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    kraftcheese's Avatar

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    Default How hard will 5e with a 2 PC party be?

    Obviously this is gonna be up to the DM, who is pretty easy going and committed to everyone having a good time, but I'm just trying to gauge whether anyone else has played a game with a small party.

    Essentially what's happened is that out (formerly 4 person) has broken up due to circumstances outside the game; we can't play with the other two people anymore.

    The DM, another player and I are all still willing to play and we're trying to toss up whether we really NEED an extra couple of people; all three of us are good friends and we get along in-game quite well.

    I'm playing a War Cleric and my fellow player is playing a homebrew class that seems kinda like an Arcane Trickster (probably more magic-slanted than combat and skills based though); I'm thinking we've got me, the frontline warrior with casting abilities, and the other character who has some decent damage spells, and mostly uses ranged weaponry.

    TL/DR; Does anyone have tips for playing a small party in 5e; useful classes, feats, etc.

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    GreenSorcererElf

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    Default Re: How hard will 5e with a 2 PC party be?

    I think its a little tough to provide a meaningful challenge without rolling the party.

    Easy fix: each of you play two PCs for an instant 4 member party. Each player grabs one extra PC that is a bit more simple / streamlined (so you guys don't get bogged down, unless you are good at keeping track of lots of stuff). RP-wise, they are 'less important' than the PCs and more like side-kicks. Less compelling back-stories, less intrusive personalities.
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    Default Re: How hard will 5e with a 2 PC party be?

    I think that you could manage a Paladin and a Mood Druid to get a mix of spell caster melee covered, but your core problem is how Swingy combat would be. If either of you drops, it's one versus the world: example is at 1st level a 3 versus 2 goblin fight becomes 3 versus 1. Degree of difficulty just went waaaaaaaaay up.

    Compare a 6v4 fight versus goblins. If one person drops, it's now 6 vs 3. Not as hard of a fight.

    gfish funk's suggestion is a far better idea.
    We used to do that a lot in olden day D&D (Play two PCs per person) when we could only get a few folks to the table.
    Last edited by KorvinStarmast; 2016-01-08 at 12:03 PM.

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    PirateCaptain

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    Default Re: How hard will 5e with a 2 PC party be?

    Any game can be run with 2 people. I don't see why 5e should be an exception. You need to scale down the encounters appropriately.


    That said, Legendary and Lair actions may be different, since they will tip the action economy more severely towards the monster.
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    BlackDragon

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    Default Re: How hard will 5e with a 2 PC party be?

    The Dungeon Master's Guide has suggestions on creating encounters and campaigns for parties fewer than 4 players, as well as how to calculate the effective CR of an encounter when there is more or less than the standard 3-5 party members. Page 81-85 should have it.

    Page 83 has the section that is most important here: Party Size. To briefly summarize, count each individual monster as about 1.5 times its challenge rating for a party below 3 players. So a creature with a CR of 2 would be effectively a CR 3 creature, and a CR 4 creature would be CR 6.

    Hope this helps.

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    Default Re: How hard will 5e with a 2 PC party be?

    Easier, in my opinion.

    First off, 5e characters are more balanced and cover more of the bases than older editions, especially if you play rogues or spellcasters. Also, assuming a DM scales down encounters, a team of two will automatically think more tactically because they know they aren't going to be able to plow through every situation.

    I've had so much fun playing two person games in the past, as you get more done, but still have a buddy beside you. I can't recommend it enough.

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    Default Re: How hard will 5e with a 2 PC party be?

    I ran a brief play-by-post game for two PCs. They only got through like 4 scenes before they both ghosted, but I feel like it went pretty well. We didn't do any combat (it was supposed to be a stealth/thievery-heavy game) but I reckon it would have worked alright as long as I didn't swamp them or use anything that could one-shot them. Which is still best practice for larger groups, to be honest.

    It felt more intimate and even in the short run of the game, the characters felt deep and real. I'd advise you to give it a shot and see what happens.
    Last edited by Ninja_Prawn; 2016-01-08 at 02:46 PM. Reason: typo
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    SwashbucklerGuy

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    Default Re: How hard will 5e with a 2 PC party be?

    You could consider each playing 2 PCs.

    If that isn't your cup of tea, perhaps steal from some Final Fantasy style games, and create a 'stable' of different PCs, choosing which ones to play for a particular session or adventure, depending on what you need. Maybe even having to play different PCs to go rescue the two that you managed to get captured, etc. :)

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    BardGuy

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    Default Re: How hard will 5e with a 2 PC party be?

