Riders of Rohan Developer Diary: War-Steeds
^^ New 2nd Age Lvl 85 LI - Bridle
By: Anthony “Doc” DiMento
When Riders of Rohan goes live this fall, we’ll all have a choice of which war-steed is best fitted to carry us into combat. To start, there are some key differences between the three mounts:
Light War-Steed (Courser): Build for speed and maneuverability, the Light War-Steed will have a higher max speed, acceleration, agility, and tighter turn radius than the other two steeds. Increased maneuverability comes at the expense of defence, as the Courser has the lowest armour and endurance (the war-steed equivalent of morale). We envision the Light War-Steed as a great fit for ranged and tactical classes with its ability to keep enemies at a distance and its increased power regen.
Medium War-Steed (Rouncey): Free players will have access to the Medium War-Steed from the get go. The Rouncey is middle of the pack in terms of maneuverability, endurance, and defense, but has the ability to deal more physical damage than its Light and Heavy counterparts. The Medium War-Steed is a great choice for riders who are looking for a balanced mount that can do a little bit of everything while potentially maximizing their DPS.
Heavy War-Steed (Destrier): Having the highest endurance, strength and armour, the Destrier is easily the most durable of the three war-steeds, although increased defence comes at the expense of maneuverability and agility. We envision the Destrier as being a great fit for classes focused on tanking and survivability, but the Heavy War-Steed’s damage dealing capabilities should not be underestimated.
Each war-steed has a unique trait tree that will allow you to customize your mount to fit your specific needs. Each time your war-steed levels up, you’ll receive a trait point that you can spend to improve your mount’s various stats. The trees are broken up into three branches, focusing on combat, defence, and movement. Each trait can have multiple ranks that may gate your progression down a certain path at times. Other traits grant skills which will have a varying degree of usefulness depending on your play style. Skills typically cost more than one trait point and are built as branches of the tree rather than being part of the critical path.
Despite our vision of how each war-steed might be used, proper allocation of trait points can make each mount a great fit for any class. Each of the three war-steeds has its own merits, and different builds can have drastically different results. For this reason, we allow you to save multiple Trait Specs so, for example, you could save a Light War-Steed Trait Spec focused on defence and a Heavy War-Steed Trait Spec focused on maneuverability and switching on the fly. No decision is set in stone and you can refund your trait points at anytime. That’s right, you can start from scratch by spending a couple of coins! We encourage you to experiment with different builds to find out what works best for you in specific situations.
Now, let’s take a closer look at each of the trait trees and highlight some of the dev team’s favorite traits and skills:
There are a lot more traits to unlock (each war-steed has 32) and builds to experiment with. In our time with mounted combat, we’ve found that all three war-steeds bring something unique and valuable to the table. I look forward to hearing which are your favorites and seeing you all out there this Fall.
Volume III Update 8 Quest Notes
By: Jeff ‘MadeOfLions’ Libby
It’s time once again for Quest Notes, your source for all the latest info concerning LOTRO’s Epic Story! I’ve written a fair number of these diaries by now, but there’s something different about this one. Something unique… Something exciting… What could it be?
Rohan! Rohan! Rohan! Rohan!
Ah, that’s it! We have finally (finally!) gotten to the Kingdom of Rohan! We have been looking forward to exploring the land of the horse-lords for a long, long time. We even have planning documents, maps and flow charts that date back to the Shadows of Angmar days. They have undergone extensive revision over the years, but Rohan is a land that we knew we had to get right. For that reason alone, we’ve spent a great deal of time ensuring that we could do it justice. After all, the stretch of The Lord of the Rings that we have gotten up to is often cited as the favorite of readers and film-lovers alike. We need our version of the Riddermark to be equally as beloved.
The plains of Rohan, home of the Horse-lords. It still gives me chills!
