Indor’s Blade

Tal Bruinen is one of my favorite questing areas for the late 30′s. I started the quests at the outpost of Echad Candelleth at 39 as a way to get some nice gear (the three piece woodlands set) before level 40 when I will start up in Aughaire in Angmar. At 39 the mobs are mostly yellow and orange but with Kaethos traited 4-blue and 1-red (I added Master of the Staff at 39) the quests were no problem at all.

After completing the “cooking” themed quests for Indor (Toad Stews, Best Served Cold) I did the requisite running around to complete the final one “A Surprising Taste” and was initially a bit disappointed as none of the quest rewards were usable by a Loremaster. I pondered the decision for a few moments before choosing the sword, Indor’s Blade.

Before vendoring it I looked at the stats and noted that it was probably put there for Minstrels since it has bonuses to Will, Fate and Crit. It then dawned on me that as of the release of Riders of Rohan any Loremaster can train to use a one-handed sword at level 41 without needing the Legendary slotted. By the time I got it Kaethos was almost level 40 so basically this quest reward will be the first sword I equip after training to use it. And here I almost vendor’d it since I plan to go with Noble Savage as my first slotted Legendary.

So, when you find yourself questing in Tal Bruinen on your Loremaster this is definitely the reward to choose. Of course, if I was doing the quest at the appropriate level (41) it would have been apparent that this weapon is for a Loremaster too.

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Decisions

With the next class trait unlock for my Loremaster I had a tough choice to make. I had to choose between equipping the red trait Master of the Staff or a blue one for which I only had Improved Flanking available. Master of the Staff brings a lot of nice features but even equipping a largely useless (until level 44) Improved Flanking the benefit of the perks from having 4-blue traited was tempting as well.

In the end I decided to go with Improved Flanking for the bonuses for having 4-blue equipped. Part of this was due to my damage being already fairly strong so I thought I could wait on Master of the Staff for a few more levels. It will certainly be the next trait he equips though.

After equipping it an interesting thing started happening. According to the tooltip Improved Flanking shouldn’t give any benefits itself until Kaethos can learn Air Lore at level 44. However, after traiting I have noticed an increase the frequency of Flanks I’m getting while using my bear. This could be due to another factor but the extra Flank healing has been a welcome boost to surviveability. I cant wait until Air Lore lets me share it with my bear!

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Friend of the Wild

While many players were scrambling this past weekend to ready their max-level characters for Rohan or finishing up at the Harvest Festival I was only making a push to get Kaethos though the end of Book 2 (Volume 1).

While it has noting to do with the Rohan expansion, in finishing Book 2 Loremasters have access to a special quest from Radagast to help a few animals in the Harloeg. The reward at the end of this short chain is the ability to summon non-combat pets. In most games these small pets are attached to any character that wants them, but LotRO is different in that only Loremasters can get the ability. In addition you also get a nice title, “Friend of the Wild.”

While I may have some time ahead of me before Kaethos even reaches Moria, I’m really happy to have come this far in just a few weeks. Now I just have to start downloading the expansion once I get home and cross my fingers that their won’t be early downtime tomorrow.

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Boosting that Bear

Reaching level 27 this morning I had a chance to equip a third class trait for Kaethos. After my morning skill spamming session the other day I luckily had two to choose from: Improved Flanking and Healer. I already have Hardy Companion and Master of Beasts traited and with this third slot Kaethos gets the three-trait bonus as well.

I decided upon Healer for a few reasons. An important one is that Improved Flanking won’t do much for him until he gets Air Lore at level 44 (which gets even better with Continual Air Lore at 64). I was leaning towards Healer already though since I do a lot of self and pet healing during tougher fights.

The next class slot will open at 33 and I should have Master of the Staff finished by then. At that point choosing between it or Improved Flanking will be a tough call. Improved Flanking itself still won’t come into play much until later but the bonus form having 4 Blue slotted would be a welcome addition.

From the image you can see that I have some work ahead of me on my Virtues and Racial traits. I’m still considering which virtues I’ll go with but Doc Holiday’s guide has me leaning in the direction of his suggestions (Wisdom, Valour, Zeal, Innocence, Compassion) to boost Will, Morale and Physical Mitigation primarily. For the Racials it will just take a bit longer since many of the mobs needed for them are a bit higher in level. He already has Upper Cut (which I guess I could slot) and he is really close to Man of the Fourth Age. All in all though I guess I have a little more grinding to do [sigh]….

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A Name for a Soldier

I have done the intro skirmish quests on Kaethos but beyond that I’ve only run a Trouble in Tuckboro a few times so far. I decided to use a Warrior as my soldier for the extra AoE DPS. With my bear to tank and my own healing and DPS abilities it seemed like a good compliment, if a little risky. I have actually found it to be really good practice for learning to use my healing skills in order to keep both of them alive. I’ve been very happy with this setup so far. Up until today though I hadn’t chosen a name for him.

While adventuring in the Lone Lands I did the escort quest to help an NPC named Pengail who you find tied up in a goblin camp. When I first started playing LotRO back in 2007 this quest was a nightmare but since the revisions to this zone I actually find it rather fun. Pengail, however, is as amusing as ever. After freeing him he insists on going though all the goblin camps in search of his father’s sword. He charges in to each of them and barely stops to rest. I kept thinking that this reckless NPC must eventually go on to become a Champion. That was when the idea hit me to name my skirmish soldier (essentially a watered down Champion) after him!

