Tuesday 8 May 2012

LOTRO: Should you play a lore-master?

A kinnie asked for advice on whether or not to start a lore-master today. He has been raiding on his main for years and was looking for a raiding alt. Here is a slightly altered version of what I told him. Use it to your advantage if you consider rolling one.

How is the lore-master to level? Does it take a long time solo?

This first question was right away the hardest for me to answer, as I leveled mine in Shadows of Angmar, when it was one of the slowest classes to level. Much has changed since then, as we now have a viable DPS trait line. Don't expect the lore-master to be the fastest class ever to level, but it should now be fairly quick. You are also very survivable once you know how to use your tricks. If you want to know more about leveling a lore-master, the official forums are a good place to start. There are always some threads on this topic.

Are most skills induction based?


How is the DPS? Can I just explode stuff?

Yes, blowing things up is what lore-masters do best, that is, if they are traited in the red line. Most of our skills deal fire damage, and some of them have utterly cool animations. Think of Ents go to War and Lightning Storm.

Strong points: Lore-masters traited down the Master of Nature's Fury ("red") line, have amazing AoE burst DPS. This is great for soloing, burning everything left and right. It's also great for raid skirmishes, certain instances and such. Sustained AoE damage is also pretty good.

Downside: Sustained lore-master single-target DPS is crap, even with reds traited. Arguably, even captains can deal more damage. Also note that traiting DPS will to a certain extent gimp your support and crowd-control skills.

In any serious raid, you will be playing as a support class (most times traited in the Ancient Master line) with limited DPS.

Are there good "oh shit"-skills?

Lore-masters have one reasonably big self heal with a five minute cooldown, but that's about it. We are squishy and are expected to plan ahead for what we do, using dazes, roots or slowing and kiting. A lore-master is a master with these tools, and if you use them correctly, there is little you cannot solo.

What do you like the most about the lore-master?

  • You need to use your brains.
  • For some classes, it's fine to pretty much stick to one way of traiting and repeat the same thing you're good at all the time. Not so with the lore-master. In my opinion, each (group) situation requires different traits and pets. You'll be changing these around depending on what dangers you're facing and what classes you play with. Pro-tip 1: if you're lazy and just want to repeat the same trick over and over, this is not the class for you. 
  • It's a multitasking support class.
  • Lore-masters are pretty much indispensible for any hard raid. They are the multitaskers in the group: debuffing, healing, leeching/sharing power, managing crowd-control, removing corruptions, providing stun immunity, curing wounds/diseases, bossing their pets around... and this all at the same time. This will be chaotic from time to time and you really have to be on your toes, but this is what makes the class fun for me, even after many years. Being support does have to suit you, though. Pro-tip 2: if you just want to blow things up, stick to soloing and the Ettenmoors. 
  • Crowd-control.
  • Lore-masters arguably have the best crowd-control of all classes - my eyes sparkle when asked to daze something, or even better, daze two things! I once made a list of crowd-control sorted by class and published it on the Lotro-wiki. The constant reoccurring of the LM class should speak for itself: stun (6 skills, 1 pet skill), daze (2 skills), root (2 skills), slow (2 skills) and fear (1 pet skill). The current main raid the Tower of Orthanc demands a lot of crowd-control. Pro-tip 3: if you strongly dislike crowd-control, avoid the Tower of Orthanc.
Overall, the lore-master is a lovely versatile class that won't easily bore you. I do think you have to have certain characteristics, though, in order to be able to like it.

Already playing a lore-master?

Let me know what you like about it most! Also, feel free to comment if you believe I have been incorrect anywhere. Finally, I made a compilation of lore-master animations, including the ones above (yes, I admit it, I couldn't stop taking fun lore-master screenshots, they just look so cool!). Are you able to you recognize all the animations depicted in this article?

Note: the pictures above will be counted as 1-4, counting from top to bottom. Below will continue with 5.


1 Gust of Wind
2 Power return (Knowledge of the Past required)
3 Test of Will
4 Ents go to War
5 Burning Embers
6 Effect on self after using Wisdom of the Council
7 Air-lore
8 Induction of Lightning Storm
9 Lightning Storm

 Let me know what you think of the lore-master class!


