Can you play D&D with two players?

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If you are looking to play D&D with 2 players, you might be wondering if it's possible, what it is like, what the common pitfalls are, and how to run such a campaign with just 2 players.

In this guide, we’ll explore the possibilities of 2 player D&D, including things to watch out for and tips to help you on your duet D&D adventure.

Can you play D&D with 2 players?

Yes, you can play D&D with 2 players, although some adjustments will be needed to ensure a balanced and enjoyable experience.

If you’re struggling to find a D&D group, then don’t worry!

You can play with 2 players, whether that is 1 player and 1 Dungeon Master, or 2 players and 1 Dungeon Master. Regardless of the number of players, you will always need a Dungeon Master (DM) to play DND. While there are ways to play D&D solo, the DM holds the pivotal role of storyteller, so having one is essential to playing the game.

What is D&D for 2 players like?

In a campaign with 2 players (sometimes called a duet campaign), the dynamics shift, creating a more personalised and character-driven experience.

You’ll have to adjust your campaign, as traditional D&D is designed for 4-6 players but playing D&D with two people can be a more focused and deeply rewarding experience.

If you’re playing with two people (one player and one Dungeon Master), the player has all the spotlight, allowing the narrative to be finely tailored to their background, motivations, and choices.

With undivided attention on one or two players as the protagonist(s), the story unfolds in a more focused manner. Playing this way can also help new players get into D&D if they have social anxiety.

Is D&D a collaborative game?

Yes, Dungeons and Dragons is a collaborative storytelling game. Players each roleplay their characters, making decisions and interacting with the world. The Dungeon Master weaves the narrative, describes scenes, and controls the party's enemies, creating a shared story that everyone contributes to.

Common challenges when playing 2 player D&D

  • Skewed action economy: With fewer characters, the side with more combatants generally has the upper hand due to having more actions per round.
  • Lack of character diversity: Larger parties benefit from a mix of frontline fighters, support characters, and spellcasters. With only two players, you might not have this range of abilities.
  • Session frequency: With only two players, if one can't make it, you're likely to cancel the session. It's important to discuss this in a session zero before starting the campaign to make sure your group agrees how often to play D&D.
  • Impact of player engagement: If your group only has 2 players and one has had a bad day or isn't as engaged, the game can feel slow and lacking in direction. This can affect the game’s flow and pace.

How to run a 2 player campaign in D&D

Playing DND with two players requires clear and open communication. Regularly discuss your expectations and preferences, and be open to adjusting if you spot something that would enhance the gameplay.

Here are some more tips for playing D&D with 2 players:

  1. Adjust the challenges: Tailor encounters, puzzles, and combat to match the party’s capabilities. There are many ways to balance combat when playing with two people, including reducing the number of opponents, lowering the opponents’ hit points and number of actions, and giving the players plenty of resources.
  2. Sidekicks: The Dungeons & Dragons Essentials Kit introduced an official rule for sidekicks. These are NPCs that adventure alongside the player, helping make up for missing capabilities and allowing a party of 1 or 2 players to survive encounters that are designed for larger groups. You might also decide to play a DMPC as the DM to help with balance.
  3. Play multiple characters: You could allow the player(s) to control more than one character. Allowing them to build their own party gives them the ability to face encounters designed for a full party.
  4. Streamline the rules: Consider simplifying the rules of D&D to ensure a smoother and faster-paced gameplay experience. 
  5. Focus on roleplay and story: Shine the spotlight on your player(s) and allow them to indulge in a highly immersive and focused story, if that’s what you all enjoy.

The possibilities of playing D&D with two players are endless. While adjustments are essential, the rewards are well worth the effort: intense roleplay, powerful character development, and an adventure tailored to two players.

2 player D&D campaigns

If you're looking for some ready-made campaigns suitable for 2 players, D&D Duet offers advice on running games with two players and provides content designed specifically for partners. You can also find a variety of duet campaigns on DMsGuild and more compiled on r/RPG.

Can you play the D&D starter set with 2 players?

Yes, you can play the D&D starter set with only 2 players. Both the current D&D starter set, Dragons of Stormwreck Isle, and the previous starter set, Lost Mines of Phandelver, were designed with a party of 4-5 players in mind, so you will need to adapt the adventure to make it enjoyable and balanced.

Can you adapt Lost Mines of Phandelver for 2 players?

Yes, you can adapt Lost Mines of Phandelver for 2 players, but it requires careful balance adjustments. For example, in the goblin ambush, reduce the number of enemies to make it manageable. This approach can be applied throughout the campaign, ensuring the encounters remain challenging but not overwhelming for a smaller party.

Level up your D&D adventures

Make sure you read our guide on the optimal number of encounters per day in D&D to understand the recommendations from the Dungeon Master's Guide. From there, you can adjust the number of encounters to suit the number of players you have.

Still unsure if the world of 2 player D&D is right for you? Perhaps you'd like to dip your toes into the cooperative gaming experience through D&D video games.

As you embark on your own D&D journey, whether with a partner or a friend, remember the importance of quality D&D dice and tabletop accessories. Good luck!

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