July 19, 2020

7 Rune Keeper Class Tips in LOTRO

Rune Keeper class in the Lord of the Rings Online boasts the unique attunement system, balancing between damage and healing as a ranged spellcaster. With the RK entry of the LOTRO Basics class tips guide series, we will break down the class to help you get started with it and improve your experience!

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 U27, in July 2020.
Update: September 2020 - Added the video and updated the tips!

The 7 Tips:
  1. Building and Consuming Attunement
    1. Red
    2. Yellow
    3. Blue
  2. Frost Spells and When to Use Them
  3. Prelude to Hope, A Powerful Heal
  4. Surprising Utility
  5. Don't Overuse Scathing Mockery (Red Line)
  6. Healing as a DPS RK
  7. Fire vs Lightning

Video Guide

Tip #1 - Building and Consuming Attunement

Brief attunement background: Rune Keeper gameplay is centered around attunement, a system with healing attunement (HA) on one side (11-20), battle attunement (BA) on the other (0-9), and neurtral attunement (NA) in the middle where your character passively rests at (10). Base "builder" skills can build attunement. either battle or healing, while attunement "consumers" return you to neutral attunement. In general, utility skills give neutral attunement, which bring you closer to neutral, at attunement level of 10.

To start this RK guide off, I want to cover a tip on the core attunement system, particularly some best practices on when you should consume or continue building attunement. In general, it is best to use your consumers at maximum attunement - 10 BA or 10 HA. When it's best to consume attunement depends on your spec and the situation:

Red - Smouldering Wrath is by far your strongest ability as a fire RK, and using this consumer as frequently as possible at maximum attunement should be your highest priority. Combustion is strong to use on CD at max attunement in AoE situations and, for ST, can also be weaved in at high-max attunement. Because of the short CDs on the fire consumers, it is often best to build attunement quickly.

Yellow - Three consumers provide powerful effect, Sustaining Bolt heals, Shocking Words stuns, and Epic Conclusion deals massive damage. While leveling and for short fights, or for when you need one of the effects, you can freely use consumers at high-max attunement. However, at higher level, because you gain a crit bonus for each battle attunement, it is best to only use consumers for their specific effect. Sustaining Bolt can be used when you have the Charge (trait bonus) buff (it won't consume attunement), and a more advanced technique with Epic Conclusion is to only use it if you need to attunement dump, need the immediate damage, or in combination with Concession and Rebuttal (3 min CD skill) when you have the Closing Remarks (trait) buff.

Blue - Healing is more simple than the other specs. In general, you want to maintain high attunement because each healing skill gets a small boost per attunement and some heals requires you have healing attunement. Use of your consumers is based on if allies need a morale bubble. Word of Exaltation applies a ST bubble and Essay of Exaltation applies a ground-targeted AoE bubble. After use of those, you can continue to heal and build healing attunement.

More in depth background:

Reasons to build/maintain high attunement:
  • Many builder skills gain a small boost based on the amount of attunement you have
  • Builders have short CDs, making them easily usable in rotation without having to worry about attunement
  • Maintaining high/max attunement allows you to save consumers for when they are most needed
  • In the yellow line, you get a trait set bonus that increases critical chance and crit damage per battle attunement (up to 10% and 30%, respectively)

Reasons to consume attunement:
  • Attunement consumers have strong effects - often worth using frequently
  • Returning to neutral attunement gives you flexibility in followup skills
  • The ability to switch to the opposite attunement (battle or healing)

Tip #2 - Frost Spells and When to Use Them

Back in the early era of LOTRO (before current trait trees), the RK had fire, lightning, and frost spells as a main set of skills. Just as they were back then, frost spells are used for utility and various purposes. We'll cover each skill individually below:

Chilling Rhetoric - 0.5s induction, minor frost damage (+1 BA) - Slows the enemy for a short duration.
This spell I infrequently use, but can be used to slow an enemy. One reason it is not great is because once the enemy takes any damage (even DoT), the slow debuff is removed. Even solo, I rarely find a use for this.

Essence of Winter - 1.5s induction, 3 target AoE with moderate frost damage (+3 BA) - Gives enemies a decrease in incoming healing and increases their power cost
Especially at low levels, this can be strong to weave in during AoE situations. However, as you get high level with your imbued LI and further in the trait trees (100+), this spell does not scale and becomes a weaker option. I then only use it if the debuff is needed or have nothing more useful to use (very rarely).

