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Health/Damage Asymmetry

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An eye for an eyelash.
"Btw, why do most J-RPGs' enemy stats gotta be higher than the party members? That's just weird."
Deadpool lampshading this trope in Rakenzarn Tales

Generally seen in Eastern Role Playing Games. When one compares the player's characters to the monsters (and bosses), they are essentially Glass Cannons to Stone Walls. Player characters tend to be able to deal out huge amounts of damage, usually well above their own HP's worth in a single hit. Monsters deal very low damage relative to their own HP. If the game allows for Player Versus Player combat, expect the damage to be scaled down immensely to prevent duels from being Rocket-Tag Gameplay. If the game has a Damage or HP cap, expect most late-game monsters to have HP above the player's damage cap, and well above the player's own HP cap.

There can be several reasons for this design:

  1. Healing: In most RPGs, the player has ways to quickly heal himself (potions or cure spells) while monsters don't. This means monsters naturally need to have more starting HP to even things out.
  2. Difficulty: Difficulty can come from monsters being hard to kill or dealing lots of damage. Player death is generally more complicated than healing a wounded character, so to avoid making the game unnecessarily frustrating, developers choose to increase the enemies' HP more than their damage.
  3. Player Rewards: One of the most rewarding things a player can get is a stronger weapon or a more powerful attack. This makes it much easier to kill all the enemies you've previously faced, but to avoid making things too easy as the game progresses, the monsters in later areas need to have their HP ramped up quickly, so that the new weapon becomes par for the course, and the player has to seek a newer, better weapon. Also, players tend to like seeing big numbers, which means seeing those numbers be bigger than the enemies is similarly satisfying.

In FPSes, scaling up both damage and HP is a legitimate way of increasing difficulty, since speed, reflexes and stealth are often a part of gameplay. They avert this trope more easily. Shoot 'Em Up games play it straight, especially with boss fights (see also Damage-Sponge Boss).

Beware any Status Effects such as Confusion, charm, mind control, etc., which thanks to this trope are much more dangerous when used on the player due to the damage a confused PC can inflict.

This is also the root cause of Redemption Demotion, especially when considering how much the HP changes.

Aversions where both the player and enemies can be destroyed equally as fast become Rocket-Tag Gameplay. When both have health and/or defense so high it can only be slowly chipped away, it's Padded Sumo Gameplay.


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Played Straight

    Card Games 
  • While initially averted for the first couple of levels in Night of the Full Moon, where Little Red starts out with 20 or so HP at level 1 while level 1 enemies have around 6, this rapidly comes to be played devastatingly straight as enemy HP climbs exponentially, but so does Red's damage as you refine your deck, improve your hand size and card draw, and start putting together the combos you need to pump out massive amounts of hurt. A level 10 Red will usually have about 40-60 HP depending on how many buffs you picked up along the way, while late-game enemies will have 150 or so HP, with bosses (particularly the final bosses) having several times that. Fortunately, if you have a really good set-up, you can still bring them down in a single turn.

    Fighting Games 
  • Highly exaggerated in Arcane Weapon. The player character only has a few hundred health points, but can deal out thousands of hit points worth of damage with his most powerful attacks, while the enemy faced in "Survival" has 2,000,000 health points but at most only deals about a hundred points worth of damage with every attack.

    First-Person Shooters 
  • Doom: Past zombies and imps, which only have 70 health at most, demons had about 150 to 1000 health, with bosses sporting health of over 3000; the player's maximum health, ever, is 200. None of the monsters come even close to the player's arsenal of destructive power (unless you're dumb enough to get into melee range, at which point your future resides entirely in the hands of the Random Number God). When put into context, the strongest monster in the entire franchise, the Cyberdemon boss, has a rocket launcher as its primary weapon, which is exactly the same as the player's rocket launcher. And the Rocket Launcher isn't even your most powerful weapon. As a result, the single player campaign tends to be reasonably mildly paced, while in multiplayer most fights are over in a matter of seconds — with the introduction of the double barrelled shotgun in Doom II, sometimes a fraction of a second.
  • Halo:
    • Halo: Combat Evolved:
      • Hearsay has it that the pistol wasn't supposed to be the death machine we met it as, but that someone accidentally changed its damage value right before shipping. Especially on Legendary, it makes the MC the glass-cannon version of this asymmetry.
      • Grunts with fuel rod guns, Stealth Elites with energy swords and Hunters are really easy to kill, but can dish out hideous amounts of damage, sometimes as much as simply gibbing the player on higher difficulties.
    • Lower-rank Brutes in Halo 2 are actually the tank-who-can't-dish-it-out version of this. Until you enrage them. Higher rank ones carry all sorts of destructive goodies, though.
  • Missions in Team Fortress 2's Mann Vs. Machine mode play this straighter the further in the mission you go. At the beginning you fight robot versions of the playable classes who are greater in number than you, but have much more limited sources of healing and fewer weapon choices (often only being able to use their primary or even just their melee weapon). Later waves have giant robots with massively larger amounts of health, medics, and more powerful weapons, but instead of upgrades giving you more health, you instead have ones that grant reduction to certain types of damage, and, more importantly, weapon upgrades. In exchange, the player characters, aside from these upgrades, also have respawns, power up canteens and several abilities to their weapons which can be added. The Scout also gets an extra ability where he gets extra health after he gets money, often to the point of Overheal, leading the Fragile Speedster Glass Cannon scout to suddenly become a Lightning Bruiser who can run quickly, soak up tons of damage and, with the right items, slow down waves while dealing out tons more.

