D&D 5E Single Players with Multiple Characters?

Snoring Rock

Explorer
Does anyone allow players to run more than one character at the same time in a campaign? I see possible issues, but wondered how that works if anyone one allows it?
 

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Bayonet

First Post
I have a group that I game with regularly, but one of them, one of my best friends, is as much of a D&D fanatic as I am and down to play whenever. So, there are times when he'll be over for a drink and I'll haul out a One Page dungeon and run a short game. On those occasions I usually let the guy run a pair of characters.

I haven't really seen any problems with it yet. There's less roleplay since the 'party' is just one guy, but we both have fun with the game. Not sure how it would work with a campaign, but if it's just a one shot, it works pretty well.
 

Illithidbix

Explorer
Biggest problem I see is trying to keep two in character mindsets at once is kinda difficult in social scenes and in general in campaigns that focus on characters and roleplay immersion.

So perhaps a clear "Main Character" + "Loyal Sidekick" is probably a very eminently doable version, one character is clearly calling the shots.
 

Lehrbuch

First Post
Does anyone allow players to run more than one character at the same time in a campaign? I see possible issues, but wondered how that works if anyone one allows it?

Usually if a PC has a retainer or similar, rather than making it an NPC, we make it a kind of "second tier" PC. In fact, thinking about it, this is reasonably common for us. Most parties (3-5 players) usually have 1 or 2 additional "retainer" PCs who may be with the party for either short or extended periods of time.

It doesn't seem to create any problems: what problems are you envisaging?
 

MostlyDm

Explorer
I have a campaign closing in on 4 years now. Two players. System is a homebrew E6-style system loosely based on various editions of D&D.

I think each of them currently has about... 8 characters? Let me count through them

Original pair, mercenary captain (leader, support, extremely durable warrior) and his right hand man (rogue, alchemist, very mobile and high damage with a thousand tricks up his sleeve)

Second pair of PCs along with a character I made when one of them took over DMing for a six session diversion. A mobile shield fighter, a medico, and a magic-dabbling priest.

Third pair of characters, a dour sharpshooting longbowman and a dumb-as-stump axewoman.

One of them introduced a fourth character, a reedy steward/accountant/engineer for their mercenary company. The other introduced a clubfooted adolescent who ran away from home to join their mercenary company.

Then they played as a general and his second in command for a different army. Rivals but not enemies, they have worked together a few times.

Then came outright villains, working to bring down their PCs. I eventually confiscated one to turn him into a future BBEG (at the player's suggestion) and he rolled up a new villain.

Then one of them ran a few sessions for me and the other guy, so I added a second PC in the form of an impetuous noble, and the other guy added a gruff jerk who eventually died and was replaced by a combat-worthless con man.

Then the other guy brought in a Joan of arc style delusional religious warrior. And an assassin with a peculiar moral code.

I think that's it.

So I guess one of them has 7, the other has 8, and technically I have 2 who are generally NPCs except when one of the guys wants to run a mini-arc.

I'd say it's the most successful campaign I have ever run. We average 1 session per week, typically 6-10 hours long. Their primary PCs are effectively 26th level (kind of) at this point.

It's not uncommon for them to have extended conversations and even arguments with themselves. I can just sit back and watch, which is pretty amusing.

Definitely recommend giving it a whirl!
 

jayoungr

Legend
Supporter
Doing it in a campaign right now, and have been playing that way for a couple of years. I have three players and a party of four PCs. One player always plays two characters, and another takes over a second character when our third player can't make it (which is relatively often).

It works well enough; the main thing that it's bad for is when you have any sort of inter-party intrigue or secrets. For instance, I ran a campaign a couple of years ago where an NPC was secretly an Erinyes devil. Ideally, she should have tried to seduce one or more party members and turn them against each other or against the rest of the group, with a heavy exchange of notes between DM and player leading to a shocking revelation, preferably in the middle of combat. But it just didn't seem like it would be as much fun to do that when the betrayer and the betrayed would be played by the same person. It would be especially tricky if one player was in the know while the other(s) were not.

However, that's really the only difficulty it's caused for me. And it's definitely less of a headache to wrangle schedules with fewer players.
 
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MostlyDm

Explorer
If you get player buy in stuff like that can actually play out even better sometimes.

It was really fun watching one of my players (as a villain) pulling out all the stops to murder other PCs. Or the time their villains caught some of their heroes and brutally tortured them.

Good stuff.
 

discosoc

First Post
It works if your game is more about the mechanics and combat than roleplaying. It's kind of weird if you put any focus on roleplaying though. Generally better to just adjust your encounters down if you're short a few players.
 

MostlyDm

Explorer
It works if your game is more about the mechanics and combat than roleplaying. It's kind of weird if you put any focus on roleplaying though. Generally better to just adjust your encounters down if you're short a few players.

Definitely disagree. We probably average 1 fight per 2-3 sessions (with occasional spikes of epic multi session battles, and long lulls of nation building, economics, and diplomacy)
 

Arial Black

Adventurer
Many times over the decades there have been one DM and one player. Usually the lone player plays two or three PCs while the DM may play zero to three PCs. The DM's PCs are the same level and don't come up with the brilliant ideas (unless the player is truly stuck). Just don't fall into the trap of making the DM's PC more powerful than the other PCs.

However, I've been playing in a campaign since around 2000 or so, first in 3.0 and now in 3.5. We have just made epic levels (by beating the Tarrasque!). There are four players each with two PCs. There is also a cohort and animal companion, familiar, etc. It make combats long and complex, and we need a lot of high level baddies to challenge us, but it is great fun and probably plays smoother than eight players playing one character each because there are only four people trying to make a plan rather than eight.

Go in with your eyes open and it will be okay.
 

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