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Justicar Samara (Mass Effect) talking

Justicar Samara


Power Level:
Game system: DC Heroes Role-Playing Game
Cdr. Shepard: “Excuse me, I’m looking for an Asari warrior named Samara.”
Asari police officer (alarmed): “Wait. Why ? Did she kill somebody already ?”

Context

Mass Effect was a landmark video game trilogy released from 2007 to 2012. It included multiple ties-in such as novels, comics and an animated movie. Further games will follow in 2016 and beyond, although they will form a separate storyline.

Writeups.org offers extensive Mass Effect coverage. The core articles are setting for Mass Effect 1 and the setting for Mass Effect 2, plus the profiles for the heroine – Staff Commander Mandala Shepard.

It is a science fiction story, of the starships and space aliens kind. Most of the action takes place in a military context, as an apocalyptic threat against the galaxy emerges. It’s one of my favouritest games ever.

Unless you are highly familiar with Mass Effect, we recommend reading these articles first. Reading the articles about Dr. Liara T’Soni will also be a wise choice.

The main article covers Mass Effect 2. The data from Mass Effect 3 is in a separate section at the end.


  • This profile assumes a specific video game playthrough – see our video games writeups FAQ for more.
  • There are S P O I L E R S in this thing.
  • This profile features tabletop RPG mechanics about the video game’s gameplay – see our video games writeups FAQ for more.
  • This profile features non-canon hypotheses about in-game events and mechanics – see our video games writeups FAQ for more.

Background

  • Real Name: Justicar Samara.
  • Other Aliases: Justicar (Cerberus callsign).
  • Marital Status: Widowed.
  • Known Relatives: Mirala aka Morinth (estranged daughter), Falere, Rila (daughters), bondmate (name unrevealed, deceased).
  • Group Affiliation: Shepard’s team, and possibly some sort of Justicar order.
  • Base Of Operations: Mobile.
  • Height: 5’8” Weight: 140 lbs.
  • Eyes: Reflective grey Hair: N.A.


Powers & Abilities

Samara is a mistress fighter, fluent with modern small arms, armour, shields, tactics, etc. She also possesses extensive but dated experience as a mercenary.

Our game stats assume a few common military skills (in first aid and vehicles operation) based on her past as a merc. Given her centuries of experience, other skills and expertises are probable.

Way of the warrior

Samara is obviously trained in hand-to-hand combat and the Asari martial arts, and seems remarkably strong. She is also highly intelligent and has several centuries of experience as a religiously-sanctioned vigilante.

Despite their medieval trappings Justicars seem fully trained in modern police methods. An Asari detective commented that Samara had been doing crime scene investigation work for three Human lifetimes.

When she uses weapons Samara prefers an assault rifle. Two of the Vindicator battle rifles in the Normandy’s armoury were built to her specifications. The range and power of a Vindicator are convenient for engaging targets too far away or too well-protected to be hit by biotics.

She also carries a Tempest SMG  as backup assault weaponry during commando operations. Like the Vindicator, the Tempest is a good weapon to saturate kinetic shields. Shepard gave the two Vindicators and two Tempests to Samara as a gift, since weapons and armour are one of the very few things a Justicar is allowed to own.

Like a great biotic wind, part 1

The weaponry tends to remain collapsed on Samara’s back, though. She doesn’t usually need a rifle. She is a very powerful biotic who can lift and accelerate hundreds of kilos with her mind. Thus, most opponents will simply be telekinetically smashed around or rammed into walls.

Samara practices biotic combat following an Asari tradition that resembles unarmed martial arts, and her techniques vaguely evoke wuxia tales.

One of Samara’s advanced techniques is the biotic reave. This is a sort of Mass Effect disruption attack that is but loosely comparable to a biotic warp. It :

  • Overloads nervous systems and electronics.
  • Disintegrates dense materials (such as heavy armour).
  • Collapses biotic barriers.
  • And seems to drain life force into Samara, physically healing her wounds.

This latter, very unusual effect might be a result of the genetic markers that made all her daughters ardat-yakshi.

Samara can telekinetically levitate herself. When meditating she floats in the air. She cannot fly as such, but has been clearly seen “feather falling” (telekinetically gliding/slowing her fall). Other Mass Effect media imply that she can perform superhuman leaps through Mass Effect manipulation of her weight.

Like a great biotic wind, part 2

Samara might have some kind of empathic or aura-reading ability. She immediately recognised Commander Shepard’s nature despite being unused to dealing with aliens.

Justicar Samara's crests and tiara

Since she still has to conduct investigations it’s presumably not a useful talent for her detective work, and might be limited to sensing exceptional righteousness such as Shepard’s.

Since this ability is thoroughly hypothetical and would serve solely to explain a weakness in the plot (why does Samara immediately and fully trust Shepard ?), it is not listed in our game stats.

Asari seem to assume that every Justicar is a biotic powerhouse. Presumably, the sort of discipline necessary to master the Code and/or to be accepted as a Justicar is similar to the discipline necessary to develop a high biotic power output.

Samara spends her free time meditating while making vast quantities of Dark Energy circulate through her body, which is likely related to her biotic puissance.

Her level of power is not normally seen outside of highly trained Matriarchs — and other Justicars.

‘scuse these blues

Power levels are normalised in Mass Effect games. Squad members all have the same level and are roughly balanced, though they all shine in certain situations, certain play styles, against certain opponents, in support of specific character classes, etc.

However, cutscenes, dialogue and non-game media indicate that certain squad members are particularly powerful – especially Jack and Samara. They also imply abilities not reflected in the gameplay. See our main Mass Effect 2 article about biotic melee.

The Asari on Illium seemed to consider that engaging Samara in combat would be suicide, even with several well-armed, experienced infantry squads. An in-game cutscene seems to confirm this – Samara can literally kill with a thought.

When she observed on Tuchanka that she might come back and wage war on the most powerful Krogan clan by herself, she obviously wasn’t kidding. An entire pirate raid once sensibly turned tail and ran once they could verify that the Justicar Samara was aboard the ship they were about to attack.

Our game stats draw from this, under the assumption that pen-and-paper gamers won’t have a situation where having some squadmates be more powerful than others would ruin the gameplay.

