Sunday, July 11, 2010

Minions You Learn to Hate

We fought a fellow called Angus von Lazerstein in our last session, and he was a douchebag. The session was actually much less about Angus himself, though, and much more about the hordes of minions he’d created in service to Babagya. I’ve rather changed my idea of what a minion is supposed to be since the first of those encounters. Minions are not cannon-fodder so much as they are suicide bombers.
We’ve had a recurring theme with the minions in this game. The players had been making cracks about Babagya’s flying around in a cauldron, suggesting that the image she evoked was much like a Koopa, dropping troopas from her bowl. So I started dropping in turtle minions, and after a few appearances, Awakened Iron Skull revamped them for her little escapade as Exalted Iron Skull.
In our first session, we faced a man called Scalpel who was healing Babagya’s undead gnolls. She has been busy trying to replace Scalpel and has finally found her man in the form of Angus von Lazerstein, a genius of lightshows and a powerful bard capable of, quite literally, melting faces with his solos. Having learned lessons from Skull (spontaneous minion production, minions made from elements, really good hair), Lazerstein set to work creating the perfect minion army.
I think the thing that is most ingenious about minions is “when they die” effects. To use minions effectively, you need to either create situations in which the minions are going to be mostly out of harm’s way, or you need to ensure that when they die, something crazy happens. The first wave of Lazerstein’s minion army created a blast of blinding light when they died, and left a smaller aura of blindness behind them. They had originally been flavored as turtles crafted from smoke, but when I rebuilt Lazerstein to focus on radiant damage, I shifted them over to flash-bangs.
The second set were a lot more deadly; they exploded in a burst of lasers and light and pyrotechnics. When they died, they had a burst two attack that did the minion’s normal damage, and an additional 1d6 radiant damage. This fight, built entirely out of minions and a single stronger creature a few levels below the party, was one of the most tactically entertaining matches of the night. The players were constantly trying to find ways to kill some that wouldn’t hurt the front-line fighters, and maneuver themselves into positions that would cause the least harm. They were pretty pissed when the single non-minion baddie was able to summon more minions into the middle of the battle, but managed to handle them in good stride.
The last battle was a mixture of the two previous types, with ranged minions on little platforms away from and raised above the main fight platform. Angus von Lazerstein was a solo a few levels below the level of the party, with HORDES of minions surrounding him. He was blessed with an aura that made his minions indestructible as long as they were adjacent to him, and had some powers that would allow him to spawn new minions as the turns progressed. Some quick thinking on the part of the players got Lazerstein away from the minions and then dropped him off of the main battlefield into the dark caverns below. While he was saved by his turtle companions, it would be a while before he could come back to harass the player characters again. With him out of the way, the players had no trouble getting up the rest of the stairs and into the city of Sternum.
I really enjoyed playing around with various kinds of minions, and I will probably be bringing them back for at least one battle before we reach Paragon. We’re already at level nine (I’ve been awarding double experience and setting up some very difficult challenges), and we only have a little while to go before we get into the meat of the campaign. As a change of pace, the next couple of sessions will involve a minimum minion count; it would be nice for some of the controller’s daily powers to actually matter in the future.
Next session: The City of Sternum and the Extreme Library.
Also, Glitterdust has a new look. I won’t be changing any of my old posts to look better in the new format, though I may go back and change the font size in the template. There are a few adjustments I need to make before I’ll be completely happy with it (like getting rid of the sponsored link spot at the bottom), but for the most part I like the new look.

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