I have tried in vain for years, to explain how and why enemies appear in such a convenient manner of escalation. The players have a stairway to climb from 1st level all the way up to 20th, or 30th, depending on the edition.

I’ve tried to reconcile enemy levels with treasure awarded and the abundance of appropriately-leveled minions. Why are 1st-level adventures so difficult to run in 3e and 4e? They don’t make sense because fighting doesn’t make sense.

There are too many conveniences, too many contrivances, to explain how and why the monsters are there waiting in line to be slaughtered by the heroes — it isn’t even like a video game because the video games are based on D&D.


Why would you ever choose the stealth option over direct confrontation when both award you the same experience and treasure? Why would you ever go to lengths to avoid combat when it only deprives you of loot drops?

Last night I beat Mass Effect, the first in a trilogy of D&D knock-offs by Bioware. They’ve done little but produce (commercially successful!) iterations on the same flawed designs that permeate 3e and 4e (and probably 2e) — combat XPs.

You know what I did when I passed 40th level in the game? I stopped opening treasure chests and I started running blindly into combat. Why not? I had become a god. I already had the best equipment and seven million credits in the bank.

Nothing mattered anymore except getting to the end of the game.


Here and there, I’ve mentioned the issues I have with “stuff not taking long enough” in games. There’s no passage of time, no sense of anything having any real meaning because character advancement is instantaneous.

You kill the monster, you get the XPs.

Why would you escort a caravan unless it was going through a dangerous place where you were going to fight lots of XP-laden monsters? Forget the caravan! Charge into the goblin den and kill ’em all! It’s the most efficient way.

Combat is fun. Combat is dangerous. Combat is exciting. Giving out XP for combat is like giving someone a candy bar for drinking a soda.

“More? My sweet tooth loves you!”


Bigger enemies with more influence hoard more treasure. Sometimes they don’t have so much treasure, but when the loot determines the difficulty then you have less to worry about when considering how tough the enemies should be.

Merchants carry valuables with them. Banks and temples stockpile wealth. Why do you think NPCs get so upset when these things get raided and chased off and destroyed? It isn’t because they’re weird — no, they need those things.

Why are dragons the pinnacle of the D&D experience — moreso than demons and archdevils? Because dragons hoard treasure. And the greatest achievement to be had in the game is to get that wealth out from under the dragon.

That is why character advancement should be based on the accumulation of wealth, and not based on the level of the enemy defeated in combat.