Back in the dark ages, there was a really fun game called “Ars Magica”. It was set in “Mythic Europe”, a semi-historical version of late “dark ages” Europe (~1100AD, give or take) where magic was real.
The idea was that each player controlled a group of characters: a Mage, who was incredibly powerful; a Companion, who was more or less like a regular fantasy RPG character; and a coterie of grogs, who were semi-expendable cannon-fodder (but who could, over time, grow to power and become full-fledged companions).
I have looked around and not seen any system for more traditional AD&D/3E/Pathfinder; the rules are strongly aimed at regular party groups.
What got me thinking about this is Darkest Dungeon, which is one of my favorite games (despite its tendency to provoke cursing fits that would have George Carlin asking me to “tone it down a little”). To a lesser extent, another game I love, Guild of Dungeoneering.
In it, you command a company of mercenary dungeon delvers, who die QUITE OFTEN. However some grow to considerable power.
I was wondering how to run a desktop version of that; a kind of “you get d4 new recruits every ‘phase'”, kind of thing. The question is how to keep everyone connected to the story, I guess.