  1. When I was dipping my toe on Lord of Rings Online, I always thought the Lore Master was just a pet class with some spells thrown in. All of that just because LotRO is a MMORPG and thus needed a "mage" class. Unfortunately for them Tolkien did make it exactly easy to implement one of those like we are used in other games so the result was the Lore Master.

    Anyway, my point is, I see now my perception was wrong and they are much more than that. They seem like a fun class and if I decide to play LotRO again (which seems like might be a big possibility) then it is definitely a class that I will consider playing now. :)

    1. Really nice to hear you like the lore-master from what you've read here. It's hard to tell how exactly they based the class on Tolkien's work, but I've often heard Gandalf mentioned as a source of inspiration. There are even some skills based on his actions the books: try looking up "Wizard's Fire" and "Blinding Flash" on the Lotro-wiki. It goes too far to compare lore-masters with Gandalf (they are of course a LOT less powerful than he is), but I like how they managed to get a sparkle of his wisdom into the playstyle of the class.

      I get what you mean with your mage class idea. LotRO does have one class (not the lore-master) that fits that expectation (*cough* rune-keeper *cough*). They're even unofficially called "lorebreakers" among players themselves and there was a lot of commotion when the class was introduced (it was later than the original 7 classes). I play one of these myself too and do enjoy it a lot - mostly because they happened to give this class a very fun way of healing, and not so much lorewise.

      Anyway, let me know if you give LOTRO/the lore-master a try again. That would be totally cool!

  2. I don't find I have to retrait a lot or do many different trait combinations. Usually it's straight-forward AM or MoNF. The only time I might do something different is when there's another LM in the group who is already AM traited and the group needs CC. I guess I'm also a bit lucky that at least half the time I get to dps in raids. And hey, I do more single target dps than a captain! :P Aside from ToO, it feels like Turbine has made things easy and that anything other than dps feels like a waste... which is a bit sad. :/

    1. I get your point. I was thinking of some other classes (e.g. guardian) of which I know people who barely retrait at all. If I trait AM, I always look for which particular traits I need in that situation - I admit I usually pick the same set for MoNF. I do throw in some blues now and then (hybrid) for stuff like duoing the Limlight Gorges myself, or healing 3-mans. It's really a shame that traiting down the blue line is not so useful, but I do think the class is in a good spot overall.

      I recognize the feeling you describe by saying that everything is being made easier. Two things come to my mind:
      - I think that trend started back when DPS lines were introduced with MoM for all classes: from that point on, people started to try to go for the fastest way and include as much DPS as possible, because it's just the most efficient. I can't really say I blame them. Playstyle was so different in SoA, but nostalgia doesn't have much use, nor do I know a solution for this (I don't think anyone would want to give up their DPS line).
      - I sometimes wonder if things really became that much easier, or if it's me that has changed. Back in 2007 I was a girl who had never played an MMO, an officer in a small cute hobbit kin and I was like, whoa, the Rift, that must be hard. Now I'm playing with experienced players in a raiding kin, doing ToO T2. I got reminded of this because I got to talk to a guy in-game I didn't know and he was naively trying to give me advice on how to get marks (I was complaining of getting out of them and he somehow concluded that I wouldn't know where to get them). I shouldn't bother with the Foundry T2 because that's so insanely hard (>.<) and ToO T2, well that's beyond question etc. And he wasn't a retard or a jerk, his captain looked pretty okay and all, and he really was just trying to be kind. He was just a player in a small kin playing with casual players and I realized a lot of content is just plain hard for them. Perhaps we both just are a bit spoiled. :P

      It must be a horror for Turbine to try and keep everyone happy - I honestly wouldn't know how to solve the problem myself.

      Err, sorry for the wall of text there. I'll try to keep myself under control next time! ;)

  3. Hi Ravanel,

    I tend to be a bit of a slacker when it comes to changing traits. In other words, once I've set them thats pretty much it. Mind you, am level 49 and have been doing a lot of soloing, so the MoNF line has served me well. Just about to get the big bada boom as well.

    A lot of what I've read recently suggests the Ancient Master line is the way to go once you start working in groups as support/debuff/keep your healers topped up. Is it still viable to run around solo on occasion traited for AM given you're losing quite a proportion of your DPS?

    Suspect some of that can be made up with gear (what recommendations do you have btw?). Have just joined a kin, but would still like to get your sage advice :)


    1. Hey H and welcome to my blog. :)

      I can totally understand sticking with the MoNF line while leveling, that's what I would do myself too! I was trying to speak from a more level cap perspective, but I might not have been clear enough about that, sorry.

