Tag Archives: lord of the rings online

Riders of Rohan – War Steeds

Some random bullet points, mostly for friends of mine so I can point them at this as a War Steed introduction.

  • You get access to War Steeds by doing the Epic quest in Riders of Rohan.  Volume III, Book 8 to be precise.  You can work through that Epic line as soon as you have access to Rohan, it’s well worth doing, because it has some of the best Epic ‘story’ quests since Moria.
  • You seem to only own a single steed.  It shows up as a mount in the regular Skill | Mount window, near the bottom.
  • When you first get the steed, it’s a Medium war steed.  There are three types, Light, Medium and Heavy.  You are not restricted to any one kind regardless of class, but some might suit certain classes better.
  • The factor which determines whether you have a Light, Medium or Heavy is which Mounted Combat Traits you spend points in.  There are three lines, Light, Medium and Heavy and as soon as you spend your first point, your steed converts to a Light, Medium or Heavy steed (medium seems to be the default).
  • You can reset the points for a few silver, so it’s not a permanent thing, you can switch between different kinds of steeds for different kinds of situations.
  • There’s a new legendary item, Bridles.  Bridles come in three flavours, light, medium and heavy.  You can equip one at a time, they apply their benefits regardless of the type of mount (so a Light Bridle works even if you’re on a Heavy Steed), but obviously, because the traits vary, and the items affect the traits, a Light Bridle will offer more benefit on a Light Steed.
  • Riding the horses is much tougher than travel horses at the start, so they won’t replace them straight away (maybe ever).
  • Your steed has armour and morale, and damage is absorbed by the steed during combat protecting you to some extent.
  • All classes get a new set of mounted combat skills (must be purchased), you don’t fight using your own regular class skills.
  • Steeds earn experience and level up, allowing you to spend more points on traits.
  • Quests offer XP, Legendary Item XP and now Steed XP.
  • You appear to earn Steed XP from kills even while not mounted, but at a reduced rate.
  • Mounted, Steed XP is equal to Item XP from kills, unmounted it appears to be worth around 1/3 that of item XP per kill.
  • Steed XP appears to be earned on all kills, not just quest related kills.

Lord of the Rings Online – The Rise of Isengard

The Rise of Isengard is a full expansion for Lord of the Rings Online.  It’s not free content, you have to pay for it, and it brings new levels (10 to be precise).  That’s the same number of new levels that we got with Moria.  Along with the levels, ROI brings three new areas, hundreds of quests, some new skills but more importantly, a complete revamp of character attributes and itemisation.

In the weeks and months up to the release of Isengard, classes underwent several changes, mostly to tweak unused skills or providing missing functionality.  Isengard has built on that for most classes and in some cases, such as the Minstrel, has fundamentally changed their skill line-up.  The overall intent appears to be to make the classes more balanced, and provide all players with a role in groups.  I won’t cover the changes to all the classes here, there’s too much to go through, instead I’ll just describe my experience with Isengard and my overall enjoyment.  The article got a bit long – sorry about that.

Getting There

It’s traditional in LOTRO to move you between one area and the next using the Epic quest line.  You don’t have to do it that way usually (Moria was an exception) but it’s clearly the intended or preferred method.  Rise of Isengard is no different, you receive a letter, asking you to report to one of the Rangers in Enedwaith, eventually leading you into Dunland, which is the entry point to the Isengard expansion.  A nice little unique element is that the Epic provides two routes via two different quest lines.  Following one doesn’t exclude the other, since you can go back and retrace your steps, but it’s clearly designed to offer choice and prevent massive overcrowding.  Dunland itself is south of Enedwaith, and the quests take you either directly south, or south-west and into the new land.

ROI is not as big as Moria.  Let’s face it, Moria was just huge.  It achieved that size through a combination of vertical movement, forced routes (making you track back and forward in a location to generate more distance within the same volume) and lots of distinct locations with their own look and feel.  ROI doesn’t have that luxury, there are only 3 different major locations (described below), but the developers have tried hard to make them feel distinct.

