As you know by now, next week a new actual play series starts on Fandible: the SoloShot, a Star Wars Force and Destiny two person game. Billy is playing an Imperial Inquisitor, while I’m in the GM’s chair.
As of this writing, we’ve run three sessions of the SoloShot – halfway through the first season I’ve plotted out. I’ve learned a lot about the system since running the Winter is Coming Edge of the Empire game, but I’ve also learned that GMing a two person game presents unique lessons and opportunities.
Lesson 1: GM notes actually go to good use
We’ve spoken about the importance of notes several times on Fandible, and I always show up with notes for my games. But I also know how Fandible, or really most groups, operate, and so I don’t plot too much. I stat out important NPCs and imagine a few encounters, but there’s no point in sinking lots of time and effort into a plot that more likely than not be derailed after five minutes.
But just one player is an entirely different equation. A group will riff off of each other, brainstorming solutions to problems, and coming up with ideas to supplement the GM’s plans. A solo player has no such sounding board, so the game stays way more on the rails. Billy certainly surprises me sometimes (I can’t wait for you to hear the midseason cliffhanger), but the story is following a much tighter narrative track, which means I need to shoulder more of the work in keeping the plot moving forward.
Lesson 2: Your voice is a muscle – Treat it kindly
Another obvious point, right? But just as the player doesn’t have a sounding board for ideas without a group, nor do you have anyone to rely on to fill the gaps at the table. This means a lot of talking. A. Lot. The GM isn’t only providing the narrative structure and a few key NPCs. In a two person game, the GM provides every single voice that isn’t the PC. That’s lots of different NPC voices (a need compounded by doing this game for a podcast, and so there’s a heightened necessity for a variety of voices to keep things interesting for you listeners!). All that talking is tough on your voice! Take care of yourself – keep water at the table and take frequent breaks.
Opportunity: Really dig into character development
This is the biggest advantage of a two person game: a chance to shine an unrelenting spotlight on one character. Their back story, their motivations, their hopes and dreams. It’s also a chance to tell a story about a character that doesn’t fit into a traditional group. Two player games are perfect for those “lone wolf” character archetypes that pop up in groups occasionally – characters that may be legitimately interesting but don’t play well with others. For the SoloShot, Billy is playing an Imperial Inquisitor, and while I can certainly envision a party of Inquisitors, the story would be very different balancing three or four stories of evil people. In the SoloShot, we not only get to discover the backstory of Castien Saiah, but (hopefully!) watch him make choices that take him closer to the Light side of the Force.
The SoloShot debuts May the Fourth. If you’re all caught up on Winter is Coming, can I suggest these other podcasts for your listening pleasure?
Redemption – GM Chris was a huge help in giving me some cheat sheets ahead of our Edge of the Empire game, and I still use them every week for the SoloShot! Redemption is set during the Clone Wars and follows three people (and their Droid) trying to do right in a rapidly changing Galaxy.
Silhouette Zero – another two person Star Wars podcast, with two brothers playing Edge of the Empire. They’re still early in their run, so it’s easy to catch up!
Party of One – An actual play podcast that features a different two person game every week, including a few Star Wars entries – and I’ll be a guest soon playing Shadow of the Century!
Have you run (or played in!) a two person RPG? What were your biggest lessons? And leave your favorite two person or Star Wars podcasts in the comments as well!
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