Wednesday 17 January 2024

Freebie: Mook Abilities

Mook adversaries are understandably easy to overlook. In many cases they are relegated to just being opponents for low ranking characters or accessories for a more powerful adversary. In addition, the fact that the only variation in their numerical statistics will come from traits means it's easy to write off these sorts of entities and use them exclusively as distractions or background elements. In fact, you could run a perfectly fine BREAK!! Saga that way.

However, I don't think this has to be the case. Mooks can be relevant for a long time with a few tricks. This boils down to the two aspects you have total control over in their design: their gear and abilities.

Gear Considerations

You have to be careful with how you outfit Mooks - depending on the situation, anything they carry might quickly become property of the player characters (which can be a positive or negative, depending on your plans) and if you outfit them too well, they may overwhelm lower ranked individuals. That said, it is a straightforward and easy way to make sure people can't ignore the small fries.
  • Mooks with ranged weaponry can harass player characters from the sidelines and may even have a good chance at hitting well armored characters by assisting each other or simply peppering them with lots of attacks. Grenades also work quite well, as it forces players to mind their position and doesn't depend on rolls from the mook themselves to work. Both these options can be a bit of a hassle though, given you need to keep track of ammunition and rate of fire, so its best left to smaller groups of enemies if you can.
  • Outfitting mooks with heavier armor obviously makes them harder to hit, and forces players to think of some other way to take them out of a fight or risk whiffing depending on how well armored they are. Shields can also increase their chance of survival, though their parrying potential might be a bit annoying to keep track in large groups. In the case of either, you still need to make sure the mooks have a more active reason to draw the attention of the party in the first place.
  • Mooks with other special gear, like explosives to blow open a hole in the wall of a structure the party is defending, ancient devices that might interfere with magic use, or taming gear they are using to direct some great beast around can also create fun encounters and reasons to take note of the minions and not just the main threats.

Ability Considerations

When it comes to unique Abilities for Mooks, its a good idea to keep a few things in mind:
  • Mooks are never going to have very high Aptitudes, so when giving them offensive or status afflicting abilities, it's better to have these force a Check from the target rather than a contest.
  • Support Abilities, like having the power to restore lost hearts or increase the defense of a specific individual are a pretty straightforward way to make dealing with mooks a priority.
  • Abilities that require several of the same sort of mooks to work in tandem are fun and emphasize that they more of a collective threat than an individual one. It's also a good excuse if you want to justify an Ability that's more powerful than normal for them.
  • While this is good advice for any Adversary's ability, it's especially important to remember not to make these too complex. Remember, given the nature of these sorts of entities you'll have to keep track of multiple instances of anything you give them!

With the brief advice out of the way, here's some sample Mook Abilities. These are stripped down to their basic mechanics so you can apply them to your own creations and re-work them to fit any themes or fiction you like.

Mana Fence
This mook can create a troublesome barrier when paired with their fellows.
  • If 2 or more mooks of this type are in the same Area, they are able to erect some sort of barrier between them - usually a screen made of crackling mana - that grants the Area the Isolated Battlefield Condition. Naturally the condition is removed if said mooks are defeated.
  • More dangerous variants of this Ability might have a barrier that also adds the Harmful Battlefield Condition to the Area.
  • Examples: Floating Shield Link Drones, arcane homunculi that can work together to cast a shield spell, elemental creatures who generate fields of fire or electricity.
Power Assist 
When assisting an ally, this mook can add to their damage potential rather than their ability to hit.
  • When this Mook Assists an ally, they may decide to add the normal +2 bonus to hit or replace that with an additional heart of damage instead. The additional heart of damage can only be applied once - if additional individuals with this Ability want to assist the target, they must provide the to hit bonus instead.
  • Examples: Well drilled Old Iron infantry, magical puppets made to look like ancient soldiers, animated melee weapons.
Boom Buddy
This mook has the unnerving tendency to explode when troubled.
  • This Mook combusts when reduced to 0 Hearts, going off with the same effect as a grenade. They may also activate this effect at will, though that reduces them to 0 Hearts immediately.
  • Variants of this might leave behind a sort of toxic cloud, granting the Hazardous battlefield condition to the area they were in. 
  • Very dangerous ones might go off like a bomb instead of a grenade, though if this version is used it's suggested they take a turn to do so and provide some sort of warning, like heating up or making an ominous sizzling noise.
  • Examples: Living flames, giant spore clouds, walking wind-up bombs
 Hothian Topple
These little mooks often pair up to trip larger foes.
  • 2 of these mooks can initiate a maneuver that forces a single target that is large sized or medium sized to make a successful Deftness Check or become Toppled. If 3 of them work together, this Check incurs a Minor (-2) Penalty, and if 4 do so than they incur a Major (-4) Penalty.
  • This Ability is used exclusively by Small or Tiny mooks.
  • Examples: chib and goblin commandos from New Ore with a rope, wire drones, microverse dimensional strays with appropriately sized hover vehicles

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