Minim is a way for a group of people to tell a story together.

If you come from a performance background, you might like to think of it as an extremely long-form improv format. If you come from a gaming background, you might like to think of it as a minimalistic tabletop role-playing game.

The purpose of Minim is to allow players to build a series of improvised scenes into an overarching, partially pre-planned narrative, with a healthy dose of randomness built in to force the story in unexpected directions and help spark creative choices.

This document describes how it works. You can call it the “rules”, or the “system reference document” if you like.

What you will need

You will need a group of willing participants. The minimum number of people is two, and the maximum is theoretically unlimited, although in practical terms it will start to get tricky with more than about seven. This group will need to work together, in real-time (either in person or via a group audio/video call), for a period of many hours, very likely broken up into multiple session. At least one of these participants will need to put in a bunch of preparatory work outside of these sessions.

In the sessions, you will need a randomness mechanism to determine outcomes where there is an element of chance. The easiest thing is to use the set of virtual Minim dice available on, but you can also use your own mechanism.

How to play

Before starting, one participant will need to be chosen as the narrator. They are responsible for shaping the overall story. The other participants are players, and they each are responsible for the actions of one character within the story.

The group will need to agree on a setting for their story in advance. This might include genre, period, tone, themes etc.

Each player will need to come up with a character that is appropriate to the setting. The character needs a name, a (brief) biography, and a set of attributes describing their strengths and weaknesses, likes and dislikes, aspirations and fears. This should be written down somewhere, and is referred to as a character sheet. At the start of the game, this does not need to be comprehensive. It can be fleshed out over the course of the game, and events that occur during the game can cause new things to be added to it.

The narrator will need to come up with the beginnings of a story in a way that brings most or all of the characters together as quickly as possible into a scene in which the characters will be prompted to make choices. The narrator should give some thought to what the outcome of such choices might be, but be aware that, as they can’t know what the players will do in advance, they will need to react and adapt to the scene as it happens. At the first session, they will narrate this introduction.

If the setting is an underdog sports story about a group of prisoners who set up a cricket team, and the players’ characters include a former professional cricketer turned petty thief called Timu and a prison warden called Ori, the narrator might say:

“Our story begins on a cold November morning as a bus rolls down a bumpy road across a featureless moor, largely shrouded by fog. It arrives at a gate in a wire fence. The gate opens, and the bus passes inside, pulling up outside a squat brick building at the front of a large complex that makes up the infamous Scrubwood Prison. The door of the bus opens and Timu emerges, and there to meet him, holding a clipboard, is Warden Ori. On the clipboard is a note from the new prison governor saying, ‘Remember the policy: prisoners must be scared straight. You must discover their phobias as a matter of priority, but don’t let them realise what you’re doing otherwise they’ll lie to you’. Warden Ori, it’s time for you to process the new inmate.”

The players then describe what they say and what they do. This is most commonly done in the first person in the present tense. The players respond to each other in ways that are consistent with their character.

The narrator can interject with changes to the environment. The narrator is also responsible for describing the behaviour of any characters who are not controlled by the players, who are called non-player characters or NPCs.

The narrator is responsible for concluding scenes and linking them. This might be as simple as announcing that a scene is over and then describing the start of the next scene, or it may involve describing some character activities that don’t need to be acted out as a way of linking scenes.

“He leads you to your rooms, where a good meal and a warm bath await you. You get a good night’s sleep, and we pick up in the morning at breakfast, when a carrier pigeon flutters into the hall with a scroll affixed to its leg.”

The players will often find themselves having their character try to achieve something that may or may not work. In this case the outcome is determined at random in the following manner:

First, the narrator decides whether the desired outcome is likely, unlikely or fifty-fifty. They decide this based on relevant character attributes and the specifics of the situation.

Then the narrator uses the randomness mechanism, combined with the likeliness they have decided, to determine an outcome. For more on how this works, see the appendix below entitled Random outcomes. If the outcome is Success the character succeeds in what they are trying to do, and the narrator describes the consequence of this. Conversely if the outcome is Failure the opposite occurs and the narrator also describes the consequence. If the outcome is Spectacular success, that means the character not only succeeds, but there is an unexpectedly positive consequence. It is up to the narrator to decide what that consequence is, although they may accept suggestions from the players. Likewise if the outcome is Catastrophic failure, the character fails in a way that has a knock-on negative consequence that is up to the narrator’s discretion.

A player tries to shoot the ball during a football match. The outcome is ‘Catastrophic failure’. The narrator then says:

“You try to kick the ball as hard as you can, but you completely scuff it, and your boot drives hard into the turf. The ball barely moves, but you fall to the ground in pain and it feels like you’ve twisted your ankle.”

The ultimate goal is to tell a story, one that is both enjoyable to tell and enjoyable to hear. The game ends when the story is over. This could happen within an hour, or it could take forty, four-hour-long sessions, or it could never end.

Appendix: Random outcomes

Depending on whether an outcome is likely, unlikely, or fifty-fifty, the following probabilities apply:


Outcome Probability
Success 1 in 2
Spectacular success 1 in 6
Failure 1 in 4
Catastrophic failure 1 in 12


Outcome Probability
Success 1 in 3
Spectacular success 1 in 6
Failure 1 in 3
Catastrophic failure 1 in 6


Outcome Probability
Success 1 in 4
Spectacular success 1 in 12
Failure 1 in 2
Catastrophic failure 1 in 6

We have set up some virtual dice that have the correct probabilities. You could create your own virtual or physical dice, or spinners or a custom deck of cards, and so on. What matters is the probabilities of the outcomes, not exactly how those outcomes are decided.

Appendix: Intellectual property

These rules (including the wording in this document describing the rules) are in the public domain. This means you can use them, modify them, distribute them and monetise them however you wish.

This document was first made public on 27 September 2023.