GMing a campaign with a Fighter and a Rogue..... that's it.


Advice


Like the title says. Me and two people from my normal gaming group are going to play a side campaign whenever the rest of our group are busy with school/work. They want to play a fighter wielding a greatsword and an unchained rogue wielding a rapier. They aren't optimizers by any means, so I'm not expecting them to minmaxed out the ass for this any more than they are for my other campaigns.

I'm trying to conjure up some ideas for a campaign for these two, but I'm worried what will happen when they hit higher levels. The rogue will have use magic device, but even then every single scroll or wand they come across will be precious. What can I challenge them with that will still feel challenging, but won't end up TPKing them. Are there other things I should consider when planning this campaign?

Also on a side note: NO GMPCs. I hate playing them, plus the temptation is too great sometimes to just lead them through the campaign by the nose. It is a weakness I do not wish to tempt, if at all possible.


Also, do you think there might be any APs or modules that I could use/draw inspiration from for this?


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Look up fafhrd and the gray mouser I think is how it's spelled. Series of stories by Fritz Lieber. It may help.


Having these two characters could prove to be an interesting opportunity to explore the more gritty side of Golarion. Your typical adventuring party with at least a wizard and a cleric really shoots things into high fantasy territory. Healing is always available and when things look grim fireballs start being slung. With a fighter and a rogue, damage and healing becomes much more serious, and you can get a better look at how your 'average joe' sort of people get by in such a fantasy setting.

I'd recommend either an urban set of adventures, or maybe have them be mercenaries, allowing them a chance to visit various locales and travel a great deal.

With just two people, especially without free or cheap healing available (they'll be blowing plenty of gold on visits to temples and the alchemist's shop), you'll want to keep in mind that action economy rules the day. Fights will be much more lethal for them, especially if they're outnumbered.

Silver Crusade

GM side.
I suggest some kind of urban campaign. This will give them quick access to temples for healing, and condition removal.

Just have the players find some extra gear early.

Keep the combats low tire as to not over run the players. Due to the lack of healing this will be exceptionally easy to do on the GM side.

Suggest to them that one of them might want to change classes to have access to healing. Their are a multitude of ways to make a character concept work.
Example:
Fighter could go with ranger, paladin, cleric, druid, hunter, oracle, warpriest, or inquisitor. All make good combat characters and give the group access to healing.
Rogue could go with Bard. With just a few choices make a very effective rogue substitute. And still have a skilled classes that now has access to healing.

Player side
Have a talk with them about what kind of game they want to play in, and incorporate that in to the game.


What level are they starting at? If they are level 7 or higher and willing to spend a feat each, Leadership can get them a healbot and a blasterbot, buffbot, or debuffbot (note: this is NOT optimal, but can make do in a pinch).

If they are level 5 and willing to spend a feat each, a lesser version of this is possible with Torchbearer, although your healbot has to be an Alchemist or Bard, ad your debuffbot has to be an Alchemist or Ranger (maybe Rogue, but they have to blow a feat on Torch Handler, so this would be challenging, although the new Eldritch Scoundrel archetype of Rogue, that I can't see yet, might make this easier than I think).

If they are level 3 and willing to spend a feat from the Fighter (the Rogue can't do it unless they somehow get proficiency with all martial weapons), a really low version of this is possible with Squire, although your healbot has to be a Paladin, and your buffbot has to be a Cavalier, and you can't get both unless (as noted above) the Rogue somehow gets proficiency with all martial weapons to qualify for the Squire feat.


OldSkul wrote:
Look up fafhrd and the gray mouser I think is how it's spelled. Series of stories by Fritz Lieber. It may help.

Wow, this is so relevant I can hardly believe my eyes. I’m absolutely going to draw inspiration from this. Thank you!

Nargemn wrote:
I'd recommend either an urban set of adventures, or maybe have them be mercenaries, allowing them a chance to visit various locales and travel a great deal.
calagnar wrote:
I suggest some kind of urban campaign. This will give them quick access to temples for healing, and condition removal. Just have the players find some extra gear early. Keep the combats low tire as to not over run the players. Due to the lack of healing this will be exceptionally easy to do on the GM side.

Excellent suggestions! Time to see what I can conjure up for an urban campaign for good aligned characters. Perhaps some undercover guards in the seedy underworld of Taldor….

calagnar wrote:
Suggest to them that one of them might want to change classes to have access to healing. Have a talk with them about what kind of game they want to play in, and incorporate that in to the game.

