I don’t get how there are 1d4+3 level 14 NPC’s in a party encountered in a level 6 dungeon, but there should only be 3 level 14 guys in a whole empire. Am I missing something?
That’s a great question.
When you have a party of 14th level NPCs encountered on the 6th level of the dungeon, you should use 1 14th level NPC and a mix of lower levels surrounding and assisting the 14th level NPC.
On ACKS p.248 we explain that you can replace an PC with 2 of the same class two levels lower. This can scale repeatedly.
So for example let’s say the encounter is 5 14th level NPCs. In practice you might make the encounter:
1 14th level NPC
4 12th level NPCs
8 10th level NPCs
Of course, you can also say “screw the demographics” and just have a party of 14th level NPCs down there. The demographics are merely averages over time and space. But that doesn’t mean some times and places won’t be outliers. And certainly the 6th level of a mega-dungeon is usually pretty mythic or gonzo.
Hmmm… Does that mean you meet the King in the dungeon with his most loyal followers? That’s like venturing into a ruined castle in Arthurian Britain and meeting King Arthur, Lancelot and Merlin among the ruins…
I mean, at least in my barbarian Conqueror King setting (which is not too populous), there are very few Level 14 NPCs, all of whom will probably be named… Should they appear in a random encounter?
Don’t forget that these random encounter tables are tools for the Judge. If the encounter doesn’t makes sense, and you can’t make it make sense, then don’t use it. (Optimally, however, you’d have adjusted the tables to more accurately represent the situation before ever rolling.)
14th level NPCs are definitely super-important, but they are also encouraged to adventure as much as high level PCs. If I rolled them as a random encounter, depending on my mood, I’d either re-roll or just write it up to coincidence and let them have a run-in with the King of the realm. It might be an interesting role-playing opportunity.