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Looking for a Fantasy RPG for a small group

TheCultMachine

Explorer
I have been trying to figure out a good fantasy system to run with one DM (me) and another average two players.

I have been really wanting to run an OSR style game, but am not really sure how well it would go. A lot of those systems assume you have at least four or five players, or have a bunch of retainers. I currently have 5e, 2nd Edition stuff, Basic Fantasy RPG, Old School Eesentials.

Anyone have any other suggestions?
 

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Marc_C

Solitary Role Playing
Fantasy AGE characters are very robust. Perfect for just 2 players. Also, the Mage class can cast healing and arcane spells without restrictions. Very good if you have low player numbers.

The system is very easy to understand. Crunchiness somewhere between D&D Basic and 5e.
 

MNblockhead

A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
Personally some of my favorite games are 5e. For published adventures you might want to have the players several levels higher than the recommended level for the adventure. I would try to build characters like Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser. A ranger or dex fighter type and a arcane rogue type.
 

TheCultMachine

Explorer
Fantasy AGE characters are very robust. Perfect for just 2 players. Also, the Mage class can cast healing and arcane spells without restrictions. Very good if you have low player numbers.

The system is very easy to understand. Crunchiness somewhere between D&D Basic and 5e.

I will have to check this out. Never heard of it till now. It looks pretty interesting. Thanks!
 


Quickleaf

Legend
I'm sure you'll get great suggestions. A lot of folks with more OSR experience than me. One game I've enjoyed is Beyond the Wall. Very much a low-prep, lower magic, folklorish focused game. Familiar rules for anyone who has played AD&D, with some nice innovations like the playbook random tables, holistic adventures paying attention to prelude & epilogue, and cool cantrip mechanic. Also there's a low-to-no-prep ethos that the adventures really lean into, and the book Further Afield gives a nice collaborative method of campaign world building during play.
 

Bluenose

Adventurer
I'd argue that there's many games where this would be perfectly valid, since there's plenty of genres where a pair of adventurers works well. Homes and Watson, for private detectives; Starsky and Hutch (dating myself) for buddy-cops; Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser, for sword & sorcery; Batman and Robin, possibly, for supers. Not all systems support it as well as others, but there's a surprising number that don't require "varied characters" in the way some where the rules are quite rigid in limiting what characters can do. Some that I've played with that number of players and which worked well:

Pendragon. A pair of knights errant, wandering around the countryside attending local tournaments and occasionally going on quests to help locals is a perfectly normal way to play the game, genre-appropriate too, and it's not hard to justify someone joining them temporarily (a meeting at a tourney, on the road, or while receiving hospitality, and there you are with an old acquaintance).

Barbarians of Lemuria, Conan 2D20, or something else designed for Sword and Sorcery adventuring. Conan is famous for travelling alone but Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser are almost always a pair, Thongor travels with several companions, and temporary allies are a frequent feature. Some of the BoL spin-offs such as Honor and Intrigue also work, depending on the genre.

Heroquest, but most supers games should handle it. I was using it for supers, two players made a crime fighting duo, occasional guest appearances from other heroes. A gadgeteers and a martial artist, they fight crime together. Just like Angel Summoner and BMX Bandit, but equally useful.
 

Dioltach

Legend
I think system is less important than a willingness on the GM's part to accommodate the smaller party. No cleric? Then don't keep throwing undead at them, and provide an alternative means of healing. No rogue? Keep the traps to a minimum.

In other words: look at the party members, their skills, abilities and powers, and present them with challenges that won't frustrate them.
 

Undrave

Hero
I dunno how it would hold up, but I used to (back in the mid 90s) run Dragon Warriors with only one player and since the base game only had the Knight and Barbarian class he was just playing 2 characters. You can find the PDFs on DriveThruRPG I think?
 

Unless you're totally opposed to systems based on Apocalypse World, I'd 100% recommend Ironsworn for what you've described.

