Minions, Elites, & Solos
All monsters are equal on the battlefield—but some are more equal than others, proving to be a much bigger threat in combat. Some monsters are standard rank-and-file troops, while others are expendable fodder controlled by great leaders and commanders. Some exceptional monsters are even capable of taking on an entire party single-handed.
This chapter will help you turn your standard quickstart monster into a minion, elite, or solo creature to pit against your players.
A minion is weaker than other monsters, having very few hit points—they fall quickly in combat, often in one hit, if not protected by a strong defender. These are your lackeys, underlings, and lesser henchmen.
Minions rely on large numbers to overwhelm the enemy—four minions are the equal of one standard quickstart monster—and are a great option if you want to pit your players against mobs, gangs, and hordes.
To build a minion, apply the Minion template below to any existing quickstart monster. When creating minion groups, keep things simple for yourself and use the same role, traits, and powers for each group of 4—4 defender minions, 4 striker minions, etc.
|Armor Class−2||Attack Bonus−2|
|Saving Throws−2||Spell DC−2|
Elites are formidable champions, commanders, and leaders. They are a far greater threat than their underlings, able to withstand more damage while hitting back harder and more reliably—one elite is the equal of two standard monsters, and can act twice a round. Elites are a great option for mid-boss encounters, as direct underlings of the adventure's primary threat.
To build an elite, apply the following template to any existing quickstart monster:
|Armor Class+2||Attack Bonus+2|
|Saving Throws+2||Spell DC+2|
You may take one Paragon Action per round to either move or take an action.
Viridian, Sarien, Clanda, and Chansi are battling through the dangerous Dreadvault and the undead guardians within.
At the Infernal Gallery they find Mortanius, an elite necromancer seeking to resurrect the Skeleton Queen. As battle begins, Mortanius summons 8 skeletal minions to shield him from the attacking adventurers.
A solo monster is a force to be reckoned with, capable of taking on the entire party single-handed. These are your boss monsters, the big-bad fought at the end of an adventure—a mighty red dragon, a dominating elder brain, a chilling skeleton queen. Solo monsters hit hard, have high defenses, and act multiple times each round.
To build a solo, apply the following template to any existing quickstart monster:
|Armor Class+2||Attack Bonus+2|
|Hit Pointsx Players||Damagex1.2|
|Saving Throws+2||Spell DC+2|
You may take one Paragon Action per player (minus 1) per round to either move or act.
At 66% and 33% hit points, you may remove all on-going effects on yourself and trigger a new phase transition.
Like elite monsters, solo monsters have the ability to act outside of their normal turn with Paragon Actions. Solo monsters gain 1 Paragon Action per player minus 1—allowing the monster to act after each player's turn.
"All things end", proclaims the Skeleton Queen, rising to face the four adventurers. "Only death is eternal."
As a 4th-level solo monster fighting four players, the Skeleton Queen has one full turn and three extra Paragon Actions per round.
Fights with a solo monster are a big event—they should be a worthy capstone to your adventure, full of drama and excitement. Solo monsters fight hard, changing as the battle progresses and they start to take damage.
When the solo monster takes enough damage (66% and 33% hit points), it immediately removes any on-going effects and triggers a transition to a new phase of battle:
- The dragon roars angrily and—in its rage—slams down fiercely on the ground, collapsing it and sending everyone falling into the volcanic lair beneath.
- The golem's metal body cracks, and wild arcane lighting lances out around it to strike at anyone wearing or wielding metal.
- The necromancer absorbs the souls of his fallen minions to become a huge, powerful beast.
At 66% hit points, the Skeleton Queen's rage cracks the Dreadvault, causing a huge chunk of the ceiling to collapse and change the battlefield layout .
At 33% hit points, the Skeleton Queen roars in a cold rage and unleashes a burst of frost magic. The battlefield is covered in ice and a dangerous, frozen vortex surrounds the enraged Queen.
A phase transition is, in essence, a brief scene wherein your monster does something to change itself or the environment—the more cinematic, the better.
During a transition, player characters are immune to any damage they might otherwise suffer as things change around them—but neither can they take any actions. These are moments of dramatic escalation—so be dramatic.
During a phase transition, any player character that is conscious and bloodied may recover some hit points by spending one hit dice—a temporary respite while your monster is transforming.
Some monsters transform during battle—gaining new powers, changing how they fight, and (sometimes) even changing their form. You can represent transformations with multiple stat blocks—one for each phase transition.
To create a transforming solo monster, first replace your solo's "Phase Transition" trait with the following "Phase Transition (Transformation)" trait:
Phase Transition (Transformation): When reduced to 0 hit points, remove all on-going effects on yourself as you transform and start a new phase transition.
Next, create a new stat block as per normal for each of your monster's forms. Finally, divide the HP on each form by the total number of transitions.
The GM wants the Skeleton Queen to have three forms during the final boss encounter.
First, the Queen starts as a defender with thick ice armor. Next, the Skeleton Queen creates bone avatars from her own body and becomes a controller. Then finally, once the Queen is nearing defeat, her rage freezes the battlefield and she becomes a wild striker.
The GM creates 3 different stat blocks per the normal process, and then—because there are 3 forms—divides the HP on each stat block by 3.
A monster can have as many transformations as you like, but try to keep it to 2/3 forms unless your monster is particularly exceptional—each form should be distinct and exciting for your players to encounter.