Beefing up Minions, Using Them as Followers
Minions can be a great way to spice up encounters. When used judiciously, they can speed up battles while letting players feel heroically powerful. They can also be used to effectively create non-player-characters who won’t overshadow player characters in combat. Use them too much, though, and they become down-right easy to “read” by players and sometimes players will begin to take them for granted, becoming complacent and lazy with their tactics. If that happens, try spicing up your battles by using the following house rules. They will provide ways to make minions a bit more “beefy,” both as enemies and sidekick non-player characters, and players will find them a bit surprising when they strike one and it refuses to go down in one blow.
Use these minions in place of two regular minions. Critical hits will strike down a two-hit minion outright. Otherwise a two-hit minion will take two hits to strike down, regardless of damage, and one hit results in the minion becoming bloodied. Also read the section on “striking a minion down” to see how and if a minion actually dies after it is struck down. They cause one extra point of damage compared to regular minions of their kind. To compensate for these changes in rules double the XP value listed for these minions.
Commanders/henchmen (three-hit minions, a stronger form of minion):
Reserve this type of minion for representing sergeants, lieutenants, chieftains, captains, commanders, or trusted henchman, etc., who command other minions in battle, or who operate as a favorite, trusted henchman of some other greater man. Use one of these to take the place of three minions. They operate similar to 2-hit minions/underlings, as listed above, except that they take three hits to kill instead of two, and it takes two hits to bloody them. They also cause two extra points of damage compared to regular minions of their kind, and critical hits do not necessarily strike them down outright. Instead, a critical hit counts as two hits and bloodies them. Also read the section on “striking a minion down” to see how and if a minion actually dies after it is struck down. To compensate for this change in rules triple the XP value listed for these minions.
Striking a minion down (applies to all minions):
When struck down, if not a follower of a PC, these creatures make a save at the end of the battle to see if they are still alive. The victorious side then has the option of killing them outright automatically, or letting them die a slow death (providing them with no aid), or healing them. A failed heal check to stabilize them means the minion must make a new save. If it fails, it immediately dies; if it succeeds, a new heal check can be attempted. For followers, see the “follower minions” section below.
Ongoing damage, vulnerabilities, and resistance for minions:
A minion continues to take 1 more hit per turn until it makes a saving throw to stop ongoing damage. If it has vulnerability to a source, it immediately drops out of combat. If it has resistance to a source, it does not take any ongoing damage from that source.
Follower minions (minions who are followers of a PC):
Receive a maximum of one action point per encounter, subject to the same rules as a PC. They also receive one second wind per encounter, subject to the same rules as a PC, that allows them to regain one lost hit, regardless of whether or not they are bloodied at the cost of one healing surge. A magical healing, on the other hand, allows them to regain two lost hits at the cost of one healing surge. See “healing surges for monsters and NPCs” in the DMG (page 187) to see how many healing surges NPCs and monsters receive. As for skills, a 1-hit follower typically has one trained skill; a 2-hit follower typically has two; and a 3-hit follower usually has three. As for special abilities or attacks, 1-hit and 2-hit followers usually have a maximum of one, though the type of ability is usually more potent for a 2-hit minion; and 3-hit followers typically have no more than two. When minions go up in level they typically receive an increase in defense bonuses, ability modifiers, and the damage they cause (according to the DMG 2), and skill modifiers, as according to their level, but nothing else; this also usually means the potency of special abilities or attacks goes up as appropriate (or are replaced by something better). Minions who are followers of a PC also have three death saves instead of the rules given above under “striking a minion down,” and they follow all the same death-save rules as PCs.