#LOTRO: The Rise of the Rune Keeper

In between trying to get work up-to-date before I leave for the arrival of orcling number two and battling through a family-wide cold of Biblical Proportions to get the house ready for said orcling number two, I’ve not had much time to game. Yet ‘not much time’ is not ‘no time’ (that comes next week with the arrival of orcling two) and I *have* managed a few exciting sessions 😀

Ranhold – Man, Champion, Historian, Supreme Weaponsmith & Supreme Scholar. Level 51
Still enjoying an extended study break in Rivendell, the old battler has put aside thoughts of war and is deep into matters of lore instead. He still finds time to craft potions, dyes and items for the rest of the team but in truth his thoughts are more turned to learning and knowledge than fighting and conflict, for now at least…

Keltorn – Man of Bree, Warden, Explorer. Level 46
With the help of a lottery win, all of his marks and medallions and the incredibly kind assistance of my kinmate Saelolyn, Keltorn finally got all his class items together and gained all of his masteries. And this is where the fun wagon of playing this guy solidly from level 40 in early December until now lost all its wheels and came to a crashing halt.

By this point, after the weeks of constant combat with much higher level mobs in Forocel & Erigion, I had got his combat gamit patterns down pat. Ambush, critical strike, 1231, 2121, 1231, 1212, 2323, 2121, 1313, 3123, 1231, etc, etc, etc. Sure sometimes I’d lob a few random javelins in there, or have to change up my heals to attack patterns and ratio if things were looking hairy. Hell sometimes I’d explore the other gambits just for fun, putting evade buffs with tiered heals to see how long I could take a walloping before I had to start the attack rotations again. I wouldn’t say I was an expert, but when I was on my game I was pretty damn good and won many fights I really shouldn’t have taken on.

And then I got the masteries. Masteries are skills that combine two of the three gamits of Spear (1), Shield (2) and Fist (3) into single moves of, for example, Spear & Shield (1-2) or Fist and Spear (3-1). Using one of these instead of the two individual key presses speeds up the building of a combat move and allows more than one use of that combat move when cooldowns might rule such an act out. All of this is fine in theory, but in practice your easy to use 1-2-3 keyboard layout and months of ‘finger memory’ all fight against these like a tiger in a sack and I found my wonderful warden overnight stopped being a playful killing machine and became a bumbling country bumpkin barely able to twunt a neekerbreeker, let alone envicerate an orc or skewer a charging warg.

I fretted and stressed. I railed and cursed. I slapped my PC and walked away from the game. In the end I calmed down and googled. As with many things LOTRO, A Casual Stroll to Mordor came to my rescue. Not only did I find out I was not alone & that Merrick was having similar issues, but they have an excellent series of posts about being a warden. The post about masteries really helped me understand how these things worked (and why!) as well as suggesting a keyboard layout to better manage them, and so I dived in and changed all of my keymapping in order to help me master the masteries. Except it didn’t. It was at this stage I lost it. My fingers simply could not navigate all these new keys accurately enough or fast enough to be of any use and I gave up again.

I sank in to the slough of dispond. My beloved Warden had become unplayable. Woe was me.

In various stages of depression, I tried various different keyboard and skill layouts but nothing seemed to work, they all failed to register in my memory and my fingers crashed across them like a drunken spider. And then one night as I lay in bed it came to me. The answer was there in front of me, my fingers involuntarily dancing across an invisible keyboard as I mapped it out in my mind. It was simple. It was beautiful. What’s more, it would work! Stretch the three gambits and all the masteries across the 1 to 0 keys and my fingers would find the way! They would  dance across the keys, admittedly not in the precise tango they had been used to performing with the simple 1-2-3 patterens of before, but at least it wouldn’t be a desperate stomp across a strange block of keys I couldn’t remember no matter how much I tried. As soon as I tried it, It felt right, it felt like a first kiss, tentative but good. I was back on track!

Unfortunately, by this point, I had grown bored of warden combat and needed something new to avoid burn out. I’m a fickle bugger. Poor Keltorn!

Arranborn – Elf, Rune Keeper, Explorer, Level 32
And this is where Arranborn came in. Over this weekend I decided I wanted to dust off my new RK and get him back out and about and I bloody well loved it! I got him from 28 to 32 in a few short (but intense) skirmishes and have kitted him out in critted armour and bling ready for many more trips through the skirmish finder. Yet out osf all this my greatest fun with him has been finding out how much I enjoy healing a group! I didn’t think I would and the first time I was asked to I did a terrible job of managing my agg by constantly joining in the fight with DpS. I was, of course, killed but was lucky enough to be running with a paitent soul who nicely told me I needed to “watch your agg”. I popped into another skirmish and did just that, hanging back, not spamming heals for the sake of clicking something, just watching the ebb & flow of the fight and scanning the green bars for dips I could correct… in the end I found I enjoyed this different kind of play as much as the chaos and carnage of straight up melee 😀

Since then I’ve been desperate to try more and more healing roles and I’m really keen to try and heal a major raid as it sounds like a real challenge.

Gorfrik – Dwarf, Hunter, Armourer, Artisan Metalsmith & Artisan Tailor. Level 27
The itch to play Gorfrik has gone away again as Arranborn is giving me all I need. He’s been making armour for Saelolyn’s characters as a show of thanks for her help in getting Keltorn his last class item.

Nimlarn – Elf, Minstrel, Woodsman & Artisan Woodworker. Level 22
All that was once beautiful fades and alls to corruption. I weep. I weep. Frig me, save us from the elves!

Hocko – Hobbit, Burglar, Tinkerer & Master Jeweller. Level 20
Hocko is keeping a low profile as the affair with the bar-keep’s wife came to light recently and he has yet another price on his head.

Rolcko – Hobbit, Guardian, Yeoman, Supreme Farmer & Master Cook. Level 32
Cooking and auctioning. What a guy!

Salazar is now in the game and exploring Bree-Land and the Shire – our paths have yet to cross, but we have exchanged letters and maybe one day we’ll find ourselves holding the line side-by-side. Outside of Middle-Earth work is insane, the house is a tumble of new furniture and I’m about to welcome orcling number two into the family. I picked a hell of a week to stop drinking draino…


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