It’s taken awhile to get to the point where the technology allows us to deliver Rohan as it deserves to be delivered, but I think the time was worth it. We’re getting to the real meat of Volume III: Allies of the King now, and you’ll begin to see that maybe the story of this Volume is dealing with more than one King, after all…
Numbering the Epic – Moria, Mirkwood, and Isengard
As I’ve said in previous editions of Quest Notes, I don’t begin the planning of an Epic Story update with the number of Books and Chapters already set in stone. Instead, I sketch out the overall course of the story I want to tell in an update or expansion pack, and then look for the natural ebb and flow of milestones in that story. Once I know the scope of the story, then I go in with my metaphorical red pen and mark it all up, determining where to put Chapter breaks and transitions to new Books.
Sometimes the process results in a high number of Epic Books. Mines of Moria, for instance, had six Books to start with, and while they were shorter in length than more recent ones, the division between each Book occurred thematically each time the state of mind of the dwarf-expedition changed: Optimism to Grief, Grief to Hope, Hope to Confidence, Confidence to Pride, Pride to Despair, Despair to Humbleness. That Humbleness makes possible an alliance that couldn’t have existed while the dwarves still felt the Optimism that fueled their expedition, and it sets the stage for Siege of Mirkwood, which contained a single (quite long) Epic Book, which interestingly has some connections to the story to come in Rohan.
Sigileth says, ‘Completing earlier Epic Books isn’t required, but it is encouraged!’
Rise of Isengard really told a single story, and while there was discussion during development of dividing the story into separate Books, it really felt like the beginning, middle, and conclusion of the story deserved to be treated as one unit. (And before you send me messages about it, yes, I know there are some loose ends from the ‘conclusion’ of the Book 4 story. Don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten. We’ll be dealing with him. <wink>)
Numbering the Epic – Rohan!
My planning of the Epic Story for Riders of Rohan actually divided quite naturally into three main sections, and that gave rise to the next three Epic Books of Volume III:
Volume III, Book 7 – A Fellowship Endangered
Volume III, Book 8 – Into the Riddermark
Volume III, Book 9 – The Third Marshal
Book 7 begins with Lady Galadriel outside the House of Celeborn, in Caras Galadhon, the same place where Book 6 concluded.
Beta Participant : But MadeOfLions – what if I never bought the Lothlórien quest pack and don’t have access to Caras Galadhon? Does that mean I can’t continue the Epic Story?
Me: Huh. Well, that’s not right! Good thinking!
That’s one reason we have a Beta, isn’t it? In order to keep the Epic free, I’ve added a rope hanging down from a flet by the entrance to Caras Galadhon. If you’re an Epic Story player and have completed Volume III, Book 6 – Mists of Anduin, you’ll be able to use that rope to get inside Caras Galadhon to talk to Galadriel to start Book 7. Voila!
The Rope of Value
From a story perspective I would like you to have completed Book 6 before you start Book 7 anyway. It’ll make more sense, and you’ll know who all these people are!
Spoilers Ahead: The Point of Decision
I like to take a section or two in each edition of Quest Notes to discuss some behind-the-scenes tidbit relevant to the implementation of the Epic Story, and this time around it seems pretty difficult to do that without spoilers. So! Here is your warning! There will be spoilers for Volume III Book 7 in this section! If you want to go in relatively unspoiled, you should skip to the very end of the article, to the ‘A Few Teases’ section. One more time! There will be spoilers in this section for the beginning of Book 7. I’ll give you a picture of an empty boat to give you time to decide whether you mind seeing spoilery stuff.
An empty boat. Spoilers to follow!
Still here? Great! That means you don’t mind seeing some spoilers for the beginning of Book 7, which is good! I want to talk today about some of the challenges we face when attempting to depict iconic scenes from The Lord of the Rings, turning them into enjoyable and playable experiences.
Timeline-wise, we’ve advanced the storyline up to the end of The Fellowship of the Ring, which means we are right up at the breaking of the Fellowship. This is the event that sends Frodo and Sam on to Mordor, Merry and Pippin into captivity, Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli hot on their trail, and Boromir to, well, somewhere else. This is a big deal for Middle-earth, and it’s a big deal for our players, too! Everybody wants to see how this happens, but none of our characters were there, after all. We can’t just walk up to Aragorn and say, ‘I don’t like the way Boromir keeps looking at Frodo, bro.’
