So this is a rough outline of something that occurred to me. It sounds fun on paper, but it would present certain challenges to run.
- Each player would start with a PC at or near 9th level. If not yet at name level, XP progression would be somewhat accelerated. The idea is the PCs should know what they want to do in the setting.
- In addition, each player will have several low-to-mid level (≈4-5th?) PCs.
- Each of the "lesser" PCs are henchmen/followers of other players' high level PCs.
- The followers are loyal to their boss (the other player's high level character), not their own "main" PC.
- The main PCs all know and have adventured with each other in the past, but that does not mean they have to be BFFs.
- Play rotates between the different facets of the campaign from session to session (or even mid-session if there is a lull).
- To a certain extent, the player of a facet's name level PC drives the story. His or her goals and challenges are (usually) the focus of that storyline, although the followers do have free will and can make their own decisions.
- There are events in the larger world that will impact on any or all of the facets from time to time.
Determining exactly how a name level PCs pursues their higher ambitions is up to the player. Some ideas/examples:
- Will the fighter become a lord with a keep and fief? Conquer his own (or someone else's) lands? Maybe he accepts a command in the royal army and becomes a general?
- Does the thief try to take over a city's guild? Or does he become a bandit king in the wilderness? Does he set up a spy network? Or become captain of a pirate ship?
- Does the wizard become a court magician? Maybe he builds a tower on some desolate peak?
- Will the cleric build an abbey? Rise in the church's hierarchy at the main temple? Or will he found his own order?
One of my main concerns with this sort of a setup is that some players might have a hard time separating their characters' loyalties. i.e. possibly working against one of your other PCs. I see it as a neat RP opp, but others may differ.