Why do D&D/Pathfinder adventure paths always end with fighting some sort of demonlord or prince? Or maybe a powerful dragon?

It’s a trend I’ve noticed over the years.

There’s always some kind of supernatural entity controlling the show. Some impersonal creature the player-characters have no emotional attachment to, but they have to fight anyway to complete their quest and end the campaign.

I’d be one thing if somehow, just somehow, these powerful entities took a personal stake in the lives of the characters at the beginning of the campaign. But adventure paths are written so characters won’t encounter these monsters until the very end?

But what if, just what if, the characters encountered the evil demonlord at level 1, instead of level 20? Let’s throw out “encounter levels” and “game balance.”

What kind of campaign would that be like?

SPOILER ALERT:

 

In Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, what if the characters encountered Lolth before ever going through the classic GDQ series?

If D&D 3rd edition, what if the characters faced Orkus before the delved into Rappan Athuk?

In Pathfinder, what if a Runelord rose in the first adventure of the Rise of the Runelords?

 

What if…