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  1. #1

    Post Update 24: A "Hero" Class for Lotro

    DISCLAIMER: These ideas are not meant to be perfectly in line with the lore of the books, but rather the alternative lore that LOTRO has built, and to expand upon it.

    Given the approaching addition of Minas Morgul to the game with (presumably) update 24, I would like to put forth an idea for an intriguing twist in the lore of LOTRO. Throughout the game, the player has encountered NPC characters that elaborate on the existence of “wraiths”, which are present in the (game) canon; Amdir and Mordirith are two such examples. After the chaotic upheaval and power dynamics of the “evil” hierarchy we’ve seen in Mordor, I think it’s worth making a final exploration into the Unseen and the nature of the Nine. What the Acharngûl are, and how they fit into this lore, will be explained.

    What follows is a proposition for a new backstory that leads into the plight of the Acharngûl concerning the Morgul Vale. It builds on existing LOTRO lore and what the story has revealed up to this point, not that of the books, and this addition is not meant to be canon. In any case, the game has taken so many creative liberties (of which I deeply approve) with the lore up to this point that the argument of deviation from the canon has, in my opinion, become feeble (i.e. rune-keepers, the BBOM, etc.).

    The Origins of the Acharngûl:

    Ever did the Witch King and his brethren rebel beneath the dominion of Sauron. Though the Witch King enjoyed the fruits of his passing unto shadow, they were tainted by the forced servitude of his master. Throughout the Third Age, the Witch King fostered a bitter disdain for his bondage through Sauron’s gift, heart stopper, as well as a deep desire to be free of that bondage, and so “make himself a great power” in his own right. It was in the realm of Angmar that, unbeknownst to Sauron, the Witch King labored in Barad Gularan to “break the bonds that enslaved him to the Lord of Barad-Dur”. The Witch King disguised this intention through his seemingly leal service during the war against Arnor; in any case, Sauron’s will only slaked his thirst for power. It was in Carn Dum and Barad Gularan that he gave deep meditation to what remained of he and his kin’s lives: the Unseen. In unspeakable fell experimentation, the Witch King sought to understand the realm to which he belonged, and how he might manipulate it to his gain. Through his sorcery, he brought the Cargûl into the world; even whilst seeking a salve to his own subjugation, the Witch King condemned others to his own fate, enthralling hapless souls to his master’s will. Yet the Witch King was forced to abandon his terrible works in the North after the Battle of Fornost, taking flight to the South. Having secured Sauron’s faith with the destruction of Arnor, he and the Nine gathered great armies about themselves in Morder - with which to take Minas Ithil. In a victory against Gondor, the Witch King took up residence there and made it his own abode of Minas Morgul. When Earnur attempted to challenge him, the Witch King cast him down and, in anger at his losses in Angmar, made him a mighty Cargûl with his morgul blade. If the Witch King king could not shrug off Sauron’s shackles, then he would do the same to the fallen king - secretly, the Witch King was able to bind Earnur exclusively to his own will, though he was still technically controlled by Sauron via proxy. In the Watchful Peace of the Third Age that followed, the Witch King gathered about himself many Black Numenoreans, and tutored both them and Mordirith in the sorceries he had learned from Sauron. Sauron continued his experimentation from where he left off in the North. To a man, the Witch King murdered or converted every last survivor of the sack of Minas Ithil. For 400 years he labored to produce a wraith that remained whole of mind and spirit, that he might free his own. Yet his dark arts seemed to fail him in that respect - all that came of them were the same blind, lesser Cargûl of old. In a frustrated rage, he mustered the nine and broke the Peace in T.A. 2460, bringing ruin to Osgiliath and carving out more territory for himself. From then on, the Witch King turned away from his forays into the Unseen, hoping to lose himself in devotion to the Dark Lord. Circa T.A. 2950, the Witch King was present at the reconstructed Barad-Dur, overseeing operations and discussing plans for war with the Eye. Tasked by Sauron to break the imprisoned high elf Thelaron, the Witch King regarded the elf’s shimmering aura, and had an epiphany beneath the Dark Tower. It occurred to him that the Unseen world was not chiefly constituted of shadow; rather, it was also home to beings of light, and light was an aspect of it. Deeply disconcerted, he interrogated Thelaron, questioning him on the nature and power of his lineage as a high elf. In doing so, he sensed there was a physical light, literally inside of the elf. Summoning the torturers of Barad-Dur, the Witch King had the elf cut open, revealing the source - a token, shining with the light of Earendil. At once repelled and intrigued by the object, the Witch King concealed it on his person, closing Thelaron’s grievous wound with sorcery. Betaken by a new purpose, the Witch King tasked the Black Numenoreans of the Tower to finish his corruption of the elf; they would succeed, changing Thelaron into Sagrog. Making for Minas Morgul, the Witch king contemplated the trinket. It’s proximity caused him pain; but anything that could cause him pain had power, and power was the one thing he could respect. Consorting with the High Sorcerer of Harad, the Witch King came to a conclusion about the Unseen. The power of the shadow, which the Witch King had so rampantly abused in his unlife, only sufficed to draw one further into the unseen realm, and so closer to the will of Sauron. This power caused him to fade into a wraith to begin with. The light, however, represented corporeality and true life, and served to ground an unseen being in physical form, in reality, and to balance their existence between the seen and the spiritual unseen. To test this theory, the Witch King selected a gondorian prisoner (more p.o.w’s were available due to the War of the Ring), named Gorlim, for an elaborate ritual; the High Sorcerer refused to aid him, believing him to have strayed from Sauron’s design. Combining his strength with his conclave of sorcerers, the Witch King endured agonizing pain to draw the light forth form the stolen token, and, channeling his own dark sorcery, commingled light and shadow about the restrained man. Consumed by the miasma, Gorlim was forever changed - the first of the Acharngûl. The Witch King revelled at the creation of this new unseen. What was more, the man was stable, and appeared to retain himself, his own will. The Witch King placed his prize under heavy guard, and sought more items like the token, now bereft of light. Now able to detect the presence of this light, he and his conclave searched the spoils of war, identifying relics and artifacts that held the same power. However, before the Witch King was able to replicate the process on other prisoners, Sauron, who still held mastery over him, commanded him to move against Minas Tirith. Though reluctant about the distraction, the Witch King was not displeased at the order; Sauron’s goal of eliminating this last bastion of men aligned with his own ambitions for domination. In any case, being technically immortal, he thought he did not lack for time. Yet, failing to account for his own doom on the Pelennor, the Witch King’s grand scheme to become a distinct power unravelled with his unlife. Gothmog, who had been the Witch King’s protege, fled to Minas Morgul in the wake of the defeat at Pelennor and Sauron’s fall. Unrestrained by Sauron’s command and privy to the Witch King’s plot, Gothmog refused to abandon his claim to the throne of Gondor, and has begun to exact the same change in that took place Gorlim on every inmate of Minas Morgul. He hopes to bend these lost souls to his will, mustering his own Gondorian, half-wraith army to seize his rightful throne. However, fate intends a different path for these wayward men and women, and an unlikely savior emerges from the shadows….

