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    Default Ages-old question: a Leader in cloth?

    We all know there's an archetype, particularly common in non-D&D based PC games (and in settings based on/originating from such), of a supporting spellcaster that wears only robes/clothes, whose magic is well-developed in fields of healing, condition removal, and protecting allies (though "holy" offensive spells are also sometimes included). Problem is, all D&D 4e leaders easily fit most of the bill other than the "robes/cloth" part (it's easy to refluff even a Warlord into a convincing spellcaster), yet none fit that part (even though there were at least two classes and one well-known class variant exploring that niche in 3.5). I'm going to run some 4e one-shots soon, and i want to include that archetype among pregen characters i'm gonna give my players. So the question is:
    Is there an easy way to build a competent Leader character (preferably implement-based) that is limited to Cloth armor, without being gimped by it?

    Unarmored Agility is great, but it's not a solution alone: paying a feat tax that only lets you be at -1 AC compared to your class' baseline, rather than -3, irks me somehow. Simply refluffing heavier armor into cloth runs into problems when the party starts dividing loot or swapping items around ("Hey, i'm less squishy than the wizard is and his protection seems more important than mine, why don't we swap robes?"). There's always homebrew, but let's pretend it's not an option, to see if there are other ones.

    I had thoughts about a Cleric|Avenger hybrid (Wis+one of Avenger secondaries), but even with some Avenger powers having a leaderly bent, such a hybrid will be less of a leader than a full leader (or a leader|leader hybrid) and in a same party with another leader, the players will probably expect the cloth guy to be more specialised in his role, not less.

    Which ideas do you have? Which other ways there could be to make a Cloth-wearing leader that gains something in the exchange, rather than just losing less? Which other players/GMs explored that question before i did (the imagery of a cloth-based healer is probably widespread enough that its lack in 4e has been noticed before, right?) and recorded their thoughts/experiences?

    Note that for my purposes, it's better to stick to Heroic stuff; i normally run mid-level Heroic, so Paragon and higher stuff, while still interesting to explore, won't really be helpful.

    (Also, Shaman should probably be excluded from this exercise: while it's already the least-armored leader and doesn't lose AC by switching to Unarmored Agility, it brings with it the baggage of Spirit Companion, which is undeniably cool, but demands changing the flavour to account for it).
    Last edited by Lord Haart; 2017-12-26 at 11:54 AM.
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    When I first wanted to build a gish, I wanted to be the guy that threw fireballs, lightning bolts, wore spiked fullplate and reigned death and destruction ()

    So I rolled a cleric.

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    Default Re: Ages-old question: a Leader in cloth?

    Cleric or Shaman can be DEX secondary. Choose a race with a bonus to DEX (Elf, Drow, etc.) as well as WIS, assign both starting 16s, and boost at every opportunity. Battle Cleric's Lore for the +2 shield boost to AC. Unarmored Agility.

    Fey beast tamer theme & Displacer Beast (+1 defenses) or Fey Panther (enemies cannot gain CA), defensive bonuses while in aura.
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    Default Re: Ages-old question: a Leader in cloth?

    Skald, regular bard, serene blade runepriest, sentinel druid and warlord can have good light-armor AC from a secondary stat, and artificer's primary stat makes them even better for it. Artificer, bard and sentinel are better picks (along with shaman or cleric) because they have plenty of ranged powers, letting them attack from the back lines.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Haart View Post
    Which other ways there could be to make a Cloth-wearing leader that gains something in the exchange, rather than just losing less?
    Aye, there's the rub ... probably vigorous rubbing, in burlap. Ain't no such thing. Without homebrew, cloth is one feat weaker than leather, period. Every existing leader class gets leather at a minimum.
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    Default Re: Ages-old question: a Leader in cloth?

    Psion|Warlord works pretty well for a leader option - Forced Opportunity at 17th is a key option for the build, but there are a number of interesting powers to debuff targets.

    To use Dishearten as an example - are you penalizing opponents' chances to hit or buffing your allies defenses against their attacks?

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    Default Re: Ages-old question: a Leader in cloth?

