Monday, April 27, 2009

Guild review: Justicars of Tyr

The recent Almerian Expansion was particularly hard on one of my newer characters -- my Ollin Tonatiuh/Kensai who I had decked out in hyperium gear. Basically, since I had neglected to log her in within the time frame allowed for prior to the expansion, she ended up being sent into penury, losing all of her equipment. Instead of attempting to re-equip her with more hyperium gear, I decided to take her in a different direction -- since I already have a kensai, and Lenisa was basically just a thematic variation on the guild, I decided to use her to check out a guild with which I have not had much experience in the past -- the Justicars.

Now, typically the mere mention of the word 'Justicar' is enough to elicit comments about how utterly bad the guild is, so I knew that perhaps I would have a bit of an uphill battle as far as character development is concerned. I knew that the Justicars still lock the upper-level powers up behind level requirements, and while Lenisa had a bit of a head start at level 15, she would still be pretty far from using some of the better abilities of the guild. I've gotten Lenisa up to level 16 so far (much of her short time with the guild has been spent in efforts to train up her crafting skills, since those are so vital to good performance in the guild), and so don't have a whole lot to say yet about the two upper-level powers of the guild (meditate and deliver judgment), so a review inclusive of those powers will probably be forthcoming. And despite the cynicism of some players towards the Justicar guild, I've come to learn through my experiences with the Ordo Maleficus (and clerics, which tend to be similarly-maligned as 'broken') that things aren't always as insurmountable as some people might make them out to be.

So let me just kick off the review by saying that the Justicars are a decently-solid melee guild. Of course, this isn't saying a huge amount, since, after all, the Adventurer's Guild is also a decently-solid melee guild these days, and there aren't even any special requirements to join. But the melee ability of the Justicars is a boon, since unlike some other 'underpowered' guilds (such as the Ordo Maleficus), Justicars always have the power of a good old-fashioned ass-whooping to fall back on.

Augmenting the Justicars' melee prowess is what I consider to be their primary guild power: their equipment. Now, I have to make the confession that I have cheated a bit in this arena... The two great rings of smithing which augment Lenisa's ensemble do wonders to increase the quality of equipment she can craft at Tyr's forge. But even so, Justicar equipment is some really good stuff -- and it should be, considering that Justicars are encouraged to spend so many specialty points in crafting skills. There really isn't a whole lot of room to criticize the Justicar equipment... The armor is solid, and can be crafted piecemeal (so that it can be accessorized with odd pieces such as a dactid), the weapons perform special attacks, and even though you might want to carry a back-up (for order-resistant foes), the weapons are generally good enough to not make you look twice at most things you might pick up. The only real criticism I would have about Justicar equipment is that the new map expansions make it somewhat onerous to get -- you have to travel to the Ivory Tower to craft it, and it does not persist between incarnations. On the plus side though, it does stay with your character if she gets killed and resurrects herself, somewhat alleviating the requirement to go naked to retrieve one's corpse from a potentially dangerous environment. Something like an ability to keep Justicar equipment between incarnations would be nice, especially considering the general largeness of the world nowadays.

Another nice benefit of the guild is the guild tower, which has some really great trainers. Of course, the trainers in the Ivory Tower are not exclusive to Justicars -- any Questor of Tyr can use them (a fact I discovered when setting up my old RW/Questor character who I made basically for the entertainment value of having a scry-proof, invisible Lord Questor, as well as being able to grab the One Ring from Ahrikol at any time by using the Lay on Hands ability in order to blast off his pimp-slapping claw (reported that as a bug, and it's no doubt since been closed... :P ), but they're still a really awesome perk for the Justicars.

The other abilities of the guild seem somewhat lackluster... Cleanse allows you to cure disease or poison on anyone except yourself, which seems sort of nice for if you have a lot of followers, or just want to get rid of the plague in an area, but otherwise, not so much. Consecrate area allows you to make an area ordered, which apparently has some sort of effect on things, even though I don't know exactly what. Meditate sounds like it could be useful -- a general buff to abilities that's 'charged up' by spending time meditating... I don't know a whole lot about it yet, since it's still level-locked for me. And finally, deliver judgment -- an area attack that messes stuff up for chaotic people, which can be used every 5 minutes and (at least from what I've seen in the past having been hit by it in Jhan), actually does pretty decent damage. Again, level-locked for me, so I dunno how well it will work when Lenisa uses it against the ravening hordes of chaos. So two pretty useful/awesome abilities to look forward to, with most of the 'ho-hum' things out of the way, I guess.

