Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Rush In and Die, Dogs! -- 4e Minions in B/X

 Inspired by a query from ZharethZhen on Reddit.

Stormtroopers advancing; deleted scene from Return of the Jedi4e D+D introduced the minion - a variant of a monster defined by having just a single hit point. This has utility in classic D+D frameworks for modelling hard-hitting groups of creatures that can nevertheless be defeated easily -- even more easily than a the baseline monster with minimum values on its hit dice. (An ogre, at 4+1 HD, will have a minimum of 5 HP, but an ogre minion only 1.)

Adjusting a classic D+D statblock to reflect a single hit point is trivial. But how would one value a minion for purposes of XP assessment? It doesn't seem to make sense to rate them as either a 1/2 or 1 HD creature if they're hitting more strongly and have special abilities (flight, save-or-die, etc.). 

So here's how I might address the issue for B/X-alikes.

  • Monsters use d8 for HD in B/X, which averages out to 4.5 HP per HD.
  • B/X monster XP is based on both the base HD and any special abilities.
  • To calculate XP for a minion, divide minion HD by 4 to determine base HD, but add special ability XP based on the original HD. The dangerous nature of abilities from the higher-tier monster is reflected, but the HD-based XP is reduced to reflect the vastly reduced hit point capacity.

Have you used minions in your classic D+D? What do you see as guidelines for how to implement them effectively, or if at all?