No, I'm not talking about Hannibal, Face, Murdock, and B.A.
This is an idea I had when I was planning the Maritime Campaign. It comes from a lot of complaints of newer gamers, or those older gamers who've moved on in 'RPG game design' to the newer models. There's that idea that if combat is a big part of RPGs, then every character should be good in combat.*
4E of course tried to make everyone nearly identical in combat, to mixed (IMO) results.
And of course there are skill challenges where again everyone is supposed to be able to contribute.
So nobody's ever supposed to be bored during the game.
The criticism leveled against older systems, both class & level games like D&D, and skill based systems is that some characters are good at combat, others are good at out-of-combat challenges. And the players playing one type are supposedly bored during the encounter that isn't tailor made for their character.
Well, while I don't find this to actually be true in practice, there are plenty of players out there who do believe it.
So here's an idea:
Players each run 2 characters. One is made to be a combatant. The other is made to be useful in exploration, social situations, or other non-combat situations (as the genre allows). They all go along in a party, but in combat the (assuming D&D) Fighters, battle-Clerics, stabbity Thieves, and blaster-Magic-Users step up and tackle the challenge.
The rest of the time, those characters take a back seat as the rest of the characters explore, look for traps, make deals with the gnoll tribe to attack the owlbear enclave together, and puzzle out the mystic runes to close the Gate to the Elemental Plane of Water.
So everyone's got two characters, which can hurt immersion for some players, and stretch credibility for those who want a logical story, but at least from a gamist perspective, everyone's got something to do all the time (if you can't figure out how to make your character useful when there's nothing written on your character sheet for you to riff off of...)
*I really don't think this is needed, but here it is as an idea for those who do need it.