LoTRO – Back to Arkenstone

LoTRO has basically been my #1 or #2 game since I started playing. Sure, I’ve wandered off and played other MMOs, but I still would spent time in Middle Earth. I’d take breaks from MMOs entirely, but come back to LoTRO.

However now I have 2 friends playing ESO with me, and a lot of enthusiasm for FF14, LoTRO is getting moved to #3 game in my MMO rotation. Basically I’ll log on every week or so and play a bit, more as a way to add in some variety or do something different for a few hours.

That made me crunch some numbers about which server to concentrate on. My Beorning on Shadowfax is level 21, at roughly 96K total XP according to the character XP table section, with ~8 hours played. My Beorning on Arkenstone is level 41, at 1200K experience, with ~50 hours played. Basically 12.5 times the experience points with 6.25 times as long playing.

Obviously it is difficult to compare due to server rules differences, but it got me thinking… and my gut feeling is that the xp boosts from Shadowfax and the increased landscape difficulty I picked (tier 3: Deadly), are mostly offset by how much longer combat takes.

That is to say: I leveled slower on Shadowfax than Arkenstone, even after a 1.25 (landscape difficulty) X 1.25 (Derudh’s stone) X 1.5 (Shadowfax XP buff) = 2.34 xp multiplier, due to how much longer combat takes. “Longer combat” entails everything – having to pull more carefully, moving for better positioning, picking off one or two mobs at a time; having to heal more; having to run out of the AoE of Eye of Sauron, etc.

The real way to compare would be to start another Beorning on Shadowfax, take the normal difficulty, and play for 8 hours and see where I end up. Without actually spending 8 hours I think I’d be far past the start of Vol 1 Book 2 (where I am with my first Beorning on Shadowfax), or at least have ground out various virtues by doing deeds in the Bree area.

On Arkenstone my char has decently leveled virtues because I spent the time finishing quest deeds, exploration deeds, kill deeds, as well as farmed historian/scholar mats to level crafting.

I have done zero of that on Shadowfax.

One other significant advantage of Arkenstone are skirmish camps. I do have fun playing the skirmishes, but the real perk there is upgrading my gear every 3-4 levels. That’s huge, I don’t have to deal with crafting and the gear is much better than the quest drops. Yes, some quest rewards are great, but your character has 7 jewelry slots, 1 pocket item (taken by the Derudh’s stone, can get ones later with a higher level cap), 7 armor slots, and up to 3 weapons (primary, secondary, or two-handed; ranged) and it’s tough to keep all that reasonably current. Except skirmish camps make it easy.

Skirmishes don’t appear until the server advances to Mines of Moria. The camps are there but the NPCs aren’t functional.

I don’t mean to sound down on Shadowfax, this is more me trying to figure out how to optimize the playtime to advance in the storyline. It’s been a while since I’ve played through Shadows and Angmar and Mines of Moria and I’d like to revisit but also get to the large amount of content after those!

My bear is the one in the foreground (in human form), not the camera shy one on the hill in the distance.

So, I’m planning to resume playing my Beorning on Arkenstone. He is level 41, early in the Vol 1 Book 5 storyline, with virtues in the high teens (max virtue is half your level), on a server with skirmish camps… too many advantages.

LoTRO – Housing

Unlike FF14, housing in LoTRO never seemed to be a gathering place. I bet that has a lot to do with the design that lets Free Company members buy an apartment inside the Estate House. So it is natural to visit in the Estate in order to then visit your room, decorate it or whatever, and then hang out and chat with people.

LoTRO housing does provide two free milestones – one for your house, and one for your kinship house (if you are in a kinship that has a house). There are a handful of vendors around, and it has been a while since I’ve investigated, but not too much else in the housing neighborhood instance.

My original house was a hobbit house because I liked the aesthetics. I had decorated a little, mostly food and library themed, plus whatever artwork and/or trophies various quests and milestones in the epic storyline gave.

