The announcement of a new expansion is always exciting, as expansions bring a new level cap, new skills and new possibilities for character advancement and design changes. The lore-master has done pretty well out of our last two updates (in Isengard and the Nov 2010 update), gaining a bunch of useful new skills and some good trait refinement. So the announcement of Riders of Rohan has got me thinking about possibilities for new skills, traits and other changes to the class that could come with the expansion. While I think the class is fundamentally in a great place, and doesn’t need a major overhaul along the lines of Wardens or Champions (all our traitlines already have a well designed flavour and we are fairly effective in most of our roles), there’s certainly room for improvement and new interesting skills.

New skills

We are gaining another 10 levels with RoR, which should equate to another 5 skills if Isengard is anything to go by. I also appreciated the Isengard design of the new skills which didn’t just result in our skill bars being cluttered up with more new skills which either don’t get used or which obsolete old skills, so most of the new skills I propose here aren’t completely new skills.

  • Level 76: Commune with nature (passive)pet damge scales with your will and matches your weapon damage type. This is something that lore-masters really need imo. I was debating whether to suggest this as just a class tweak, but I think it’s a big enough increase in power to a fundamental part of the class to justify an entirely new skill. I would expect the scaling should be about 3% per 100 will, so if you had 1500 will at level 76, your pet would immediately get a 45% damage boost in addition to doing non-common damage. Given current levels of pet damage (around 50-100dps) this wouldn’t be overpowered, but it would be noticable, especially as we move towards 3000+ will by level 85.
  • Level 78: Improved gust of wind – increased damage and 4s “freeze” (stun). This seems like a natural improvement for this skill. It already does cold based damage, it’s already primarily an AOE debuff, this just gives it an extra bit of utility.
  • Level 80: Staff thrust - New melee skill. 15s cooldown, fast skill, low damage, interrupts. The biggest tool missing in the lore-master’s arsenal is an interrupt, this fills that hole. Lore-master’s technically already have a ranged interrupt (though it’s almost unusable), I think it’s appropriate that this be a melee interrupt given our hybrid melee combat nature.
  • Level 82: Improved test of will - increases ICPR for next 30 seconds. On current cost/power/ICPR ratios lore-master DPS starts to get unsustainable after about 2min, especially if you’re debuffing at the same time. This gives lore-masters a way to manage their power in longer fights without having to gimp their damage output by using draw power. The rate of power increase shouldn’t be enough to replace draw power if you’re doing serious power sharing in a raid (although it would be useful to use the skill in a raid environment), but it should go a long way to making our DPS sustainable if the buff is kept up.
  • Level 84: Improved ents go to war - Is a regular skill (no longer requires a legendary trait to slot). 2.5 second induction. This is probably my most radical suggestion. I think we would all like a new legendary trait, but Turbine is probably reluctant (for good reason) to open up a 4th legendary trait slot. This gives us the ability to have a new legendary trait without making the decision as to what existing legendary to drop quite so painful.

New traits

Traits are fun to play around with. Lore-masters are well used to mixing and matching and changing their traits around, because we have generally good legendary capstones going deep into our traitlines gives a lot of benefits. With RoR, I think turbine should give all classes a new class trait slot (probably at level 80), which would be the first trait slot added since Moria, giving us some much needed fundamental character advancement. Just making that change on its own would seriously unbalance the existing system of traitline bonuses and capstones, so I think all traitline bonuses should be moved up one (ie a 2-trait bonus becomes a 3-trait bonus, leaving no additional benefit for merely having 2 of a trait slotted) and the prerequesite for legendary capstones should be increased to 6 of the associated traits. This would preserve the existing balance while giving people more opportunity to use a few more traits, including these new ones:

  • Master of nature’s fury: Blinding light - your light and lightning-based attacks have a +5% critical chance and +25% critical multiplier. Most of our existing DPS buffs are geared towards our fire skills, this would enhance a number of our non-fire tactical skills (lightning storm, light of the rising dawn, test of will and storm lore) in addition to improved staff strike, which does light damage.
  • Keeper of Animals: Focussed attacks - the cooldown of your pets skills is reduced by 20% This has a huge variety of benefits, many of which are quite powerful. It certainly benefits some pets more than others; the bear and limrafn gain substantially more utility and the lynx and sabertooth a lot more damage. The raven and eagle would benefit less, but I don’t think that’s a fundamental objection to what would be a pretty interesting skill.
  • Ancient Master: Critical debuffs - the magnitude and duration of your fire-lore, wind-lore, ancient craft, sign of power:see all ends and frost-lore debuffs is increased by 25% on critical hits. If you look in your combat log you’ll see that debuffs currently have the ability to critically hit. Unfortunately these crits do nothing and so fate/crit rating are fairly bad stats for a raiding lore-master. This is a way of making that stat count when you’re AM traitied, at least somewhat.
  • Legendary: Raging waters - Grants the skill “Raging Waters”. 4min cooldown, 4 second induction, high damage 6-target cold-based AOE which slows affected mobs for 20sec (with a “broken leg” debuff). The skill is a nice thematic DPS cooldown, based on Gandalf/Elrond releasing a flood on the ringwraiths at the Ford of Bruinen. Lore-masters also don’t have much in the way of slow debuffs (only tar), so this is another slow debuff option. I would love it if this could do an AOE knockback, but that would probably break the game engine (eg. knocking mobs off cliffs causes all sorts of silly things to happen).

