Friday, August 24, 2012

Rune-keeper Dev Diary: Riders of Rohan

Yay! Here is a Rune-keeper Dev Diary in preparation for the coming expansion!
I will present it exactly as it is found on the lotro site, then I will dissect it while reflecting on what is currently in-game. I will instruct about RK skills as I go.

For the betterment of Middle Earth, the Rangers have decided NOT to move toward Rohan yet. Word has spread that we have another 40 days to get our other obligations in order before the march. New Rohan date is October 15. That is fine; I am still looking forward to Summer festival and have things I could be doing.

Riders of Rohan Developer Diary: Rune-keeper
Good day to all Rune-keepers. This article will go over the improved skills you will receive in the Riders of Rohan expansion as well as cover any changes to skills and traits. First we’ll go over the improved skills:
· Improved Scribe’s Spark– This improved skill will add a potent threat reducing effect.
· Improved Rune of Restoration– Your ‘pet rock’ will gain a power restore effect in addition to its morale over time effect.
· Improved Armour of Flame/Winter/Storm– Each of these skills will add a morale bubble in addition to their normal effects.
Then there are few changes we are making to skills:
· Flurry of Words– Change the evasion reduction to +3% incoming critical chance. That means monsters under the effect of this debuff will be critically hit 3% more often.
· Mystifying Flame– A moderate increase in the damage along with a concomitant increase in the amount of threat reduction.
Finally, there a couple of upgrades to Traits.
· Linnod of Peace– Add -10% healing threat generation effect.
· Rune of Endurance– This Trait will also enhance the Power restoration of the Improved Rune of Restoration.
While none of these changes and additions are earth shattering, we don’t feel that Rune-keepers are in need of major changes at this time. The one thing that we would really like to fix is the issue with the Rune of Restoration falling through floors. While we haven’t been able to fix this as of this writing we are still hopeful of at least a partial fix.


  • DPS in Group – 1 change for a threat reduction, 1 opportunity for a Snowy crit, 1 Fire traited skill gets an increase
  • Healer in Group – 2 changes to give a smidge of power (the rune, and the trait to improve the rune), 1 trait gets a threat reduction
  • DPS or Healer – 1 “oh crap” morale bubble.
The Morale bubble and possibly the DPS threat reduction are probably the only benefits of value for this upgrade. The rest is likely very benign; I will reflect back on it once it gets here.
There are 7 things mentioned in this diary. I will mix in some screenshots of the existing skills as they look at level 75 (these were gathered a few months back and are probably typical for an above average unbuffed RK).
1.    Improved Scribe’s Spark - This improved skill will add a potent threat reducing effect.
Skill change for DPS RK – in group. Scribe’s Spark is one of the two basic lightning skills. It is the one with a 3 second CD. Overall, it is a fine skill. The new feature is “add a potent threat reducing effect”. That might just be a nifty new tool for the RK in a group. As Scribe’s Spark is one of the workhorse skills, its use is a typical part of the DPS rotation. If the threat reduction stacks, it will be a good dynamic to help shift agro away from the RK and back to the tank where it belongs.

Concerning RK threat - Currently, the RK has three options for reducing threat:
a.    Calming Verse – Calming Verse reduced threat by 25%. In a pinch, this handle is the only real handle for dumping agro an in instant, and it lasts for 10 seconds. If you use Calming Verse and still have agro, hope that someone else increases threat because anything else you do will keep pulling agro at this point. (Note that if you are Lightning traited, Calming Verse gives a +20% run speed; whereas Fire traited gives the knockback immunity shown in the pic, and Healing Traited gives Mending Verse as insta-cast.)

b.    Distracting Flame – RK’s are proactive, not reactive. While in DPS mode, this skill will help you not increase agro in a group. Its CD is 30 seconds, but it helps a little.

c.    Improved Rousing Words – While in Healing mode, this skill is a staple. Aside from the two long CD group saves, this is the only group healing skill a RK has. Since it doesn’t build agro and heals everyone, use it as often as possible (20 second CD).  

