Twoplayer campaign

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I have two friends with whom I am thinking of starting a new campaign, but just with us three. This would mean only two players and although we have discussed the two characters per players option to get a "normasizedl"party. We feel especially for roleplayings sake the one char per player is the better option.

However seeing none of us have ever made such a campaign the question arises what the problems are and if you can make interesting encounters with 4th edition like this.

I was hoping someone on here would have some experience with playing with only two characters and give some pointers on what to watch out for and what the big differences are with building campaigns for larger parties.
I'm sorry that I don't have any actual experience from which to offer advice, but page 51 of the DMG2 advises using lower level monsters in encounters. This makes the individual monsters weaker to account for the possible lack of a striker or a leader in the party. It also lets you include more monsters in the encounters for a more dynamic fight. They also recommend making use of minions more often, and providing more opportunities for player characters to progress through the completion of skill challenges instead of combat. In addition, there is the suggestion of giving the players one or more "companion characters", NPCs that are kind of like stripped-down PCs. Companion characters are detailed on page 27 of the DMG2. I hope some of that helps.
The major issue is that you have to watch out with conditions. As soon as one party member is dazed, fore example, that means 50% of the party is dazed.

Read the players sheets carefully, know what they can and cannot do.. and if you aren't sure what they can handle, start low. 3 or 4 kobolds in one encounter, 2 roadside goblins in another... and keep track of well things went.

The other issue is that you will have to adjust all skill challenges to meet what the party members are actually trained in, or lower the bar enough that they have a decent chance of making it.


I have used companion characters before, though I am no fan of this. I'd rather make them find healing potions regularly. If you do go with a NPC companion, archer warlord that cannot do skill challenges, and as powers with only an RBA, a Direct the Strike and 2 heals is pretty decent. 
First of all, the challenges are different because there are less players taking turns at the table. Less chances to succeed group tasks, and less damage output from the party per turn. Also, every point of damage the players take is more important because the "Group Hit Points" is less.

Having two players, you should be able to figure out what they are min/maxing and what skills/powers/spells they are focusing on and prioritizing. Design challenges where these spells/skills/powers are the "right answer" to reward their choices and encourage the use of those skills. Turns go by quicker and more seems to get done because less players are making decisions every sequence of events. That said, players can get tangled easier because there are less brains to solve the puzzle and there are less egos competing for attention.

You will be giving each player more time than in a 4 player game, and the players might move through the game faster than normal. I would advise having each player make 3 characters of different race/classes. This is a good opportunity for them to test different combinations. Death comes quicker, so the more the characters a player has, the less of a loss death becomes.

If everyone really wants a two-player group, that is also fine. If nobody is a healer, you have another way to heal them: "You travel for 3 days and 3 nights, healing 3 days worth hit points".


I will give you a piece of personal advice. If you send an "NPC Helper", make it 1 level in all areas LESS good than the players. Don't make the NPC a Superman character, and don't treat the character like "Your PC". It is very tempting to send them a character to help them and EVERYONE likes Sepiroth; until the GM starts playing him.

When you have less players, you also have an easier time communicating with them before the game, about what they want to do; and more time afterward to ask what they didn't like, and encourage honesty. Never argue with a player who says "Actually, this part sucked..." Reward them with "Oh, what should I have done instead?" - Give your player your confidence and you will earn their trust. Especially in a two-player group, this can inspire both players to be on one page.

Happy Gaming!

Within; Without.

I hadn't even thought about conditions like dazed, but yeah if there are only two players one not being able to contribute will matter a lot more in a fight. On higher levels dominate might really be an insta-win for team monster. Will have to keep that in mind when selecting monsters.

I have thought of an NPC, but if I do use one I would probably not direct him myself, but have the characters take turns deciding what he would do and yes it would be something simple like the warlord mentioned earlier to make sure it doesn´t outshine the players in any way.
lol, gosh if i may.......create your own monster encounter list.  rember that a party is 4 characters,t in 3.5 they can handle a cr1 encounter.

 so int theory, 2 lv1 players can handle 1/2 cr encounter. thats where you come in. i dont got a 4e dmg so......but , solo monsters are sweet if not in the monster manual. also if you got google hangouts, id love to be a third player. 

Troll king

It requires careful planning. I have a 3-player group that I get together with occasionally, and I just have to carefully tweak monsters so the smaller group can handle them. We did one session with 2 players where I didn't balance properly, and accidentally wiped out the PCs. 

When creating encounters, try to remember that with fewer players owning resources like potions or healing effects, players can run out of supplies quickly. I often tell players after wilderness encounters "you travel a day..." or "rest a day" and my players responded by picking feats that let you heal more HP when you rest because resting became the primary source of healing. You can tell each player when you "forward time one day/three days" to make one Survival Check each day to find food/campsite/resources. You can create a "tier" of 1-10, 11-16, 17-20 and have each player increase the quality level of the food/campsite/resources.

This means the site could give better healing per day rested, more food per successful survival checks and they just might find a white deer with an expensive pelt that can be made into one piece of armor per player. Each player gets their "cut" of the hide. A good camp might attract wandering adventurers or travelers and a bad camp might attract scumbags (even if not hostile, just low-lifes). Should the camp be attacked, a better camp might provide defense bonuses of some kind, while a worse camp might be bad terrain to fight on.

If you choose to use Camp as a healing option, you should also keep track of "game days" - everyone will have fun when they notice "one month" or "six months" or "100 days" or "10 years".

Within; Without.

give out sweet magic weapons/ armor hen give out xp for non combat encounters.

Troll king

give out sweet magic weapons/ armor hen give out xp for non combat encounters.



Not to condescend, but you should always be doing this anyway.

Within; Without.

I was hosting a game where I had only two PCs playing.  I found that either I had to really tone down the encounters (which wasn't too fun for either of us) and/or have NPCs join the party.  Course the more PCs the merrier but sometimes you just have to make due and improvise.
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