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I have a level 8 party in a thieves guild/pirate campaign and I was wondering how it would play out if I gave them a high level minion like a level 11 "Ogre Thug" or a level 15 "Grimlock Minion", both from PHB1. Would their defenses and attack roll bonuses be too high? Or do you think the players might eventually hit it at least once before being smitten by their superior damage and accuracy?

I only have two players currently so it can get risky but I was mostly just wondering how you think this might work.

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The problem, basically, is that PC defenses and to-hit values increase every other level, and monster to-hit and defenses increase every level.

So if you're L8 party (on average) hits 60% of the time, and gets hit 40% of the time. If you face a L15 minion, your party's going to be hit 75% of the time, and is only going to hit 25% of the time.

Your PCs will have trouble hitting anything (need to roll 15+), and your Monsters will have trouble not hitting (need to roll 5+). Now this won't quite be true, if your PCs hit a bit harder or have slightly better defenses. But at the same time, it illustrates how big of a difference there is just in a 7 level difference. For every level you go up from there, it gets worse and worse (not to mention that the minions get more and more effective and may even pick up damage resistance that means they can shrug off any hit your PCs could possibly make on them).

There is another consideration here. And thats the fact that a L15 minion is a huge amount of XP for a L8 PC. And they are trivial to kill.

Here's the wicked bit about this. Your PCs couldn't hit this guy if he was standing still, but all they need to do is 1 point of damage to kill him outright. Several PC abilities are auto hit and do just a tiny bit of damage (wizard's magic missile, Fighter's rain of steel and several other powers). These will mow a minion down.

Don't do this. The fight will either be trivial or a bloodbath and there isn't much in between ground for it to stay in. The first PC who gets a hit in drops the monster and that's the end of it.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ plus 7 levels mean 7*5=35% difference. 60-35=25% hit chance, 40+35=75 being hit chance. \$\endgroup\$
    – András
    Sep 11 '14 at 10:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ @András wow, math fail on my part. Thanks for the edit. I've made an additional edit to account for shift in math \$\endgroup\$
    – wax eagle
    Sep 11 '14 at 11:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ If you gave the minion more than 1 hp, the fight would be less all-or-nothing, but the math would still make it unfun. \$\endgroup\$
    – Brian S
    Sep 11 '14 at 14:01
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Badly, and it's not just the math. The system is designed so that there are multiple monster roles to match what you want to get out of a scene. Minions are specifically designed to model "crowd fight" scenes — there's a bunch of them, and it's a real threat, but you don't actually need to worry about any individual one specifically. (In some ways, you can think of this as an alternate way of modeling a crowd as a swarm.) By contrast, the normal monsters are designed to be part of a group about the same size as the party, and solo monsters are designed to face the whole party alone. (Although arguably that doesn't really function right; but that's another issue.)

If you just take one minion out of this context, it really makes no sense. The thing you have isn't meant to model that. That's not just from the rules / challenge level / math angle — it also doesn't really make sense in most in-game situations. I mean, maybe you can contrive one — but since the power level doesn't really line up right either, it's probably not worth it.

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