Advice for starting with 1 player?

Due to unavoidable scheduling difficulties, I’m going to be starting a Blades mini-campaign with just one player. (Two more players will be joining for sessions 2 and session 3, the conclusion.)

I’m a veteran GM of many a system, and I’ve GM’d for one player before in other systems (including both Fate and AW). But I’ve never run Blades, let alone for one player.

I’ve read all the general excellent advice here and I’ll be using some simplified versions of the playbooks and crew books (courtesy of McGravin) to emphasize good starting options.

Is there any special advice y’all have regarding Blades for One?

(Also: paging Robins Laws for a Blades One2One book. Heh!)

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Have them run two characters. You won’t get the neat interpersonal RP that you usually get with players interacting with each other, but you will get to take advantage of the teamwork mechanics, and a lot of the system will work a lot better than with just one PC.


Agree that the teamwork mechanics are important, but concerned that two playbooks may be overwhelming for one player.

Would it be feasible to allow “teamwork” between the PC and the Crew? I was thinking that an advantage of the one player game is that the single PC can interact with the Crew, and boss them around, a lot more than in a multi-player game… because it won’t be taking spotlight away from any other players.

By the rules, the PC orders the Crew around with Command or takes Actions alongside them; or the Crew when acting alone rolls using their Tier, etc. But would anything serious break if I use Teamwork, treating the Crew as the other PC?

As written, the Crew is more of a template that applies to all the PCs collectively; NPC members are covered mainly by Cohort upgrades (either gangs of lower ability NPCs, or individual Expert NPCs). Give them a gang of thugs they can command, or an expert they can turn to for assistance and advice.

I’ve had a lot of fun playing 1-player games but they tend to be a lot more personal and less action/adventure in nature. I’d encourage the player to get a gang or an expert in their crew that they are personally invested in. That way they’ve got people they care about and as well as who can help them out mechanically.

I’d argue that you can model Blade and Abraham Whistler as a single (har, har) Blade with an Expert Crafter as the only member of his gang.


Ah, interesting - I hadn’t considered the Expert (Cohort) possibilities.

In the Blade the movie character example, Whistler doesn’t accompany Blade on violent vampire huntin’ excursions. But there could be flashbacks to how Whistler provided expertise through gadgets or advice.

I suspect this particular player is going to want a more action oriented Cohort, like an Expert - Thug or Expert - Sniper or somesuch. (He mentioned the Assassin’s Creed videogame as a model of a single PC who occasionally commands other, lesser, assassins.)

I also noticed that you actually can roll Teamwork with a Cohort! Still learning the rules…

Command is almost always the right action for leading a cohort or sending an NPC group to do something according to your instructions. Handle it as a “group action” teamwork maneuver with you rolling Command and the cohort rolling quality.

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I am currently playing in a three person campaign and we each run 2 characters, switching between them for RP but only running one in the score. (The one not used in score gains 1 XP and the other gains XP according to the triggers). I have never had a issue switching between playbooks but then again my character concepts are distinct and clear, it may be muddled if a newer player to the system (my one caution).

Having them use a gang or cohort would help provide some support of which they may need, they are playing as a single vigilante (like Batman) but those usually have a supporting cast like Alfred.

Also creating scores or situations which can be played against by that character’s strengths and weaknesses will help them feel challenged but also able to overcome it. If you haven’t checked out the Heist Deck which provides obstacles, items, NPCs, etc I highly recommend it. Looking forward to hearing how it goes for you and them!

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You can indeed use Command to lead a Group Action with a cohort. In that case, the PC is directing NPC efforts. But, the PC can also lead a Group Action using an Action for that specific task. For example, suppose a PC and an NPC cohort were getting into a fight as a Group Action. The PC could lead the Group Action with Skirmish or with Command.


Feeding off of this you can also recommend the crew ability ‘All Hands’ (Smugglers) which gives your cohort/gang a DT action to acquire assets, reduce heat or work on LT clocks.

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I’ve said it before, I’ve never seen another game where it was so effortless and smooth for players to run multiple PCs.

It is glorious and something I hope to repeat because the effect is just perfection. We have had times where we have had all six characters having a conversation and it is like watching a TV show. The fact that the three of us have played together for the last year or so probably plays into it a bit.

Hmm. I’ll have to reconsider shying away from 1 player controls 2 characters. I will ask the player what he thinks.

We did just come off a comically bad mini-campaign where a different player and I each controlled two 4e D&D PCs, with the soon-to-be-Blades-starting-player as the DM. And despite being decade long veterans who play 4e every other week (has it really been that long? it has!), the other player and I bungled things up, well, comically.

Of course it’s a wildly different system, but it may have put everyone off the “1 player, 2 PCs” framework, including me.

Anyway, to clarify the Blades situation, there’s only going to be 1 Blades player for the first session. For sessions 2 and 3 we’ll be joined by two more players.

It will be entertaining to see both the real life and fictional effects when two “new guys” join the game!

Are you on discord? We usually have listeners and would be happy to let you listen in. Might help demonstrate how we do this version of chaos. We play Tuesday nights @ 7pm EST

Appreciate the offer but I’m not a Discordian. :slight_smile:

Well, I know I personally like to see some resolution to these types of threads, so here it is: we didn’t end up playing with one player!

The player was visibly uncomfortable as we set up, so I asked him what we wrong. He said that he didn’t want to choose the Crew type without the other players being there. I offered that he could just have a Cohort (to provide some mechanical and, frankly, emotional support) and we could leave the Crew vague, but he didn’t seem to want to do that either.

Bottom line, I wasn’t going to force the guy to play the game.

(We ended up talking about RPGs and nerdery in general for a few hours which I consider time well spent.)

I wish I could have reported back with how the one player session went, but… I can’t.

Thanks again for the advice, though!

When you do wind up picking the Crew, I highly advise you suggest to your players they get at least one Cohort.

After Crew creation, it takes two Advancement boxes (a full 8 XP) to get a new Cohort, while most other upgrades take only one box (mechanically 4 XP). Plus a Cohort is a brand new character (or even several characters, if you go with a Gang) the players can interact and roleplay with.

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