      Ancient Master is definitely the way to go when you go for hard end-game content (such as the current Tower of Orthanc raid). The main reason for this is that the Ancient Master capstone allows you to keep your debuffs up for 100% of the time - and debuffing is THE reason to bring a lore-master to a group (no other class can reduce incoming damage as well as us).

      Of course you can choose to stay in the Ancient Master line while soloing, but everything will take very long to kill. Also, Ancient Master is a bit overkill for 3- and 6-man instances: you're often more effective in MoNF or hybrid specs there, since many of the mobs die too fast to make you profit from having debuffs up 100% of the time (they die before you need to refresh them).

      For gear: don't worry about it too much while leveling up, just pick up what you come across. Stats you'll want to focus on are Will/Tactical Mastery, Critical Rating and Vitality/Morale.

      I should stop writing now, as this is starting to become a blog entry of its own! I like giving advice, though, so if there's something you'd like to know about in detail let me know, and I can always write a real blog article about it!

      I hope this was helpful for you in a way. Enjoy your Ents!

  4. L50 seems like a big one, eagle should hopefully be available then, as is lightning storm... but I still suspect it's worth dropping one slot so I can get Deep Lore. +5 targets for the lore skills...? I wants! Didn't really click to the value of it until tonight.

    I think part of the problem is I don't quite speak the lingo yet... and have a long way to go it seems. Level cap.... ask me again in a year or so :)

    1. Deep-lore is great, but it's a situational thing: handy when you're fighting a lot of scary enemies at the same time in a group. Your lore-skills already affect 3 targets by default, and you can increase the amount of targets by legacies on your legendary book as well. I only trait Deep-lore when I know I'm going to encounter a lot of mobs at the same time, and only if they're actually harmful (mostly when in the Ancient Master line). For normal soloing you'll try to avoid fighting more than 3 at the same time anyway, as you'll just get interrupted all the time, and that's pretty annoying. Just keep hanging onto MoNF for that. :)

      Don't worry, I'm sure you'll get a hang of it once you've been playing your lore-master a bit longer. Just keep having fun at what you do. Lightning Storm is a brilliant skill and the eagle a very useful pet, so grats on acquiring those!

  5. There is a rational behind using it believe it or not: maximize the damage area affect spells like lightning storm, Ents,and storm lore. Drop warding knowledge and deep lore. Fast stun via storm lore, drop ents if necessary and then hit 'em with the big one.

    Mop up using area effect like cracked earth, gust of wind and staff sweep for multiples of heavily damaged nasties. Light of the rising dawn, staff strike etc for singular or hard to kill enemies.

    At the moment I can solo signatures up to about level 52 or 53. It's numbers that seem to be the issue at the moment. I can solo four or five sigs in Annuminas if they're around L40 or 42. Anything higher and I'm toast. Even then it can be touch and go. Wisdom of the Council. Me liketh :)

    Hear you on the crowd control and taking on only three or less - sometimes though there are some very inopportune spawns! Flee, flee, runaway...!!!

    1. If only...

      I now understand your enthusiasm, but Deep-lore in fact only affects our so-called "lore"-skills: Fire-lore, Frost-lore, Wind-lore and Herb-lore. It does not affect the maximum amount of targets for any damaging skills (such as Lightning Storm). It's of course still a pretty useful trait for if you need to debuff or crowd-control (rooting) large groups of enemies. :)

  6. Well, darn. I had thought that reducing the resists of 8 targets as opposed to three before letting loose with the big ZAP would help. Oh well. Best laid plans and all of that. Thanks Ravanel. I shall go with plan B. Zap first and ask questions later... :)

    1. Hehe, zapping first, asking questions later seems like a good plan to me! You're on the right track saying that reducing the resistances/mitigations of targets is important. Note how the "lore"-skills only reduce the damage you yourself take from the enemies, though. The skills that actually affect the susceptibility of enemies to player attacks are:
      -Ancient Craft
      -Sign of Power: Command
      -Sticky Tar
      -Warding Lore
      -Benediction of the Raven (raven skill)
      -Shatter Arms (bear skill)
      Of those skills, Sticky Tar, Warding Lore and Benediction of the Raven affects the incoming damage from (most of your) tactical skills. You should use Ancient Craft and Sign of Power: Command whenever possible too, though. Those skills become even better if you're playing with non-tactical classes.