Crafted rug, bookshelf, songbird, storage chest, and Portrait of Narmaleth (Vol 1 quest reward)

But, this original housing, required an upkeep fee. You could pay in advance, it wasn’t really that much, but when premium housing rolled out, that didn’t require monthly upkeep for VIP players, I switched to that.

Luxurious house in the Cape of Belfelas district.

My 2nd house is quite a bit larger than the hobbit home, with several rooms, an outdoor space, lots of hooks for furniture, etc. I had enough room to put all my stuff out and even then several rooms and walls are empty.

Posing next to my Seer’s Orb. Which looks a lot like a palantir…

This is all on Landroval… so not really the server I actively play on anymore. The house is still there and I log in and check kinship/friends lists for a bit before logging off again.

Decorating the house was fun but also not something I felt like doing repeatedly (i.e. rearranging stuff). So after the initial work I didn’t do much with it except use it as a free milestone, but even then I didn’t need the extra recall to the Shire that often.

Thus, on Arkenstone and also on Shadowfax, I am not in any kind of a hurry to get a house.

LoTRO – Vol 1 Book 1

To time to see what playing on Shadowfax is like.

One new thing added to the game is a way to increase landscape questing difficulty. I figured what the heck and chose “Deadly”, since that was the lowest difficulty that grants the “Disciple of …” title. Since I’ll be playing a Beorning, the title will be “Disciple of Claws”.

To be clear, that is simply Deadly, not any of the +1 to +6 levels of it.

In exchange for some xp bonuses, I’ll be taking more damage and also have the “Eye of Sauron” debuff. I wondered what that was, but it was not long into the game that I found out.

The Eye of Sauron gives a chance to spawn a column of fire. There’s large AoE ground effect warning a few seconds before, so if you are watching you can move out. However it also means keeping an escape avenue open during fights in case this debuff triggers. Keeps you on your toes, so to speak.

I don’t want to be one of these old-timer “get off my lawn” types, but Deadly difficulty felt like… how the game was during the Shadow of Angmar days. Before Mines of Moria and so on, landscape fights were tougher. I know over the years they’ve ratcheted down the challenge in order to help speed leveling, and I’ll stake my possibly shaky memories that Deadly was how it used to be. Tougher, challenging, but absolutely fair/reasonable if you started fights carefully and watched for adds. Still very soloable but grouping with a friend was always welcome.

I had to fight slower and be more careful, as opposed to wading in and mowing everything down like on the regular servers, but I thought it was fine.

My closest call to defeat was during the Dirk Hawthorn fight near Adso’s Camp. I saw 2 groups of 3 adds pinching in from left and right, so I backed up as fast as possible to draw Dirk away and kept fighting. I didn’t want to turn my fight against Dirk into Dirk plus 6 adds.

The xp boosts didn’t quite level me up to stay on-level with the Epic Storyline, but it was reasonably close. I did a few side quests along the way and was also willing to try a quest if I was one level under the recommended.

Eventually, I reached level 20 without defeat and obtained “The Undying”.

Now it was time to get serious and tackle Othongroth of Vol 1 Book 1. For this, I buffed up with food and headed in…

Most fights were one or two at a time, so with the practice of landscape questing on Deadly difficulty, it was fine. I reached Sambrog, fought him until he healed up twice and Tom Bombadil showed up to zap him.

According to /played, I’ve spent 6 hours and 45 minutes on this char over that past few days, at the point I finished Vol 1 Book 1, talked to Gandalf and gotten the prelude for Book 2 (talk to Saeradan and go to the Lone Lands). That’s all questing, fighting, travel because I’ve done zero crafting.

I’m not claiming this as some kind of speed record, it is more to mention that playing solo, playing careful, not dying, and doing just enough side quests to stay on-level with the epic storyline, on Deadly difficulty, isn’t bad at all.

If I had infinite time I’d try on Treebeard just to compare how much time it would take. If I calculate various xp bonuses/penalties correct, I’d get about half the experience on Treebeard that I get on Shadowfax, so that would mean needing many more side quests to stay on-level. Which I would guesstimate to mean roughly 2x the time needed.

