Welcome to our class guide for the Rune-keeper in Lord of the Rings Online! This guide will cover the class basics, race options, virtues, useful crafting professions, build suggestions, and tips on how to play the Rune-keeper.
I’ve been playing a Rune-keeper in LOTRO on and off since 2008, and I thoroughly enjoy it. As of this article, I have 3 RK’s at varying levels from mid-game to end-game. This article will focus on current content in 2023 and will be updated when new information is available.
If you’re a new player to LOTRO or returning from a break and would like an overview of the class, pull up a chair and join me as we cover what the Rune-keeper has to offer.
Lore of the Rune-keepers
The Rune-keeper class was inspired by Celebrimbor, an elven-smith who created three of the Rings of Power, and was known for his skill with runes. Rune-keepers are linguists that use powerful rune words to combat evil forces or save their allies. In Arda, runes are used by Dwarves and Elves for writing and were often carved into stones, armors, weapons, and even doors, among other things.
What it’s like to play a Rune-keeper
The Rune-keeper is a versatile class for players who prefer “magic” types of combat. They offer three specializations focusing on heals or damage with fire and lightning.
Imagine the skill animations of a Rune-keeper as a powerful wordsmith who uses rune-stones to conjure spells, most skills appear magical in nature, and are certainly some of the most beautiful looking animations in the game.
If you enjoy healing yourself and allies, the Rune-keeper’s traits Benediction of Peace specialize in heals over time (HOTs) and shields. They operate in a proactive healing style, buffing with HOTs and shielding the fellowship in anticipation of damage, the Rune-keeper is very capable of healing dungeons and raids.
Rune-keepers have the option of fire damage in the Cleansing Flame specialization with many damage-over-time spells and powerful AOE skills. The Solitary Thunder trait line uses instant cast lightning spells for a mobile fighting style.
As a new Runekeeper you will receive a document called “Rune-keeper Attunement” which explains how your Attunement Meter works (see images below). Many skills shift the meter to the left for damage (Dagor) or the right for healing (Nestad), with the steady state at center (Thalas). When out of combat your RK will always be in the Thalas state.
When you are attuned deeply into the battle state for example, you can not switch to use your most powerful healing skills instantly. However, at level 26 you gain the skill Steady Hands that allows a switch from one extreme state to the other for 15 seconds on a 40 second cooldown. This skill comes in handy when you need to quickly change your actions from healing to damage and vice versa.
As a Rune-keeper you can summon “pet rocks” aka Runes, especially useful when fighting multiple enemies. Each specialization offers a different rune type, fire is Volcanic with AOE damage, lightning has Fulgurite that stuns nearby enemies, and healing has two, Rune of Healing for AOE heals and Our Fates Entwined to absorb a portion of damage.
Best Race for a Rune-Keeper
The best race for a Rune-keeper is the High Elf or Stout-Axe, and the choice depends on your play-style. Here is a breakdown of racial skills that are most beneficial to this class:
High Elves offer a lot of useful utility racial skills and an increase in Morale for the Rune-keeper. They have the Glory of the First Age skill that stuns an enemy for 3 seconds and Grace of the Firstborn boosting your out-of-combat run speed by 10%. Peace of the Eldar gives +20 Maximum Morale and +60 non-Combat Morale Regen allowing a little more health. Grace of Valinor skill allows resurrection of an ally on a 30-minute cooldown. Wrath of the Firstborn is a +5% combat boost for the fellowship that lasts 10 seconds on a 10-minute cooldown.
Stout-Axe is a great choice for the Rune-keeper especially if you are making a damage dealer in the fire specialization. The Stout-Axe brings Unyielding Will granting +15 Will and +1% common mitigation, Heart of Fire +3% fire-type damage. Stout-shield a skill that grants 75% block chance for 10 seconds, on a 30-minute cooldown. Unwritten Destiny increases vitality.
Dwarves offer the Unwearying in Battle skill that grants +30 in-combat morale and power regeneration with a penalty of -60 non-combat morale and -30 non-combat power regen. Dwarf-endurance grants a boost to the fellowships vitality for 10-minutes. The Endurance of Stone skill reduces incoming melee, range, and tactical damage by 50% for 10 seconds, with a hefty 30-minute cooldown.
The Race of Man offers the Duty-Bound skill providing a buff to the Fellowship of +5% max morale for 10 minutes and the Strength of Morale skill gives an extra heal of 2200-3300 morale, though both of these skills have a 30 minute cool-down.
