It’s game night, and real life has struck down half or more of your players, leaving you with two guys and no way to realistically run that epic battle that keys off each characters individual strengths and weaknesses (you do that every session, yeah?)…
What do you do?
Do you apologize, call it a night and sullenly play XBox until bed?
Or do you suck it up and get your geek fix, come hell or high water?
Let’s talk about that second option.
Go With What You Got
Some of the most enjoyable and dramatic evenings of gaming I’ve played and run have been for two players or less, and they don’t have to be out with from your regular game.
A two player session can provide a welcome change of pace, allow you to explore the setting more and to provide opportunity for the players to develop their characters.
A two player session can be surprisingly cohesive, as the number of voices – and therefore conflicting plans, objectives and spotlight time – are reduced. Two player groups become immediately dependent on each other as well, which encourages teamwork and cooperation.
Try stepping out of the narrative driving seat for a session and have some fun. As long as you ensure that by the end of the session you have returned to something resembling your starting point, you can go wild.
I suggest the following:
The Supply Run
There is a requirement for a macguffin. The two player characters representing are chosen to go get it.
It’ll be easy. A milk run! Except actually it won’t.
Example: The Zombie Apocalypse
The characters have found an abandoned Wal-Mart, and proceed to loot it.
The two player characters find an entrance to the basement storage space and investigate.
It’s a large, windowless warehouse, filled with pallets of goods and shelves of produce. There is definitely something here that the survivors need – food, water, medical supplies, camping goods, batteries, maybe even some hunting supplies in that locked safe room at the back.
There is no power, therefore no lights.
The characters have a flashlight each, limited ammo and are not familiar with the layout.
There are also two or more reanimated security guards down here, attracted to the flashlights and noise of the characters.
Let the hunt begin.
Example: Black Market Trade
There’s this guy, who operates out of this tavern, who has this thing that we need. Luckily, the guy is willing to let it go for a small, affordable sum.
Unluckily, the guy was rolled in a dark alley earlier that day by some street thugs, who took the macguffin.
The thugs are easily tracked, but have already sold the macguffin to a fence downtown and spent the money on ale.
The fence runs a pawn shop in a seedy district of town, and is willing to let the macguffin go for a larger, unaffordable sum. He smiles smugly at the characters from the other side of a reinforced security window.
There is another way… There’s this guy in a tavern who owes the fence a bit of cash. Collect the debt, and the macguffin is theirs.
Which takes the players back to the tavern and the first guy, who is not expecting the resultant conversation.
Art Credit: Andy Mason