    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Haart View Post
    We all know there's an archetype, particularly common in non-D&D based PC games (and in settings based on/originating from such), of a supporting spellcaster that wears only robes/clothes, whose magic is well-developed in fields of healing, condition removal, and protecting allies (though "holy" offensive spells are also sometimes included). Problem is, all D&D 4e leaders easily fit most of the bill other than the "robes/cloth" part (it's easy to refluff even a Warlord into a convincing spellcaster), yet none fit that part (even though there were at least two classes and one well-known class variant exploring that niche in 3.5).
    I've always felt that this is something of a major hole that D&D keeps ignoring for whatever reason. For largely arbitrary reasons, there's this feeling that the only way to distinguish divine magic from arcane magic is to give all practitioners of divine magic heavy armor to run around in. It's one of those sacred cows of D&D that, unfortunately, 4e D&D never really managed to turn into delicious burgers (as it did with so many other sacred cows).

    I've considered a few ways to implement such a class, but, unfortunately, they basically require separating the "priest" concept (which is what I refer to the "robe + divine magic" combination as) from the cleric chassis completely, which is a long way of saying that it needs to be turned into its own class. In my homebrew rebuild of 4e, I'm creating separate classes for the cleric (divine magic + chain) and priest (divine magic + robes), with an emphasis on the cleric being the weapon using class and the priest being the implement using class (both are able to use a holy symbol as a focus, but the cleric's powers are all weapon based and melee range while the priests are all implement and mid-long range).
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    Default Re: Ages-old question: a Leader in cloth?

    So, basically, you want at FF white wizard?

    Or would a monk-psionic mystic do? I'm pretty sure I've seen mystic psionic leaders.

    Easy solution: create a cleric feat that gives bonuses when in cloth or no armor and not wielding a weapon to implement abilities.

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    Default Re: Ages-old question: a Leader in cloth?

    Quote Originally Posted by Yakk View Post
    Easy solution: create a cleric feat that gives bonuses when in cloth or no armor and not wielding a weapon to implement abilities.
    I would probably run it as an alternative class feature rather than a feat. Something akin to the opposite of the Alternative Cleric Class Feature that allows them to get Scale Armor and martial weapon proficiency (can't recall the name of it now) rather than Healer's Lore.

    I'd probably make it something like: "While wearing cloth armor and not using any weapon, you may use any weapon power as if it were an implement power, any melee power as if it were a ranged 5 power, and any close burst power as if it were an area burst power with a range of 5 and the same burst radius. The range of existing ranged powers is increased by 5 (10 at level 16). For weapon powers used as implement powers, you use a d8 as your weapon damage die and gain a +2 proficiency bonus to attack rolls. In addition, you use Wisdom rather than Intelligence or Dexterity to determine your AC."

    Of course, the problem with this is that it requires a lot of finagling to get turn weapon powers into implement powers and still doesn't manage to get the same feeling across, which is why I say that it should really be its own class entirely. 4e classes were really supposed to be focused upon archetypes and the "priest" archetype is a much more consistent and powerful archetype in the fantasy than the "battle cleric" archetype is (which very often gets conflated with the "paladin" archetype).
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    Default Re: Ages-old question: a Leader in cloth?

    No, that isn't a good plan.

    So, 4e has a positional minigame that is important to combat being fun.

    Clerics positional minigame is built around the close burst and short range attack power, plus melee attacks.

    They don't want to be focused, but they are willing to take some hits.

    Your revision removes much of this positional minigame from clerics, and replaces it with "avoid attacks and hide". Which is a relatively boring positional minigame.

    Finally, wisdom replacing dex/int to AC gives it top-tier AC. Classes whose attack and defence stats are the same have *high* AC. Cloth armor mitigates this somewhat; wizards, for example, have mediocre AC without investing a feat.

    (Wizards positional minigame has to do with the fact that their AOE powers are not ally-friendly, and they move enemies around a lot, and create zones to push enemies into. Your revision *does not* give this positional minigame to your cloth-clad cleric).

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    Default Re: Ages-old question: a Leader in cloth?

