Dark Sun character tree

Etarnon mentioned something interesting in a thread he linked from his discussion of his Star Wars campaign. He talked about a character tree idea he adapted from the D&D Dark Sun campaign. In my next post, I'll copy & paste how he described the tree.

I was wondering if anyone else uses something similar in their campaigns.

Basically, each play gets a "pool" of 4 characters that they can pick from to take on each adventure. Once an episode starts (generally speaking) each player has to stick with the character they pick, but can change them out between episodes. The biggest upside I see is that the player already has another character generated that he can bring into the adventure if the one he is using becomes one with the force.
CHARACTER TREE RULES [Adapted from Dark Sun (TM)]

Character Trees

In this Star Wars: SAGA campaign, players are thus encouraged to use character trees, where they play with only one character at a time, but they have up to four to call upon at the beginning of any particular episode, until the specific episode is completed.

In brief, a character tree consists of one active character (which the player is using as his player character) and three inactive characters. The active character takes part in the adventure, performing actions in the game campaign. When a new episode begins, the player may switch from an active character from the tree, to one of his of her inactive characters OR keep playing the previously active character, and continue play during the episode to come.

Setting Up a Character Tree
To begin a character tree, a player should completely generate up to four characters. Once this is done, the player selects the character that they intend to run for the adventure, making that one the 'active' character. The other three are inactive.

The four characters that make up a player's character tree are unrestricted as to class or race; any combination is acceptable.

For example, one character tree might have a Human Soldier, a Wookiee Scout, a Human Scoundrel, and an Ithorian Jedi, all as part of their tree.

If a Character from a character tree is discarded by the player, or goes to the dark side, that character should be given to the gamemaster, to be played henceforth as an NPC during the campaign. In both of those cases, and in the case of the death of a character, a new one is generated to replace the one that is now gone.

Changing Characters
There are three instances when a player may switch the character to use in play: between episodes, during an episode, or upon an active character's death.

Between Episodes
When an episode is concluded (in the eyes of the Gamemaster), a player may switch the active character out for an inactive one. The player is not obligated to do so, and may keep one character active through any number of consecutive episodes without penalty.

During an Episode
Within the scope of the campaign, calling upon another character to replace the active character requires a substantial investment in time, whether for sending messages or journeying and searching for the transient inactive characters of the tree (use of the force may make this task easier, but cannot solve all of the problems this will entail).

The Gamemaster should sparingly allow players to switch their active character during an episode, and usually impose a 3d6 day delay. The Gamemaster should never allow switching during critical or dangerous scenes of an episode.

Any switching of characters during an episode is subject to the discretion of the Gamemaster, who may freely veto any request to do so.

Upon an Active Character's Death
When the active character dies, one of the inactive characters on the tree is assumed to arrive on the scene within one day (if possible). The player picks which inactive character will arrive and must subsequently roll a new first-level character to occupy the vacated spot on the character tree, as soon as possible. If story circumstances make it difficult for a new character to arrive, the Gamemaster may be forced to extend the period before the newly activated character arrives.

Character Advancement
The active character in a campaign receives experience points and advances in levels just as described in the Star Wars: SAGA Edition Rulebook.

Every time the active character goes up a level of experience, the player may also advance one of their inactive characters on the Tree One Level. The inactive character chosen for advancement must be of a lower level than the active character. Adjust the experience point total on that inactive character's sheet to the minimum number for the new level attained.

The Status of Inactive Characters
Inactive characters are not NPCs or followers. They aren't involved in the ongoing adventure at any time. At no time will a player's active and inactive characters come into contact in the campaign world. When not in play, inactive characters are assumed to be elsewhere in the Galaxy, performing other tasks.

All characters in a character tree are assumed to know each other and are working toward similar ends. The player may invent connections—the characters are all sons of the same powerful woman, are distant cousins, friends from childhood, etc. However, there is no need to have any relationship between them—the player may decide that the individuals in the character tree have no more than a passing acquaintance with one another.

Using the Character Tree to Advantage
The character tree's chief purpose is to give every player a pool of characters to choose from for different situations or when one of the characters dies, or otherwise departs from the campaign.

The player is familiar with these characters and can apply their strengths more readily than they might be able to with freshly created characters. However, if care is taken, the character tree can be a valuable tool to the player over the extended campaign.

As only one inactive character gains a level of experience every time the active character does so, deciding which character to advance might be a decision based on which direction the campaign seems to be taking. If, for instance, a large war is in progress, a player may wish to use the Soldier character for the active character. If the war is winding down, they might want to advance inactive Scout or Scoundrel characters for the post-war adventures to come.

As another example, the quest might be a dangerous multi-episode trek across the galaxy to steal a powerful artifact from an ancient Sith Lord's Lair. The player might use a Scout character to make the journey, but all the while might be using a string of inactive character advancements to make their Jedi character more powerful for the final assault episode.

Exchanges Between Characters
Even though characters are on the same tree, they cannot freely exchange ships, equipment, lightsabers, force artifacts, credits, nor personal possessions. Keep separate lists for all such items.

In some instances, if there is a compelling reason to do so, characters with gamemaster permission may exchange important items or information, but this is an option that is not to be abused. In general, items stick with the original character, as generated.

The above comes from Etarnon's post on the D&D board that I referred to before. Reposted here for easy reference
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