One of my quiet little projects of late has been codifying abstract areas of effect for use without a game table or map. The basic idea is that you have an “effect area” that is relative to whatever you’re trying impose an effect on. Effect areas don’t necessarily have one advantage over another, except they have move / reach connotations.

The five areas of effect I chose are: touch, melee, close, reach, and field.

You can argue one way or another about how areas might effect one another, but the main thing I’m going for is how much movement may be involved between areas, where advantages may be taken, and basic abstract geometry. I think. I don’t know if that actually makes sense. Most of combat remains melee-oriented.

Except now that areas are abstracted to fit alongside concepts like “Engage,” then it doesn’t necessarily matter should a character try to move. The point is not about how many feet or squares they can cover, but rather, “do they provide an advantage to the defending character whilst covering the distance.”

Generally speaking, the longer reach wins. Melee beats Touch, Close beats Melee, Reach beats Close, and Field beats Reach. Oh, and it goes around too, so Touch beats Field. Like any of the other goes-around things, there are crossways and intersections where one gains an advantage under exceptional circumstances.

For instance, rather than a ranged or area effect provoking an opportunity attack from an adjacent enemy (did you follow that?) a field effect would provoke an opportunity attack from an engaged enemy with a touch weapon. Maybe it isn’t that much better, unless you take into account that engaging an enemy is a conscious choice.

So you wouldn’t have a whole bunch of enemies getting free attacks against you when you run to help your ally. Instead, you choose to rush a guy with a sword, and he gets you with his spear. The longer reach wins. Now, some dagger-wielding characters might have some kind of advantage under those circumstances, but not most.