#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…

#LOTRO: It’s all about the Warden

I have been locked on a path with my warden since mid December that is nearing its end, but I’m enjoying the class so much I’m in no hurry to swap to anything else right now. Great news this week is that my old SL mate, Salazar Jack, has joined not only LOTRO by my server (Sonwbourn). I look forward to meeting up in the Prancing Pony for a pint of Butterbur’s finest soon 🙂

Ranhold – Man, Champion, Historian, Supreme Weaponsmith & Supreme Scholar. Level 51

After gaining his legendary weapons and traits it’s bee a quiet time for the old battler. In the near future I want to get him back on the epic story line and into Moria, but not before I’ve completed his class quests and completed the whole Shadows of Angmar tale.

Keltorn – Man of Bree, Warden, Explorer. Level 46

Keltorn’s journey through Forocel & Erigion for his legendary traits were fun indeed, as was his gaining of his legendary spear and javelin fighting the Watcher of the Water outside Moria, but since then he’s not stopped! With the help of my great kin mate Elrexob I have gained all but three of his class quests too and once I have those he’ll gain use of his masteries, something I’m both looking forward to (more powaaaaar!) and dread (head storage status is critical). Still, no point bellowing insults at the tide, best just to strip off, run in and have a damn good swim.

My long term plans are to do more skirmishes, move through more Epic Storyline content and write up some more of his adventures – the stuff I’ve written so far can still be read here  (honestly I really do have plans to carry them on at some point! Honest!).

Gorfrik – Dwarf, Hunter, Armourer, Artisan Metalsmith & Artisan Tailor. Level 27

Sewing like a trooper and going through flax like it grew on trees (!) Gorfrik is startingto be a small itch under my skin that says ‘plaaaay me… plaaaaaaaay me again…’

Nimlarn – Elf, Minstrel, Woodsman & Artisan Woodworker. Level 22

The boats are sailing… the world goes grey… the leaves, the fallen leaves make me weep so. Jesus, bloody elf.

Hocko – Hobbit, Burglar, Tinkerer & Master Jeweller. Level 20

Hocko is grinding like a demon.If the bar maid’s husband finds out he’s a dead hobbit!

Rolcko – Hobbit, Guardian, Yeoman, Supreme Farmer & Master Cook. Level 32

Cooking and very little else. I know I should do something with this guy, but god alone knows what and when – Ranhold and Keltorn have all the action sewn up at the moment.

Arranborn – Elf, Rune Keeper, Explorer, Level 28

After a huge start, Arranborn has been twiddling his thumbs in Michel Delving and awaiting care packages of ore and wood from Keltorn so he could process it for Hocko, Gorfrik and Nimlarn. Maybe after Keltorn goes as far as I want him I’ll come back to him.


Work is as busy as hell in high season, I’ve had a total bastard of a cold and my home life is about to get one more person busy. I picked a hell of a week to chewing qat…

#LOTRO: Grinding hard!

The Xmas break was just what I needed. I de-stressed from work, ate great food, had fun with the family and spent tons of time on LOTRO moving (some of) my guys up various ladders 😀

Ranhold – Man, Champion, Historian, Supreme Weaponsmith & Supreme Scholar. Level 51

The last few weeks have seen me concentrating on Arranborn and Keltorn so lucky old Ranhold had a holiday too. No fighting orcs and worms for him, no instead I managed at last, and with only several days of material gathering and the spending of several gold pieces in the AH, to get his weaponsmith skills up to supreme. This has been the one skill in all my guy’s skills I have found the hardest to level simply because it needed so much bloody metal ores to make the mountains of various ingots the weapon crafting required! God what a ballache! Still, I can now make weapons that go up to 60ish so it’s been worth it 🙂

Keltorn – Man of Bree, Warden, Explorer. Level 44

Keltorn, bored of hanging around Bree punching boars to death, decided to gather his legendary pages before he hit 45 at which point he would go and get his own legendary weapon from Moria (Ranhold’s been winding up about having an inferior weapon – boys!). He rode out to Forocel and spent an enjoyable time marmalising Guradan wolf-men warriors from whom he got half the needed pages and a couple of lovely levels. After that he rode out to Erigion and set about riding the world of half-orcs and Dunlendings by the cart load. As it stands he has four more pages to collect which should just about get him to 45 at which point he too goes Legendary, baby!

