I’ve always argued that the most dangerous ‘monsters’ in role playing are other characters. And in designing the next adventure for the boys I think I have really proved that point. And it is entirely possible that this may end up being overkill.
Dungeons & Dragons has a mechanism for determining how tough a monster is relative to others, called Challenge rating. And of course the boys, especially Jimmy, have thrown themselves into the idea of wondering which monster could beat another monster, using the Challenge Rating for comparison. And of course the extra factor in this is that if you add multiple creatures that somehow multiplies the challenge rating.
In my Denver game the DM is a master at taking an ordinary monster, adding character class and powers to it, and voila you have a much nastier monster. And that is an excellent and good trick, one I have thrown at the boys a few times so far.
And I am sure they are thinking they are pretty tough (especially when they get those fancy magic items they have on order.) And killing 5 Hill Giants and nearly 1 Oni will do that for you. And sure I could have just made my life simple, thrown an adult dragon at them or some such thing for the next adventure. Just get in a game of escalation. You think you guys are tough now? How about this Dragon, or 2 dragons, or some Demons or whatever.
But that has 2 problems. Like the boys said last time:
“Where does this Oni keep getting these creatures from?”
Unless you are playing in total wilderness it doesn’t make a lot of sense for too many big bad creatures to be wandering around. I mean wouldn’t the dragons have killed each other over hunting rights long before the PC’s showed up? And that goes for pretty much any big bad monster, save for those summoned from other planes.
Plus, if the players are in a semi-civilized place, enough that they can visit towns where they can eat and sleep and buy & sell magic items, then there cannot be that many wandering monsters, they would be cleared out by the vestiges of civilization, like wolves and coyotes.
Given those 2 points, where does a logical DM go for reasonable opponents? You make opposite characters. Opponents with roughly equal amounts of magic items, levels, powers etc. Well I am doing that, and here is where the possible overkill comes in. Just one of the ‘flunkies’ has a Challenge rating of 13! Obviously there are differences between the boys and the bad guys, and as the DM I can always adjust a thing or 2 on the fly. In fact last night I sat down with Jimmy and computed his character’s Challenge rating for comparison purposes, his and the 2 other main players ratings came in at about 7-8.So I am not super worried about overkill, this group is pretty darn tough.
This all proves my central point, characters (at least in D&D) are far tougher than they think. And that the most dangerous thing in the game is a high level character.