We haven’t assumed that Samara was as powerful as Tela Vasir (an Asari Spectre) in-universe, but this would not be unreasonable. Samara looks older than Tela. Presumably Samara’s power was played down in-game and Tela’s was played up, given their roles in the gameplay.


Justicars

In Asari cultures, Justicars represent a higher order. Theirs apparently straddle between legal authority and religious authority. They are basically above the law, and have been compared to Spectres in that regard.

When a Justicar kills somebody, most Asari apparently treats this like what insurance companies call an “Act of God”.

Under normal circumstances, no one can detain or otherwise hinder a Justicar. If they persist the Justicar will kill them.

Justicars are sworn to collaborate with the police. To work with one is a great honour for honest Asari law enforcers. The situation completely changes if the police isn’t honest, however.

She is the Law

This is what happens on Illium, as explained in the History section. The presence of a Justicar sends the local and apparently corrupt law enforcement into a near-panic.

Justicar Samara meditating

Justicars also have a remarkable role in Asari legal systems. When Commander Shepard provides information to help an Asari police build her case, the detective comments that this probably too weak to be admissible as evidence.

Samara then announces that she vouches for Shepard – without further explanation. This vague assertion by a Justicar immediately turns the information into admissible evidence for a trial.

One assumes that there are also traditions of hospitality and granting passage. Justicars have to sleep somewhere, and do travel around. Samara explained that Asari captains often liked having a Justicar aboard, presumably offering free passage. A ship that is known to ferry a Justicar is very unlikely to get attacked.

On the other hand Samara had to declare her presence and goal to the police upon reaching Illium. Justicars may have other traditional obligations toward local governments.

Additional information in Mass Effect 3 indicates that Asari laws greatly facilitate passage and travel for every Asari. SO Justicars might simply rely on these ancient traditions without having a special status.


This is the age of justice

Samara seems to be in her Matron stage. This Asari life stage usually starts between age 300 and 400. It ends the Maiden stage. Whereas Asari Maidens usually resemble a Human woman in her 20s, Matrons look more like a Human in her 30s.

There are also behavioral evolutions. Matrons tend to become more responsible and more interested in settling, shouldering responsibilities and having children.

Samara stated that she was nearly a millenium old. Normally Asari of that age have entered the last stage of their life cycle, ceasing to be Matrons and becoming Matriarchs circa age 700 or 800.

There seems to be a lot of individual variance, however. It is possible that not progressing to her Matriarch stage is part of her disciplines as a Justicar.

Becoming Matriarch also seems partly tied to one’s lifestyle, and particularly one’s sex life. Unusual biotic power levels, like Samara’s, have also been theorised to affect ageing rates.

Or maybe she is

Our assumption that Samara is a Matron and not a Matriarch is based on comparing her appearance with that of Matriarch Benezia, the first Matriarch to appear in Mass Effect. However, it is entirely possible that we are wrong to base our impression of how Asari Matriarchs look on Matriarch Benezia.

Both Samara and Aethyta are also in the Matriarch age bracket (albeit probably centuries younger than Benezia) and they look at most in their late 30s. It thus may be Benezia who looks older than Matriarchs generally do, while Samara and Aethyta are more representative.

This might be because Benezia is ancient even by Asari Matriarch standards. Or it might be a side-effect of her being indoctrinated by Sovereign. There’s a weak clue toward this indoctrination theory – Matriarch Benezia had some sort of mark on her chin which resembled the skin damage caused by advanced indoctrination.

If it is indeed Benezia who looks unusually aged for a Matriarch, then the simplest conclusion is that Samara is in her Matriarch life stage and aged normally past her Matron stage.

One exotic hypothesis is that Samara looks younger than she is due to her biotic reave technique. It might drain additional life force into her metabolism, prolonging her lifespan. There’s very little support for this idea, though.


History

Samara seems to have had a typical Maidenhood. She was active as a mercenary, was an amateur skyball champion and loved dancing the night away in clubs. However, her career as a fighting Asari had a distinct ethical theme. She fought slavers, tyrants and the like whenever possible.

After she went Matronly, Samara settled with an Asari bondmate. They had three daughters. Apparently Samara was the “mother” (that is, the pregnant parent) for all three. This is the point at which her life went all wrong, as all three turned out to be ardat-yakshi.

Into this house we’re born

“Ardat-Yakshi” is the Asari name for a rare medical condition. It is not normally discussed with outsiders. The data about the prevalence of the disease is thus unclear.

One assumes that being ardat-yakshi is a spectrum, with cases that are more or less severe. If so, given her personal history, Samara may only use the term “ardat-yakshi” for the most severe cases. Presumably there are specialised terms that Samara uses for less severe cases.

“Ardat-Yakshi” roughly means “demons in the winds” in a dead Asari dialect. They can be compared to vampire myths on Earth – specifically Romantic ones inspired by Lord Ruthven  or Stoker’s Dracula .

Having sex with an ardat-yakshi Asari is fatal. Instead of the rapturous fusion of mindscapes central to Asari sexuality, a neural onslaught slays the partner. This is highly addictive for the ardat-yakshi person. Left to their own devices those Asari with a severe ardat-yakshi genetic condition will become serial seducer-killers.

Such severe cases seem to represent less than one in a billion births. Yet the existence of this disease appears to play a significant role in Asari cultures.

This might be because sexual psychic melding is reportedly a very deep and intimate endeavour. The thought of such a profound experience being a mask for betrayal and bestial murder might be viscerally revolting for most Asari.

Into this world we’re thrown

In the earliest stages of their civilisations, Asari were often fascinated with ardat-yakshi. Some cultures venerated them as goddesses. As Asari philosophies and religions developed, this became profound repugnance and a taboo.

The disease has genetic causes. It can apparently only occur when two Asari have a daughter. The existence of ardat-yakshi seems to play a major, unspoken role in Asari communities and their preference for having babies with alien species.

Officially, “pureblood” births (children with two Asari parents) are considered to be less desirable than interspecies fertilisation for philosophical reasons about diversity.

Unofficially, pureblood Asari are viewed with anything from mild unease to outright bigotry because of their association with the ardat-yakshi condition. Two of the major Asari characters in Mass Effect, Samara and Liara, are purebloods.

If ya give this woman a ride…

The most severe cases of ardat-yakshi disease are reportedly kept locked up in a special monastery on Thessia, the Asari homeworld. They live in peace and comfort, but can never leave and are closely monitored.

