I keep killing my wife's character...HELP!


So I’ve planned a couple of 1 on 1 sessions between my wife (who is a complete newcomer to the hobby) and myself and I keep killing her… It’s not my fault, that’s just how the dice land.

I have ran dozens of games for 3-5 players. But they have always been experienced players.

I believe my issue is that I have been using more enemies than one character can handle, resulting in her getting one attack off then getting attacked 3-4 times by her enemies.

The potential solutions I see…

  • use less monsters(not ideal… It doesn’t fit our story)
  • severly Nerf the monsters
  • group monsters into clusters then treat the cluster as a single entity
  • or give my wifes Character a familiar/sidekick

Anyone have any better ideas to help balance combat for a 1 on 1 game geared toward a player who hasn’t figured the game out quite yet?


Dont kill her… after she fails the DEATH roll… ask the player what they think should happen next.

Suggest she awaken with 1 HP and be captured, or left for dead, or being dragged away, or enslaved, or running for her life… come on man! use every trope in the book and movie you have ever seen… especially with New Players and One on One play, make them really sacrifice themselves for a cause, any cause, whatever the player thinks is important to her character… and if they complain how they can never die, then kill them, and ask them what do they want? a deadly game where everything can die needlessly, or a longer story of adventure, fortune, and glory!

Then give them what they want … Game On!


These are really good tips… Thanks Ez.

Another thing I’m having trouble with…

She, as a player is having trouble deciding what actions she wants to do. I think she is kinda being paralized by having too many options.

Do you have any tips for driving a definite objective or goal to your players? Thus narrowing the options for actions they have bouncing around in there head.


Hmmm. Maybe… Give her a list of actions or cards with each action… Maybe provide a list of actions and skills associated to stats and effort. Especially her milestone abilities and specials.



I’ll steal the action list from the new vigilante city character sheets!


Dude. Don’t kill your wife.


My GF was having this problem as well. What helped was printing out spell cards for her that she could reference.

Now, we’ve playing D&D 5e in a group (in which I’m player, too, not DM). I ran her solo through a Tales From the Loop the other day and focused much more on narrative gameplay. I’d ask her… “Despite hearing all the screams and odd noises, and knowing it’s the lair of the ghouls, you still walk into the barn. Tell me, what do you see?” and even “Okay, the ghoul stumbles back after being hit by your slingshot attack. He’s bleeding pretty god, at this point. Does he attempt to flee, or does he ran at you?” She absolutely loved this! Like, the smile on her face every time she got to participate as a co-creator, was so cool!


I haven’t really “killed her” so much as she has just dropped to 0 health several times. To the point where it is like she is respawning in a level of geometry dash.

The main question I was asking is just how can I balance my encounter to a single character instead of the 3-5 characters that I’m use to planning for.


I’ll have to try that! It sounds like it would help get her away from thinking of the game of having a right or wrong way to play, as far actions go.


Exactly! That’s what I found was my GF’s stumbling block.


Going to try and do a subpar job answering these.
Options not mentioned. Buff her a tad. Get her take on what the character is. Ambush attacker, get into the midst of combat and out survive the opposition…

But combat type and style is a factor in what she should do, and if she is playing a glass cannon, survivability against multiple opponents is small.

I’m assuming she is not playing a dwarven defender with all points in con, and a couple of shields and armor. Then the path is easy. Hit till low, then take a recovery action and hit till low and take a recovery action, rinse and repeat till there is no one attacking anymore.

Now onto Analysis Paralysis, what’s her characters perfected attacking situation? What’s her characters default attack, what is her characters default retreat, what is her characters preferred attack, what is needed to set that attack up?
Not sure what to do, default attack or retreat. Oh if I can get those two lined up…I’ll take them down, she moves to line them up and attacks.
Perfect attacking situation is from dark cover, she seeks cover, attacks and finds cover again.

Now if she made a glass cannon, and you are sending her into a meat grinder with no one to help her…change the story narrative.

Glass cannons are just that, they hit really hard, but can’t take much. So the familiar in the form of a dog, or bear who acts just like a dwarven defender in combat, starts to look really appealing. She controls both adding to analysis paralysis.
Defender does attack, recover attack, and one or two other things, but that’s the defaults, she does massive damage run back massive damage run back…until they line up…and does a devastating attack.

Now to fit it all in, she nearly escaped some trial, she runs into the woods and waits for searchers…none come and she is exhausted, falling asleep under some leaves she wakes up to someone licking her face. How does she befriend the curious beast?
Let us know.
Default moves if she doesn’t know what’s best. Not the most devastating.
Attack run away, attack run away…just keep on running if there is an opening.