    It depends on the characters I think. They should if at ALL possible take healing word, maybe even spending a feat on it. Even in scaled down encounters half your party being down is REALLY bad.

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    WolfInSheepsClothing

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    Default Re: How hard will 5e with a 2 PC party be?

    The DM could add in additional help for you.

    Perhaps a wolf, or horse, or some form of animal companion befriends each of you . . . and they (eventually) have some fighter (or whatnot) levels.

    An intelligent, talking, magical, dancing (flying) sword with cleric or paladin levels could be fun. Expectantly if the sword falls in love with a character. Say the sword falls to the ground at 0 hp until it is healed.

    Hiring a few Fighter bodyguards could be a fun option.

    Including a noble cleric with visions to follow these two would be a way to go, and he happens to have a fighter squire to help out.
    Last edited by darkrose50; 2016-01-08 at 01:06 PM.

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    Default Re: How hard will 5e with a 2 PC party be?

    Quote Originally Posted by darkrose50 View Post
    Hiring a few Fighter bodyguards could be a fun option.
    Whoa, be careful, or you may go full grognard on him.

    (Hirelings and henchmen were bread and butter back in the pre electricity days of grognardism ...)

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    Default Re: How hard will 5e with a 2 PC party be?

    Quote Originally Posted by kraftcheese View Post
    Obviously this is gonna be up to the DM, who is pretty easy going and committed to everyone having a good time, but I'm just trying to gauge whether anyone else has played a game with a small party.

    Essentially what's happened is that out (formerly 4 person) has broken up due to circumstances outside the game; we can't play with the other two people anymore.

    The DM, another player and I are all still willing to play and we're trying to toss up whether we really NEED an extra couple of people; all three of us are good friends and we get along in-game quite well.

    I'm playing a War Cleric and my fellow player is playing a homebrew class that seems kinda like an Arcane Trickster (probably more magic-slanted than combat and skills based though); I'm thinking we've got me, the frontline warrior with casting abilities, and the other character who has some decent damage spells, and mostly uses ranged weaponry.

    TL/DR; Does anyone have tips for playing a small party in 5e; useful classes, feats, etc.
    5E is much more fun with a small party. My group varies between 2 and 4 players, usually 3. I don't like running solo games with only one player because the interaction between players is (IMO) an important part of the game, but even when there are 3 players, they love for some reason to split the party and wander off on their own. I don't adjust difficulty based on party size, so I have seen everything from a single death cleric on his own (got eaten by wolves) to a whole shipful of sailors and several high-medium level PCs with an army of skeletons.

    My observation based on that experience:

    The smaller your group, the more valuable mobile/skirmish tactics will be. For a solo PC, Mobile feat is pure gold, and a Rogue 2 level is very valuable, as is the ability to generate minions (Necromancer 6 for example). The larger your group, the more valuable ranged weaponry is and the more you can focus fire to exploit advantage. In theory you could combine both aspects in one character with a Mobile Rogue 2/Necromancer 6 who can drop a Fog Cloud or Darkness spell and hide within it after every Booming Blade attack he makes (so the enemy cannot target him and so he gets advantage on his next attack) even while his twelve skeleton archers lurking within the cloud are shooting up every target that presents itself (at advantage for every target not within the cloud, because they can see it and not vice-versa); and if he runs into something more powerful than he is, he can afford to leave his skeletons to die and just skedaddle w/ Cunning Action: Dash.

    I've also found that Mobile Moon Druids are fantastic in solo scenarios, because they have that same combination of "can tank in close combat OR summon a ton of minions, depending on the threat level".

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    Default Re: How hard will 5e with a 2 PC party be?

    Quote Originally Posted by KorvinStarmast View Post
    I think that you could manage a Paladin and a Mood Druid to get a mix of spell caster melee covered.
    This 'Mood' druid sounds interesting...:)

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    Default Re: How hard will 5e with a 2 PC party be?

    Quote Originally Posted by Arial Black View Post
    This 'Mood' druid sounds interesting...:)
    I cast Dancing Lights, maaaaaaan. Groovy.

    (I know it isn't on their spell list. They're obviously a 'high' elf.)
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    Default Re: How hard will 5e with a 2 PC party be?

    Quote Originally Posted by Arial Black View Post
    This 'Mood' druid sounds interesting...:)
    Heh, that's a typo I think I'll leave standing.

