Adventure Toolkit: The Mook

In both 3.5 and 4th edition Dungeons and Dragons, there is a combat role that I think is poorly filled. That role is the Mook. A mook is a tough character who the pcs face and just blow out of the water. They are the extreme tire damage bars on the Adventure Freeway. In 4th edition, they tried to fill this role with minions, but with their “they drop with even incidental damage” rule, it is just too easy to wave them out of the way. In 3.5, these are creatures enough weaker than the party that a fighter can take them down in droves with cleave and great cleave. That’s fine, but after 5th or 6th level those creatures are so much less powerful than the party that they are an incidental threat.
I think the 4.0 minions and the much weaker than the party opponents in 3.5 have a role to play. They are the random cultists that conan wades through or the hapless security guards who get in James Bond’s way and sometimes get themselves accidentally killed. But once you’ve fought those groups we need something more before you get to the big bad and his menagerie of evil hench-freaks. You need your nameless but tough temple guards and your low ranking SMERSH agents. They are big, they are bad, they are well trained and if the heroes don’t take them seriously, they’ll open just as big a bag of whoop ass on the heros as any of the main henchmen.

Here we get to the big idea: the Mook Template. In either 3.5 or 4th e, you apply this template to a standard creature, something of the party’s CR, and in 4th edition, any creature that is not a minion, an elite, or a solo.
You lower their HP to equal one half their Con Score plus their HD (so a creature with a con of 10 and 4 hd would have 9 hp.) and leave all of their other abilities, powers, and statistics alone. Each mook is worth 33% of the xp of the base creature. For the most part, a mook will be a reasonable threat, but a focused party will be able to kill about one per player per round without expending many of their resources, but they are a big enough threat that the party members won’t feel cheated if they do use some of their non-replenishing powers to hasten the fight.