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Game with only two players

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  • Game with only two players

    The game was intended for three players, but one of them bailed out. Since I can't find a third player, I consider to start the game with the remaining two players. Do the rules of ascension still work with only two players?

  • #2
    In my opinion, yes, but it will require adjustments. You might need to make sure that your player has a larger number of non-player allies or associates available, to help covers the gaps in skills that your player may need in certain circumstances. You're also going to need to make sure that any Plot Hooks are relevant to your one player character, since there isn't a whole group with a variety of possible reasons for choosing a given course of action.

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    • #3
      You may consider taking a page from Ars Magica, and having the players run multiple characters (not at once, obviously). A Mage, and maybe a few unAwakened Consors/Acolytes. It can allow players to cover much more ground in the same in-game time period. While a Mage is performing a ritual, reading through old tomes, or galivanting around the spirit world, the more mundane character can be investigating leads, talking to NPCs, or getting into knife fights in an alley. (Rather than philosophical knife fights on the astral plane).

      Not to mention have more varied options, as every "grog" has their own skillsets. For instance, a Mage focused more on research having an unAwakened bodyguard. Or the Cabal's "face" is a social focused Consor, who (freed from the need to spend ability and background points on "Mage stuff", can invest fully in things like Persuasion, Influence, Contacts, etc).

      Again, the various characters should be controlled one at a time, rather than having the players try to roleplay multiple characters at once. It's easier for everyone involved.


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      • #4
        The idea that you have to have all the Spheres covered or that your player(s) need to create extra characters they don't care as much about is, well, something I hold a minority opinion about. This is my perspective, based on recent experience. I am having a really good time with my girlfriend playing one on one. Personally, I am doing better than I was before the pandemic. So, how do I storytell a chronicle with only her character and my own?

        Some facts about our campaign:

        1. Including a third player who is currently absent from the story (lockdown), none of us have the Mind Sphere. Yes, I know, MiBs. We'll get to that.

        2. The majority of important NPCs are Sleepers who are unaware of the mystic forces at play. Gods and Monsters emphasizes the importance of Sleeper characters.

        3. The chronicle has been centered on a single city.

        4. On my advise, both players invested a good part of their Backgrounds in Arcane. My storyteller run character has this background, as well.

        The fact that we only have four of the Spheres covered is an Advantage to me, as a storyteller. When the Cabal can sense any Magick, it is actually harder to generate mystery and intrigue for the chronicle. The city where everything has taken place until now is Tradition territory. This, combined with the Arcane Background, has kept us reasonably safe, while still allowing conflict plots to happen.

        On the Technocracy side, I loosely categorize NPCs into either Civilian or Front-liner. By necessity, Civilian technomancers have some kind of stealth or firearms skill, but do not use these as their primary resort. For the Technocracy to be as prosperous and institutionally dominant as it is, I assume two thirds of Technomancers must be Civilians - people working in labs, etc.

        So, what happens when Mind specialized Front-liners discover the Mind-blind PCs? The first thing they will figure out is that they are recently awakened. This is where Avatars and Seekings complicate the plans of MiB-type antagonists. Newly awakened mages are being challenged by their Avatars to do Seekings, in addition to whatever errands they are doing for their Mentors. An Operative knows a captured enemy is more valuable than a dead one. A convert lured in by Mind Magick is even better. However, changing factions doesn't end a Seeking.

        The Operative knows that the value of of the potential convert is diminished if the Seeking they are still on would conflict with the restrictions put on them in the beginning of their Technocracy career.

        Things that could happen:

        1. Unable to fulfill their Avatar's wishes, they lose access to Magick, reducing their value.

        2. Their Avatar pushes them in a direction that unravels the Conditioning they just received, driving them insane (possibly becoming a Marauder housed in a Construct - no good).

        3. Their Avatar pushes them in a direction that forces them to reconsider their choice to defect. If that decision was heavily influenced by Mind illusions or deceit, the chances of this are greater. This creates a security risk.

        In addition to contingencies surrounding a PC's relationship to their Avatar, the Operative must consider some other factors. A newly awakened Tradition Mage might be better not being interfered with too much if they are trying to earn membership in a Chantry or stand to earn entry to a Chantry they aren't even aware of. Far batter to keep tabs on them and use them to discover information about more powerful Mages. Maybe they will get caught up in the internal politics of a Chantry. Why not wait, assume a cover identity and approach the young Mage with an offer of help to resolve the intrigue.

        These are just a few reasons that you can use in a chronicle with fewer players to explain why Technocracy Front-liners don't just assassinate, kidnap or convert them from the outset.

        What about environmental challenges? You want to have them sneak into a front-company building or explore a realm in the Umbra? The challenge is not knowing the layout. If it's a maze, it is far easier to make it a challenge if they have only half the Spheres covered. Add multi-Sphere effects, beyond their ability to understand without "holding hands", as described in How Do You Do That P54. If they are trying to do Dex + Athletics rolls to climb or jump across a crevice, they won't always be able to be in physical contact with each other. Same with Dex + Stealth to sneak past a guardian. Add portals so that they have to scan a new area every time they step through one. Better yet, have portals that are invisible in identical hallways.

        The game is more fun, the fewer Spheres they have covered, in my view. One on one allows for a great deal of character development.

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        • #5
          The big thing is to have a really cohesive idea of what these two players want out of the game, and make sure your story line delivers that to them.

          Edit: Another point is that to check in - with 2 players if your adventure isn't fun and engaging, it will sink a lot faster than a group of 4 or 5 people. So another useful point is to check in regularly and make sure that where you want the story to go is of interest to your players.

          I regularly ST Exalted, Rogue Trader or Star Wars for a single player. I'll say something along the lines of "Of the next expected event, I want to explore X and Y," where my player might say "Y is okay, how about Z?"
          Last edited by Tytalus; 11-23-2020, 12:22 PM.

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