I would actually prefer not to have them change their classes, as this is a unique opportunity for me as GM to do a campaign without easily obtained teleportation/divination/flight/etc. solving an adventure’s problems. I will definitely double-check with them that they understand the implications of their class choices, as well as if they still want to tackle high fantasy adventure or perhaps, like Nargemn said, something grittier.


I'd go with homebrew... Plenty of cool options there.


UnArcaneElection wrote:

What level are they starting at?

I was going to start them off at level 2 so they could have extra cash to spend. This might actually be the campaign I allow Leadership/similar feats, although depending on the theme we end up agreeing upon, I might deny them casting classes that aren't low skill healbots. Of course it would still be useful anyways to have a secondary combatant... I have to update this thread once I chat with them again.


Either way, they'll at very least have to carry MANY wands of CLW and Lesser Restoration... Luckily, those are 1st level wands, so there is that...


You may want to bump up the Fighter's Skill Ranks per level to help him a little. Consumable Items such as potions will go a long way for them, and remember that certain enemies will be very difficult to deal with for a base setup (even a small quasit may cause issues due to DR, flight and invisibility).

You may also want to look into the Short Rest rules from 5th Edition to help them heal a little without it feeling like Magic Items or Bust (additionally, Heal checks and such can be used as well).

tl;dr of the system, when you rest an hour you can roll any amount of hit dice you have and heal that much health. They are expended until you Long Rest and then you gain half back.


Does anyone think I should give them a 30 point buy for this campaign? Would that help them or hinder the campaign?


Angry Wizard wrote:
Does anyone think I should give them a 30 point buy for this campaign? Would that help them or hinder the campaign?

I think it wouldn't help the places the classes would need help and enhance an area (combat) that they're already pretty decent with.


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Go read the old Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser short stories, they're pretty much 'Fighter & Rogue go do things' the pulp series, I'd suggest giving the fighter more skill ranks, going fast and loose on handing out consumables and quite possibly allowing them both to gestalt for free into a second class (Non-casting or low casting), or just giving free gestalt levels when they earn them.


Something like leadership - in the form of, say, a patron, ally or organization they come to lead - can be quite helpful. This could allow them to get temporary aid for when they need extra muscle or have a friendly alchemist who can supply them with a couple of potions free of charge every day.


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Keeping most enemies mundane and in small groups should help avoid overwhelming them. Saving caster foes as BBEGs or their lieutenants is probably the way to go. Even then, sticking to 6/9 casters instead of full casters is a good idea.

As it's a small-scale campaign you can craft individual events to let each character shine. Maybe there's a dark warehouse/hideout the Rogue can infiltrate, opening the barred door from inside to admit the Fighter and some helpers. Or perhaps the situation calls for the fighter's immense strength to shift a cart blocking their escape route.

Your Rogue should naturally shine out of combat, and the Fighter in combat. The challenge is to make both of them useful and relevant whatever the scenario.


Make sure the Fighter's player is okay with setting up a flank with the Rogue so they can get sneak attack. The last thing you want is for the Rogue to feel useless in combat because they can't do much damage.


Hmm. Thinking about it, this campaign has a lot of "Urban grittiness" options, as long as you players are happy with fewer combats and more exploration/problem solving.

This is exactly the sort of game where you can throw a Save-or-Suck effect at them, expect them to fail, and then present them with the challenge of escaping from capture. Or losing combats could actually be a plot device - they get knocked out and dragged before "the Boss". He has an offer they can't refuse.

Sorry, but the entire low-magic urban setting has me a bit excited. I'd quite like to run a similar campaign, closer in tone to Raymond Chandler or Dashiel Hammett than Tolkien.


Another option along the lines of mercenaries, have them be part of an organization that provide them with jobs and supplies. Something where no matter how beat up they get, they have a place to "go home" to and get patched up.

To use an original Star Wars trilogy example, think of Luke & Company and the rebellion. After Cloud City and getting his hand cut off, Luke and everyone didn't have to go find a doctor and figure out how to pay for it, they just went back to the medical cruiser and the robo-doc started patching him up so that he'd be good to go for the next adventure.


Ryan Freire wrote:
Angry Wizard wrote:
Does anyone think I should give them a 30 point buy for this campaign? Would that help them or hinder the campaign?
I think it wouldn't help the places the classes would need help and enhance an area (combat) that they're already pretty decent with.