Flurry of Words - 2s induction, castable while moving, ground AoE effect with moderate frost damage over time (+3 BA) - Enemies caught in the ground effect have 3% increased incoming crit chance in addition to taking frost damage.
This is the most useful frost spell, giving a valuable debuff. In any AoE situation, I use to spell for not only the damage, but also giving the mobs increased incoming crit chance. For some single target fights where the mob/boss can be positioned into the ground effect area, it is also worth using for the debuff! However, this spells is not as useful for solo/leveling, as mobs will die too fast for the debuff to have any effect, although, you can cast it while moving and kiting mobs in AoE while solo!

Tip #3 - Prelude to Hope, A Powerful Heal

Rune Keepers are quite squishy, but fortunately, they have one of the most useful heals in the game that can be self-targeted. Prelude to Hope is instant cast (+1 HA), gives a small amount of morale initially, then heals a small amount every 1s for 12s, all on a short 3s CD. It is easy to underrate or underuse this heal because it is not flashy and doesn't do much on the initial cast. But for any fight you are taking damage, this can be surprisingly helpful by keeping your morale up.

Prelude to Hope has the additional bonus of being a base skill and requires nothing from the blue line, the healing spec, so it ends up being useful in all three specs! You can, however, trait it in the blue line to restore power which gives it a small additional boost, especially if you are a healer or doing group content.

During group content with a dedicated healer, as a DPS RK, I generally do not use Prelude to Hope, as it is best to leave the healing to the healer so you can focus on your powerful ranged tactical damage. But, it is good to keep in mind the HoT effect and that you can apply it to allies if healing help is needed or cast it pre-fight to get the small effect.

Bonus tip: if you are at neutral attunement and use Prelude to Hope, you will end up with 1 HA, and can cast Word of Exaltation (on yourself or an ally/tank) to gain a small morale bubble and the HoT!

Tip #4 - Surprising Utility

As the Rune Keeper boasts two solid DPS specs and a dedicated healer spec it is less known for its amount of utility. So for this tip, I want to highlight some of the utility skills the RK has. As with the Lore Master, I suggest practicing and learning more about their use. Knowing and using your utiltiy won't help you only while leveling and solo, the utility can make you more impactful in group content compared to a straight DPS-focused RK.

RK utility has three main areas - frost spells (covered above in tip #2), heals/survival (Prelude to Hope covered above in tip #3), and more general utility.

General Utility Skill Rundown

  • Shocking Touch - deals lightning damage and dazes the enemy for a short duration. I often use this for quick CC. 

  • Final Word - immediate skill that interrupts induction and the improved version removes corruptions. This spell can be used to animation cancel, but is a valuable quick ranged interrupt and corruption removal.

  • Armour of the Elements - a CD self-buff that gives a small morale bubble, increases tactical mitigation, and gives you a chance to reflect a daze on enemy attackers. This is generally a survival CD to use when needed, but also serves the minor purpose of being an inconsistent AoE  CC on a long CD. I usually just use it for survival.

  • Self-motivation - restores power, but can be traited in the red line to restore morale, then further in the red line, have a shorter CD and no induction. This skill is useful if you need a boost to power, then in the red line becomes a decent self-heal and survival CD.

  • Steady Hands - shifts your attunement to the opposite side (BA->HA or vice-versa HA->BA) and removes the power cost of all skills for 15s. This is a powerful CD that allows you to quickly swap between healing and damage. In the yellow line, you can get a trrait that causes the swapping effect to trigger again after using an attunement consumer (BA->HA->consumer->original BA, is how that works) - this trait is valuable by letting you quickly heal as a lightning DPS RK then quickly go back to full DPS. Overall, Steady Hands gives you signifiicant flexibility in being able to quickly top off with heals or push out damage if needed. It can also be a life saver when solo and questing!

  • Do Not Fall This Day - also known as DNF, putting this 5 minute buff on an ally, you will instantly resurrect them should they die. Note: this only works if you are alive, and the ressed ally will spawn at your location. This is a very valuable CD that gives an in-combat res to the RK, but becomes significantly better when you have the legendary item legacy for it, which decreases the CD, allowing you to have two of these active at once. This essentially gives you two in-combat resses, which is very helpful in endgame and group content!

