Struggling with a weird concept now. Why, if ever, does a game master use higher-level opponents than the players? The question came up while I was revising the static damage table to account for a couple new ideas I had, and to make it more consistent as possible across the levels. Basically, a strictly linear power curve.

Miss damage is now half of normal hit damage and doubles as minion hit damage (minions deal no damage on a miss, and likewise take no damage from missed attacks), and critical damage is now the average of several six-sided dice, per the creature’s level (+1d6 from levels 1st-5th, +2d6 at 6th-10th, et cetera).

Now, I understand there’s a certain metagame concept that some old school game masters try to avoid, which is the players knowing any of the monster’s game statistics. Sometimes this comes in the form of variable hit points and damage for similar monsters, but that seems a bit excessive at this juncture.

My thought is, “Can’t monsters be different some other way? Why do they have to be different numerically?” Making the monsters a different level from the players might make sense if monsters received some sort of level-dependent effect that was worth reaching for, but I think we’ve moved beyond that kind of monster power.

So, why then do monsters need to be a different level than the play characters? Maybe if the PCs are of different levels in the party? That would make sense, but why are they of different levels? Why aren’t they progressing at the same rate? Is there some reason to have players at split-levels? Is it necessary for some reason?

Then I thought, “Sometimes you simply want a more powerful monster.” But even in this case, you have options for minions, elite monsters, and solo monsters, which can be adapted for the party, and probably shouldn’t be a higher level so as not to pester the Random Number God. More actions or hit points, sure. But otherwise?

Finally, to the point. In a solo game, where it’s just you and the numbers, and you already know what you’re up against, why do you care whether a monster is one level higher or lower than your character? That simply increases the level of bookkeeping for you. It’s far simpler to make all monsters be of the the same level.