Starting a 2e AP with < 4 players


Advice


So, I'm going to start an AP (converted from 1e) with 3 players. None of them are particularly keen to play a cleric. As it stands now, we will likely have one martial, one caster (could be a bard) and one rogue.

The AP will be Kingmaker (I know.. it's coming out in a year for 2e anyways. we're impatient lol)

What do you all see as some of the challenges to this set-up? What are the things I ought to look for? Suggestions on class choices/builds?


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If you follow the encounter building rules and use a bucket for 3 players it will be alright.

If you are worried about healing having someone investing in medicine will take care of out of combat healing but depending of party composition you might want to be a little generous with potions for in combat.


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Zi Mishkal wrote:

So, I'm going to start an AP (converted from 1e) with 3 players. None of them are particularly keen to play a cleric. As it stands now, we will likely have one martial, one caster (could be a bard) and one rogue.

The AP will be Kingmaker (I know.. it's coming out in a year for 2e anyways. we're impatient lol)

What do you all see as some of the challenges to this set-up? What are the things I ought to look for? Suggestions on class choices/builds?

If you're running a solo monster use the Weak Template at the front of the Bestiary to lower its level by 1. I'd honestly be open to adjusting it even a little more or fudging some rolls, since that monster taking 1 PC out of the fight lowers the party strength by 33% (more if someone is now stuck trying to revive them).

Also, since Kingmaker is a sandboxy campaign, consider having an NPC join the party. They might have a personal stake in the current quest they're going on.

And from what I recall from discussions about this AP, druids are powerful and rogues don't have a whole lot to do. Maybe that player should go Ranger for strike damage and save rogue for dedicating into later.


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The Rot Grub wrote:
Zi Mishkal wrote:

So, I'm going to start an AP (converted from 1e) with 3 players. None of them are particularly keen to play a cleric. As it stands now, we will likely have one martial, one caster (could be a bard) and one rogue.

The AP will be Kingmaker (I know.. it's coming out in a year for 2e anyways. we're impatient lol)

What do you all see as some of the challenges to this set-up? What are the things I ought to look for? Suggestions on class choices/builds?

If you're running a solo monster use the Weak Template at the front of the Bestiary to lower its level by 1. I'd honestly be open to adjusting it even a little more or fudging some rolls, since that monster taking 1 PC out of the fight lowers the party strength by 33% (more if someone is now stuck trying to revive them).

Also, since Kingmaker is a sandboxy campaign, consider having an NPC join the party. They might have a personal stake in the current quest they're going on.

And from what I recall from discussions about this AP, druids are powerful and rogues don't have a whole lot to do. Maybe that player should go Ranger for strike damage and save rogue for dedicating into later.

Eh. Even if that was true for the PF1 Rogue, I'm sure the PF2 version can find plenty to do. They are one of the most versatile classes in the game, and a great boon to a 3 man group. They can cover the skills of two party members. And a lack of skills or spell versatility is what I'd be more worried about in a small group. The math adjustments to fights are easy.

Sovereign Court

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Make sure they really understand how Medicine works. It actually does a lot to reduce your dependency on someone playing a magical healing class.

Make sure they do have access to an NPC with affliction removal spells to get rid of nasty persistent stuff. An NPC cleric of Erastil can work well for this, since that fits the environment, but Erastil's doctrine actually promotes staying home with your family instead of adventuring. So this could be a good cleric to come home to.


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Ascalaphus wrote:
Make sure they really understand how Medicine works. It actually does a lot to reduce your dependency on someone playing a magical healing class.

Yes. There usually is a LOT of time to use Treat Wounds in Kingmaker.


Captain Morgan wrote:
The Rot Grub wrote:
Zi Mishkal wrote:

So, I'm going to start an AP (converted from 1e) with 3 players. None of them are particularly keen to play a cleric. As it stands now, we will likely have one martial, one caster (could be a bard) and one rogue.

The AP will be Kingmaker (I know.. it's coming out in a year for 2e anyways. we're impatient lol)

What do you all see as some of the challenges to this set-up? What are the things I ought to look for? Suggestions on class choices/builds?

If you're running a solo monster use the Weak Template at the front of the Bestiary to lower its level by 1. I'd honestly be open to adjusting it even a little more or fudging some rolls, since that monster taking 1 PC out of the fight lowers the party strength by 33% (more if someone is now stuck trying to revive them).

Also, since Kingmaker is a sandboxy campaign, consider having an NPC join the party. They might have a personal stake in the current quest they're going on.

And from what I recall from discussions about this AP, druids are powerful and rogues don't have a whole lot to do. Maybe that player should go Ranger for strike damage and save rogue for dedicating into later.

Eh. Even if that was true for the PF1 Rogue, I'm sure the PF2 version can find plenty to do. They are one of the most versatile classes in the game, and a great boon to a 3 man group. They can cover the skills of two party members. And a lack of skills or spell versatility is what I'd be more worried about in a small group. The math adjustments to fights are easy.

Sure you may be right. And a Charisma rogue can be useful when running a kingdom comes into play.


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The Rot Grub wrote:
If you're running a solo monster use the Weak Template at the front of the Bestiary to lower its level by 1.

Increasing the PCs' level by 1 would have a similar effect.


Matthew Downie wrote:
The Rot Grub wrote:
If you're running a solo monster use the Weak Template at the front of the Bestiary to lower its level by 1.
Increasing the PCs' level by 1 would have a similar effect.

That's an interesting idea. So would the recommendation be to always keep the PCs one level ahead of where they are supposed to be in the game?


