336 POWER of the MOOK

Scheduled for recording on 4/5/2021

Mooks, Minions, call ‘em what you want - there’s some power in using them in our games.

https://gamingandbs.com/336

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if I recall correctly, in 1e AD&D you could get your level in attacks per around vs critters with less than one hit dice, swinging away at rats etc

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Looking forward to this one. I love good minion rules. Call 'em what you will – fodder, redshirts, rabble, underlings, flunkies – good fules around these schmucks can go a long way to making the PCs really feel like the heroes of the setting if that’s what you’re after.

You recall correct Blake - 1e a d&d fighters got this ability.

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Personally, I feel like mooks should remind people to take another look at morale rules.

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I almost never use these, so I’m interested in hearing more. My table may thank or curse you.

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Checking morale does a lot to reduce lethality in old school games. As do reaction rolls. Not every encounter has to end in combat, and not every combat has to be last character standing.

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Agreed, I don’t use codified morale systems according to the rules, but I am always keeping an eye on an encounter and determining when the foes will hit a breaking point. 1) This is a time management tool I developed while running D&D 4E to prevent battles from dragging on. 2) It just feels natural and makes for better story.

I like the concept of mooks and minions and having rules that set them apart from other foes.

D&D 4E minions had 1 hit point. This system had pluses and minuses. Sometimes you would have big critters as minions and it just didn’t make sense they went down so easy, even for minions. It also contributed to players trying to meta the game and determine which foes were minions and they would use certain powers to eliminate them. That’s not a bad thing per se but it did bug me. Minions could also overwhelm with their action economy, a fact that led to minions killing PCs on more than one occassion. But that might actually be a good thing? D&D 4E could have used an option between minions and normal monsters to balance things out.

Savage Worlds uses extras. They don’t have the wound levels like wild cards. They’re either up (normal state), down (shaken), or off the table (unconscious or deceased; either way, out of play). In my experience this system works really well.

13th Age uses mooks. Each mook has a small number of hit points and mooks function as groups which pool their hit points. Damage overflows across the pool, lending to the PCs able to damage multiple mooks at once if they did a large amount of damage. I like this system a lot because it plays quickly at the table and the players get the feeling of carving through their enemies in mass. Nothing captures the visual of a warrior wading through a sea of enemies or a caster blasting a whole group as well as the 13th Age mook system, imho. I also like this system quite a bit.

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Third edition WFRP has the hit point pool for minions as well.

Those 4e minion rules still work for me, the second edition of Alternity uses similar rules for minions. I have found that having minions enter the combat space in waves prevents them from getting effectively handled by a single grenade/rocket/spell. Some of them have conditions they can place on PCs, which makes them enough of a threat to distract from the big bad.

Also, recalling that “Easy Wins” episode a while back, nothing feels as good as wasting literally dozens of enemies in a combat. Ran a game with multiple waves of minions followed with some larger enemies sprinkled in for variety a couple months ago. My players were able to use all of their character abilities and equipment, and none of them were on life support at the end of the session. I guess my main take away is that having really easy enemies along with really hard ones gives you more fine control over a combat’s difficulty

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I think they are two completely different things, morale rules for enemies and minion rules for enemies. Part of what needs to be framed here is this: are we talking mooks and minions in D&D style play, or across the RPG spectrum?

Morale rules are interesting. I’ve traditionally never used them, including back in the day – just trusted my instincts to know when a force of foes would press the attack, parley, or retreat. With OSR games and the real focus on emergent gameplay, I’ve warmed to the idea of just using the classic 2d6 morale roll.

Mooks and minions are – to me – different, and they absolutely do not belong in every game. In noir games, horror games, investigative games – every foe you meet is potentially a tough / deadly one. Having mooks would only take away from that vibe. But when you’re trying to model heroic play, the PCs being bad asses – it can go a long way towards the game having that feel.

My. $0.02.

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I respectfully would contend, this IS a morale rule. I feel, as pointed out above, so many GMs run combat to “last creature standing.” It doesn’t HAVE to be a letter-of-the-law rule. Even in games with morale rolls, sometimes it’s just “wait, those people just killed the chief in one hit.” Drops weapon.