    Hack and Slash 
  • Diablo has magic which can do more damage in one hit than players (but not monsters) have health. To counter this, PvP magic damage is cut in half, but magic is still so overpowered that PvP duels are very, VERY short.
  • Diablo II: There is no damage or HP cap, but players can easily deal over 10,000 damage while their own HP is below 1,000. Even with damage cut to one-sixth in PvP, many duels end in a single hit.
    • This trope is the reason that the Necromancer's Iron Maiden curse, which reflects monsters melee attacks back at them, doesn't work in the long term. The further into the game you go, the less damage monsters do proportional to their health. It's better to go with the more basic Amplify Damage instead. Likewise, the Paladin's Thorns aura doesn't work as well as his Might. Meanwhile, the one enemy that could cast Iron Maiden was considered extremely dangerous, until it lost that ability in a patch.
    • This is also the reason why Nihlathak is That One Boss: He has the Necromancer's Corpse Explosion as a spell, which deals a given percentage of a dead enemy's max HP as damage. With enemy HP being so high to compensate for player damage, getting caught in the blast radius is lethal.
  • Diablo III: The amount of damage you do is so utterly devastating that you could probably destroy a comatose player at your level in PvP in five seconds. In contrast, bosses at your level can last over a full minute against your barrage and deal attrition damage with a few strong limit breaks that can eat a chunk of your health, but can't stand up against a dexterous player who dodges and rations their healing carefully because the health damage is too minor.
  • Grim Dawn: The disparity between player character and monster health ranges from a factor of 2 to a few orders of magnitude. At level 100 PC health will average around 15,000. Common Mook enemies will have something around 40,000 HP and barely slow you down, Elite Mooks will have HP in the hundreds of thousands, and bosses will be in the low millions.
  • HoloCure: Most playable characters have difficulty reaching 100 HP. Meanwhile: Only the weakest enemies have HP less than 100, late-game enemies usually have thousands, and stage bosses have HP in the tens of thousands (which the game expects you to deplete within two minutes).
  • Path of Exile: A fully decked out endgame build (even ones that aren't exorbitantly expensive) is expected to have DPS in the millions, even tens of millions. Players consider the bare minimum amount of Life you need to survive most random one-shots is about 5,000, and with damage mitigation, about 10-15k effective HP. Getting any more than that without sacrificing too much damage will require investing in increasingly expensive gear and only essential in extremely high-scaled areas (or Hardcore).

  • In Billy vs. SNAKEMAN Phase Battles, Phases have 5000 to 21000 HP and have a small chance of dealing one damage (two if it's the final boss) on any given turn. You have 1 to 6 HP and deal hundreds of damage a turn.
  • There are a few spells in Final Fantasy XIV that have suffered from this.
    • Stoneskin was one of the earliest examples, as a spell which nullified up to 10% of the damage dealt to you based on your maximum HP. In a player's case, this ended up not being a whole lot of protection, considering you don't even regularly break one-thousand HP on a class until you have it up past level 30 or so, and it was ultimately removed as a usable spell with the launch of the Stormblood expansion. Enemies who use it, naturally, get a lot more protection because they have so much more health than a player; particularly annoying when a boss monster uses it, where in some cases they wind up completely immune to damage until you deal enough to break through the effect entirely.
    • Blue Mage's White Wind spell heals you and any nearby party members for an amount of HP equivalent to how much HP you currently have. This means that, while it's an incredibly convenient spell to have overall — it's the first actual healing spell you can be reasonably expected to get with Blue Mage, and the only one you can get to heal yourself with until level 50 — and very good for healing as part of a team where someone else is taking hits for you, effective use of it while playing solo requires casting it when you least need healing, since going below half health before casting it will result in diminishing returns that, depending on how long you wait or how much damage you're taking, could ultimately end with you dying before you can heal up anyway. For comparison, a regular healer's basic Cure/Physick/what have you has a static potency that's slightly boosted by the user's Mind stat, and up until you start reaching the endgame of the 2.0 content, they grant enough HP to a target that another healer or DPS of equivalent level can often go from single-digit HP to fully or near-fully healed with one cast.
  • World of Warcraft bosses, particularly raid bosses, deal only a tiny fraction of their health as damage. However, since they're supposed to be fought by groups of 10, 25, or in the past 40 players to one, this tiny fraction is still enough to One-Hit Kill anyone not built to take it, and even they can expect take many, many times their total health in damage over the course of a fight. From the player perspective a respectable end-game damage output would enable many damage-focused players to kill themselves, on average, in about 5 seconds. Indeed, some of the most consistently dangerous abilities in the game are variations on the theme of reflecting players' attacks back at themselves or their allies.
    • This was a huge problem in PvP until the introduction of the resilience stat, whose sole purpose is to decrease the damage taken by other players. Prior to Mists of Pandaria, this came almost purely from specialized gear, so a player without such equipment can still die very quickly; Pandaria changed this so that all players get a base PvP resilience of 40% with gear adding more resilience to that.
  • MapleStory, in spades. In the endgame, it's not unheard of for players to deal billions of damage per second, with the hardest endgame bosses having HP totals well into the tens of trillions. Meanwhile, the maximum HP for player characters is a comparatively scant 500,000, and very few enemies outside of bosses can even deal 5 digits worth of damage.