I disagree. They can only raise their Str/Dex/Con so far... They could use the extra points on Int, Wis and Cha, giving the Fighter some extra versatility and the Rogue some... less awful saves. :P

Silver Crusade

My thought is spread out the encounters. Maybe don't have them adventure every day, so they can heal up over time.


I will third the Fafrhd and Gray Mouser stories.

Mostly urban campaign, with the occasional away mission to recover strange treasures, meet strange and fascinating people, and sleep with them or stab them a lot (and on a really bad day, both).

In line with those stories, I'd recommend giving them some sort of spellcaster "patron" who regularly pays them magic items for jobs, and may be willing fix the occasional unfortunate status effect (and take it out of the "paycheck.")

Probably some wizard or cleric who's reasonably strong (possibly even has Break Enchantment) but hates getting his/her/its hands dirty.

(A good-aligned example would be, say, a cleric of Shelyn who has no stomach for combat but will gladly hire people to recover lost and stolen artworks of all sorts. A neutral-aligned example might some self-important wizard who's too busy being a wizard to go do that adventuring crap.)

I'd also recommend allow background skills from unchained for the extra skill points. (And don't hesitate to be generous with what people could do with certain profession skills, like profession (mercenary) or (soldier).)

Dark Archive

I like the spellcaster patron idea. Could almost make it a relationship like James Bond and Q, where the party is out making use of the awesome gear the kooky caster makes for them.

Liberty's Edge

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BLloyd607502 wrote:
Go read the old Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser short stories, they're pretty much 'Fighter & Rogue go do things' the pulp series, I'd suggest giving the fighter more skill ranks, going fast and loose on handing out consumables and quite possibly allowing them both to gestalt for free into a second class (Non-casting or low casting), or just giving free gestalt levels when they earn them.

This.

I read the OP's headline and immediately thought of Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser.
You CAN run a two player game.
Give them connections with a local alchemist, temple or healer who owes them.
That way they have access to potions, and heals.

Have them purchase hirelings.
You can build encounters that are challenging but not deadly pretty easy.

I would run them on a 20 point buy(high fantasy), start them off max HP for first level and run with it.

There's no reason to make them munchkins right out of the box. You don't have to. A two player game with limited healing and access to spells opens up a huge world of NPC interactions that could be a blast.

They're not missing anything by not having a Wizard, Cleric or Bard in the Party. So what they don't have spellcasters at their disposal. Hire one. You run him/her and make them fun.
That one NPC could be the door for a whole campaign. And you can use them to direct the party how you want to see the game go.

You could have this spellcaster, let's say a wizard, hire the pc's to recover a book for him. That book turns out to have maps/rumors/stories about a magic item. Once found, and given to the wizard, he rewards the party and shares his knowledge with them and offers them a secondary job and is willing to fund the expedition to X.
If they accept it, he insists his apprentice join them. And chaos ensues....

Don't feel like your limited. As the DM you can adjust the world to help or hinder your players. You got this, just roll with it.


OldSkul wrote:
Look up fafhrd and the gray mouser I think is how it's spelled. Series of stories by Fritz Lieber. It may help.

Somewhere I have have the 1e Module Lankhmar: City of Adventure (or something like that) based on the Fafhrd and Grey Mouser stories. It's a fun read (never got to play it).


They could probably get some solid mileage out of teamwork feats too, both are melee martials, both should want to flank, the extra attacks of opportunity could help them end combats quickly to cut down on needing healing.


OldSkul wrote:
Look up fafhrd and the gray mouser I think is how it's spelled. Series of stories by Fritz Lieber. It may help.

I was going to bring up exactly this, but you beat me to it.

Also, some of the Conan stories (especially the some of the non-original novels that came out in the 1970's and 1980's) deal with Conan's various periods of time that he survived as a thief in various large cities.

Obviously, these aren't full fledged AP's or modules, but they should give you some interesting story ideas that revolve around a warrior type and a rogue type working together.


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Sans 7th level Leadership or a comparable GMPC, you could throw in something like a level one commoner kid that looks up to the duo and wants to help (even if they tell him to "go home, it's too dangerous").

You can develop the kid over time - leveling him/her up as an apprentice or a squire. Not a caster (short of maybe gaining rogue minor magic over time) but someone who can lend a hand in a pinch (go get help, toss a weapon to a disarmed fighter - even if it's just a dagger, pull out a bottle of CLW he pickpocketed off a thug earlier in the day) - But at the same time might be someone the PCs feel responsible for and need to protect. It can bring in a real interesting player dynamic into the game.