    For what it's worth, i found a solution that satisfies me for now. The starting point was MwaO and Yakk's idea of hybrid Psion, which i found lacking in low-level powers (basically, Dishearten and that level 3 weaker Dishearten are all the options, and it gets just a bit too overshadowed by Warlord's awesomeness); then i took a look at the wizard, because if psion can do something, wizard probably does it better (and sure enough, it even gets a Good Witch line of powers that wouldn't look out of place on a Cleric) and while i took a note that it works, it sort of didn't work enough for me (though it's a completely viable option as well); and then i randomly took a look at the Most Splashable Class Of At Least Two editions and holy hell, does Warlock hide a bunch of leaderly options behind that "striker with controller secondary" facade. Sweet, awesome, often Radiant and/or (holy) Fire and/or Necrotic leaderly options. And a complete Cha/Int/Con synergy with Bard.

    I mean, this time i felt like i'm not just searching for leaderly options, i get to actually choose between a decent number of them. That counts for a lot.

    Sure, Warlock|Bard is no clerical healing machine. But there are ways to give off the "dedicated healer" vibe via "THP-giving piniata" powers (and Hybrid Talent can be taken for either Virtue of Valor for more THPs, or Song of Rest for the obvious "some people heal you a bit more during the battle, i heal all of you a lot after it's over" theme). And in general, i'm really, really satisfied with the power choices i get here.

    One little hiccup is that Warlocks get Leather, so Unarmored Agility is a "get your AC to exactly what it should be" pointless feat tax. But at least it doesn't get me behind in AC, so fine, i guess?
    Last edited by Lord Haart; 2017-12-28 at 11:24 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Elitarismo View Post
    Complaining about martial characters dipping many different classes is like complaining that the sun is hot.
    Quote Originally Posted by ArqArturo View Post
    When I first wanted to build a gish, I wanted to be the guy that threw fireballs, lightning bolts, wore spiked fullplate and reigned death and destruction ()

    So I rolled a cleric.

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    Default Re: Ages-old question: a Leader in cloth?

    I honestly don't see why having the healer without armor is a big deal. The reason for that archetype is that said archetypical healer doesn't actually fight, they just heal. So if you want that then make a true pacifist cleric who uses only ranged stuff. They'll be as vulnerable as a wizard but it won't be a big deal if they stay at ranged. Otherwise you aren't fitting into the archetype anyway.

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    Default Re: Ages-old question: a Leader in cloth?

    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Haart View Post
    Sure, Warlock|Bard is no clerical healing machine. But there are ways to give off the "dedicated healer" vibe via "THP-giving piniata" powers (and Hybrid Talent can be taken for either Virtue of Valor for more THPs, or Song of Rest for the obvious "some people heal you a bit more during the battle, i heal all of you a lot after it's over" theme). And in general, i'm really, really satisfied with the power choices i get here.
    I actually player an Eladrin Bardlock for a while. Played him as a taxi build, taking Blade Initiate for bladed weapliments, Iliyanbruen Guardian as a theme (so when I fey step i bring someone with me), Eladrin Swordmage Advance for an MBA on Fey Step (with Eldritch Strike), and the Dimensional Step line of encounters from bard (so when ES lands, I get more teleports).

    Because of how much he moved around, I actually took Shadow Walk for my Hybrid Talent. Permanent concealment +Cha/Int statline sets you up fairly well for AC, especially since you can usually just...leave via teleports. Eventual Paragon Path is of course Evermeet Warlock, and you generally focus on the bard side of the hybrid.

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    Default Re: Ages-old question: a Leader in cloth?

    I guess you could model a base combining a hybrid monk|cleric for example to build from.
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    Default Re: Ages-old question: a Leader in cloth?

    I didn't play a Leader in cloth but a Leader in hide. (Eladrin Warlord full INT). It gives me a lot of AC in early levels ... but I needed a party with an amazing synergy to be useful.
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    Default Re: Ages-old question: a Leader in cloth?

    Quote Originally Posted by Arkhios View Post
    I guess you could model a base combining a hybrid monk|cleric for example to build from.
    Hybrid monk is disappointing, because if you want to punch things you lose your hybrid talent feat, and having non-crappy AC always requires a hybrid talent pick (as monk AC benefit doesn't auto-stack with any other classes's AC benefit).

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    Default Re: Ages-old question: a Leader in cloth?