    Real Time Strategy 
  • Clash of Clans has several troops that fit this trope to varying degrees:
    • Wizards have the highest damage per second on a per-housing-space basis, but only have modest health.
    • Lava Hounds (airborne damage sponge available only at very high levels) are the opposite$while they have the highest health of any unit in the game, and also split into smaller units when killed, their DPS is the smallest of any unit in the game.
    • Golems, the ground-based version of Lava Hounds, have slightly less health and moderately higher DPS. Nonetheless, their damage is still the second-lowest in the game on a per-housing-space basis.
    • Giants, lower-level tanking troops, exhibit the same characteristics as Lava Hounds and Golems (high health and low DPS per housing space) to a lesser degree.

  • The Binding of Isaac: The player character's health is measured in hearts, which normally cap at twelve starting from Rebirth and can be at half or full values. Almost every attack to the player either deals half a heart or a full heart of damage, with very few exceptions, meaning that the health cap for the player tends to be 12-24 hits. Enemies on the other hand use numerical values that can range from the single-digits all the way to ten thousand, and bosses could take dozens if not hundreds of hits. A reason for this is that the player's damage is variable, and can change even to the decimals as opposed to the enemies dealing fixed damage to Isaac and his alter egoes.

    Role-Playing Games 
  • Brutally Exploited in Bravely Default. The Salve-Maker ability "Dark Breath" and the Dark Knight ability "Minus Strike" both deal damage equal to the amount of HP the user is missing. Problem is, the jobmasters of those jobs also have access to those abilities, and since the majority of bosses in the game have many times more health than the player characters are even capable of having, this will result in repeated 9999 damage attacks before you get even halfway through taking them down, which is also the maximum amount of health a player character can have, and reaching it requires many hours of farming randomly-dropping stat-boosting items from incredibly difficult repeatable Superbosses, so any time they use these attacks will be a guaranteed One-Hit Kill. You can double a player character's max health for the duration of the current battle (or until they die, whichever comes first), which ignores the 9999 cap, but this is also a Salve-Maker ability, so you still need to defeat that jobmaster first. Thankfully, the game developers were merciful enough to not give him the health-doubling ability.
  • In Chrono Trigger, Magus as a villain has 6666 HP (even after Lavos sucks away most of his powers), but doesn't have more than 999 under player control. On the flipside, he seldom does over 200 damage as an enemy, but routinely does thousands as a party member. This is also one of the few games in which Confused allies do pathetic damage to each other — seldom more than 20 or so, even at high levels and with the best weapons.
  • Deltarune: The amount of health that the player characters have ranges from 70 to 110 at the very beginning, while the damage they deal starts at around 60, and quickly gets higher. Bosses, on the other hand, have at lowest 1000 HP, but only deal around 20 damage, though the Bullet Hell-based defense minigame makes it possible for them to hit you far more times a turn.
  • Dragon Age II has a far stronger case of this than most Western RPGs, with your characters doing thousands in damage late in the game compared to their HP of 100-350 or so — and it has Friendly Fire on Nightmare difficulty level. Position your area of effect spells and warriors (especially those with a BFS) carefully and don't let the AI use AOEs, or watch your party slaughter each other in seconds.
  • In Dragon Quest IX there is a skill used by both enemies and PCs that allows you to redirect an attack onto a randomly-chosen target (allied or enemy). This trope becomes horribly, horribly apparent when your Lightning Bruiser / Mighty Glacier lands a massive three-digit-damage blow, only for it to be redirected squarely onto the Squishy Wizard.
  • In Endless Frontier, the protagonists all carry around enough firepower to make a mob of Flash Gitz cry overkill and do upwards of 5k HP per turn, while starting out with around 1,000 HP themselves. Somewhat crosses over with Padded Sumo Gameplay, although you're supposed to look through the Turn Order list to squish the enemy coming up next.
  • Epic Battle Fantasy: Boss HP tends to be in the hundreds of thousands, while end-game attacks tend to do one thousand. Player HP is usually several thousand, with monsters dealing damage in the hundreds. Fortunately, single-target attacks combined with the appropriate buffs and debuffs can deal hilariously large amounts of damage (case in point: the Tera Drill skill, which does extra damage if the target has defensive buffs, and can be spammed turn after turn for hundreds of thousands of damage).
  • Etrian Odyssey: The games start off averting this trope, as except for the toughest Superbosses, the toughest enemies only have a few thousands of HP and deal about hundreds on HP on average, and your party members who are capped at 999 HP each can also do usually only a few hundred of damage on average. Starting from Etrian Odyssey III: The Drowned City, however, bosses start having jacked up HP, with your party's damage potential following suit: It's no longer uncommon for your party to deal thousands or maybe tens of thousands of damage quite easily to bosses who have easily tens of thousands of HP. This becomes a problem when the Curse Status Effect is also introduced at the same time; since the status punishes its bearer with retaliatory damage every time they damage an enemy, the hardest bosses can wipe out your team while taking relatively mild counterattack, while your party members can kill themselves by using their stronger attacks.
