Can You Play Dungeons And Dragons With 2 Players? One As DM!

D&D is generally played with at least 3 plus people, but it can also be a great experience with only two people.  Playing with just two is a lot of fun, provides a much more intimate experience between the two people playing, and you’ll have an amazing time together.

So if you’re looking for advice on how to play D&D with just two people, then this article is for you!  I’ll share some great tips and tricks on how to make your game of D&D work well with just two players (sometimes also known as one-on-one D&D or D&D Duet).

Can You Play D&D with Only Two People

Yes, you can play D&D with only two people.  The most popular way to play D&D with two people is for one to be the Dungeon Master, and the other person to play as a single person party. The rules for playing one-on-one are included in the Essentials Kit, so you can start playing with a single player party right away.

How to Play D&D with Only Two People

Options for Playing a D&D Duet Game with 2 people:

  1. Play 1-on-1, that’s one player and one dungeon master
  2. Play without a DM as a two-player game

The first option, playing D&D one-on-one is the more popular way and the official way supported by Wizards of the Coast (the people who make D&D) so we will cover it in more detail, and we’ll cover how to play without a DM in a future article.

Is 2 Players Good for D&D

The short answer is yes!  We have a whole article on what we think the best number of players for D&D is, and we think it’s a party of 4-5 people, but having 2 people play D&D is still a lot of fun!

There are some great advantages (and also a few disadvantages) to playing D&D with only 2 people:

  • The essential kit provides simple rules for this
  • It’s an intimate experience
  • You don’t have to find a ton of people to be able to play

Some of the downsides are:

  • You need to handcraft the game to match what the player enjoys
  • You need to carefully manage combat to not wipe out the player
  • No party interaction means more pressure on the DM and player to narrate and role play

2 Player D&D with One DM and One Party Member

The most common way to play D&D 2 players is for one person to be the Dungeon Master and the other person to be the party. This usually means that the DM has the role of narrating the story, while the player leads their own character through the adventure.

This requires a few rule changes in order to be a balanced game for a single player party, and you’ll want to make sure you familiarise yourself with these rules.

It also means there is a lot of onus on the player to participate and be involved in telling a good narrative as well.  While in a larger game there is a lot of room for player interaction, and a quieter player can sit back and let the other players talk, in a game involving only 2 people like this you need everyone to be active and engaged.

It might not be the best idea to try this out if you are a new or more nervous DM. It’s not difficult in and of itself, but it does necessitate a significant amount of storytelling and narration on your part, far more than having a larger group would.

The D&D Essentials Kit Comes with Rules for A Single Player Party

The dungeons & dragons essentials kit is already one of my favourite ways to get started with D&D, and the fact it comes with rules for playing with only 2 people makes it even better.

The basic of the rule changes is that one player is the party, and they get a sidekick who acts as a companion character.  The sidekick can be controlled by the DM or the player. I suggest the DM control the sidekick if you are playing with a younger or less experienced player, but for a more experienced role-player, you may want to get them to control the sidekick.

The rules come with 9 pre-generated sidekicks included, as well as rules for how to make your own, or if you just want the rules for sidekicks you can find them for free here.  Each sidekick is like a mini-character, it has stats that level up, and personality traits (such as ideals and flaws) that let you run them as an additional character to your party without all the burden of playing multiple characters.

Can You Play 2 Characters in D&D

I find playing one character hard enough!  And I like to get into the roleplay aspect and really get into the mood of who I’m playing as a character, so I don’t think playing 2 characters in D&D would work for me as it would just ruin my fun.

But if that doesn’t bother you and you think you are an experienced player capable of roleplaying and remembering the stats for 2 characters then there’s absolutely no reason an experienced D&D player couldn’t play 2 complex characters at once – though you might find that you are talking to yourself for player interaction which could be a bit awkward!

D&D Adventures and Campaigns for One Player and One DM

While you can adapt any D&D adventure or campaign to be suitable to play as a duet campaign, here are a few one-on-one adventures designed specifically with only a DM and one player in mind which will help keep your life a bit easier, as encounters and interactions are already designed for use with only one character.

  • The Crystalline Curse Trilogy – includes 3 short adventures to help you get started with one-on-one D&D, and you can keep playing this into your own homebrew campaign when you are done.  It’s designed to start at a 1st level character and includes a bunch of pre-generated characters and sidekicks to help get things going.

Balancing D&D Combat for A One on One Player Party

For a one-on-one game, it can be difficult to balance the difficulty of the monsters in an encounter. My advice is to just fudge it. For example, you could reduce or alter monster stats to make them less powerful, hide your rolls so that you can manipulate dice results, make your monsters die more quickly, or pretend that a total party wipe-out didn’t occur.

Eventually, you will get the hang of how many monsters and how powerful the monsters can be for your player to still be able to handle it.  And don’t forget that if you want them to fight bigger monsters you could always help buff them up with some magical weapons or more health potions to help make an encounter more balanced.

If you want more information on balancing D&D combat, Sly Flourish, the author of Return of the Lazy Dungeon Master and one of my favourite DMs to follow for advice, has a whole write up about balancing combat for a single person party.

More Tips and Tricks for Running A One on One D&D Party

There are a few more things that you should take into account to make your games better when running a one-on-one game for only a single character party:

  • You’re not playing against the player – just because you are playing the monsters, this is not a competitive game, remember that and make sure you are on the player’s side and making it fun for the player.
  • Take into account what the player likes – one of the great things about running D&D for one person is you can tailor the game to exactly what they like.  So if your player prefers combat, role-playing, social interaction, or exploring then you can do plenty of that without having to balance things to accommodate a whole group of people’s preferences.
  • Let the player do some of the work – in a D&D game with only the DM and the player, it shouldn’t just be up to the DM to narrate the story but rather you should be playing it as a collaborative game of storytelling. It’s important that the player is actively involved in the narration and role-playing, so give them room and encouragement to do so.
  • Dive into the role of a bad guy, NPC or sidekick – it’s fun, and lets you roleplay along with the player character.

Conclusion

In conclusion, yes you can play D&D with two players, but it will require some adjustments to the rules and what kind of experience you have.  It’s still a great experience for those who enjoy roleplaying and want to spend time interacting with each other.  Wizards of the Coast have put rules in their essentials kit for this, so even if there are only two of you it’s definitely something worth trying out even if you are new to D&D.

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