I’m *really* enjoying playing this guy – his self-heals make long fights quite enjoyable as you have to mix the gambits up to keep your morale up enough whilst still doing damage and cycling through evade & block buff moves. All in all it’s way more complex & interesting than fighting with a Champ and almost as much fun. Almost.

Speaking of Champs, Ranhold crafted a big old sword for Keltorn and although I know Wardens use swords and I really like the sword Ran made, something just feels so very wrong about him not having a spear. I wonder what I’ll go for at 45?

My long term plans are to do more skirmishes, move through more Epic Storyline content and write up some more of his adventures – the stuff I’ve written so far can still be read here  (honestly I really do have plans to carry them on at some point! Honest!).

Gorfrik – Dwarf, Hunter, Armourer, Artisan Metalsmith & Artisan Tailor. Level 27

No fighting still for our brave dwarven hunter, but plenty of crafting for Keltorn has seen him rise up a lot. His crit chance is still waaaay lower than any of my other guys which means he wastes a lot of leather and flax. Fair breaks my heart 😦

Nimlarn – Elf, Minstrel, Woodsman & Artisan Woodworker. Level 22

Nimlarn stopped wafting about Esteldin for just long enough to move his woodworking up and and craft some lovely spears, javelins, bows and crossbows for the rest of the team. Still a bloody elf though.

Hocko – Hobbit, Burglar, Tinkerer & Master Jeweller. Level 20

Hocko is still grinding out rep items but has also managed to make new bling for Arranborn and Keltorn – what a guy!

Rolcko – Hobbit, Guardian, Yeoman, Supreme Farmer & Master Cook. Level 32

Rolcko has been cooking up lots of regen food for Ranhold and Keltorn – the latter seems to burn through it like it’s going out of fashion! The x25 guild recipes are great though – first guild recipe I actually use I think, except for Ranhold’s dyes & health potions.

Arranborn – Elf, Rune Keeper, Explorer, Level 28

Arranborn went from 20 to 28 in a blistering few days of mad skirmishing! He’s already capable of gathering and preping the same level of materials as Keltorn so I just need to get him through his 30s and I can start getting his legendary skills and weapons too. I may leave that a while or I’ll burn out, but I’m looking forward to getting back on with him as RKs are great fun!


Back at work now so play will slow down I expect. I picked a hell of a week to stop sniffing petrol.

#LOTRO: I’m Legendary, Baby!

A crappy week outside of LOTRO but I managed to get some respite from it all in Middle Earth…

Ranhold – Man, Champion, Historian, Master Expert Weaponsmith & Supreme Scholar. Level 51

I wanted a goat. Moria was/is looming and I knew I would need a goat. All the podcasts tell me it is a nightmare in there without one. Trouble is not one of my main guys has ever come near gaining Kindred with Thorin’s Hall, not even Gorfrik and he’s a frigging dwarf! I googled a little and soon found out that raiding in Sarnur is the best, fastest way of gaining Rep items so off I trotted. Nowhere in my googling did it mention how frigging rock-hard some of the bad guys in there are – and these were just the ones at the bloody entrance! A quick chat with my kin and I found out my weapons needed to do ancient dwarf damage and the only way to get that was to either buy a weapon with it on or bite the bullet and finally get my arse into gear about getting a legendary weapon.

I won’t go into much detail on legendary weapons here, suffice to say the game has a complex system whereby you gain special weapons that can be ‘built up’ with special skills and the like – hell, they even level along with you getting better and better all the time. I only knew about this is passing, never actually getting around to starting it. Until now. My very kind and patient kinmate Saelolyn came to my aid in Sarnur and then rode me all the way out to Erigion where I journeyed alone to the Gates of Moria and aided the dwarven mining team fight the dreadful Watcher in the Water. This quest chain granted me a legendary sword (which I have named Cresting Wave in honour of its Arnorian heritage). This sword was put to good use in Sarnur where I ground down the first level of Dourhands until I reached Kindred with Thorin and was at last granted access to the secret area of his Hall so I could buy the goat.

After that I moved back to Misty Mountains in order to move the along the Epic quest line and what had started out a dull run-a-about for Gloin turned into a bloody great battle with giants, Skorgrim, a zombie dragon and even a Nazgul! I all but ODed on fanboy squeeing this weekend!

Keltorn – Man of Bree, Warden, Explorer. Level 40

Poor Keltorn was ill this week – nasty head cold so his mum wouldn’t let him out to play.