‘Are you SURE it has to be Mount Doom? This fire won’t do it?’
The answer is session play, of course! By putting you in the shoes (or hairy hobbit-feet) of a member of the Fellowship, you can experience what happened to them first-hand. Early on in Book 7, you’ll play as Frodo while he wrestles with the decision of which path to take: to Boromir’s city of Minas Tirith, trusting to the strength of the armies of Gondor, or to the perils of Mordor.
In the book, Frodo wanders by himself for a time, and eventually he realizes that Boromir has followed him, at which point they have a very significant conversation. There’ll be lots of tension, a little drama, and some excitement. Just the sort of Big-T moment we love to add to LOTRO! The Worldbuilder responsible for the area created the Fellowship’s campsite, as well as the location partway up Amon Hen where Frodo encounters Boromir, and I began to set up the instance.
Well, hold on a moment. It turns out that while Frodo can wander up Amon Hen in just a couple sentences in the book. In our game that location takes a looooong time to reach, even running. Furthermore, it’s a twisty sort of journey, getting up to that spot. It’s just as you imagine it, when you get there, but the several minutes of travel aren’t the most fascinating use of your time.
So how to solve it? Well, I tried a couple things. First was the old standby: the speed buff.
That’s a good start, but it doesn’t solve the problem that you’re still running a long way without doing much except running. What we really need is a way to convey the inner monologue that Frodo must have been experiencing. He’s really troubled about the decision he needs to make, and we need some way to visualize it so players can worry right alongside him, ultimately understanding the decision that he does make.
Thoughts of Elrond to the rescue!
A few characters with ghostly FX work and some transparency to them lets us visualize Frodo’s inner struggle, as he remembers things those characters have said or might have said to him. The screenshot above is of the ‘Thoughts of Elrond,’ and serves to steer Frodo in the right direction as he wanders up Amon Hen, and thoughts of other characters serve like a breadcrumb trail to get Frodo to the proper place. It lets us develop Frodo’s character and get him to the right spot. After all, he’s got somewhere he needs to be…
There were some other interesting design decisions and revisions that went into this instance, but I will let you experience the rest of it fresh.
And that’s it for spoilers! Thanks for reading!
A Few Teases
I always like to end these diaries with a few screenshots of Epic-related quests, presented without explanation or comment. So here we go!
By: Dina "Ayvan" Monas
Rohan is almost upon us and with it will come a new crafting tier, The Eastemnet, with all the standard items you are used to seeing. This crafting tier will retain many of the positive changes introduced in Rise of Isengard and will hopefully add a couple of new ones.
To begin with, we are continuing with the normal and rich varieties for each landscape resource node, with normal nodes containing an average amount of resources and a low chance of finding rare items and rich nodes containing higher amounts of resources and a higher chance of finding rare items. Players will still be able to process these base resources into low, medium and higher quality ingredients and can choose to either break down the rare items into optional ingredients or use them to more efficiently produce the higher quality ingredients.
New "processing" recipes have been introduced to help the non-gathering professions level up their craft. Metal, Wood and Leather Shaving recipes are being auto-granted to Jewellers, Tailors, Metalsmiths, Weaponsmiths and Woodworkers. Cooks will still retain their auto-granted ingredient recipes. The new processing recipes allow the above professions to level up their craft without having to waste enormous amounts of resources. Instead, lower quality ingredients can be turned into the appropriate shavings and the shavings can then be turned back into the low quality ingredient. Once you are able to crit, it is possible to get a return equal to the amount of resources you put in.
One other small change was to the resource nodes themselves. The chance to acquire the rare crafting ingredients used in one-shot recipes was added to crafting resource nodes at their respective tiers. For example, players have a chance of acquiring Adamant shards from Dwarf-iron and Platinum Deposits, as well as from Lebethron branches and Forgotten Texts.