    Quote Originally Posted by Yakk View Post
    Hybrid monk is disappointing, because if you want to punch things you lose your hybrid talent feat, and having non-crappy AC always requires a hybrid talent pick (as monk AC benefit doesn't auto-stack with any other classes's AC benefit).
    As is, yes. I meant that one could still use that combination as a base to model a homebrew class with unarmored defense like monk's.
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    Default Re: Ages-old question: a Leader in cloth?

    Quote Originally Posted by Yakk View Post
    Hybrid monk is disappointing, because if you want to punch things you lose your hybrid talent feat, and having non-crappy AC always requires a hybrid talent pick (as monk AC benefit doesn't auto-stack with any other classes's AC benefit).
    Cleric's Battle Cleric Lore gives Scale proficiency and there's a Wisdom-based MBA. Though you wouldn't want Scale here.

    But that also kind of assumes the desire to punch things with a weapon when there's no reason a Monk|X needs to punch anything with a weapon rather than just stick to an implement instead.

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    Default Re: Ages-old question: a Leader in cloth?

    Cleric's Battle Lore is a glitch. ;)

    The punch thing is having the monk's unarmed +3/d8 attack. That costing a Hybrid Talent, and monk's unarmed defences costing a Hybrid talent, sort of ruins a lot of hybrid monk flavour.

    ---

    In any case, back on topic.

    The hard part with a cloth based leader is to ensure that positional minigame is still in play. So "long range ally-friendly bursts and blasts" shouldn't be the norm.

    Also, the OP seems to want a *generic* white mage. So we cannot even invent fun fluff to add a positional minigame.

    On top of that, that traditional white mage usually isn't a melee character, nor is it a ranged damage dealer. In effect, the traditional white mage is a boring healbot.

    We could steal some low-damage controller features to tack onto it. Make it play like a Wzard, but maybe with shorter ranged spells, and less damage, less control and more buffing.

    Wizards positional problem is avoiding hitting their allies, plus repositioning and screwing over their enemies. We could try to give the white mage spells that work best when they hit *both* allies and enemies? That might be too easy.

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    Default Re: Ages-old question: a Leader in cloth?

    Quote Originally Posted by Yakk View Post
    We could steal some low-damage controller features to tack onto it. Make it play like a Wzard, but maybe with shorter ranged spells, and less damage, less control and more buffing.
    Isn't that basically a ranged Bard? Although the Bard's positional game is generally moving allies around, not avoiding them with AoE's like a Wizard.

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    Default Re: Ages-old question: a Leader in cloth?

    Quote Originally Posted by Yakk View Post
    Cleric's Battle Lore is a glitch. ;)

    The punch thing is having the monk's unarmed +3/d8 attack. That costing a Hybrid Talent, and monk's unarmed defences costing a Hybrid talent, sort of ruins a lot of hybrid monk flavour.

    ---

    In any case, back on topic.

    The hard part with a cloth based leader is to ensure that positional minigame is still in play. So "long range ally-friendly bursts and blasts" shouldn't be the norm.

    Also, the OP seems to want a *generic* white mage. So we cannot even invent fun fluff to add a positional minigame.

    On top of that, that traditional white mage usually isn't a melee character, nor is it a ranged damage dealer. In effect, the traditional white mage is a boring healbot.

    We could steal some low-damage controller features to tack onto it. Make it play like a Wzard, but maybe with shorter ranged spells, and less damage, less control and more buffing.

    Wizards positional problem is avoiding hitting their allies, plus repositioning and screwing over their enemies. We could try to give the white mage spells that work best when they hit *both* allies and enemies? That might be too easy.
    So in otherwords. Straightforward Pacifist Cleric Build.

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    Default Re: Ages-old question: a Leader in cloth?

    Quote Originally Posted by Verbannon View Post
    Straightforward Pacifist Cleric Build.
    Off-topic, but this brings back some hilarious memories.

    A friend of mine who just had returned from military service decided to play a straighforward pacifist cleric (kalashtar). He, however, wore chainmail.

    Anyway, he was so afraid of being hit in combat that, in one encounter we faced, he hid behind the party wizard (a dwarf with more hit points than him to be fair) even though he had better chance of surviving a direct hit due to higher AC than the wizard.
    Last edited by Arkhios; 2018-01-04 at 05:03 AM.
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    Default Re: Ages-old question: a Leader in cloth?

