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What’s the Crock Pot? Just a simmering bowl of lentils and herbs, with a dash of DMing observations. Don’t be afraid to dip in your ladle and stir, or throw in something from your own spice rack.

Laugh it up, fuzzball

Francis, the batted-around badger minion from D&D’s 4E promotional vid introducing the tiefling as a core player race, makes an appearance in the promotional posters provided to game stores and other retailers. He’s waaaaay up in the upper left corner (recently returned from a drop-kick, apparently). It’s good to know the gnome and his little friend weren’t completely forgotten by Wizards of the Coast as the release date approaches. And yes, even we fellow gnomes get the joke.

One hit wonders

Minions are 1 hp monsters designed to reduce record-keeping in 4E combat. And that’s a good thing. Less record-keeping, that is. But is the 1 hp monster really revolutionary, or just instituting a longstanding DMing best practice? I mean, you can make any monster a 1 hp monster, if you desire. I’ve had easy-to-dispatch minions for years, though I usually have them run away after first blood rather than outright kill them. But then, I’m the merciful sort.

Red shirts required

The only problem with disposable villains, unfortunately, is the idea of disposable allies. Instead of attracting a cohort and devoted followers, will PCs now be inclined to hire out their own 1 hp minions — but with a devil-may-care attitutude toward their fate? Does D&D need a host of red-shirted hirelings? Aren’t most PCs — you can call them adventurers, if you like, but mostly they’re tomb raiders and other despicable sorts— callous enough without giving them cannon-fodder to play with? On the other hand, chess players are pretty ruthless with their pawns …. something to think about.

About  Troy E. Taylor

Troy's happiest when up to his elbows in plaster molds and craft paint, creating terrain and detailing minis for his home game. A career journalist and Werecabbages freelancer, he also claims mastery of his kettle grill, from which he serves up pizza to his wife and three children.



11 Responses to Troy’s Crock Pot: Lemee introduce you to my little friend

  1. I’m not sure I’m really sold on the minion idea, personally. But I’ll have to play with it before I can decide how it is. I guess I just don’t understand it in ‘story’ terms. I suppose that if I was dming it what I might do is just say that minions have normal amounts of HP, but automatically flee after taking even 1 hp worth of damage… or something. I dunno. Can’t quite wrap my head around it yet.

  2. I have been using Minions for the past two years in my Iron Heroes campaign. I originally adopted them from a previous Mutants and Masterminds game, and I will always have minions.

    There is nothing that looks better than 4 PC’s lined up against 60 minions and a few major NPC’s. It plays more like the cinematic combat you see in movies, where the heroes are wading through meaningless bad guys to square up with their evil counterparts.

    In addition, I think it raises the realism factor, in that you don’t have a room with just the major bad guy sitting alone, or with 1d4 henchmen. Rather he is surrounded by numerous devout followers.

    Viva la Minion!

  3. I love the minion concept. Feng Shui has had mooks for years, and they work essentially the same way (one hit kills them).

    Somehow, despite liking mooks in FS I’ve never considered drifting that rule into other games (like D&D). It’s smack-my-forehead obvious, but I’m not that smart sometimes… ;)

  4. Maybe one way to manipulate minions/mooks to your ends is to give them “just enough” hit points to evoke the strength level you’re shooting for.

    If it’s just the PCs wading through a horde of baddies, then just have them drop with a single hit. But if you’ve got some allied NPCs involved that are supposed to make the PCs look good, maybe you have the mooks take 2 or 3 hits from an NPC (but still only one from a PC).

  5. You know, I’ve not been “in the loop” regarding GMing or DMing. This is the first I’ve heard of the minion idea, and I really like the concept. I think I’ll insert it into my Hackmaster campaign. It’ll give the players the perception that they’ve created some heroes rather than some low-level PC’s the NPC’s can smack around when they want. lol

  6. That sounds like fun for a cleave-happy man-at-arms like me, but what about my archer friend? Disposable villains like that seem to overpower anyone with cleave, or at least make it so we’re taking up a lot more of the battle time – and spotlight.

    Is there some balancing factor that gives people who aren’t playing tanks a chance to enjoy taking out a whole pile of enemies in one round?

  7. Swordgleam – Well, considering Cleave is only in 3/3.5, that… isn’t a problem if you aren’t playing in that system. He’s talking about 4e, where Cleave hits two people, maximum. And the second person only takes strength mod damage. It is, of course, a standard action ability to always hit two people, though.

    Hell. Your Archer friend can actually do better than that – Sort of. Instead of getting an automatic second attack, archers can just get two separate attack rolls. Again, standard attack.

    And, if you’re at high enough levels, he could just kill em all…

  8. Ah, I remember the “unofficial” Goblin Servant the player group had, his name was Azid, the self Hating Goblinoid.
    He really didn’t do much, but maybe carry some of the characters crap, and give speeches how it would be better to be anything else other than a goblin. Every night, somebody had to do 5 points subdual so he could sleep, because among the Ork clan the characters freed him from, that was the only he could sleep.
    Every time a fight happened he hid, and you know what? He never got hurt. Why? Because I AM GOD HERE! (That what I would yell at to the PCs) and thats it.
    Till this day, Azid is the most remembered character of all mine by my players because of this. I love minions.

  9. Kurt "Telas" Schneider

    Nothing new here…

    Savage Worlds “mooks” drop at one Wound (PCs and important NPCs drop at four Wounds). I always envisioned this as movie mooks dropping after one punch or kick, then crawling away later, wondering why this seemed like a good idea at the time.

  10. I think every group should have a mascot. We’ve had a few: Bob the kobold, who the rogue adopted and turned into a damn good thief; Yossarian the Warrior, who appeared out of the Deck of Many Things draw and so worshipped the elf who drew him that he was obnoxious, but always made that last saving throw or hit to save the party; Marvin Bigglesmander, hopeless bard and the butt of many bad jokes. Good times, and each one does its job, in that it instantly reminds me of the campaign they were associated with.

    Minions may not be new, but it’s a good move to make the PCs seem more heroic at low levels with one-blow kills. Also, it takes the guilt away when you break the rules and throw out the Undead Control rule so your uber arch-priest of Nerull can actually control a thousand zombies at once.

    If hireling minions become abused by the players, it’s only the DM who’s at fault if they do so with impunity. Acquiring a bad reputation, angry relatives, or even lawsuits may make a party reconsider the “disposable NPC”.

  11. I made up a feat for a PC warlord who wanted some members of his old mercenary band. Essentially, it gave him X number of minions (the X was his Charisma bonus), whose level were the same as his. They each had one healing surge (as normal for critters), but no Second Wind ability — but this allowed the party’s cleric to use the Heal skill to revive them.

    To handle the 1 hp part, I ruled that these minions weren’t killed on the first hit, just knocked silly. They could be revived as normal outside of combat. This made them somewhat useful, but the 1 hp part kept them from being too much of a burden — one solid hit took them out of the fight.

    In hindsight, making a feat for this is a little overpowered. Essentially, the PC with lackeys is getting X number of extra attacks (albeit low-powered) as well as that many extra targets for his enemies’ attacks (though the PC in question didn’t treat them like meat shields). The idea of a party having some minions of their own CAN work, but be careful of entertaining the idea around power-gamers. It’s easy to exploit.

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