It's completely free on DriveThruRPG, or at the creator's website (ironswornrpg.com).

I just started a group with it last month (playing our 3rd session tonight), and it's been tremendous fun so far.

It's very much a narrative-driven system, rather than a tactical one, but my group who's very used to tactical play took to it like a duck to water.
 

Ath-kethin

Elder Thing
I've been running a game for just me and my 7yo for over a year and a half now, and back 25 or so years ago my friend and I played, just the two of us, almost every night. In addition, I ran a small-group game with 3 PCs plus me a DM for about a year some time ago.

The systems for these ranged from Rules Cyclopedia/BECMI D&D to Basic Fantasy RPG to AD&D 2nd Edition to Swords & Wizardry to 5e.

They all work fine.

The important thing is to accommodate your players and their characters. That doesn't necessarily mean to take it easy on them, but to make it work. Group doesn't have a thief? Give them a way to work around a locked door. Group.lacks a cleric? Don't force them to need one.

I find small-group play to be incredibly rewarding and I love the more personal feel to the stories that develop with it. But the biggest challenge by far is just understanding how the players and characters interact, how the game works, and being able to think on the fly.

I say pick your favorite system and just dive in. You'll be fine.
 
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I have been trying to figure out a good fantasy system to run with one DM (me) and another average two players.

I have been really wanting to run an OSR style game, but am not really sure how well it would go. A lot of those systems assume you have at least four or five players, or have a bunch of retainers. I currently have 5e, 2nd Edition stuff, Basic Fantasy RPG, Old School Eesentials.

Anyone have any other suggestions?
Beyond the Wall is OSRish (that is, it uses a stripped down D20 system to create something similar, but not identical, to old school D&D) that's designed around the idea of the heroes being from a small community. It uses playbooks, rather than classes, to create characters, and during character creation, all the characters create bonds with each other and help create their hometown. The rest of the game is similarly created through play.

Good if you like stuff like Prydain or Earthsea.
 




GMMichael

Guide of Modos
I have been trying to figure out a good fantasy system to run with one DM (me) and another average two players.

I have been really wanting to run an OSR style game, but am not really sure how well it would go. A lot of those systems assume you have at least four or five players, or have a bunch of retainers...
What elements of OSR are you wanting to include, if having 4-5 PCs and/or a bunch of retainers aren't in that list?
 

moriantumr

Explorer
Unless you're totally opposed to systems based on Apocalypse World, I'd 100% recommend Ironsworn for what you've described.

It's completely free on DriveThruRPG, or at the creator's website (ironswornrpg.com).

I just started a group with it last month (playing our 3rd session tonight), and it's been tremendous fun so far.

It's very much a narrative-driven system, rather than a tactical one, but my group who's very used to tactical play took to it like a duck to water.

I second Ironsworn.
 


Tunnels and Trolls is a good, fairly simple, elegant engine. If you want the more OSR flavor, the PDF of 5th ed is your best bet, as it's level drives attribute gain.
Deluxe (essentially 7.6) has level as a derived value from highest attributes.

5th edL Since it's almost entirely attribute driven, and has 4 classes: Warrior, Wizard, Rogue (more correctly, Rogue Wizard), and Warrior-Wizard (all rolls must be high...)... Every level, add to an att or two, how much is level number x addtribute mod.

Deluxe has Citizen, Wizard, Rogue Wizard, Warrior, Paragon (=warrior-wizard), and several kinds of specialists. Level is a function of best attributel XP spent to raise attributes directly. Also has a vague and open ended, but very playable, "talent" system

Combat Mechanics are almost identical.
 

GMMichael

Guide of Modos
I like the idea of it being a little more deadly, the smaller list of abilities to keep track of (no x per encounter, recharge on a long/short rest), no feats.
Hmm. Try Microlite 20. No feats, small abilities list.


More deadly and not needing retainers is on the DM, not the game.
 

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