Q: Dear Sage,
What exactly does the knight’s bulwark of defense class feature (Player’s Handbook II, 28) do? Does an adjacent enemy have to make a Balance check to remain standing?
A: This class feature simply makes it difficult for an adjacent foe to move around you, as all squares you threaten are considered difficult terrain (and thus cost 1 extra square of movement to enter). The most significant benefit is that an enemy that begins its turn in a square threatened by you can’t use a 5-foot step to move to another square threatened by you.
It doesn’t prevent an enemy from backing away from you normally (assuming you don’t have extraordinary reach), and it certainly doesn’t require any special skill checks to navigate the affected squares.
About the Author
The Sage is a mammal classified in the bear family, Ursidae, native to central and southern China. Debate continues as to whether he is truly a bear or more related to the raccoon rather than the bear, or perhaps in a family of his own. When not eating bamboo and answering rules questions, he works under the nom de plume of Andy Collins as an RPG developer in Wizards of the Coast R&D, where his development credits include Complete Mage, Dragon Magic, and the Player's Handbook v.3.5. He can be easily recognized by his large, distinctive black patches around the eyes, ears and on his rotund body.