Campaign of the Month: June 2012
With the implementation of Injury Points, a slight modification takes place with Mooks. Mainly, whatever damage takes out a Mook is irrelevant. They are taken out. Don’t waste time converting Hit Point damage to Injury Damage, it is all the same to Mooks. Secondly, you now get rewards for taking down the henchmen of a big baddie. The reward are Mook Dice, which will be used to combat the Boss if that battle happens directly.
Mook rules are rules for handling the “nameless extras” in a fight, allowing large numbers of opponents to be put in play but be casually cut down by the hero. Mooks are the guys in the stories that en-masse pose a credible threat to the heroes, but individually drop like flies and are quickly forgotten in the big picture of the story.
Mooks are now implemented for a number of reasons. Firstly, there is a kind of tedium that leads to frustration regarding spending round after round weeding through the big bad evil enemy’s henchmen only to have the villain vanish before any damage may be done to him. Secondly, mooks can provide the PCs with a chance of Awesome, being able to weed through the lesser villains, and giving them a feeling like they are really accomplishing their goal of more quickly getting to the main villain and being bad-ass while doing so. Finally, mooks give a cinematic and genre feel to the game. From movies where there are legions of mooks set to slow down the heroes from getting to the major villain (such as in Immortals or any number of pictures where the hero stands well above the rabble), to the gritty martial arts movies where the mooks surround the hero and press the attack, only to be left in a circle of unconscious or dead bodies after he’s done with them.
Before addressing the specific rules for Mooks in the Crimson Skies campaign, we must first address a couple of issues regarding game mechanics. Firstly is the concept of hit points. Hit points do not represent how many actual blows it takes before one falls. They are an ebb and flow of combat, and also represent the training, toughness and expertise of a creature. Furthermore, there is the factor of luck and/or karma, as well as morale. Mooks are not just puny versions of the monsters, but they are versions with poor luck, bad karma, or failing morale. The orc mook can kill you almost as easily as the normal orc, but when you stab him with your spear, his luck runs out and he dodges the wrong way, the blow lands in a vital area, his resolve fails and he faints, cowers, or flees.
Additionally, the thing to remember about mooks (or any monster, for that matter) is that dead doesn’t have to mean Dead. That mook you’ve just hit isn’t necessarily dead – he might be cowering in fright for the rest of the encounter, or turns tail and flees into the next room (to warn the rest of the dungeon, no doubt) or is simply too shaken up to bother rolling for. Mooks tend to be gloriously ineffective, but dangerous because of their sheer quantity and the law of averages.
There is a kind of karmic tally when it comes to mooks. That goblin you’ve just hit might not necessarily keel over and die, but another one in the room will let out a squeak and run for cover, or be hit by a glancing blow from the goblin next to him. Keeping the action flowing, fast paced and fun – that’s what mooks are all about.
That said, there are a few basic rules about mooks in general. For the most part, it is relatively easy to tell the difference between common mooks and their masters. The character’s tactics should take this into account. Some creatures, Goons and Minions (see below) may well blend in with their lesser allies, so you never quite know if this enemy you face is totally pathetic (one hit) or just pathetic (two hits, Threshold (see below) etc.)
Spells and Area Effects
Generally, a spell which does any damage will kill your average mook outright. Things like Ionian fire (alchemist’s fire) that do splash damage may well take out the mooks. They get a reflex saving throw at a static DC:15 and if they fail they go down, and if they save the damage was insignificant to take them out of combat. Goons, Minions and Henchmen take damage normally by spells, and will fall if they take sufficient damage, depending on their type and what it takes to drop them. See the individual descriptions for these guys.
Cantrips and Magic Missiles: If the target is a mook of the same level/Hit Dice or lower than the caster, the spell does damage normally, and the mook will take a hit, despite its Threshold. But if the minion is of a higher level/Hit Dice than the caster, it gets a saving throw against the spell (based on the spell level as normal), even if the spell normally allows no saving throw. If the creature makes the save, he does not take enough damage to take him down (or constitute a hit). If the creature fails, then a hit is scored despite the creature’s Threshold. This gives the caster a better chance than other player characters would have with other weapons, but it is definitely not guaranteed.