Elves offer the least useful racials for the RK, they can use the Silvan Shadows skill allowing you to stealth while remaining still, on a 30-minute cooldown and their Power of the Eldar skill grants +2% Maximum Power to your fellowship for 10 minutes.
Rune-keeper Stats & Equipment
The Runekeeper can equip Light armor and their primary stats are Will for damage or healing output and Vitality for a good Morale pool to survive attacks. At higher levels you want to add Tactical Mastery and Critical Rating. Tactical Mastery increases your damage and healing output, and Critical Rating increases your chance to land a critical hit and the magnitude of a devastating hit for your attacks.
Weapons & Legendary Items
Rune Stones are the Rune-keepers weapon of choice and while you rarely confront monsters in melee combat you want to have good quality runes to improve your stats.
Each class in LOTRO has a Class Slot on your character panel, for Rune-keepers this slot is equipped with a Rune Satchel. There are a variety of satchels to equip, you can buy them from your Class Trainer, and they can be crafted by a Tailor and traded or sold in the Auction House.
When you reach level 45 you can begin the level 50 Epic quest for your first Legendary Item, Rune-keeper’s Stone of Legends, continue the story to get your second item, a Rune-satchel. These items are the most powerful weapons you can equip in the game and they will level with you as you advance.
Crafting Vocation for Rune-keepers
The best crafting professions for a Rune-keeper are the Explorer or Tinker vocations for their usefulness to the class.
The Explorer vocation specializes in the Tailoring, Forester, and Prospector. The Tailor can make Light armor and rune-satchels, which is some of the best gear you can obtain especially while leveling.
The Forester and Prospector gather materials such as wood/ore that you can funnel to your other characters to process with their Vocations or to sell the raw materials on the Auction House to make coin.
Tinkers are Jewelers, Prospectors, and Cooks. The Jeweler can make useful jewelry for your Rune-keeper and Rune Stones. As a side note, after you obtain your Legendary Items at around level 48-50 you will have superior Rune Stone weapons in comparison to the crafted versions. Cooking is always helpful though relies heavily on the Farmer professions from other Vocations.
If you would like to see an overview of all the Vocations, check out our LOTRO Crafting Guide.
Rune-keeper Virtues – Which Are Best Slotted?
Virtues offer stat bonuses for your character, you can slot 5 Virtues at a time and all available slots will be unlocked by level 23. The following virtues are most helpful for the Rune-keeper class:
Wisdom provides Will, the RK’s most important stat, along with Tactical Mastery, and Finesse. This is useful for all three specializations because it buffs our damage and outgoing healing as well as critical rating.
Wit provides Finesse Rating, Critical Rating, Physical and Tactical Master Rating. Wit will give you the most Finesse Rating which is helpful for critical attacks and mastery.
Honesty gives Tactical Mastery Rating, Will, and Critical Rating. Tactical Mastery increases the amount of offensive damage you do and your outgoing healing.
Confidence offers Critical Rating, Finesse Rating, Evade Rating and passive bonuses for Physical Mastery Rating and Tactical Mastery Rating.
Loyalty gives Vitality, Armour Value, Incoming Healing Rating and the passive bonus of Maximum Morale. Vitality and Max Morale provides more health, Armour Value increases it’s toughness, and Incoming Healing Rating allows for more healing.
Other Virtues that are defensive and can help with survival are Fortitude for Maximum Morale, Tolerance for Tactical Mitigation, and Innocence for Physical Mitigations.
Tips for Playing a Rune-keeper
Rune-keepers are considered a moderate to learn class in LOTRO and their versatility of play style, healing, shields, and damage make them a very enjoyable class to play in solo or group content. Here are some tips for playing the Rune-keeper and what you can expect from the class.
- Don’t be intimidated by the Attunement Meter, it’s primary purpose is to build up your skill rotation and unleash your more powerful skills. As mentioned above, you will learn Steady Hands at level 26 allowing you to shift the meter very quickly.
- No matter which specialization, all Rune-keepers will have access to some heals over time, like Prelude To Hope, cast these HOTs on yourself before and during combat for more survivability..
- Use your shields proactively, Armour of the Elements is a self-cast shield that also has a chance to stun melee attackers. Word of Exaltation can be placed on an ally providing a temporary boost to morale and damage prevention for 18 seconds.