Dunland

Dunland is a vast open area that you reach south of Enedwaith.  It is populated very much like Enedwaith.  There are a series of encampments with native men, who may be allies or enemies, spread throughout a mixture of terrains.  Dunland is probably larger than Enedwaith overall, but not by a huge amount.  The level of creatures and enemies increases from 65 to the high-70’s as you progress across the landscape.  In order to make the area feel larger than it is, Turbine have employed the ‘having to run around large pieces of scenery like mountains’ so you need to cover more ground to get from A to B than it would take as the eagle flies.  I understand the intent, but it can be frustrating to be standing right next to a quest ring or NPC only to find out you’re another 5 minutes away and have to circle back.  Once again, almost every camp has a stable master, and Galtrev in the centre acts as the major hub for this region.

Gap of Rohan

The Gap of Rohan looks very much like Dunland, but is significantly smaller.  There are two or three major quest hubs with smaller quest NPC’s scattered throughout.  The Gap is a really narrow strip of land, and is where you finally begin to engage full time with the Riders of Rohan.

Isengard (Nan Curunir)

Isengard is split into three locations.  The outskirts (Nan Curunir), the area just outside the tower, and the tower itself (accessed through various instances).  For me, this is the most interesting set of locations in the game, although the outer terrain is also the most frustrating.  There’s nothing worse in my view, than scenery you can see over, but can’t jump over or easily move through (in this cases, fallen trees that you can’t jump).  As a consequence, moving around here can be very frustrating, but it’s worth it.  It gives an excellent feeling of the bleak and terrible impact Saruman is having on the landscape and contrasts really well against the bright heather-strewn landscape of Dunland.

The Story

Rise of Isengard continues and apparently will conclude your journey with the Dunedain that started all those books and epic quests ago.  Like Enedwaith, this story basically describes how you help the Rangers travel through hostile land, win over the trust of the native tribes (or not, as the case may be) and how you learn of Saruman’s treachery.  There’s not much to say on it to be honest, it feels like a footnote in the epic quest so far, and not that epic, but it’s inoffensive and if you love the Rangers you’ll enjoy interacting with them again.  It does have some tongue-in-cheek moments I think, for example, you get to watch the Rangers collecting wood, running errands and gathering apples just like they’ve made you do for the last hundred epic quests.

Outside of the epic specifically, Dunland is a land besieged and under the thrall of Saruman even if the natives don’t realise it.  War is coming, none can avoid it, all must choose sides, and as usual you’re the catalyst in that process.

Reputation & Rewards

There are two reputations in Rise of Isengard.  Men of Dunland and Theodred’s Riders.  The early part of the expansion offers mostly Men of Dunland, with the later parts and the later epic providing Theodred’s.  You’ll hit Kindred with Men of Dunland by just doing the quests, but you’ll need to work harder with the second reputation, repeating daily quests and doing as many tasks as you can find.

As is common now, both reputations have vendors, but this time the currency is regular money!  No odd flowers, or strange branches or lumps of rock.  The prices of some of the reputation items (and there are a lot) are quite interesting, some of them over 2gp.  I like the new approach, the quests and mob drops give a good cash input, and you can earn cash anywhere else in the game you like and then come and buy reputation items.

The quest rewards are many and varied, and in part, drive the problem I have with itemisation (you’ll read that bit later).  Many quests give a choice between three items, it may be 1 piece of jewellery, 1 piece of light armour and 1 cloak, or 1 piece of heavy armour, 1 piece of medium armour and 1 piece of jewellery.  Because of the new itemisation, and the move away from 1 x light, 1 x medium, 1 x heavy or 3 pieces of jewellery, you have to pick your quest rewards carefully, plan ahead and hoard what you get in order to successfully use them as upgrades.

