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LotRO: Feature Article, Rune-keeper Mastery


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The Lord of the Rings Online has released a Feature Article detailing the roles and abilities of the Rune-keeper!
Feature Article: Rune-keeper Mastery

Dwarves and Elves—the eldest races of Middle-earth—long ago discovered the powerful secrets trapped within Runes. The Rune-keeper is a masterful linguist, both fighter and healer, who can readily inscribe words of savage fire, cutting ice, wards and protection, and welcome healing in defense of his fellowship and against the shadowy forces of the Dark Lord Sauron.

Read more about the Rune-keeper in today's content update and join the discussion!

You may read the original Feature Article here or continue to Read More for all the details right here!

Rune-keeper Mastery

Dwarves and Elves—the eldest races of Middle-earth—long ago iscovered the powerful secrets trapped within Runes. The Rune-keeper is a masterful linguist, both fighter and healer, who can readily inscribe words of savage fire, cutting ice, wards and protection, and welcome healing in defense of his fellowship and against the shadowy forces of the Dark Lord Sauron.

Beginning Levels

Rune-keepers are not armed with the traditional sword or staff, and they are limited to wearing only light armor. They start their adventuring careers with a Rune-stone—a weapon far more versatile than anything a smith could forge. On such a stone a Rune-keeper inscribes words of power that ultimately affect the surrounding world.

As your Rune-keeper gains levels, he increases his repertoire of rune-words to inscribe on his Rune-stone. These powerful Rune-stones can summon raging fires and bone-numbing ice storms, as well as potent healing words and beneficial visions to assist a fellowship. All rune-stones have affinity to the elements they were made to represent, either fire, lightning, or frost. This affinity will change how some of his skills function.

A 3rd level Rune-keeper and her skills, ready to protect the lands of Middle-earth.
(click for full size)

Rune-keepers are unique in that they can change roles in a battle, healing during one confrontation with the enemy and releasing a fury of fiery attacks the next. It's even possible to alternate between the two, walking a fine balance between healing and DPS, though such a transition is costly. The balance between healing and DPS is managed by the Attunement system.

Attunement & Skills

A Rune-keeper's skills revolve around his attunement to Battle (or Dagor in the Cirth runes often used for such skills) or Healing (or Nestadin Tengwar, the runes used for these skills). During the course of a battle, each use of a skill raises attunement away from Steady (Thalas) and in the direction of that skills attunement. For example, if the character favors Nestad attuned skills, he progresses faster in the Healing attunement and gains access to more powerful curative skills. Conversely, if the character uses skills equally from both Dagor and Nestad, his attunement remains Steady.

A Rune-keeper also has access to skills that pull his attunement toward the Thalas state. These involve supporting members of a fellowship with protections and enhancements, pacifying and distracting foes during the heat of battle, and restoring power to a comrade. There are benefits to each attunement, and the dynamic play of this system allows a player to mix styles based on the foes encountered, the makeup of a fellowship, and personal play style.

A Dwarf Rune-keeper using Fiery Ridicule against his racial foe.
(click for full size)

For example: Thorri the Rune-keeper comes face-to-face with a Goblin deep within the Mines of Moria. Within the first few moments of combat he is able to invoke Chilling Rhetoric, Fiery Ridicule, and Scribe's Spark. These skills do not require any levels of attunement, so they can be called upon immediately (following any Cooldown prerequisites). After this, the Rune-keeper's attunement level is now high enough—in this case 3 Dagor—that he can employ Writ of Fire to deal the Goblin a severe blow. If Thorri continues his assault against the foul Goblin, he will be able to invoke more powerful skills from the Dagor attunement. However, should the Dwarf pause to heal himself by using Prelude to Hope (a Healing skill), his Attunement would be pulled one step words Nestad, leaving him at 2 Attunement, and no longer able to use Writ of Fire!

This is the Attunement meter. The red on the left is Dagor Attunement, which this Rune-keeper has a full 9 points in.

There are six different categories of Rune-keeper skills, each following a specific attunement: Chill of Winter, Fury of the Storm, Wrath of Flame, The Middle Path, Visions and Foretelling, and Words of Grace.

