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I put horses heads in people’s beds

Minions in 4E are like normal creatures but have only one HP. They attack player characters just like normal.

Mobs in 5e, this is kind of a forgotten rule because it’s one of those weirdo DMG variants, but it’s just an alternate way for a mob of creatures to make their attack rolls by looking at a chart. This saves a ton of time. Like, if you have a bunch of skeletons and they’re fighting enemies of AC 16 or lower, that means for every two skeletons, one hit, so if you have 49 skeletons, 24 of those will hit so you can just dish out 24d6+48 damage to their enemies. (Or, if you’re using the static damage numbers, which for skeletons are 5, you dish out 120.)

I sometimes see people who have overlooked or forgotten the mob handling rule, and sometimes see people who have imported the minion rule from 4E, and I’m not saying those are the same people, but if you’re considering minions, consider mobs instead. Here’s why:

Player focus and agency

I know minions let you cut through them like carboard cutouts, but that can also be a drawback.

I mean, the game is supposed to be based on what the player characters do, right? That’s where we wanna focus our spotlight time. It’s weird to me that minions make full attacks with dice rolls and a union card, while when the charactees go to fight them back, it’s like “nonononono, you don’t have to roll damage against these dorks, they’re already dead”. Like, OK, my weapon selection doesn’t matter, my sneak attack doesn’t matter, my spell level doesn’t matter? But when the minion attacks me, their damage matters and they get to shine? I can see why DMs liked them but they just don’t seem very fun to fight.

Whereas mobs, they have HP like any other enemy. I need to beat them fair and square. Do I go fighter with many attacks or rogue with fewer but more hard-hitting attacks? Those decisions matter, in a way they don’t against minions.

Works with any creature

It works best when they have around the same to-hit value or THACO or whatever but otherwise they don’t have to be homogenous. You don’t need to balance the encounter any differently than normal monsters, change their xp value, or anything.

I’ve seen other homebrewers try to make custom swarm blocks for skeleton hordes, for example.

But that’s not necessary with the wonders of the handling mobs rule. It’s the exact same creatures like normal, just a faster way of resolving their attacks.

This is great for sandbox play where anything can happen. Whoops, woke up a whole cemetary and and I was not preppared for that to happen? Mob rules to the rescue.

Works on the player side, too

Oh, no, the party amassed a bunch of summons and pets and villagers and undead and sidekicks and squadrons and mercenaries? Mob rules!

Full expressivity of the stat block

Regardless of whether the creature has weird attacks (like a cube engulf ability) or weird defenses (like a zombie’s Undead Fortitude or a skeleton’ bludgeoning vulnerability, that all comes into play fully with the mob rules. You’re not missing out.

Saves the right kind of time

I’m sure mobs save more time than minions do; minions cut out on one damage roll per successful PC attack, while mobs cut down on all their attacks. Yeah, yeah, I know minions will die sooner and that’s also time savings.

But think of what the time it is that we wanna save. Ultimately we’re playing the game because we wanna and because we enjoy it, right? We don’t wanna cut fights short if the fights are fun. But we can concentrate that fun while shaving of the least-relevant part: the mechanical layer of monsters attacking. We can still describe all those attacks diegetically, it’s just less number fiddling in order to do so. And for the player’s actions, where decisions both when making the character and in the moment matter, we’re getting the full experience.

A story from Drakar och Demoner

The first RPG I ever read was Drakar och Demoner, 1991 edition. One thing that bugged me to no end was this story, on p5 of the GM section. First spread I opened to now as I went to type it up and translate it. I guess it really etched itself into my mind.

Describe action fast and immersively! For example, if the characters are being chased by a gang of orcs firing st them, the GM doesn’t have to calculate modifications and roll a die for every shot the orcs fire. That’d take way too much time and ruin some of the mood. The GM can instead describe the collective bow string drum roll sound behind the characters, how the arrows scream through the air, and sparks fly as their metal tips hit the cave walls. The GM can make some hidden rolls so they believe that the GM really rolled to see whether the orcs hit or not, or if he really wants the situation to be dangerous, make up some probability to see whether they hit, like one in ten or so.

This bugged me to no end. I didn’t even understand the normal rules yer, and now they were telling me that the game master should cheat?! No!

Mobs give me all of the speed while keeping all of the danger. Love it.