Anyway, much to think about. Continue on the Shadowfax, try Treebeard, go back to Arkenstone, etc. I had fun on Shadowfax, I like the difficulty options. But it’ll be a lot of time to get back to where I was even on Arkenstone (Book 5) plus virtues to grind so my char isn’t a total gimp.


I like having a storyline to follow in an MMO.

The first one I played, Asheron’s Call, didn’t have that. In contrast, the second one I played, Guild Wars, did and I really enjoyed it. I liked advancing the plot, I enjoyed the missions; same with the expansions Factions, Nightfall, and Eye of the North.

Fast forward a bit to LoTRO and it’s lengthy storyline. I love that. In fact I’m looking forward to starting on a new server and progressing through Vol 1 Book 1 to …checks wiki… The Legacy of Durin and the Trials of the Dwarves.

ESO also has a storyline, multiple storylines actually. There’s the original main quest of the base game (starts with Soulshriven in Coldharbour), a storyline for each zone, a storyline for each guild… plus the usual boatloads of side quests.

FF14 has a very long MSQ (main sequence quests) that leads you through the game. In fact you need to go through it to unlock feature like mounts, airship travel between cities, the ability to return to an aetheryte crystal, joining a Grand Company, the ability to swap classes/jobs… Heck entire zones are unlocked as I found out. I tried to run across the Dravanian Hinterlands to get into Idyllshire early to buy some armor, but that doesn’t work because you can’t get in until you, you guessed it, advance the MSQ.

Another MMO with a great storyline that I’m not currently trying to juggle into my rotation is Secret World, oops I mean Secret World Legends. I got stuck and couldn’t pass a mission to advance the plot and rage quit after trying a half-dozen times. Well partly rage quit – I didn’t delete my characters and then rant on the forums. I just stopped playing. Maybe I’ll try again…

LoTRO – Shadowfax

I’m planning to reroll on a new server, and as you might have guessed from the title of this post, I selected Shadowfax, one of the two new Legendary servers.

I’ve been weighing the pros and cons of going to a Legendary server. It’s made easier by the fact my friend on Arkenstone, I have only seen online twice in 20 months. Not kidding. Apparently we have as near opposite schedules as you can have. That’s fine, I don’t expect him to alter his schedule but I likewise have a few constraints on when I can play.

So, if I’m going to solo or join a kinship where I don’t know anybody, might as well look around first. It isn’t like I was that far along.

The appeal of Shadowfax is the faster leveling. Obviously I already missed the initial wave but that’s fine, between selecting a higher difficulty level for landscape fights, and the xp buff on Shadowfax, I think I can stick to my actual goal of replaying the entire storyline with a minimum amount of down time between books.

For example on Arkenstone I finished up Vol 1 Book 3 in the low 30’s, but Vol 1 Book 4 starts at level 37. So I had to fill out a few levels in Evendim and Trollshaws questing around – which is totally fine – but if I’m restarting I want to do as little of that as possible. Basically, beeline the Epic Storyline, that’s the goal.

Reached level 2 from 7 Sickleflies.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the quests in LoTRO. It’s just that I play other games; if this were the only one I played I’d be happy to take my time, level slow, work on every virtue and kill deed as I level, etc. But it isn’t the only game I play, so I’d like to get as much xp as possible all the time. That way I won’t need to side quest as much in order to keep on-level for the epic storyline.

On the other hand, perhaps I should try Treebeard and level slower. Still pick a higher difficulty level, however it seems like more players, at least according to my unscientific and random sampling on reddit’s /r/lotro, are on Treebeard. The advantage of leveling slower is perhaps the Legendary Item revamp will be done by the time I get to Moria. 😉

Trying Shadowfax first seems like a better plan since if it doesn’t work out, or I decided slower leveling is fine, I should be able to go to Treebeard and fit right in. Or, I could just go back to Arkenstone.

In any case, I once again have started up a Beorning. I love hobbits, but ever since I tried Beorning it has stuck. They can serve all 3 roles capably (tank, healer, dps), feel very survivable in the yellow trait line (The Roar) since that gives a near spammable HoT every 4.5 seconds (Encouraging Roar).

