The Minion Master
Sub-Trope of The Beastmaster, a common variety of An Adventurer Is You, and the heroic inversion of the Mook Maker and Enemy Summoner (and occasionally the Evil Overlord). Whereas The Beastmaster focuses on quality of minions, often restricting themselves to one or two (or at least one at a time), The Minion Master focuses on sheer, undiluted numbers. This often makes for an unusual and difficult-to-balance character build- a character whose power comes from brutally outnumbering his opponents often leaves himself as the squishiest of Squishy Wizards, and enemies either succumb quickly to the Death of a Thousand Cuts or perform a minion version of a Total Party Wipe with area of effect attacks. They tend, of course, to be the keystone of their Keystone Army. The key factor in determining if a particular character, class, unit or build is The Minion Master is this: Can the character outnumber a typical squad of Mooks on their own? If the answer is yes, then the character is The Minion Master. Zerg Rush often describes the most common combat method of The Minion Master. Because of their tactics, they often fall under Anti-Hero categorization, and often have to convince the player that Dark Is Not Evil. Can occasionally be Game Breakers, occasionally Crutch Characters. If the minions are copies of the master, it's a Doppleganger Attack. See also Drone Deployer. Compare with The Turret Master, who instead of minions uses technology. Supertrope to Pest Controller.
Video Game Examples:
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- The Overlord from Overlord is one of these, even commanding a race known as Minions. While he relies primarily on his Minions (especially early on, where he can't take much damage), with the right upgrades he can become quite powerful in his own right as well as buff his army up with spells.
- In Darksiders II, Death can summon up a pack of ghouls to attack enemies or act as a distraction.
- Super Smash Bros.:
- Captain Olimar is one of these, much like in his series.
- In Brawl, he can pluck up to 6 Pikmin from the ground to follow him and attack. Without a single Pikmin, he only has two VERY weak ways of attacking. Even his recovery depends on Pikmin, with more Pikmin letting him recover greater distance.
- Wii U/3DS reduces the ammount of Pikmin to 3, but the core of the character remains the same, except for his recovery now being worse the more Pikmin he has.
- King Dedede summons an army of Waddle Dees, Waddle Doos, and Gordos to swarm the stage for his Final Smash.
- Pit's Final Smash in Brawl summons centurions to attack everything.
- Captain Olimar is one of these, much like in his series.
Hack And Slash
- Summon-focused Necromancers in Diablo 2, nicknamed "Zoo-mancers", can end up with one golem, around twenty skeletons, and 20+ revived monsters (actual numbers depend on Skill-level and Equipment). Additionally, you can also hire a mercenary (and should, an act 2 nightmare merc can have Might and increase every minions damage.)
- Note that, while pre 1.08 Necromancer had far more skeletons, they also became next to useless as the game progressed. Current Necromancers are accompanied by a smaller group of far more efficient undead minions.
- The Witch Doctor in Diablo III is a similar concept but somewhat toned down, as he typically has a handful of zombie dogs and a gargantuan zombie at his heel, plus fights by summoning various animals or undead that attack enemies before disappearing quickly back into the ether.
- Sacred featured the Vampiress, who could in vampire mode, turn creatures into undead. When she reverted, they died. However, with careful timing the running of the spell on the body could complete after she turned back to normal, which meant that the creature was not subject to destruction until the character changed forms again. What really made it fit the trope though was that the character following could turn enemies into the same state when killed, though not always. Thus a Vampiress could relatively quickly amass a huge army that, because of the way the change worked, potentially turn dragons into undead minions. Such a sight is naturally impressive.
- Path of Exile allows for summoner builds which resemble the "Zoomancer" build from the Diablo 2 example above. The intelligence-based Witch class is offered the appropriately intelligence-based "Raise Zombie", "Summon Skeleton" and "Raise Specter" skills as possible quest rewards. Other classes may be built up to summoners as well, although with more of a dedicated effort. Passive skills allow to increase number, life and damage output of the summons. A keystone skill allows to endow summons with the properties of the summoner's equipped shield (think "reflect X melee damage" or "regenerate X per second").
- Skeletons are particularly useful in dark or highly labyrinthine areas, as their cheap summon doesn't need a corpse, and their AI locates and attacks enemies outside of the summoner's range of light / range of vision.
- In Dynasty Warriors, Chen Gong's moveset lets him summon projections of soldiers to attack his enemies.
- A principle feature of game-play in Undead Knights is to zombify your enemies then send your hoard against more enemies.
- Minion Master Necromancer character builds in Guild Wars
- Currently they can only have a maximum of 10-12 minions at any given time, but they can be replenished very quickly (which is good, because they decay very quickly once they've been around a while). In the past however, there was no limit to how many minions a necromancer could summon and control, you could have massive hordes of 50+ minions if you and your teammates had enough AoE healing to keep that many alive.