    The Mood Druid specializes in raising mushrooms as his downtime hobby ... groovy, man, and the monsters you meet are simply amazing!

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    Default Re: How hard will 5e with a 2 PC party be?

    Hire a couple of mercs. Human (non-variant) Champion Fighter Soldiers that are several levels lower than you, you can safely start them at 1 even if you like. One using Greatsword and one using Longbow. No feats allowed until they max Str/Dex & Con. Give them an xp share as usual, but cap them a level lower than the main PCs.

    I suggest they be named Rob and Bob. ;)

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    WolfInSheepsClothing

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    Default Re: How hard will 5e with a 2 PC party be?

    "grognard m ‎(plural grognards)

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    Fun stuff!

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    Default Re: How hard will 5e with a 2 PC party be?

    Having one or two NPCs is the way to go here. I'm running a game for my brother and our roommate, and I added in a simple NPC Ranger who basically just hits things with axes (melee or thrown) every turn.

    I don't think giving the Ayers multiple PCs is really a good idea most of the time, since it spreads them too thin especially when it comes to roleplaying. It's hard to play a role when that role is two people.

    The most important thing about the NPC extras is that they are an NPC, not a DMPC. They should not be the party spellcaster or face or scout or really any role other than "hit things and take hits", and maybe a few heals.
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    Default Re: How hard will 5e with a 2 PC party be?

    Quote Originally Posted by AgentPaper View Post
    The most important thing about the NPC extras is that they are an NPC, not a DMPC. They should not be the party spellcaster or face or scout or really any role other than "hit things and take hits", and maybe a few heals.
    I can imagine scenarios where it would be really good for the game to have an NPC be the party scout. Think about how heist movies always work: someone outlines the obstacles, and then the protagonist plans how to get around them. If the party scout is e.g. an NPC Sprite with invisibility and high stealth, then you can open scenes by letting the scout detail the opposition for the heavies (PCs) to deal with. (And then one day when you really want to scare them, have the scout start a recon and not come back.) It's good for the players, good for the PCs.

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    GreenSorcererElf

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    Default Re: How hard will 5e with a 2 PC party be?

    Quote Originally Posted by AgentPaper View Post
    Having one or two NPCs is the way to go here. I'm running a game for my brother and our roommate, and I added in a simple NPC Ranger who basically just hits things with axes (melee or thrown) every turn.

    I don't think giving the Ayers multiple PCs is really a good idea most of the time, since it spreads them too thin especially when it comes to roleplaying. It's hard to play a role when that role is two people.

    The most important thing about the NPC extras is that they are an NPC, not a DMPC. They should not be the party spellcaster or face or scout or really any role other than "hit things and take hits", and maybe a few heals.
    I think my streamlined 'sidekicks' PCs are a good middle ground. Keep RP simple or non-existent (or make the RP purely DM controlled, but all tasks Player controlled).
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    RedWizardGuy

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    Default Re: How hard will 5e with a 2 PC party be?

    If you're expecting to run the published modules, it will be very hard.

    If it's homebrew or original adventures, small group is awesome. Everyone have more time to shine, a chance to talk during social interaction and general roleplay. I'm currently playing a game with 6 players and what i don't like is how often someone will be better then you. You have to be super focused on one thing or you won't be good enough. With 2-3 players, your EK is actually wanted for the arcana checks or your fighter with thieves tool for the traps.

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    PaladinGuy

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    Default Re: How hard will 5e with a 2 PC party be?

    Is it hard? yes. Doable? certainly. My table currently consist of anywhere between 2 and 5 players, sadly most often 2 or 3 due to college responsibilities and stuff. Now, the DM (we play by turn, so we switch DM's often) doesn't really wan't to do improv, at least as little as possible, so we often end up playing stuff meant for 4 players. Buuuuuuuut, assuming you guys are open to a little powergaming it's really not an issue. You make/build your characters with a "no, or very few, weak spots" mentality and you'll be fine. Your current party makeup might make that a toughie, so rerolling might be preferable. But otherwise? Totally doable, try it. It even gives you guys SO much more playtime/person, which is nice.

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    Default Re: How hard will 5e with a 2 PC party be?

    Thanks for all the replies folks!

    I'll have a talk to my friends and see what we can do; I mean I'd certainly be happy to reroll my PC if we need to, and the idea of having hirelings/secondary PC s to ensure we're not overrun is interesting as well.

    By the way, we'll be doing a homebrew campaign, no published modules.

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    Default Re: How hard will 5e with a 2 PC party be?