My long term plans are to do more skirmishes, move through more Epic Storyline content and write up some more of his adventures – the stuff I’ve written so far can still be read here  (honestly I really do have plans to carry them on at some point! Honest!).

Gorfrik – Dwarf, Hunter, Armourer, Master Metalsmith & Artisan Tailor. Level 27

Gorfrik seems to have taken to sitting in a corner of Esteldin and counting his precious flax fibres over and over again. Strange boy.

Nimlarn – Elf, Minstrel, Woodsman & Master Expert Woodworker. Level 22

Nimlarn read a poem that lasted three days and nights. Two people died of boredom and three just gave up breathing. Bloody elves.

Hocko – Hobbit, Burglar, Tinkerer & Master Jeweller. Level 20

Hocko is grinding out rep items & seems to have a lot more platinum than I remember mining for him. Questions will be asked.

Rolcko – Hobbit, Guardian, Yeoman, Supreme Farmer & Master Cook. Level 32

Rolcko has been cooking up a storm and is a gnat’s nudger away from the top of the cook’s guild. After that I’m looking forward to cooking lots and selling it in the AH instead of having his entire inventory full of bloody half made ingredients!

Arranborn – Elf, Rune Keeper, Explorer, Level 19

I gave in to temptation of created a Rune Keeper. Erid Luin was a bloody chore and I managed to get him killed just before he hit 20 and got the undying title. What a maroon!


My head is spinning with work, home and Xmas. I picked a hell of a week to stop drinking boot polish.

#LOTRO: The Hubris of Mortral Man in His Eternal Struggle Agin Nature (or, I did got me a spankin’ ma!)

I know I haven’t mentioned it, but I have rolled/created/generate a new character/toon/avatar in LOTRO. I did this for, as best I can remember, three reasons:

  1. I have wanted to try a Rune Keeper for some time,
  2. I need another Explorer to gather crafting mats,
  3. I am a plonker who can’t ever just finish one bloody thing!

So Arranborn was, well, born. This elf of Lindon, noob rune-keeper & hopeful material gatherer stepped out into Erid Luin and immediately reminded me why I dislike Erid Luin so much. Also Elves. And Dwarves. Sigh. Still I burnt through the first 10 levels in no time and got up to 15 very fast. I had no troubles whatsoever – nothing came close to killing me, even though I found the magic-wielder to be less powerful (and therefore less fun) than I had imagined.

Around about the start of level 16 I began to seriously tire of the Erid Luin quests and noticed that my levelling had slowed to the pace of an dying snail. So I bit the bullet and buggered off to Bree – my idea was simple, get to 20 as fast as possible in Far Chetwood and just start skirmishing into my 40s, after all Far Chetwood had been good to all my guys so far and had seen two of them get their undying titles.

Ahhhh the Undying title. It means nothing yet matters so much. After such a good run with this guy I wanted it and I wanted it bad. I blasted through Far Chetwood and got to 19 in an orgy of killing bears, boars, wolves and Orcs like a man (Elf) possessed. and then I came to the Wood Troll. And killed him 3 times in a row. Bang. Bang. Bang. Get down and stay down punk!

I was a man (Elf) unstoppable.

I was Death with a satchel.

I was the Grim Reaper with just a whetstone baby.

So this morning when I had a 30 minute window I decided I’d get to 20 and be down with it. Nothing there could touch me now. Nothing.

Except I’m not on my game at the moment. I’m distracted. Work and home are on my mind more than healing stones and attack skill rotations. I tackled a few turtles but they were harder than before, took longer to put down. I made stupid little errors and failed to plan. Then I came across the wood troll again. I didn’t have to, but I took him down but it was harder. Not like yesterday when I ripped through him time after time. Still, he went down eventually.

And then I made my worst mistake of this character’s life. I failed to move from the troll’s spot. He regenerates very quickly. I had chosen to fight a turtle who did not go down. I had my back to the point where the troll appeared and it seems the fucker knows how to hold a grudge against someone who killed him so many times in a row. The bastard.

I floundered. I dithered. I hit the wrong skills. I didn’t run when I could. I tried to run when I couldn’t. I hadn’t put a healing stone down. I wasn’t using regen food. In short I did everything I could possible do to fuck the fight up and in ten seconds flat I went from a thousand XP away from being called The Undying to simply just dead.

If I could spend the billions of pounds needed to make a time machine and risk the whole of the fabric of existence itself by switching it on, I would use it to go back and punch myself.