One of the complaints from the Rise of Isengard expansion was the lack of full armor sets at various levels. We have heard you and I'm happy to say that this tier will contain two full sets of armor, one at level 80 and one at level 85. In order to do this, though, very few recipes could be auto-granted. The majority of the recipes can be found via treasure and reputation.
Crafting Resource Instances
We are very happy to once again have crafting resource instances that we can run on a daily basis. Scenario was kind enough to design and build these instances for us and I think they're pretty awesome! In addition to extra crafting materials, the quests and barter rewards associated with these instances will also provide legendary item support, much like the legendary item instances done for Moria and Dunland. Players will be able to acquire their Compendium, Volume IV after completing one of the quests bestowed.
Speaking of the new compendium, there is a whole new tier of crafted relics supporting both regular play and mounted combat, as well as the addition of a relic with defensive bonuses. Visit your nearest Legendary Craft Guild vendor for the latest crafted relic recipes, although keep in mind that you will need to be Grand Master of the Guild in order to acquire the best ones.
As let on in the previous paragraph, an additional rank has been added to your craft guild reputation. Please visit your guild's vendors to purchase new recipes that produce the items needed to increase your reputation standing. Once the items are made, players can automatically gain reputation with the craft guild by right-clicking on the reputation item in their inventory. A red border will appear around the item once you have reached the maximum reputation. And, as always, completing this rank will provide access to new guild-only rewards.
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:
Then there are few changes we are making to skills:
Finally, there a couple of upgrades to Traits.
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.
Riders of Rohan Developer Diary: Minstrel
By: Jonathan “RockX” Steady
Hey all, RockX again! Today’s diary is focused on the Minstrel changes for Riders of Rohan. There’s a decent amount going on in terms of quality of life improvements, but first:
Level 77 – Tale of the Elements (Improved Tale of Frost and Flame)
Level 80 – Call of Eärendil (new skill!):
This skill will deal substantial light-type damage to targets in a cone directly in front of the Minstrel. Any targets hit will be given the same tactical mitigation debuff as from Call of Oromë.
Level 83 – Improved Gift of the Hammerhand:
The Heal over Time is applied at the same time as the bubble.
Legendary Trait Modifications
Howdy all of you Masters of Lore. There are a lot of improvements to the Lore-master in Riders of Rohan. These changes are primarily aimed at increasing the Lore-master’s utility, especially in small group encounters. First we’ll cover the three new and improved skills that Lore-masters will learn as they advance to level 85.
First is Improved Power of Knowledge. This skill will greatly increase the amount of power returned to the Lore-master. In many cases, the Lore-master will top off their power before the skill is completely channeled, enabling the Lore-master to end the skill early. It will also be immune to interrupts do to damage.
The next skill is Share the Power – Fellowship. This is a new skill that will not replace the Share the Power skill that Lore-masters already know. This skill will give half of the power of Share the Power to each member of the Lore-master’s Fellowship. This skill will share the cooldown of Share the Power.
The last skill is another completely new skill called Water Lore. This skill adds a medium duration Heal over Time effect to the target and will increase Incoming Healing by +5%. This effect will stack up to 3 times.
Skill Adjustments and Bug Fixes
Wisdom of the Council will now apply it’s heal earlier in the skill’s animation, as well as changing the heal to be 50% of the total morale of the Lore-master.
We have removed the dead only restriction to Bane Flare, allowing it to daze all types of monsters.
We have removed the excessive delay after using Staff Strike, Staff Sweep and Back from the Brink.
And last, but certainly not least, we have the change to the Sword and Staff legendary trait. We found that almost every Lore-master will slot this trait as soon as it was learned and never unslot it. To enable more choice in Legendary traits, we decided to remove the ability to equip a sword in your off-hand from this trait and grant it to all Lore-masters at level 40. This means that on logging in to Riders of Rohan, you will have to visit your trainer and buy this new passive trait before you can once again equip a sword in your off-hand. This left the legendary trait a little weak, so we have increased the morale gained and greatly increased the amount of Parry rating gained.
