I've had a few discussions lately about how placement of treasure, pitting PC's against higher level monsters, use of various levels of magic and enchanted items at various PC levels and so on.
Now, I know there are a lot of DM's and Players out there who like a game where everything is even or balanced or whatever. PC parties come across monsters that are the same level and that the treasure found and payments made are thought to be measured for what a PC of that level "should" get. Perhaps even more so is the idea of making sure that low level PC's don't become "overpowered" by obtaining too powerful of weapons or magically enchanted items.
Not in my game however. Real life isn't fair and neither is fantasy life, at least not mine. A level one party of PC's could walk into a vampires tomb, Uh oh. You got that right. It could happen. It might not seem fair but that's part of taking risks.
A level 2 PC could find a + 3/+6 Dragonslayer sword. A level 3 PC might steal a girdle of Storm Giant strength. A level 1 PC inherited a lot of money and was able to go out and buy some +3 armor. All of these things could happen because odds are what they are. I will let them happen because life isn't fair.
A 2nd level PC acting as a scout creeps down a tunnel seeing what lies ahead for the group and stumbles upon, accidentally awaking a dragon. Oh Snap!!
Now, according to the odds, there is no guarantee that this dragon will be a young dragon that is going to be on par with a level one PC. Oh no indeed. this could be a huge old dragon who just happened to take a nap in between snacks and look what just wandered in and woke her up, another snack.
Yet, for many DM's and Players, they will ensure that the dragon is one that a PC could have a "more fair" chance of surviving if not actually defeating.
It's only my opinion, but I think the folks looking for such parity or even match-ups are primarily the "hack and slash" types who insist on having to fight their way through every interaction. The mentality of "kill it first, ask questions later" is prevalent.
In my world, I encourage the use of strategy. I have no problem with a full (and hasty) retreat. I encourage cunning and sly endeavors. Heck, if Scooby Doo and the gang can take on an entire island full of zombies, a group of trained and armed PC's can take on a dragon or a few wights, right? Then again, maybe not. Sucks to be them right?
Treasure is not always proportionate to the challenge either. That dragon might be narrowly defeated by the low level Party but guess what, this wasn't it's home cave, just a place to take a break on the way home. There's no treasure at all there. Rats and double rats.
OR maybe it was home, but hadn't really amassed much of a treasure to hoard yet. All there was to find was a single sword that just happens to be that +3 /+6 dragonslayer that is now in the hands of a 1st or 2nd level PC. It could happen.
Does allowing fantasy life to not be fair increase the odds of a total Party Kill? I guess it does. But, it also means that things that are usually "unlikely" in other games could happen to benefit PC's here as well.
I do like to let the random roll of a dice determine a lot of what goes on in a game because it really introduces an "Are you shittin me?!" atmosphere into the game. Which, of course, can be a lot of fun regardless of what direction it takes.