Questing

Questing in Rise of Isengard for the most part matches the experience in Enedwaith and Mirkwood.  Quest hubs provide introduction quests, and then move you around the landscape.  There’s a common theme in ROI, where a quest NPC will give you 3 quests, and then another 3 once those are complete.  Many of the quests are standard fair, collecting items, killing the enemy, but there are signs that the Turbine team are trying to find new questing experiences.  There’s a quest to return lost horses which was quite nice, and some of the instances have new mechanics (specifically where you lead teams of good guys against lots of bad guys).  I’ll say no more so I don’t spoil some of the better instances.

The vast majority of the quests are soloable at ‘even con’ (i.e. the same level as you), and the XP gains mean if you do all the quests you’ll level at the right speed.  It’s a bit frustrating, I liked the old style quests where they were soloable with a challenge, much easier as a duo or trio, and the last stage tended to require a group.  I know they’ve moved away from that format, but I really did prefer it.  One very annoying feature in recent expansions is the exact opposite position, where the first few quests are out in the open, and then end in a solo instance.  Some of those instances are uneven in difficulty and some classes might struggle, although after one or two goes you learn the best approach.    ROI adds a new style of instance which ‘is designed to be solo but can be completed as a duo’.  I’m really not sure what the intent was here, one of them configured like that doesn’t even involve any killing and it’s not consistent, some of the hardest are enforced solo, and others seem to randomly allow 2 people.

I would much prefer the Mirkwood approach where the final stage is actually a skirmish and so can be done with 1, 2, 3 or 6 people.  My feeling is that Turbine ran out of time, and there are signs of rushed content all over the expansion.

Overall, the quests are like much of the rest of ROI – not hugely challenging and based on the concept of running around a lot.

The Enemy

Like killing Orcs?  Like squishing Goblins?  Enjoy defeating Trolls with 75k morale?  You’ll love Isengard.  It’s Orcs, Half-Orcs, Goblins, Trolls and Wargs.  The staple diet of the Lord of the Rings enemy list.  Those bad guys are interspersed with the usual wolves, some new lizard-like creature, massive turtles, undead, birds and native men.  The enemy ranges from level 65 to 75 as you would expect, and I found them generally easier to kill than those in Moria.  Some of them have a few tricks (watch out for the nasty fire DOT) but in general, there are few surprises.

The Good Guys

The good guys break down into three groups.  Native people who you are working with to free from Saruman’s grasp, The Rangers you’ve been travelling with and the newly introduced Riders of Rohan.  There’s the odd elf and dwarf thrown in for flavour, but that’s about it.

The Epic

Covered briefly in the story section above.  The epic is okay, some of the quests are quite innovative, adding some functionality we’ve not seen before.  There’s a definite sense of the team trying out new styles of quests and new ways to engage the characters.  Overall though, it’s pretty boring in terms of actual content, once again we’re being point for the Rangers.  I think Turbine recognise this, and they have announced we’ll be leaving the Rangers behind and instead, collecting bandages and digging up treasure troves for the Riders of Rohan going forward.

Crafting

Isengard adds an entire new level to the crafting scheme, which I’m quite happy about.  They’ve also taken the excellent decision to reduce the different kinds of raw craft resources for each craft, and then introduce new recipes to build intermediate ingredients.  For example, rather than 3 or 4 types of metal (Khazad Iron, Khazad Tin, Khazad Gold, Khazad Copper) there is just one type – Skarn.  That ore can be turned into low quality, medium quality or high quality ingots, using increasing amounts of the raw materials to do so (there’s also a shortcut, which I’ll leave you to discover).  The end result is that resource collection is less complex and less frustrating (additionally improved by a huge increase in resource nodes), but recipes still have multiple layers and levels of complexity to work through.  I love the new system frankly, and think it has greatly improved the crafting.  I’d like to see them retrofit it for the previous levels but appreciate that would be a huge undertaking.

The new recipes are mostly interesting, although they suffer from my dislike of the new itemisation.

Along with the new craft level is a new craft guild reputation level and the associated tokens.  That has definitely extended the time taken to move through Isengard because it gives you something else to focus on (some say time sink, others say interesting addition).

