|We could probably also call this the "chess queen" model|
A third model occurred to me when thinking about character classes like The Extras, The Financier, and The Crew - that is, royal villains and their retinue of loyal bodyguards are represented within the game mechanics as a single enemy creature. So royal monsters get higher HD as their rank goes up, not because they become better fighters, but because they become better protected by a larger staff of intermediaries.
The king is always surrounded by his most loyal bodyguards, and initially, any damage is dealt to the guards. The figure of the king, in this model, represents the last Hit Dice, perhaps even the last hit point - you don't get to touch him until all the guards are down. With apologies to both Omar Little and Ralph Waldo Emerson, when you strike at the king, you won't kill him, at least not until all his guards are out of the way.
The question of whether the king escapes and returns later with a new retinue, gets captured, gets executed, or is simply thrown out of the palace and exiled - this is a question the players can answer outside of combat. And except for possibility of daring escape, these are all questions that can be answered simply by the players coming to a consensus. Once the king is at their mercy, they no longer need to roll any dice to determine what happens to him.
|I believe it was also Emerson who asked|
"Is you taking notes on a criminal fucking conspiracy?"
I was reminded of this idea during a conversation with Trey of From the Sorcerer's Skull, who suggested "A mechanic wherein Underbosses were like the ablative armor of the Big Boss would be interesting. The heroes don't get a chance to confront them until they've taken down enough "points" of Underbosses."
Mechanically, Trey thought you could borrow rules from the 2nd edition of Robin Laws's HeroQuest rules: "You could encounter a Boss without going through the Underbosses, but at that point the Boss is really high on the challenge curve and you're likely to get beat."
Richard from Richard's Dystopian Pokeverse thought this was similar to the "onion skin campaign model" that's used in Sandy Peterson's Masks of Nyarlathotep. He adds that Patrick from False Machine is already using a rule like this in one of his current games where Richard's a player: "Having reduced a rival to 0, the attacker has to state they specifically want to kill/capture the king and use their forces against the remaining 1hp point."
And finally, Steve from Kaijuville thought this reminded him of a mechanic that sometimes shows up in Warhammer 40K: "Characters joined units that basically meant the unit became a Wound sink for the character. In hand-to-hand combat, enemies couldn't wound the character until they dealt with all the unit models."