More Creative Uses for Minions

Over at Sly Flourish, Mike lists some great Creative Uses for Minions. I wrote a comment, and that comment turned into this blogpost. Can you think of any more?

Ranged Minions
They’re sadly under-represented in the Monster Manuals, but even something as simple as a Goblin Minion with a Shortbow can do no end of pain before hitting the dust. They can skirt the battlefield and distract the PCs from their main targets, meaning the heroes either have to chase after ’em or use their area attacks to take a bunch of them out at a time – and a round spent mopping up minions from a distance is a free round where the tougher monsters can bring on the hurt.

Exploding Minions
Ok, not necessarily exploding (though that’s cool too), but how about Minions who change the terrain in some way when they expire. I ran one battle where the PCs encountered Stone Guardians – Small Golem Minions who shattered into rubble when they were smashed, creating Difficult Terrain in a 3×3 radius. With 8 of them scurrying around, it didn’t take long for the heroes’ movements to slow to a crawl. Of course, I paired those critters with a handful of Winged Gargoyles who could ignore the terrain entirely. Nice.

Similarly, you could have Minions who expire into a pool of water, poisonous gas or even Living Magic which does damage if an opponent begins their turn in the same square. Make the Minions Living Goo and a dead critter is a pool of ultra-slippery oil on the floor. Make ’em Feywyld critters and they could turn into trees and shrubs when they die, providing Cover for their allies.

In short: a Minion’s usefulness doesn’t have to end when he does.

The Minion Who Must Not Die
If you’re feeling particularly nasty, have one of the Minions know something that the PCs need. They’ve got to make sure he survives the battle, even though he’s attacking them. This means targeting him specifically with subduing attacks and making sure he’s not in the blast radius of area attacks. It adds a tactical wrinkle to the game which the PCs will hate you for springing on them. And that’s a good thing, right? :D

Now it’s your turn. Let’s see the Minion love, people!

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11 Comments on “More Creative Uses for Minions”

  1. I love Ranged Minions. A couple score of Goblin archers being mustered into ranks by their hobgoblin sergeant will give pause to any adventure group. In fact the first time I did that the players stopped their chatter and looked at each other with the oh, shit expression. Not often you get silent around the table.

    One I like use is the Skilled Common Minion. You take a minion and make them with a twist. Even the bad guys can be skilled at something. Like the goblin archers, if properly lead and trained they be scary. A little better archery skill, some tactics and now that volley fire by rank, roll back through their lines and on.

    Another would be orcish axe shock squad. A couple of throwing axes and battle axe. Have them charge the party from a hidden position, throwing their hand axes on the run and then smash into the party. They smash through the party and out the other side to disappear into the brush.

  2. vanishing minions. instead of dropping after taking a point of damage, they just vanish, as if turning invisible or teleporting. guaranteed to freak out the party.

  3. far realm minions. after taking a point of damage, they collapse into a pile of twitching tentacles and ectoplasmic insects which scurry into the ground.

  4. trap-worker minions. they’re rarely visible, generally scurrying through concealed tunnels buried in the walls and floors. they have peepholes to survey the room, and can pull levers or tripwires to activate traps.

  5. “That’s no minion.” a tentacled aberrant horror which dwells just beneath the surface, and uses false minions (1 hp pseudopods which appear to be kobold kneebiters and so forth) to lure PCs towards its concealed maw. if the PCs avoid the trap, it unleashes rays of searing radiance from its single beholder-like eyestalk.

  6. Ranged minions? Give them goblins a longspear, put them on a catapult, and used them as ranged weapons, of course!

    Here’s what I would say in D&D 3.5 terms — you do whatever you feel is appropriate for other editions: Weapon damage by (small) longspear for 1d6 I think. +1 to hit from above. Both sides take falling damage for the 20ft, except the goblin knows how to jump and tumble and therefore most goblins survive — but the target still gets the extra 2d6.
    .-= Alex Schroeder´s last blog ..Fliegender Wechsel des Spielleiters =-.

  7. minion voltron.

    the party encounters a great army of minions, equivalent in total hp to a particular solo monster. every round, one half of whatever minions currently remain join together, forming that solo monster. minions which join the solo monster cannot take any other action that round. the solo monster may act normally on the round in which it forms. a slain solo collapses into dozens of minion corpses.

    for example, a young red dragon = 332 hp = 332 kobold minions. in the first round, 166 kobold minions join to form the young red dragon, giving it 166 hp, leaving 166 minions. by the second round, the party has slain 26 minions, leaving 140. 70 more join with the red dragon, adding 70 hp to it, leaving 70 minions.

    unless you want a very messy TPK, use a solo and minions of lesser level than the party.

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