Castle TPKloft

There’s a fine line between playing a monster smart and being a dick. You want boss monsters to be deadly and scary, a challenge to your party, but if you play a monster with the cunning and underhanded tricks of a player it quickly becomes frustrating for the players, as if the DM is cheating. Dirty tricks are very one-sided in the DM/player relationship.

This very much results from the authority a Gamemaster already possesses and the absolute necessity of trust in the relationship. You have to trust that a gamemaster is not cheating and (unfairly) changing monster statblocks, hit points, or die rolls – aka “fudging”. The GM already wields a ridiculous amount of unchecked power, so if a monster is being cheap or dickish it’s can border on an abuse of trust.

This also intersects with the narrative tropes of the genre. The Evil Overlord List is a thing for a reason. The Big Bad Evil guy should just crush the level 1 heroes, or kill would be heroes in their sleep, or employ giant death golems with innocent villagers and kittens strapped to the construct. Especially since the DM knows the player character’s weaknesses and plans, and a smart villain could (should?) be very effective at slaughtering a group of heroes. If played straight, a villain like Strahd should make an example of a group of adventurers at level 6 – when they first attract his attention and before they’re even remotely a threat – and not wait until they’re almost powerful enough to face him one-on-one.