  • Fate/Grand Order is a fairly straight example. The tankiest Servants in the game tend to max out at 20,000 HP (though some can go higher through buffs), and most others have half that or less. You start encountering standard enemies with that much HP around the fourth or fifth chapter, and bosses in the later part of the game can have HP stats in the millions. The game's Tactical Rock–Paper–Scissors mechanic also ensures that even if the player and the enemy have the same offense, the player still usually does more damage and takes less. Lastly, player teams have the ability to stack buffs much more easily, along with generally stronger skills and attacks. Those bosses with HP in the millions? They ended up going down so fast to the more twinked-out team compositions that the game had to essentially institute a form of Mercy Invincibility to stop players from simply crushing them in one turn. This also contributes to Angra Mainyu's Joke Character status. His ability to send back two or three-fold all damage he's taken that turn is less than impressive when his maximum HP reaches maybe 10% of the average midboss's. It only ever helps in very specific situations where the enemy has defenses so massive that a Fixed Damage Attack like that is the best way to damage it.
  • This is rather common in Final Fantasy. Depending the game, your party members can have a maximum of 999 or 9,999 HP, whereas bosses and even some enemies will have thousands or tens of thousands of HP, if not more. For this reason, a Fixed Damage Attack like 1,000 Needles is generally more lethal when an enemy uses it, since 1,000 HP is worth more to a player than a monster.
  • Golden Sun:
    • The Summon system allows you to deal hilariously enormous damage, as it deals both regular damage based on stats and resistance but also acts as a Percent Damage Attack as well, which is why they hurt bosses a lot more.
    • Can be used against you in Golden Sun: Dark Dawn: The Ancient Devil Optional Boss can mind control one of your party members. While this would be a problem in any case, it's downright horrifying if he takes Sveta, who has an attack that hits all targets, for free, with no cooldown.
  • Lunar: The Silver Star has bosses whose stats are based on The Hero Alex's level. The Final Boss's HP, for example, is 260 times Alex's level. At level 40, that would put his HP at 10,400. Alex's HP at that level? Somewhere around 250.
  • In the Normal Mode of Mario & Luigi: Dream Team, enemies have a ridiculous amount of health and high defenses but do less damage, whereas the Mario bros are the opposite. However, Hard Mode is another story...
  • In Mass Effect 2, changes to gameplay from the first game resulted in Shepard having far more offensive power but far fewer hitpoints than enemies, as can be seen if game hacks are used to equip Shepard with some of the unique weapons that different enemies use. The Scion's cannon, for example, is a mild annoyance to enemies but is That One Attack against Shepard.
  • Monster Girl Quest: Paradox plays this very straight, and it's especially noticeable since you can recruit every enemy (though not necessarily when you first fight them). A boss with six digits of HP will only have four digits when recruited, while their damage goes in the opposite direction.
  • The flash game Monsters' Den: Book of Dread makes this obvious with the "end" boss that summons copies of you to his side. You can score a kill in 1-2 swings if you've been playing right — but so can they.
  • In the Pokémon Mystery Dungeon games, the bosses have much higher HP when you battle them than when you recruit them.
  • SaGa has this on spades, with SaGa Frontier being the best example: with the correct setup, your character can easily deal damage in the five digit range whereas their max HP is capped at 999 while endgame bosses can easily have up to 100000 HP but their damage output rarely goes above 800.
  • Much laxer in the Star Ocean series, as characters can go up to 99999 in HP and MP. However, in exchange, your skills use up your HP, and in Star Ocean 3 both players and monsters can get KO'ed by running out of the MP they use for spells. Especially powerful moves drain both, so battle wisely.
  • On foot, the HP of the playable characters in Xenogears tops out in the hundreds. Most of the bosses towards the end of the game have HP in the thousands (the human boss with the highest HP, Graf, has 6666 HP), and per this trope, the characters are more than capable of dealing that much damage. This is less noticeable in Gear battles, where both the player gears and the enemies can have 10,000+ HP.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Fourth Edition Dungeons & Dragons: While the amount of damage attacks do on each side is roughly equal, player characters have healing surges which let them recover damage for a while as long as they use their skills well. Enemies have healing surges (1 for Heroic tier, 2 for Paragon, 3 for Epic), but there are very few official monsters that have abilities which allow them to be used. The result is that enemies have many more hit points than player characters in order to keep balance.
  • To an extent in Sentinels Of The Multiverse. Heroes mostly have HP in the 25-30 range, while a typical boss villain will have more like 90, with the highest hitting 200 (except Obliv Aeon, who has forms with 180, 130, and 10,000 - although that last one is supposed to be handled in other ways). Villains very rarely do more than 5 damage in a hit, and even that once per round. Sufficiently prepared heroes, on the other hand, will be doing that kind of damage each turn, and in the right circumstances can do upwards of 50 damage a turn. In perfect circumstances, some characters can hit past 100.