With just two characters, try to avoid everything which takes out one of them - no Hold Person, no Dominate Person, no Petrification, no grapple etc.. Poisons, diseases, curses etc. are more annoying than usual - use them rarely, and probably turn a cure into an interesting subquest.

While both classes have their downsides, they also have their fields of expertise. I could imagine them to do well against a single tough melee opponent, with the fighter engaging and the rogue flanking. Or you set up situations like this: The fighter has to fight off a large wave of vampires while the rogue desparately tries to open the door to escape into sunlight. Another version would be: Fighter keeps flying enemies at bay with a bow, while the rogue tries to disarm traps.

I'd encourage both players to make up characters complementing each other. It would be good to cover all relevant skills once. Even a few teamwork feats will be worth it.


I'd say make sure that the rogue gets Skill Unlock: Heal. That covers a non-magic way for them to not die of minor wounds accumulated faster than they can rest them away.

Make sure there's a bow or something as a backup weapon, if there's ever a flying enemy.

If you send invisible things, give them some nearby way to negate it such as flour or muddy areas where footprints are noticable.

Consider that a 2 person party will be a CR or two beneath a full party regardless, I'd say one behind at low levels and two behind past about level 8, since they're martial they'll be better than casters at the start and *much* worse by the end.

They don't have the burst damage potential of a full party, so easy on the overwhelming tide of minions that normally get fireballed.

They won't have many ways to attack touch AC, so consider that if you throw something that's big and slow but has so much armor they can't pierce the shell.

They need to stick close together to survive, they're easy to outnumber and surround, but they'll get a lot of benefit from flanking if they're willing to take a risk on being flanked in return. Consider loosening restrictions on flanking to make it easier to achieve positioning, it'll benefit the rogue more than the fighter but they need advantages.

Anything which is immune to sneak attacks or being flanked now ignores roughly 40% of the damage of the entire party, more if the fighter is crit based.

Incorporeal undead are a ***** with no ghost touch weapons, I wouldn't do that.

Enemy casters should only ever be played intelligently, I'm a firm believer in that. That being said, an intelligently played enemy caster will likely WRECK THEM. So find "smart" ways for the caster to act, while making the situation benefit the players almost as much as the caster. (I could cast stone wall on you but the room is so small I'd be stuck in it too. I could fireball you, same problem. I could dominate person, but I don't have it prepared today, I could use a hostile teleport, but there's nowhere useful with line of sight, I could...)

You have a unique chance to explore deep character interactions here, if the players are willing to be social and roleplay in character with any degree of effort, they'll get over double the amount of "facetime" a usual party could ever get. Combats take much less time, so social encounters can make these their most memorable and well thought out characters ever.

Have fun!


Make it a Lore Warden + Eldritch Scion

Use wands of Infernal Healing, at higher level cast Celestial Healing

Make sure both can switch hit. Have the rogue debuff in melee, while the fighter puts more emphasis on archery.


Seriously, these have all been wonderful suggestions! Thank you so much for all your advice in an area I have never explored before.

These players don't go on forums, so I think I can toss around some campaign ideas I have jumping around my head without fear. One is an undercover guards story where they attempt to infiltrate the seedy underworld of (insert glorion city here) to solve X.

I was thinking X could be some plague extortionists, where the criminals infect homes/businesses/loved ones with a plague and hold the cure over them in exchange for money or they let them die and turn into minor undead (with the BBEG running the whole operation being a Juju Oracle with a thing for either Norgorber or Urgathoa).

Though I'm all ears for other campaign pitches for these two.


Angry Wizard wrote:

(with the BBEG running the whole operation being a Juju Oracle with a thing for either Norgorber or Urgathoa).

Maybe an alliance between the two, with a Norgorber assassin as the lieutenant or visa-versa...


Be very attentive sending them on long time sensitive quests (where they can not pause for a few days to batch their wounds, or end up trying to set up camp in hostile territory), the lack of magical healing will become very obvious there.

But in an urban setting where they can curry the favor of organizations that can rent them resources on the rare occasions they need it, it is a great set up.

The other to things to be attentive to is the Save-or-die spells and action economy. Save-or-die spells are all built on the assumption of the 4-player party, the smaller the party the more wild difficulty swing they introduce (case study one: angry GM when wizard one-spells the bbeg). When you are building an encounter, make sure the encounter won't kill them if they fail a single save-or-die. For example; if they encounter an evil cleric slaver and the fighter fails his hold person save, with a four person party there would still be three people in the fight, with your group there will only be the rogue in the fight. Balance your encounters accordingly.

