Angrenel goes Runing...
Yes, Runing; not running! Given what I'm like as a Loremaster, every cat that expressed an opinion reckoned I'd be going for a Runekeeper. Who am I to disappoint, eh? I took Angrenar for a run on the afternoon of the first day & got him more or less to the end of the Intro & L5; then as others came on in the evening, starting their Wardens & Keepers, out he came for some more practice, this time in fellowship. Most of the time, we had 2 Wardens (Rhyaewald & Tierlo), & 2 Keepers (Feylanna (Sil) & myself), briefly adding a 3rd Warden who happened to be in the vicinity. By the end of the night, we were all level 12, I think, so these comments should reflect a nice mix of the early stages of the new stuff.
Making things go with a bang...
Alright, we know (& many of us, I suspect, agree) that from the point of view of The Lore, sticking a magic-user in Middle Earth is rather crap. But that's what the Keeper is & there's nothing you can do about it. Unless you're a hardcore RP-er who is going to refuse to fellow with the class, at least. From the viewpoint of The Lore, I don't like it, but damned if that's going to stop me playing one. I may sigh occasionally, but that'll probably be lost in amongst the general swearing at Turbine for too many other reasons!
You have 2 principal skill sets; Offence, & Healing. You can do one thing or the other, not both. Or, at least, one well & one badly. The whole class is an interesting concept. I've only come across something like this once before, in a game from 2001 called Arcanum: of Steamworks & Magick Obscura. There, in a steampunk-style world, you could choose to follow a technological skills path, or a magical one. The more you followed one path, the less you would be able to do on the other. And whilst you could be a jack-of-all-trades, that meant that you could never access the most powerful skills of either branch.
The Runekeeper is much the same, albeit in a thoroughly impermanent fashion - impermanent because your skills reset after every combat. The basic concept is one of Attunement - the more you use one skill-set the more effective you become at that, the worse at the other; & your Attunement Bar shows which way you're headed. Every skill you use is going to move you somewhere. Your Offence skills will add points to your Offence Attunement (or subtract them from your Healing Attunement); Healing the opposite. Then there's the 3rd skill set of Balance skills, which bring your attunement back towards the middle, regardless of your existing bias. Balance skills, by the way, are a mix of buffs & debuffs, some quite innovative; and, as far as I can see at this early stage, are almost entirely unaffected by attunement or Rune-stone affinity (see below).
The way the skills work is both intriguing & complex. For a start, some can be used on the move, some you must be stationary. Powerful skills with a long range seem to be balanced by a long induction and the need to be still. What you can do on the move is weaker & shorter-ranged, but has a brief induction. Then there's the question of which skills you can actually use. Some are freely available, others only open once you've reached a certain attunement, still others can't be used at all if your attunement is on the wrong path. As if that wasn't enough, the level of attunement can also affect the spell in other ways. Fully attuned, some spells will be 30-40% more potent, others may cost less power, and so on.
Last of all, there's your weapon. Uniquely, you use a Rune-stone & that's all you use. It has its own affinity to a specific type of damage (your offence is split into Fire, Lightning, & Cold-based damage). This will affect the offensive spells you cast, & it will also modify the special effects of one or two Balance spells as well. All very complicated. If you're a player that turns your nose up at the thought of playing a Loremaster, I doubt you'll get on with a Keeper. This is already looking like a very complex class to play.
Doing your thing...
Solo, you're mostly going to blow things up. Why would you not? Set up your healing over time before you start your fight, then get on with toasting the scum! What you do in a group is going to be highly variable. Most fights, especially in the early levels, are not going to last long enough for you to worry about switching your Attunement (which is why, soloing, you'll mostly stick to offence). You'll simply ramp it up, one way or the other, as quickly as you can to get the most effect. With Fey mostly going for offence last night, I found myself naturally slipping into the role of healer.
It's worth noting, though, that whilst your Offence & Healing skills only ever add 1 attunement (& yes I've looked through the whole set up to level 60), your Balance skills can move you several points toward the centre, so it is going to be possible to shift from one side to the other quite quickly. Or, at least, from one side back to the middle - moving out from there is always going to be slow. Finally, on the subject of the movement of attunement, it drops at the rate of a point a second once you're out of combat. Like a Champion with Red Haze & Fervour, you're going to be trying to stay in combat as much as you can. Even with the healing skills, I have a suspicion that the Runekeeper is going to be a potion-hungry little devil...
One more thing worth mentioning - much of what the Runekeeper does is quite subtle. He's not a nuker, like the Champion, a sniper as the Hunter, or the out-and-out healer that the Minstrel is. A lot of spell effects are over time, whether they're damage or healing; even buffs aren't necessarily straightforward applications! Expect to be misunderstood & under-valued by the players who haven't tried, or can't get on with, the Runekeeper.
Boy, is there ever a lot to get your head around! Turbine have put a lot of thought into this & it's fun in the early stages, if a little simplistic. I've seen comments elsewhere that suggest that it's not until level 20 or so that the true complexity & flexibility of the class starts to come out. My one moan is the stupid (and, quite honestly, anti-immersive) names & descriptions for your skills. Turbine are on record as saying that this class was deliberately designed as a magic-user, so why not have them doing magic? As it is, your "magic" is words; your first skill is called Fiery Ridicule; and apparently the ridicule you write "burns" the enemy. WTF??!! That aside, I've had fun with the Runekeeper already, & I'm looking forward to seeing how gameplay develops as the character levels up. Working out how to write a class guide for this one is going to be a challenge in itself!
Comments are closed