This article takes a look at the runekeeper class, which was one of two LotRO classes introduced with Mines of Moria. We'll go over the attunement mechanic that defines the class, and briefly delve into the skills and roles of the runekeeper.
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Rune-keepers, Powerful Writers
Mighty masters of the true power of words, Rune-keepers stand ready with their runic stones to focus the elemental energies and destroy their foes, or to raise the morale of themselves and their fellowship. Though they are clad only in the lightest of armours and wield naught but small stones, they are certainly not to be dismissed, as many a foe has discovered. This article will give a brief overview of the class, and highlight their unique mechanics.
Rune-keepers are one of two classes introduced with the Mines of Moria Expansion, alongside the Wardens, and are the only class in Lord of the Rings Online that is not playable by the race of Man. Only elves and dwarves are capable of harnessing the runic powers, for the talent is completely outside the nature of men and hobbits.
As mentioned previously, the Rune-keeper is unable to use any of the traditional weapons, but instead uses a runestone. Though a Dwarf Rune-keeper can still wield axes, doing so will pretty much disable all of his combat skills so it is definitely not advised! In addition, Rune-keepers have a couple more special pieces of gear that provide buffs: the rune satchel, which is worn in the class slot, and chisels, which are worn in the ranged slot.
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To Harm or to Heal, That is the Question
The class was born of a desire to fulfill the "glass-cannon" role - with high damage output but little defensive capability, as well as to provide an alternate healing class to the Minstrel. Since a high damage healing class could quite easily become overpowered, the attunement mechanic was introduced in order to provide greater balance. Attunement is shown in the UI by the attunement panel , which represents three states, from left to right: Dagor (battle), Thalas (steady), and Nestad (healing). During combat, with each use of a healing skill the Rune-keeper becomes more attuned towards healing, and the more one uses damaging skills, the more he or she will move towards the battle side.
As a Rune-keeper becomes more attuned towards battle, he gains access to more powerful battle skills and limited access to healing skills, and vice versa for the healing attunement. After a short time out of battle, attunement quickly drains back to the steady state. In addition, there are numerous skills that move attunement rapidly towards the center, in order to enable one to change sides if greater healing is needed. The Book Seven content update also introduced consumables, crafted by scholars, that can be used to quickly shift attunements.
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Zap, Vwoosh, Brr! (And Other Skill Categories)
Besides being broken up into the three attunement states, the Rune-keeper's battle skills are further broken down by element - lightning, fire, and frost. Fury of the Storm, the lightning category, contains mostly skills that provide quick direct damage as well as some with the chance to stun. Wrath of Flame skills mostly deal damage with DoTs, while Chill of Winter skills focus mainly on smaller damage output plus debuffs, such as slows and reduced incoming healing.
Several of the balance attunement skills are also affected by the division of elements. Rune-keepers have three buffs and one debuff whose effects and names change depending upon the type of runestone wielded: Armour of XX, Weapon of XX, Fall to XX, and Do not Fall to XX. These last two skills fall into another category of Rune-keeper abilities called Visions and Foretellings. Using the skills in this group, one can protect recipients from the next wound or poison, help them avoid their next incoming damage, make a foe more susceptible to an attack, or even pre-emptively prevent an ally from succumbing to defeat.
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Rune-Keepers, The Other Morale Healers
Rune-keepers are definitely a different breed of healers when compared to the old standby of minstrels. For the most part, morale restoration skills are HoTs. This usually means that the Rune-keeper has to heal earlier on, rather than relying on burst heals in an emergency situtation. The attunement mechanic further solidifies that need, as one will want to build up healing attunement for the more effective heals. During a major fight, a main-healing Rune-keeper probably won't want fire off any of those tempting damage skills; though while healing attuned, he won't have access to many anyway.
So what do you do when you need to get from one side of the attunement panel to the other? As previously mentioned, the class has a variety of skills that attune towards balance; many of which are extremely useful in battle as well. There are skills to restore power, lessen threat, interrupt inductions, daze and slow enemies, and even one skill that prevents your own inductions from being interrupted while it is in effect. With careful application of these skills, in order to both reap their benefits and continue effective attunement, Rune-keepers make extremely versatile and impressive healers and damage-dealers both.