- Also there are the Ritualists, who summon largely stationary but long-ranged Spirits who have a wide range of effects: from dealing damage, to stealing health, to causing blindness, to healing, to taking damage to protect parties, to bringing party members back to life. Of special note is the Ritualist Primary Attribute: Spawning Power, which boosts the stats of created creatures and contains a number of skills that further augment them or benefits the Ritualist when they're summoned. Note that "Created creatures" includes the Necromancer's undead minions, so a Ritualist can dabble in that form of minion mastery too, with mixed results.
- The 'Mastermind' class in City of Villains. An average Mastermind will end up with 6 minions to boss around, but certain builds can go higher.
- Controllers initially were allowed to summon as many pets as they wanted to but they would die in about four minutes. With proper recharge and some luck, they could summon up to 20 pets at a time, letting them overwhelm everything. This was nerfed, of course. Now the pets are permanent but you can only summon one set at a time.
Real Time Strategy
- The Necromancer unit from the Undead faction in Warcraft 3. A couple of these guys could summon hordes of skeletons using corpses (obtained from a graveyard, meat wagon, dead unit, or even a dead critter) and mana. The skeletons were individually weak and short-lived, but the explosive Zerg Rush of that the Necromancers could create, summoning 2 skellies every 8 seconds, could turn a straight battle between initially equal forces into a rout, or at least force the enemy to run away. Thankfully, as of Frozen Throne, mass dispelling abilities were available to all factions, so all it took to clear a skeleton horde was the correct unit (Priest/Wisp/Destroyer/Spirit Walker) and a bit of micro.
- Some heroes could become The Minion Master using the correct abilities. Like the Death Knight, who could raise 6 short-lived but invincible minions using its ultimate ability, Animate Dead, or the Night Elf Warden, who could summon a minion master, the Avatar of Vengeance, who then spammed further, weaker summons called Spirits of Vengeance. And the Keeper of the Grove, whose Force of Nature ability summoned an extra Treant for every point invested in it after the first. Or the Firelord, whose Lava Spawns would multiply over time if not killed quickly. Or the Dark Ranger, who would turn any unit she killed into a buffed-up skeleton. Yeah, basically, Blizzard loves this trope.
- Carrier cruisers and carrier capital ships from Sins of a Solar Empire acted as The Minion Master by fighting primarily through their strikecraft wings. They would produce, transport and, in case of capital ships, provide supporting abilities for their strikecraft and fleet in general. The cruiser carriers were, in fact, completely unarmed apart from their strikecraft wings, while capitals would also have some self-defense armament. All capital ships would gain squads as they leveled up, but carrier capitals would, obviously, always field the most squads.
- You play as a Minion Master in the Pikmin series, controling up to 100 of the aforementioned Pikmin, who help carrying objects, opening paths, and mobbing enemies en masse.
- The Yuri faction in Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2: Yuri's Revenge counts by proxy through Mind Control. The Yuri clone can control one enemy unit at a time, the Psychic Tower can control three, the Mastermind can control an infinite number of enemies (but takes damage after four), and both of its Superweapons are designed to take the enemy's units and add them to your own. They also get the Cloning Vats, doubling every trained infantry unit.
- Carriers in Starcraft can send out up to eight tiny, lightning-quick Interceptor drones each to pepper any enemy that comes near. Every Zerg player counts too.
- Sacrifice basically makes an RTS of Minion Masters fighting it out.
- Similarly, Brütal Legend.
- Summoners in Tales of Maj'Eyal Kill an animal, and you can make a totem out of it's corpse. Kill an ExplosiveBreeder, make a totem out of it, and the children of the summon are friendly towards you - and don't cost you. Filling entire levels with your pets is easy, but considered cheating.
- The Necromeister in 100 Rogues can summon up to four skeletons and a Shade when the right skills are maxed out. Be warned: it's Cast from Hit Points.
Role Playing Game
- Focusing on Charm skills in Torchlight can make your character into one of these. This is especially true of the Alchemist if you invest into the Lore skill tree.
- The player in Fable II can be one as well with the Raise Dead spell. At higher levels you can summon six ghosts that are pretty weak but if you've killed a couple of people already these ghosts get stronger.
- The Summoner class from Hellgate: London is this trope. They can maintain one Demon "pet" and any number of elementals which come in 5 flavors as long as they have enough mana for them all.
- Similarly an Engineer could specialize in one drone, then fill the air with swarms of tiny bots with various abilities.
- The first Baldur's Gate game didn't have a limit on the number of summoned monsters you could control, so if you happened to get your hands on a Wand of Summon Monster or three, you could overwhelm pretty much anything the game would throw at you. The sequel limited you to five monsters at once.
- While all three player classes in Geneforge can be this, the Shaper class is best suited for this.