Boernings can wear heavy armor, which is very nice for extra protection. Heavy gear stats are usually melee weighted (vitality, might) so round off Willpower and Fate (if needed) with jewelry.

Another Boerning benefit I love is the scalable-buff food they can make: honey-cakes from the Bake a Honey-Cake racial trait. I’ve burned out a bit on crafting in LoTRO so what I’d usually do is take up the yeoman vocation, which gives cooking and farming so I could grow my own food then cook food for nice buffs. But that’s time consuming compared to the honey-cakes which are essentially free. Yes, yeomans can make a wider variety of buff foods, with a wider variety of time/effort invested, but I’m 100% cool with the Beorn’s Honey-cakes and their +morale regen, given how easy it is to make. The food also gives +power regen but Beornings have Wrath instead of Power so I’m not sure +power does anything (obviously if I traded my cakes to other players they could benefit).

Instead on my Boerning I take up Historian for the Scholar profession. The only thing I’m interested in making are scrolls (offense or defense buffs).

Lastly, it is flat out fun for me to shape-change into a bear and start fighting. Swipe at the enemy, roar, rear up on my hind legs and AoE with Relentless Maul, send a bee-swarm DoT…

The only annoying thing is some interactions don’t work in bear form, such as looting a scholar node. There are others as well, where “requires man form” messager shows. Ah well, minor issue. I find the Beorning to be near perfect so I can live with this issue.

LoTRO – A Bit of Evendim

Vol 1 Book 4 of the epic storyline is a level 37 quest, so after finishing up Book 3 in the North Downs, I journeyed west to Evendim. My plan was to adventure there and go to the Trollshaws for Book 4 once I reached level 37.

I’ve done Evendim before, and I figured it wouldn’t take too long. Plus, I was already level 35, so I didn’t need many levels at all. After helping the rangers at Tinnudir, helping (on behalf of the rangers) the people at Ost Forod, I was nearly level 37. It only took one sweep through the ruins on Rantost (i.e. doing the initial quests there) to level up!

I feel like I should press on and do the Rantost wrap-up quest instance, Thief-Taker’s Bane, rather than bail out on them. 😉

Until now I’ve been taking my time through each zone, stopping to work on kill-deeds. That was fine in the beginning area, where the numbers were something like 30/60… now in Evendim it is more like 90/180, and that makes for a lot of time just to get a bit of virtue xp plus a deed finished (which generally grants you a title). I fell off finishing kill deeds in the North Downs, since many of them are higher level and to the east of Esteldin. and I know from previous playthroughs that I’ll be back soon enough.

I can get accelerator scrolls, and it is decent xp since the fights are on-level… but I’m leaning towards advancing the storyline over doing the kill-deeds right now. Maybe compromise and make an effort to finish the quest-deeds and the exploration-deeds but defer the kill-deeds to another time. I do want to keep my virtues decently leveled so that’s the big dilemma.

I may switch up crafting. By and large the only kind of crafting I really think is worthwhile is making consumables. In LoTRO that’s mainly hope tokens, scrolls, and food… but I know from my other characters that food is really the only one I use in any kind of volume. Sure, for group content, tokens and scrolls are commonly used, but food is also commonly use solo too (although due to revamps of content over time, these days you don’t even need that since landscape fights are balanced on the easy side).

However, as a Beorning, I get a racial skill to bake honey cakes (!) so I can take the super lazy way out and just use that. In which case maybe Historian for Scholar would be more useful – I could make my own scrolls (battle lore, warding lore). My racial food buff doesn’t last long so if I eat it would only be preparing for a big fight. But it is free, quick (only a skill induction to create the food; no materials or cooking fire needed) and doesn’t take any time or money to grow/cook.

Right now I’m a Woodsman, which includes Forester and Woodworker (i.e. gathering wood and crafting wood). That felt thematic and appropriate for a Beorning… but I’m not using any of the stuff I’m crafting. It’s basically gather, gather, gather, then craft into the trash (i.e. sell everything). I just craft to raise a number, rather than actually use any of it.