Mass Effect 2 has a merchant on Citadel make a reference to a monastery full of “blue nutcases” producing expensive artisanal food and drink. Presumably this monastery is for Asari suffering from a less severe but still dangerous ardat-yakshi condition.

Even Asari with a very mild case of ardat-yakshi, who are free to operate normally in society as they do not pose a danger and can reliably restrain themselves, are designated by euphemisms. If two Asari refer a third as “having a medical condition” without ever stating which, it probably means such a mild case.

There are currently three known Asari with the most severe form of ardat-yakshi – Samara’s daughters. In their case, killing through psychic fusion is not just addictive. It also gives them mesmeric abilities that reportedly grow stronger as they kill.

Much like vampires, they can corrupt, hypnotise, dominate, brainwash, fascinate, drain life force and the like over repeated exposures. This is done by stopping sexual psychic fusion in its earliest stages, before it kills. It also seems that they can develop their biotic abilities to a high level even without formal training.

As Samara pointed out, her daughters may not be the only cases. Asari are spread throughout the galaxy, including across lawless and chaotic worlds where ardat-yakshi births could go unreported.

… sweet memory will die

Two of Samara’s daughters agreed to be locked up and live at the monastery housing the most severe cases.

Presumably they never killed anyone since they were too young to have sex, and never developed “vampiric” abilities.

However the third, Mirala, the smartest and fiercest of the lot, fled rather than spend centuries in a golden cage. She ran when she was barely 40. She was thus the equivalent of a teenager in Asari societies.

Despite this youth her severe condition soon made her a sexual predator and serial killer. Her intelligence and rapidly-growing charismatic powers allowed her to keep evading law enforcers.

Like a dog without a bone…

Samara was now the mum of the scariest Asari deviant alive. Mirala would likely live and kill for centuries as she kept evading pursuit. Mirala renamed herself Morinth – the meaning of this is unrevealed.

Justicar Samara and her torc in the dark

The guilt about this wrecked Samara’s life. Samara is a lady with unusually strict ethics. She is compelled to act rather than see evil things done – no matter what the consequences.

Contact with her other two daughters was also emotionally draining. Yet Samara, Falere and Rila did their best to stoically accept the hand they had been dealt and remain in touch.

Samara’s bondmate also died during this general era in unknown circumstances. This kind of loss seems to be even more devastating for Asari than for Humans.

To act upon her guilt about Morinth, Samara invoked a rare, ancient Asari tradition. She :

  • Retired from the world.
  • Renounced all her possessions.
  • Studied the 5,000 sutras of the Code of the Justicar.
  • Survived the weeding out process.
  • Took the Oath of Solitude and the Oath of Subsumation.

This made her a Justicar.

These events took place a bit more than 400 years before the events in Mass Effect. For reference’s sake, this means that Samara becoming a Justicar is roughly contemporary to the Declaration of Independence of the United States.

… an actor out alone

Justicars are a peculiar Asari tradition. It can be compared to some versions of Dungeons & Dragons paladins , or some sort of warrior-monks. They are also reminiscent of the Gunslingers in Stephen King’s novels .

Justicars follow a stringent code of justice. It demands death for all those who commit evil deeds, or abet those. They wander among Asari, righting wrongs that they observe – or when supplicated to intervene. Their actions are utterly predictable, as they all follow the Code to the letter.

A Justicar intervention is a serious matter. If they determine that crimes covered by the Code have been committed, then people are probably going to die. And there’s little anybody can do about it.

Several Asari in the Mass Effect game refer to the Code as the “highest law” and consider that it applies to all Asari, everywhere, forever.

There’s a killer on the road (part 1)

There are apparently very few Justicars at any given time. Perhaps less than a dozen, as Samara describes her order as “a handful”. They are called an order, but whether they have an actual organisation or even talk with each other is unrevealed during Mass Effect 2. Justicars normally operate in Asari space.

Justicar Samara holding a biotic field

Justicars seem to have been some sort of feudal institution loosely comparable to samurai – or some sort of knight-errant or yóuxiá. The main hint is that Samara seemed interested in meeting a lord worthy of commanding a Justicar. This is apparently better for Justicars than just roaming around on their own.

She had specific sutras (the Third Oath of Subsumation) to recite to pledge allegiance, further hinting that Justicars were traditionally attached to a temporal authority.

One gets the impression that the Justicars were created in lawless, primitive times with little social organisation and much savagery. Upholding a just ruler was an important objective of their mission of justice and regulation.

There’s a killer on the road (part 2)

Justicars seem to be considered as sacred by all Asari. They are seen much like a force of nature, such as a hurricane.

People will not normally interfere with the activities of a Justicar. The Code generally demands death for those who impair a Justicar. Asari don’t seem to even consider the possibility that a Justicar might deviate from the Code in any way.

When asked whom the Justicars answer to, an Asari police contact of Commander Shepard couldn’t find a way to explain how it works in Human terms. She just restated that Justicars follow the Code because… because by definition Justicars follow the Code.

This often seems bizarre to Humans. These can imagine plenty of ways to abuse this system, and the various downsides of powerful killers with an inflexible code freely running around. Such concerns are in turn puzzling for Asari. Justicars follow the Code, and that’s just how it works.

The situation makes one wonder whether Justicars have free will. Justicars have been around for thousands of years. Given the Asari’s trust that they will follow the Code there presumably hasn’t been any deviation during this immense span of time.

This is doubly true given the fiercely individualistic, unruly nature of many Asari.

There’s a killer on the road (part 3)

The arrival of a Justicar seems treated by most Asari like the coming of a storm. Most people have something in their life that runs afoul of the Code. Thus, it’s best to be very discreet or even bunker down and hope that the storm will pass quickly.

Justicar Samara vs. Morinth

Samara chiefly travelled through remote, low-density areas. Though people there would petition her to see justice done, her judgement rarely quite was what they had been hoping for.

Several Asari on Illium mention that most Asari dream of becoming Justicars when they’re little girls. Adventure stories about Justicars are a genre in Asari media. But it depicts romanticised and imaginary action that lacks the grimness of real Justicar operations.

