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. (In Brawl, his Pikmin formed a Chain of People; more Pikmin equaled a longer chain, which equaled a higher chance of recovery. In Wii U/3DS, Olimar summons flying Pikmin to carry him to safety; the more Pikmin he has with him, the slower and heavier he is, and the slower the flying Pikmin can fly, sometimes not even making it back to the stage easily.)
- 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 II, 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. Specialized high-tier equipment can increase the size of the Witch Doctor's horde, from slightly increasing the number of zombie dogs to making the Fetish Army (a mass of knife-wielding, baby-sized skeletons) last forever instead of just a few seconds.
- The set dungeon associated with this armor plays up the minion master role even more, requiring the Witch Doctor clear the instance without being hit by any melee attack. This requires hiding behind an army of minions and letting them clear the way.
- Similarly, the right equipment can make the Demon Hunter, normally The Turret Master, into a veritable zookeeper by giving them up to ten animal companions of various species instead of just one.
- 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 a variety of summoner builds, some of them resembling the "Zoomancer" build from the Diablo II example above. The selection of minions include basic but weak Skeletons, beefy Zombies, raised Spectres of fallen enemies, powerful and short-lived Raging Spirits, elemental Golems, animated weapons, and many more. Passive skills and items can be used to raise the number, life, and damage output of the minions, as well as add other effects such as causing them to explode at low life, give your shield bonuses or flask effects to your minions. Other ways to enhance your minions include auras and Offering spells which consumes corpses to give your minions a powerful buff. The intelligence-based Witch class are the best choice for summoner builds, and their Necromancer Ascendancy class is specifically tailored for such builds.
- 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.
- The Sadida class in the Wakfu MMO has this as their primary schtick. While they possess a wide variety of nature-based powers, their abilities are mediocre unless supplemented by the hordes of voodoo dolls they're capable of summoning. Almost every passive (and quite a few active) abilities the class has revolves around their dolls in some way, with even their bread-and-butter elemental spells having additional and occasionally esoteric effects when cast on one. In line with this trope, many other classes have at least one summon, but the Sadida is the only one that can have more than one out at once. It is entirely possible for a high level Sadida to outnumber the rest of the fight by themselves!
- Predictably, the Summoner class from Dungeon Fighter Online. Any PC might have ways to summon help - there's rare equipment for that and an entire crafting discipline. A regular female mage may also have readied a single contracted summon, and technically briefly manifests elementals to cast many spells. A Witch makes long-term contracts with elemental familiars (in questlines absent from the game's current version) and thus might also have several present at once doing things. A Summoner makes numerous summoning contracts and takes quantity over quality with elementals to raise small armies. Clever use of Elemental Baggage can raise multiple minions from a single spell, and as unimpressive as basic minions are, a Summoner is constantly raising more and using their presence to call stronger species.
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, controlling up to 100 of the aforementioned Pikmin, who help carrying objects, opening paths, and mobbing enemies en masse. Your character on their own is virtually powerless, the Pikmin are necessary to do anything.
- 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 has you controlling commanders who summon their forces and can fight alongside their army, even having special Combination Attacks with each unit.
- Summoners in Tales of Maj'Eyal Kill an animal, and you can make a totem out of its 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.
- Lilith in The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth is blindfolded, and so cannot fire tears in the normal way. However, she starts with three items that get around that: Incubus, a familiar that shoots tears for her, Box Of Friends, which creates one copy of each familiar she currently has, and Cambion Conception, which grants her another familiar if she is damaged enough times.
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.
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.
- Also from One Piece is Capone "Gang" Bege, a mob boss who carries his entire syndicate within his body: He ate the Castle-Castle Fruit, which allows him to shrink objects and people and store them inside of himself, with his body's interiors resembling that of a castle. He engages in absolutely no fighting of his own—rather, he deploys out whatever men he has that's best suited for the situation and overwhelms enemies through sheer numbers and firepower. One effect his nature as a Minion Master has is that he cannot be ambushed, as there is always at least one lookout covering every direction. Another effect is that he (or his mobsters, at least) can attack from any combination of directions simultaneously.
- 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.
- 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.
- In Warbreaker, Awakeners are gradually demonstrated to be a variation on the theme. Any material that is not stone, metal, or alive can be animated to follow a simple command upon contact (if the Awakener in question has enough Breath to expend in the activation). This can range from commanding a piece of rope to "Hold when thrown" (To tie up an enemy), to a cloak commanded to "protect me" (allowing it to perform an Arrow Catch), to a cadre of voodoo dolls commanded to "Find Something", to a fallen opponent's cloth armor commanded to "Fight for me."
- 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. It is infamous for being one of the most overpowed abilities in the game.
- 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 40,000, 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.
- Sorcerers in Exalted can do this with Demons and Elementals. The game has a sidebar that notes, since a dedicated Sorcerer could quickly amass a huge number of these demons it is better to treat them as a single large group of enemies under the games "battlegroup" rules. It should be noted that, even by Exalted Standards, a single blood ape minion is terrifyingly powerful.
- A character literally named "Minion Master" appears in Sluggy Freelance. When introduced his only minions are Torg and crew (about four people), who are using him as a cover to fight Hereti-Corp. Later Torg recruits him a bunch of Digbots, pleasing Minion Master to no end.