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I am having a group, in which I play as a Crusader. I specialised to be a support tank - I can shrug off respectable amounts of damage all the while improving the rest of the group's fighting capabilities with White Raven manoeuvres, Song of Courage and some lesser abilities.

However, my GM is a smart one and he likes us to be challenged. The enemies we fight are never dumb, they usually are either intelligent enough to lead us into trouble and disrupt the ideal combat conditions by focusing on the casters and damage dealers. Examples include a group of orcs that flat out ignored the tank and charged into close combat with the casters, a group of zombies with a row of archers that persistently readied an attack "as soon as he starts casting" and some beasts lead by a druid, who set an ambush to attack us from the rear. Whenever I tried to intercept these creatures, I would be either ignored or occupied by on tougher enemy to allow the rest to swarm the group.

I think that I would be more useful if I could compel the enemies to attack me. I know I can taunt them, but it doesn't force the enemy to keep on attacking on me if I want to taunt another one.

What abilities could I acquire to make the enemy attack me without fail?

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Size and Reach

Simply stand in things’ way.

You should definitely be using a reach weapon (guisarme is most popular for its tripping property). All other options pale in comparison to reach: other two-handers hit only slightly harder (barring mounted lance charges, but then you’re playing a rather different role than tank), and a shield is actively bad for you (because more AC means more reason for enemies to attack someone else).

If you have even 12 Dexterity, Combat Reflexes is worthwhile, and Improved Trip is not a terrible idea by any means (if you consider levels cheaper than feats, consider two levels in barbarian: the wolf totem can get you Improved Trip without Combat Expertise or needing 13 Intelligence).

Aside from a reach weapon, crusader doesn’t have any native way to increase reach or size, and feats and items rarely offer the option, but if you can do it, it’s very good.

Inhuman Reach and Deformity (tall) are expensive (two feats each for an extra 5 feet of reach), and have some problematic fluff considerations (Inhuman Reach requires Aberration Blood, and Deformity (tall) requires Willing Deformity and an Evil alignment), but reach is worth it if you can fit them in.

A dip in psychic warrior or war mind, if you have half-decent Wisdom, could get you expansion, which would help. Practiced Manifester can give you a bit more ML with it.

I have often considered Cloistered Cleric 1/Barbarian 2/Psychic Warrior 1/Crusader to be just about the best tank platform in the game. The barbarian and psychic warrior get you feats and expansion, while cleric gets you Knowledge Devotion for a decent accuracy boost, and Turn Undead and domains give you a lot of options. Plus hey, a few times per day you can use identify without spending money.

Tactics also warrant mention here. If you can hold a chokepoint, you don’t need to be big to be in enemies’ way. To a certain extent, friendly spellcasters can try to create chokepoints for you to hold; in some situations, may actually be better to leave enemies a narrow opening (that you’re standing in) than to wall them out completely.

Buff your allies more than yourself

Options like iron guard’s glare, defensive rebuke, and others make you a more inviting target than your allies. There aren’t a lot of options for this, but you have to be careful not to make yourself too good a tank – then you’ll just be ignored.

Song of the White Raven is an excellent feat. Bard is another excellent option for you.

Make yourself impossible to ignore

The best defense is a good offense – force your enemies to attack you by punishing them for ignoring you. Strikes are good at this with minimal extra investment.

Healing also works pretty well for this; if you can heal sizeable amounts of others’ damage taken, they’ll have to get rid of you to get anywhere. Crusader is a rather-good HP-healer.

Limit spellcasting, especially teleportation

Mage Slayer is a pretty good feat that prevents spellcasters from casting defensively. Magic Item Compendium also has +1 weapon properties that dispel buffs or prevent teleportation, which are very useful for you.

Having your own teleportation is key, too, for positioning. Anklet of translocation is 1,400 gp for 2/day 10-ft. swift-action teleportation: you want this, and then you want backups of this. Consider using Martial Study to grab the Shadow Hand teleportation maneuvers (shadow jaunt, shadow stride, and shadow blink).

If you really, really need to force enemies to attack you...

Knight gets the test of mettle challenge at 4th level, and it basically forces one enemy to fight you and only you. Its DC is based on your knight levels and Charisma; at least one of those might be decent. The 3rd-level knight feature, bulwark of defense, is also quite good.

