A couple weeks ago when I wrote up my April
Fools prank about the new class in the
Lord of the Rings Online, I made a very deliberate decision.
The gist of the gag was that Aaron Campbell was suffering from terrible IP
confusion, and was sticking an inappropriate Dungeons & Dragons class
into a Lord of the Rings game (and at the end, I went all in by adding DC
comics characters from Infinite Crisis as well).
My initial inclination for that article was to name the Druid as the new
class, and have Mr. Campbell justify it by making comparisons between the
Druid's shapeshifting abilities and those of the Beornings. The deliberate
decision I made was to reject that idea, in case they actually did go with
shapeshifting Beornings. That's a class that makes sense - Beorn appeared
in The Hobbit: the Desolation of Smaug, so it seems only natural to
capitalize on the character's popularity. And the Beornings are a part of
LotR lore that has been conspicuously absent from the game thus far. So if
Turbine did go with Beornings as the new class, my gag article would have
been seen as something other than what it was.
Turns out, I made the right call. Beornings are to be the next new class
in the Lord of the Rings Online. According to Aaron Campbell's Producer's
Recently we confirmed that LOTRO will be releasing a new class this
year. Im pleased to announce that this class is the Beorning! This
will be LOTROs first class since the Mines of Moria expansion
introduced the Warden and Rune-keeper.
Beornings are noted in The Lord of the Rings trilogy as a race of
Man, with close origins to the Rohirrim and the Men of Dale. Most Men
are not shape-changers, so we envision the Beorning as a light armor
casting class with a focus on control of the battlefield. When a
Beorning gathers sufficient rage, they may transform into a mighty
Well be sharing early class designs with the new Players Council.
Expect more details later this year, as the class progresses through
alpha and beta.
As he mentions, LotRO hasn't had a new class since Mines of Moria, the
game's very first expansion. We've had four major expansions and dozens of
updates since 2008, and we've seen the addition of the skirmish system,
mounted combat and big battles, but we haven't had a new playable class to
go with them.
You can't really fault the developers for that, though. Nine classes is
lots, and already draws quite deeply from the somewhat shallow pool of playable classes allowed by the
lore. Especially when you consider that magic is the province of god-like
beings only - no mortals wield actual magic. Not in the books and not in
the game. The "magic" wielded by Lore-masters, Rune-keepers and Minstrels
is not proper magic, but rather earth-science, herbology, brilliant
story-telling, pantomime and inspirational music, which affects the morale
(not the actual health) of foes and allies. The only ones using magic in
the mortal world are the five Istari, who are immortal beings of a
somewhat lowly order, and Sauron, who is a god-like personification of
evil. Even Galadriel, who appears to be very powerful, mostly relies on
showmanship and the wisdom of her many, many years, and not on actual
Nearly every other character in the books is more mundane, and those
classes are already covered. Swords, bows, axes, spears, halberds and
daggers - all taken care of. The game has been decently balanced since the
addition of the Rune-keeper and the Warden - three armor types, three
classes for each type. The skin-changer is going to demolish that
beautiful 3-way symmetry.
So why a new class this late in the game? We're over halfway to Mordor
now, and the level cap has nearly doubled since the game's launch (and
will be doubled before the year is out - according to the producer's
letter, the next update will include a 5-level increase, bumping us up to
level 100, and the one after will add another 5).
Well, consider: last year around this time, they added the Erebor
instance cluster, roughly coinciding with the home video release of The
Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug has just
hit the BluRay shelf, so the timing of a new class announcement with ties
to the movie is quite fitting. Though not mentioned in the producer's
letter, I imagine early 2015 will have something related to the third
Hobbit movie - maybe an Epic Battle re-enactment of the Battle of Five
Armies, or a foray into Northern Mirkwood, or something to do with giant
It goes without saying that I'm going to be rolling a Beorning when the
class becomes available. Gunkybear shall roam the wilds of Bree-land and
beyond, battling the forces of shadow and fishing delicious salmon out of
rivers. And I imagine there will be a lot of others doing the same.
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