Fourth edition D&D has one new thing in it that I love above all others, and that is the concept of minions. Minions bring the crazy, over-the-top bad-assery of movies and books home to your gaming table in a way no other game mechanic ever has.
For those of you unfamiliar with the concept, a minion is a non-player character or monster who has levels and powers similar (though often to a lesser degree) to normal creatures of it’s type, though it is possessed of but a single hit point. For the non-gamers, it’s a bad guy that any single hit will take out. What this means practically, is that your character gets to look all Billy-badass while he wades through a horde of enemies, swords and spells flashing, foes falling by the wayside like evil, bloody wheat.
Minions are never killed by a miss, even if a miss would ordinarily cause them damage, which keeps them from being irrelevant in a fight. In addition to providing cover for the villain, minions actually require that you take time and address them specifically for them to fall down, thus taking fire for your bigger baddies. They are also easy to run in other ways. Not only are there no pesky hit points to keep track of, but most minions do a static amount of damage… so no dice there either.
I think the basic idea sprang from the old AD&D rule whereby fighters got one attack per level on 1/2 hit die creatures. (Almost all of which would be fatal.) Minions expand and improve the concept by letting all the classes in on the fun. Everyone gets to look like Bruce Lee or the “Dread Pirate” Wesly, artfully and effortlessly kicking the asses of the nameless, faceless background players on their way to the big scary Boss Villain grimacing in the dark.
I use minions liberally in my game, and rejoice when I see them in the game I play in. I think they are fun and help to keep the game light and fast-paced.
Do you use minions? Does your DM? Do you play a different game but might like to see the concept introduced? What’s your take?