Although he has the name it will take a few more levels before I can unlock the appearance options needed to have him look like Pengail, but I’ll get there eventually. He at least carries the name now despite the different hair color and the lack of a handlebar mustache.

 

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Master of Beasts

Upon reaching level 20 the only trait I had yet unlocked was Hardy Companion. I had spammed what skills I could  whenever I was wandering around but I still had a ways to go on even the next closest one. I finally broke down and spent 100 Turbine points to purchase a Greater Deed Accelerator. Using this allowed me to remove the daily cap and double the progress for each skill use. It was a pretty boring hour but I had Kaethos stand out in front of his house and just spam several of the skills as they came off cooldown.

By the time the accelerator was done I had completed Healer, Improved Flanking and Master of Beasts. I had also made modest progress on a few with longer cooldowns: Beacon of Hope, Improved Inner Flame and Awareness of Body. The combat focused traits will just have to come though use but there is no real rush.

Currently he (now at level 24) can only slot two virtues and I’m going with Hardy Companion and Master of Beasts. The addition of MoB is nice since it allows for both Signs of the wild (Rage and Protection) to be up at the same time. Between this configuration and having buffing food for both Kaethos (from Fishing) and his bear (Oats and Honey) the Lone Lands content is going by very smoothly.

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Going Legendary

After a lot of debate with myself I decided to go with the Legendary Pre-order for Riders of Rohan. Many of its features are really nice but I think the thing that made me really want to do it is the quest chain that comes with that Legendary version. You get to become friends with a Horse of Rohan that looks like it will become the one you can have as a War Steed in the expansion.

These quests have a very natural feel for Kaethos. Befriending the Horse and starting the quests were the first things I did after pre-ordering. The initial quests start off in the stables at Combe and are fun but also straightforward. After doing them you are directed to talk to Eogar at the Hengstacer Farm where the horse has chosen to now reside. Eogar gives two random daily quests each day and it looks like you need to complete each of the nine possible ones at least once to complete the deed – and get a nice looking cloak.

There are still a few weeks until Rohan so I’m hoping I can finish the dailies before then, even though Kaethos is a long way off from the Rohan content. If I’m lucky I should just be heading into Moria when RoR launches. He’ll get there eventually though and when he does I’m sure he and this horse will once again become acquainted.

In the meantime I’ll keep doing the dailies and post more about the quests as I get further into the series.

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Thrasi and the Lynx

Before leveling too much higher I wanted to make sure and take Kaethos out to Thrasi’s Lodge to do the quest chain to help they Lynx mother and her cub. I’ve done this quest before on several other characters and although Kaethos is spending most of his time in and around Bree this  was simply a “must do” for a Loremaster focusing on the Keeper of Animals trait line.

It stars with the quest “The Cat’s Meow” and it involves helping a Dwarf Hunter named Thrasi who rescued a mother lynx and wants you to help save her cub. You do this though a fairly short series of quests and in the end Thrasi talks about training the cub and taking it out hunting with him when it’s older.

Since we get a lynx companion later on it seems like a great quest for a Loremaster, but I must ask what a Hunter is doing training a pet to help him. That sounds an awful lot like the way Hunters work in another MMO I’ve played…

So, if you are a Loremaster try to make sure and play though these. It can even add a little back-story in a roleplaying sense to how you become a Lynx Friend later on.

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A New Companion – Ursol the Bear

Kaethos reached level 14 this morning and was finally able to train Friend of Bears. I don’t mind the raven companion but for my play style he was just a bit to fragile. Now with a bear by his side I’m looking forward to having a bit more staying power while questing.

As a stroke of good fortune I checked the Auction House and there was only one pet talisman for sale – the Tundra Bear Cub. This is the exact one that I was hoping to find and it wasn’t even priced very high. I like the size of the cub better than the larger bear models so it’s almost like Kaethos was destined to team up with this sturdy little companion who I named Ursol.

Level 14 is also a milestone since it’s the minimum for training the first buffing food for bears – Crude Honey and Oats.  My next time online will be spent farming and cooking until I have enough of these (and some pies for Kaethos) to keep Ursol properly buffed. My goal with Cooking is to keep it level appropriate to make the pet buffing food as new recipes become available. This seems like a good way to keep Kaethos from outpacing his ability to Cook the food he and his pets need while leveling.

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Making a “Beastmaster” in LotRO

The idea for this blog is about leveling a Loremaster with a play style focused on getting the most out of the synergy between the character and his pet. Essentially playing him as a “Beastmaster”. I’ve tried Loremasters in the past but never got one beyond level 33 and that was back in 2009. I’ve tried a few since then but I always gave up during their early 20′s. I think a reason for this is that I start the class because I like animal companions but the raven and bear never seemed to fulfill my expectations.

I think a lot of this has been due to my approach and this time around I’m going to make a serious effort to make this work. I know I’m not alone out there among the players who choose this class for the desire to have animal companions along during their travels though Middle-earth so I thought keeping an open diary of the experience could be worthwhile.

Kaethos is my Race of Man Loremaster and the subject of this blog. My plan it to level him towards a 5-blue set of traits with the remaining two most likely going into the Red Line. For his vocation I decided upon Yeoman so his Cooking would be self-sufficient and he could more easily make the pet buffing foods as he needs them. Fishing will be another endeavor I’ll work on as the cooked fish will provide some nice stat food for him.

I know that the Riders of Rohan expansion is right around the corner but I won’t be covering much about it in this blog until Kaethos actually gets to that content. I’m in no hurry to level him so that may take awhile! As of today he is only level 8.

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