There is also the Goad feat, but it’s absolutely awful.

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  • 7
    \$\begingroup\$ I also want to note that this is, by far, my favorite thing about 4e: defenders can actually function. They can actually do much of the above as part of their core class features, and there are a lot of different ways to do it. 3.5, on the other hand, makes defending in the face of competent foes extremely difficult, and just about impossible to do really well. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Dec 27 '15 at 21:25
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    \$\begingroup\$ To add on to "make yourself impossible to ignore" I recommend positioning yourself next to a spell caster or ranged weapon user when possible for free attacks of opportunity unless they respond \$\endgroup\$ – Teco Dec 29 '15 at 4:23
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I would encourage you to read @KRyan's answer, however I feel the need to extrapolate.

Be Annoying

There are very few options in D&D to steal a character's agency: you may much more easily disable it than control its mind. This is good, since anything you do to others your GM can do to you.

As a result, in order to provoke others to attack you, you just need to be more annoying that the other party members. Piling on AC and HP increases your resilience, but does not make a compelling target of you.

Thus, your character should be built toward annoying the enemy. Be a thorn in their side. You are unlikely to be able to completely shut them a horde of foes by yourself, but you can leave them only bad and worse choices.

Note: your goal is not to soak up the damage, this is incidental to the task; your goal is to prevent damage to reach your party members. If you can find a way NOT to take damage while accomplishing your goal, it is better.

Thicket of Blades

This is the key stance (Devotion 3) for a tank, any foe moving within your reach, even a 5-ft. step or trying to disengage from combat, will provoke an Attack of Opportunity.

Combine with a Reach Weapon (Guisarme, for example) and the Combat Reflexes feat and you have a solid basis (*). You may not stop foes from moving around you yet, but you instill a sharp penalty for doing so.

If you really wish to stop foes in their track, you can also combine this setup with the Stand Still feat. Damages scale much more quickly than Reflex saves, and the bigger the monster the less Reflex it has (case in point, a Great Wyrm, with its 41 Hit Dice, only has +22 to Reflex), so the feat tends to be worth more in higher levels.

(*) A quick reminder than the max Dexterity to AC column of your armor only limits the Dexterity bonus to AC and does not affect the Dexterity modifier itself.

Bulwark of Defense

A Knight (PHB II) gains Bulwark of Defense at level 3. All the square the Knight threatens become Difficult Terrain, halving foes movement.

Unfortunately... there is no Difficult Terrain for flying foes so it loses value at higher levels.

Tripping

Great at lower levels, however at higher levels foes tend to be much larger and much stronger making it very difficult to remain effective, and thus it becomes a situational thing.

You are not alone

Controlling the enemy's movement is not your exclusive role, the whole party has to chime in.

Spellcasters, for example, should have ways to control the terrain: Grease or Entangle are examples of 1st level spells which, combined with the natural terrain, allow corralling the enemies.

This is part of the overall tactical effort of the team, as much as you decide who strikes which target, you also have to decide who disable/slows down/holds off...

Specifics

a group of orcs that flat out ignored the tank and charged into close combat with the casters

Let's replay this with a Crusader with Combat Reflexes and a Reach Weapon placed in front of the group:

  • Charges need be in straight lines
  • When charging, they take a -2 penalty to AC
  • You control 5 squares (2 on each side of you, plus the one you occupy)
  • Your party members are behind you

The orcs may indeed pass around you, however this is at the cost of suffering an Attack of Opportunity from you (a +1 Guisarme with Strength 18 makes 2d4+7 points of damage, for an average of 10).

You force a choice on them:

  • face you (Good)
  • go around (Good: they lose a turn of attacks)
  • charge the casters, taking damage (Average: free damage!)
  • switch to ranged attacks (Average: they are not as proficient)

a group of zombies with a row of archers that persistently readied an attack "as soon as he starts casting"

You are, and will be, awfully unprepared to deal with ranged attacks. It is not your forte.

Still, there are at least two tactical options here:

  • Charge the archers
  • Have the spellcaster take cover (at least from some archers) or even dive to the ground if no cover is available

These options are not exclusive.

Charge the archers: there are very few ways to fire a ranged weapon without provoking an Attack of Opportunity, and since you wield a Reach Weapon a 5-ft. step away from you is insufficient to escape your threatened area.