Riders of Rohan Developer Diary: Hunter
By: Ken "Graalx2" Burd
Howdy Hunters of Middle-earth! Today we are going to talk a bit about the Riders of Rohan expansion and what YOU can expect to get. We are giving you a lot of goodies this time from improvements to Split Shot and Hunter’s Art to a real threat reducing skill. We are even giving you a skill that will save your lives (and no, it’s not group Desperate Flight!)
First let’s cover the three new and improved skills that you will learn as you level up to 85.
In addition to those three skills, Hunter’s will also get ports to Misty Mountains and Lothlorien at appropriate levels.
There will also be a few skills changed due to popular outcry.
By: Ken "Graalx2" Burd
Howdy! I’m Graal and I’m ready to reveal the “awesome plans” we have for the Guardian class in the upcoming Riders of Rohan expansion. Guardians are getting a much more substantial revision in this expansion than other classes, though nothing like the changes in gameplay of the previous Minstrel or Warden updates. The primary purpose of this revision is to allow the Guardian to take a sustained DPS role with an increased emphasis on Damage over Time effects. First though, I want to tell you about the improved skills that you will learn in Rohan.
Level 77: Improved Sweeping Cut - This skill will cause all of the targets to Bleed with a Damage over Time (DoT) effect. This new bleed can be further increased with Salt the Wound.
Level 80: Improved Shield Swipe - This skill will add even more threat than previously.
Level 83: Improved Thrust – This skill has a greatly increased DoT effect.
And now for the main part of this revision.
Parry Stance has been removed.
Many skills will have different effects in Overpower Stance.
Catch a Breath will increase the amount healed.
Force Opening will always add a Parry event.
Guardian’s Defence will now have a 2 second induction with limited knockback.
Keen Blade 2 set bonus is now -5% power cost for all attack skills
Keen Blade 3 set bonus gains +10% critical damage magnitude in addition to current bonus.
Keen Blade 4 set bonus gains +10% critical damage magnitude in addition to current bonus.
Haemorrhage – will now cause a bleed 100% of the time though the damage will pulse in 4 second increments instead of 2 seconds. This bleed can stack up to 2 times. In addition there is a 50% chance for an additional bleed with half the magnitude as the primary bleed. This trait will also gain +10% critical damage magnitude.
We have removed the 1h versus 2h restriction on all Guardian weapon legacies except for Bash damage, which retains the 1h limitation for obvious reasons.
Riders of Rohan Developer Diary: Champion
Hello all, it’s RockX! Today I’ll be talking about the main updates, changes and improvements we’ve made to the Champion for Riders of Rohan. Our primary focus for Riders of Rohan was on survivability and threat management, but there’s something in here for everyone.
Level 77 – Horn of Champions (new skill!):
- In no stance and in Glory stance – Targeted (30m range) AoE threat generation.
- In Ardour stance – Point-blank AoE threat reduction .
- In Fervour stance – Single-target threat reduction, stronger than Ardour’s.
Horn of Champions is a new skill which is all about helping Champions manage their threat. The threat generation and reductions are instant, allowing Glory champions to pull multiple mobs at range with a strong threat generating ability. Meanwhile, Horn of Champions in Ardour and Fervour stance will decrease your threat on your opponent(s), letting you beat them up even more. The skill is on a 30 second cooldown, and has no Fervour pip cost.
Level 80 – Improved Bracing Attack:
- Adds a Heal over Time effect in addition to the standard heal.
- Heal and Heal over Time effects will always trigger, even if the attack doesn’t connect.
The Heal over Time effect will benefit from the same things which affect the standard heal.
Level 83 – Improved Wild Attack:
- On Critical or Devastate, adds a +5% critical hit chance to the Champion.
When you land a Critical Hit or Devastate with Improved Wild Attack, you’ll receive a buff which increases your Critical Hit chance by 5% for 6 seconds. The buff will refresh itself should you continue to land those big numbers.