    Third-Person Shooters 
  • Warframe: Players and enemies use fundamentally different scaling and leveling mechanisms to compensate for the fact that players can enhance their power with mods while enemies can increase in level indefinitely. Players can stack a wide variety of large multipliers to increase their DPS to absurd heights, but health is fundamentally capped and can only scale linearly. Meanwhile, enemy damage grows fairly slowly, but health and shields scale quadratically while armor scaling is better than linear. The result is that enemies are barely tickled by their own weapons while players one-shot each other so badly it's not even funny. The original incarnation of the game's PvP mode suffered badly from Rocket-Tag Gameplay thanks to this disparity, but Update 16 balanced things by restricting the available mods and separating PvP stats from PvE stats. In PvE, this is what makes enemies with Radiation damage so dangerous. The Radiation status effect simulates confusion by removing Friendly Fireproof — which means that the first sign one squad member has been afflicted by it is when everyone else in the squad instantly goes down from the ridiculously powerful attacks they've been throwing around.

    Turn Based Strategy 
  • Super Robot Wars: Player units have 4 or 5-digit HP values, with even the toughest units almost never reaching 20,000. Even early bosses often have at least this much, and endgame bosses may get close to 1,000,000. However, it usually takes at least two enemy attacks to down even your relatively fragile units, while player units can do 5 or even 6-digit damage when fully upgraded. Units that switch sides usually get their stats changed to match player values, with some exceptions such as Super Robot Wars Judgment where the player gets a former boss on the last stage with all of his enemy stats, meaning he has massively inflated HP but no ability to deal damage. There is one single recurring subversion: Leonard Testarossa has the exact stats of a player unit as an enemy unit...along with a special ability that cuts any damage he receives by 90% and cannot be bypassed in any way, something that other characters will call out in battle dialogue as blatant cheating.
  • Valkyria Chronicles is an interesting case. In the main campaign, your forces are much more capable, and the enemy much more numerous as you'd expect, with only enemy bosses having the stats to go toe-to-toe and needing much more firepower to defeat. The DLC pace Behind her Blue Flame, which puts you in control of Selvaria Bles, faithfully maintains this status quo: your Empire soldiers are inaccurate with cardboard armor, while the Gallians have all the accuracy, power, and evasion of a high-level player squad. Selvaria remains Purposefully Overpowered and ends up doing most of the heavy lifting.

    Visual Novels 
  • Monster Girl Quest plays with this. When former enemies fight on your side (whether player-controlled or AI-controlled), their damage increases, fitting this trope, but their health actually remains the same. To balance this, they take much more damage. This is especially notable in the final battle, where any AOE attack will do far more damage to them than to Luka (the main character). It's played straight in Monster Girl Quest: Paradox, listed under the Role-Playing Games section.


    First-Person Shooters 
  • FPSes generally scale the enemy's damage and HP with difficulty level, and are often equal to the player on the hardest difficulties. For example, in Deus Ex and S.T.A.L.K.E.R, the player can take a few hits on early difficulties but can be instant killed by a head shot on the harder 'realistic' difficulties, where damage is equal between them and the enemies. This also applies in FPS games when you have difficulty mixed with friendly fire. For example, in Left 4 Dead, you won't do too much friendly fire damage to your teammates on Normal while Advanced ups the damage a little bit. On Expert, friendly fire damage is 100%, which means you can cause the same amount of damage to a survivor as you would to a zombie. This can cause an instant incapacitation if you're not careful, since most guns can do more than 100 points of damage and survivors will never have more than 100 health.
    • Oddly, the rather unbalanced way S.T.A.L.K.E.R plays this means that the game is actually easiest on the hardest difficulty setting- being the most "realistic" setting, enemies can kill you in only a few shots, but you can do the same to them, while on lower settings enemies can tank so many bullets that you're going to be struggling to find enough ammo to bring them down, and while you're tougher, you're still much more fragile than them.

