APs for groups of less than 4 players


Pathfinder Adventure Path General Discussion


I would like some advice on APs that could work with smaller groups (2 maybe 3 PCs but most likely 2)

I have seen numerous threads discussing running with 2 players with varying suggestions such as:

- higher stats
- gestalt
- 2 characters per player
- NPC allies
- encounter adjusting

Now I figure encounter adjusting is a given and really want to avoid gestalt and multiple characters per player

The biggest hurdle to me seems to be the action economy issue and the catastrophic impact that a save or suck spell would have on a two person group. So I would be interested to know what APs have one or more of:

- a plentiful supply of interesting NPCs who can join the group (or a vehicle for GM created NPCs to be easily slotted in)

- an encounter mix that doesn’t contain a disproportionate occurence of effects such as sleep or paralysis

Does anyone have experience of running an AP for a smaller group and how it works out?

(When I say AP in this context it could also apply to modules or the multi level extended modules such as dragons demand)


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The Jade Regent AP is pretty much the prototype for this, with 4 adventuring-type NPCs who travel on your caravan, and have a built-in excuse for why they aren't all helping all the time (they've 'guarding the caravan').


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I'd suggest simply familiarizing yourself with the concept of APL (average party level) and learn how to compare that to CR. CRs in Paizo adventures are generally written for four players with 15 point stat build. All you have to do is adjust up or down to match your party. Letting them run an NPC or two is a simple way to adjust, but three players alone need a lowered CR to match their lower APL. I'd go through the process of how to do this, but it can be figured out from the CRB and no one reads it when I make the effort anyway.


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In general APs expect less optimized PCs, as new GM+new players is one of the expectations. 3 optimized PCs shouldn't actually have that many problems with most APs, especially if they pick classes with pets. Of course this doesn't really help if your players are new/bad at optimization or you only have 2 people.

NOTE: Rise of the Runelords, Curse of the Crimson Throne, Second Darkness and Legacy of Fire are exceptions to this as they were third party products for 3.5 D&D (and the first two didn't get a lot of nerfs in their updated versions) which tend to attract a higher level of system mastery. You should take a look at any AP's discussions and note what parts tend to have high death counts.


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Lanathar wrote:


Does anyone have experience of running an AP for a smaller group and how it works out?

(When I say AP in this context it could also apply to modules or the multi level extended modules such as dragons demand)

I have run Rise of the Runelords, Kingmaker, Skull & Shackles, Reign of Winter, Shattered Star, and Dragons Demand, for 2 players.

In some cases, they each had one character and I had 2 NPCs to round out a 4 person party. In other cases, they ran 2 characters each - often a "primary" and a "secondary" - but it worked.

In my early days of RPG games, I often ran for 1 person. We learned how to make that work, which is the situation I find myself in now, as I prepare to run Return of the Runelords for a single player. It will most likely be her running 2 characters and me providing 2 NPCs to make the standard 4 person party.

My point is: it is totally possible to run for one or two players. Don't let the lack of a big group prevent you all from having fun.
My suggestions for small groups are:
If you have to control NPCs, try to handle the easy ones, like Fighters. Leave the complex casters to the players, if possible.
Remove/avoid the save or lose spells and effects. There are plenty of other nasty spells and tactics the enemies can use.
And always remember, if everyone is having fun, you're doing it right.

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