      The good news: there's a book legacy that increases the amount of targets for Ancient Craft and at level 66 you'll receive an improved version of Sign of Power: Command, which makes it AoE. Perhaps that cheers you up a bit. :)

  7. Thought I'd give you a little bit of an update. Currently L57 and wandering around Moria with a pet bear. I have both a legendary staff and book - both of which provide some interesting stats...

    The staff is OK with plus damage to light of dawn and best of all - storm lore damage, but the book is kinda cool with a -resists, +burning ember pulses, +fire critical and extra threat from sign of the wild. It even has foe stinger (extra lightning damage) as a title...

    So, I can see me continuing to use the red line as the main (5, with one each yellow and blue) and having the bear tank. May even take noble savage if I'm going to have the bear draw aggro all the time to compliment hardy companion.

    Finding the bear the most reliable as far as tank and damage goes, even though it doesn't flank anywhere near as often as others. The brooch giving icmr and evade bonus is a real help too.

    If you can recommend any gear, I'd be glad to hear about it, though I'm currently using 6 out of 7 of the Seven Stars set.

    Right now a high rotation of standard spells kills most things, with either storm lore followed up by lightning storm to take care of most OOPS moments. That or Ents. Call to the Valar to make them uninterrupted... :)

    On sigs, dropping the sticky tar, circle and find weakness can make a difference, though with the amount of crits I do these days, it's not anywhere near as necessary.

    On less tough mobs, earthquake, air, staff sweep and stormlore takes care of numbers... I'm enjoying the LM quite a bit I have to say :)

    1. Hey H, good to hear from you again, and to see that your LM is doing so well.

      I wouldn't worry too much about gear while leveling (if you're level cap, I'm glad to help you out on that one): just pick what you come along that has the best stats. I myself have been doing the Moria instances while leveling alts - the gear from there is nice and always had the nicest set bonuses (used to be the best there was for LMs). If you're mainly soloing, you might want to look for a balance between morale and will/tactical mastery on your gear (whereas I go totally for will/tactical mastery if I group only). If I recall correctly, that's what the Annúminas set has, so that sounds fine.

      But really, I'm not an expect at gear for leveling. Just make sure you pick up the best stuff statswise as you go, and let a jeweller make you some stuff. It's only in end game that your gear choices really matter.

      The bear is nice for keeping a bit of aggro off you now and then, but it's of course not able to fully tank if you're DPS traited. If you're fighting multiple mobs, he'll have a hard time. In those cases, I prefer to pull out my raven (or eagle) for the extra fire damage and flanks. Cracked Earth is your friend - it will root whole groups after some seconds, so you have the time to get some distance and continue AoE'ing (depending on CDs) or pick them out one by one. It's personal taste, of course, but I think it's certainly worth a try.

      It doesn't matter that much yet, but I'd certainly go for a +fire dmg title for your book, as it will increase your DPS much, much more. Look at the sheer amount of fire skills you have, as opposed to only two lightning skills (of which one is very weak, and the other has a long cooldown).

      Hope that was of any use. Good luck out there!

  8. Thanks Ravanel. Appreciate the feedback. Will let you know how the bear thing goes, but the legacy currently means the bear is at 20% greater aggro than normal. Tops out at 35%.

    Already noticing he's pulling more aggro than normal. There are occasions where I nuke something and the aggro comes to me, then gets hit by the bear and goes straight back to focusing on it.

    Wondering if its worth shifting to two blue, hardy companion and improved inner flame. Makes for a better all around support player and off healer. Though I do really like improved sign of command... erk. Choices choices.

    Anyways, at 58 and continuing to crank :)

    1. Hey again. I know about the legacy, have it myself too, but there's no way my bear can keep aggro from me, unless I really slack on DPS (which I won't). Could be that it works better on lower levels (your damage will greatly increase when you get in the 70's), so stick with what works for you.

      I have to advice against Improved inner flame. It looks nice on paper, but in reality the channeling is the problem. You spend a long time standing around using the skill that you could've spend better doing something else (like debuffing, healing with Beacon of Hope, DPS'ing). All LMs I know agree it's not worth the trait slot.