Chill of Winter (Dagor)
  • Chilling Rhetoric: This skill calls forth a powerful Rune-word that chills the air, slowing the target and dealing icy damage.
  • Flurry of Words: This skill produces a swirl of icy winds, inflicting frost damage to targets over time in a fixed area.
  • Writ of Cold: A numbing chill that slows attackers, giving an advantage in combat.
  • Essence of Winter: A frigid blast as from the coldest winter day, freezing opponents in their tracks.
  • Frozen Epilogue: The most powerful of Winter spells, a wave of the hand slows foes and can deal substantial amounts of damage.

Chilling Rhetoric in the shadow of Thorin's Hall.
(click for full size)

Fury of the Storm (Dagor)
  • Scribe's Spark: An instant spark of energy that increases in damage as the Battle Attunement rises. This is one of the Rune-keeper's beginning spells, and the heart of any mystic arsenal.
  • Essence of the Storm: Achieved at 2nd level, this skill calls a lightning bolt capable of inflicting critical damage to a target.
  • Shocking Words: This powerful ranged lightning attack that has a chance to stun an opponent.
  • Ceaseless Argument: A fast, easily repeated damage-dealing assault that can inflicts moderate damage.
  • Epic Conclusion: The most potent of the lightning attacks, difficult for foes to resist and highly damaging.

Essence of the Storm used against a spider deep within Moria.
(click for full size)

Wrath of Flame (Dagor)
  • Fiery Ridicule: A skill taught to all novice Rune-keepers, this Rune-word covers a foe in a fiery blaze from a great range. This damage continues for a short period of time.
  • Writ of Fire: Inscribing this Rune-word inflicts fire damage to a foe over a period of time. Multiple uses of the Writ on the same foe will increase damage and extending duration.
  • Scathing Mockery: This powerful Rune-word has the ability to inflict damage on multiple foes, while also dealing additional damage over time.
  • Essence of Flame: This skill deals powerful damage that is enhanced even further if the target is suffering from Writ of Fire already.
  • Smoldering Wrath: With this Rune a powerful blast of fire flows from the Rune-keeper, channeling uninterrupted damage to a foe.

A powerful Rune of Fire is invoked to slay an enraged drake.
(click for full size)

The Middle Path (Thalas)
  • Armour of Storm: This skill protects the Rune-keeper, and in melee combat has a chance to daze an attacking foe. This skill will change to Armour of Winter or Flame if a Rune-stone of that affinity is used.
  • Calming Verse: This passive Rune-word acts to soothe a Rune-keepers words, reducing the rage foes might direct against him.
  • Distracting Winds: This skill releases a sudden burst of icy winds that slows opponents and distracts them from targeting the Rune-keeper.
  • Nothing Truly Ends: An essay of hope will pull an ally back from the brink of defeat, ready to fight on.
  • Self-Motivation: This Rune-word inspires the Rune-keeper, boosting his power.
  • Shocking Touch: Used at close range, this Rune-word can stun an opponent for a short time, giving the Rune-keeper time to prepare the next attack.
  • Weapon of Storm: Placed on an ally's weapon, this Rune-word provides an opportunity to strike with a Thunderstruck effect. This takes a commitment on the part of the Rune-keeper, as power flows into this Rune-word until dismissed. Like Armour of Storm, this skill will change based on Rune-stone affinity.

Visions and Foretelling (Thalas)
  • Do Not Fall to Lightning: The vision of the Rune-word helps the Rune-keeper avoid the next lightning attack. Like Armour of Storm, this skill will change based on Rune-stone affinity.
  • Fall to Lightning: This Rune-word makes the target more susceptible to the next lightning attack. Like Armour of Storm, this skill will change based on Rune-stone affinity.
  • Do Not Fall this Day: A vision gained from this Rune-word prevents the next defeat within a fellowship, allowing the Rune-keeper a chance to restore an ally's morale.
  • Fang Will Not Poison: Recipients of this Rune-word are protected from the next poisonous attack.
  • Blade Will Not Wound: Those bestowed with this Rune-word are protected from the next debilitating wound.

