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I'm the DM for a 4e group and none of us really like minions because of their hit-or-miss nature; its unsatisfying to use an encounter power on them, even when its strategically sound.

I'd still like some dungeons to have puny henchmen, but I'd like them to not necessarily die in one hit. I know that one way to avoid using lots of minions would be to instead use lots of normal enemies a few levels lower than the players, but lets suppose that I want to more or less preserve the monsters' defenses, hit modifiers, and damage.

The idea I came up with was to halve their health and halve their XP, so that they live about half as long, but give half as much reward. Basically I want the DM Toolbox equivalent of the opposite of turning a monster into an elite (p184 DMG1).

Is this a reasonable idea? Is there a more balanced way to reduce monster longevity without making it a minion?

EDIT: I'm not looking for advice on how to make minions more fun. I've already done some reading on that. My question is about ways to "nerf" normal enemies. I want to know if there are reasonable ways to reduce the power of normal enemies without turning them into minions.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Are you using "new" (post Monster Manual 3) monsters or old-style monsters? I ask because the newer ones have fewer HP, if I remember right. \$\endgroup\$ – Gregory Avery-Weir Sep 13 '14 at 21:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ @GregoryAvery-Weir I didn't know that. I'm using MM1 almost exclusively. EDIT: I don't have MM3 and would like to avoid buying a copy. \$\endgroup\$ – acbabis Sep 13 '14 at 21:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ MM3 has loads of different, less usual monsters. You're probably looking for Monster Vault that has the past-MM3 version of classic monsters. \$\endgroup\$ – Zachiel Sep 14 '14 at 21:55
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Telegraph that minions are minions.

Minion TOkens

WOTC's own products included tokens for minions that explicitly telegraphed their nature to players. This was done precisely to avoid the exact scenario you mention where a player wastes the valuable resource of an encounter or daily on a minion. You don't have to explicityly say "those are minion goblins," but you can describe them as "weak," "dangerous only in great numbers" or "mooks" to try to get it across as well.

Two-hit minions are a house-rule I have seen many times.

Quite simply, a two-hit minion takes two hits to kill. After hit 1 they are bloodied. Critical hits will auto-kill two-hit minions.

Adjust the whole monster math of your game

With the release of MM3, WOTC overhauled the general monster math of the game. As such everyone refers to monsters as either pre-MM3 or post MM3. The biggest difference is that WOTC saw that finds could become incredible grind-fests of at-will powers because monster health was so high. To update your game's monster math: Halve monster HP, Double monster Damage. This will speed up encounters, while still making them threatening to players.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I do describe minions as puny. The problem is that its unsatisfying to fight them. For example, there's no point in trying to do sneak damage. Also, players may use an encounter power (intentionally) so they can hit multiple minions, but it still leaves a sour taste in their mouth. Basically, none of us like minions. Two-hit minions sounds iffy because it has the same problem as one-hit: strikers basically do the same damage as everyone else, negating their purpose. Halve HP, double damage sounds like the best solution, and I think I'll try it, but can I get your thoughts on just modifying HP? \$\endgroup\$ – acbabis Sep 14 '14 at 1:33
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    \$\begingroup\$ Hitting multiple minions with a single encounter is kind of the point of a lot of encounter powers. Try to teach the party's controller to handle the minions while the strikers leverage their superior damage on the standard/elite monsters that may be in the encounter as well. \$\endgroup\$ – Brian S Sep 14 '14 at 10:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ I just got a copy of the Monster Vault and the damage values look comparable to older books. Did you mean "double the damage modifier?" Also, increasing damage and decreasing HP sounds like it will make enemies that are about as strong. I was hoping to learn if there's a good way to make enemies weaker without "minionizing" them. If you don't think such a thing exists, please say so. \$\endgroup\$ – acbabis Sep 24 '14 at 20:20

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