12 thoughts on “I’m running a game for just my partner.”

  1. Yes! Followers/hirelings work pretty well. I use the moves from Perilous Wilds to make things more interesting in that department, but the core rules do just fine.

    Biggest thing to know going in – intensity. There’s nowhere to hide in a 1:1 game. They are the implacable but frail Hobbit. You are the harsh eye of Sauron. Take frequent breaks and make sure to check in with your partner to see how things are going.

    It’s lots of fun!

  2. I am not a fan of the legacy weapon either unless it actually fits the character and setting. That said, you could easily do something similar with an old artifcat of any kind.

    You can easily play a game like this without added in help though. As Jim Morris said, hirelings can give your player some flexibility. I sometimes have my player use multiple characters, but that works best in a “play by post” type of game.

    If you are doing live one on one sessions, I suggest not making the sessions longer than an hour or two. Longer sessions can easily get exhausting as DW requires a lot of creative input from the both of you. You don’t have all those other players do to some of the work for you, or let you think while they do their bit.

    Finally, make sure you tune the story and difficulty to your player and his/her character. Rolling a few 6- outcomes can snowball really fast if there is only a single PC around. Having some hirelings around to get into trouble or grim portents to check off helps keeping the PC alive without “going easy”.

  3. The Gauntlet’s Discern Realities presented a compendium class specifically for a solo player. It basically gave you access to few multiclass moves on the get go. I can’t find which episode it was. Maybe someone here remembers (at least the name)? Jason Cordova ?

  4. I agree with Gerke Bouma​ on shorter sessions. 100%. That one player will be providing all the story from the payers side of the table and recieves all the spot light. I’ve payed 1v1 games that covered as much material in 1.5 hours as a group of 5 would in 4hr.

    Short session

    Hirelings (two seams felt like a sweet number)

    Lots of loot that can fill the roles of other playbooks

    The game allows you two to pull out a bit and look at the bigger picture, take advantage of that. Zoom out.

  5. I usually run smaller games and actually prefer 1:1 or 2:1. I don’t mess around with Hirelings or followers really. I just tailor the game to be really Really zoomed in. DW isn’t a game that care about balance. You can run a group of 10 goblins fighting against 1 PC; the trick is to not make the PC actually kill all 10. Remember, H&S isn’t about individual strikes or turns, it represents the momentum of melee. You can narrate how the PC cleaves through 3 goblins or narrate 2-3 ‘turns’ and then follow it up with the subsequent H&S.

  6. Andrew Huffaker

    Why do you feel the game plays better zoomed in rather than out for smaller tables?

    I’ve found that with all the focus on one person, it’s nice to zoom out often to take some focus off the player.

  7. Aaron Griffin I respectfully disagree. There is a lot less balancing between playstyles, classes and personal goals to do, and a lot less spotlight switching that needs to be done during the game. You can also think a bit smaller (if you want) as a single PC is probably not going to fight wave after wave of enemies but will likely take a bit more subtle approach. In a lot of ways, just dealing with 1 player makes a lot of things easier.

    However, it is a lot more intensive, which can definitly feel like it is harder. It is more demanding on both the player and the GM as you both need to come up with a lot more stuff and you dont really get a break between scenes or moves. Hence the shorter sessions. I also notice as a GM I prep a bit more details for 1 on 1 games than I do for full party games. Not “this is going to happen” details, but more “what type of things could happen and/or be there” details that I can drop in as needed.

    My main advice would be to make sure you tune your adventure to your player and party size. If you have 5-6 players, taking on a small army of enemies by themselves by simply slaughtering them might be perfectly feasible. Or going into a huge dungeon filled with angry monsters. If its just the one PC, that same approach is likely suicide.

    So, give the PC another way to achieve the objective. Maybe he gets help by doing some god a favor and he smites the enemies for him. Or maybe he infiltrates their ranks and poisons their food supply. Or maybe he seduces their leader. Or maybe he sneaks in, steals their secret weapon and plants a bomb. Or maybe he opens a portal and travels back in time to stop them from being born in the first place. I dunno, stuff that fits whatever your PC’s class is and fits what he/she wants to do in the game. Be a fan of the player, remember?

    Bit long, but i’ll give you an example of why I think 1 on 1 can be great:

    A while back I had a druid player who was the only one who could make it to our game one night. We considered canceling, but as the party was in town at that point I figured why not explore a bit of her background and do a side mission by herself. That was actually my first time playing DW 1 on 1, so I didn’t specifically prepare for it.

    She had said earlier that she was looking for some artifact from her long lost clan. I told her she heard a rumor that the leader of a local gang of thugs collected such things. She decided to sneak into their headquarters to try and see if there was anything there, and if so, steal it.

    She spent about 1,5 hours observing the place, asking questions, coming up with a plan, sneaking in, tiptoeing and shapeshifting around the place. No huge battles, nothing too special. Some traps for intruders, just a few guarddogs subdued and patrols knocked out. I had literally nothing prepared and I admit I am not really the most creative GM out there 🙂

    Eventually she was discovered (in the treasure room) and decided to get the hell out of the place. She made it out (barely) and without anything to show for it.

    I actually felt a bit bad about that so afterwards I asked her if we should have done anything different. Her response was something like this: “That was one of the most fun sessions ive ever played! I was on the edge of my seat the entire time, because I had no one to fall back on, I really needed to pay attention and every roll mattered for me. Every 10+ felt like a huge success, and I never dreaded those low rolls coming up as much as I did tonight. Can’t wait to tell the others about it!”

    A similar response has been typical for other players i’ve done 1 on 1 with since. It tends to feel a bit more like high stakes, high rewards in terms of gameplay.

  8. Robert Doe in a 1:1 game, I get to give all of my attention to a player, instead of having to share with 4 other players. I can zoom out and go worldly, but I can make the story only about frodo and he doesn’t have to wait when we pay homage to the party that is elsewhere.

    Instead of having the party wait while the thief goes off on her own, I get to have that be THE story. That’s why I like playing with less people. Course, typical GM tricks will be to add ancillary npc’s that they care about to make play interesting.

  9. Thanks for all the excellent advice. Gerke Bouma That sounds like an awesome session. I agree that 1v1 really keeps the stakes high. I’ve found that playing with the Thief class works really well with 1 PC, especially if we keep the action focused on a city as there’s tons of stuff to explore in a relatively small space and the PC can always reach out to followers for assistance. I ran my misses through a module I wrote a while back and it worked really well with just her. I can’t wait to get back into it.

    For me, DW is the easiest system to run 1:1 straight out of the box.

    I agree with Robert Doe, lots of loot helps too, and both times we’ve done this, I’ve started her at level 3 just to give her a bit of a head start.

  10. I’ve been doing the same. I find it fun to microwave the player character in the first session using the following formula – a hot opening into a combat situation that wraps with earned coin and exp followed by a stop over in a town with a store to gear up and level to 2. I encourage the player to take a playbook (or create one) with some multi-classing. I allow and encourage them to take a starting move of another class at level 2.

    This makes for a lot more utility and survivability early on, and it forces the player to get real creative by building a narrative that explains how a thief might have suddenly gained the shapeshift ability of a druid or why a barbarian might take up a quest like a paladin.

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