John "The Gneech" Robey (the_gneech) wrote,
John "The Gneech" Robey

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The Saturday Report

Apparently I really touched a nerve with yesterday's post re: my parents and the amazing adventure of the 5¼" drive. But that was actually a fairly small portion of my Saturday activities. What I actually spent most of yesterday doing was drawing Suburban Jungle for Monday. It's a big one and took me a long time, but I was pleased to get it done. Unfortunately, due to technical upcockery, I have not been able to get the strip to katayamma for coloring. So if I can't get it to him by tonight I'll end up coloring it myself. This one is not going up in black and white.

In the evening, sirfox came over and ran some more D&D. We're getting a little more facile with the ruleset, which helped keep combat moving along, but more importantly our dice cooperated for a change. It's amazing how much faster combat goes when you can actually hit the monsters. I suspect sirfox may have toned the encounters down a little to better suit a four-player group, as well, which meant we could get through more without having to head back to town.

We made our way into the catacombs under the titular Keep on the Shadowfell, where we found goblins, lackeys of the BBEG of this particular adventure, including one who needed rescuing from his fellows, named Meepo er Deekin er Splug, who spoke in a voice remarkably like that of Mr. Bean. His torturer was helpfully standing next to a giant fire pit, and knowing the 4E design philosophies the way I do, I knew that they put that pit there specifically for pushing hobgoblins into. Being a Warlord, and having a variety of powers that push, pull, and generally shift people around the battlefield, I obliged them.

Shove! Aaaargh! *gets out* Shove! Aaaargh! *dies*

Predictable, but fun. :) I didn't want the designers' hard work to go to waste. ;)

I am starting to notice a "sameness" in the 4E combats, however, for all their vaunted movement etc. It generally goes like this:

  1. Monsters pop up. Terrain bits are identified.

  2. Minions are identified; the figuring of out which baddies are "the real threat" takes place.

  3. Wizard blows the minions away. The real fight then commences.

  4. Terrain bits are played with and "the real threat" has encounter powers poured into them until they die.

  5. Profit.

To be honest, I don't think the "minion" mechanic is a very good one. At one hit point each, they're just too fragile. They're not good support troops, they're not a good hazard, they're barely even a good speedbump. All they do is waste the wizard's first turn.

The point of the minion, as opposed to simply using a bunch of lower-level monsters, is that they're supposed to still be able to hurt the heroes. Throwing a ton of 1st-level monsters against a 6th-level party is no threat because the monsters can't hit the party's AC and so they do no damage — and their defenses are so low that the party mows through them. So you throw 6th-level minions at the party ... their attack bonuses are high enough to hit, and their defenses are high enough that the party might miss. Right?

Well, no. The damage minions inflict is figured, if I remember correctly, as being ¼ the die they're supposed to be rolling. Being surrounded by minions isn't particularly scary if they only do 2 points of damage on a hit. And sure, their defenses are higher than low-level monsters' defenses would be, but they only have 1 hit point — which means you only need to roll semi-decently once and they're out of the fight.

So I'm thinking of coming up with my own quasi-minion type rules, where they do normal damage for their level and have hit points equal to their level perhaps, or something else that makes them a little less tissue-papery. Because right now, as written, minions aren't adding anything to the adventure, they're just clutter getting in the way of the "main event."

-The Gneech
Tags: comics, dungeons & dragons, gaming, suburban jungle
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