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?



  1. Another point to consider would be whether damage resistance or immunity applies to the “hit” — if something takes half damage from fire, for ex, is that going to require a (seemingly irrelevant) 2 pts of damage or two separate hits instead of one

    1. Good point! I'd be inclined to waive resistance because it does get fiddly, but keep immunity.