Ten Ton Hammer's All-New Rune-keeper Class Guide for LotRO - Overview
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RUNE-KEEPER CLASS OVERVIEW
alt="A Dwarf Rune-keeper"
Not satisfied with all the beige, ecru and taupe rocks lying around, he brought his own bluish-grey rock to add a little flair.
There is great power in words, and no-one knows this better
Rune-keeper. Drawing on the power of poetic imagery, from ancient texts
carved into stone, the Rune-keeper constructs verbal illusions that
seem all-too-terribly real to the recipients, much like Galadriel shows
Frodo the horrifying visions in Lothlorien that set him on the path to
greatness. The might of the Rune-keeper's words has (literally)
shocking power. And unlike the Lore-master, whose powers can be
attributed to natural sciences (in a loose, allegorical kind of way -
lightning striking targets coated with magnetic filings, e.g.), the
Rune-keeper uses bona fide magic to accomplish his goals.
The Rune-keeper is a premium class, only available to VIP
Premium players who have unlocked the class through the LotRO Store. It
is, without a doubt, one of the most powerful classes in the game, able
to out-DPS Hunters on single targets, and arguably able to out-heal
In a group, the Rune-keeper is a healing machine, dishing out
of stackable heals-over-time. While Minstrels may have the Rune-keeper
beat on burst-healing (delivering big-number heals in an instant), the
Rune-keeper excels in building long, constant streams of smaller heals,
which require slightly less focus to maintain over a long battle. The
Rune-keeper can build up a solid stack of heals-over-time on a tank,
for instance, and switch off to the champion for a moment, knowing that
the tank will still be receiving heals for a few seconds while his
attentions are elsewhere.
The solo Rune-keeper is a dangerous adversary, harnessing the
elements to rain destruction on his foes - or at least poetically
alluding to the elements in such a way as to make the recipients of his
skills feel as though the elements are truly being harnessed, and to
suffer the full effects thereof. The damage dealt by a full-DPS-spec
Rune-keeper can be staggering - enough to make even jealous Hunters
claim that the class is "overpowered." Of course, those Hunters
probably don't understand the drawbacks of armor restrictions and
attunement meters that serve as a balance for hitting the big
The Rune-keeper class is available only to Dwarves and Elves.
levels, Dwarves are physically sturdier than Elves and can take
slightly more of a beating. At higher levels, neither race has a
distinct advantage over the other, and either is an acceptable choice.
When fully attuned and traited, Rune-keepers can hit some
devastating damage numbers, out-nuking Hunters in terms of
single-target DPS. Level-capped characters can hit big, 4-digit damage
numbers fairly consistently, and can do excellent damage on the run
with no inductions. And they can increase their combat effectiveness
while moving, building up battle attunement with instant, on-the-run
lightning attacks. This gives them a distinct advantage over Hunters,
who must remain stationary (or at least pause momentarily) to use any
of their ranged skills.
The bulk of Rune-keeper healing is heals-over-time (referred
hereafter as HOTs), most of which stack with one another, and some of
which can be tiered up for greater heals. Throwing a stream of stacked
HOTs on the party's tank means that his morale bar should barely budge.
With Minstrel heals, health bars tend to dip and spike suddenly, and
when Minstrels are incapacitated or getting attacked, no one gets
healed. When a Rune-keeper gets incapacitated, it takes a few seconds
for the HOTs to wear off. Furthermore, this means the Rune-keeper can
switch healing targets often without worrying over-much that specific
group members are not getting the heals they need. Additionally,
several healing skills cause the recipient to take less damage while
active, meaning healing is not quite as rushed as it is with the
And let's not ignore the zen-like Middle Path. These
utility skills and buffs are usable at any attunement, and can be used
to change from one "mode" to the other - if the Rune-keeper is all the
way into battle attunement and suddenly needs to switch to healing
mode, throw down some Middle Path skills and get to healing. The buffs
and debuffs from this line can be very powerful, and include the
Rune-keeper's in-combat conditional revive skill, the most interesting
and tricksiest revive skills in the game. Many of the skills in this
line are affected by the Rune-keeper's elemental affinity, which
changes according to which rune-stone he wields. So if a particular
element is giving the Rune-keeper or his allies trouble, it may be a
simple matter of swapping stones.
Rune-keepers are a high-Fate
class. Fate affects in-combat power/morale regeneration and tactical
critical rating, and these are the lifeblood of the Rune-keeper.
Tactical critical rating affects healing as well as damage-dealing, so
having a high rating means hitting for exceptional heals more often.
Rune-keepers are powerful, and in order
to keep that power in-check and balanced with the other classes, they
need some checks and balances.
first check (or balance?) is the restriction to light armor. A
fully-battle-attuned Rune-keeper is a glass cannon, dealing out big
numbers but unable to withstand much punishment himself. While the
ability to switch to full-healing mode makes the Rune-keeper slightly
less squishy than a Lore-master, they are still less durable than many
other classes, and physical combat can be quite dangerous. Staying at a
range is optimum.
Switching from one attunement to the other, be it from DPS
mode to healing mode or vice versa, takes time. The
Steady Hands legendary trait allows for a quick switch every 5 minutes,
but it may be inconvenient to trait this skill and, even when it is
used, building up attunement still requires time and/or resources.
Since the most effective skills require high attunement, miracles
cannot be expected on-demand. While exceptional in both areas, the
Rune-keeper can either heal or DPS, but cannot effectively do both at
Like the Minstrel, Rune-keeper healing has 2 primary
drawbacks: inductions and threat. With proper aggro management, running
with a Rune-keeper is not all that different from running with a
Minstrel, but there are times when the Rune-keeper's specific style of
healing will require altering strategies a bit. For example, if the
Rune-keeper drops a Rune of Restoration prior to a big fight and the
tank rushes in and engages enemies while still within the healing
radius, the enemies may disengage the tank in favor of the Rune of
Restoration. The same applies to HOTs applied to the tank prior to a
fight - if the tank rushes in while under the effects of a Mending
Verse and/or a Prelude to Hope, the threat from each healing pulse may
draw mobs off the tank and onto the Rune-keeper. Threat management will
require some practice and patience to master.
because the Rune-keeper's heals typically have longer inductions and
smaller numbers spread out over time, Minstrels are the better
full-group healers. This is not to say that Rune-keepers cannot heal
full groups - they can do quite well when spec'ed for it. But Minstrels
can spread out big burst heals quicker, whereas Rune-keepers spread
HOTs evenly, and these generally take longer to build up. Also,
Minstrels can heal big right out of the gate, while Rune-keepers must
ramp their healing as they build up higher attunement to use the more
Power consumption may need to be carefully managed,
particularly when spec'ed for DPS.
While the Rune-keeper has lots of skills, tricks and toys that reduce
power costs of particular skills, the essence of the class is his power
pool and how quickly it replenishes.
Many classes in
of the Rings Online
are hybrids of genre archetypes, and the Rune-keeper is no exception.
This premium class combines the Nuker with the Healer and can perform
either task with great aplomb. He is the tactical DPS king, and some
would argue the best overall DPSer in the game, hitting massive damage
numbers with alarming frequency. Healing-wise, he is on-par with the
venerated Minstrel, with a seemingly smoother flow of delicious healing
juice than the spiky, irregular bursts of the Minnie. The sheer power
of this class bumps it into the Premium category, so F2P players
looking to hit damage numbers that make all the Hunters green with
envy, save up your points and unlock the Rune-keeper.
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