Lost Lore: Justicar of Muir
This installment of the Lost Lore-series clocks in at 9 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, 1/2 page blank, leaving us with 4 1/2 pages of content, so let’s take a look!
Muir is one of the ancient gods that has waned, but still suffuses the lore of the Lost lands – from Abysthor’s Tomb to Slumbering Tsar, the deity’s influence is still felt and the PCs may well find one of the perished spirits of champions or priests to ordain a justicar! So yeah, prestige class with an emphasis on PRESTIGE. Justicars need to be lawful good and must have a minimum of 3 paladin levels; additionally, most chosen levels must be paladin and the last level taken prior to taking the class must similarly be paladin. These guys also need to undertake an arduous quest and ordination, as mentioned before, may be quest in and of itself. Apart from that, only 14 ranks in skills are required, with one making sure that the PrC can be taken no sooner than 8th level. Justicars may never have cohorts or henchmen, must reject own lands or property and must also reject all property beyond modest means – magic item-wise, only arms and armor may be possessed. Potions and scrolls may only be created by adherents of Thyr or Muir. They may neither lie, nor disguise themselves and evil beings may not force them to fall by imposing a violation of these tenets upon a justicar. In short: Justicars are old-school, hardcore GOODER than GOOD paladins. They get 1d10 HD, 2 + Int skills per level , full BAB-progression, good Fort- and Will-saves and full spellcasting progression.
At 1st level, they receive a celestial falcon as an animal companion at full druid level as well as a “+2 divine bonus to attack and damage rolls” versus evil-aligned undead and outsiders. There is no such thing as a divine bonus – that ought to be sacred. They also get Exotic Weapon Proficiency (bastard sword). Yay? As embodiments of truth, the gain +4 to saves vs. illusions and may cast zone of truth 1/day as a SP. At 2nd level, they gain 1/day discern lies as a supernatural ability, +1 daily use every 3 levels thereafter. While CL-info is provided, I don’t see why this is not SP instead. The 3rd level shield of truth falls apart: It lacks an activation action and grants a “+2 divine truth bonus” -whatever THAT is supposed to mean. The additional properties of the shield are cool, but it simply doesn’t work as written. 4th level nets mark of justice as an SU, 1/day, though here SU makes sense and is correct, considering it can be placed as a standard action. 5th level nets blanket immunity to illusions allowing for SR.
At 6th level, they get another “divine” bonus to atk and damage and doubles the threat range versus all evil creatures. OUCH. At the same level, the character gains the sword of courage, which grants a “+2 divine courage bonus” and once again lacks an activation action etc. – it’s the shield all over again. 7th level nets true seeing 1/day (classified as SU, oddly) and 8th nets the armor of honor…and guess what? Yep, it grants you a “+2 divine honor” bonus. 9th level nets Cha-mod times/day holy word and as a capstone, his anti-evil prowess is further enhanced while also providing a special benefit when using the 3 non-functional signature abilities in conjunction. A total of 13 feats are also included – they offer boosts to divine bond-granted mounts, increases of aura of resolve AoE combined with ridiculous bonuses to charms (Cha-mod +4…WTF?) for allies and using lay on hands as a move action for expending 2d6 (healing application only), the feats are okay, if not mind-boggling; some good, some bad.
Editing and formatting are pretty good on a formal level; on a rules-level, this needed another pass. Layout adheres to frog God Games’ two-column full-color standard for the series and the pdf has a neat b/w-artwork I enjoyed. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.
This is based on original Necromancer Games material, with additional design by John Ling; in spite of his best intentions, this age does show. The justicar, flavor-wise, is pretty much one of the most amazing holy knight takes I know: I mean, you not only become the champion of good, you become the champion of HARDCORE GOOD. Actually becoming this guy is a feat in and of itself – ordinance and everything. I *LOVE* this. I really adore pretty much the whole flavor of the prestige class. In fact, I will use the flavor.
Alas, that’s the only thing I’ll use. This may sound harsh and unwelcoming, but this PrC has not aged well. At all. It desperately needed a complete rewrite as far as I’m concerned. Yes, the justicar is pretty strong, bordering OP, but it damn well should be! If a PrC is this hard to get, it should better be worth it. And this is the crux: The PrC isn’t worth getting. The signature abilities are flawed to the point where their mechanics don’t work properly and the class is filled with bland numerical escalations and SPs. It doesn’t have enough unique tricks to make it stand out as a concept and the “be better at killing evil stuff” component is as old as it can get. Where are the inquisitor-tricks, the mesmerist-style gaze that hurts liars, the ability to turn the companion into a swarm of celestial eagles to rip out the tongues of liars and betrayers? From a mathematical point of view, the justicar starts falling apart as soon as he becomes available: The magic item restrictions mean that the PrC can’t use the save/AC-improving items that most martials are expected to have at these levels without gaining any means to really make up for it. In short, in spite of the power of some options, I frankly can’t see anyone taking this PrC for the mechanics, even if you’re willing to ignore the issues. When 3.0 came out, this would have been decent – not great or good, but okay. Several years into Pathfinder, it frankly fails from a mechanical point of view.
I love the fluff. I’ll gladly use it and the guidelines and restrictions are evocative and cool; the flavor is here. It is this flavor and narrative potential that constitute the only proper saving graces of this pdf. My final verdict will clock in at 1.5 stars, rounded up to 2 for the purpose of this platform.
You can currently only get this installment here on Frog God Games’ store.