    The Acharngûl, the wraiths of vengeance, would be the first “hero” class added to LOTRO, beginning the story at level 105, ideally with Mordor. This makes sense, as many of these prisoners were formerly soldiers fighting in the war. Being a hero class, they would have some special customization features; the normal human model, but with paler skin options and the option for light blue (luminescent?) eyes. Visible parts of the texture for these models would fade in and out of corporeality, resulting in spectral blue outline of some of the character’s features and body, and a vague transparency effect in those areas. This spectral blue hue would apply to many of their abilities.

    The “half-wraith” class would begin with a sort of jailbreak-like scenario; similar to “Into Darkness Falls a Star”. Harthalin, who has been scouting the Morgul Vale after the events of the Black Book, manages to infiltrate the depths of Minas Morgul, encountering the player in their cell. She slits the throat of the sleeping Uruk gaoler that is guarding them, and releases them. The player loots a sword off the dead uruk. With Harthalin, the player cuts a swath through the remaining gaolers, until they come upon the cell holding Gorlim, the First. The three discuss, then split up to free the rest of the prisoners. Gorlim fights with the player towards the top, the exit, and remarks on their shared abilities. The player exits the dungeons, along with a seemingly endless stream of afflicted Gondorians. Fighting to an armory, the player and his companions find rope, and better equipment. Harthalin explains that they have no choice but to scale the ramparts of the dead city, to avoid running into the bulk of Gothmog’s forces. The player slays multiple archers on the way down. When the ground is finally reached, the player fights a contingent of Morgul orcs alongside Harthalin and Gorlim. When their captain falls, the dread blast of a great horn is heard from on high. Harthalin screams for everyone to make for the banks of the Morgulduin; she coordinated her mission with the rangers of Ithilien, who are waiting in makeshift/camouflage rafts. However, because there are so many more escapees than expected, many, including the player and Gorlim, are forced to make a desperate flight to the rubble of the bridge, climbing over it to get to the opposite bank and slaying enemies along the way. Once the player has reached the opposite bank, they muster with the harthalin, the survivors, and the rangers. Gothmog is assembled with his army at the other end of the bridge, and before the player can leave makes a haunting declaration that he will control them all before his end, and that they will carry his “curse” forevermore. The rangers of Ithilien cover the player’s retreat back to Minas Tirith; the player eventually collapses from exhaustion and his unstable condition, lapsing into unconsciousness (maybe visited in a dream by Galadriel, who sheds some light on the situation).

