Some things I have thought about for a long time.

Those things include mounted combat, “land walk” traits, cover/concealment, “see in darkness,” and the battery of companions, minions, magical constructs, and the like. Some features and powers transcend close-quarters combat.

I’m thinking about making that a “thing.”

Really, this idea started to coalesce as I thought about how to make “difficult terrain” easier to use — consistent in its application and how to overcome it. Elevation on the battlefield is another, related thing — it’s about mobility.

The thing is — in later editions of D&D like 3e/4e — visibility, cover, mobility, minions, and so on represent advantages that cannot be overcome without the exploitation of similar advantages. The 1st-level Druid spell “entangle” is incredibly powerful. Almost game-breaking. From level one.

See, entangle creates an area of difficult terrain in a forty-foot radius. Forty. That’s eighty feet across. Starting at 1st level, a Druid can effectively lock down the entire battlefield — eighty feet translates to sixteen squares.

That is larger than an eight-and-a-half-by-eleven sheet of one-inch squares — which for your reference is eleven squares on its longest side. AT LEVEL ONE.

Forget fighting, you can drop entangle on the field and then walk away. Now compare that to 1d4 fire damage across seven squares from “burning hands.” Would you rather play a Druid with entangle or a Wizard with burning hands?

The problem is the advantages provided by each of the two spells just don’t compare — it isn’t about “the right spell for the occasion” — the two spells are playing on different levels. Mind you, they’re both 1st-level spells.

I think that certain effects might come to define a PC’s role in combat — you can’t “just say no” to these types of effects, but you do need to limit access to them if you want a semblance of predictability for designing encounters.

“Damage” is not a combat role. You know what is though? Mobility. That’s where the striker rules the field. “Control” takes many forms, but manipulating the field itself is where the controller comes in — whether it’s zones, minions, area-of-effect attacks, and so forth. This makes more sense to me with experience.

“Battlefield healing” actually does make sense to me now as an advantage — especially when your alternative is “little or no healing” — and that’s why healing surges and the majority of consumable healing items simply have to go.

I’m not quite sure in which area of advantages the defender excels yet — but I think I will probably find it soon enough. I’m still not sure how many “passive” effects it takes to make up for one or two big “active” effects.

Surely, greater defenses and more hit points count for something.

But what, and how much?