Some people are upset that you have to travel to Isengard to be able to complete recipes (I won’t give away why) which makes their tradeskill alts useless.  Personally, I think if you’re going to learn how to craft in the style of The Westfold, it makes more sense that you have to travel there to learn it.  My craft alts are all of an appropriate level anyway, so personally I think it’s a good thing.

New Levels & Skills

Ten more levels – not much to say except it’s nice to see the XP bar moving again after so long out of Mirkwood.  Levelling is trivial, there’s almost no challenge in the game if you start the expansion at level 65, and it’s essentially a matter of just investing time to hit 75.  I never died on my Guardian in the entire 10 levels, most of that was solo, and sometimes I found myself just fighting AFK while I made a drink.

The new skills are a mix of nice and boring.  Some classes get just upgrades, albeit with some interesting twists (for example, Guardians get no new skills, but their upgrades are interesting), while some classes get new skills which are a bit weak (Wardens get the ability to ‘store’ a gambit, but it’s not particularly exciting in the solo / group game).  Isengard is lacking compared to previous expansions, Moria was far more progressive in terms of the new skills.  Moria also felt tougher at the outset as well.

Character Stats

I won’t write a whole bunch on this – suffice to say Turbine have rationalised the character stats, and reduced the number of them down to a better level.  It was getting crazy with 20 or 30 different statistics.  I like the changes, I’m happy with the lumping together of some numbers.

Turbine have also added Finesse – a way to bypass your enemies defences.  I’m not sure of the value of this for group / solo players, it still seems to be there primarily to make raid targets more challenging without a lot of gear upgrades (i.e. an enemy that has such high Block that you need 12,000 Finesse just to dent it).  We’ll see if it survives longer than Radiance.

Legendary Items

Ten new levels of legendary items, and another revamp of the stats on relics thanks to the changes to the character stats.  Nothing too exciting to cover, many people complained that for non-weapon LI’s there was no reason to upgrade away from their level 65 2nd age item.  For weapons, you have to upgrade eventually just to get the DPS increase.  Some of the artwork for the new items is quite nice, I prefer the one handed axes to the Mirkwood versions.

Itemisation

It will come as no surprise to my friends from in the game, that I think the itemisation changes in Rise of Isengard are a huge black spot on an other wise okay expansion.  Turbine have taken the decision to polarise gear choice.  Items now provide large bonuses to a small selection of character stats.  For example, you may get +89 Vitality and +54 Might on a breastplate, but almost nothing else, or a neck item will have +50 Will, +50 Vitality and +50 Fate.

Read the developer diaries for the apparent reasoning behind this, the claim is that it makes gear choices more flexible.  To me, it makes it significantly harder to manage your equipment choices.  In the past, you could consider an item of equipment and compare it to your existing item and decide if it was an upgrade, a sidegrade or a downgrade.  You could pretty much do that in isolation.  Sure, sometimes you might want to augment a stat that you had lost elsewhere but gear tended to improve all your stats to some extent.  Now when you see a chest piece with a huge armour increase, you can’t actually equip it without hugely impacting say your Power or Fate scores.  Overall, a single piece might be a downgrade, and it’s only an upgrade if you also move around 3 or 4 other pieces of gear to compensate, or re-trait, or change your relics.

Gear management has become a spreadsheet and calculator affair, rather than something you can just eyeball and get a good feeling about.

You can’t slowly, incremental upgrade your gear.  This is especially true switching from pre-Isengard gear to the new structure.  Next time it might be different, but this time the change is painfully difficult.  If you get a piece of gear as a quest reward, and equip it, you will end up being worse off in some regards, and you will need to compensate.  If you are offered the choice between some Power heavy gear or some Morale heavy gear, you need to have a plan in mind otherwise you might choose Power gear only to be need to switch it out later when even more gear brings Power you don’t need.  I refer to this as forcing Upgrade Cascades.  You need to hoard rewards and gear and crafted items in case you need to radically re-arrange your gear to prevent the loss of some vital stats just to get a gain elsewhere.

What appears as a huge upgrade initially ends up being a trivial upgrade because you need to replace other gear to compensate.

