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?
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.
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!