[RPG] I’m DMing for a party of two. How to make sure the players have classes that can play well together


I am going to be a DM of D&D 5e for my two friends, and they asked me which classes work well paired together. I have only played games with parties of four player characters before, though, so I don't know how to answer them.

I want to find out: what classes can work well together? By that I mean classes that have synergy together. An example would be a Cleric and Fighter as a Fighter can go through a dungeon and be constantly healed by his Cleric.

An example of non-synergy — the kind of thing I'm trying to avoid — is something like a Fighter and a stealthy Rogue with low health or defences. When the Fighter goes into combat, the Rogue can't participate; and when the Rogue wants to do something stealthily, the Fighter can't do much to help. The two have limited situations they can cooperate in, and where they specialise the other is useless! This won't be much fun for either of them, and I'd like to avoid us running into this situation.

So, how can I make sure my players have classes that can cooperate and regularly be useful to each other?

Best Answer

Any of the classes can work well together.

Classes in D&D 5e aren't all that black and white. A Fighter with a Criminal background, for example, can participate just fine along with a rogue - in fact, that's the general setup for Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser, one of the best known fantasy duos ever.

Fretting about class niche over "what the people actually want to play" is misguided, and it's only tangentially related to the problem and its solution. The real trick is in two parts.

  1. The players should work together to have a shared interest. Regardless of class and crunch, if one player wants to be a socialite in the King's court and the other wants to be a dungeon slashing killer, that's going to be hard to accommodate. But it's not about the classes per se. A "cleric" and a "rogue" can tweak domains and backgrounds and skill choices to align well on anything from "we are holy inquisitors" to "we are underworld figures." You need to worry more about one wanting a religious aspect to the game and the other not. Make them work that out, it's not your job as DM. Of course if your campaign is going to have certain elements you should tell them... "This will be a scholarly campaign about tracking down forbidden books, like that Johnny Depp movie!" will signal to them that a pair of illiterate woodsmen will not be a good choice.

  2. You the DM then need to adapt the campaign in play to accommodate whatever they picked. If it's a cleric and a thief, then they're not going to have as much raw kill in their backpacks as a barbarian and a wizard. Just as there are many solo adventures designed for a rogue or a cleric or a monk, you tune your game to fit whatever their overlap of interests is. Heck, they can be the same class for all you should care. If they really, really need something they can't provide (spellcasting, healing, a bodyguard) well that's where hirelings come in. This is basic encounter scaling and planning, like you'd do for any real party with its strengths and weaknesses.

In the end, every combination is going to play differently and have some pros and cons. So go do it! Go discover this through play. There's really no choices that will "break the game", so meta theory land is the wrong place to be addressing this. Play the game. Have them pick two and see how it goes. If someone dies, then decide if that combo wasn't working for you and roll up something else. There is no wrong answer.