Anyway, if I don’t stop it’ll end up being the whole article.  My closing words, maybe I’m in the minority, maybe I think about this stuff too much, but I hate the new itemisation and the amount of work you will need to invest just to work out if a new piece of gear is an actual upgrade, and it has absolutely diminished my enjoyment of both RoI and LOTRO in general.

Is it any good?

So, here we are at last.  Is it any good?  I’ll damn it with faint praise, it’s okay.  It’s nowhere near as iconic as Moria, it’s not as well put together as Mirkwood, it’s not as exciting as Moria either.  It’s just okay, inoffensive, easy to progress through, offering very little challenge in-game.  The greatest challenge is working out how to upgrade your gear.  Some of the quests show a spark of originality, some succeed more than others, but many feel rushed and not quite finished.

Worst Bits?

Two things.  Firstly, it’s too easy, there’s just no challenge.  Secondly, there’s nothing to come back to later.  There are 3- and 6-man instances in Moria and Mirkwood that I have still never finished and want to go back and complete.  I’ve finished Isengard twice; everything except the raid.  Even casual players will chew it up and then move on to another game.

Best Bits?

You get to kill a lot of Orcs.

I wanted much, much more from Rise of Isengard.  Instead, I got an extension of Enedwaith; Forochel without the frost.

Lord of the Rings Online Europe – going to Turbine

So, for the last four years or so, Codemasters have run the Lord of the Rings Service in Europe, on behalf of Turbine, but Turbine are taking it back.

http://www.lotro.com/news/latestnews/1157

1. What’s happening?

Turbine is taking over full operations of The Lord of the Rings Online™ throughout Europe starting June 1, 2011. We’re merging the US and EU services into one mega-service we’re calling the LOTRO Global Service.

This includes the servers used to present the EU service being hosted in the US.  Lots of change, I hope the game I know and love survives.

Revamped Evendim

The Lord of the Rings Online is going through a lot of change at the moment.  The move to Free-to-Play (including the addition of the store) has driven a lot of those changes, often to include opportunities for Turbine/Codemasters to make more revenue.  It has also in some ways, made the game ‘easier’.  I’m aware that over time all MMO’s get ‘easier’ for various definitions of what that might mean.  What used to take weeks now takes days, and what used to take days can now take hours.  The driver is usually the result of additional content and a desire to allow new players to catch up with their longer-playing friends.  One of the newest and biggest changes is a revamp of Evendim.

Evendim always felt a little odd to me.  There was a long ride from Oatbarton to Ost Forod or Tinnudir through a lot of countryside that never really got used.  Sure, you got sent back to Barandalf from Tinnudir to kill some stuff, but generally it was wasted space.  On top of that, you sort of moved between Ost Forod, Tinnudir, Rantost and the other islands and tried to find quests of the right colour.  A lot of that time was spent swimming (which was somewhat alleviated by the introduction of one boat route some time back, you can see what I think of all that swimming here, at the end of that post).

