Tabletop for Two: Episode Seven
In this episode, we’re covering how to design your campaign and campaign arc around the player in duet 5e.
As we’ve said several times and as I’m sure you’ve discovered if you’re already playing one-on-one D&D, duet games are all about the player’s character and their story. So, as the GM-Storyteller, you’re designing the campaign to align with the PC’s goals, interests, class, proclivities, etc. The question, then, is what are the sorts of changes we need to make if we’re dealing with a Hunger Games Katniss Everdeen instead of a Lord of the Rings Frodo Baggins type of story?
That’s what we’ll find out in this episode of Tabletop for Two!
Watch the Episode
Below, you’ll find our show notes and the topics we cover during our discussion.
Also, if you’d like to support Tabletop for Two and our other creations, we’d love for you to join us on patreon!
Part One: What Does It Mean to have a single-protagonist story?
Design with the PC in Mind
For this first set of strategies, we’re going to assume that you’re running a one-on-one campaign of your own design as opposed to adapting one written for a group and/or by someone else (like us). You can find our adventures on DMs Guild and in our shop!
First things first: You don’t have to have the whole campaign planned out from the beginning! A lot of it you’ll figure out as you go.
Example: In Tales of Eldura, I planned the first arc around Garreth’s backstory and his missing son. The first few adventures revolved around Garreth meeting his allies so that I had a chance to get to know the character. We recently had a second planning session about how to personalize this next arc in Tales of Eldura for Garreth and his interests which you can watch here!
Tip: Start Small and with something of importance to the PC
If you’re starting from the very beginning, this might be related to their class and a core human desire: belonging, adventure, acceptance, love, desire, freedom, etc.
This doesn’t have to be groundbreakingly original either. Let the rogue spend some time in the local thieves’ guild! Your player needs a chance to truly get to know their character too.
As you go, you’ll learn the types of NPCs the character relates to and the types of NPCs, creatures, challenges, etc. that the player finds most fun. We discuss that to some extent in episodes three and five of Tabletop for Two.
What about the GMPC and their goals?
Taking the GMPC’s goals into consideration is really important. We want to balance having a well-developed character with dreams, goals, etc., without overshadowing the PC’s objectives. So what does that look like?
Examples from our games
- Evelyn having goals that Garreth has the choice to take part in
- Jeck’s goals pointing toward a larger mission and purpose for Persephonie
- Marcon and Quindythias helping Iellieth continue the fight they started in Eldura
Part Two: Adapting with the PC in Mind
When working with a published campaign, one of the easiest first steps to take is to adapt an NPC (or several) to serve as your DMPC. You’ll also want to collaborate with the player as much as possible so they know the type of character they should be thinking about for this campaign.
In Waterdeep: Dragon Heist, for instance, this might look like designing a character with lots of downtime interests to accommodate life in the City of Splendors!
We hope you’re enjoying Tabletop for Two and find the videos and show notes helpful! DMs, we would love to hear from you about how you’ve adapted your campaign for both the player and their PC!
And players, we want to hear from you too! How how you adapted your PC design to help fit the world and setting of your campaign? Let us know in the comments below!
If you like what you’re reading, please consider supporting the blog by purchasing our adventures and supplements in our shop or on DMsGuild or sponsoring us on Patreon. We’d also love for you to follow us on Twitter and Instagram. We appreciate you so much! Thank you for reading. – Beth and Jonathan