    Hack and Slash 
  • Most of the Legacy of Kain games appear to have largely equal health and damage between the player and enemies (before factoring in health upgrades or high tier enemies anyway) with both sides requiring a notable but not excessive number of hits to bring down the other. Then you use something like the Inspire Hate spell to Set a Mook to Kill a Mook and you realize that it's actually a stark inversion of this trope with the player having a huge health pool but pathetic damage and every mook being some flavor of Glass Cannon.

  • AdventureQuest Worlds has recently done a move away from this trope in regards to boss fights. While player characters go over the 1,000 mark in terms of hit points and can do triple-digit damage to their enemies, the bosses do nasty damage in the triple digits (Wolfwing was doing about 300 damage with every hit), and will kill you quickly if you do not have a healer, a suitable plan or both.
  • Atlantica Online generally keeps everything on the same level, though monster health and damage depends on where they are. Only bosses are significantly stronger and tougher, to the point where most of the fight will be the players entire party against the boss alone. Even areas designed for groups of players house mobs about on par with the player's mercenaries, but you'll almost always face three parties of monsters at once.
  • City of Heroes mostly averts this: the class most popular for solo play, scrappers, have about 1800 hitpoints at the level cap and strong attacks hit for about 400 HP. Bosses, the strongest rank of generic enemy, have about 2500 hitpoints and strong attacks hit for about 600 HP. Hitpoints, attacks, and, most importantly, in-combat HP regeneration scale with rank, so a minion (the weakest rank) does only minor damage to a scrapper and goes down in about three blows, while a giant monster (the strongest rank, comparable to a raid boss in other MMOs) can one-shot an unsupported scrapper and regenerate its massive HP reserve faster than a scrapper can damage it.
    • This disparity was more apparent with Archvillains (and 'Heroes', the villainside equivalent) COH's 'raid boss' equivalent; these could readily be huge sacks of hit points. One extreme example was Reichsman, the Archvillain from the Kahn Task Force, who had more than 250,000 hitpoints — and the process of defeating him involved defeating four other Archvillains that he released, one at a time, to attack your team as you wore him down.
  • The original Everquest completely inverted it. Monster health and damage both scaled much faster than those of players. This was intentionally to force people to group constantly after the first few levels. It also caused the difficulty to scale into the stratosphere at the end game.
  • Final Fantasy XI has monsters that have the HP as an equal level character (and sometimes significantly more). The game is a careful balancing act for the players in terms of maintaining attack and defense; if either is too low, you won't do enough damage and you'll take significantly more. Melee classes in particular, lacking any kind of special abilities on the same scale as magic-users, have to be especially mindful to be using appropriate equipment, so as to win the resulting war of attrition.
  • Averted mostly in Guild Wars 2. With the Dynamic Level Adjustment system, your level, HP, damage, and attributes are capped to certain values depending on your location, essentially ensuring that both sides of the competition have a chance at victory. You may be decked out in max-level gear, wielding exotic weaponry, and have learned all skills there are to be learned, but with the system in place, any non-boss creature whose name is not colored gray (which indicates harmless ones that are essentially living props) can still take you down. Bosses, specifically Champions and World Bosses, play this straight.
  • RuneScape averts this by giving enemies the same combat levels that players have to show how powerful they are. As combat levels are made out of the six combat stats (two of which the enemy cannot use), the stats are properly distributed to a monster until it reaches the combat level it is given. However, Defense is rarely an invested stat due to being the stat that makes attacks miss (which would make battles frustrating for players if it were invested in enough), leading to HP levels being put through the roof as a result. A slightly different formula is used for magi and rangers, meaning they're subversions instead.
  • In World of Warcraft, player characters are allowed to deal a lot of damage compared to their health. This had led to issues in PvP until they introduced a defensive stat called resilience, which reduces damage taken from other players significantly. Woe to those who step into a battleground without wearing resilience equipment.
    • Blizzard has had to address this issue a few times in general. In the first expansion, stamina was put on nearly every item in bigger chunks than the other stats, and for Cataclysm, health pools are planned to grow a lot again to combat this creeping up in nearly every gameplay aspect.