Presumably Asari girls stop fantasising about becoming Justicars when they grow up. Then they understand what the constraints such as the Oath of Solitude mean, or the stringent requirements to joining the Order.

Most would-be Justicars are lethally weeded out. Samara didn’t explain why the training to become a Justicar has such high casualty rates or how the deaths occurred.

A policewoman mentioned that many Justicars were on a lifelong quest. Thus, Samara hunting down Morinth may not be an uncommon situation among her peers.

And I looked, and behold a pale-eyed woman…

The woman in black fled across the galaxy, and the Justicar followed.

Samara got close to Morinth once on a remote Asari colony world. She discovered that her daughter had enslaved an entire settlement with her mesmeric will. She made them worship her and offer their youths in sacrifice.

When Samara came in, Morinth had the villagers attack to buy her time. Samara was forcing to kill everybody but the small children, presumably slaying hundreds.

Circa 2185, Morinth left Asari space for the Terminus Systems. She hit Illium , an Asari-dominated trade world. Samara was hot on her heels. Thus, Morinth made arrangements with Eclipse  mercs to be smuggled out ASAP.

Upon learning that a Justicar was about to dock, Asari authorities on Illium became livid. Though it is Asari-dominated Illium is not Asari space, and there’s a lot of non-Code-compliant activity going on there.

Samara was bound to kill a bunch of people. Yet no honest Asari would even consider interfering with a Justicar’s holy work.

Furthermore, many aliens on Illium were guaranteed certain arrangements. They would never understand having some sort of unstoppable mystical biotic killer vigilante acting freely while every Asari on the planet just stared at their shoes and waited for it to be over.

Lastly, it is likely that Illium’s police and government had something of a corruption problem. This would have catastrophic consequences if the Justicar Samara stumbled upon it.

… and her name was death.

Samara followed Morinth’s trail. Everybody else sweated bullets and waited for a massacre. Thankfully, her investigation took her to a district handled by a clean cop, Detective Anaya.

Justicar Samara in her black suit, with her arms extended

Anaya was thrilled and honoured to work with a Justicar. But Samara quickly determined that Morinth had some deal going with the Eclipse mercenary corporation.

Samara slaughtered two squads of Eclipse shock troopers to learn the name of the ship Morinth was leaving Illium on. Anaya’s superiors — whom Anaya suspected were in bed with Eclipse — then foolishly ordered the detective to arrest the Justicar.

The dutiful Anaya obeyed her orders. Yet she knew that interfering with a Justicar’s work would get her killed. Seeing that Anaya was good police and not wanting to kill her, Samara did what she could. She invoked a Code clause allowing her to suspend her investigation for 24 hours.

Past that delay, she’d regretfully have to slaughter anybody interfering with her work.

Enter the dragon

Anaya knew that there was no way the situation would be over within 24 hours. She apparently intended to send all of her staff away. This way, she’d be the only one Samara would have to kill to leave the police station.

Thankfully, Staff Commander Shepard arrived at that point. She brokered a deal with the detective and Samara. Shepard would force the Eclipse mercs to give her the name of the ship while Samara was still in custody.

With this clue in hand, Samara could leave Illium to chase Morinth. The police could thus release her without any trouble. And Samara could work with Shepard and join her team.

Based on intelligence provided by Anaya, the Commander and her tactical team fell on Eclipse like a tonne of Tuchankan bricks. The Commander did get the information Samara was after, and the catastrophe was avoided.

Riders on the storm

Samara declared subsumation – a sort of feudal-sounding allegiance to Commander Shepard. This would last for the duration of the mission Shepard wanted to recruit Samara for. The main goal apparently was to avoid incompatibilities between the Code and taking orders.

One assumes that Samara had gauged Commander Shepard through some sort of psychic means. She seemed to just know that Shepard was a just and heroic leader and that she was on the modern equivalent of a mythic quest.

Shepard agreed to help Samara stalk Morinth now that the Justicar was so close to her quarry. When the ardat-yakshi was spotted on Omega , Cdr. Shepard helped Samara investigate. The Commander used her own contacts with the local underworld — namely the pirate queen Aria T’Loak — to locate her.

After interviewing the mother of Morinth’s latest victim, Samara and the Commander agreed on a plan. Shepard would be the bait, hitting on Morinth and pretending to be seduced. When Shepard and Morinth would come to Morinth’s place, the Justicar would strike. A centuries-long hunt would end in Shepard’s presence.

If all went according to plan, that is.


Description

Like most Asari, Samara has neatly chiseled, regular features and a fit, well-built body. Her facial proportions are unusual, with broad jaws making her face rectangular, and immense eyes.

Like with most Asari Samara’s eyes are reflective. They actually shine in certain lightings. Hers are a pale, limpid metallic grey. With her skin tone they look a light blue-grey and under strong artificial lighting they’ll look almost white.

Samara’s facial dermal patterns are light freckles in the general area below her eyes (in a darker blue), and a tesselated pattern along her cranial superstructures, like a fish’s scales.

Hefty matters

She also wears a sort of tiara — though on closer examination these plates seem actually affixed to her skin and might be some kind of body art — and a large golden torque.

Justicar Samara building up a biotic charge

Samara usually sports a red and black jumpsuit with golden trim and a scale-like armoured material on the torso and legs. The front is broadly split down to the navel, displaying considerable cleavage.

Apparently an Asari’s chest grows when she reaches the Matron life stage, as Maidens generally present less ample proportions than Samara’s.

The texture of Samara face’s skin also seems more weathered than an average fresh-faced Maiden’s. Asari skins generally have a more leathery quality than human skins, though. See the second Liara T’soni profile for a discussion about the rendering of Asari skin in the games.

Samara’s walk is occasionally model-on-the-catwalk-like with something of a hip roll. This may be a combination of her Asari suppleness and the high-heeled boots she wears (plus serious abs). One assumes that when moving quickly Samara biotically manipulates her mass so running in heels isn’t a problem.

Into the mystic, part 1

First contact with the Justicar Samara is likely to be dominated by her raw charisma. Samara is a towering presence. This effect is reinforced as most Asari tread around her as if she were an earthquake or a hurricane. “Regal” is probably the first word that comes to mind about her.

When using her biotics Samara is wreathed in a large, coruscating flow of Dark Energy. Her eyes are glowing like metallic stars. This projects an almost palpable aura of power.

