Ideas for running a "tapestry" game

So, I’ve been re-reading aSoIaF, and thinking about the general structure of the books, and how the various character threads form together to create a “tapestry” that is larger of any of the individual stories.

This also reminds me, in many ways, of certain old-old-school games I’ve played in where players would have multiple characters, you had relatively high lethality, and again, the “overall story” was greater than that of any individual character. The typical complaint of “if the game has high lethality (by modern standards), then characters are just paper thin cut-outs and there’s no roleplaying” is to me countered by the single example of Ned Stark. It would be extremely hard to argue that he was either a cardboard cutout, or unimportant to the story.

So, anyway, BW seems more generally oriented around “the party of adventurers that sees the story from start to finish.” Which is fine, and it’s pretty awesome at that IMHO. But I was thinking about how to adapt it to more of a “tapestry” setting. The general idea of having vignettes seemed like a good place to start, as isn’t a “tapestry” story really a bunch of vignettes that come together?

Here’s my general idea:

[li]Each player has a “PC” (the equivalent of a viewpoint character in aSoIaF). Players have at least one PC, and can possibly have more.
[/li][li]Each session, or subsession, the “focus” rotates to a new player. They may choose one of their PCs to follow for that session.
[/li][li]If other players have PCs in “the area” that have aligned Beliefs/interests/etc., they may join the focus player - for all practical purposes, this means that they are an additional “focus” character for that session.
[/li][li]Players without appropriate PCs are given NPCs - either pre-existing, or to be designed - by the GM. (possible option - create new PCs that do fit in the area?)
[/li][li]NPCs may be “promoted” to PCs by group decision - basically, when a player embodies a particular NPC to the extent that it becomes “their” character. (This could result in some PCs having more than the typical number of starting lifepaths. Which isn’t a bad reward for really helping someone out with their part of the story and awesome roleplaying!)
[/li][li]NPCs run by players can gain tests/skills just like normal PCs, but can also be granted higher skills by GM fiat.
[/li][li]NPCs run by players can also gain Artha awards - at the option of the player, this Artha can either be given to the NPC, or to one of the player’s PCs. (This seems odd, but the idea is that I do want the “NPCs” actively working to achieve their goals, rather than just “lying down” for the PC of the week)

Anyway, I don’t know if I’m going to run something like this soon, and it’s really meant far more “guideliney” than “ruley”, but I was curious what people thought of the general idea. Thoughts? Inputs? Mocking laughter?

I’ve been thinking of a campaign like this as well, with sort of troupe-style play where you can have the ‘main’ characters be geographically diverse, but where each ‘main’ has a secondary cast of characters that the other players can switch to during their scene. One of the early drafts of a game called Galactic worked like that, with each player running a ship’s captain and everyone else making up crew for that captain, with some mandatory interrelationship stuff you had to establish for the crew, relative to each other and their captain.

They weren’t ‘real’ characters in that system, though – they were basically just a source of 1 or 2 helping dice and good GM hostages :slight_smile: