July 24, 2020

7 Lore Master Class Tips in LOTRO

The Lore Master class in the Lord of the Rings Online has a versatile kit as a spellcaster - dealing damage, debuffing enemies, or providing utility. With the LM entry of the LOTRO Basics class tips guide series, we will break down the class to help you get started with it, improve your experience, and hopefully learn something new!

The goal of the LOTRO Basics 7 Class Tips series of guides is to help newer or returning players better understand their class and get started with them. For other guides in the 7 Class Tips series, they can be found at this page: https://www.lotrobasics.com/p/class-guides-and-resources.html.

This guide was made during Update 27, in July 2020.

The 7 Tips:
  1. Alternate Burning Embers
  2. Support or DPS?
  3. Make Use of Big Spells
  4. Embrace the Utility
  5. Pet Miniguide - Pets and What They Provide
  6. Semi-AFK Leveling
  7. Pet Management and Keybinds

Tip #1 - Alternate Burning Embers

Like many other classes, the general skill priority for a DPS Lore Master is to use your strongest skills first. However, many of your strong skills have long cooldowns, so you can't constantly use them in combat and need to fill in the gaps. During the gap periods, it is best to alternate Burning Embers with your other skills to maximize damage over time. For short fights, this does not matter as much, but it is good practice in instances, group content, or anything where you aren't killing things very fast.

Some good skills to alternate with Burning Embers include:
  1. Gust of Wind - upgrades Burning Embers DoT and has a small chance to spread it to nearby mobs
  2. Lightning Strike - consumes Burning Embers DoT to deal upfront "cashout" damage
  3. Cracked Earth - moderately strong AoE fire damage
  4. Staff-sweep - if red line and in melee range
  5. Light of the Rising Dawn - Stun
An advanced technique is to also use Burning Embers in alternation with your strong, long-CD skills to start ramping up your damage over time early on in a fight. Again, this doesn't apply as much to short fights where you just kill things super quick, but you can boost your overall damage by doing it. This can allow you to stack up the Burning Embers DoT, upgrade it Gust of Wind, and consistently get cashout damage from Lightning Strike and Lightning Storm.

For a bonus tip, weaving in Wizard's Fire during any down period when you are waiting on a CD (such as Burning Embers's CD) or when you need to move will also increase your output as an LM!

Burning Embers

Tip #2 - Support or DPS?

Just as the Guardian and Minstrel were traditional tanks and healers, Lore Master was traditionally a support class with role of debuffing enemies and providing fellowship utility. In the modern era of LOTRO, all specs were updated to be marginally viable - able to fill their role in content without hindering their group. This includes red line (and to an extent, blue line) Lore Master for easier, baseline content. For the most difficult endgame content, LMs are still expected to support as other classes provide higher DPS.

LM as Red DPS: Playing a DPS Lore Master gives a unique gameplay experience for LOTRO as a high burst and slowly built sustain damage caster. They have a handful of long CD skills that provide strong immediate impact and another handful of shorter CD skills that give some lower sustain damage. You still have some debuffs, but they are overall not very effective and you are better off focusing on your damaging spells. With the current endgame balance meta, LM DPS is not as high as other classes, so you may be turned down for the more difficult content and raids or required to play yellow line for support. 

LM as Blue DPS: Blue line DPS gives a little bit different feel than red line, in that your pets are stronger while you don't have as many skills to juggle. Overall damage output is less than red line, so this spec is usually kept to solo play as a strong option for soloing difficult content or for relaxing gameplay. However, the blue line does offer good traits for the other specs to dip into at high levels!

LM as Yellow Support: Playing as a support LM, you mostly maintain debuffs on enemies and occasionally healing or buffing allies. You can fit in damaging spells in some downtimes, but this can be infrequent depending on the fight. Endgame content is balanced around having a yellow LM to debuff enemies and support the group. This means that a support LM is always needed in endgame content and can become very difficult or impossible without one. This, in addition to LM DPS being relatviely, also means you are generally expected to play a yellow LM if you want to do endgame raiding.

While leveling, for low level content, and low difficulty tiers, a lot of the group content is easier and does not require a yellow LM to be completed. For this, you can play whatever spec you have most fun in and your group should progress fine as long as they fill their fellowship accordingly!

Tip #3 - Make Use of Big Spells

Some players, myself included, like to save long cooldown skills and big effects for when it is really needed. But, the Lore Master has many longer cooldown skills that have pretty big effects, all of which may seem like you want to save them for the perfect moment,whether in group content or solo. This often means you don't end up using these as efficiently as you could if you used them on every cooldown.

So, this tip may seem odd, but I wanted to remind LMs to be using your big strong spells even if it seems like a waste, because it is more of a waste to never use them!

Red line LMs get the most and biggest effect of the longer-CD spells. Here is a full list of strong spells to remember to often use, sorted by CD length:
  • Ents go to War (5 min) - Frontal fire damage AoE with long stun
  • Sic 'em! (2 min) - Summons many wild animals to destroy your enemies
  • Storm Lore (2 min) - Melee range AoE stun with lightning damage
  • Lightning Storm (1 min 30 sec) - Multi-target AoE with massive immediate lightning damage
  • Nature's Fury (1 min 30 sec) - A tornado, dealing immediate frost damage to a ST with AoE frost damage over time, and a chance to deal lightning damage over time.
  • Test of Will (2 min) - ST light damage stun that has a high crit chance and magnitude
  • Ring of Fire (30 sec) - Strong upfront AoE fire damage with a BPE (block, parry, evade) debuff ground area effect
  • Sticky Gourd (30 sec) - AoE fire damahhge with long-lasting ground effect that burns enemies

With all this in mind on not fully utilizing your big spells, it is still important to keep in mind their CD if you are situations where they do need to be saved, such as particular group content fights you may expect (for example, I sometimes save Ents go to War if a group of mobs need to be stunned, or Lightning Storm if burst AoE damage is needed)!

Big, long CD LM spells (all class trait lines)

Tip #4 - Embrace the Utility!

The Lore Master provides some of the most utility among all classes in LOTRO, so I recommend embracing it! While being a damage-focused LM is okay, you can be a lot more useful in group content, or even towards yourself in solo play, by utilizing your broad range of skills. I suggest that you try to learn more about all of your LM skills and pets and what they provide. For a quick rundown, we can group LM skills into a few categories:

  • Damage - these skills damage enemies, sometimes providing additional effects (stuns, roots, etc.).
  • Crowd Control - these skills cripple enemies, heavily reducing their ability to fight or even preventing them from doing anything (dazes, stuns, slows, roots, etc.).
  • Debuffs - these skills weaken enemies by decreasing their damage and overall power level or by making them more susceptible to incoming damage.
  • Fellowship Support - these skills have a variety of effects, but typically you target allies (or yourself) with them to heal, restore power, or otherwise buff.
  • Pets - not only do some pets provide passive benefits, but they even provide debuffs, CC, damage, and fellowship support themselves!
  • General Utility - Anything that has an effect but doesn't really fit into anything above, but it still does something!

I will not go through each skill and categorize them all (see examples below; this would become a full LM guide if I did that!), but I will just say again that learning your abilities, what they do, and how they can be useful will help you become a better LM, and other players will notice this! Similar to the Warden, I think practicing helps a lot and you will eventually understand what your skills do and when to use them.

Below are a few skills of each type to give some examples (in order listed above, from left to right)!

LM Skills - Damage, CC, Debuff, Fellowship Support, Pet, General Utility

Tip #5 - Pets and What They Provide (Pet Miniguide)

Pets offer a variety of valuable uses for the Lore Master.From plain damage. For this tip, we will briefly cover each pet then discuss some advanced pet techniques and how traits affect them.

  • Bear (Level 1) - A tanky animal that has a force taunt, stun, and has an incoming damage buff. The bear is often used as a tank to solo difficult content or for its debuff and stun.
  • Raven (Level 15) - A supportive animal that debuffs enemies. The raven is often used for its debuffs as a support pet.
  • Bog Lurker (Level 20) - A universally strong pet that deals valuable ranged damage and has a debuff and stun. Often used for leveling and as a low-maintenance pet that works well with the LM's ranged spellcasting, but also provides a valuable debuff.
  • Lynx (Level 30) - A stealthy cat that is the master of ST damage and also has a couple AoEs. The Lynx is often used when ST DPS is needed and debuffs and other utility are not needed. Their stealth attack can also oneshot mobs!
  • Spirit of Nature (Level 40) - A supportive ball of nature in spirit form that provides healing support to the fellowship. The nature spirit is often used only briefly for its healing effects, as its abilities have long cooldowns and it doesn't provide much else.
  • Sabertooth (Level 56) - A cold-weather cat that is the master of AoE damage that can debuff and stun enemies. The Sabertooth is often used for AoE damage purposes.
  • Eagle (blue line trait, 2nd row) - A versatile pet that can deal ST and AoE damage, CC, interrupt, and even revive the Lore Master should they falter in combat. The Eagle is often used for the res and general usefulness, although its damage is overall outclassed by other pets.

Choosing a pet ultimately comes down to what situation you are in. For a bonus tip, just choose whichever you have most fun with! Blue line traits will buff your pets and make them extra valuable, perhaps changing which is most useful for you - so watch out for what your traits do! If you spec into the yellow or red line, this may start impacting you at high level as you dip in the blue line to further empower your LM abilities.

Advanced techniques with pets is to summon them to use their debuffs and CD skills, then swap to another pet, and keep alternating between pets as they "outlive their usefulness". Many raiding LMs at endgame will do this while also maintaining a healthy balance of debuffing and supporting the fellowship. Swapping pets allows your group to get the most out of their effects and ultimately survive better and deal more damage!

If you really love the pets theme, I recommend trying out the skill Sic 'em! at the bottom of the blue line trait tree... it is quite amusing!

Tip #6 - Semi-AFK Leveling (via Skirmishes)

I feel like this is an odd tip to share, but may be good for players to be aware of. Lore Masters are the best class to AFK level by doing defensive skirmishes. The ranged pet, the Bog Guardian, when put on aggressive will quickly mow down mobs on its own, allowing skirmish NPCs to survive in combat. For a skirmish soldier, the Archer can also be quite helpful giving you two ranged options that take down enemies on their own. The overall strategy is simple, you put your pet on aggressive and position yourself where mobs come out or funnel to, then you are free to do other things! Since you, the LM, aren't doing much, the best spec for this is the blue line as it will empower your pet the most. There are two skirmishes where this works best, Stand at Amon Sul and Ford of Bruinen.

Generally, as you get higher level, the skirmishes start requiring more of your attention and may eventually start failing too often where you don't get much progress. By AFK leveling, you also lose out on the valuable parts of normal leveling, including all the regular loot, deeds, quests, etc. It may be easy, but for a long-term, endgame character, you would still want to go back and do all of that stuff!

Stand at Amon Sul

Level Range: This skirmish works best from about level 25 to 50-55, above that pets become relatively weaker and Candaith has trouble surviving.

Strategy: In this skirmish, it is best to stand near the campfire, right by Candaith. In this skirmish, especially at low levels, you can go fully AFK. Occasionally a strong lieutenant (such as Echo of Death) may wipe the run because sometimes your pet and soldier will not attack them.

Ford of Bruinen

Level Range and XP Strategy: This is the best option for after level 50 or so. While you can squeeze out Stand at Amon Sul at a bit higher level, this one will start giving you more experience, faster. With this one, mobs come either the southwest or northwest, 2 sets of assaults for each location, with a total of 4 assaults of mobs. After that, two bosses come in which may also require attention as they can knock back your NPCs, and one requires being hit by a water mechanic to be damaged.

Strategy: My strategy is to position with the first assault in the northwest or southwest, then occasionally check back on the game and see if I need to move. Sometimes you can go full AFK, get about half the kill XP, and complete the skirmish, but other times the boss mechanics won't allow that. You also lose out on kill XP (most valuable at lower levels) by not moving with each assault.

Tip #7 - Pet Management and Keybinds

Finishing LM off with a very short quality of life tip on pet management, although it can be universally applied to any action in the game! In this tip, we will add the action to dismiss your pet to your skill bar, which can allow you to quickly cycle through pets for their debuffs and CDs (as covered in Tip #5).

In the options panel, you can view all of the quickslots (skill bar panels, up to 5 plus the base bar) in order of number and assign keybinds to each one individually. Normally, you drag consumables and skills onto your skill bars and that is about it. However, you can also assign any emote/action in the game to quicklslot bars using the in-game chat function!

Assigning actions to your skill bars tutorial:

1. Find the quickslot you want the action to go to by opening the options panel and optionally adding a keybind to it.

2. Use the "shortcut" function to set an action to that quickslot. The function follows this pattern:
       | /shortcut [quickslot number] /[action] | -- everything in brackets is changeable
Ex: | /shortcut 7 /pet attack | -- this will cause your pet to attack the targeted enemy   

For the LM, the release pet action is "/pet release", so I would use this function on my LM:
       | /shortcut 34 /pet release | -- this sets "/pet release" to quickslot 34

This is a great quality of life feature that has made time on my Lore Master simpler, and much easier to dismiss my pet. You can add different pet commands to your skill bar using the same method. Again, it can also be applied to the rest of the actions in LOTRO! 

For a brief update, this will be the last 7 Tips guide for a while, as we have already covered the classes I am most familiar with! Please share any requests for the next classes to cover!

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