D&D 5E Troupe-Style Play in 5e (How would you make it work?)

BookTenTiger

He / Him
In another thread, @DrunkonDuty mention Troupe Style Play:

Troupe play is one way around this problem. I first encountered playing WEG Star Wars... What was the campaign called... (Edge of Empire? Nah.) Anyway, each player got one bridge character, one away-team character, and one fighter pilot. One of your characters was experienced, one was average, and one was a mook. Your choice as to which was which. It worked well. Depending on the scene you might be playing the star or you might be playing a support character, but you always had something to do.

This got my imagination running!

How would you make Troupe Style Play work in 5e D&D? What kinds of campaigns would it be great for? What would be some of the challenges, and how would you overcome them?

...

To me, I feel like Troupe Style Play would be great for a Game of Thrones style game. The DM could alternate between Palace Intrigue, Band of Knights, and Border Guards stories. The players would make three characters, one for each setting, and choose which character was a Protagonist, a Sidekick, and a Support. Perhaps a Protagonist would start at 5th Level, a Sidekick at 3rd Level, and a Support at 1st Level? Conflicts could be balanced around the average level of the group.

I could see playing out three adventures per season. You would do a round of Palace Intrigue, Band of Knights, and Border Guards adventures during the Spring, then another round during the Summer, then Fall, and Winter. Maybe everyone would increase in a level after each adventure?

It would definitely be rewarding to have stories connecting or new information being revealed across the three settings!

In the second year, you could have the groups get mixed-up! Maybe some Palace Intrigue characters get exiled to the Border? Some Knights get sent to the Palace? Some Border Guards get hired as guides for the Band of Knights?

...

Anyways, what are your ideas? What would be fun or difficult about this mode of play?
 

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el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
Two of the three choices I plan to put before my group after the current campaign chapter wraps up involves a form of troupe play.

The simpler of the two options is starting another classic D&D campaign with new characters and when that campaign wraps up around the same level as the current one will be when it ends (let's say 8th or 9th level), the plots between the two will converge allowing the players to choose which of the two characters they want to play for any particular adventures that the group chooses to investigate (so kind of a modified west marshes game).

The more complex one is a re-imagining of the Dragonlance Chronicles and the War of the Lance, with each player making three characters to replace the core characters of that story that begin at 3rd level - starting by meeting up in Solace, but then allowing the plot to go where it will go based on player choice and using the original modules as a VERY loose framework (i.e. get rid of the railroading and allow for whole chunks to play out differently or be ignored altogether) and the players as a group choosing a different group of four characters (5 if we get a fifth player) to investigate and tackle different aspects of the war effort and the quest to defeat Takhisis and the Dragon hordes.

Edit to add: I plan for characters not involved in the current adventure to nevertheless earn 50% of what the active character gets based on a narration of what they've been doing in the meantime. So levels will be staggered a little bit, but I have never though of level differences of a level or two making much difference.
 

S'mon

Legend
My Faerun Adventures game has Primary & Secondary characters. Secondaries have a start level half that of the Primaries, and only earn XP above 4th if they are the only PC being played, but can act as henchmen to the Primary.

One big factor in this campaign working is the 5e rules and level spread. New Primary PCs start at half the level of the highest level PC, Secondary PCs at half that level, rounding up:

Highest Level PC: New Primary PC Start Level / New Secondary PC Start Level

TIER 1
1-2: 1 / N-A
3-4: 2 / 1
-----------
TIER 2
5-6: 3 / 2
7-8: 4 / 2
9-10: 5 / 3 - current start March 2022
------------
TIER 3
11-12: 6 / 3
13-14: 7 / 4
15-16: 8 / 4
------------
TIER 4
17-18: 9 / 5
19-20: 10 / 5

Over time the setting fills up with lots of PCs of a variety of levels, but the start level tends to go up over time and PCs can adventure together - if the highest PC is 9th, everyone has at least 1 level 5+ character.
 
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payn

Legend
In another thread, @DrunkonDuty mention Troupe Style Play:



This got my imagination running!