Zombie choices:

  • face you (Good)
  • disengage (Good: while they move they do not attack)
  • fire their bow (Average: free damage!)

some beasts lead by a druid, who set an ambush to attack us from the rear.

Once again, this is about team coordination. Ideally:

  1. Move in the midst of the beasts, to start threatening them (you need not charge)
  2. Have your allies move out

Note that a number of White Raven maneuvers shine here: Douse the Flames (WR 1), Tactical Strike (WR 2), White Raven Strike (WR 4) and Covering Strike (WR 4) allow you to prevent the beasts from making AoO while your allies move, White Raven Tactics (WR 3) and Order Forged from Chaos (WR 6) allow one (resp. all) allies to move out right now.

In a hurry (if you already played this turn), your allies could move without you, simply taking refuge behind you.

In both cases, your party has reset the battle field to get back to the regular configuration where you stand between foes and friends.

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Two Mechanical Alternatives

The mechanics, as have been documented in the previous fine answers, don't really support attracting an enemy's attention the way you want. But, if the mechanics must do so, below are two alternatives.

  • While KRyan's answer already mentions the pretty terrible feat Goad (CAd 109), the alternative is the sort of okay Master of Mockery (Dragon #333 88). While that feat's prerequisite of Perform (comedy) 8 ranks is insulting (making the feat available starting at level 13 to those who must invest into the skill as a cross-class skill) and the effect is mind-affecting which limits its use and the effect is language-dependent (making a permanent tongues effect handy), Master of Mockery does what the feat Goad should do: Makes the target of the feat enraged, which the feat's description says makes those

    opponents [affected by the feat] attack you whenever able, ignoring all other targets. They gain a +2 morale bonus on attack rolls against you but take a −2 penalty to Armor Class.

    And that's not bad... comparatively, anyway. Presumably, this is attack you as in ends-the-invisibility-spell kind of attack, but ask the DM if this means attack attack, like with a weapon or weapon-like spell or something. And when able should mean, like, if it's not dead or if you aren't there, but, again, ask the DM.

    The saving throw DC against the effect created by the Master of Mockery feat is the result of your Perform skill check, which can be pumped to absurd pretty easily. And, hey, if it matters, the feat's a fighter bonus feat.

    Getting the attention in a similar fashion of an undead creature (that naturally resist mind-affecting effects) is done by using the feat Holy Calling (Dragon #334 86), which has the more complicated prerequisites of Charisma 15 and turn undead.

    Oddly, while the feat Holy Calling has a duration of 1d4 rounds and the feat Goad but 1 round, the feat Master of Mockery has no duration. Once successfully mocked, a creature affected by the feat remains enraged (and suffers a −2 penalty on Armor Class) forever. On your tax forms you can now list your occupation as troll.

  • The 2nd-level Brd spell and 2nd-level Sor/Wiz spell mindless rage [ench] (Spell Compendium 142) has an effect that, if successful, is precisely what you want. It's effect, for example, causes wizards to run up to you and attempt to beat the crap out of you with their quarterstaves. Even if you are not a caster, someone must be, and if he's drawing aggro, at least then you know where the foe's headed, and you should be able to position yourself between. Predictable combatants are much easier to defeat.

    The spell is mind-affecting but not language-dependent. Tables I've played at have made LARPing the somatic components mandatory when casting the spell mindless rage.

One Narrative Alternative

If you're consistently fighting foes that all speak the same language, learn the language. Even if you're not fighting the same foes, go out of your way over the course of the campaign to learn the most insulting phrase in every language or, if necessary, to every culture. Own those phrases so you don't sound silly. Then save those phrases for when the baddies decide to ignore you then whip them out. Knowing the correct ten words in any language should make foes, if they don't immediately want to kill you, then at least pay attention to you.

By the way, it sounds like the DM is playing his creatures as tactical geniuses when most creatures, frankly, aren't. If the DM's response to all this preparation is, for example, always, like, Despite explaining to the orcs how Gruumsh's lack of depth perception means he can't even throw a spear, the enemies continue to ignore you in favor of attacking the wizard then you can pretty much just roll dice and push around your mini during the combat music instead of trying to role-play during it, too.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Nice point about the DM, not all NPC will behave in tactically sound ways, starting with animals... \$\endgroup\$ – Matthieu M. Dec 29 '15 at 12:05

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