s Master; here’s another from Raging Owlbear that’s very close to what I use. I’ll be using 5E as my example below.
A minion has the same defenses and abilities as the monster description in the Monster Manual, or whatever book of opponents you are using. They have 10 hit points as a threshold. If the damage from an attack equals or exceeds 10 hit points the minion is killed/defeated. If the damage is below 10, the minion is marked as “bloodied”. A bloodied minion will be killed or defeated if it takes at least 1 more point of damage from any source. An unbloodied minion does damage on a hit equal to the average possible damage of the attack. A bloodied minion does damage on a hit equal to the minimum possible damage of the attack.
Example: 3 orcs are within 15 feet of a wizard. The wizard casts Burning Hands, dealing 11 damage. 2 orcs fail their Dexterity save and are eliminated. The third orc takes 5 damage, is marked as bloodied, and continues marching towards the wizard. Any other hit this combat will destroy the orc.
And that’s it; you can scale up the hit point total of the minion by proficiency tier; the formula for that would be 8+proficiency bonus.
Do you have a favorite minion rule? Or maybe you hate minions with a passion and have very detailed opinions on them? Leave a comment below!