Back on Landroval I had every class so I could use every craft. For woodworker I could make carvings for a warden and instruments for a minstrel. On Arkenstone I just want to stick to playing one character > 90% of the time! So the question is what crafting vocation would be most useful to a single character, and I think the answer is Yeoman – except for Beornings since that class can make morale/power regen food for free. So for Beornings I think it would be Historian (Scholar) to make offense/defense scrolls, and that’s what I’m going to change to.

2020 Partly in Review


Nintendo sends out a summary of games played and so forth:

The bulk of my hours was split between Slay the Spire (which I also own on Steam), Fitness Boxing, and Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate.

StS is fantastic and my total combined time on Steam and Switch is approaching 300 hours. My favorite character is the Defect, whose mechanic is summoning and evoking orbs for various effects: lightning for damage, frost for shield, plasma for energy, and dark for damage (scales up over time). On Steam, I’m at ascension level 6, whereas on Switch I’m on ascension level 2. The game has randomness, but allows skillful choices to steer towards an improved/better outcome. It is easy to pause and resume, which really helps.


I remember getting these kinds of summaries for Playstation, but I haven’t seen it yet. So… not sure, maybe it is still coming? I’m curious what my numbers look like there. It’ll be mostly God of War, ESO, some Ghost of Tsushima.


Over in Pokémon Go, I hit level 41:

I have the XP for level 42, but lack 2 of the achievements: using berries to catch 200 pokémon, and evolving each of the eevees. The latter is the reason I’m currently walking a flower eevee – getting in 10km for a future flower Umbreon (and later, flower Espeon). The Glaceon and Leafeon evolve with special lures on pokéstops, while the Flareon, Jolteon, and Vaporeon are random (which is extremely annoying). Playing the odds I evolved 2 flower eevees into a Flareon and Jolteon, but producing a Vaporeon is now just a 1/3 chance so I’ll just do regular eevees since they are more plentiful.

I’m evolving flower eevees for this (except for the Vaporeon as noted above) because I already have a set of shiny and regular eeveelutions. I’ll work on a different set, flower eevees instead – and I don’t have enough party hat eevees for a set of those. I already used the naming trick or I’d be able to guarantee myself a flower hat Vaporeon. I know, I know, #firstworldPoGoproblems.)

Disc Golf

I took up disc golf midway through the year, as a way to get some social distance outdoors fun in. I found out that a few friends also played, without any of us knowing the others did. I also introduced 2 friends to the game (and am working on another) so once it warms back up I’m looking forward to playing a round every week or so.

Of course there is an app for that, and I’m using UDisc, the official app of the Professional Disc Golf Association. It’s pretty handy, letting you keep score, and often displaying a map of the course. It utilizes the phone very well, letting you measure how far you threw a disc with GPS (subject to GPS accuracy).

I’m a RHBH thrower (right hand back hand) and a good throw for me is a little over 200 feet. I’ve tried forehand and it feels really weird. So, something to work on here and there. I can improve my distance by at least 50% (i.e. throwing for 300 feet) so there is huge room for improvement.

I’m also working on accuracy, throwing the direction I want to go. 😉 I am fairly accurate, so my favorite courses are wooded or lightly wooded, since those tend to have shorter distances from tees to baskets, favoring accuracy over distance. Worst case for me are wide open courses, because those tend to have large distances involved – after all, if there aren’t many obstacles the only way to increase difficulty is to lengthen the holes.


I’m going to try a round robin system in 2021. If left to my normal scheduling, I’ll tend to “split” time between 2 games in a 80-20 proportion, which is pretty far off of 50-50. 3 games comes down to 70-20-10 or even 80-10-10 – basically one game is dominant while the others get a cursory log in.

But I like 3 games… FF14 has a fun storyline, smooth mechanics, and above all hassle-free grouping. Which is the point, otherwise I could be playing a single player game. I’m nearly at Ishgard and looking forward to unlocking Astrologian.