The revamp has done several things,

  • Added a new quest hub on the bridge with the giant statue on it.  This quest hub covers the gap between Oatbarton and Tinnudir .  It has quests in Barandalf (the area between Oatbarton and Tinnudir), some of which are old and many of which are completely new.
  • Implemented another new quest hub west of Oatbarton, in which you must help a bunch of Hobbits prepare for a festival.  Those quests alone provide a single levels worth of experience, and give you a real sense of the Hobbit mentality.
  • Smoothed the overall level progression, I’m not sure if they changed any mob or quest levels, but I was never stuck with a mix of blue, white and red quests.  While some of the quests were challenging, I never felt like they were out of my league or totally beneath me.
  • Expanded the quest hub at Men Erain, using the crypts and tombs along that road.  This is a really good addition and provides a much better transition from Tinnudir to Annuminas.  Some of the early quests in Annuminas have changed as well, but I didn’t stick around to try them out.
  • Added two more boat routes, from Tinnudir to Tyl Ruinen and Men Erain.  This removes virtually all of the swimming until you get to the Blue Lady quests.
  • ‘Soloised’ most of the quests.  With the exception of one or two notable quests, everything is now designated solo and can be done alone.  This includes the instance on Rantost to defend it against Tomb Robbers.  Obviously, this is both good and bad, depending on your play style.
  • Added new Gauredain camps and opened up the general area around the Gauredain so you don’t have to travel through the entire camp to collect one item at the top.  This is a really welcome addition, and along with the new camps there are a couple of extra quests in Evespires.
  • Replaced the quest rewards with barter tokens, which you can use to purchase full sets of class specific armour.  I really liked this, I’ve completed Evendim on 4 characters (pre-change), 2 characters (after they added the boat to the Evespires) and now 2 more characters after all the changes.  One of the most frustrating things about the place was the apparently random rewards.  Some classes came out of it much better than others.  With the new system, you can build up tokens and get a full set of suitable, sensible gear.  There’s a second set of armour to work towards as well, with a mix of tokens and quest rewards.
  • The reputation has been changed so that it builds with The Wardens of Annuminas all the way through, and if you stay and complete the quests you’ll be Kindred by the time you move on.  I like that, it makes more sense than having to hang around for days afterwards trying to get reputation drops.
  • Ost Forod has seen the fewest changes to the actual quests (there’s a couple of new ones), but the way in which you get the quests has been refined to make more sense.  This is true of all the quests in Evendim now.  The best quest in the entire game is still present in Ost Forod, and no, I won’t spoil it for you.
  • The overall story arc makes more sense now, with clear goals and a clear reason for the Wardens to be asking for your help.  Old quests have new descriptions or angles, and the new quests are designed to tie the story to the location.

Overall, the Evendim revamp is a huge success in my view.  It’s just a much more enjoyable place to quest, without the hours of endless and pointless travel to get from your quest giver to the quest location.  Turbine haven’t lost any of the charm of the area, have worked hard to utilise locations that were wasted before, and have back filled some lore and story that was sorely lacking.

Moria – Epic Quest line

Turbine launched the Moria expansion to Lord of the Rings online in November 2008.  Last night, I finally finished the epic quest line (Volume 2), along with some friends.  We put in a lot of effort to finish that quest line, and even with a few extra levels from the Mirkwood expansion some of the group quests were challenging.

It feels good to finally get it complete.  We’re almost up-to-date with all the epic quests, despite the new stuff added with Enedwaith.  That’ll be an interesting situation if we finally catch up – it’ll be the first time since the game went live that any of us are ahead of the game in terms of all the epic content.

Back to The Lord of the Rings Online

Quite some time ago now, we purchased lifetime subs to Lord of the Rings Online so that we could still play without paying the monthly sub.  At the time, the price was pretty good, it was a half price offer over the usual cost.  Within a few weeks, it became clear why they had been on sale – as Turbine announced Lord of the Rings online would go free-to-play.

At around the same time we just sort of stopped playing.  No clear decision to do so, we’d just done a lot of the stuff (this was after Mirkwood had been released), and a few toons, and although we’d not done everything (and in fact, were no where near to completing everything) it was getting a bit samey.

I suppose the good thing, was that we weren’t paying a monthly sub while not playing, but it still sucked a bit that we’d just spent quite a bit buying a lifetime subscription only to find the game was going free-to-play.  As the weeks went on, it became clear that I would be prepared to play Lord of the Rings Online without paying a sub of some sort anyway.

There’s more detail here (although it says beta in the link, so it may go away) covering what you get for free and what you need to pay for, or have a sub covering.  Killer features for me, believe it or not, are extra bags and the full set of traits.  Ultimately, we worked out we’d only keep playing by paying the sub (which gets you the VIP access) anyway, and the lifetime sub (which also gives you VIP) works out cheaper eventually.

So anyway, time passes and the free-to-play stuff finally goes live along with a new ‘free’ area.  Suddenly there’s new stuff to do again, so we’ve started logging in and it’s just as fun as I remember.  The store is okay, I have to accept that it’s okay for people to buy faster XP, faster deeds, more stats because that’s how Turbine have chosen to fund development.  If I want more content, and I do, then I accept that’s the price I have to pay.