How would you make Troupe Style Play work in 5e D&D? What kinds of campaigns would it be great for? What would be some of the challenges, and how would you overcome them?

...

To me, I feel like Troupe Style Play would be great for a Game of Thrones style game. The DM could alternate between Palace Intrigue, Band of Knights, and Border Guards stories. The players would make three characters, one for each setting, and choose which character was a Protagonist, a Sidekick, and a Support. Perhaps a Protagonist would start at 5th Level, a Sidekick at 3rd Level, and a Support at 1st Level? Conflicts could be balanced around the average level of the group.

I could see playing out three adventures per season. You would do a round of Palace Intrigue, Band of Knights, and Border Guards adventures during the Spring, then another round during the Summer, then Fall, and Winter. Maybe everyone would increase in a level after each adventure?

It would definitely be rewarding to have stories connecting or new information being revealed across the three settings!

In the second year, you could have the groups get mixed-up! Maybe some Palace Intrigue characters get exiled to the Border? Some Knights get sent to the Palace? Some Border Guards get hired as guides for the Band of Knights?

...

Anyways, what are your ideas? What would be fun or difficult about this mode of play?
Why not just use Birthright?
 




Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
The most common place I see troupe style play in D&D are West Marches style campaign. Players usually end up with a stable of characters at different levels, and they get mixed and matched based on the mission at least, and sometime location and dates/availability for the West Marches campaigns that track that per character.

I believe the concept originally came from Ars Magica, where magicians were much more powerful so each player had one magician and also had henchmen for each the others magicians. Or something along those lines, I hadn't played it.
 


If you wanted an MCU-like structure, something like troupe play could work:

Part 1 (each part is a short campaign, like a really long one shot ot 3-ish sessions): Player A gets a main character and everyone else (save the dm) plays in their party of sidekicks (ie Captain America and the Howling Commandoes)

Part 2 has another player be the main character and the other players be sidekicks (Thor and the Warriors 3, but the person who played Cap is now Hogun)

Etc until every player has been the main

Part N+1 (where n is the number of players) is the big team-up adventure where all the main characters need to learn to work together to defeat the real BBEG
 

In another thread, @DrunkonDuty mention Troupe Style Play:



This got my imagination running!

How would you make Troupe Style Play work in 5e D&D? What kinds of campaigns would it be great for? What would be some of the challenges, and how would you overcome them?
We did this playing FASA Star Trek RPG. Each player had a senior and junior officer character. One would stay on the ship, whist the other was on the Away Team. But this was done out of necessity, because of the nature of storytelling associated with the IP. The action might be on the planet, or on the bridge, or both at the same time. To an extent, it was to avoid spoiling the plot by telling the players where the action would be.

On the whole, one of the strengths of D&D is the typical story structure does not require such contrivances, and I would avoid trying to force it in unless absolutely necessary.

Another situation you might use it would be in a Mission Impossible type game, where you are selecting highly specialised characters for a specific mission. But the 5e ruleset does not tend to produce highly specialised characters, and even the Mission Impossible TV series fell back on the same cast of regulars most of the time.
 

BookTenTiger

He / Him
Another fun way to do this in a 5e Game might be a "Knights of the Round Table" Style game.

Everyone creates 8th Level Knights who are in some kind of order (or who sit around a table or some distinct shape).

Each adventure is one of the Knights' quests (such as for the holy grail, or to slay a dragon, or whatever). The other players have rolled up Squires (5th level) and Followers (3rd Level).

This style of game would allow a series of protagonist-driven stories in which one Knight at a time gets the spotlight. Could be interesting!
 

pogre

Legend
I love Ars Magica, but do not really have a group that would enjoy it long term. Anyway, I also like the concept of troupe play.

I kind of sneak some troupe play in my campaign.

IMC, PCs generally go into the background once they reach 18-20th levels. However, they remain an important part of the campaign world and sometimes are called into service for a special mission. This way, players can play some very high level D&D on occasion - that invariably has consequences for the current campaign characters. Usually it is indirect- something they hear about. Sometimes it is direct - my current campaign PCs are working for a monster hunting guild that was founded by a previous epic character.
 

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