I’ve been playing an enabler warlord for almost a year now and I’m still not sure what makes a good warlord. I think part of the problem lies in the fact that most leaders as-written are appalling bad at fulfilling their stated role.

Part of the problem lies in the reactive nature of healing, the leader’s “main schtick.” When you’re healing a character as a leader, it’s ’cause the defender failed to stop the attacker from landing a blow. The striker failed to take down the enemy. It’s because the controller failed to lock-down the threat.

But all the “good” leaders — mainly the cleric and the warlord, though particular builds for other leaders approach the same effectiveness — have some way of facilitating the duties that the other roles perform. They hand out accuracy and damage, impose vulnerabilities, or grant positioning (or withdrawal) moves, or additional attacks.

I haven’t had the same kind of huge “revelations” about the nature of the leader role the same way I have about the defender. The defender is a role that I think I really “get.” I’ve made lots of different kinds of defenders. I’m starting to get a better feel for the controller. The jester is an odd duck — dealing almost no damage at all.

(Does the spelling “sprightly” look wrong to you? I want it to be “spritely” but the online dictionary I use keeps insisting that I’m in the right. Oh well.)

Something tells me that I will “get” the leader once I “get” the controller, if only because then I’ll have very-definitely defined both “strategic axes,” as it were. Character roles fall into Direct versus Indirect and Active versus Passive. Leaders are indirect and passive — which makes them very interesting to design for — what do they do?

I think the leader’s primary qualities may fall on either side of the defender’s — where the defender has unmitigated access to Opportunity Actions in order to respond to threats as they come, the leader should be utilizing Immediate Actions like there’s no tomorrow — Immediate and Readied actions, I think.

Maybe that’s where I’ve been limiting myself this time — Opportunity Actions are fairly straightforward to design for, but Readied actions present so many problems when it comes to initiative order that they’re almost universally loathed and ignored.

According to the D&D Compendium, triggering a readied action moves a character’s position in the initiative order. I can’t begin to describe how annoying this is, or how much trouble it can cause when simply remembering the initiative order is a chore.

Perhaps I can find some clever combination of keywords, or a particular phrasing or format to make Readied actions more palatable? It’s a nearly untapped area of the game, and maybe Readied actions would find more use if there was some clear-cut uses for them, or some standardization built into the system.

Now here’s a thought — what about some Standard action powers that also set up a Readied action with an easy trigger? I can try to write a couple of those.