2.    Improved Rune of Restoration – Your ‘pet rock’ will gain a power restore effect in addition to its morale over time effect.
Skill change for Healing RK – in group. The new “power restore” gets a lot of press, but is it consequential? As a low level RK, it is possible to run out of power. The last time I recall running out of power where it wasn’t a “mechanic: mob wipes out your power” was before RoI, at level 65, nearly a year ago. With Will tied to Tactical Mastery and Power, at high level, RKs do not run out of power. What is potentially attractive about this change though is that a Rune of Restoration heals the group, so it will give Power to others. That will give it some reason to exist.

a.    Currently, a Rune of Restoration heals 50 – 70 morale every 3 seconds, depending on how you are traited. I can guess that power restoration might be similar. Is 20 morale/power regen per second at level 75 something to actually get excited about?
b.   A drawback for the usefulness of this skill… the rock can be used right before the start of a fight, but otherwise, it is usable only by Healing RKs. A DPS RK is attuned to where the RK has no access to the Rune. By traiting 2 deep in Healing, one could always have access to the Rune, but that cuts hard into the effectiveness of a DPS RK and I would recommend against it. Here is a shot of the Healing trait line.

3.    Improved Armour of Flame/Winter/Storm– Each of these skills will add a morale bubble in addition to their normal effects.
Skill change for All RKs – solo or group. The Improved Armour of X skill has my attention. Currently, the Armour of X skill does not get used often. It is a decent skill, but there are three reasons it doesn’t make the rotation as often as it could/should: (i) it is a melee effect and I would rather not be standing so close to an enemy if I can help it, (ii) it Attunes 3 toward Neutral so it will take you strongly out of whatever DPS/Healing you were in, (iii) it has a 3 minute CD.
Basically, this skill is typically an “oh crap” skill, usable when things are breaking down. Putting a Morale bubble on it is a very nice change and it will go from “almost never used” to “used almost every time I get hit hard”.

a.    DPS RK lifeline. Improved Armour of X will be one of the few lifelines a DPS RK has, whereas they currently have none. When attuned, if the DPS RK needs a heal, the RK only has access to Prelude of Hope (120 morale every 5 seconds) or Mending Verse (560 morale + 220 morale every 2 seconds but has a 2s induction) and both pull the RK out of DPS mode. This skill still pulls the RK out of attunement, but right now, the DPS RK has no real morale save when getting hit (a save would be something like… morale pot, stun, Calming Verse, run, Prelude to Hope, hope a tank is nearby).

b.    Other RK morale bubbles? As a primary Healer, the RK has two other morale bubbles. Word of Exaltation (1 target, 90s CD, 6 healing attunement), and Essay of Exaltation (Fellowship target, 5 min CD, the full 9 healing attunement).
4.    Flurry of Words – Change the evasion reduction to +3% incoming critical chance. That means monsters under the effect of this debuff will be critically hit 3% more often.
Skill change for DPS RKs – primarily group.  The Flurry of Words… Have you seen occasionally where it looks like someone just threw out a snow cloud? You know, the one Raid leaders don’t like sometimes because it reduces visibility on the mobs and their ground effects? Yeah, this is the skill.
Currently, I believe the Flurry puts a -3300 Evade on foes in the cloud. The cloud lasts 15 seconds and affects an area around the RK.
Do I use it? It is a situational skill. These days, mobs don’t evade as much, but it feels good knowing that between Finesse and the Flurry, we just won’t miss the target. I use it mostly when a mob has over 300k morale and we will be fighting for a minute, or when there are a bunch of mobs packed together (like the Moors).
The drawback… the area of effect around the RK feels very small. 5 meters? 10? Unless the mobs are coming toward you, you will need to walk into melee range to use it effectively. The tank will give you glaring looks about “being a squishy in his personal space while he is working”.
But, now the Evade debuff is out, and +3% critical chance is in. Is that exciting? 3% critical is roughly equivalent to 1100 critical. A captain’s buff, which can be on all the time, is 1500.
Summation, it is ok but certainly not a game changer. I think the snow effect is pretty so I will still use it unless the leader says I cannot, but the change is fairly benign.

5.    Mystifying Flame – A moderate increase in the damage along with a concomitant increase in the amount of threat reduction
Skill change for Fire Traited RKs – in group.
First of all, +1 for “word of the day” use of “Concomitant”. Go Dev! Yay for words! (It means “associate”. Simple words would have been “a lil more damage plus a lil reduction in threat”.)
Mystifying Flame is the Fire Trait line capstone. Traiting for fire has its purpose, but it takes a certain mindset and LIs built with that mindset. The fire skills are built on longer inductions, longer CDs, and stacking Damages over Time. A good blend of fire skills into DPS rotation is excellent. However, flattening the traited Lightning potential to trait and build LIs for primarily Fire is not appealing to me whenever I need to really perform at a high level. (Fast DPS, stacking rolling lightning crits, with a few Fire and Ice, and being mobile works much better for me.)
Overall, traiting for Mystifying Flame will make the Distacting Flame skill do what it does slightly better: more damage, less threat.