  • Scribe a New Ending - removees debuffs every 2 seconds for 6 seconds, removing 3 debuffs in total, with an 8 seconds CD. This is one of the strongest debuff removers in the game on such a short CD. I often use this on allies that need debuffs removed, or myself in solo. It has the added benefit of the 6s duration, so you can remove debuffs that aren't even on you yet when you cast this!

  • Word of Exaltation - immediate attunement consumer that applies a morale bubble to an ally. This gives you extra healing value, even as a DPS RK. I often use this in combination with Steady Hands, Prelude to Hope, or any time I have healing attunement to quickly go back to damaging enemies. In group content, you can put this on tanks in combination with those skills to help out healers and make fights finish more easily!

  • Fulgurite Rune-stone - Only available in the yellow line as a trait (3rd row), this deals immediate AoE lightning damage and stuns nearby enemies, then it continues with a couple extra hits that can also stun. Every spec RK can eventually get this rune-stone, and I recommend it because it provides a very helpful AoE stun!

RK utility spells - note: these are from being specced in the yellow line.

Tip #5 - Don't Overuse Scathing Mockery (Red Line Gameplay)

Bringing back an old, actually short tip of mine - Scathing Mockery is not always useful and only fits in certain fights. The reason I have this tip is because I have frequently seen fire RKs using it too often (although it does have a neat effect, so I like to look on the bright side and think that is their reasoning behind using it!). Scathing Mockery is a 3s induction, 20s CD, 5 target AoE fire spell that deals very little upfront damage and very slowly deals fire damage over time. It is acquired in the red line, in the 5th row as a single trait.

When to use Scathing Mockery:
  • Only when you have the Branded Marks trait at the bottom of the red line
  • Only in long fights (~35-40s+). In AoE situations, it is more forgiving for how long the fight has to be, but Fiery Ridicule and Essence of Flame may still be better options
  • Only combination with Essay of Fire.

In situations where those conditions can't be met, it is very inefficient to cast Scathing Mockery and it should not be used!


Tip #6 - Healing as a DPS RK

As a DPS Rune Keeper (red or yellow), it is important to focus on damaging enemies, but you can be extra helpful in grou content by knowing that you can quickly help with healing if needed! Typically I swap to heal mode (usually briefly) when allies are quickly dying and the healers need help, or when healers die and somebody else has to keep morale up (who better than the DPS RK?)!

Some good things to know:
  • Word of Exaltation is immediate and returns you to neutral attunement. Anytime you are in healing attunement, this can be used to get you to neutral so you can go back to building BA and DPSing! In group content, it is often used on tanks but may be thrown on anybody to help them survive.
  • Prelude to Hope can help top your allies (or yourself) off with a quick-tick HoT. Sometimes all you need is this and Word of Exaltation to be an offhealer!
  • The blue line offers some decent healing options, however, your group should not rely strongly on your offheals as a DPS RK. But, if you do want more healing options, Mending Verse is a solid base heal, especially when you get the traits in the 2nd row to boost it.
  • The healing runestone in the blue line is not very good anymore and not worth speccing in the blue line just to get it.
  • Epic for the Ages is your only other baseline heal, but has a long induction. It can still be useful to give somebody a morale boost if they really need it!

Tip #7 - Fire versus Lightning

In the last RK tip, we will cover when to go red line for fire or yellow line for lightning. Of course, I recommend playing whichever you have most fun with, but each spec has its strengths and weaknesses that I want to highlight!

Fire - Red Line

Fire is the slow, induction-based damage over time spec. While the damage over time and buffs that build up in combat often shine through in longer fights, fire does boast strong burst damage and a very powerful opening sequence. It also offers more options for AoE damage. Usually a fire RK casts spells from afar.

Lightning - Yellow Line

Lightning is the high mobilitiy, instant cast, instant damage spec. The gameplay focuses on repeatedly zapping enemies with lightning with large critical hits. While lightning focus on ST damage, it has a couple AoE options that have CC built in for more control in the battlefield. Usually a lightning RK casts spells near melee range if it is safe.

Reasons I play fire:
  • To kill a high health mob quickly (an elite or elite master)
  • For the AoE damage
  • For the slower, induction-based playstyle if I don't want to mash many buttons quickly
  • To burn things

Reasons I play lightning:
  • To cast while moving and kite mobs
  • For the AoE stuns and CC
  • For the instant cast playstyle, where I am always pressing something
  • To electrocute things

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