We have a really exciting new project to share with you for this summer—a serial one-on-one campaign for 5e! The campaign is set in Steymhorod, a vampire-ruled region of the Shadowlands. We have not one but two vampires for your party to face, and it’s specially designed for duet play!
This campaign concept and its narrative originally started as a desire to run Curse of Strahd one-on-one. Ravenloft is a rather deadly setting, and that in itself brings up some concerns for running a duet game there—how do we let Strahd be scary and powerful without killing the PC?!
Before we answer that, I want to reiterate that you can adapt any campaign you wish for one-on-one play. You don’t need a special module or an army of sidekicks, though an adventuring companion either as or alongside the DMPC might be helpful. You will likely need to scale down encounters and use waves of combatants instead of sending ten zombies in all at once, but you can handle all of those tweaks!
The biggest shifts, though, revolve around the type of story we’re telling, that of a single protagonist instead of a party of protagonists. And that’s where the biggest change to this 5e campaign comes about.
Spoiler Alert! Please stop reading if you plan to be a player in a Curse of Strahd game!
Focusing on the PC
In Curse of Strahd, the vampire overlord is interested in a young woman, Ireena, who he believes is the reincarnation of his deceased beloved Tatyana. The party is tasked with protecting her and escorting her to a more secure location. Strahd’s interest in the party grows as he tries to corrupt a player so that they will take over lordship of the land of Ravenloft.
But we have an immediate problem here for one-on-one play: the main character in this setup isn’t the PC, it’s Ireena. She’s the object of interest to the villain, and the plot revolves around her and her safety.
So the obvious fix for two-person play is to put the PC in the place of Ireena.
Now, depending on your player, this might spark its own issue right off the bat. Maybe you’re playing with a sibling and a stressed quasi-romantic relationship between the two of you wouldn’t be fun to RP. You just want to be vampire hunters!
In this case, we suggest changing the relationship between the vampire overlord and the person of interest: you could do a betrayed ally who the vampire is trying to make amends with—or get revenge on—perhaps a Van Helsing-Dracula-type of dynamic. Or maybe you want to keep the lost lover angle but make it a bit less creepy and change the nature of the vampire’s relationship with Sergei and, therefore, with Tatyana. (More on this momentarily.)
Don’t hesitate to change the gender or orientation of the vampire either—do whatever feels best for your campaign and best suits you and your player.
When Jonathan and I played through this module, we made some of the shifts mentioned above, but we also wanted to use the adventure to tie up a loose end in our homebrew world. One of the nice things about the way Ravenloft is set up as a demiplane is that you can bring adventurers there without overtly affecting what else is happening in the world (planes, multiverse), besides the fact that several people have gone missing.
For our party, though, we wanted there to still be stakes (literal and figurative) to what they were doing, so we added a second vampire to the mix. It was this vampire who was the enemy, which left a really flexible relationship with lots of different possibilities open for the main vampire and the PC.
Our campaign evolved from there, and aside from “Death House,” we abandoned the rest of the CoS campaign. We’ve been debating a helpful way to share that with you so that you could make similar adaptations to the campaign or follow what we did, and that’s where Land of Vampires came about.
Land of Vampires: The Project
This summer, we’re doing something special at DnD Duet! We’ll be laying out a one-on-one campaign that takes place in a land ruled by a vampire—Steymhorod. The PC arrives while trying to hunt down a vampire who has been wreaking havoc on their native plane.
We hope you’ll play along!
We have lots of advice for your one-on-one games here on the blog, and we will of course continue to develop those offerings, but we also thought it might be fun and helpful to have more of the nitty-gritty building blocks of creating a campaign and encounters laid out, so that’s what we’ll be doing with this series!
This campaign will use the 5e SRD, a free resource, and any other creature or NPC stat blocks, magic items, or maps, we’ll add in ourselves. If you would like to help our efforts, we would be so grateful for your support on Patreon, where we have an incredible community of people who love one-on-one play and fund what we do here at DnD Duet.
We’ll have general outlines and encounters set up here on the blog, and the longer-form write-ups will appear on our Patreon as we go as part of the monthly rewards. Once we’ve finished the adventure arc, we’ll compile the adventures and list them here and on DriveThruRPG as well as giving them to our patrons.
Jonathan and I have some really cool ideas for long-form duet campaigns, but tackling a project of that size, especially the financial investment that tends to come before creators embark on a kickstarter (or similar crowdfunding campaign) isn’t something we’re set up to do at present. So, we’re inviting you to play along as we build the adventure, and we can all playtest it together!
This Campaign Is for you if…
- You like vampires, werewolves, and adventure
- You’re interested in Gothic themes—we’re more of the Underworld and Van Helsing school of Gothic than full-on scariness (I can’t do horror)
- You want to play a one-one one (or perhaps one-on-two) campaign
The premise for this campaign does involve a genuinely evil vampire with twisted habits beyond drinking other people’s blood. Because of that, this is not a campaign we would recommend for playing with a child, but you’re more than welcome to change aspects of the vampire if you wish. We talk more about the darker nature of vampire campaigns, whether this one or CoS in this post, so please read through that and have a conversation with your duet partner about what they’re comfortable with to establish clear boundaries at the beginning of your campaign.
Start Your Campaign
Curse of Strahd One-on-One Adventure
If you can’t wait for Steymhorod or have already started a Curse of Strahd campaign, we’d love for you to check out Totems of the Svalich Woods,* a one-on-one CoS adventure set on the outskirts of Barovia!
This would be a great adventure if you’re looking for a duet one-shot as part of your CoS campaign as well!
We’d love to answer any questions you have and to hear your thoughts about our special summer campaign! We’re really excited to try out something new and can’t wait to hear what you think!
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 and/or for you to share the blog with your friends. We appreciate you so much! Thank you for reading. – Beth and Jonathan
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