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Morale breaking is great - as the players celebrate & then freak out as they assume the fleeing creatures are going to get more of their friends… which of course - they are.

Hit & run minions are the best.

I used morale rules back in the day - but as Laramie suggests above - these days I “just do it” as Brett would day.
Wizards casts a fireball - the orcs are gonna run.

:smiley: Rory

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Agree! My traditional morale rules are like Rory’s – I just use the internal logic of the game, setting, and critters.

But there’s nothing saying you can’t use morale rules and minion rules, which are usually more about how easily they are taken out, how they can gang up, how one blob of HP of Difficulty can represent more than one creatures, etc. They’re often in place to make the PCs feel and look like bad asses.

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Yeah, we’ll see how Brett and Sean frame it for the show, but I also think that Mooks and Morale must be different.

Mooks - mechanics for “weaker” hordes of antagonists in relation to a supposed greater power level of the PCs.

Morale - a mechanic or measure of when any NPC is going to do something other than fight a PC until (usually) the NPC dies.

@LaramieWall , if you mean, specifically, that the question of Mooks fighting to the death can and often should be settled with considerations or a mechanic regarding morale, well, in that case I totally agree with you.

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Yeah, I also see the minions rules and morale rules as being two separate things, per see. Morale can affect minions just like anything else in the game and shouldn’t be specific to minions. Just my two cents.

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Sorry I wasn’t more clear, that’s on me.

Yes, as folks above said, morale and mooks are different rules and discussions, I merely meant that I think the mooks discussion should mention morale, even if only “and sometimes they fail that morale roll and bolt.” I don’t think a minion discussion needs to be an indepth dive into the mechanics, just a “and also remember this thing over there.”

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So a question that comes to me is what purpose/feeling/gaming experience the mooks are to bring to the game?

Depending on function a couple of interesting mechanics I have come across are:
To speed up combat WFRP 4e has a stacking advantage system where success makes the next attempt easier and if that succeeds the next becomes easier. So with enough of a power difference between parties this can result in mook like gaming experiences. The advantage does reset completely though if you fail and applies to all combats so is somewhat different.

Agon on the other hand treats everything as the same kind of test, with the same possible stats and the GM sets up type of characters encountered. So a whole bunch of mooks is treated mechanically the same as a single opponent, and you are left to describe as you see fit.

Another interesting thing in Agon from the mooks and morale perspective (is that a title looking for a game???) is that it is possible to do an Oration test to a crowd and turn them away or for the player characters cause. This then can become an advantage on a future roll. So the heroes can turn a mob riled up against them back on the instigators as mechanically easily as cutting them down in great swaths.

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Loved the episode, helped me think outside the combat box in regard to how I can use some minions.

I often fall into making social encounters about some conflict with a single actor, an influential NPC or organization, to sway a third party’s perspective. It could be a battle of the bands, an internet debate, a dinner party, a performance. The players RP, make skill rolls, some complications happen, they adjust and RP and roll and either 1) move something like an old school reaction roll chart in their preferred direction, or 2) outperform the antagonist’s skill checks. They win, the crowd loves them, the internet makes memes about them, they get the backing of an influential group, the critics write a glowing review, whatever.

The episode had me thinking about how to use minion-type extras in scenarios featuring social conflict. Social minions could be a rock band’s fans, internet comment board posters, a Noble’s flunkies, the audience watching the Passion Play of the Apotheosis of Sigmar. I’m think of assigning an action or two, like throwing underwear, applause (or booing), trolling, gossiping, or other behavior to the minions.

This would give the PCs another, relatively mild, complicating factor with which to contend. I think it would add an extra layer and enable some other activities on the part of the players. And even those easy checks can be failed sometimes, which can be played for laughs or a success-at-cost (or an even worse failure) depending on the tone and how the overall conflict plays out.

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I think it’s important that the PCs have the ability to hurt/kill multiple mooks in the same round. Otherwise, I would think a large enough force could overcome a group regardless of how weak each individual is.

Yup! I don’t know about Savage Worlds or 4e, but this definitely is why “cleave” is an automatic in Jay Little’s systems (Fantasy Flight Star Wars and 2d20): if Minions are functioning as a Group, any damage remaining after one mook is dropped automatically is applied to another in the group.

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