      On top of that, you don't want Improved inner flame when soloing, cause it will remove the threat transfer mechanic. You want to use inner flame to transfer more aggro to your pet when needed.

      If you're thinking about off-healing, the best blue traits are Light of Hope, Healer and Improved Air-lore. I go with the first two when I'm in full Ancient Master (in raids etc) and pick them all three when I'm main healing 3-mans. Sadly enough, it's not really worth going much deeper into the blue line, even when main healing 3-mans. You're helping more if you throw in some reds and Improved Sign of Command. By the way, traited Blinding Flash is also nice for soloing, as interrupt and to quickly stop enemies to get some range - just to make the choices even harder. :P

  9. Darn. Stop shooting holes in my theory-crafting :)

    I will say this much, there is much more of a difference between solo play and doing raids etc. Certainly getting the view from higher level is very different from lower. Legendary items is a bit of a leap too.

    I play EvE quite a bit too but have no background otherwise in MMORPGs. I is de noob in many ways. So thank you once again for the feedback. It is appreciated :)

    1. Hehe, sorry!

      You're totally right about that the difference between solo and group play. Don't feel demotivated by feeling a noob sometimes, there's always something to learn for everyone (including me). If you want to theory-craft, go ahead and try it out - who cares how you're soloing anyway? :)

      And if you want some holes in your theories afterwards, you can always present them to me and I'll do my best. :P

  10. Hi Rav

    Now L61 and ran an instance with a couple of L75ers. Apparently aquitted myself quite well. Lightning storm on a group of pale folk = not many pale folk :P

    Couple of quick questions: what are the most important legendary legacies or combination of in your opinion?

    Is it worth using a lesser starlight crystal on a third age staff (it is pretty darned sexy one imho) or wait till you get the second ager?

    Lastly, people in the kin are talking about being able to effectively build up your legacies, then effectively remove and plonk them onto your preferred weapon/item later on (via deconstruction I think it was). Possible?

    1. Hey again,

      I can't explain which legacies are nice on a legendary weapon in three words, so I wrote you a post:

      It is, again, written from mostly an end-game perspective, but the legacies are of course still the same for any level. If you have any LI questions, feel free to ask them in my new post.

      It's indeed possible to preserve one legacy of your choice when you deconstruct a weapon (the rest will be destroyed) and apply it to another weapon. There are certain level restrictions (e.g. you can't equip a legacy from a lvl 60 staff on a lvl 75 staff).

      Personally, I would just stick to a DPS book and staff while you're leveling. Pick the best legacies you can get, but don't put much effort in it, as you need to switch to higher level LI's while you level each time anyway. Your items get outdated too fast to be worth much effort.

      Good luck!

  11. Hey Ravanel,

    I am humbled. Some of those pointers were pointed in my general direction too :P

    Lastly - wow. That is some nice gear. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Haha, not really pointed at you specifically, don't worry. I'm glad the article helped you. :)

  12. LM since start in fall 2007. One alt, another LM :) NEVER even thought of being another class. I even think, even being a huge LotR fan, that if LotRO didn't have a LM, I didn't start playing the game. I play it different from most LM. I go soley for morale (and vit), I didn't understood waht the other things did when I started to play, and as morale = life, I thought 'gotta have a lot of that' :) So now at lvl 100 I have 36+K morale (without buffs).

    I have solo'd nearly everything. Can slay any landscape enemy (except for RT ofc), but suck at sparring (I don't like to either), or in the Moors (was there once and HATED it, so don't go there either). Raids I don't do, so for my kind of gameplay, a LM is just a very fun class to play. A fireball-throwing wizard :)

    1. *lore-master fan highfive*

      Lore-master is my favourite class ever, too! Took me three years to start an alt, and that was just so I could level with my ex, whom I introduced to the game.

      While the game strongly favours mitigation over raw morale when it comes to defensibility (heavily punishing your build for sparring), I guess it doesn't matter all that much if you're just soloing.

      If you ever feel like experimenting with new builds, I wrote this post about stats aimed specifically at lore-masters. Although it's a few years old, the general idea still stands:

  13. This was VERY helpful to me to read through- and the comments are useful as well. Thanks everyone!

  14. Hello. I'm a fellow lore-master playing an Ancient Master solo. I'm having trouble getting my debuffs to 'stick' on recent enemies though. I'm around level 39 by the way. Any help you can provide would be appreciated. Thank you for your time.


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