    Quote Originally Posted by Verbannon View Post
    So in otherwords. Straightforward Pacifist Cleric Build.
    No, pacifist cleric was a bad design and lead to crappy in-game experience.

    It has too much healing and not enough ally boosting and enemy control.

    So it *extends* combats and makes them safer, which rather than makes them *more interesting* makes them *more boring*.

    ---

    But still, what if we tried "pacifict cleric done right".

    Essentials-esque, because lazy.

    Renew (X): When a power grants Renew (X), it lets the player gain an extra use of a power of type X. If X includes a level, a power of that level or less qualifies. Any power that has been Renewed may not be Renewed again until the end of its usual recharge period (encounter -- short rest, daily -- long rest)

    Nimbus of Life
    When you hit an enemy with a White Mage Attack spell, you gain temporary HP equal to your Wisdom bonus plus 1/2 your level. In addition, if you have any temporary HP when you have a rest and you have taken damage, the temporary HP is reduced by the damage and becomes healing.

    Restful Healing
    When you or an ally spends a healing surge during a rest, you gain back twice as many HP.

    [b]Bond of Protection + At-Will, White Mage 1, Attack
    Immediate Interrupt
    Trigger: An ally within 3 squares is attacked.
    Target: The attacking enemy
    Attack: Constitution vs Will
    Hit: The attacker gains vulnerability all equal to your wisdom bonus (min 1) until the end of their next turn, and suffers a -2 penalty on the attack.

    [b]Channel of Life + Encounter, White Mage, Utility, Healing
    Standard Action
    Range: 5
    Target: One ally
    Effect: You take a healing surge worth of damage, and your ally can spend a healing surge and can Renew (Encounter Attack Power).
    Special: You can use this power twice per encounter, increasing to 3 times at level 15.

    Protective Rune + At-Will, White Mage, Utility, Zone
    Standard Action
    Range: 5
    Target: One square
    Effect: Protective runes are inscribed in the square in question. Until the end of the encounter, or until you dismiss the rune as a minor action, creatures in the square gain a +2 power bonus to all defences. If an ally leaves a protective rune, they can end the zone and on their next damage roll before the end of their next turn they gain a power bonus equal to your constitution modifier plus your level.
    Special: You can have at most wisdom bonus protective runes active (min 1). If you try to create a new one when you are at your limit, one rune of your choice disappears.

    I think stuff like that could make a sufficiently tactically interesting "pacifist white mage" character. Keep ranges short, AC weak, and grant temporary self-HP to make taking damage less punishing.

    I also sort of like the idea that your standard actions are all utility powers, while your main source of damage is your immedate interrupt triggered by your nearby allies being attacked. So you'll have to position yourself to both be protected and near someone your enemy will want to attack.

    The Runes power forces at least some movement, in that the offensive use requires leaving the zone. The Channel is a D&D "mage" type healing; sacrifice your own life to heal another. With the Nimbus of Life, the damage you take will often be offset by your own temporary HP. However, if you are attacked, your temporary HP could be gone and the cost to heal significant.

    Needs work. Daily resources, etc. Maybe Renew shouldn't be tied to the healing power.

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    Default Re: Ages-old question: a Leader in cloth?

    I'm not a fan of [Bond of Protection] as is - I'd probably grant THP to the character as opposed to an attack penalty to the foe (which could end up being some pretty massive healing...)

    The [Protective Runes] on the other hand are an awesome idea - and for some reason, a type of thing weirdly lacking in current power offerings... Aside from auras, there's very little "positive battlefield control". I guess that was meant to be the Runepriest schtick...

    Another approach to [Bond of Protection] that is healing in a way, but, still accrues some loss :
    Bond of Protection + At-Will, White Mage 1, Attack, Implement
    Immediate Interrupt
    Trigger: An ally within 3 squares is attacked.
    Target: The attacking enemy
    Attack: Constitution vs Will
    Hit: The attacker gains vulnerable all equal to 1d4 + wis mod against the next attack that deals damage until the end of their next turn.
    Effect: You suffer the attack's damage instead of the original target, but not any conditions or ongoing damage. Reduce the damage you suffer by your wisdom modifier (min 0).

    ??
    Last edited by MoutonRustique; 2018-01-04 at 03:14 PM.
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    Default Re: Ages-old question: a Leader in cloth?