Samara’s body language has a languid, exotic cast to it. Her voice is soft and controlled — though she becomes more intense when speaking about things that are important to her. By contrast, she remains icily calm and in control whilst fighting.

Samara sometimes speaks in an oddly flat and emotionless tone. It’s much like Liara did before she became more familiar with Human emotions and mannerisms. Whether this says anything about Asari in general is hard to tell. Both Liara and Samara were very isolated socially when encountered.

Into the mystic, part 2

Samara’s skin is on the paler end of the Asari spectrum – powder blue. Though Humans don’t always notice there are numerous Asari ethnicities with different skin colours, ranging through blues, teals, purples, etc.

Whether Asari facial and cranial skin markings are ethnic or individual (or the result of cosmetics) is unrevealed.

Here is a video of Samara speaking at length about Justicars.

 

Samara is voice-acted by actress Maggie Baird , and her face is based on scans of model Rana McAnear ’s.

After killing Morinth, Samara recolours her uniform in black, with golden trim. This might be a symbol of mourning – but then black could easily mean something else in her culture. And this palette is very reminiscent of the sort of clothing Morinth preferred.


Personality

Samara is a collected, contemplative, disciplined warrior-monk rigidly following the Code. Every single thing she does or thinks is written in the Code. She has no life and essentially no free will.

The Code reputedly covers all situations that she might encounter. But it doesn’t seem to be nuanced as to the punishments a Justicar will mete out. A Justicar will always stand with those helpless, abused, oppressed or preyed upon. And those in her way will die.

There is some leeway, but it only goes so far. For instance, a Justicar can agree to stop her work for precisely one day, provided specific conditions are met. This is usually to give a chance to local authorities to handle a problem. Past 24 hours, anybody who attempts to keep her detained dies.

Likewise, those who have helped criminals might be spared if they volunteer crucial information saving lives.

Determinism

Samara considers killing a sad, regrettable necessity and hopes that her victims will find peace in the hereafter. But those who violate the Code die. Gross violations such as attempting to bribe a Justicar or physically lock her up normally mean instant death.

Since a Justicar intervention presents such a lack of nuance and excess of lethality, it is widely understood that alternative methods of solving the problem are preferable. There’s a strong incentive toward negotiation before Samara turns the corner and sees the situation.

Only the powerless truly welcome the arrival of the Justicar Samara.

Voice of justice

Samara speaks with a calm, soft and precise measure. She sounds like a book and there’s something machine-like in her detachment – and the exactness of her sentences and choice of words. Presumably this is simply because she is centuries-old, has an impossible level of discipline, and hasn’t had much social life in 400 years.

It seems that Asari can sound more detached than most Humans in certain circumstances as a cultural trait. Or perhaps as a racial one, possibly caused by their long life span. But this is unclear – see our second entry for Liara T’soni.

Samara’s way of talking about Morinth is peculiar. She seems simultaneously horrified by the monster Morinth is and proud of how smart and strong Mirala is. She doesn’t seem to consider that the two are mutually exclusive.

Likewise she admired that the Spectre Nihlus Kryik  set up a situation where she had to save innocents so he could loose her. She didn’t seem to mind that it was dirty pool, rather saluting the man’s cunning. A Justicar is a warrior above all else.

So let it be written (part 1)

The Justicar seldom asks questions. She completely lacks in curiosity. When Shepard wondered about that, Samara explained that hearing more than is strictly necessary for her work entailed the risk of accidentally learning about things that might compel her to drastic action.

Justicars must be careful about what they hear lest the Code demand unpleasant things in reaction. Samara prefers to stick to a few core, clearly established facts about the situation. The Code is not concerned with details or nuance, anyway.

When she realised she’d have to leave Asari space, Samara studied the history and philosophies of the main alien species. Unlike many Asari she thinks that Humans are sort of cool, and is curious to see how they’ll develop in the galaxy.

Samara further expressed interest in continuing her “ministry” outside of Asari space if she survived Shepard’s quest. In particular she noted she might move to Omega to protect the population from the criminals preying on them.

If this happened it would be a major event. Both on Omega due to Samara’s power and skill, and in general by having the Code be enforced in a major location well outside of Asari space.

So let it be written (part 2)

Justicars seem intended to be servants – to society as a whole or, if possible, to a great and just leader. The latter seems preferred, perhaps to have somebody making more nuanced calls as to where — but not how — a Justicar should intervene.

Leaders with the moral calibre to be accepted by Justicars are rare. But Samara immediately knew that Commander Shepard was righteous and her cause a worthy one. This seemed to make her happy. Samara obviously saw something in Shepard, and clearly enjoyed being less lonely for a few weeks.

The Justicar didn’t seem to care much that Commander Shepard wasn’t Asari. She appreciated the Asariophile Shepard’s keen interest in her culture and traditions, though.

She also made positive remarks about working with Commander Shepard’s team. Generally, Samara seems to be very open-minded about aliens. As long as they do not break the Code, of course.

So let it be written (part 3)

The life of a Justicar is harsh, lonely, barren and painful. But Samara seems content with her existence. She has a calm, contemplative, stoic Zen-like outlook in almost every possible situation. She might get somewhat animated when discussing the Code or Morinth, but that’s it.

Justicar Samara talking with Commander Shepard on Omega Station

She’s completely unprejudiced, judging only in the light of the Code and applying it without anger.

As Joker put it, “I feel like Samara could just shoot me in a very tranquil manner. Which doesn’t make me feel any better about it.”

The Code’s constraints for Samara seem drastic, but are not precisely known. The general idea seems to be that she :

  • Can own very little – clothing, some weapons and armour, some petty cash.
  • Cannot form personal relationships – except to agree to serve a just leader.
  • Must solely live for her mission.

Most of her downtime is apparently spent meditating in her quarters.

So let it be done (part 1)

Samara has a noticeable problem with those who deprive innocents of their free will. When she’s around, the life expectancy of slavers rapidly tends toward zero.

Given the nature of certain “work contracts” on Illium, this likely was a major reason why Asari authorities started sweating bullets when the puissant Samara rolled in.

What the Oath of Solitude does is unclear. Samara said that the Code did not bar Justicars from romance. It is possible that the Oath allows for short romantic and/or sexual liaisons, but nothing on a time scale than an Asari would consider significant.

