Warning: Possible spoilers for Tombs I
Some of the Tombs I players read this thing and I don't want to give too much away, but I've got a truly interesting fight going on right now. The group in Tombs II are busy fighting two of their number and are finding it tough. So am I.
They are meeting exact replicas of themselves with a full set of powers and equipment. That's complex enough before you even go into the mechanics of it. Today has been a feast of immediate interrupts and immediate reactions. Since this is the one and only outing of the false characters, they (unlike the real things) have no need to nurse their powers and can let rip with all the best stuff at their disposal. Amazingly, I'm rolling well enough to make that a good threat.
While that is satisfying in itself, of course (thank you, GM dice), it's also interesting how powerful they are compared to the average monster. Now, I knew this in an abstract way, but it's very interesting to see it in practice. I'm also incredibly glad that not all fights work out like this. The sheer volume of stuff to remember and things to do to get the best from these particular monsters is daunting. Don't forget that this is using a system which makes it comparatively easy to do.
Back when I started playing D&D using the AD&D system, creating monsters was a nightmare. Well, actually, it wasn't a nightmare as I was a very antisocial teenager and spending hours creating monsters and dungeons nobody would ever play was just fine. I could think of very few better ways to spend the summer holidays. At that time (and onwards into other iterations of D&D as far as I'm aware), creating a high level magic user or fighter or paladin on the enemy team meant creating a character and knowing it well enough to run it. Inevitably I'd forget to cast some vital spell and kaboom, end of encounter. Alternatively, I overcooked them and kaboom, end of party.
Now, however, time is a luxury I don't have so much of and the simplicity of creating and running suitable encounters is vastly easier with 4e. It's also possible to run a paragon level character you don't know the details of and make it threat without too much preparation. That is a robust system.
I need to remember this for the future. Next time I want to really challenge a party, I may just hit character builder and see what I get.