One of the questions that’s most commonly asked about lore-masters by players new to the game is ‘what do they do?’ or ‘what is their role in a group?’ The answer to that is it depends, and that’s one of the thing’s that so fun about playing a lore-master. Other than the rune-keeper, few classes have as much flexibility to change how they perform their role in a group as the lore-master and that’s something which by all indications is going to be even more pronounced come Isengard. Another feature about lore-masters is that they have very few completely useless traits, almost every trait has at least a situational use and good lore-masters will find themselves frequent customers of the bard as they adopt their build to meet the requirements of the situation they face.

This is going to be a two part post, it got too long for just one post! The second half should be up later this week. The purpose of it will be to outline the main trait setups that lore-masters might use and, in doing so, this will show what different roles a lore-master can fill in a group environment.

Note that the lore-master is also somewhat unique in really only having two legendary trait slots available to it – sword and staff should be permanently equipped due to the very large stat and DPS boost it brings.

Pets and LI legacies which go along with these trait setups will be discussed in future posts.

Debuffs, cc and support (5x yellow, 2x blue)

The most common shorthand description of the lore-master is that it’s a ‘cc class’. However, while it’s true that lore-masters have an excellent array of cc skills, their most powerful unique feature is actually their ability to debuff enemies. While other classes, can perform a similar role to lore-masters with respect to cc, no class comes close to matching the power of our debuffs especially in multi-mob environments (by default, most lore-master debuffs hit 3 targets and this can be improved to 8 or more with appropriate traits and LI legacies). And improving the lore-master’s debuffs are really what the yellow line is all about.

What this setup does

Using this trait setup will improve the effect of the lore-master’s debuffs and make the most powerful of them able to be up 100% of the time (instead of 50%). It will also improve the lore-master’s ability to share/draw power, AOE mez the undead and spot heal. The increase to group DPS that this line brings should not be forgotten. This comes about thorough 100% uptime on the armour debuff, ancient craft, which greatly increases physical DPS and also through an increased variety of mobs that can be hit with warding circles (including the all important Ancient Evil which is a very common boss mob type), which increase tactical damage done by 10%.

Keeping raid trash asleep is an important task for a LM

When it should be used

This trait setup should be reserved for the toughest group content in the game, where debuffs can be the difference between an overstressed healer and a tank that stays alive. However, because it cripples the lore-master’s ability to do damage by foregoing all of the juicy red line traits and bonuses, and because a lot of smaller group content doesn’t require such powerful debuffing, it should be reserved for difficult raids or, perhaps, difficult 6-person content if your group is really struggling or is relying on non-optimal healing (eg. captain main healing).

What traits to use

In this setup, the legendary trait Force of Will should always be slotted.

The yellow trait line has eight class traits to choose from. Post-Isengard 6 of these improve debuffs (including the new ‘improved frost lore’), 1 greatly improves the lore-master’s primary mez (blinding flash) and the other improves the lore-master’s ability to draw power from enemies. The latter trait (power and wisdom) should almost always be slotted in this trait setup. If the instance requires you to mez (and lore-masters can use blinding flash on the undead in Isengard!) then trait fast loader which makes blinding flash instant, greatly increasing its utility and your ability to keep mezzed mobs where you want them, even if your mez gets broken. Then fill the remaining slots with relevant debuff-improving traits – deep lore if there’s swarms of mobs, improved fire/wind/frost lore depending on whether the enemies are doing melee/ranged/tactical damage and improved sop:command if you can fit it in, because more damage is always good.

In this setup, the five yellow traits should almost always be paired with two blue traits. Healer gives massive boosts to your heal and share the power and should almost always be slotted. The final slot is a tossup between proof against ills (PAAI), if you require either AOE disease curing or in-combat wound removal, or light of hope if you don’t. Don’t forget that slotting proof against ills removes your ability to cure diseases from people in the other fellowship in a raid or to spot cure a single player, so for places like Ost Dunhoth disease wing where nasty single target diseases pop up across the whole raid or Lost Temple where you want to be able to target your disease removal, you actually don’t want to slot PAAI. Post-Isengard, you will also be able to remove single target wounds without traiting PAAI so the same consideration will have to be made for wound removal in the future – do you really need AOE curing or can you get away without this trait?