LoTRO of course is my very long term game, which I wander away from but come back missing it. I left my Boerning partway through Vol 1 Book 3, Defense of Trestlebridge as I recall, and want to move him along. I somehow have not managed to meet up with the coworker who also plays, but that’s fine, I’m poking along with a different character than the one I used my Valar boost on. Maybe I’ll just give up on meeting up with my coworker and look for a kinship to join.

ESO’s action combat feels a lot different, but the variety is nice. Now that I switched over to the Stadia version, I can play while visiting family (and also freed up nearly 100 GB on my gaming PC). I have a friend also playing via Stadia, so there is the possibility of questing together with someone I know, maybe even doing some basic dungeons. I don’t think we’re interested in hardcore modes, veteran modes, any of that stuff…. just the basic XYZ Dungeon I version would be a ton of fun.

So, I was thinking about some kind of day-pinning rotation: ESO on Tue/Fri, FF14 on Wed/Sat, LoTRO on Thu/Sun (with Mon off since that’s currently Zoom boardgames night). I’ll schedule ESO first as that’s the game I have a friend actively playing, and try to sync up. So this overall plan is a 33-33-33 split without emphasizing or ignoring any particular game.

Or maybe be more flexible and try for something like ESO Tue, FF14 Wed, LoTRO Thu, and then whatever for the other 3 available days. Worst case one game gets 2/3rds of the attention, but at least play each game once a week.

I know, probably overthinking this but that’s what this end of the year planning time is for. 🙂

LoTRO – Troll Cave

Back in Middle Earth I began a task Halbarad set out for me: get Dwarves, Elves, and Men to cooperate against the threat of Angmar. That is, I was working on Vol 1 Book 3. 🙂

I decided to take a quest I generally ignore, one that led to a giant troll cave south east of Meluinen.

I defeated the troll-keeper, Favargair, and also completed troll slaying deed because there were so many inside the cave system.

There were also trolls outside, east past Merenost. I had ventured here a few times in the past but also generally didn’t need to (due to xp buffs and so on, not needing to do every single quest available for quite a while).

As for the troll I fought, it is true even in bear form he was bigger that me, but he was not the victor!

Next session I plan to finish up book 3 and then see how many levels I am away from starting book 4 on level. In the past I would either complete the east side of North Downs, or go to Evendim. I remember doing some quests out of Tinnudir on my Lore-master, the character I most recently leveled into the 40’s. I may stick around the North Downs and work on slayer deeds in order to get my virtues to decent levels.

LoTRO – Finishing up the Lone Lands

My typical leveling path in LoTRO is to go from Bree to the Lone Lands. I know that there are some high-teens levels quests in north Bree, and those lead right into the early quests in Trestlebridge, but by the time I’m done with the Barrow-Downs area I’m also ready to start Vol 1 Book 2, the Red Maid, and that is all in the Lone Lands.

As a result, I’ve played through the Lone Lands many times and was ready to move along from Ost Guruth and wrap up Vol 1 Book 2.

I also wanted to work on virtues, including slayer deeds, so I used one of my daily hobbit gifts – a 90 min accelerator – and went into Nan Dhelu looking to kill as many undead as possible. Which was easy because it is filled with them and Radagast sends you in twice for various quests.

Along the way I ran into a rare Elite I hadn’t seen before – Klakki. He caught me a bit by surprise because I thought he was the Master of Nan Dhelu, a different quest I was trying to finish. But it was fine, my yellow line Beorning (The Roar) feels pretty strong.

As for virtues, I’m revamping a bit after finding a guide for healing Boernings, what I plan to do for group content later on. It turns out that I’m a huge fan of mitigation and resistance virtues, so much so I was essentially slotting tank virtues, where healers would find outgoing healing and critical rating more valuable.

I could probably try both (i.e. level up both sets of virtues) in case I want to try tanking, but for now I’ll work on getting healing virtues up, one at a time, and slowly replace my current loadout.

