D&D General Bringing out the big guns - Low Level PCs with High Level antagonist NPCs? (And/Or high power items)

I run a powerful game. So, right from the start I make the players very aware that the world is full of all sorts of powerful and "high level" things. I do not do anything like a "fair and balanced" game with encounters "made" for the characters.
Most new players will have a couple characters killed before they "get it".

Of course "powerful" is a lot more then just numbers. Players obsess over things like hit points, bonuses and most of all damage. But being powerful is not just about the numbers.

Powerful magic items are.......fun. But it's not really a character level thing. It's a goofy player thing. Give most players a powerful magic item and they will have a wacky adventure until the character kills themselves.
 

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With grossly powered opponents, they aren't meant to fight them at that point. Any conflict would be indirect, such as court maneuvering or seeing them from afar. Sometimes when the PCs decide they want to FAFO then they will need teamwork.

For grossly powered magic items, that can be fun if done properly. In my case, "properly" means partial use that develops over time. I had a game where beginning characters found a Rod of Lordly Might, Staff of Power, and a couple others. Effectively one per character. But, they were only able to determine few of the capabilities of the items. It was a strange looking +2 axe. It was a staff that could do light, unseen servant, and shield at will, once at a time. As they gained levels they were able to discover other abilities. They eventually came to the conclusion that they were powerful named items at 5th level or so which added excitement, but they weren't going to gain full access until 9th-12th level or so.
 

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