Why are you sending your wife into a meat grinder?
Are you playing zombie apocalypse?
You having personal power dynamic issues?
You don’t have her as a one woman army against a bunch of monsters who have her brother or something…that’s just cruel. You probably have her playing a complex magic wielding sword mage or something stupidly complex and useless without the right gear on top of that…you are a terrible terrible human being…j/k but if you are doing all that simplify it a tad.

In reality what you are doing is hard. Balancing a one character adventure for an inexperienced player with no training wheels…and someone who you have history with.
It’s hard, your job is to make it fun, not fit the story. Later you work on narrative. But don’t get her off to the wrong foot that it’s only about combat. Be a dork, do silly accents and make sure she has fun. Also one on one games, offer a ton of collaboration, you both tell the story. Take advantage of that. Let this be a learning experience for you.


what’s her damage output?
What’s her damage threshold?
Can she heal herself after 2 ultimate damage magic attacks? If not don’t get her in a situation against two magic users.

Can she Heal herself against 2 ultimate damage sword wielders? Same answer as above.

Imagine your 5 players, how many of these can they take on at once and be a bit damaged but not really needing any healing? Divide that number by five and subtract one.
She is the only target, and can’t do concentrated fire on targets, she is only one.

So taking from some 2nd ed D&D fighters path book I remember reading about 30 years ago, after I tried to run it and kept killing the person I was GMing, it so played out like a video game where you die to move forward and learn a bit more.

You should stock your single character with one or two healing potions…so they can use in a pinch, but not expect it. Then let them get one as early loot, so they think they will be all over the place, but that was the last one…he died more then eight times, and I was terrible in blaming him for it. Bad design, bad GMing,

Make a story arc, she looses is left for dead, has a scary escape, befriends a manticore…actually something more balanced that won’t eat her. Recovers, meets some nice locals, she then sees one of the enemy’s hardest lieutenants. Her and her manticore beat that guy in one round. She then hits the rest, but they are in larger numbers, then returning to the scene of the crime, her challenge is a bit easier, but not easy. Now with 2 targets it gets spread, and if one is a defender, they can soak up damage while our glass cannon dishes it out, plus she got perfect one use only loot as she was heading to this fight. So instead of /5-1 enemies it can be /3 enemies for easy and /2 for hard.

Or the manticore skips a couple recoveries and dies, leaving her with a solo victory, but hollow since it killed her bestest friend ever.


wrap your head around the single Bad ass character stories. Laura Croft, Ellen Riply, Salt. all of them are put in situation where they have to both fight and think their way out. if mobs are getting here killed, take it to a one on one. a killer in a house. give her weapon options around the room and see what she uses. ( best idea is to have her watch movies and show that will give her those ideas) before my wife wanted to play dnd we were watching the lord of the rings, harry potter, and willow. she made a female dwarf with a drinking problem.

you know what type of character she is playing and dying with, nudge her to play a different class. or have her discover she has abilities out side of her class. if she plays fighters, give her a spell. if she plays magic users, give her animal sidekick to tank.

When in doubt, run her in a Cthulhu horror or as a time-lords companion traveling the known universe. its bigger on the inside. murder mystery is always fun.

hope this helps. good luck.


To the point where she hardly has a character sheet. Sometimes. Alot of times. The mechanics fuck up the perspective for new players. I’ve put aside my character sheet and that helps Alot. The options of your character mechanics are Far less than what you really have.
If she has spells give her spellcards she can throw in your stupid GM face! :wink:


I haven’t read it yet, but have you looked at the D&D Essentials set? I know it has rules for one on one game play. That said I also heard it was maybe two or three paragraphs. Might be something to look into if you know someone who has purchased it. I say that because while it isn’t that expensive, that is a large price for a few paragraphs.


Okay, let me break this down for folks. If you are running a one-on-one session, and you as the DM keep killing the lone player’s character at your table, you can’t blame it on the dice. Respectfully, “you f’d up a long time ago, bro.” That’s because at the moment you say to yourself, “I know, I can run a one-on-one session for you,” you HAVE to make adjustments, and if you don’t, you are setting you and your player up for failure. Why? Well, that’s because if a starting character only has 10 hit points, and if you are having your enemies roll a standard weapon damage of 1d6, you have to hit only twice to potentially drop that character. Unless you enjoy playing super fast TWO-ROUND games, you can and will kill a single PC super fast, even if there is only one enemy. And if there is more than one enemy, your lone PC suddenly becomes the giant target for, well, everything. And there is no forgiving wiggle room because that player has no support to come revive or heal him or her. So, HEAR ME. If you do not adjust for those things when contemplating a one-on-one game, your session is doomed to end in zero fun for your player.