But I won’t be buying those things myself – I’m restricting my purchases (with my thousands of free Turbine points) to cosmetic items such as hats, dance moves, juggling and emotes I’d been casually working towards but never achieved.

What was good, was seeing a lot of people in-game, and a few people talking about how they move from free-to-play to a subscription because they wanted the extra features – it sounded like a healthy conversation to me.

The new area is nice, it’s brighter than Mirkwood with a much happier feel (people I know dislike LOTRO because it’s so damn glum, and Mirkwood was glummer than anything before it).  I can see future expansions between equally dark and glum, it’s the nature of the War, but it’s nice to get out somewhere bright for a change.  We spent a few hours killing 20k elites at an appropriate level which is unusual for us, and we generally had a good time.

I feel the need to get my alts up to level 65 ready for the next level cap increase next year, and I really need to sit down and spend a lot of time working out traits, weapon legacies, skill sets and gear across all my toons.  That spark seems to be back – and I guess games on the PS3/XBOX360 will have to take a back seat while I work through it.

Edit: Better link for European players on the VIP vs. Free-to-Play benefits.  http://www.codemasters.com/lotro/freetoplay/info/

Lord of the Rings Online – Virtues, Traits and Deeds! (part five)

This is the fifth article in a series of articles about the Trait system in Lord of the Rings Online.  This article covers Class based Traits.  You can check out the previous articles here – 1, 2, 3, 4 or on the articles page.

Introduction

Of all the Traits in the Lord of the Rings Online system, Class Traits are the most numerous.  As the name suggests, they are all unique on a per class basis, and there are many of them to choose from.  More than any other Trait, Class Traits will affect how your character performs in nearly all combat situations.  They change skills, improve effects, remove or replace abilities and generally have a profound impact on what your character can achieve.

Since there are so many of them, this article is not going to cover them all in any specific detail.  Instead it will focus on the general system, the Class Trait sets introduced in the Moria expansion and the bonuses they bring, and provide resources where you can find out more about what Traits your favourite character gets.

Gaining Class Traits

Earning Class Traits is the same for every class, and every Trait.  From level 15 upwards, using various class skills will trigger a new Deed.  That Deed will require you to use the same skill a certain number of times, at the end of that process you will earn the particular Class Trait as a reward.  Not all skills trigger Deeds at the same time, and since skills are earned at varying levels, you’ll earn the Class Traits at different rates as well.  Also, not all the Deeds are equally difficult and many are affected by play style.  For example, you may use Quick Thrust 50 times in a fight but use Shield Bash once per day, and as a result, you’re going to earn Deeds at different rates.  The intent I believe is to emulate improving your character in-line with those skills you use most often.  However, it doesn’t always work out that neatly because some underused skills are much improved by their Deeds so while you would not normally use them, you are eager to do so to gain the improved version.

The following image shows the Deed window open at the list of Class Traits, the progress of one of those Traits and details about how many uses are still required to complete the Deed.

Class Trait Deed Window

The number of times a skill can be used each day in order to progress a Class Trait Deed varies, and is usually based on the skill cool-down and whether it needs to be used in combat or not.  Non-combat skills tend to have a smaller use per day limit (5, 10 or 15 for example), while combat related skills that refresh quickly tend to be much higher (in the hundreds).  The number of times you must use the skill to complete the Deed also varies and can be in the low 10’s to 2000 or more.  For some skills you use all the time this won’t be an issue, but for other skills you’ll have to remind yourself to do something about using them, and as you can see above, you can add the Deed progress to your quest tracker sidebar as a reminder.

It is generally true that combat skills must be used on enemies which return experience points in order to qualify as having successfully used them to progress the Deed, and likewise, if you use a skill and miss, it may not count (usually skill dependant).

As you can imagine, all this adds up to mean that progressing Class Trait based Deeds can be very time consuming and something you need to work at, rather than just happening by default.  It also means you could still be working on them well beyond level 50.