    Role-Playing Games 
  • Tactical RPGs tend to avoid this, as most fights are often made up of the same types of characters and monsters that you can recruit for your own team. However, for non-recruitable bosses, they often raise the HP much more than they raise the damage output...
    • Final Fantasy Tactics series, with the partial exception of some major bosses...who exceed the normal 999 HP cap, but still to a lesser degree than is normally seen in RPGs. The Final Boss has 3200 HP in its true form, the Optional Boss has 2700 HP and all other cap-breaking bosses (including the final boss's initial form) range from around 1000 to 1500 HP, with the final boss's two forms having a combined 4600. In a regular RPG with a 999 HP cap to playable characters, such HP totals would be more likely to be seen among late-game regular monsters.
    • Disgaea probably deserves special mention, as damage can rise to ridiculous levels (millions of damage per hit), but HP can as well. The damage output inevitably ends up overtaking the HP gain to the point where almost everything is a One-Hit Kill, though.
    • However, many Tactical RPGs (definitely Fire Emblem anyway) have this in a different form. Generally, the enemies will be much greater in number, but will be slightly weaker (except for the boss) or have poor strategy to compensate.
      • The Final Bosses of Fire Emblem games often still qualify, especially Ashera from Radiant Dawn.
  • Mon games in general tend to avert this for the same reason tactical RPGs do, as they have few if any non-recruitable enemies.
  • Most RPGs based on existing role-playing systems, like Baldur's Gate, Fallout and Planescape: Torment. Enemies tend to be made up of the same races and classes as you (OK, in Torment, not so much) and follow the same HP, attack and damage rules. While bosses may have higher HP, that is because they are higher level — on a New Game Plus you may have characters with equal levels to them who can match them blow for blow in HP and damage.

  • Averted in Baten Kaitos Origins. Both you and your enemies can do roughly equal damage to one another, making the game Nintendo Hard.
  • Not completely averted in Bonfire, but heavily downplayed. Every hero has the exact same HP (100), which never changes over the course of the game. Standard enemies have the exact same amount. Stronger enemies do outpace heroes, but not to the absurd degree seen in most RPGs: minibosses have 200 HP and bosses have 500. Damage scales in the same way, with standard enemies having comparable Attack to heroes and bosses often having more. So while it's possible to beat enemies with only a few hits, they can do the same to you — as many a player has discovered after receiving a max-charge Blast from a Mournfolk Mage, which, just like yours, almost always does over 100 damage.
  • Dark Souls is a somewhat odd example as in the early game, this is inverted: YOU have a lot more hit points than the enemies do, but THEY do massively more damage than you do. Bosses play this trope straight, though, having thousands of hit points but often dealing only as much (and not infrequently less) damage than ordinary enemies do.
  • Deltarune: While normally played straight (See above), this is averted specifically for Susie in Chapter 1, when you fight her and Lancer. Just like a party member, she still has 120 HP, but hitting her also deals much less damage. Furthermore, she retains the party member ability to get back up a few turns after her HP is reduced to zero, which means you can't permanently put her down. To end the encounter violently, you have to target Lancer, who works like a normal enemy.
  • Generally averted in the Dragon Quest series, where an end-game character can expect to do up to 100 damage to an end-game Mook. While the player gains strength, HP and better weapons as the games go on, the scaling is very slow, such that you're not getting new equipment to destroy your enemies, but to keep doing consistent damage to new enemies. There are some high-powered spells and abilities that will do much more damage than a normal attack, but for an equally high cost, making them Awesome, but Impractical.
    • The original NES version of the original Dragon Quest actually has a potential inversion: the final boss has 140 HP, while the main character can have close to 200 HP at max level. However, while the final boss's main attack always does 40-50 HP of damage, he will rarely receive more than Scratch Damage in return due to having a high defense.
    • In Dragon Quest 3, the end-game boss has a little more than 1000 HP, but the battle can drag on for quite some time because you're only going to be doing, at most, 75 points of damage a round.
  • By comparison to other games, EarthBound (1994) downplays this. The HP and damage numbers still are not equal on both sides, but certain properties of the game attempt to avert this. Your party has a rolling HP system (your HP rolls down at a constant rate on a counter; even if you take mortal damage, you still have a chance to fight and heal yourself before you fall), yet the bosses traditionally have large amounts of HP and also turn instant-KO attacks like PK Flash into death-bringers. The asymmetry is much less than many other RPGs, but it still does exist.
  • The web game Ginormo Sword at one point throws out a duplicate of the player with identical stats. If the player isn't careful both sides will end up with a screen-filling sword that can kill the opponent with one hit, and Computers Are Fast...
  • The Superboss of Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep has only about a single bar worth of HP, in a game where the harder bosses can frequently have over a dozen. The catch is that, unlike every other enemy, he can use Curaga, and only casts it when the player does. This forces the player to both play more defensively and rely on items, while at the same time avoiding and/or blocking some of the most punishing attacks in the game. For these reasons, the boss is frequently cited as one of the most difficult fights to win across the entire Kingdom Hearts series.
  • Played with in Legend of Legaia: assuming no Level Grinding, regular enemies have slightly less HP than that of the three playable characters and except for their special attacks, deal less damage. Bosses on the other hand have significantly more HP and do significantly more damage.
  • Averted in Hard Mode in Mario & Luigi: Dream Team. Here, not only do the enemies still have high health, high defenses and whatever else, but they also do about ten times more damage than the player (at least at the beginning). Kind of brutal to see the first bosses not only match you in health, but also do enough damage to kill you in two hits. Also averted in the giant battles, where your opponent has about the same amount of health, but takes less damage than you and does more in return.
  • The Paper Mario series has lots of enemies with less health than you, and even several bosses have less health points than what you can possibly get by the end of the game. In the original Paper Mario, the first form of the final boss has the whooping amount of 50 HP (equal to Mario's total HP cap without HP-increasing badges) and his final form just hits 99. In turn, of course, his attacks are stronger than yours, so you have to balance your attack, defense and healing adequately.
  • The first two Shining Force games on the Sega Genesis/Mega Drive avert this. Both games have few characters' HP surpass 100, and the characters and enemies's stats and damage dealt are generally comparable. And then there's the final boss with an HP of 500, but he's insanely powerful, anyway.
  • Shin Megami Tensei largely averts this because everyone has the same Hp cap and similar growth. They also get the same skills as you, so demons with healing abilities can be extremely annoying if you don't take care of them quickly.
  • The Trails Series averts this by giving bosses high enough stats to deal equal or higher damage than the player characters while having more HP. This gets ridiculous on Nightmare difficulty, where their normal attacks are stronger than the player characters' S-Crafts. The Normal difficulty on the other hand, is fairly good about making plausible human bosses that you could get close to in terms of stats, albeit with 1.5 times more HP than you can have. In Sky when twice fighting Renne for example, her health is at 14000 and 20000 HP respectively, her attacks while being pretty strong and having a chance of a One-Hit KO does damage you could do yourself with the right Quartz setup, and in spite of her tricks and mooks, has pitiful defense. Her first form at least is definitely a build you could make at late game. Even monsters and mechs that tend to have tons of health are justified as singularly being stronger than you are.
  • Trials of Mana normally plays this fairly straight, but near the end of the game, the Shadow Zero enemy turns the tables back on the player by copying their party members, right down to the last stat point. The end result is that the Zeroes can inflict the same boss-killing damage as your own attacks, on your party's still-PC-level hit points. And it only gets worse if you cheated to make your party members stronger/more intelligent than their class and level would normally allow at that point.
  • Trillion: God of Destruction averts it, and the results are something special. The eponymous Big Bad has one trillion — yes, 1,000,000,000,000Hit Points, and deals damage numbers on the scale you would expect from a dimension-eating monstrosity. On the other hand, your Overlords would be Final Boss material in any other game, and even before training their HP and MP are displayed rounded off to the nearest thousand. The result? Some truly incredible numbers popping up on screen during battle.
  • The Valkyrie Profile series averts this, occasionally inverting it, with some enemies doing just as much, if not more, damage per round to you, while some bosses will hit you for several times your maximum HP per round while you have to whittle away at them.

