How does lodestone lure work if the attacker's moved away from the target?

The level 3 battlemind discipline lodestone lure, an at-will attack power, has the following entry:

Hit: Constitution modifier damage, and you must pull the target 1 square. Until the end of your next turn, the target can move only to squares that are adjacent to you. (Psionic Power 37 and updated by errata; q.v. here)

I don't know to what degree that second sentence should limit the target. I use should limit rather than just limits because my research shows that opinions on how the power works are varied, controversial, and sometimes heated. And, as Wizards of the Coast itself is unlikely to clarify or issue further errata for the lodestone lure power at this point, I look to experienced users for help in determining a balanced reading of the power. Here balanced means here that the power's impact on the game approximately equals the impact of the class's other powers of the same level.

The Scenario

On her turn a level 3 battlemind takes a standard action to use the at-will discipline lodestone lure on a target 2 squares away. The battlemind pulls the target adjacent to her (as the power's erratum now says that she must). Then, by whatever means, the battlemind travels 2 or more squares away from the target. On the target's turn, what's a balanced way for the target to behave? Here are some options:

• Essentially immobilized. A typical target is immobilized in all but name. That is, no matter where the target's movement would take it, its first square of movement won't move it to a square adjacent to the battlemind so the target is stuck where it is unless either it can move without moving (e.g. by teleporting) or it is moved via forced movement. This reading is mentioned in a Penny Arcade forum thread here that contains strong language. Consensus there seems to be that this reading, while possibly being technically accurate, isn't balanced (see above). Even as a new 4e player, I tend to agree, but I'm not 100% sure if that thread's assessment is correct.
• Like a charge but not. A typical target can move normally except that each square of the target's movement must bring the target closer to the battlemind, much like a creature making a charge. This reading is mentioned in a RPG.Net thread here that gets heated. Note that a user in that thread says that Wizards of the Coast customer service agrees with this reading. I absolutely believe that that's what the user was told, but I don't know how much weight an anonymous Wizards of the Coast customer service representative's ruling carries in the Dungeons & Dragons, Fourth Edition community. (To be clear, I'm used to the Third Edition community where that weight is 0 lbs.) This seems balanced enough to this new 4e player, but that isn't what the power actually says that it does, and the disconnect makes me wary.

Those were the options that I found, but I'm certain that other readings of the power are possible. Users should feel free to have their answers address alternatives. In sum, what reading of the lodestone lure power is balanced? Further, how can the lodestone lure power's Hit entries be rephrased to reflect a new balanced reading?

Note: When assessing that second bullet's reading, please also consider what happens if a target is affected by multiple characters' lodestone lure powers simultaneously.

1 Answer

As you've noted, the wording is vague. The group I'm part of (which I believe is the largest 4e community still active), however, actually went with option 3, which is that the target cannot move, in any way, to a square that is not adjacent to the battlemind that lodestone lured it. This sounds like your option 1, however, forced movement is still movement. And teleportation is still movement. The target can only leave its square if it is entering a square adjacent to the battlemind, teleportation just allows them to skip the intervening squares. This is supported by the Rules Compendium definition of movement (p. 200)

Move: Any instance of movement, whether it is done willingly or unwillingly. Whenever a creature, an objecto, or an effect leaves a square to enter another, it is moving. Shifting, teleporting, and being pushed are all examples of moves

As far as balance, well, that's fundamentally something that varies with table. What I can say is that I played it from 5-13 (start to brutal barrage) with Lodestone Lure and Mark of Storm, which allowed me to strand enemies pretty effectively. My experience is that, while it is fairly potent control, it is single target control that takes a standard action and only delays dealing with a threat. Also, it only does that with enemies that are entirely melee. If they have a ranged option, they can still use that. At higher levels (or even specific enemies at low levels) they might have longer range teleports. So it is strong, but not unreasonably so in my experience.

I will add that I don't see any reading in which option 2 is a thing, and I think that actually renders the power quite weak.

• It may be useful to support this with the RC definition of move (200). I suspect that the definition of move that this answer uses without any accompanying textual support may be why responses to this answer have been muted. – Hey I Can Chan May 13 '20 at 0:13
• thanks for the advice, citation added – Keledrath May 13 '20 at 13:15
• I'm leaning toward this answer because of that RC definition but even more because of your experience. However, it's useful to actually address the issues a question poses (again! :-)). In this case, that may mean answering How can the lodestone lure power's Hit entries be rephrased to reflect a new balanced reading? with something like Until the end of your next turn, the target can't move or be moved from its current location by any means (including teleportation) unless all of that movement continuously sees the target end up adjacent to the battlemind or something. – Hey I Can Chan May 13 '20 at 16:10
• That is, it's obvious to you, an experienced player who had that definition of move in their head already what the power's Hit entry means, but what the power means should also be clear to an inexperienced reader (and his inexperienced DM!), and, based on my research, the way the power's currently phrased, it isn't. – Hey I Can Chan May 13 '20 at 16:12
• I've been trying to think how to really say this, but I can't think of a way other than just restating the game definition of "move" in the power. Which I guess you could, but it's very much not a precedent that I think is good to set, as a general thing. Down that leads to restating things like what pull means. Honestly, the RAW definition I brought up is strong and the option 1 that you provided is still _good_(especially since 3 isn't a great level for battleminds), so I don't think it's a problem if groups run on option 1. – Keledrath May 15 '20 at 0:06