    I also have an idea for the three specializations available to this class, which would be able to wield 1 or 2 handed swords, daggers, and Staves (maybe axes/polearms as well), and wear heavy armor. The first, the “Wraith Ward,” would be a two handed tanking spec, with a focus on fading in and out of corporeality and making use of unnatural agility to evade attacks. This spec would would also allow the Acharngûl to drain the vitality of his enemies, and to instill AoE fear debuffs with piercing, spectral shrieks that grow in intensity.

    The second specialization, the “Unseen Blade, ” would be about achieving a balance between wraith-light and shadow centric melee attacks. Using shadow abilities would generate stacks of shadow, and reaching x stacks of shadow would give the player the option to cashout those stacks on a soft in combat stealth, which would allow the player to make a vicious strike from the shadows, able to teleport a short distant to the target. Conversely, wraith-light abilities would generate stacks of light, and at x stacks would grant either a burst wraith-light AoE that spreads the heavy hitting dots of the spec, or a ST soul-brand ability that increases damage taken for a short period of time from the opposite type of ability. Both kinds of stacks would grant a variant of this ability, one shadow and one light damage. The stacks from abilities have a high cap, so that the player can prepare for either burst ST or AoE windows.

    The third specialization, the “Mortal Foil,” would be a staff-wielding support spec, and by tapping into Wraith/Spirit world would be able to manipulate the spiritual condition of surrounding beings. By gathering light about allies, the player is able to bolster their souls, and lend strength to their blows. By casting darkness upon the enemy, the player would be able to strike dread into their hearts, debilitating and decaying them with shadow. A core theme of this spec would be heightened sensitivity to emotions, and influencing those emotions to positive or negative effect. It is the balance between the seen and the unseen that allows the Acharngûl to have power over the spirit. The gameplay of this spec would revolve around juggling debuffs on enemies and buffs on allies, prioritizing one or the other according to the situation.

    I realize that SSG has limited resources, and that the current focus IS class balance, but given that U24 is apparently a good way off, and that a lot of balancing will likely already be done by then, I think this might be one the last good opportunities to add a new class. Also, because SSG has claimed that this balancing process is very long and ongoing, I don’t think a month or two of missed balancing would be much to sacrifice for a new class.

    A big thank you to everyone who takes the time to read this, it means a lot. This is probably wishful thinking, but I just felt the need to get this idea out there. I’d love to hear feedback on this, or just the idea of a new class for LOTRO in general. Happy elevenses yall!

    (Eleventh class anyone? )

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Somewhere in Middle-earth
    Before starting of the 11th class let's finish the 10th one (beorning).

    Beside that, you are playing on the boundary between good and evil, namely light and shadow. All classes represent the good side. Thus the light part of your proposal is ok. But the shadow belongs to the evil side. Maybe you realized that the good sides has light based attacks but no shadow attacks. On the other side, the evil side has shadow attacks but no light attacks.

    And this brings up next aspect: If shadow is part of the evil, then using shadow will buff enemies, not debuff them.

    I still believe there is place for unseen-/spirit-/oathbreaker-like class which serves under free folks, but one needs to pay close attention how they are interpreted. Your story is nice.
    Ich bin kein Deutscher, sorry für Grammatik
    Eglish isn't my native language, sorry for mistakes

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    So just create another class while the creeps in the Moors have been begging for one for years....

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Gallifrey. I need a Jelly Baby.
    Nah, we have classes that cover every facet, from dps to tanking to healing to rezzing.
    Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, totally worn out & proclaiming "WOW, what a ride!"
    Continuing the never ending battle to keep Lobelia Sackville-Baggins in check

  5. #5
    This is either a troll thread or a runaway winner for worst suggestion of 2018 so far. Either way it's a massive waste of forum space.



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