So while putting together a short dungeon crawl to playtest some homebrewed material, I thought of the minion rules from the Fantasy Flight lines of Star Wars games.
In essence, minions have a very small health pool (4-7 is what I remember off the top of my head), and are all but harmless on their own. Put a few of them in a group and they act as a single entity. They make one attack per turn and they have a shared health pool.
My question is: has anyone else thought to convert this for their D&D games?
I group minions together in initiative but I don't take the time to rebalance their attacks and instead have them attack separately. You could probably combine the idea with the D&D swarm rules in order to make it a functional idea...... you know what I think I might want to try and take a crack at some custom rules. It could be really useful for larger and quicker fights.
In the Planet Mercenary RPG, I'm pretty sure they just up the health to be closer to the total health of minions in the pool and have them attack with the same power they have as an independent unit. I'm not sure how I feel about this, but it's a touch point. It sure would save rolling to group archer unit and such like this.
To a degree 5e already has a function for this with things like pack tactics and letting some bad guys use help. Giving the bad guys advantage on attacks makes them much bigger threats than single little guys.
But I've done minions a few different ways in 5e.
4e: Each minion acts and attacks separately but only has one hit point. It works, but not my favorite method because it's just as much work to DM as regular monsters and sometimes PCs feel like they "wasted good attacks" on something with only 1 hp.
13th Age Mooks: They each attack individually, but they have a pool of hitpoints. as X hp gets eliminated one dies. If a PC deals X*2 hps of damage, he describes how he takes out two. Very cool. Players feel powerful. Can be a little wonky, if the Melee guy has to describe taking out one across the room, but just leads to better description in the long run.
Swarms: You get attacked by X bad guys. They share a pool of HP. and they each deal say 2 points of damage each time they hit. On their turn they don't attack, you just role a die to say how many hit. So say for four guys, I role a d8. if I role a 5. We assume with all of them attacking they hit 5 times dealing 10 damage. And similar to 13th Age Mooks the group shares HP so as you plow through them the players feel really powerful. Only real drawback is PCs with high AC don't benefit from it as much. I guess I could various the die used. So lightly armored roles a d8, medium armored d6, heavily armored d4 or something like that but it was just something I changed up to speed up and make a combat feel more epic.