So, how do you adjust? Here are the simple fixes that I recommend and use when running one-on-one games:

  • Use mooks with 1 to 5 hit points that your player can mow through like a scythe through wheat. Give your lone player a feeling of being a true badass as they crush their way through the skeleton horde.
  • Have your mooks only deal 1 damage, or at the most, a damage class less, like 1D4 if your player is doing 1D6. They all have rusty bits of metal more than true swords.
  • Give your player an extra heart right at the jump.
  • Give your player some extra armor at the start of the game and do not give any of the enemies a bonus to hit. When in doubt, have a trusted NPC give your player a special ring that regens 1D4 hit points per round, even when downed.
  • Start your player with one or two extra milestones, healing potions, or special pieces of gear to help them survive. Also, a one-on-one game is a bit like a convention game or a one-shot. The loot should be plentiful. Make that session more about spending time together and rolling dice than jumping through early “leveling” hoops.
  • Give your player an NPC companion who can heal them or stabilize them. “The crypts are deadly. We had better send Captain Arcturian with you.”
  • When your player finally does face a boss, then you can up the damage to the same damage as the player, as boss fights should be scary. The skeleton king should instill fear when he rises from the crypt, especially because he hits hard with his broad sword (which isn’t more than 1d6, because you never have to work hard as a DM to challenge a single player). It’s finally realistic that the player might be downed in two rounds.
  • Finally, as others have suggested, have a plan if the character drops or “bleeds out.” Have the character wake up inside a cage. Boom. Suddenly you’re running prisoner(s) of Molok and have a reboot for the session. Or, the player wakes up back in town with a worried Captain Arcturian standing over them with the town priest. Or, go cheesy. Captain Arcturian’s trusted lieutenant shows up at just the right moment because he failed to check in. That last one isn’t great, but at least have some kind of plan if you drop your player and her trusted NPC sidekick.

Okay, that’s the best advice I have. Make a one-on-one session more about giving your lone player a chance to shine; allow them to do something heroic; and create a story you both will tell for a long time to come. “Remember that time I vanquished the Skeleton King and stopped the evil growing under the town?!?!” Creating that memory is vastly more important in the long run than running the game in a normal fashion.


Nevermind what I said… ditto on what Alex says,, Game On!


As usual, @Alex pretty much covers what needs to be said here.

A great video on the subject is by How to be a Great Game Master:


I have been running 2-player games for over a year now. What I would add to Alex’s advice is:

  1. Add a simple Companion, there only to offer advice and maybe provide her with an additional Action (have her run the NPC mechanically)
  2. Start her with 8-12 build points and more starter gear
  3. Focus way more on story than mechanics/combat
  4. Avoid Effort Challenges (make most things simple Checks. Failure is REALLY felt with fewer players and less action economy) or making critical plot points a dice roll
  5. Consider using card mechanics from Core, particularly the option to “bet” results with the GM
  6. Communicate, communicate, communicate. Tailor the story around her character
  7. Manually set Timers. A 1 Round timer with 1 player is almost guaranteed to result in failure
  8. When she is stuck on choices, give her a few suggestions (from the Companion’s voice/character if possible. They are there for support) and see what 3rd option she inevitably chooses
  9. Liberal use of Hero Coins and letting her cash them in for dice re-rolls as well as increased Effort.
  10. XDZ is a great example of how to run a 1on1 game with ICRPG. Apply the concepts to your setting

That’s all I can think of off the top of my head. Remember, if ya ain’t having fun, it’s probably not worth it.


In my experience you never want to nerf encounters or fudge combats and you never ever want to add DM characters to try and help out.

Not when the easiest solution ever is so much fun:

Beef her character up! Maybe she gets the blessing of a forgotten goddess. Or she finds a hidden vault of mega-artifacts of power. Whatever the storyline requires to beef her hearts and damage output up enough that she can solo a whole encounter of fun monsters by herself–and feel awesome doing it. Then give her an ability to magically heal afterwards. That way you can run as brutal a game as you want and she can handle it, but also she gets to play one of those precious few supercharacters that roleplayers almost never get to play.

That’s my advice anyway.


Here is another option. If your comfortable with hangouts, try an online game with some folks. SOme of us are also lucky enough to have wives that play. Often times, its easier if shes adventuring with a group. That way she has companions to help her, and also people that can revive her when she goes down. It would also allow YOU to play WITH her as her ally instead of GM. That way she can get her feet under her and get a better feel.

Id be more than willing to run a one shot for you guys. If I have my typical compatriots with me, shed be in the company of one, possibly 2 other ladies which may help with her comfort level.
(Few things are more cunning than a pack of ladies!)