All that aside, this sounds like a cool set up and it would be awesome to play that campaign. For other inspiration there are a few times when Drizzt or Artemis Entreri have to fight wizards in the R. A. Salvador books. Their frustrations and challenges really communicate the pain and suffering of not having your own wizard.


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I'll just shamelessly leave this here... :P

Cool Fighter!
Cool Rogue!
Cool Weapons! [ooc[(I really love this one! ^^)[/ooc]


How would you feel about giving them each a choice of a second strong save and giving the Fighter 4+INT modifier skill ranks per level? Or giving the Rogue a talent every level, so long as all the talents gained on odd levels only modify skill checks or are the weird ones like Ledge Walker?


I actually have a friend whom we do this with, I have an orc barbarian and he has an elf rogue, archery focused. We're both level six now but have played them since level one. Starting out we had some other players until about third level, after which we ran modules two levels below us. This actually worked out quite well last session, where we played Feast at Ravenmoor or something like that. Even the last scene

Last Scene:
went well, as we were surrounded cultists (about 20 or so) and the druid lord before his transformation. My barbarian had great cleave & combat reflexes so anyone rushing past to the rogue got smashed, even those who didn't got shot down by the archer. I think we dispatched all 20 cultists in 3-4 rounds before starting on the boss - it was a close combat but a fun one.

My advice would be to give them lots of healing potions (our characters usually have 20-30 CLW potions on each of us at a given time, as well as some CMW potions for desperate in-combat use. You can totally run a campaign with just two characters, just tell them to make sure their characters have anti-mob/swarm capabilities and run the campaign as if it were a couple of levels lower.


Also see this thread (but keep in mind that Scarred Witch Doctor has been Errata'd since this was written).

If you need to make a GMPC, but don't want the GMPC in there all the thime, something like this might be up your alley (as the thread is titled, "Thinking of You: Being the Best Support You Can Be... From a Mile Away").


You may also want to consider running it as a low magic campaign. Spell casters and magic using monsters should be rare. Not nonexistent but rare. They would be the BBEG with more normal minions. The exception should be healing items.

The only limited resources they have are HP. This means they can often go longer than the normal party. Normally when the spell casters run out of spells it’s time to rest. This is not the case with this party so it changes the dynamics. As long as they have HP they can keep going. This means as long as they have some healing (potions and scrolls) you can throw a lot more challenges at them.

You will probably need to tone down the encounters since they don’t have access to magic. But as I said you can throw more challenges at them. I would recommend the fast progression for XP to compensate for the lower threat of the challenges.


I can't agree more with the notion of an urban setting. Save magic for primarily BBEGs, definitely consider the idea of some patron giving them a base of operations (starting out as just a place to sleep, eat, review maps, strategize, and reapply bandages), skip leadership, but at around level 7 have NPCs show an interest in teaming up from behind the scenes. A flavorful combination this way might be an Alchemist (provides potions/infusions), an Occultist (can provide relevant cryptic information by reading objects, highly flavorful) and a Hospitaler Paladin (provides emergency medical attention if the players can get to them in time.) Each of these characters could be willing to help in combat if called upon, but should otherwise stand back a ways.

I'd also recommend building up to lethal encounters, and having them play out one at a time in favor over chugging through the healing potions. Social encounters, including those that could turn deadly, non-challenging combats, and intrigue might be your best allies. Remember that fairly mundane combats can still offer an interesting challenge, especially managing terrain and larger groups of enemies. Sniping,

Of course, I'm looking at this all from through the lens of how awesome it would be to play a campaign that mixed the elements of BBC's Merlin and Arrow.


Encourage both of them to invest a little bit of focus in some ranged options too. The ability to use cover and engage out of melee to thin down opposition will help such a small party stay alive for a lot longer.


Work out some way to get them a discount at Ye Ol' Alchemist shop so they have better access to things like alchemist fire & acid flasks for energy and area of effect attacks.

Maybe one of the early adventures they rescue an alchemist from a mugging or burglary or something.


If you're looking for more inspiration for this fun and classic trope, off the top of my head in addition to the most excellent Fafhrd & Grey Mouser books by Fritz Lieber, you could check out the Riyria books by Michael J Sullivan, the Poison Elves graphic novels by Drew Hayes, the Locke Lamora books by Scott Lynch, or the Egil & Nix books by Paul S Kemp.


Urban campaign and maybe look up some solo adventures for ideas? I've always found that it's easier to scale up and down.

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