AOE tactical damage – 5x red, 2x blue

Lore-masters are the only class in the game which has significant ranged AOE capability (minstrels can come close but have far worse power issues than us when in war-speech, at least in the pre-Isengard world, so you rarely see DPS minstrels in groups outside of the Moors). And that capability is quite large. Especially in bursts. Lore-masters can put out more damage in the first 15 seconds of a fight than any other class in the game by a fair margin. However, our hardest hitting AOE skills are gated behind cooldowns of 30s-5min so our AOE damage does come in bursts. Still, we do pretty respectable sustained single target damage, and if you want to be doing damage, the red line is where it’s at.

What this setup does

Red traits and trait line bonuses significantly increase our fire, tactical and melee damage and reduce induction times. The traitline and trait bonuses add up to a total of +45% increased fire damage and +15% tactial damage, and the latter goes over the tactical offence cap. The red capstone legendary unlocks the extremely powerful AOE nuke skill ‘improved sticky gourd’, which by itself can increase lore-master DPS by 10% or more.

The drawback of the red line is that traiting 4 deep reduces the length of blinding flash to 5 seconds (meaning it isn’t a perma-mez given its 15s cooldown). If you’re doing constant DPS too, you will be using upwards of 2500 power/minute on DPS skills alone which will stress your power pool and give you less opportunity to share power to other party members or use power on debuffs, especially the more expensive ones such as ancient craft and wind-lore.

When it should be used

Most of the time. Certainly this is the default trait setup for solo-ing and skirmishing at end game, and given that very little 3- or 6- person group content requires the power of yellow line debuffs, you might as well help your team out by killing stuff faster. If you absolutely, positively, need to mez something or need a particular mix of blue/yellow traits then you can use a hybrid trait mix, but for the great majority of content as it stands, this should be your trait setup. Even while traited red you can still perform most of the important support functions of the LM (debuffing, sharing power, curing, stun immunity, spot healing) even if not to quite the same extent as you can in other trait setups.

The fact that lore-masters should be in this trait setup most of the time goes back to my previous point about the LM not being primarily a cc class – chances are if you’re running with a LM outside of a raid, they can’t actually perma-mez anything. The will still have some ability to root stun and possibly even fear mobs, but for single target mezzing a lot of the time a LM can’t really help you out.

LMs like burning stuff

What traits to use

Always slot the legendary capstone improved sticky gourd. In a group environment or skirmish where you’ll be facing multiple mobs, ents go to war is an excellent burst damage skill. The eagle legendary pet has good synergy with this trait setup too, especially if solo-ing where you’ll rarely have large multi-mob situations that require the big Ents stomp.

There are three red traits which should always be slotted when you’re looking to do damage – improved staff strike (big increase in melee damage and stats), flame of anor (+10% fire damage) and harmony with nature (reduced inductions). The final two will generally be awareness of body (reduces the morale cost of certain LM damage skills) and improved signs of battle (depending on the fight, this is about a 2% increase in DPS). You may want to consider knowledge of the past instead of improved signs of battle to reduce your power costs (note that this is statistically a better option than tactically adept for power savings), which will net you on average an extra 200-250 power per minute in a normal rotation. Post-Isengard you could also consider slotting secret of tar to reduce the induction of your sticky gourd and tar skills which, I believe, is being moved to the red line, although this is primarily a trait for the moors where you will be facing frequent induction knockbacks.

In a group environment, you should really use your final two trait slots on blue traits, which will significantly increase either your off-healing or curing ability as required. If you find yourself REALLY struggling for power, go power and wisdom (although standing still doing nothing but drawing power for 30s does terrible things to your DPS!). If soloing, and you really want an absolutely max damage trait setup, you could use skills that either improve your pet or just more red traits.

Up next – Keeper of Animals and hybrid trait setups.