Samara herself says that this part of her life is well behind her. This might be related to how her bondmate died more than four centuries ago.

Justicar Samara aiming a Mattock rifle

Like many Asari, Samara considers Commander Shepard to be very attractive. Though she didn’t mention it she developed a low-key interest in her. The Justicar was herself surprised by this, as she had trouble wrapping her head around the idea that Shepard was not even 40.

By Asari standards this apparently represents something like having the life experience of a 16-year old. It isn’t even a tenth of the age of Samara’s youngest daughter.

So let it be done (part 2)

This is significant, as Asari cultures place a lot of emphasis on a person’s age. Most Asari assume that one cannot know much about life before age 150+. The smart and knowledgeable Samara knows that Humans count years and age differently, but it’s hard for her to get used to that.

Beyond this, thoughts of romance seemed painful for Samara. She acted as if there were some sort of trauma about love in her past. This again points at the possibility that the loss of her bondmate occurred in tragic circumstances.

Samara visibly flinched when she sensed that the empathic Shepard was feeling sorry for her about Morinth. She cannot abide being pitied. Despite this isolated faux pas, though, she considers that Commander Shepard is her friend. Shepard might in fact be the only person she calls friend, given her Justicar lifestyle.

Samara made it very clear that she would come to Shepard’s help whenever needed.


Quotes

“The name of the ship. Your life hangs on the answer.”

(Ritual blessing before killing someone) “Find peace in the embrace of the Goddess.”

“I answer to a code that is clearly defined. If my actions are true to that code, I am just. If they are not, I am unjust. I don’t pretend it is a simple matter, or that it seems right to everyone. But I sleep well at night, and that is more than most can say.”

“My daughter’s condition is my fault, and my duty lies in killing her. Do not pity me. Simply understand my situation.”

“By the Code I will serve you, Shepard. Your choices are my choices, your morals are my morals. Your wishes are my code.”

“I cannot loose [Morinth] on the world and pretend I owe her victims nothing. Her crimes are my crimes. […] I am sworn to hunt her down, and I will follow anywhere she goes.”

“I will fight and struggle all my life, that is my fate. When I die, it will not be in bed. I am at peace with that.”

“I hope we’ll have a chance to avenge this.”

“I have memorised every word. There’s only the Code. Its purpose is to punish the wicked and protect the innocent. It does not exist to bring about spiritual enlightenment. The Code of the Justicars is black and white.”

“I spent most of the last 400 years alone. It would be lovely to have a colleague to talk with.” (faint smile) “I may be rusty at it, however.”

“The expedient path may be fast and simple. That doesn’t make it the right path.”

“I owe nothing. I claim nothing. My knowledge will die with me. Now my purpose is to destroy my own children.”

(Explaining a sutra) “Any attempt to put me in a passive restraint system will be regarded as a hostile action, and I will be forced to attack.”

Justicar Samara bowing and coruscating with dark energy

“I might seem a hero to many, but I would kill all of them if I had to.”

“I am compelled to kill the wicked. If a Justicar is involved, peaceful solutions are long past.”

“I must learn for myself. There is too much room for interpretation in the opinion of others.”

“I remember each being I have slain. They are always in my thoughts.”

“I know what it means to lose a daughter. I shall avenge.”

(Watching a varren fighting pit on Tuchanka) “To pit living beings against each other for entertainment — unforgivable. If I survive your mission, I may return here and instruct the Krogan on compassion.” (beat) “I will need much ammunition.”

(After Samara and Shepard terminate Morinth, in a strangely emotionless and even tone) “At last, I am free. I am a ruined vessel of sorrow and regret, but I am free.”


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Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG Print Friendly

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Samara

Dex: 07 Str: 04 Bod: 04 Motivation: Uphold the Code
Int: 06 Wil: 06 Min: 08 Occupation: Justicar
Inf: 08 Aur: 07 Spi: 08 Resources {or Wealth}: 001
Init: 025 HP: 065

Powers:
Biotic pull: 00, Biotic reave: 02, Enhanced Initiative: 05, Jumping: 00, ME2 Defense (Barrier): 30, Force field: 01, Power Reserve (see below): 11, Superbreath: 00, Telekinesis: 00, Telepathy: 04

Bonuses and Limitations:

  • Jumping, Power Reserve, Skin armour, Superbreath and Telekinesis are biotic powers.
  • Force field cannot be stacked with other RV enhancers (-0) and is Self Only (-2) ; all attacks whilst Force Field is active must be done without weapons.
  • Power Reserve can fuel Biotic Pull, Biotic Reave Jumping, Skin Armour, Superbreath and Martial Artist. It can also feed Telekinesis and Jumping, but it takes 2 APs of Power Reserve to activate each AP of Telekinesis and 3 APs to activate each AP of Jumping.
  • Power Reserve cannot push any score past 13 APs.
  • When Power Reserve backs Martial Artist, it becomes a Powered Skill and acquires the Unfettered Fist Schtick.
  • Jumping has the Catfall Bonus.
  • Telekinesis cannot directly affect living beings (-2).
  • Telepathy has No Range, but is Form Function. When used in a focused manner to transmit or read specific data (rather than just have sex), it also has a Serious Burnout.

Skills:
Accuracy (Biotics): 10, Artist (Dancer): 04, Charisma*: 06, Detective (Clue analysis): 07, Detective (Police procedure): 12, Martial artist: 04, Medicine (First aid): 02, Military science: 06, Thief (Stealth): 05, Vehicles (Land): 03, Weaponry (Firearms): 06

Bonuses and Limitations:
Samara’s Detective (Police procedure) Skill only works with Asari law enforcement. It is also Contingent Upon her status as a Justicar.

Advantages
Combat Barrier Restoration, Credentials (Asari justice systems, High – cost doubled to represent her Justicar status), Familiarity (Military protocols and equipment, Zero-G combat, Skyball player, Basic history and ethics of the main alien species), Iron Nerves, Language (Council Trade, at least one Asari language), Lightning Reflexes, Local Hero (Law-abiding Asari), Mystique (Non-Code-abiding Asari), Scholar (The Justicar Code), Misc.: as a Justicar, Samara has a very specific status and implicit rights and duties among Asari.

Connections:
Crew of the SSV Normandy (Low), Commander Shepard (High).