Since Justicars are one of those guilds which have limited rapid travel options (no guild teleports, unable to join Brotherhood of Wine and Song, probably unable to join Stalkers of the Gate...), I decided that I might like a horse of some sort for Lenisa. The good part of this is that Justicars get 6 spec access in equestrian, riding, and mounted combat -- perhaps a holdover from the days when they could summon griffons and dragons to serve as mounts. Of course, this access seems to be going to waste just a bit with Lenisa, since most of the mounts she can get at the moment seem to share the characteristics of being fairly fragile and not at all that courageous, meaning Lenisa ends up running a lot if she goes into combat mounted. She's got a pegasus from Centaur Isle right now, but is definitely looking for something better, especially since the pegasus she's got is very chaotic, which might become a problem when Lenisa grows up into th deliver judgment ability. Maybe I'll assassinate Tiamat with Porphyria and see if any dragons or drakes hatch from her eggs. Since Lenisa can't just do the knight trick where she just lays hands on her mount and everything is good (although she can totally cure it if it gets the sniffles), other options seem just a bit limited.

Anyhow, there's really not a whole lot more to say at the moment about the Justicars... They're a decent enough guild, even if they've been left in the cold a bit as far as updates/power increases are concerned. Maybe more updates to come, if Lenisa doesn't get deleted in a fit of pique...


  1. Gav was originally a Justicar and I've played Justicars on and off over the years. And I sort of see Knights as a bit underpowered and Justicars as underpowered Knights. The two have a lot in common (see nice equipment that doesn't keep between incarnations but stays with you over death). I think Knights get the better end of the Justicar/Knight deal though.

  2. I would sort of agree that Knights are a bit more formidable than Justicars, if just because of their lay on hands/prayer ability. Of course, Justie equipment does go up to unearthly level (which my amberite achieved at level 15 or so), and it's been recently improved (change 4213)... Like I said above, the equipment Justies get is good enough that there really isn't a whole lot I can think of that matches up -- something that I definitely wouldn't say about the low-level knight gear. Plus, the Justie area attack is a whole lot more useful than turn undead, even if it can't be used as often... It's kind of a toss-up in my mind, but then again, I pretty much loathe babysitting followers, which seems to be a particular strength of the Knights, so I don't really include them in the equation so much.

  3. I'm actually quite fond of the Justicars and thematically I think they're very necessary, even if they are the Orders answer to the 'good' Knights. I think there's a very subtle difference to the two. Even if Yehovah is the more ordered of the Yehovah/Adonai pair, that Order is still tempered by Good. Something the Justicars don't necessarily have. The Knights Templar I think come pretty damned close to the Justicars in terms of extremism. The Knights of the Round Table... I think the 'Order' in them is over-emphasised too much. Justicars and KTemplar are fascists, the KOTRT are... I'm having trouble thinking of a good RL example... but definitely more tempered by compassion

  4. I hadn't realized that the Templars were quite so fleshed-out in characterization on the MUD. But then again, I haven't really had that much contact with the NPC templars, except maybe through the character of mine who's in the Inquisition. Of course, if they're like the historical Knights Templar, they're probably some pretty interesting characters... The orders of Crusader Knights (Templars, Hospitallers, etc...) have always sort of been an interesting bit of history.

    I suppose the closest I could come to how I see the Justicars as far as a guild would be as an analogue of the Judges in the Judge Dredd stories. I don't know exactly what that says about anyone who would want to play one, but I suppose the whole game's basically based on mass murder, so I suppose it's not a whole lot worse than playing anything else. ;p

    As for the Round Table knights... While I don't think that they should really be into the ideal of order for its own sake (since they're supposed to be good more than ordered), I don't think that the Defenders of Camelot should be law-breakers... Although yes, I would think that a Knight of the Round Table would always be looking out for ways to serve the Greater Good, rather than feeling bound to the service of Order. They're not exactly tree-huggers, tho.

    I've always sort of wanted to see Chaos Knights (whether or not they're tied to the Courts of Chaos... I'd almost prefer them not to be, since I don't really care for the whole Amber/Courts dichotomy (sorry)) as a playable class, to sort of round out the whole alignment-based holy-warrior class thing... Of course, then we'd also need evil 'knights', and I'm not entirely sure that Nizari fit the bill there.

  5. There is a Ringwielder 'evil knight' build possible, even encouraged I think with their mounts and followers.