My group is doing the same thing, going to start the Age of Ashes AP with 3 players; a Thief Rogue, an Imperial Bloodline Sorcerer, and a Wild Shape Druid. Kinda concerned about the lack of a "tank".


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
HeHateMe wrote:
My group is doing the same thing, going to start the Age of Ashes AP with 3 players; a Thief Rogue, an Imperial Bloodline Sorcerer, and a Wild Shape Druid. Kinda concerned about the lack of a "tank".

Nonsense. Just remember Alamo's important lesson: Tehm whos bare durids, can B 4 tank

Disclaimer: I have no idea if this applies to Pathfinder.

Liberty's Edge

HeHateMe wrote:
My group is doing the same thing, going to start the Age of Ashes AP with 3 players; a Thief Rogue, an Imperial Bloodline Sorcerer, and a Wild Shape Druid. Kinda concerned about the lack of a "tank".

You'll probably be fine in terms of party makeup if you adjust for lower numbers. A Thief Rogue and Wild Shape Druid are both very solid combatants.


The biggest thing is to remember to adjust encounters. For example:

Two mephits (level 1) vs. a level 1 party of four is a moderate encounter (80xp)

A party of three's moderate encounter is only 60xp, and their severe encounter is 90xp. Two mephits goes up to a severe encounter vs. a party of three.


Actually I plan to take on the Age of Ashes AP with only two players (wife and son). How would you approach this endeavor? I was even pondering the idea to run them through the plague stone beginner adventure and then let both start at level 4 in the AP. Is this idea practicable?


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Belisar wrote:
Actually I plan to take on the Age of Ashes AP with only two players (wife and son). How would you approach this endeavor? I was even pondering the idea to run them through the plague stone beginner adventure and then let both start at level 4 in the AP. Is this idea practicable?

Think about halving encounter numbers, and severely reducing boss power level. Possibly have a friendly NPC or two that you run with them. Maybe a friendly professor alchemist that hands them elixirs of healing at the start of the day and has a good medicine check, but who prefers to hide in combat?

I'm assuming they aren't up to running two characters a piece?


My experience so far is that low-level PCs go down a lot. We ran four Lvl 1 PCs through PFS "The Absalom Initiation", and the wizard must have gone down into 'dying' six or more times during the four fights. The rogue almost went down at the same time once. Having the cleric able to heal burst multiple times (16 Charisma) was the only thing that prevented two TPKs, I think. While the Treat Wounds Battle Medicine thing was useful a couple of times, the Heal burst was the difference-maker.

Having some way for them to reliably get a good chance to stabilize each other and get back on their feet is important at 1st level. You might just want to start at 2nd to get the extra HP buffer.


Garretmander wrote:
Belisar wrote:
Actually I plan to take on the Age of Ashes AP with only two players (wife and son). How would you approach this endeavor? I was even pondering the idea to run them through the plague stone beginner adventure and then let both start at level 4 in the AP. Is this idea practicable?

Think about halving encounter numbers, and severely reducing boss power level. Possibly have a friendly NPC or two that you run with them. Maybe a friendly professor alchemist that hands them elixirs of healing at the start of the day and has a good medicine check, but who prefers to hide in combat?

I'm assuming they aren't up to running two characters a piece?

They are rather "beginners" so they should better focus on one character each, I think.


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Belisar wrote:
Garretmander wrote:
Belisar wrote:
Actually I plan to take on the Age of Ashes AP with only two players (wife and son). How would you approach this endeavor? I was even pondering the idea to run them through the plague stone beginner adventure and then let both start at level 4 in the AP. Is this idea practicable?

Think about halving encounter numbers, and severely reducing boss power level. Possibly have a friendly NPC or two that you run with them. Maybe a friendly professor alchemist that hands them elixirs of healing at the start of the day and has a good medicine check, but who prefers to hide in combat?

I'm assuming they aren't up to running two characters a piece?

They are rather "beginners" so they should better focus on one character each, I think.

Definitely the NPC alchemist at least. You can build him to cover medicine, crafting and knowledge checks (assuming your two players don't pick them up). Since knowledge checks are secret anyway, they can just ask 'the professor' what he thinks about whatever they're fighting, or hand him some supplies to craft with, and he can patch them up after a fight.


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Pathfinder Maps, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

When I ran some adventures for two of my kids, (this was 1st edition) I had them take along the pre-generated character Kyra along with them as an NPC, that I mostly let the two of them choose her actions collectively. (naturally the older one took the most initiative specifying her actions, but the other did provide ideas and feedback over time)

If you don't mind helping them with the NPC, and as mentioned, having a PC that isn't inclined to make the choices for the players, they can just help, and provide an opportunity to drop hints about information to them.

I imagine having a healer like the Pregen Kyra would be helpful, if neither of the players is playing a healer. Having an alchemist with medicine would also be an interesting idea for a helper character. More geared as a helper and adviser, but not a leader.

They can then simply stay focused on their characters, but can ask their helper for whatever help they feel they need.


Zi Mishkal wrote:
Matthew Downie wrote:
The Rot Grub wrote:
If you're running a solo monster use the Weak Template at the front of the Bestiary to lower its level by 1.
Increasing the PCs' level by 1 would have a similar effect.
That's an interesting idea. So would the recommendation be to always keep the PCs one level ahead of where they are supposed to be in the game?

It's a lot easier than adjusting every encounter down a level. Possible issues include:

(1) Do your players want to start from level 1?
(2) What if another player shows up?
(3) What level is the AP supposed to go up to? If it's 20, increasing them to level 21 be weird.

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