Threshold: A creature’s Threshold equals 1 plus their racial hit die plus any class levels they may possess. If they take damage greater than their Threshold, then bad things happen to them, depending on their type (see the description of individual types below).
Types of Mooks
Fodder: These guys are truly pathetic. One hit takes them down, and if the damage is greater than their Threshold (1+ racial hit die + level), then you manage to pass some of the damage onto an adjacent ally of the Fodder, and if that ally is another Fodder or a Mook, it goes down as well). 8 Fodder of a particular CR level are equal to one standard creature of that CR. These wimps are frequently seen en-masse, and even come at you as armies.
Mooks: One hit takes them down. They essentially have one hit point, but all other features of the regularly leveled creature. 5 Mooks of a particular CR level are equal to one standard creature of that CR. These guys usually come at you in hordes.
Goons: Two Hits take down a Goon. These hits can be any damaging hit from the same hero or hits from multiple heroes, from two attacks in a single round or a total of two hits on differing rounds. If a special attack (spell, sneak attack, damage that exceeds their Threshold, a critical hit) lands on them, they go down. 4 Goons of a particular CR level are equal to one standard creature of that CR. These tend to be higher-up, even leaders of the Mooks and Goons. They tend to look the same as those who follow them but might have a bit nicer gear.
Minions: These dudes are pretty tough, especially for weaker heroes. You must do damage greater than their Threshold (1+ racial hit die + level) in order to take these guys down. If a special attack (spell damage, sneak attack, damage that exceeds double their Threshold, a critical hit) lands on them, they go down. 3 Minions of a particular CR level are equal to one standard creature of that CR. Minions tend to be elites of their kind, but many of them blend in with those they command, like Goons.
Henchmen: These are like Minions but they are a bit tougher. Henchmen can take multiple hits before going down, and you must do damage greater than their Threshold in order to count as one hit. Critical Hits take these guys down in one blow, as does a round’s worth of damage that total greater than a multiple of their threshold equal to the number of hits it takes to drop them (no matter the sources of the damage. 2 Henchmen of a particular CR level are equal to one standard creature of that CR. Henchmen stand out in the crowd. They might well be equipped with some minor magic items, and they frequently operate independently from the hordes of lesser followers.
Cronies: A crony is akin to the Cohort granted by the Leadership feat. They are usually second or third in command, and are treated as normal characters with full hit points, and earn full experience for their CR. Cronies usually always have gear, and unless they are trying to blend in with their underlings, you can usually spot right away.
Cohorts and Followers granted by the Leadership feat never use the Mook rules.
Henchmen and Hirelings of the PCs rarely if ever use the Mook rules. It will be clear to the PCs when the Mook rules apply.
Note that Cohorts, Followers, Henchmen and Hirelings that follow the heroes around, are not actually heroes themselves, and thus may need to battle mooks as if they had a full compliment of hit points. Many a film has had the hero’s side-kick fall behind dealing with foes that the hero easily wades through.
Metagaming: It is impossible to control player metagaming. In part, with these rules, it is expected. An experienced party will by that very experience know how better to tactically deal with the mooks, spreading out their attacks, catching them in a spell’s area effect, knowing that they will falter and drop quickly. The villains too, will know that their minions are simply there to soak up attacks and slow down the heroes, using up resources. So it is perfectly fair for both sides to anticipate the results of their actions in game terms. Many of these mooks will also know their purpose in any given encounter, and will likely try to use their numbers to the best tactical advantage before their inevitable demise. Again, dead is not always dead, and it is certainly possible that these lesser villains will rise again at some later date and harangue the heroes once more.
As always, these new rules are prone to revision as play proves them worthy or unworthy. The goal is fun, fast-paced cinematic style heroics. All of the bookkeeping regarding mooks is on the DM, and for creatures with multiple wounds or thresholds, a simple die or marker placed by the model will indicate those mooks that are close to dropping.
A final note… Heroes are heroes. They generally do not go around coup-de-grassing fallen mooks. It is a waste of time, defeats the purpose of having mooks in the first place, and is not heroic. When the heroes stop acting heroic, the mooks turn into normal creatures of their kind, which can have devastating consequences.