The narrative logistics of playing the Leaders and the Soldiers in the same campaign

So I got a game I am making. It revolves around playing through an intergalactic war where you play as the corporate execs, commanders, political leaders AND the mechanics, mecha pilots, soldiers.

So I got the mechanics for all the various bits, there are cool mecha mechanics similar to the Front Mission games, and great political/economical mechanics taken out of board games, and they all work together.

What I am not happy about is determining when to play what?

Do we just play multiple characters and switch when needed?

Have a sheet that belongs to the player for special abilities and pool of NPCs to grab as needed?

Comments

  • Have you studied Ars Magica? It's got the same structural conceit. In AM the players negotiate which characters will participate in each individual "story" at the start, although there's generally room to swap characters in and out where it makes sense for the story.

    More generally, the ideal way to set this up depends on the creative goals of the exercise: why we'd want to play any of these characters at any point of play, and how the system can regularize and coordinate that shift for us. Because the answers will be different for e.g. a strategy rpg and a drama rpg, a general answer is impossible. Depends on what you're doing in the grand scheme of things.
  • Our group played a hacked version of Tenra Bansho, where there were lots of moments when some PCs weren't present in some scenes. On those scenes players who didn't got anything to do draw cards from a deck that gave them agency over some stuff, matter or NPCs present on those scenes.

    It could be as simple as adding a noise that the GM could later turn into something important or not. It could be a minion diving into a terrible death at the hands of the heroes in the scene or the captain of those minions trying to coordinate a proper defense. It could be a less important NPC doing his job. We even played as important antagonist NPCs with one or two conditions (like, a goal for the scene and a modus operandi).

    It didn't even required a reward for the players to do this part, they were happy to make things more complicated for those playing their characters in the scene. Of course, it wasn't like they had control of when would the character appear (the GM decided that). Also, it was important that the GM had a clear goal for those NPCs for that scene (of course, it was okay either if it came to be or not, it changed the story but it didn't ruined it) , otherwise players would make their goal to benefit their own characters directly /indirectly or in the worst case spin the story into a dead end, or whatever.

    Not that we were playing with scumbags, people did collaborate and we all had fun, but the temptation could be too much if you were unfocused/uninspired that session. Goals and modus operandi gave you a clear win condition and a fun handicap to keep things interesting.
  • Question: are the soldiers supposed to be durable PC's or are they disposable temporary viewpoints?
    It would make a big difference to me if I were more attached to a given character and seeing them fight their way through the situations I created as a general, vs. something like, "OK, the 14th will make a stand while the other units retreat, let's play a squad of the 14th about to get overrun."
  • Take a look at Greg Stolze's Reign.
  • Or, alternatively take a look at games like Firebrands or The King is Dead from Vincent Baker.

    'To play, take turns around the table. On your turn, choose a game to play. Turn to that page of the playbook and follow the rules you find there.' [...]

    And there are little games for arguing, chasing, fighting, etc.
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