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Troupe style play

Reynard

Legend
Just out of curiosity, does anyone out there use troupe style play. That is, a stable of characters available to whichever players want to run them that session without any ownership. Or, alternatively, where each player has a stable of PCs that they pick from for any given session or adventure.

I experimented with it once in a Star Trek style game where sometimes you wanted to be bridge crew but other times you wanted to be lower ranked specialists. It worked okay. I planned to do it with a super hero game using an Astro City style setting with lots and lots of supers, but it never got off the ground.
 

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Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
Used it many times in many campaigns. It's a wonderful tool! Ars Magica, obviously. And I've done it with Trek style games, like you have.
 

Arilyn

Hero
We have done it very successfully with ARS Magica. Currently, we have a great Dungeon Crawl Classics troupe style game going. We have an informal adventurer's guild, with players each having a number of characters. The characters come, go, die, retire. It's a lot of fun.

I think super hero games work especially well with troupe style. You'll get that Justice League/Avengers vibe.
 

aco175

Hero
I tried it with a campaign where I thought we would have an extra player or two in and out. I thought of having an adventurer's guild where each week the PCs would be given a mission and it would wrap up each week. It ended up with the players picking the same PC each week to get some levels and the other players stopped coming after a month, so we branched off the main idea.
 

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
The second form was the default in my main group of 20+ years. We all had PCs ranging from newbies to just short of demi-gods.
 

My first 3.5 campaign with my current group of players ran with them each having two PCs. They were all part of an Adventurers Guild and they had been assigned in pairs, with everyone wearing a Guild ring that allowed them to teleport back to Guild Headquarters. In addition, if you touched rings with your "bink-partner" (that's the term we ended up calling teleporting back), you could "lock into the coordinates" of the place the other PC just binked in from. End result: the Guild would assign the team a mission, the team members would decide who to send out on it (the players would decide which of their two PCs they'd run for that adventure), and if a PC ran into trouble they could always bink back to HQ and get replaced with the other PC. It worked well for PC death, too, as long as another PC could activate the dead PC's ring to bink the dead body back to Guild HQ, which ensured the player of the dead PC could still continue to run through that adventure with their other PC.

Also, when 3.0 first came out, I started a campaign with my two sons as the only players. We had them run through each adventure with two PCs each, which isn't quite the same thing but kind of close. Our stipulation, since we were just first running 3.0, was there would be no returning from the dead; furthermore, there would be no duplicating character classes until we'd run through all 11 of them, so your new PC had to be the first of that class we'd ever run.

Johnathan
 

Nytmare

David Jose
I had assumed that would be the format for my current hexcrawler, but it hasn't happened yet.

In Band of Blades, it's kinda baked into the system.
 

aramis erak

Adventurer
Just out of curiosity, does anyone out there use troupe style play. That is, a stable of characters available to whichever players want to run them that session without any ownership. Or, alternatively, where each player has a stable of PCs that they pick from for any given session or adventure.

I experimented with it once in a Star Trek style game where sometimes you wanted to be bridge crew but other times you wanted to be lower ranked specialists. It worked okay. I planned to do it with a super hero game using an Astro City style setting with lots and lots of supers, but it never got off the ground.
I've used it in Ars Magica.
It only worked because 3 of the 8 (not counting me) also knew the rules enough to run a story. Aside from D&D, I've not had a group of players capable of that. With L5R 5, I had 2 of 8 capable, but only 1 of those willing.

That's the hardest part of shared GMing is that all need to know the rules.
 



Nytmare

David Jose
That's the hardest part of shared GMing is that all need to know the rules.
In some games shared GMing doesn't involve any kind of system mastery, and just has specific tasks usually left up to the GM that are passed off to one or more players.

In Band of Blades, you're playing the part of an entire regiment of soldiers retreating from a lost battle. At the beginning of the game, players pass the GM hat around and decide on which "Broken" they want to fight against, and which "Chosen" they march with, which dictates essentially which tropes and themes the game will and will not contain. Before each adventure starts, players adopt characters who are the officers of the retreating legion who, again, do some minor GM lifting. For example, the player playing the Commander chooses the specifics of the next mission and where the the adventure will take place, the Marshal directs which troops will make up the party, and the Spymaster gathers intelligence on enemy movement and activities.

In The Quiet Year, a map drawing RPG following the passage of a year for an orphaned community of some description, the entirety of the game's rules are read/learned/taught in the first 5 minutes of the game by players taking turns reading pages in a book. Each round, the role of GM passes around the table, as the player draws a card, chooses one of the two passages to read aloud and answer, and draws something on the map to mark the passage of time.
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Supporter
Ars Magica and Band of Blades both do it really well. I haven't used it in OSR games, but I can see it working well in any campaign that has any kind of focus of hirelings and followers.
 

Ulfgeir

Adventurer
In the Tianxia-campaign I play in, we all made our own character (and we are spread out in five regions on a continent the size of China). The GM then made 4 extra characters per player that he portioned out to be the entourage of each others characters. Each if these GM-made characters are just as powerful as the ones we made. They do not always have goals that align with the rest of the characters. The idea is that there is to be a lot of intrigues, and mysteries. So we play a little bit in one region, then next session we go to a different one. So far it works well.

For example when we played last, in the region where my character was the "main" character, we had someone who would like to take advantage of my character and her family as they had money (my character has the flaw that she always gets to know the wrong persons. She is a respected scholar and has a reputation for always being honest), another was an assassin but appearing as a noblewoman of high bearing, one was an imperial spy, one was an excorcist monk, one was a 14 year old girl who was my servant. That one was the daughter of a disgraced general, and was extremeley good at figthing.
 
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uzirath

Adventurer
Just out of curiosity, does anyone out there use troupe style play. That is, a stable of characters available to whichever players want to run them that session without any ownership. Or, alternatively, where each player has a stable of PCs that they pick from for any given session or adventure.
I've seen the second version where each player has a stable of characters. That has worked well in my experience. I've seen it where each PC earns XP (or character points in GURPS) according to which adventures they participate in and I've seen it where all PCs are set at a given level of points (so even when characters are off-screen, they are progressing and can drop in at approximately the same power level). I prefer the latter; it seemed to encourage richer storytelling where each character was clearly Doing Things when they weren't in the spotlight.

I have not seen a campaign explicitly created to use your first variation of troupe style, with a single stable from which all players can pull. I have seen a few variations. With one-shot games, of course, players will often choose from a set of pre-gens. But that's not really the same thing. I've also seen it in games with larger groups where not all the players show up to each game. Other players may control the extra PCs. With a good group, this can be a lot of fun. I know that I look forward to getting to play a second character who is different from my main PC. It allows me to engage the fiction in ways that might be unrealistic for my own character. In this case, though, the original player still retains "ownership" of their character.
 



werecorpse

Adventurer
I like the idea of it but when I’ve tried it in D&D I got pushback as some people had their favourite characters and didn’t want to spend time playing the also rans.

I’d like to give it a go with games where you heal more slowly and die more easily like CoC so backup characters are available if someone needs to sit out a while recovering
 

Tonguez

Legend
I have PCs define their connection to family and Factions in which they have influence. To track that I adapted the 3e Leadership mechanic (Cha+level). Using Leadership means I have a set number and levels defined, it also takes care of the level of the second PC (Cohort). Anyone starting with negative influence must begin as the servant/slave of another PC and influence can be used during Downtime activity. Including sending lower level followers off to do tasks.
Influence imc also acts as a Wealth mechanic.
 

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