A guide by Goodboy
What are Mercenaries?
Mercenaries are an amazing addition to the world of Rune-Midgard that are especially helpful to low and mid-level characters, and those who wish to powerlevel after transcending through the Job Changer. They are NPC characters that can be summoned to fight by your side for 30 minute increments by using scrolls which are purchasable in three different towns: Payon's Archer Village, Izlude, and Prontera. Each of these towns holds a different Mercenary Guild, with a different variety of mercenary available at each: Bow, Sword, and Spear respectively, as well as a merchant that sells potions to heal and buff mercenaries.
What do they do?
They function much the same way as homunculi do, attacking monsters and using skills at your command, with a few notable differences. First, they give base AND job exp to their summoner, whereas homunculi share only base exp; this exp can be shared normally in a party too, unlike homunculi. Second, they also use an AI file to control their actions, which is seperate from the homunculi, and is also much more limited: mercenaries cannot be programmed to distinguish individual mobIDs, nor is there a good way to implement the same sort of anti-KS measures, meaning it is much easier to accidently let them killsteal, which requires vigilince. Third, most skills that work on players work on mercenaries, but the "Heal" skill only heals for 1/2. Finally, while they don't level up like homunculi do (remember they only last 30 minutes), every 50 significant kills gives them a random buff and earns 2 Loyalty Points, which are used to access better Ranks of mercenaries, with better stats and skills available to them.
How do I use them?
You can always hotkey their skills, and control them via the mouse directly, but to REALLY use them you need to get an AI in your TalonRO/AI/User AI folder specifically for Mercenaries. The one I recommend is found here: User AI but there are several good AI's floating around on the internet. Dr. Azzy's does not work here, however.
The 3 types of mercenaries each have a different specialty:
- Bow mercenaries attack at range, and are great at killing monsters quickly while staying alive.
- Sword mercenaries are basically flee-type melee characters, and can be a good choice for Rogues and Assassins, or other characters that are flee-based themselves.
- Spear mercenaries are vit-based tank characters, with high DEF and HP, and do wonderfully with a character that can heal them, such as a Priest, Monk, Crusader, or even an Alchemist or Blacksmith with the cart room to carry hundreds of potions for them.
Rank? Loyalty? What do these things do? And why can't I hire rank 7, 8, 9, or 10 mercenaries!?
Rank determines both the power level of the mercenary, and the base level required to hire them. This starts at level 15 for a Rank 1, and increases by 10 thereafter per rank. After rank 6, though, you'll need to have leveled your loyalty with the guild by killing monsters at least half your base level to hire better mercenaries, and each type (bow,sword,spear) has their own loyalty levels seperate from each other. The amount of loyalty needed on TalonRO are as follows:
- Rank 7 - 50
- Rank 8 - 100
- Rank 9 - 300
- Rank 10 - 600
It's important to note also that dying or letting your mercenary die causes you to LOSE one point of loyalty, and successfully completing your contract is worth 1 point of loyalty.
What's the best type? What skills do they use?
The skills used by each mercenary differ by type and rank, and a comprehensive list can be found on iRO Wiki. Sometimes, lower ranked mercs can actually be much more useful than higher ranked ones because of the skills they know, but in general the higher the rank the better. Some REALLY stand out, and I'll list the ones that do to me and why.
Bow Ranks 5, 6, and 9. Of all the mercenaries bow is the most popular, due to these ranks having access to Double Strafe, and especially due to ranks 5 and 6 having no loyalty requirement. Bow level 10 is mostly useless, because while it has Sharp Shooting, it does NOT have InstantCast, which makes the skill garbage, and so 9 is generally the best-in-class here.
Sword Ranks 5, 7, 8, and 10. Well, I think Sword mercenaries are the least useful since they have less DPS than the Bow and less survivability than the Spear, but they have their place. Ranks 5, 7, and 10 have access to Bash, and rank 8 and 10 both have access to Bowling Bash, which is potentially quite good. Rank 10 also gets the Lord Knight skill Frenzy, but since they can't spam skills and you can't heal them after you use it, it tends to not be a great idea to use it; but the rank 10 mercenaries are so much tougher than the rank 8 it's worth it to use them instead.
Spear Ranks 5, 6, 8, 9, and 10 Spear Rank 5 and 8 can use Pierce, which can be as good or better than Bash against medium and large sized monsters, while Ranks 6 and 9 get Brandish Spear, which is quite useful while mobbing. Rank 10, however, is pretty much the ultimate mercenary. I mean it. It gets a Spiral Pierce which connects for 14k dmg, Autoguard at level 10, and Devotion, with 18,000hp and 70 Hard DEF, meaning it can have good DPS, tank directly, AND devo you so it gets hurt instead of you. It's still not tough enough for the endgame, or, say, Abbey, but it can do things like Skogul pretty well, and is simply AMAZING for a High Priest who wants to solo.
Tips and Tricks
Aside from using them to simply level normally, one of the most amazing things that mercenaries can be used for is to powerlevel as a low levelled trans class character. You do this by purchasing several Rank 6 Bow mercenary scrolls right before you trans using the Job Changer, giving you access to level 70 power as a 1/1 High Novice and first class trans character.
Another tip if you find you enjoy mercenaries but find leveling them as a high levelled character to be a chore (due to the half level requirement) is make use of TalonRO's crosstrans feature, and to level as a ME Priest or a Wizard (mobbing characters) at places like High Orcs or Nifflhiem, after putting the mercenary on passive.