[RPG] Is a high level Elite the same difficulty as a low-level Solo, as XP suggests

dnd-4eexperience-points

For example, a Level 14 Elite Monster is worth 2000 XP.

A level 9 Solo is also worth 2000 XP.

Does this mean that these two monsters are of equal difficulty to an average party?

Best Answer

Sort-of-not-really.

Here are some sample numbers (post-MM3):

Level 9 solo: 384 hp, AC 23, NADs 21, attack +14, damage 2d6+5 four times per round.

Level 14 elite: 272 hp, AC 28, NADs 26, attack +19, damage 2d8+6 twice per round.

These may vary depending on monster's role and flavor, but are a good baseline. As can be seen, and as can be predicted from the rules for adjusting monster levels, a level 14 monster has defenses and attacks that are 5 points higher. Post-MM3 these numbers don't depend on whether the monster is elite or solo.

The way 4e mathematics work, a party shouldn't be facing enemies that differ too much from them in level. That's its sweet spot, when players hit and get hit just often enough. Deviating from it is not fun, as it leads to one side "whiffing" all the time. In addition to that, higher-level monsters tend to have nastier effects, which a lower-level party may not be prepared to handle. As @BESW points out, this is particularly relevant when a monster is of a different tier than the party.

Finally, there is monster complexity to consider. A solo monster is designed to be the only monster in the encounter, to occupy most of GM's attention and provide most of the conditions for the battlefield. A level 14 party facing 2 level 9 solos would result in a slow and unnecessarily complex fight.

So while this may have been the original intent, to use encounter XP budget as the main criteria of encounter composition, there is more nuance to it than that. Instead, you should use tools provided to adjust monster level to within at most 2 of the party, reskin monsters to fit your needs, etc. - particular methods go beyond the scope of this question.

Bottom line: math may work out, but I highly discommend it.

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