Most RPGs are designed with the traditional group in mind: 1 GM, 3-4 players. But often it’s hard to get schedules aligned and set aside enough time to play with a regular group.
But those of us with roomates, partners, or very intelligent dogs can play RPGs with just two people!
Here are some of the best Duet Games that my wife and I have found: RPGs that can be played with only two people.
Best Duet RPGs
How We are Like the Storm (Link coming soon)
A fascinating game from Jackson Tegu where both characters recount their rocky relationship. I especially recommend it because you play as you read. Each page explains the next phase of the game, so both players are learning and playing the game together. Also you get to hold hands and draw on each other. Fun!
Includes three core games by Emily Care Boss and over 30 variations and hacks. For two people, Breaking the Ice is a fantastic game about going on three first dates and seeing if love can blossom.
The Quiet Year
Build a village together and help it survive the cold winter months. A fun combination of story prompts and map-making from Avery Alder, this cooperative game always results in some neat stories.
A strange choice, but one I’ve found great success with. Because you are choreographing epic fights together, you can keep the action moving between the two of you, where it might stall or slow down with more players. Wushu by Daniel Bayn also plays well with more people, but with two it’s fast and fun.
Small, Light Games
Lighter, sillier games are often a great fit for duets because the rules are simple and the games are short. Some of my favorites: All Out of Bubblegum, Kintsugi, Paresly, and lots of the best 200 Word RPG entries.
Here are some more suggestions I’ve received in response to this post. I haven’t played them, but they look solid!
- Mars Colony is a political sci-fi game for two players. One will take on the role of the colony’s appointed “savior,” while the other will be responsible for all the various problems that are plaguing the citizens of Mars.
- Murderous Ghosts are after you! One player is a ghost, another is the desperate victim.
- ERA, you take the role of Legends - classic solo heroes (think ‘Conan’, ‘Hercules’ or ‘Judge Dredd’) - and battle against a variety of epic obstacles as you progress on your heroic quest.
- Scarlet Heroes is a traditional DnD-like game designed for duet gaming. It has some clever mechanics that will allow one player to handle modules written for larger groups. Really cool stuff here, might have to try it!
Helpful Advice for Traditional RPGs
My wife and I will often try to play more traditional RPGs together with mixed success. It can work well with story-driven, rules-light systems. Games like Dungeon World, Numenera, or Fate. I also offer the following advice:
Relationship > Rules. When playing with a group of people it is important to enforce rules and keep everyone on the same page. If one player could break some rules than the other players would feel cheated. However, when it’s just two people, I encourage you to let the rules slide as much as possible. Focus more on building a story together than keeping up with combat initiative.
Start with a focused goal. Among 4 people it is more likely that one person will have a good idea or strong motivation to move the group forward. However when it’s just one player it may be up to the GM to provide some strong guidance, especially at the beginning. Make the goal clear and enticing, keeping clear lines of communication for what the player wants to do.
Later, let them lead. Once the player has an idea of what they want to do, then drop your goals. Be especially open to improvisation and going off the rails. Think of yourself more like a servant than a master, and it will help even the power-balance between the two of you.
What did I miss? What are some of your favorite Duet RPGs? Any helpful advice?