    Another way is to have a "clone" of your PC that activates when you go down. That gets rid of the swingy side of combat.

    If you start the battle with low health, your clone does too. At the end of the battle you halve your HP if you went down.
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    Default Re: How hard will 5e with a 2 PC party be?

    Check out Goober4473's NPC Companion thread. That could also give a low PC game a boost.

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    Default Re: How hard will 5e with a 2 PC party be?

    Ha ha ha ha!!!!

    Oh boy. Son sit down a second and allow Uncle Bouts to tell you a tale about Greybolt the Assassin and Mekilios the magnificent.

    Two of the most unscrupulous and ruthless men to ever walk the country. Greybolt carried around a scorpion crossbow that he could assemble in 6 seconds and fire 400 feet away. Hidden in the brush, his call sign was his uniquely grey styled bolts that emerged red from his targets. And he always completed the contract.

    Mekilios was a talker. Yes sir, this man couldn't shut up. If he needed to get in somewhere, by the gods he would. Be it bribes, swindling, threats or just plain bull****, Mekilios handled any problem they couldn't shoot to death from 400 feet.

    Now these men were planners and ambushers. If they were ambushed and couldn't fight their way out of a situation, then they ran. Then came back while their targets were asleep and took them out. In a straight fight they didn't do so well. So they avoided those and dungeon crawls. Instead they focused on making sure the situation favored them and avoided situations that didn't.


    Ok to be honest I run that game. Two members in a party plus an NPC they picked up later who is their fighter. But the fighter is unnecessary. The scope of the game changes without 4 people. The DM needs to recognize that you can't run the game like the Player's Handbook says.

    2 People offers so much cool stuff to do. Make sure the dungeon crawls are small and short. Less monsters, more personal villains. You can really focus in on the backstory of the two characters and their interactions with NPC's. Avoid large fights and straight fights if possible, because they will die to large numbers. Instead, the story needs to be personal and focused on the characters. Its a an awesome way to game, and you can accomplish a lot on a smaller scale then you can with more people.

    In an even fight, with the tactics used by my two players, I would put them up against any four man party provided they all four started at opposite ends of a city. And give them decent odds of success.
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    Default Re: How hard will 5e with a 2 PC party be?

    Ran it with 3 players before. I scaled most of the encounters down, and gave them a little (non show stealing) NPC help for some of the more... epic fights

    Frankly, the players had a blast and the game went more smoothly than normal
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    Default Re: How hard will 5e with a 2 PC party be?

    Quote Originally Posted by BoutsofInsanity View Post
    In an even fight, with the tactics used by my two players, I would put them up against any four man party provided they all four started at opposite ends of a city. And give them decent odds of success.
    Any four-man party? How about two clones of Greybolt and two clones of Melikios?

    j/k

    Sounds like a fun campaign. I think three is a really great size for a D&D group--everyone gets lots of face time--and since one of them has to be the DM, that makes two a terrific size for a PC party.

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    Default Re: How hard will 5e with a 2 PC party be?

    Not particularly. My group favors 3-PC campaigns, which are amazing because everyone gets a lot of spotlight time and people's backstories/personal quests can be fleshed out and play a major role (since with only three people, it's easy as a DM to tie in each character's personal goals without it overwhelming the main plot). We occasionally drop to two people when one can't make it, and it's not bad at all. You do have to play more tactically, but that's a fun challenge in its own right.

    Small parties actually have shown me how flexible 5e is and how you don't "need" any particular class or role to succeed. I've DMed a Paladin/Monk/Bladelock party and they did fine by just charging and rolling face. I'm playing in a Paladin/Knowledge Cleric/ (was AT, then barb, now moon druid) party and we've also been good at finding ways to combine our powers. Starting a Paladin/Wizard/Monk campaign soon, which I expect will also be good (everyone loves playing paladins for some reason).

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    Default Re: How hard will 5e with a 2 PC party be?

    To some extent it depends on how proficient your players are and how complicated their characters are. I would suggest two primary PCs who do all the roleplaying, and two secondary PCs (or "NPCs operated by the players", depending how you care to describe it).

    Side benefit: if you kill one of the secondaries, it'll be more emotional than if it were a DM-operated NPC, but not as wrenching as losing your primary.

    That said, I've been in RP-heavy games with two characters, and it can work very well as long as they're both competent, and as long as you don't put them in "win or die" situations too often. Make it clear when "flee" or "surrender" are alternatives.
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