RotRL with onlyTwo Players (advice wanted).


Rise of the Runelords


Me and two other friends have decided to start playing DnD again. I know it's a bad time for that, but my one friend and I have not played anything in years. My other friend has never played a RPG before. We're starting with Rise of the Runelords.

Now, how difficult would it be for this to be played by only two players? What classes do you think we should take? Races? I'm going to ask the DM if we can use the gestalt rules, but as I've never used them, I don't know how viable that would be. Also, a part of me is wondering if a gestalt character would be too difficult for a newbie.

If anybody has any advice for me, please pass it along. Thanks!


Are you a new player?

Instead of running a gestalt game, I suggest having him build a third level as a gestalt character. DMPC two other characters as his friends. Start off at 2nd level with 40 point buy, max hp per level and you guys should be OK. You can also use action points and instead of the standard from Unearthed Arcana or Eberron, give him 3 action points per encounter just for his hero. Tell him he can always use 1 action point to stabilize or 2 to cheat death.

Build the character for him, but ask him what he wants the character to do. Does the character just want to be a sword wielding hero? Make him a barbarian/fighter with a rogue friend and a druid friend. Does he want to use a wide variety of magic? Make him a wizard/cleric gestalt with a fighter friend and a rogue friend. Does he want to be a sneaky shooter? Make him a rogue/ranger gestalt and give him a cleric friend and wizard friend.


No, I am not a new player. I cut my teeth on 2e. However, 3e is the game I"ve played least! I'm not super comfortable with the rules as of right now, that's how long it's been (although I'm sure I could roll up a 2e character without looking at the book), but I'm sure once I get started I'll be fine. My friend has only played video rpg's (Morrowind and whatnot). It was kind of his urging that got this game together. So, to clarify things, Friend A is DMing, Friend B is the newbie that will be playing along side me.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion, Pawns, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Charter Superscriber

Gestalt rules are probably best bet.

Or ask the DM to use Valeros, Seoni, Kyra, or Merisiel as an NPC companion depending on where the weak link in the party is. If you need a healer, run Merisiel. If youneed a fighter Valeros. Spellcaster, Seoni.


Since you have one newbie and you are a little rusty yourself, I would suggest against using gestalt. You have 2 players and a DM, correct? I think it could work out well.

Here's a few suggestions for the DM. Cut back on the number of enemies in the various encounters, in half if possible -- 2 baddies instead of 4, etc. Be careful with the boss encounters. Depending on your DM's rules knowledge, it may be possible to scale back some bosses by a hit die or two, but it's not that important. Quantity of bad guys is the biggest factor in scaling for less/more players. If you didn't do anything else, this alone will probably make the campaign playable with 2 PCs.

I would do a 28 point buy (or maybe 32), start you out with a couple healing potions (first level PCs are fragile), and see how it goes. There are some options throughout Rise of the Runelords for NPCs to tag along with the party, which could help even things out. Focus more on adapting the encounters to a smaller party than on powering up the party, otherwise you end up swinging between stomping all over the bad guys or getting creamed yourself. Besides, you may get a few weeks into it and find another friend who wants to try playing.

As for choosing classes, you can try to cover the roles of missing archetypes (bards can cure, rogues can use magic device, barbarians can absorb trap damage rather than disable, etc -- or you can look at some hybrid-like classes: duskblade, spellthief, favored soul, etc).

Unless your DM wants the extra work, I would avoid using a DMPC. As I mentioned, there are some NPCs in the adventure path who can accompany the party once in a while to help you in difficult areas, but personally I think a DMPC is just too much work. Besides, it can easily end up robbing the PCs of the spotlight.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

The easiest solution would be to make 3rd level characters, multiclass them (rogue/battle sorcerer [maybe with an eye toward headed for arcane trickster at 10th level] and fighter/cleric would be my suggestions) and give them max hit points for each hit die. Give them the normal XP for their level, and they'll level at about the same places a 1st level group would, thanks to the miracles of division.

Gestalting would be better, though, and the rules aren't too complicated. Read them through a couple times, maybe ask a question or two here or on another forum, and I think you'll be okay. I'd still probably go with 3rd level characters, though you don't need to fiddle with the hit points there. You might give them XP as though they were higher level, though, depending on what you want out of the game long term.


Just out of curiosity, why isn't anyone suggesting that each player runs two characters? I'd have each player make one and use two of the iconics to beef up the party. The DM runs the iconics outside of combat and the players run them during combat.

Seems a lot simpler than learning gestalt rules.

Sovereign Court

cr0m wrote:

Just out of curiosity, why isn't anyone suggesting that each player runs two characters? I'd have each player make one and use two of the iconics to beef up the party. The DM runs the iconics outside of combat and the players run them during combat.

Seems a lot simpler than learning gestalt rules.

For new players this is best.

do this.


I'll be in the same situation as well. I've got 2 players (maybe 1) and each is going to run two PCs. If I only have 1 player, I'll start him at 2nd level and run two NPCs to help out.


Gestalt is easy. You just pick the two classes you want and take the best ability from both for your character. So if you're a Fighter-Rogue you take the attack and hit die of the Fighter, the skill points for the Rogue, the best save of the two for each save, etc. You get all the special abilities--so Sneak Attack and a Bonus Feat. When rolling for starting gold, take the best of the two. From that point on you just treat the two as one class. When you level up, you take the best from each and all the abilities. Easy, easy.

That'd be what I'd recommend, so you're not having to worry about super special NPCs coming to save you all the time or somesuch. That can be a real pain. If someone's going to be special, better it be the players really.

As for what races to pick, humans are by far the most common in the setting. Most settings say this, but in Pathfinder it's really a lot truer than in other settings. Elves are really kind of weird. So are gnomes. Don't start there. Halflings are fine. Dwarves are fine. Half-orcs and half-elves are a little strange since they really see a ton more persecution in Pathfinder than the norm and are rare to the point of being unheard of.

As classes go, you'll want guys who can fight definitely. Sneakiness hasn't been so much of a thing. Magic is okay, but again hasn't really been something I couldn't see going without. There's a time or two when magical compulsion would come in really handy, but nothing a good potion wouldn't fix.

So there you go. Hope that helps.


We have a similar situation, two player and one DM. We've gestalted and I (the DM) am running a DMPC for a bit more divine support. So far, we've got a druid/ranger and a bard/rogue who is looking into the Leadership feat so in later levels the DMPC won't be necessary.


cr0m wrote:

Just out of curiosity, why isn't anyone suggesting that each player runs two characters? I'd have each player make one and use two of the iconics to beef up the party. The DM runs the iconics outside of combat and the players run them during combat.

Seems a lot simpler than learning gestalt rules.

To be honest, playing two characters isn't something I want to do. I've done it before, and one character is always suffering because the other has become dominant. Also, for my newbie friend, I think playing two characters would be a bit more difficult than playing one gestalt character.

As for classes, my newbie friend has already said he'd like to play a character who can use magic and fight, so if the gestalt rules are used im sure he'll go for a fighter/mage. I'm already thinking about playing a human ranger/rogue. Someone who's as comfortable in the wilderness as he is on the city streets. Plus, I know all those giants will be around soon enough. But I still don't have the Pathfinder Players guide, so I'm holding off any character creation till I order it.

Thanks for the advice everybody. Feel free to keep it coming.

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