Minion Shuffle (System)

There comes a point in virtually every action series when the heroes must confront an overwhelming number of thugs, ninja, pirates, aliens, or other generic, low-grade badguys. Invariably, the heroes carve and blast their way through the hordes of adversaries with such prowess and ferocity that none can stand in their way. When the dust settles, the ground is strewn with defeated enemies, and the heroes have reached their goal, be it breaking into the evil overlord’s fortress, escaping a sinister trap laid by their archenemy, or defending a village of helpless peasants.

In RandomAnime, this type of scene can be run as a “Minion Shuffle” scene. In a Minion Shuffle, the Narrator selects one song from his list of gaming background music songs to represent the Minion Shuffle scene. At appropriate scenes in the game, the Narrator plays the selected song and the normal scene immediately becomes a Minion Shuffle scene. For a bit of extra fun, the Narrator may simply call for a Minion Shuffle every time that song comes up randomly on a CD or MP3 playlist.

A Minion Shuffle scene works a bit like a “musical chairs” fight scene. During a Minion Shuffle, the PCs compete to see how many faceless minions they can kill before the song ends. The PCs roll initiative and take turns attacking minions until the song ends. On a PCs turn, he simply (and quickly) announces the number of minions he is attacking and what weapon he is using before rolling to attack. If the attack succeeds, he records the number of minions he defeated and then the next player takes his turn. Each character’s actions should take no more than 10 to 15 seconds of real-time. The attacks that occur during a Minion Shuffle are not described until after the scene ends. While the music is playing, the goal is for everyone to simply roll as many attack rolls and kill as many faceless minions as possible.

All of the opponents in a Minion Shuffle are standard faceless minions with Defense Totals of 10. There is no actual, fixed number of minions; they just keep coming until the scene is over. During the Minion Shuffle, the minions themselves get no mechanical opportunity to attack. Of course, they can be described as attacking, but the Narrator never makes attack rolls for the minions, and the PCs cannot actually be harmed during a Minion Shuffle.

When the song ends, the Minion Shuffle is over. The players tally up their number of kills and then take turns describing all of their characters’ actions during the scene. In addition to any Style Point awards for impressive role-playing, the Narrator awards an extra Style Point to the character who killed the most minions, and another Style Point to the character with the most creative and entertaining attack description. Once the carnage is over, the scene has been described, and the rewards have been handed out, game play returns to its normal pace. At this point, all the minions may have been slain or driven off, some may remain and fight the PCs using the normal combat rules, or a more powerful opponent may show up to do battle.
The Minion Shuffle fight scene does not have to occur in a single location, nor does it have to take place during a single moment in time. The scene could be a series of quick cuts from one location to the next (say, as the PCs battle their way across the country) or a crazy collage of simultaneous, split-screen battle scenes (as a separated group of PCs fight their way back to regroup).

Music selection plays an important role in determining the cinematic “feel” of the minion shuffle scene. Fast and furious heavy metal, angry punk, campy ska, or even classical music can greatly enhance the frenetic action of the Minion Shuffle. Of course, if the Narrator does not want to use a soundtrack for his game, an hourglass or stopwatch can be substituted as a timer for the Minion Shuffle (preferably with a time limit of three to five minutes), but it really is more fun with appropriate music to set the pace.

Examples of appropriate Minion Shuffle scenes are endless. A Minion Shuffle to Steppenwolf’s “Born to be Wild” could occur as the heroes bust up gun-running biker gangs in the seedy bars, back alleys, and tenements of a bustling city. A Minion Shuffle to Johnny Cash’s “I’ve Been Everywhere” could occur as the PCs roll across the post-apocalyptic ruins of the American Midwest cutting down rock n’ roll samurai on their way to Las Vegas. A Minion Shuffle to the Yoshida Brothers’ “Storm” could occur as the characters slice their way through endless waves of ninja while leaping across rooftops and smashing through crowded teahouses in feudal Japan.

Below is a brief example from actual playtesting of how a typical Minion Shuffle might proceed. The names in this example have been changed to protect the awesome.

< Gioacchino Rossini’s ”William Tell Overture” begins playing on the stereo.>

Narrator: Hundreds of masked ninja suddenly leap out of the woodwork and swarm at you. Roll initiative!

< Players roll initiative checks and announce their totals.>

Narrator: Okay, Player 1, GO!
Player 1: Five minions, melee.
Narrator: Roll.
Player 1: Got ‘em!
Narrator: Dead, dead, dead, dead, dead! Player 2, GO!
Player 2: Grenade, whoever.
Narrator: Boom! Dead, dead, not dead! Player 3, GO!

< This continues until the song ends.>

Narrator: Okay, everybody count up your kills. Player 1, tell us how you killed those guys.

< Each player takes his turn describing his character’s actions during the scene in all their gory detail.>

Narrator: Player 2, you killed 24 minions. You get a Style Point. Player 1, you really kicked ass. Have a Style Point. Does anyone else want to nominate someone for a Style Point?