6.    Linnod of Peace – Add -10% healing threat generation effect.
Trait change for Healing RKs – in group. That is nice. This trait is slotted while in RK Healing. The linnods were revamped not too long ago when their association with Calming Verse was disconnected. The healing threat reduction was dropped; now it is back. It feels more like a fix to what was supposed to be there.

7.    Rune of Endurance – This Trait will also enhance the Power restoration of the Improved Rune of Restoration.
Trait change for Healing RKs – in group. Tied to part 2 above concerning the Rune of Restoration, the trait to improve the Rune also gets a bump to restore a smidge more power. Ok, just not interesting.

8.    “we don’t feel that Rune-keepers are in need of major changes at this time”
(Here is the point at which I go into a Rant about my Greatest Pet Peeve and write way more than usual for one column… I am still happy to be a RK, I just get annoyed when I think about this Peeve.)
After RoI release and the characters were sitting at level 75, the RK (as well as the warden) was woefully under-built. Update 6 brought the RK closer to on par with other characters, where it didn’t feel like it was drowning. To give some summary perspective, the DPS increased by about +15 to +20% with the revamp, and the healing by closer to +30% overnight. Yeah, it was way way behind the pace and had not scaled correctly at all... it was like being given a shot of adrenaline the day it was changed.
However, the RK changes typically feel like an after-thought. These “upgrades” for ten levels to level 85 are no exception. The other classes have mixed reviews; some should be really great for Rohan.
My greatest desire is that the RK needs an in-combat rez. The RK is supposed to be able to be traited and built to be either a squishy strong DPS class or squishy strong Healing class (but not at the same time). There are two main Healing classes: RK and Mini. When Healing, RK is nothing like a Minstrel. For one, Minis buff and a RK has only two pre-emptive buffs (“Their Weapons Shall not Harm” = +10% resistance, and Do not Fall to Xelement = reduces some elemental damage for 15s with a 1 min CD). That is all. I can go into "how to be a Healing RK" another day. But RK and Mini are at least as different as a Guardian and a Warden.
Not that I begrudge Captains as they are one of the coolest classes in the game, but even Captains have an in-combat and out of combat rez. A Captain is effective enough to be the tank… has the best buffs… good damage… heals well enough to be main healer in many situations… AND has a rez. But a RK, one of the main two Healer classes, has no combat rez.

The only defense for not having a combat rez is that RKs must “see the future” and use “Do not fall this day”. It has a 10 minute CD. On a break in combat, it is gone. It has a very narrow use. To be successful with it… either you expect that at some point you will lose the tank or the healer (not you) and you have applied the Pre-Rez, or you have in an instant, foreseen that someone else in group was about to die and chose to let them die versus healing them (think "Roots" lil-spider poison). As is more often the case, the hunter got agro for a moment, got one-shotted, and the group is headed for a wipe… unless there happens to be a Captain with you to do what a Healer should be able to do.
So yes, Healing class needs a Combat Rez. Make it a trait, legendary, long CD, whatever. Just make it more playable.


Nusnogard said...

My bf and I were arguing about RK's and needing an in-combat rez. I want it, he doesn't. He doesn't suck at using pre-rez... but pretty much every other RK that I've grouped with does, including myself. I think it should only be accessible if you are traited for full heals, so at least 5 heal traits.

I mostly skimmed your post... I thought I wanted to read, but apparently I'm not into reading about class changes right now. This just means I have to come back to it later lol. I will! I just might not comment further, because I lurk.

Ravanel said...

Good post, and yes, I thought the RK changes are pretty disappointing as well. Am considering leveling mine as third and leveling my captain as second alt instead - even though I'll be sad because I love RK healing so much.

Unknown said...

Hello Nusnogard!

I don't downplay RKs who don't effectively use the pre-rez. At best, it is difficult. It usually isn't the tank that gets killed; he is usually the one that is the primary target for receiving heals... it is often someone unexpected was killed quickly by a devastating crit and there was nothing a healer could do. I agree with your idea, Benedictions of Peace 5 equipped.

You are welcome back anytime to comment later. lol. Til then, Lurk away! :D

Unknown said...

Captain might be the perfect character since there is nothing a captain cannot do (except dps quickly). Mebbe like the followup from the RoI wreck, the RK will get another look soon and become a bit more *more*.

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