I haven’t touched this file in over a month.

Right after I uploaded the compilations of class archetypes, I buried this project under a rock and didn’t look at it for almost six weeks. I’ve peeked at it now and again, it’s just hard. That dumb compilation took a lot out of me.

Thankfully, I left myself some good notes so I can pick up where I left off.

I ran into some interesting problems trying to make sure all the defenders — avenger, blackguard, fighter, knight, paladin, summoner, and warden — were doing their job, and that they were doing it in interesting ways.

I came up with a shorthand for the defender’s job:
Draw, tank, block, break.

Reel the enemy in, and lock them down — using forced movement and slow/immobilize, respectively. Stop their attacks where possible — often interrupting with other attacks. And finally, minimize the enemy’s ability to deal damage by imposing penalties on attack and damage (sometimes directly).

The weird bit was trying to justify some of what felt like really basic defender powers — bonuses to attacks, damage, and defenses, plus some self-healing.

In the end, what it took was realizing that while the defender has a job to do in the context of a group, it begins with the defender himself. If you can’t defend yourself, then you can’t defend your team.

This doesn’t constitute a separate category of effects — it’s just a little less “team-oriented,” and a little more selfish — or pragmatic, whichever you prefer. These defenders will play differently, some are more altruistic than others.

After playing some 3e around the table for the first time in ages, I actually started questioning the reason I was putting so much effort into domesticating 4e. I almost reached for the project-perma-shelf. It was bad times, you guys.

I calmed myself, and spent a while reflecting on what it was I thought 3e was actually doing better. I was relieved when I realized the answer to was, “it just doesn’t happen to be the thing with which I am presently struggling.”

In some ways, it’s like the difference between old top-down video games where you had a choice between four directions of movement or eight. When the choices are fewer, you experience much shorter fail-replay cycles.

It’s constant. You’re always engaged.

But it’s also kind of hollow without the addition of certain important factors. If you just keep dying over and over again without making any progress, you’re wasting just as much time as you would be with longer fail-replay cycles.

Eight directions of movement gives you a lot more choice from the start, and enables you to dodge around enemies and attacks you might have originally retreated from or side-stepped. It’s daunting. It requires greater mastery.

And I think that if paid the proper attention, it’s more rewarding.

Sometimes you want the fight to be over with quickly, and that’s okay. 3e is actually pretty good at that. But sometimes you want a thrilling set-piece encounter, and 4e excels in that arena. But it could use some trimming.