I did finish up Vol 1 Book 2, and right as I was leaving the Lone Lands, I dinged level 30. Which let me start my level 30 class quest… out of Ost Guruth. So I turned around and did that too.

Off to Esteldin, to talk to Halbarad and start Vol 1 Book 3.

*put on geezer hat and sits in rocking chair*

I remember in the “old” days when you had to RUN to Esteldin the first time. No mounts until level 40. Young ‘uns got it easy with mounts at level 20 and even lower.

*old timer mode off*

In fact it’s easier still! I talked to Candaith at his campfire just NW of Weathertop and it turns out his horse will fast travel you to Esteldin. No more long run from Trestlebridge!

I remember the first time I ran out to Esteldin on my then main character, a hunter in the low 30’s. No mount yet, I asked in kinship how rough the run was. Everybody said: no problem at all, very easy. And it was quite safe, sticking to the road I didn’t even aggro anything. It just took a few minutes to cruise through the countryside.

LoTRO – Bears

So one “problem” with LoTRO is I like all the classes. After any kind of break, when I come back, I think about starting again. The general thought process is:

  • Let’s try a pet class – I’ll make a Captain or Lore Master
  • Oh but healers are useful – I’ll make a Minstrel or Rune-Keeper
  • Ah but the gambit skill system is so unique – I’ll make a Warden
  • Hm it’s fun to start fellowship maneuvers – I’ll make Burglar

And that’s how I wind up with 5 characters and do the starting area (which these days encompasses Shadows of Angmar, the entire original game) over and over.

This time I decided to restart with a Beorning. I’ve still got my boosted chars that are trying to sync up with my coworker that plays… but in the meantime I want to remember the previous content I haven’t been to in ages.

I like Beornings: they can be a tank (blue, the Hide), dps (red, the Claw), healer/support (yellow, the Roar), so very flexible. I’m playing a yellow line Beorning now and it is very survivable and mows down the enemies.

It’s fun the shape change from man to bear and back. Only annoyance is you have to be in man form to harvest resources and talk to other NPCs.

As for as questing – I actually feel bad killing other bears as a Beorning, and avoid taking those quests and also try to avoid killing bears! But if one aggros on me… well it’s every bear for themselves and I plan to survive.

Beornings get a travel skill called Wanderlust, which is slower than a horse but instant to enter. It’s handy for running around while finishing off a quest.

I don’t have to worry about Power, so I can chuck all those blue potions. (Well, put them into shared storage in case another char can use them). Beornings use Rage instead of Power.

If you make your Beorning with facial tattoos… they show up when you are in bear form. Cool! I have 3 red slashes which are there even if they are hard to see in the pic.

I’m playing my Beorning slightly differently, by working on deeds along the way. Exploration deeds, quest deeds – those were typically the only ones I did. At least after the Virtue system changed and let you train them by doing any deed, rather than locking Determination +1 or whatever to specific monsters in specific areas. But that change was years ago.

This time I’m checking off several kill deeds too, in an effort to keep my Virtues level appropriate. I will admit to purchasing some accelerator scrolls which do help by cutting the number of kills needed in half.

I decided the most appropriate crafting for a Beorning is Woodsman. I can cure hides and collect wood with Forester, make some weapons/instruments/carvings with Woodworker, and generally ignore Farming. (For making food I generally have an alt take up Yeoman, which includes Cook and Farmer. Then they can grow the needed foods and also cook them. The crafting quests that would have been tricky to do on a lowbie were streamlined away so an alt can park in a good area and crank out the tasty treats!)

Anyway, I’m currently level 27 working on Vol 1 Book 2 out of Ost Guruth. My Lore-Master is in the low 40’s in Book 5 in the Misty Mountains… I’m not abandoning that char but for now I’m enjoying the Beorning more. My goal is to stick to an 80-20 system for my chars: spend 80% of my time playing my main, and 20% divided between all alts.

What I really need to do is tape a sign behind my monitor that says: Rather than play an alt, play a different game!! Because I would like to get some variety be rotating among LoTRO, FF14, and ESO.