Wednesday, April 11, 2012

A to Z Challenge, J is for Justicar

In the early 2000s Wizards of the Coast launched a series of Greyhawk novels each centered around the classic modules including but not limited to: Against the Giants, The Temple of Elemental Evil, Keep on the Borderlands, & The Tomb of Horrors.  This was right around the time the Drizzt books were taking their adventures onto a grander scale with soaring popularity.  If I had to guess these novels were about bringing Greyhawk lovers into the fold of third edition.  There were also the "Return to" series of revisited Greyhawk modules during Greyhawk's 25th anniversary in 1999 so this was a pretty broad net to capture players who started with older products and it certainly worked for me.

Among the series of Greyhawk books there were three in particular that were my favorites:  White Plume Mountain, Descent into the Depths of the Earth, and Queen of the Demonweb Pits.  Each of these starring the principal character Justicar the grim anti-hero and Escalla the capricious and vain pixie.  Its been a number of years since I've read them but I plan on doing a reread soon.  I recommend them on their merit alone although I can't say how closely they stick to the modules that is their namesake.

The Justicar though is quite an interesting character, he is a Ranger, a former guerrilla in the War against Iuz.  He is incredibly self-sufficient, merciful when he needs to be and ruthless at all others.  His belief system can quickly be surmised as terrible and swift judgement, he is both bounty hunter and Judge Dredd.  Most of all he's a one man wrecking crew.  I'm going to take a crack at the Justicar using the rules for class kitting on the fly I posted a while back.

We're going to start with the Fighter base as the Justicar is quite good at what he does.  We're going to trade out medium and heavy armor proficiencies for classic Ranger abilities: Tracking, Surprise Bonus, and Less likely to be surprised.  We're also going to give him an endurance type ability that allows him to outlast his prey in a chase.  Weapon choice will also be limited to any weapon that is capable of dealing non-lethal damage, in exchange the Justicar can choose for all or part of their damage to be subdual damage.  A ranger in the books the Justicar had a number of Druidic / Divine spells, I think the best way to model this would be the OD&D Ranger who had two spell lists, but in the interest of simplicity he will merely have one spell list with a few spells taken from arcane and divine sources.  I don't recall the extent but I do recall entangle, silence, and cure spells being mainstays so the spell list will be temporary until I have a chance to reread the books.  Lastly we are going to modify the Fighter's ability to fight multiple foes to be more similar to a commando fighting style.  Instead of giving the Justicar extra attacks or more minion walloping abilities we are going to give him a chance to interrupt his opponents.  He may try to interrupt a caster with a silence spell, an archer with hold person or a charging barbarian with entangle.

Here's what we have so far.  I considered giving them Saves of a different class, one with a poor Breath Weapon save although none of the classes are particularly worse off than the others.  Although at higher levels the Thief is actually the worst of the bunch, sorry Bilbo!  The Justicar appears to have ended up with more abilities or at least more versatility than the fighter base so I had to add quite a bit of restriction to reign it in.

3d6 D&D
Fighter  Kit:  Justicar
  • Hit Dice:  d6 / level. 
  • Attack / Save progression:  As Fighter
  • Armor:  Light armor only (Up to Hide)
  • Weapon: Proficient only in melee weapons
    • And only weapons capable of dealing subdual damage.
  • Spell Casting
    • After level 1 gain one spell slot per level (max of 5)
    • Requires an INT and WIS greater than 12
    • Temporary Spell list
      • Entangle, Dispel Magic. Hold Person, Heat Metal, Silence, Web
      • Cure spells, Jump, Haste, Neutralize Poison, Purify Water, Remove Fear,  Resist Element
  • Abilities:
    • Tracking 
      • Hide as a Thief of two levels lower
      • Endurance:  The Justicar is unlikely to be tired or fatigued when tracking for days at a time
        • Provided their CON is 12 or greater
    • Surprise
      • Enemies are surprised on a roll of 1-3
      • The Justicar (and nearby allies) are surprised only on a roll of 1
    • Bringer of Justice
      • All or part of their damage may be dealt as Subdual
      • Against Guilty parties that Justicar has a wrathful fury giving them a +1 damage bonus / level
    • One man army
      • The Justicar may attempt a Save vs Breath Weapon to interrupt anyone within close range.
      • If the succeed they may cast a spell as an interrupt or make a pre-emptive strike.
        • Against those within range and with what they have in hand.


  1. I had no idea they made novels of these modules. Might need to check them out some time.

    1. I have Keep on the Borderland, Against the Giants, Tomb of Horrors and Temple of Elemental Evil on my shelf. Against the Giants was fantastic but the ending was a nonsensical cop out. I don't remember much about the others except either Tomb or Temple dealt with a fallen paladin which was decent.

      Since my current LL game is running an authentic as I can make it ToEE I'm thinking I should read the novel to see how closely it matches up.

  2. A novel built out of the Tomb of Horrors, who would of thought? Would be pretty wild if the book's party died as often as the player's party typically do.

    1. I read the novel before I was aware of this meatgrinder module so that idea would have completely flew over my head when I first read it. Its been so long I don't even remember the plot of the book or even the outcome.

      One more to add to the reread list!