- While in group content Do Not Fall This Day is a very important skill, you will place this buff on a fellowship member, usually a class that has a combat resurrection skill (Minstrel, Captain, Beorning). If they die in combat they can resurrect instantly so long as you, the RK is alive. This spell can sometimes be the turning tide of a difficult encounter. Learn to use it and keep track of when it’s off cooldown to rebuff the target.
- In the Character Panel you will see a Ranged Weapon Slot along the bottom, for Rune-keepers we can place a Chisel here that provides extra stats. Metalsmiths can craft Chisels and they can be traded or bought from the Auction House.
- Get to know your Utility skills, they will be invaluable in group and solo play, and especially if you are playing on a Legendary Server in Deadly+ difficulty. Here’s a quick list:
- Shocking Touch dazes the target.
- Final Word interrupts enemy inductions.
- Break The Bonds removes crowd-control effects like stuns and dazes.
- Scribe a New Ending cleanses wound, fear, poison, and disease from a target.
- Speak No Evil removes corruptions from the target.
- Self Motivation restores 15% of power.
- Nothing Truly Ends revive a defeated ally.
- Flurry of Words is an area-of-effect Frost skill that applies damage and a critical debuff to enemies in the area.
- Use Distracting Flame on the enemy when you need to reduce your threat in group content, it is a DOT skill that reduces threat over 15 seconds.
- Enamels are a Rune-keeper consumable crafted by Scholars, applying an enamel to your rune stone weapons shifts your attunement 3 steps.
- At level 15, 30, 50, and 58 visit your class trainer and complete the class quests offered.
Rune-keeper Build Suggestions
There are three Class Trait specializations the Rune-keeper can choose from, and each of those builds can be customized to the players liking in several ways. Below is an overview of each of the specs and some suggestions to consider when creating your build.
Benediction of Peace (Blue Line)
The Rune-keeper makes a great healer for solo, dungeons, and raids, it’s for players who prefer a proactive healing style with instant cast spells and heals-over-time. Part of the challenge of a RK healer is knowing when to anticipate damage placing shields on your allies, and keeping HOTs on your tanks and damage dealers while reacting to heavier damage spikes with spells like Rousing Words, a powerful AOE heal and Epic for the Ages a large heal.
When traited into the blue line, healing spells have a 20% chance to apply Frost Armor reducing incoming damage by -10% for 8 seconds.
Rune-keeper Healing Build
As a healer you want to spend at least 43 (up to 53) points in Benediction of Peace, going all the way to get Bombastic Inspiration and unlocking Our Fates Entwined before placing points in other specializations. What you choose in the other lines are whether you want more damage or defensive’s. For this build, I chose Conflagration of Runes in the red line for +15% damage to Fiery Ridicule, then Essence of Flame a fire spell that refreshes the DOT of Fiery Ridicule, and Explosive Rhetoric to increase the damage. In the yellow line I chose Exacting Wards for 7% critical defense and Cutting Remarks for 5% tactical crit chance.
Some of the healing skills you learn when in the Benediction of Peace specialization are:
Rune-sign of Winter is a buff that heals the target and reduces incoming damage by 10% for 8 seconds on a short cooldown, place this on your tanks and anyone who needs damage reduction.
Writ of Health place on a target and can be stacked three times for a more powerful heal over time, that lasts for 24 seconds.
Mending Verse has an initial heal and HOT for 6 seconds.
Bombastic Inspiration is a HOT that heals for a large amount upon expiration, this skill can be stacked up to 3 times increasing its potency.
Rune of Healing summons a rune-stone on the ground healing nearby allies for 1 minute.
Essay of Exhalation is a ground target skill that places a damage prevention shield on allies in a 10 meter area with an initial heal and heal over time for 10 seconds.
Rousing Words is a channeled skill that heals allies within 20 meters for 24 seconds, a Writ of Health is applied to targets that are healed for at least 5 seconds.
Our Fates Entwined is the last skill gained in the blue line, it is a rune-stone that can be placed on the ground redirecting 20% of damage from allies within 20 meters to the stone. The stone is active for 20 seconds and has a 90 second cooldown.
Cleansing Flame (Red Line)
A Cleansing Flame fire Rune-keeper is a powerful DOT and burst damage dealer for solo or group content, and is generally considered to be the most powerful of the three specializations. Searing Words is the passive for this spec, giving a 20% chance to apply the DOT when using fire skills.