Equipping Class Traits

Class Traits are equipped in the same way all Traits are, by visiting a Bard.  You’ll see the same dialog, and you simply select the Class Traits you have available from the left, as shown in the screenshot below.

Viewing Class Traits

Class Traits are viewed using the regular Trait dialog, but there is an added element of complexity since the release of the Mines of Moria – Class Trait sets.  Each Class Trait belongs to one of three different sets, the process is covered in more detail in the next section, but it results in there being three screens to look at when viewing your Class Traits.

At the opening screen of the Trait dialog, you can see your class Traits and on the right side all the bonuses you have earned (more on bonuses later), this is shown in the following screenshot.

Once you click on the ‘Class’ tab in the dialog, there is a further tab at the bottom of the dialog which selects which of the Trait sets you are viewing.  An example of a single classes set of Traits is shown below (click on each image for a larger version).



The icons in the Class Trait section are similar to the Virtue section.  A diamond on each edge means the Trait is equipped.  A coloured icon with no diamonds means the Trait has been earned but is not equipped.  A light grey icon with a ring means that a Deed is in progress to earn this Trait but is not yet complete, and a grey icon with no ring means that no progress is being  made to earn this Trait.

On the right of the dialog you will see a list of bonuses, they are explained in more detail in the next section.

Class Trait Sets

Prior to the Mines of Moria expansion, classes had a single list of Traits.  Sometimes they complimented each other, and in some ways groups of them directed the character towards certain roles.  With Moria, this was formalised into three sets for each class.  There is no requirement to only use Traits from a specific set, however, there are incentives to do so.   Each set is designed to give a character a certain focus, for example with Guardians there is a Trait set for generating more hate, a Trait set for doing damage with two-handed weapons and a Trait set for lasting longer in fights with single large enemies.  Each set has a name and a brief description which you can read.

Within each set, the Traits are geared towards the stated aim of that set, although it’s not always entirely obvious why some Traits are included (however since the Traits existed before the sets, there’s probably a few they just had to find homes for).  As mentioned, you are not penalised for picking Traits from a mix of sets, and it’s a valid approach to get the customisations you want.

However, if you do pick Traits from within a single set, the more you equip, the better the resulting set bonus is, and eventually, you earn the chance to equip a set specific Legendary Trait.  That list of bonuses are shown on the right side of the Class Trait window, as shown in the previous section.

Each set provides a minor bonus with 2 Traits equipped, better bonuses at 3, the best bonuses at 4 and with 5 equipped you get an additionally Legendary Trait which you may then use.  You do get all the bonuses you are eligible for, so picking two Traits from one set and three from another gives you two different sets of bonuses.  Changing your equipped Traits later will change the bonus and if you become ineligible for the Legendary Trait then you will no longer be able to use it.

The following screenshots show a Champion class Trait window.  Hovering over an equipped Trait in a set shows you any bonuses in effect.  The first shows a Trait from a set with only one Trait equipped (no bonuses) and the second from a set with 5 Traits equipped (all bonuses).

Class Trait Window - showing no set bonuses
Class Trait Window - showing set bonuses

As well as being listed when you hover over skills, the bonuses in effect are listed in the basic Trait dialog.  This is a repeat of the dialog shown earlier, on the right-hand side you can see the three bonuses that are in effect due to having 4+ Traits equipped from the same set, and no more than 1 from any other set (in this case).

It is well worth taking the time to understand the three different sets, what they mean for your character and which Traits you need to earn to achieve them.  It is not cheap to move Class Traits around, but it is one area that might support different play styles (solo vs grouped for example).

Summary

Class Traits provides the greatest and most visible customisations of your character.  They are the Trait above all other Traits that affect everything your character does.  They can totally change the way in which your character behaves during different kinds of combat and let you focus on the play style you enjoy most.

You can find out more about your Class Traits over at the Lotro Wiki, and you can check out information on Trait Sets (and all the Class Traits in them) at the Lotro Lorebook.