    So Bond of Protection is supposed to be your main source of damage as this pacifist white mage.

    The other source of damage is from Renew effects. The idea that instead of dealing damage, you give encounter powers back to your allies (but only 1 extra use per power) is distinct from how Warlords work and quite strong, yet passive.

    Wis fails to scale fast enough, but tap count goes up as you gain levels, so that should more than make up for it.

    Making attacks miss is more dramatic than reducing damage/granting temporary HP. It auto-scales (with enemy damage). It remains *swingy*, so its impact is more dramatic.

    I agree that Protective Runes is by far the most interesting thing there. I'm a bit unhappy with my attempt to make it dynamic; one of the problems I see with "good zones" is that it encourages allies to hunker down instead of more dynamic mobile combat. The wording is awkward and I'm uncertain if it does what it is supposed to do.

    On the plus side, you can seed a rune somewhere as a bit of a suggestion of an ally to "go there". And puting a rune where an ally already is also great.

    Oh, that is an idea; what if the damage kicker happened both when you *enter* the rune square, and when you leave it? Then the White Mage would want to put the Rune somewhere for an ally to *move into* instead of where the ally is.

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    Default Re: Ages-old question: a Leader in cloth?

    Quote Originally Posted by Yakk View Post
    So Bond of Protection is supposed to be your main source of damage as this pacifist white mage.

    The other source of damage is from Renew effects. The idea that instead of dealing damage, you give encounter powers back to your allies (but only 1 extra use per power) is distinct from how Warlords work and quite strong, yet passive.

    Wis fails to scale fast enough, but tap count goes up as you gain levels, so that should more than make up for it.

    Making attacks miss is more dramatic than reducing damage/granting temporary HP. It auto-scales (with enemy damage). It remains *swingy*, so its impact is more dramatic.

    I agree that Protective Runes is by far the most interesting thing there. I'm a bit unhappy with my attempt to make it dynamic; one of the problems I see with "good zones" is that it encourages allies to hunker down instead of more dynamic mobile combat. The wording is awkward and I'm uncertain if it does what it is supposed to do.

    On the plus side, you can seed a rune somewhere as a bit of a suggestion of an ally to "go there". And puting a rune where an ally already is also great.

    Oh, that is an idea; what if the damage kicker happened both when you *enter* the rune square, and when you leave it? Then the White Mage would want to put the Rune somewhere for an ally to *move into* instead of where the ally is.
    It's true that allow for the chance to miss is more dramatic - in that vein, would be more interesting for the player(s?) to have the penalty be roll-based ?

    For the runes,
    - one approach could be to force a certain minimum range : no closer than 5 squares.
    - requiring the square to be free
    - you can't cast it in the same space twice
    - a second casting have to move the rune at least 3 squares
    - ooh! A form of "ripple of runes" : you cast the runes where you want, at the start of your turn, they are pushed 2-3 squares from you (yeah, there are many problems here, but the image I got was really cool)
    - you could even set really stringent requirements : rule of 3s - you cast 3 runes, no closer than 3 squares, each rune must be 3 squares distant from the others (you get a "triangle" kinda thing) and when you cast it again, it has to be at least 3 squares away from any previously "enruned" square.

    You could change it to creating "power orbs": you get full benefits for entering the square - but it's one and done. You could even make them dual-purpose: have them deal damage to a foe that enters the square - it's like wizards need all that much niche protection...

    The orbs could require a free burst 1 area - the orb is created in the origin square. This way, any character has to move at least 2 squares to get the buff.

    Keeping to the positive zone approach, it's not a HUGE movement, but simply requiring the casting to be in a free square with a bonus effect upon entering will create some constant movement.

    You could also have the effect be a "line aura" i.e. it affects all squares at that exact distance from the caster (let's say 4). This doesn't force movement by itself, but since the healer is likely to be targeted and, ideally should want to move it will create some tension. Also, have the buff apply in a square (the figure) line isn't likely to be optimal to all characters - which adds some tension in terms of placement decision. And if you don't make it really small, the distance it encourages between the leader and the rest of the party puts the leader in a vulnerable position, which means he will likely want to move, and so on, and so forth.

    Just throwing everything on the wall...
    Avatar by Cdr.Fallout

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