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Old 04-11-2014, 03:54 AM   #1
Magic_Octopus
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Default [DF] Advice on combat encounters for a 2-player party

I'd like to run a one shot Dungeon Fantasy adventure, but I only have 2 players.

Could anyone give me advice on how to create reasonably challenging combat encounters for a party of 2? I plan on having them play a "fighter" and a "ranger" (these are not set in stone, but examples), both around 250-300 points.
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Old 04-11-2014, 04:38 AM   #2
Michael Cule
 
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Default Re: [DF] Advice on combat encounters for a 2-player party

Well, I wouldn't go dungeon delving. I'd give them a 'mission orientated' adventure set in the surface world.

Given one of them is going to be a ranger how about making it something in the deep forests? A chieftain's daughter has been captured by orcs/bad elves/centaurs/I dunno and they have to sneak in and rescue her?

Don't ask me about advice for stats, I'm rubbish at that.
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Old 04-11-2014, 05:07 AM   #3
Magic_Octopus
 
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Default Re: [DF] Advice on combat encounters for a 2-player party

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Originally Posted by Michael Cule View Post
Well, I wouldn't go dungeon delving. I'd give them a 'mission orientated' adventure set in the surface world.

Given one of them is going to be a ranger how about making it something in the deep forests? A chieftain's daughter has been captured by orcs/bad elves/centaurs/I dunno and they have to sneak in and rescue her?

Don't ask me about advice for stats, I'm rubbish at that.
Thanks for the suggestion! Sounds like a good idea.

But I wonder if someone could give examples of stats, how many orcs of what point value or some such... I'd like to give the duo a challenge without a TPK in the first encounter, but I don't have a lot of experience in this.
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Old 04-11-2014, 05:08 AM   #4
lachimba
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Sydney
Default Re: [DF] Advice on combat encounters for a 2-player party

GURPS Mirror of the fire demon?
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Old 04-11-2014, 05:25 AM   #5
Magic_Octopus
 
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Default Re: [DF] Advice on combat encounters for a 2-player party

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Originally Posted by lachimba View Post
GURPS Mirror of the fire demon?
That's probably a great adventure, but it's for 4 or more characters. Do the scaling rules within work for a party of just 2?
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Old 04-11-2014, 05:26 AM   #6
CraigM
 
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Default Re: [DF] Advice on combat encounters for a 2-player party

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Originally Posted by Magic_Octopus View Post
I'd like to run a one shot Dungeon Fantasy adventure, but I only have 2 players.

Could anyone give me advice on how to create reasonably challenging combat encounters for a party of 2? I plan on having them play a "fighter" and a "ranger" (these are not set in stone, but examples), both around 250-300 points.
My game is 150pt low fantasy, not DF, but I do have a two-player party. The difficulty I find in balancing combat encounters is that the small party narrows the margin of error; the gap between "challenging" and TPK is very slim.

Most of the campaign has been urban social stuff, but there was a dungeon bash earlier. I relied on a few tricks to make it work:

1) Trickle-down hordes. A lot of the threat in the dungeon came from an unlimited supply of very weak monsters. The combination of low strength and limitless numbers allowed me to make very fine adjustments to the threat level; I'd start by hitting them with a handful of monsters, but then have a few more arrive every few seconds. If the PCs were cruising, I'd accelerate the monster arrival rate; if they were getting overwhelmed, I'd taper it back or stop entirely.

2) Bark not bite. If I wanted a scary solo monster, I'd go for something that was big and tough but slow and relatively incompetent. Double dagger weapons are good for this: an oversized halberd is intimidating and definitely dangerous if it hits...but it won't be swinging too often if the wielder is spending 50%+ of its time either re-readying or adjusting reach. Keeping the bad guy skill level low enough that they're using telegraphic attacks all the time also helps: the PCs are only going to get hit if they're very unlucky or very foolish.