- In Pathfinder, the Summoner class can be one of these by using the Broodmaster Archetype. The Huge and Large evolutions are even modified by the Archetype to either increase the size of the minions or the number of minions up to a total of sixteen. Which is why it comes with a disclaimer that it is only for advanced players.
Shoot Em Up
Turn Based Strategy
Non-video game examples:
- Gecko Moria of One Piece fame has hordes upon hordes of zombies running around on his gigantic island/ship Thriller Bark thanks to the Devil Fruit he ate.
- Shino Aburame from Naruto is this, letting the bugs that live within his body do most of the work for him.
- Gotenks from Dragon Ball is famous for being able to create an army of ghosts that explode with whoever they come in contact with.
- One of your options when building a deck in Magic: The Gathering is to fill it with hordes of cheaply-summoned teeny-tiny monsters to overwhelm one's opponent.
- Another is to utilize creature tokens, i.e. creatures not represented by an actual card in your deck. There are numerous cards (including creatures!) that generate and/or strengthen creature tokens and many deck builds with creature tokens as their core victory condition.
- The Banned and the Banished adds a touch of Body Horror to this. The first corrupted spellcaster in the series has man-eating spiders living in her womb and gives birth to them when she needs someone dead. Later varieties include a former healer who has leeches living on his flesh, two albino twins who grow pustules that explode into rats, and one villain who's connected to ravens in an unexplained but presumably unpleasant way.
- Many practitioners in Pact take the step of binding various supernatural creatures to their service. Rose Thorburn is an especially potent example, with her minions including Bloody Mary, revenants, and bogeymen.
- Most summon spells in Dungeons & Dragons can be used to summon a swarm of lower-level creatures instead of one high-level creature.
- Dungeons and Dragons also has the hordeificer artificer build that uses the large number of constructs.
- The Leadership feat causes a group of people to gather around you and mostly do your bidding.
- The Expanded Psionics Handbook gives us the Thrallherd prestige class which can easily grant you hundreds of willing minions. Disposable, too, as they'll be replaced if you were to lose any, say, throwing them at a dragon or something. Unlike the Leadership feat, this doesn't cause your remaining minions to have any second thoughts, since they're all psychically manipulated anyway. And the class isn't limited to evil alignments!
- This has been done away with in 4th ed; while you can conceivably clutter up the room with a zillion summoned monsters, you can only control one of them at a time. Gone are the days of commanding legions of undead, squadrons of angels, and hordes of demons.
- In Nomine Satanis / Magna Veritas, the prequel of In Nomine, allows you to choose lots of human troops that serve and obey you, if you're an angel. The demons get, instead, a lesser demon or some undead troops.
- The Shifter class in Rifts is a magic user that focuses on dimensional teleportation and Summon Magic. They can contact and attempt to control supernatural beings via a battle of wills (and if this fails, they can attempt to overpower the creature by more conventional means). Unlike D&D summon spells, there is no time limit, though the book suggests forming short term contracts, as forcing a demonic being to remain under a Puny Earthling's control for an extended period is likely to hazardous to said mortal's health.
- All summoners in Pathfinder are capable of this to a certain extent, but Master Summoners are the most oriented towards flooding the battlefield with minions rather than relying on a single powerful creature.
- As befits a proper pulp game, Spirit Of The Century has both minion rules and the "Minions" Leadership stunt that can turn a character into exactly this. A character with the Minions stunt can choose to simply start a scene with 3-12 minions (depending on quality) already "on hand", and the stunt can be taken multiple times for even more — or better — minion-y fun. Of course, this is explicitly primarily intended as a trick for villains or at least NPCs; player characters are expected to rely more on themselves with perhaps the odd higher-quality NPC "companion" along for help.
- d20 Modern, with the proper mix of books, could allow a hero (or villain) to come to the field with dozens of followers. Cut content from the Urban Arcana book (released as a free web enhancement) included the Mastermind Prestige Class, which gained a handful of weaker but still useful followers. Add in the Minions and Sidekick feats from d20 Past and a particularly charismatic and (in)famous character could develop a small regiment of generic Mook followers managed by a handful of lieutenants of ascending power.
- In early editions of Warhammer 40K, some units could use robots, with the amount increasing with the unit's affinity for machinery. Said robots were extremely stupid and could only follow limited instructions.
- In Worm, the protagonist, Skitter, takes the large-number-low-individual-power aspect of this trope to an extreme: she controls any or all insects, worms, spiders, or the like within her range.
- She's also incredibly creative in her use of them, forming swarm clones, making spider silk thread traps, concealing her movements, using them to track enemy movements, threatening suffocation or allergic reaction, making her costume and assisting with filing and her morning routine.
- When she gets her shard jailbroken to become Khepri she trades in her range, sanity, ability to communicate and even comprehend language for the ability to control people as well. This lets her fight a strong AI and the source of all powers on roughly even terms.