A Rune-keeper gaining strength from his Rune of Restoration.
(click for full size)

Words of Grace (Nestad)
  • Prelude to Hope: This Rune-word bestows low morale over time to the Rune-keeper or his allies. The amount of morale restored increases with the Rune-keeper's Nestad Attunement.
  • Mending Verse: This skill to restores a moderate amount of morale for a short time after an initial burst of restoration.
  • Rune of Restoration: This skill creates a stationary Rune-stone that can heal, raising the morale of all allies in the area. This Rune-stone can be attacked by foes, cannot have its own morale restored and only one such stone can be used at a given time.
  • Rousing Words: The verse of this Rune-word inspires allies; its use does not attract the attention of foes.
  • Writ of Health: This healing Rune-word restores morale over time and increases healing with additional uses.
  • Epic for the Ages: The power produced by this Rune-word is the most potent of the Rune-keeper's skills, capable of restoring a significant amount of morale as the Rune-keeper increases in level.
  • Word of Exaltation: When this Rune-word is spoken, its power increases the effectiveness of a Writ of Health, which further reduces any damage inflicted and at the same time increases the Rune's duration.
  • Our Fates Entwined: By using this Rune-word upon himself, the Rune-keeper suffers damage that otherwise would have been inflicted on his fellowship.

Roles of a Rune-keeper

The role of the Rune-keeper in Middle-earth is varied and diverse, depending on the quests undertaken by the player, and possible character classes of others you may accompany. A Rune-keeper can serve the role of primary healer or damage dealer, or alternate between the two while adventuring solo. It's an exciting class that offers unique challenges and opportunities for those that choose to master it.

Role of the Healer

As with any healing class, it's important to master the timing of healing others while in a fellowship. Heal too early, and you have wasted power! Heal too late, and your fellow has been defeated. A Rune-keeper's healing improves as she attunes to the Healing path, so it's important to watch your attunement so the more powerful healing skills are available when you need them.

Skills such as Prelude to Hope and Mending Verse can be used at ranges of up to 25 meters, which allow the Rune-keeper to keep a close eye on the surrounding battle while healing. Another tactic is to keep the morale of a fellowship high by using the Rune of Restoration. This can be placed just behind the front line of battle to heal the wounds of Captains, Champions, and Guardians who meet the enemy head-on.

When assuming the role of the healer in a fellowship, is it is important to avoid the temptation to toss a quick Battle-attuned spell. While this may offer some small aid to a Rune-keeper's comrades in the short term, it has now lessened her ability to heal and use Rune-words requiring greater levels of attunement. If the Rune-keeper stays focused on healing, she has a better chance to keep her cohorts alive. For the higher level hero the combined use of a Rune of Restoration, Writ of Health, and Our Fates Entwined cast upon the Rune-keeper is a boon during long battles against multiple foes.

A Rune-keeper and Hunter fight for their lives in the Shadowy Abyss.
(click for full size)

Role of Damage-Dealer

The use of fire, frost, and lightning is an exceedingly effective way to inflict damage at range (commonly known as "nuking"), and often plays a greater role when the Rune-keeper is traveling solo. These skill categories can punish foes at a distance, allowing the Rune-keeper to keep his distance over the course of the battle. If traveling with others, those in the front ranks can keep any aggressors at bay while the Rune-keeper pummels them with fire, lightning, and frost. In larger battles against multiple foes the Rune-keeper should be careful not to draw enemy aggression too soon, lest he quickly become a primary target.

If a Rune-keeper chooses to journey alone, using Battle-attuned skills is a necessity. A strategy such as evoking the Rune-words of Chilling Rhetoric to slow an opponent, followed by ranged attacks like Fiery Ridicule and Essence of the Storm,can severely damage an enemy before it has the chance to enter melee combat. In close quarters, Shocking Wordscan abruptly stun an adversary, giving the Rune-keeper time to invoke attacks such as Fiery Ridicule and Writ of Fire to finish it off. With luck, the Rune-keeper's foe will be dead or seriously injured before it can deal a single blow.

Tactics can change when a heroic Rune-keeper embraces the Battle-attunement to fight the evil of Middle-earth alone. Staying Battle-attuned can be difficult in combat if the Rune-keeper is taking too much damage from opponents, needing to apply a quick Prelude to Hope to keep from being defeated. This shifts the Rune-keeper to a more Steady attunement and can prolong the combat. In situations where a Rune-keeper is braving enemies alone and wants to stay more Battle-attuned, buffing up on tasty rations prior to the fight can boost both power and morale for some or all of any forthcoming conflict. Remember that the use of salves and draughts to cure injuries is another alternative, but cannot be used in the middle of combat.

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