Drawbacks:
CIA toward Following the Code to the letter.

Equipment:

  • M-15 Vindicator [BODY 03, Projectile weapons: 09, Ammo: 07, Telescopic vision: 03, R#02].
  • M-9 Tempest [BODY 03, Projectile weapons: 07, Range: 04, Ammo: 10, R#02, Drawback: Heavy Armour RV is considered one CS higher against this weapon, Limitation: Projectile weapon has No Range, use the listed Range instead, Advantage: Autofire].
  • CATSUIT [BODY 06, Cold immunity: 01, Flame immunity: 02, Skin armour: 02, Note: the CATSUIT cannot stack any of its defensive attributes with the ARMOUR below, as usual. We also use the usual assumption that women (well, feminoids) wear revealing outfits that somehow retain their full protective properties because… the laws of physics like fan service, or something.].
  • HIGH-END ARMOUR WITH HIGH-END MEDICAL SYSTEMS [BODY (Hardened) 10 /BODY/ 04, Cling: 04, Cold immunity: 03, Flame immunity: 03, Invulnerability: 05, Lightning immunity: 03, Radio communications (Booster): 02, Regeneration: 05, Sealed systems: 12, Shade: 02, Skin armour: 03, Medicine (First aid): 04, Limitations: Cling only works on metallic surfaces and reduces movement speed to 0 APs, Invulnerability takes five minutes per roll, Medicine (First aid) is Self Only, but works automatically, Skin Armour doesn’t work vs. Blunt or Structural damage].


Mass Effect 3

The Justicar returns in Mass Effect 3. Our general policy is to keep the information from each game separate, but there’s not enough material for a second writeup – so we’ll have a separate section instead.

Technical changes

Add Gliding: 02 as a biotic power.

Samara’s Familiarity about the basics of alien societies seems to extend to Quarians, which are not generally considered a major species, so there’s a good chance she also knows the basics of Volus and Hanar social organisation.

She no longer has a Low Connection to the Normandy, but seems to have a Low Connection with other Justicars.

Omega and subsequent events *in this playthrough*

On Omega, Samara and the Commander located Morinth within hours, thanks to the alliance between Shepard and Aria T’Loak. Shepard played the role of a perfect lover/prey for Morinth, who took her to her apartment.

A few minutes later, Samara came in and engaged Morinth in combat. But the ardat-yakshi had grown nearly as powerful as her mother, and managed a biotic force stalemate.

Though unarmed, the Commander intervened and put Morinth in a pain hold. The ardat-yakshi attempted to convince her to let her go and kill Samara instead, but Shepard was too strong-willed and the Justicar killed her own daughter.

Samara served with Shepard’s team until the destruction of the Collector’s base. She and Legion were at the Commander’s side during the final fight as the rest of the tactical force was blocking Collectors troops.

Samara defended Shepard against Collector attacks while the Commander was busy killing the proto-Reaper. Then Shepard narrowly caught Samara when the explosion of the proto-Reaper nearly killed everyone.

Samara was one of the last to leave as the Commander was demobilising her team. Shepard narrowly convinced T’Soni to see the Justicar so she could say a few sentences making T’Soni and Shepard bondmates before the Code. This is an obscure medieval engagement vow without intrinsic legal value, but backed by the word of a Justicar.

Samara then returned to her usual activities, though she again told Shepard that she just had to whistle and the Justicar would be there.

(The “bondmates before the Code” status is a characterisation embellishment for this playthrough and is not featured in the game.)

Mass Effect 3 events

Six months later, the Reapers invaded the galaxy. Asari space wasn’t attacked straight away. The Batarians were attacked first as they happened to be in the way and already weakened by indoctrination. The subsequent attacks focused on Humans before taking on Turians.

Though the Asari were powerful, their military was not suited to the kind of battle the Reapers would impose on them. On the other hand they could resist occupation for quite a while and would be difficult to harvest.

When the attack did came, a sizeable Reaper task force was sent to Lesuss, an obscure colony. The main peculiarity of Lesuss was the nunnery where Asari with a severe ardat-yakshi condition were held. Among their number were Samara’s daughters Falere and Rila. When Samara heard, she rushed to Lesuss.

Nunnery

The Shadow Broker (Dr. Liara T’Soni) also heard that several Asari commandos had been sent to the nunnery to blow it up but never returned. She warned Commander Shepard, who arrived on Lesuss less than an hour after Samara did.

Justicar Samara surrounded with dark energy breaking her fall

Samara was focused on finding Falere and Rila. She and the Commander found Falere, but the ardat-yakshi was crazed with anxiety about her sister. Thus, she rushed deeper into the building. Samara followed to protect her daughters, and Shepard and her operators followed at a slower pace.

The Commander and Dr. T’Soni determined that the Reapers could indoctrinate ardat-yakshi Asari. This turned them into powerful monstrosities called banshees. They also established that the Asari commandos had managed to plant their demolition charges. But they had been killed by banshees before they could detonate them.

Samara and Falere found Rila. The strong-willed ardat-yakshi told her mother and sister that she had been indoctrinated and would turn soon. Rila volunteered to stay behind and detonate the bombs set by the commandos.

Crawling from the wreckage

After narrowly repelling a squad of banshees the Commander and Samara agreed with her plan. They left before it was too late, dragging an hysterical Falere with them.

Rila heroically detonated the demolition charges just as the team left the nunnery, killing herself and an undetermined number of banshees.

Once outside, the Justicar decided to kill herself. The Code forbade the existence of an ardat-yakshi like Falere outside of the nunnery, and Samara preferred to die rather than kill the last of her daughters.

However, the Commander swiftly put her in a arm lock, preventing the Justicar from shooting herself in the head.

Regaining her composure at this sight, Falere told her mother that she would remain at the ruined nunnery. It was her home and she refused to abandon it.

This was acceptable by the Code. The grateful Samara confirmed the Commander that she and the other Justicars had now entered the war effort against the Reapers.

Total war

Samara was generally fighting Reaper forces on distant fronts. But the Commander somehow convinced her to take two shore leaves on the Citadel so she wouldn’t burn out from fighting 24/7.

During the first Samara simply dropped by Shepard’s apartment so they could chat and relax a bit. The Commander then took her to her favourite combat simulation arena.