3) Allow retreat and regroup. I designed the dungeon with a couple of monster-proof boltholes so that the PCs always had the option of running away, resting up and trying again. There were several instances of the PC fighter fending off mooks one-handed while dragging the unconscious PC mage back to the monster-proof shelter.

4) Territorial monsters. The two most genuinely dangerous monsters in the dungeon were both restricted to their lairs. One was a giant spider that wouldn't bother anyone outside of the room in which it had built its web; the other was a eldritch thing that was basically a huge immobile blob with a lot of tentacles. This meant that the PCs didn't have to take them on until they were prepared for the fight, and again allowed the option of retreat.

5) Allies. The dungeon included a few combat automatons that could be commandeered by the PCs if they were smart enough to figure out how. They didn't take on the two big bads mentioned above until they'd done this, and when they did it was the expendable automaton that was leading the charge.

6) Capture not kill. Almost all of the monsters were looking to capture defeated PCs, not just slaughter them. This allows for the possibility of regroup and rescue; think of Sam and Frodo's encounter with Shelob in LOTR for an example.
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Old 04-11-2014, 06:15 AM   #7
Magic_Octopus
 
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Default Re: [DF] Advice on combat encounters for a 2-player party

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awesome stuff
Thanks, CraigM! Very good points and food for thought.
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Old 04-11-2014, 07:18 AM   #8
Stormcrow
 
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Default Re: [DF] Advice on combat encounters for a 2-player party

The cliche is that dungeon fantasy is about killing things and taking their stuff, but really the optimal strategies are sneaking around things or talking to them and taking their stuff. Fighting is dangerous and should be considered the last resort.
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Old 04-11-2014, 07:33 AM   #9
Gnome
 
Join Date: Feb 2011
Location: Cambridge, MA
Default Re: [DF] Advice on combat encounters for a 2-player party

Give each character an ally (if you have DF 15: Henchmen, use that--otherwise just make the ally characters yourself) for support. Otherwise battles can be pretty risky--if one character goes down, the party is half gone! Best if one of the allies has some healing ability...
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Old 04-11-2014, 07:55 AM   #10
Gold & Appel Inc
 
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Default Re: [DF] Advice on combat encounters for a 2-player party

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Originally Posted by Magic_Octopus View Post
I'd like to run a one shot Dungeon Fantasy adventure, but I only have 2 players.

Could anyone give me advice on how to create reasonably challenging combat encounters for a party of 2? I plan on having them play a "fighter" and a "ranger" (these are not set in stone, but examples), both around 250-300 points.
If you're using the DF books, the closest thing to a fighter and a ranger would be a Knight and a Scout, which will give your PCs broad command over ranged and melee combat but very little else. Unless you're comfortable with making almost every challenge a fight, you might want to change one of those to something less focused on combat, and then direct some of the challenges at whatever that character is good at.

If you're locked in on the Knight / Scout party, get ready to run a lot of fight scenes, occasionally spiced with some sort of scenario that plays to the skills covered by the Born War Leader and Outdoorsman Talents. The combination of the Knight blocking threats and the Scout putting holes in them is a potent one, but you can challenge them in plenty of ways, ranging from the kind of unfair (eg: too many small enemies for the Knight to block) to the totally unfair (occasionally remind them that it would've been really really good if they'd brought eg: a Thief with eg: a trap that neither of them will probably notice). They'll probably take apart most large solo monsters without breaking a sweat, but are very vulnerable to swarms. The sweet spot is probably peer competition: a party of three 250-point dungeon plungers that includes a Scout, a melee guy, and anything else will give them an extreme run for their money if they're both 300 points, especially if the anything else is a Cleric healing their guys when the PCs don't have one, or a Wizard providing battlefield control and other outside-the-box trouble.

If you send two guys with no healing into a dungeon, expect much more cautious gameplay than one would normally see in DF, or a series of short, nasty careers if the players don't get what kind of danger they're in. Once one of them is severely injured, you can get them to do all kinds of crazy stuff if you dangle some healing potions in front of them.
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