Frostorm

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So we have threads on Bosses and threads on trash mobs, but what about mini-bosses? I wanted to discuss a few things:
  • Do you employ mini-bosses in your projects?
  • How prevalent should mini-bosses be?
  • What is the purpose of a mini-boss?
  • Should there be a distinction between a mini-boss and an optional boss?
  • What separates mini-bosses from bosses and trash mobs?
 

Dopan

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well perhaps not mini bosses but for sure stronger "main Units"..

Example:
if there are soldiers , they will have a stronger commander..
(this could even affect the moral of the soldiers and their stats, if commander is alive or not.. or within a distance of X)

this works pretty much for every enemy group that fights together vs actors..
(no matter if animals , undead or "normal bad guys")
 

Frostorm

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well perhaps not mini bosses but for sure stronger "main Units"..
Ah yes, I use those too. I call them "elite" mobs and just like your examples, there is usually at least 1 mixed into most troop compositions.

Mini-bosses, on the other hand, would be stronger than elite mobs and can stand on their own as a separate encounter. If I were to classify enemies, I would do it like so:
  1. Trash Mobs
  2. Elite Mobs
  3. Mini-Bosses
  4. Bosses
I'd like to discuss #3 since I don't think we've had a topic on that.
 

Bendyizzt

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Of course, I would Mini-bosses is my game [My game has a lot of them] I usually make bigger versions of special Monsters and make them stronger...I give them their own special look...
 

Wavelength

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I don't use minibosses in my games too often. Where I do see them used effectively in other games, it's usually because there are two or more antagonists that are related to the dungeon/area you're in, and in order to "ration" the tension and excitement that comes from boss fights, you space them out so that (for example) one is halfway through the dungeon, and the other is at the end. Mini-bosses in most RPGs should be an occasional, not frequent, thing.
 
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In my current project, every map has a boss, and each map after the first map can be completed in any order, so . . . I guess that means my project is a collection of mini-bosses, because they don't require grinding. I hate grinding with a passion . . . large barren maps, forced story telling, and characters that never shut up also don't exist in my work because I care about the player's time. I am however, experimenting with an optional large map to replace the 17x13 world map, but it will be full of stuff to do for players that enjoy a small amount of padding, or it will be scrapped entirely.
 

Milennin

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I like mini-bosses because they aren't as dramatic as real bosses, but still provide a good challenge. They can be a bit more comedic and can be detached from the main plot as their own thing. I like to make them optional, for players who do a bit of exploring and want to test their abilities. For my RM2K3 game, I also added a small puzzle or mini-game to them before the real battle, just because that's the kind of stuff I like doing in my games, lol. And yes, they were made optional for that reason, since apparently, a lot of people seem to take issue with having non-combat stuff in their RPG's.
 

CraneSoft

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I use mini-bosses as mandatory beef gates for dungeon gimmicks or when their presence is appropriate in specific dungeons - and they are generally unique enemies that cannot be fought on a regular encounter (barring situations where variants of them might be used again in a later dungeon).

Strength-wise, they are capable of doing boss-class damage and is way more dangerous than elite mobs, the main difference with the real bosses is that they don't have boss-class HP, phase transitions and attack pattern changes, so they are fairly straightforward. Overall, their primary purpose is to serve as as a wake-up call in case players were under-leveled.
 

ScorchedGround

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I use mini-bosses as optional challenges to gain strong and / or exclusive loot (aswell as EXP of course).
Often times these minibosses drop equipment that is beneficial for upcoming bossfights.

The only difference between minibosses and optional bosses is that optional bosses are tied to
side-quests or optional objectives on main quests and minibosses just kind of linger around until the player decides to fight them.
 

RachelTheSeeker

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Point-for-point answers?

1) Yes. I've used mini-bosses for each of my games, and will keep doing so.

2) Depends on the area. I prefer mini-bosses that fit the dungeon or adventure -- mutated hero in a warlock's stronghold, haunted armor suits in a painted castle world, goblin with magic in their forest, sand worm in a desert, et cetera.

3) Serious answer? Provide a halfway challenge to test the players' mettle, and to up the ante compared to throw-away encounters. Some could even drop equipment you can't find otherwise in a post-battle event.

Silly answer? To have a reason to include another boss theme, preferably one sharing the main fight theme's motifs. X3

4) Yes and no. Some optional bosses can be as tough as mini-bosses, while others can be superbosses that surpass normal boss fights. But for me, most mini-bosses shouldn't be optional.

5) Mini-bosses should be somewhere between trash mobs and normal bosses in difficulty and length of fight. From my POV, throw-away battles should be won in about two rounds if you know what you're doing. Bosses should take eight or more rounds, maybe less if they're meant to deal serious damage quickly. Thus, a mini-boss should be beaten in maybe five to seven rounds? Maybe? IDK.

Also, one thing I like to do is give bosses "pinch modes" at half health or less. This is an evented action that changes the battle a bit -- a new buff on them (or debuff on your party), a powerful move used immediately, maybe even a countdown to instant defeat (or rounds to survive for an immediate victory). Most mini-bosses in a dungeon shouldn't have these, but mini-bosses that are optional might do well with them?
 

Saireau

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I have something I call special enemies in my current project. They don't follow the rules and formulas of normal enemies or bosses, so they can be anything from tutorial enemies to mini bosses.

Mini bosses are a great way of adding tougher enemies without throwing bosses at the player all the time. Do you know that quote, 'if you make everything bold, nothing is bold'? I think that applies, to some extent, to bosses as well. They cease feeling special if you also face them in all sorts of locations other than the end of dungeons. I prefer Illusion of Gaia over Secret of Mana in that regard. :)
 

Scorps

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I see mini-bosses often deployed as a way to tell underequipped/underleveled players that they need to up their game. I'm not really a fan of grinding exp through repetitive combat with cannon fodder, so they sometimes do annoy me.
I usually use them to guard additional loot in a dungeon, or as a bump in the road on the way to the boss. But I recommend making sure they are not a common appearance.
 

ave36

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Legend of Terra Firma does have mini-bosses. The main character is a Black Knight, sort of a monster hunter for hire, like a witcher. Every now and often, he encounters monster hunting side quests which involve fighting mini-bosses. A mini-boss has normal boss mechanics (not being able to escape, heavy status that makes it immune to certain status effects), but it does not have the boss music and is weaker than normal main quest bosses.
 

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