I’ve been carrying on about controller effects for a long time. What they can do, what they can’t do, what they should do, and so forth. Controllers present some very interesting problems because the sorts of effects afforded them are both strengthened and weakened by spreading them around other roles.

Forced movement for example, is best understood when provided through different roles — what are the benefits to pushing characters around? You’ll never know if forced movement is bootstrapped to the controller role — why?

To best understand combat in two dimensions — and really, that’s what this is — you have to experience movement in both dimensions. You need to be forced to move before you can understand the utility of movement.

Also, to understand the inherent dangers of reckless or excessive movement.

So forced movement then — how do you integrate that with other roles without infringing on the controller? I had an idea after watching a video about the mechanics of close quarters combat. The video discussed leverage and how pushing or pulling left one vulnerable to lateral movement and vice versa.

That led to the idea — directions of movement by role.

Strikers, almost by definition, want to push. They want to get in quickly via person-movement powers and deliver a powerful attack, often if not always leaving the enemy off-balanced and unable to launch a counterattack.

Defenders by comparison, want to pull. This might seem counter-intuitive but defenders want to keep enemies pinned down and unable to hit the “back row.” Stopping an enemy from bypassing a defender is one thing, but sometimes a defender needs to yank an enemy who’s penetrated the defensive like back.

It’s only after removing a penetrated enemy that they can be pushed back.

Leaders are tricky — both in how their forced movement works and in how they implement it. It seems to me that leader movement would necessarily be the slide — they want to re-position a foe so’s they can deliver a devastating coordinated attack. A push or pull might be beneficial sometimes — but the slide is ideal.

What does this mean for the roles?

Well for starters, controllers focus on forced movement. It’s great, since they’re the most flexible in this regard. The other roles get limited access to forced movement in addition to their primary duties — damage and mobility for strikers, health and defense for defenders, and enabling/multitasking for leaders.

I’m gearing up to release some new (and updated) 4e classes that incorporate what I’ve learned from over the past six months of playing and tinkering.