The new legednary trait should be earned by doing an epic level 85 solo quest that takes you all over middle earth and culminates in a new skirmish encounter. All classes would do this quest, it’s just that they would obviously get different trait rewards at the end.

New class items

We’ve received a dev hint that our long promised class item is coming soon – perhaps in Update 6 – but whether we get them soon or with RoR it would be nice to use them as an opportunity to resurrect some of more exciting raid amour set bonuses, in part because they’re good bonuses but also to stop us having to keep equipping very old armour to get these unique and powerful bonuses.

  • Parchment of Nature’s fury: +10% fire damage. Flat out DPS boost (it works out to approximately 2.5% in a normal hybrid melee/tactical DPS rotation given diminishing returns). This just brings back the moria 6-piece bonus.
    Parchment of Animals: Your beacon of hope gains a 30s HoT (would not stack with OD set bonus). The OD 3-piece bonus is so ridiculously powerful (a 33-50% increase in beacon of hope is equivalent to literally thousands of will) that I can see us still wearing it at level 85 if we don’t get a way to replicate the bonus.
    Parchment of the Ancient Master: Your blinding flash has a +5sec duration (cannot be further increased). Again, this is such a powerful and unique bonus that in situations where you need to double mez or deal with cc mechanics like Adaptation, it might still be optimal to wear the level 60 DN set at level 85 if we don’t get another way to replicate this bonus. Already they’ve felt the need to duplicate this bonus on a level 75 armour set, it would be a shame if they had to do that again at level 85.

General tweaks

There are also a few things about the class which could use a bit of tweaking:

  • Inner flame changed to work like this – channel duration is 6sec, if channeled for the full 6sec it gives all recipients a HoT for the next 10s equivalent to the inner flame heal. As much as I want to like it – especailly because if channeled for the full duration with improved inner flame equipped it’s equivalent to an additional beacon of hope on your whole group – in practice the current 16sec channel is completely unusable. This still means you need to sacrifice 6sec of doing nothing to get the full heal, but it might make the skill usable.
  • Call to the valar resets cooldown on improved frost lore and staff sweep. These newly introduced skills aren’t reset by our skill resetter.
  • Ancient craft from multiple lore-masters stacks. I can’t see any real issue with this change seeing as reveal weakness (which is more powerful) from multiple burglars already stacks. This still won’t make it totally optimal to bring a second lore-master to a group or raid, but it would certainly help the situation.
  • Bog-guardian pet gains Angry Bees skill as a passive/automatic skill, and this is replaced with a toggle skill for ranged/melee stance. One of my biggest annoyances with the bog guardian is that it does so much more damage and flanks in melee, but it’s a real pain to position a lot of the time. Angry Bees is already up 100% of the time if you autocast it, so it’s a logical choice of skill to replace.
  • Eagle ICPR scaling. This currently hasn’t scaled since SoA – 60 ICPR was respectable at level 50, but it’s laugable at 75 let alone 85. Bump it up to at least 100 ICPR, if not 200.

Various lore-master legacies could also use a substantial cleanup and consolidation:

  • Staff major legacies – Remove: Light of the rising dawn crit multiplier and damage removed. Add: Staff thrust cooldown (max of -5sec) and Draw Power cooldown (max -15sec).

  • Staff minor legacies – Consolidate: Lightning skills crit rating and lightning storm damage into a single “lightning skills crit rating and damage” legacy. Add: “Light of the rising dawn damage and critical multiplier”. Change: Gust of Wind damage to “Cold skills damage” and increased in magnitude by 25%.
  • Book major legacies – Consolidate: Burning embers and Wizard’s Fire pulses into “Fire skill damage over time pulses”. Add: “Inner flame cooldown” (max -20sec).
  • Book minor legacies – Remove: test of will devastate damage. Add: Increased damage absorption and reflection on air lore (max +50%).

I realise that all of the above is very unlikely to happen, but it’s fun to speculate and think about ways in which the class could be improved in interesting ways. There’s lots of options, lets hope the devs get creative!