Advice on mass combat set piece fight


So this Saturday, I'm running the final night of my campaign. Its been a long trip due to various members college careers, work times, and several campaigns going at once. The party is going to be heading back to their original starting city, which is essentially the capital city of the worlds main religion. And of course, they're going to be heading straight to the headquarters to break through.

The idea is this: the party is essentially going to be heading through the city, towards the church headquarters, fighting through the guards to get to the head of the church. I'm looking for a good portion of the soldiers to be competent, but more or less cannon fodder for the party, with the head priest and his two guards being a more interesting challenge, all leading up to the final battle with the religions main deity. Yes, I know, most people say "don't stat out major deities!" This is more like...I'd say Greek mythology, where the gods are very involved with the world and are powerful, but susceptible to death.

Party is all level 16 and is composed of an elf Witch focused on battlefield control, buffing the party and debuffing the enemies, a Pistolero gunslinger, a Gendarme Cavalier, and a mishmash of int classes based on sniping. The deity, the head priest (who will be either a cleric, paladin, or warpriest) and his main guards will be statted. What I'm wondering is, how do you all quickly generate minions that can do bits and chunks of damage, but should not, for the most part, be massive threats to the party? Do you just give them rough estimates of to hit, damage, and HP and ignore the skill ranks, most feats and such?

Quickly design one, then copy/paste.

Boom, done.

Deadlier version? Slap Advanced on them.

Do NOT design them all individually.

What I did was design a base goon, at whatever level, then say they work in groups of four or five, with one guy two levels higher.

Skills, other than acrobatics/perception, can be more or less ignored.

I wouldn't ignore feats.

Whether or not you want to use NPC classes is up to you. I find Fighters work JUST FINE as NPCs, a little extra oomph is ok.

spellcasters should be carefully thought out and made properly. Don't be afraid to tweak these guys, your PCs are high enough level to be scary, you can be scary right back at them.

For your sanity, I highly suggest single class, and core classes. Sorcerers rather than Wizards, Clerics and Fighters.

Covers most bases.

Oh, and get a random name generator, so anytime the party drops one of these guys, the nearby goons can shout stuff like "No! Carl! He had a family, you monsters! I will avenge him!" :D

Make them minions in the nature of 4e minions. Give them 1 or 2 "hits" each where a hit is canceled out by any amount of damage and 2 hits by any damage over say 25 hp.

Then give different ones different single attacks, like spears, bows or magic missiles.

Give them normal at level attack values.

This way, they do damage and fall quickly.

Gevaudan wrote:

Make them minions in the nature of 4e minions. Give them 1 or 2 "hits" each where a hit is canceled out by any amount of damage and 2 hits by any damage over say 25 hp.

Then give different ones different single attacks, like spears, bows or magic missiles.

Give them normal at level attack values.

This way, they do damage and fall quickly.

Don't do this.

If 100 points of damage does as much as 1 point of damage, you only hurt the martials.

I mean seriously, a level 16 fighter can probably hit for close to 100 points of damage.

A sorcerer could hit five people for 1D4+1 (and quicken another one) to drop five people in a round.

The fighter would drop zero people.

Hmm, the idea of treating their HP as a number of hits instead of a number of damage points taken may work. For martial characters, especially as this is more of a cinematic scene, one could easily allow them to move and full attack, spreading the attacks as they see fit. Though the only real martial in the party is the Cavalier, so for that, I would likely go with a sort of hit overflow. He charges, hits the first mook, then rolls for the damage. If over 25 is dealt (25 is arbitrary in this example), the mook falls, and the damage flows over to the next guy in line. The gunslinger and Scholar will work fine this way, and the witch's spells will have their normal effects, more or less. This will make generating them a lot quicker, and while they can still deal damage as if they were of X level of Y class, they would fall easily, making combat more dynamic.

Thank you both for the ideas on this!

Given the constraints, that these combats are meant to be quick and non-BBEG, the fun of being a fighter and wailing on several guys a turn seems a fair balance for them not actually performing optimally.

I think spillover damage is a really fun idea in this kind of setting. It's like free non-sucky cleave.

I suspect there will be a lot of minions and everyone will get a share.

Yeah, the idea is to be a whole lot of mooks for the party to barrel through. They are attacking the religious capital, and their former school, after all. For the most part, I dont really have to worry about the idea of mobility ruining martials, as the Ranger will not be able to show until after the big battle, and he has his own maneuverability options anyways. I think the party will have plenty of fun either mowing through several minions (Cavalier), mass "removing" them (Witch), or picking enemies off from a distance (Gunslinger and Scholar). Rough them up a bit before the showdown with the Paladin/Cleric and his custom Dragoon bodyguards.

There's a "Troop" subtype for creatures out there somewhere. I'm pretty sure you can find it on d20pfsrd, and there's an older 3.5 version called Mobs or something like that. These might be useful for groups of lower level soldiers.

As for higher level but not terribly significant NPCs, there are a few NPC Galleries online. If you poke around you can probably find something pretty close to what you want and just make a few tweaks. I'm assuming you don't have something like Hero Lab which can allegedly whip up such NPCs quickly with minimal fuss (I should probably get something like that)

I dont have Hero Lab, no. I'll have to check the d20pfsrd for that Troop subtype. That may work pretty well. For the most part, I think the 4E style minions design should work fine. Thanks for the suggestion though, I hadn't heard of the Troop subtype before. And poking around NCP galleries is how I usually base the main named NPCs the party encounters. I've been trying to find things as ideas for the stat block of the deity. Kept coming back to the Solar in the bestiary.

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