Samara agreed to participate to an exhibition match at the Commander’s side and against simulated Reaper foes. This way Asari everywhere could regain some morale by seeing the power of a Justicar in action against the Reapers. The match was a success.

The Justicar Samara also attended a big party in Shepard’s apartment. Practically every member of “Team Shepard” was invited. She quite enjoyed it, and once her social energy was exhausted was content to simply meditate and feel the flow of the party going on around her.

After the Commander destroyed the Reapers, the Justicar returned to Lesuss. She was glad to find that Falere was still alive, and had been toiling to rehabilitate part of the nunnery’s ruins as living quarters for herself.

Samara apparently decided to remain for a bit and help Falere before returning to her ways as a Justicar.

New Mass Effect 3 background elements

  • The notion that the ardat-yakshi condition is a spectrum seems confirmed, as the Codex mention “latent” ardat-yakshi Asari and different levels of security for the ardat-yakshi colonists on Lesuss. The nunnery seems specifically intended for the most severe cases, and its organization is reminiscent of a traditional Catholic cloister.
    There is also a mention of a commando serving in the Asari military even though she is ardat-yakshi. Apparently this person is “normal” – except for being unable to make psychic sexual contact without killing.
    Even such “mild” ardat-yakshi become banshees when indoctrinated, and they seem to be the primary source of banshees.
  • The Matriarch serving as the “mother superior” of the Lesuss cloister was fighting against anti-ardat-yakshi prejudice. She had even secured authorisations for occasional visits by her least dangerous nuns on Thessia so they could see the homeworld and have some contact with society.
  • Mass Effect 2 mentioned such a monastery on Thessia rather than Lesuss. But the person saying this clearly knew very little on this subject. Or they may simply be a monastery for mild cases on Thessia, with low security.
  • Though Morinth killed hundreds if not thousands, the Commander is told that it’s actually not too bad as full ardat-yakshi “vampires” go. She was still young, and being hunted by Samara contained the damage. Shepard is told that in less controlled circumstances the body count of an ardat-yakshi like Morinth becomes astronomical.
    How isn’t explained, but it seems possible that mature ardat-yakshi with “vampire powers” might be able to take control of entire nations – resembling how ancient Asari worshipped powerful ardat-yakshi as death goddesses.
  • Both Falere and Rila may have had superior biotic abilities. Falere could perform a biotic gliding technique and Major Kaidan Alenko, one of the most powerful Human biotics, wryly commented that he had no idea how to do that.
    Since it can reasonably be assumed that neither ardat-yakshi received biotic training, they likely have superior biotic energy output no matter what.

Justicar Samara with some dark energy surrounding her

  • Samara makes Asari religious references to the Goddess, presumably as part of the Code. Said Goddess is Athame, originally part of a pantheon (her portfolio being fate and prophecy) but who gradually became the central figure of a monotheistic faith.
    The worship of Athame dates back to Asari prehistory – more than 50,000 years ago. But from context Samara seems to refer to the monotheistic version of Athame rather than the ancient form of the faith. The emergence of the Justicars might in fact be a product of the changes in worship of the Goddess.
  • Samara mentions that the Justicars were created to bring order and justice “in a world that laughed at these concepts”.
    This reinforces the impression that the ancient Asari society was a violent mess dominated by Maidens and their impulses, but that institutions such as Justicars helped its long evolution toward its sophisticated current state.
  • The Justicar mentions that she has talked with other Justicars about the Reapers. They all agreed that the Code demanded the destruction of the invaders for killing innocents. How many Justicars there are, how they contact each other, etc. is unrevealed.
  • Shepard and Samara discuss vintage issues of monthly Extranet magazine Justicar Heroes. The name of this Asari publication evokes American pulp magazines of the 1920s and 1930s – in many ways the ancestors of super-hero comics.
    The”reporting” is lurid and exaggerated, and Samara seems both embarrassed and amused by these pulps. The biggest article about her was in a 2085 issue — “Justicar Samara, cold-blooded justice runs hot” — which is apparently the sort of title one can expect from Justicar Heroes.
    During this discussion Samara implies that there isn’t much documentation about her feats, which is coherent with previous accounts of Justicar mostly working in out-of-the-way areas and frontier planets that most need some sort of law enforcement.
    Furthermore, one suspects that many Justicar activities do not leave anybody alive to talk to the press.

Additional characterisation

Samara remains close to Commander Shepard. Yet given her nature this is more about fighting together and defending each other in combat than conventional friendship. One gets the impression that, despite her superhuman discipline, Samara feels lonely.

Samara obviously welcomes opportunities to spend time with the Commander or her surviving daughter. But she cannot take a significant break from her Justicar activities. Her first brief bit of downtime on the Citadel was a result of her mistakenly thinking there was a problem requiring Justicar intervention.

As she readily admits, the Justicar is not very good at small talk. She will need to take a break after a few hours of socialisation to recharge. However, she is happy to simply stand silently among associates, or meditate close by, as she values the feeling of not being alone though she’s not interacting with anyone.

During the war against the Collectors she came to value the Commander’s operators. When Shepard threw a party Samara even chatted with people and mingled to an extent.

Blue-shido

Apparently Samara still considers that the Commander has some sort of noble-like position for Code purposes. The Justicar is no longer formally bound to the Commander, and they clearly treat each other as friends and equals.

But Samara seems to suspend stringent application of the Code when she is working with Shepard – like during the Collectors campaign, in Shepard’s presence Samara’s code is the Commander’s code.

This makes it possible for Samara to associate with folks who have done very bad things, such as Zaeed or Miranda, without conflict. It may also make it possible to relax the Oath of Solitude and to participate in events that aren’t 100% Justicar work (such as combat demonstrations to bolster Asari morale).

Another hypothesis is that the Code might have specific clauses due to the Reapers invasion, relaxing its stringency. While Asari are culturally averse to total war due to their exogamous instincts, there might be special procedures for great disasters.

In the past, ardat-yakshi goddesses-empresses may also have waged culturally abhorrent wars of conquest which the Code adresses in a specific manner.

By Sébastien Andrivet.

Source of Character: Mass Effect video game trilogy.

Helper(s): Darci. High resolution textures by Jean-Luc Fortier.

Writeup initially completed on the 6th of March, 2013.

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