On Friday we comb through our extensive archives to find an older article that we feel deserves another look. From June 8, 2009, Dungeon’s Master once again presents: Playing Two Characters.
I like playing two characters. As long as I get to create them both, then I’ll play two characters any time the DM allows it. But playing two characters when one is yours and one belongs to someone else is a lot more difficult and generally not as much fun.
I’ve played in games where the DM gave players the option of playing one or two characters. Most of my friends choose to stick with one character, but not me; if I can play two characters, I will. Here are some of the pros and cons I’ve found over the years of playing two characters in the same campaign.
- Role-playing experience
Playing two characters lets you try out more classes, races, powers and feats. New sourcebooks are coming out every month and the number of options is expanding exponentially (or at least it seems that way). It’s impossible to play every build in a real game setting, but playing two at once lets you sample the new stuff more quickly.
- More action
If I’m playing two characters I get to do more. Every round I get to act twice. More swipes with my sword, more spells, more fun.
- Coordinated play
The best part of playing two characters is that you control their actions and can work them as a unit. They can move to flank together and they can use their abilities to the maximum benefit. I recently played a Rogue and a Warlord – what a combination!
If one character falls below 0 hp or is knocked unconscious, you still have an active character in the campaign. This is also true if one of the characters is killed. There’s no immediate need to find a wandering adventurer in search of an adventuring party in the next room of the dungeon or at the local tavern.
- Too much responsibility
Playing two characters has definitely become more difficult in 4e. Characters in 4e have a slew of At-will, Encounter, Daily and Utility powers to choose from. And don’t forget that many magic items have their own Daily powers too. That’s a lot of choice. Now double it.
- Slowing down the game
The mechanics of 4e are all about keeping the action moving. If you can’t keep up when you’re only playing one character, then forget about playing two. If your attempt to play two characters brings your game to a screeching halt then any benefits from playing two characters is lost.
If you’re playing two characters then they have to be unique. They should act and talk differently. They need separate and individual motivations. I’ve found giving them very different personalities helps a lot. But you don’t want to have them arguing all the time, because in the end it’s just you talking to yourself while the other players try to suppress the desire to punch you.
The down-fall of most two character adventures I’ve played in comes down to favouritism. You end up liking one character a lot more than the other. And suddenly you’re not playing two equal members in the party, but a master and servant. If it comes to this, then one of the two characters has to retire. The most obvious sign that this is happening is when one character lends or gives the other money or magic.
Playing two characters is certainly not for everyone. Most DMs I’ve played with won’t allow it, except when someone is absent. It can be a rewarding experience for a player to successfully juggle two distinct characters in the same adventure. But, it’s a lot more difficult then you might think, so don’t rush into it.
Have you played two characters in a long-term campaign? How did it work out? What sort of challenges did you run in to? Do you think it’s easier or harder to play two characters in 4e simultaneously?