    Tabletop Role-Playing Games 
  • In many tabletop RPGs, the players and their enemies meet on equal footing. The player characters and enemies often use the same weapons and powers, inflict the same amount of damage, and have similar levels of whatever the game uses for health. Often the players have some other edge, but not always. Games which follow this model (at least much of the time) include: Both Old and New World of Darkness, Shadowrun, Star Wars both under West End Games and D20, Traveller, Stars Without Number, Unknown Armies, Decipher's Lord of the Rings adaptation, Dark Heresy and its spin-offs, Green Ronin's Dragon Age adaptation, Rifts, Deadlands, and many more.
  • Averted in some games where the players are outright weaker than their enemies.
    • In Call of Cthulhu and Delta Green, the monsters are usually stronger — period. Even human mooks have the advantage of not falling prey to the Sanity Meter because they usually have already dived straight into madness.
    • This can also happen in Hunter: The Reckoning from the Old World of Darkness, since the Hunters' powers were not as potent as their prey and hunters have to plan very carefully.
    • Friend Computer from Paranoia assures us that Troubleshooters are always trained to physical and mental peak, given the best equipment ever produced, given leadership rules suited to their talents with ample guidance from above, and provided with reliable, actionable intel. They are easily a match for the poorly trained, poorly led, ignorant, and under-equipped enemies of Alpha Complex. Reports of casualties exceeding fifteen hundred percent of projections are likely due to Mutant Commie propaganda.
    • As soon as you encounter any of the supernatural horrors of the Warhammer 40,000 universe, Dark Heresy moves down here.
  • Zig-zagged in Dungeons & Dragons before 4th edition and Pathfinder. Many monsters of appropriate challenge rating for a party may do much less damage than a decently built damage-dealer PC. Other monsters could do horrific damage at relatively low levels. And the deadliest "monsters" could be other adventurers — as they'd have all the same types of tricks, gear, and powers as the players and play by the same rules.
    • In Fifth Edition, monster HP is calculated by Challenge Rating and Size, with a challenge rating representing an "appropriate" fight for a party of four. Thus, a humanoid creature of appropriate CR to go one on one with a martial class such as a Fighter or Paladin will often have less health, because of it's base d8 HD versus the martial's d10.