We’ve heavily increased the damage of Merciful Strike while in Fervour stance. As before, the amount of damage dealt depends on the number of Fervour pips. With 3 Fervour, Merciful Strike will deal about the same damage as Brutal Strikes. With 5 Fervour, the low end of the Merciful Strike damage will be right around the high-end of Brutal Strikes.
Trait and Trait Line Modifications
- The Deadly Storm – Traiting 2, 3 and 4 deep will reduce the cooldown of Blade-storm, Raging Blade and Horn of Gondor by 1 second per step.
- “Combat Effect Duration” Legacy has been replaced with “+Targeted Melee Range” Legacy.
- “+Hamstring Range” Legacy has been replaced with “+Champion Skill Bubble Strength” Legacy.
The Targeted Melee Range legacy will impact any melee-range, single-target skill the champion uses. The Champion Skill Bubble Strength legacy will increase the strength of their bubbles by a percentage.
- Fight On’s Exhaustion effect now lasts 60 seconds or until end of combat, whichever comes first.
Riders of Rohan Developer Diary: Captain
By Erika “DEViled_Egg” Ng
Hello! I’m DEViled_Egg, one of the newer systems designers on LotRO, and I’ll be discussing updates to the Captain for Riders of Rohan. One of the primary goals we had for this update was to make skills and legacies less build-specific and more useful to all types of Captains. In addition, the Captain is getting some nice quality of life improvements, including a spiffy new Out-of-Combat Revive.
Level 77 – Improved Valiant Strike:
By giving the untraited skill its own HoT and a wider range, it should give Captains who didn’t spec healing some ability to help heal their fellows. Traiting Hands of Healing significantly improves the HoT, giving those who do spec healing more potency.
Level 80 – Improved War-cry:
According to our crack research team, more damage is better.
Level 83 – Inspiring Blade of Elendil:
This skill is getting a handy “self-buff”, which will make Blade of Elendil more useful for Captains regardless of how they’re specced. Want to do more damage? Enjoy a more powerful Shadow’s Lament! Are you a healing Captain? Words of Courage will offer more benefit for your fellows. If you’re a tanking Captain and love shouting loudly at things, Threatening Shout will pull more targets. Note: This buff will only enhance your next Words of Courage, Shadow’s Lament, or Threatening Shout. When you use one of these skills with the self-buff active, the buff will be spent. Choose wisely!
Quality of Life Improvements and Skill Modifications
New Skill: “Inspiriting Call”
The Captain was always good for an in-combat revive, but not an out-of-combat one. Well no longer!
New Minor Weapon Legacy: "Battle States and Defeat Response Duration." This legacy increases the duration of Battle States and Defeat Responses from 1s to a maximum of 5s, ranking up in .5s steps.
Strength of Will Legacy Modifications:
The Strength of Will Legacy is being modified to also affect Song-brothers and Blade-brothers.
Riders of Rohan Developer Diary: Burglar
By Jonathan “RockX” Steady
Hello all, RockX here! Today, I’ll be talking about the main updates, changes, and improvements we’re making to the Burglar for Riders of Rohan. Our primary focus for Riders of Rohan was on Mischief-maker and the Mischief-maker trait line. There’s a particular focus on Finesse debuffs, which is an area we haven’t really touched yet. There are also the standard Quality of Life improvements you’d expect in this update.
Level 77 – Trick: Improved Disable:
The untraited version of this will give a minor Finesse debuff, which is enhanced by having the Disabling Attack trait active.
Level 80 – Improved Confound:
The Finesse debuff triggers when the skill is used, and is completely independent of the countdown daze. Using the Confound the Fools trait will increase the duration of the Finesse debuff. This, coupled with the ability to use the skill from range, adds a great deal of versatility to a skill which was very difficult to make use of previously.
Level 83 – Improved Addle:
So, we heard you like to use Addle to mess with those monsters which use Tactical Damage. We’re going to make Improved Addle mess with them even more, by reducing their Tactical Damage on subsequent skills.
Changing Footpad to give Diversion the Debuffing Gamble in place of Burgle opens up the opportunity to apply the Debuffing Gamble to all types of monsters, giving a lot more utility.