Rune-keeper Fire Build
A red line Rune-keeper build will require at minimum 44 points (up to 53) in Cleansing Flame. I recommend 53 points maxing out the traits then spend 5 points in Determination (blue line) for more Will and the remaining points in Solitary Thunder (yellow line) for Confounding Principles to increase the daze of Shocking Touch and its damage. Cutting Remarks for 5% tactical crit chance and Fortune Smiles to boost Fate (more crit).
Some of the skills and buffs you can learn when in the red line, Cleansing Flame specialization are:
Fiery Ridicule is one of the first spells you learn and it can become quite powerful as you level. While it has a 1.5 second cast time, it can be stacked up to 3 times on the target for damage-over-time. With the Conflagration of Runes trait the skill becomes an AOE for up to 3 max targets.
Essence of Flame does initial damage and refreshes Fiery Ridicules DOT if it’s already on the target.
Smouldering Wrath is a fun skill that dishes out huge amounts of damage every 1 second, the time is increased based on the battle Attunement. Seething Truth trait bonus increases its damage by 30%.
Writ of Fire is a stack-able DOT ability, can be placed on the target 3 times increasing the damage done with each stack. The Combustion skill spreads the Writ of Fire to all nearby targets when traited in Seething Truth.
Volcanic Runestone can be placed on the ground for an AOE damage-over-time lasting 30 seconds. The skill can be improved through the trait Molten Rock giving it up to 30% more DOT.
Essay of Fire has a 2 second cast time and does powerful damage-over-time making your next induction based skill instant cast.
Scathing Mockery is a 3 second induction based AOE fire skill effecting 5 targets within 8 meters. Use this skill after casting Essay of Fire to reduce the induction.
Combustion does damage to all targets around the target and returns Attunement to Neutral.
Solitary Thunder (Yellow Line)
The Solitary Thunder specialization in the yellow line is a mobile damage dealer with instant cast and proc based abilities. This spec has a passive called Charged, when lightning skills are used they have a 20% chance to proc an instant cast of the Sustaining Bolt skill for the next 8 seconds.
If you’ve noticed lightning hovering above your Rune-keepers head and you don’t know why, here is what is happening:
While traited into the Solitary Thunder build, your lightning skills have a chance to proc Harsh Debate increasing tactical damage, this places 1 ball of lightning above your head. Then Thunderous Words procs the second ball of lightning which increases critical hit chance.
When both buffs are active they combine into Closing Remarks which looks like the image above, this buff gives more chance for damage and critical hit.
Casting the Epic Conclusion skill while Closing Remarks is active, you gain Aftershock a buff that lasts 10 seconds providing +20% Tactical Damage and +25% Fury of Storms Critical Hit Chance.
Rune-keeper Lightning Build
Spend at least 44 points in yellow line up to 53, then 5 in Determination (blue line) and finish up in the Cleansing Flame (red line) for Deliberate Address adding 5% tactical damage, Conflagration of Runes for +15% damage to Fiery Ridicule and Overflowing Confidence to increase the potency of Self Motivation.
With Solitary Thunder here are some of the essential skills you gain in this specialization:
Concession and Rebuttal is good to cast at the start of a fight as it buffs certain skills, Sustaining Bolt returns power when used, Writ of Lightning applies max rank debuff, Epic Conclusion places a DOT on the target, and Shocking Words slows the target.
Writ of Lightning reduces the targets resistance to lightning damage and stacks up to 3 times.
Ceaseless Argument is a quick lightning attack on a 3 second cooldown.
Using your lightning skills has a chance to proc the Static Surge skill, a powerful lightning attack that does damage in front of the Rune-keeper.
Epic Conclusion is a powerful lightning attack that does damage based on the amount of Attunement consumed. Closing Remarks trait increases the damage of this spell by 50% and applies the Aftershock buff after, this buff provides 20% tactical damage and 25% Fury of Storm critical for 10 seconds.
Vivid Imagery is an AOE lightning attack that dazes nearby foes, max 3 targets.
Sustaining Bolt does initial damage plus additional damage based on current Attunement, reduces the cost of power and returns to Neutral attunement.
Fulgurite Runestone damages and stuns nearby targets for a short time. The Statically Charged trait will increase it’s damage by 30%.
Time to Wordsmith
I hope this guide to the Rune-keeper class has been helpful for your adventures ahead and if you’re still considering other classes, check out our guide on selecting a class in LOTRO.