The Lord of the Rings Online provides players with nine different instruments to goof around with; three stringed instruments (lute, theorbo and harp), four wind (bagpipes, clarinet, flute and horn) and two percussion (cowbell and drum). I wanted to figure out just what my minstrel was actually playing and so I researched the real life counterparts of each of the nine LotRO instruments, this article is the essence of my findings.
It seems that the inspiration for the instruments comes predominately from the Renaissance period, with some influence from the Middle Ages and Baroque era.

If you would like to hear real life music using these and other related instruments, find any band which plays Renaissance or Medieval music or “music of Shakespeare’s day”, preferably one which uses period instruments. Some of my favourites are The Broadside Band, Ensemble Galilei, The Folger Consort and Piffaro.


The lute is (literally) the iconic LotRO instrument. Minstrels are denoted by a lute icon and every character, minstrel or otherwise, begins life with the ability to play the lute.
When most people think of Shakespearean or Renaissance music, the lute is the instrument which comes most readily to mind. During Queen Elizabeth I’s reign all the cool people were writing for and playing the lute. John Dowland, one of the most popular composers at that time, wrote primarily for lute and voice.
During the Middle Ages the lute was often played with a quill plectrum, but later, during the Renaissance and nowadays, it is usually played with the fingers. The LotRO lute looks to be of Renaissance design and is played without a plectrum.
The guitar and lute are similar instruments and music written for one plays nicely on the other. However, the guitar is not descended from the lute. They developed simultaneously and both enjoyed a good deal popularity during the Renaissance and the Baroque era, but the lute died out while the guitar retained its popularity and continued to evolve throughout the last few centuries.
Sometimes I think the LotRO lute sounds too much like a guitar, but one has to remember that the guitar and lute do sound very similar and that LotRO instruments are midi approximations and not actual instruments; that considered, the LotRO lute is close enough to the real thing.


The theorbo is possibly the most interesting of the LotRO instruments. It sounds roughly like a bass guitar (it often takes the place of that instrument in ABC music files) or like a LotRO lute brought down a few octaves. What makes the theorbo so interesting, though, is that most people have no idea what it is.
The real life theorbo was developed in the early 17th century for use in orchestras and string ensembles. The first theorbos were modified lutes; stick an extension on the neck, add a few bass stings and presto! a new instrument.
A theorbo has two peg boxes in the middle of the neck for the shorter, fretted stings and one at the end of the neck for the unfretted strings. The unfretted strings are used much like the drone pipe on bagpipes, they make one note each and are used as a sort of foundation for the rest of the music.
Like the lute, the theorbo is usually played with the fingers.
The archlute is roughly the same thing as a theorbo, only smaller. Perhaps the LotRO theorbo is actually an archlute. Our theorbo is about as tall as the character, while the real life theorbo is quite notably taller than its player.


The harp has been a very popular instrument for a very long time. Harpists have been popular in royal courts and country inns since as long as there have been courts and inns.
Harps come in all sorts of different shapes and sizes, the most familiar being the concert harp (the gigantic thing with all the scrollwork which you see in orchestras) and the Celtic harp (the smaller and simpler instrument you see in Irish folk bands).
The LotRO harp looks a good deal like a Medieval or Celtic harp, and is about the size of a lap harp. I don’t believe any harp could possibly be played held in one hand the way the LotRO harp is played, but perhaps it could be played standing up if the player used a shoulder strap. Lap harps are played sitting down and are held, not surprisingly, in the player’s lap.
Of all the LotRO instruments, I think the harp has the nicest sound. It’s a midi approximation of a harp, and a rather pleasant approximation at that.

There is a Lossoth reputation woodworker recipe available for a harp called Satakieli (Finnish for nightingale, all the Forochel words are Finnish or modified Finnish). I do not have one myself and so cannot verify this, but I found this thread on the official forums which purports that the Satakieli looks like the basic harp when being used for minstrel skills but has a fancy, blue Lossoth skin which shows up when the Satakieli is being used for player music.


The varieties of bagpipes in real life are nearly innumerable. It’s as if every country in the world came up with the idea of sticking a flute on a bag of air to produce a continuous, loud sound.
The sort of pipes which come most readily to people’s minds are the iconic Scottish Highland pipes, which are gigantic and very loud. LotRO minstrels, however, are clearly not using highland pipes. LotRO pipes are small, the bag is hardly bigger than the character’s head and the sound is much softer and less harsh than Highland pipes.
I was going to try to figure out exactly which sort of pipes LotRO minstrels are using, but in the interest of getting this article published before MMOs are obsolete, I confined myself to a cursory search. I looked only at European pipes and didn’t bother with the ridiculously obscure ones, which means I sifted through pictures and descriptions of a few hundred different types of pipes. Within these parameters, it seems that LotRO minstrels are playing something very similar to Welsh bagpipes or the German hümmelchen.
LotRO bagpipes don’t sound like any real pipes I’ve ever heard, instead they sound like a Casio 2-octave keyboard. Because of this, they are ideal for annoying the heck out of everyone in earshot, and they pair nicely with the cowbell for impromptu nonsense parties.


The mouthpiece of a LotRO clarinet does resemble that of a real life clarinet, but the resemblance ends there. A real life clarinet is covered with a complicated mass of metal keys, whereas a LotRO clarinet is a simple tube of wood with holes drilled in the top and no keys at all; it looks very much like a recorder. The Clarinet dates from the early 1700s, later than most of the inspirations for Tolkien’s stories and Turbine’s game. The recorder, while thought of today as a children’s instrument, was incredibly popular during the 1500s and early 1600s, and we see much influence from this time period in the game, notably in some fashions (such as the ridiculously awesome brimmed hat) and in the technology of the Shire (the styles of the mills and ploughs, for example).
The sound of the LotRO clarinet is an electronic approximation of some sort of woodwind, and could easily be either a clarinet or a recorder.
For these reasons, I have decided that the LotRO instrument isn’t a clarinet at all, but a misnamed recorder.


The flute is one of the very oldest instruments in the world. In fact, some of my sources claim that the flute is the oldest instrument in the world (although drums are another contender for that honour). There’s nothing fancy about a flute, it’s just a tube with holes in it.
Many woodwinds are actually types of flutes. In fact, the recorder discussed above is a kind of flute, and the bagpipes are flutes with trappings.
The LotRO flute is some sort of wooden transverse flute (meaning the mouthpiece is on the side of the instrument instead of at the end) and has no keys; it looks roughly like a non-keyed version of the standard concert flute. The sound is an electronic approximation of some sort of high pitched woodwind (it’s the same sound as the clarinetrecorder, only much higher), at its higher ranges it could very well be a piccolo, but the LotRO flute is much too large to be a piccolo so I’ll leave that be.
Taken all in all, and considering that the LotRO “clarinet” is a recorder, I conclude that the LotRO flute is a Renaissance or Medieval wooden flute.


The LotRO horn looks like a very tiny, extra curvy alpenhorn with holes down the front and sounds like that same toy keyboard from which the LotRO bagpipes borrowed their voice (although it could be argued that the LotRO horn is supposed to sound like a saxophone, and I think it sounds like a very bad shawm).
The real life instrument known as the horn is a brass instrument, it’s a coil of tubing with plenty of valves and keys and it looks and sounds nothing like the LotRO horn. The LotRO horn is a wood instrument and I was hard pressed to find its real life equivalent. If I set aside the word “horn” and looked for large, low pitched woodwinds, the basset horn, alto clarinet, oboe, bassoon and shawm were all plausible candidates. But the basset horn and alto clarinet have far too many keys, the shawm is straight instead of curved, the oboe has keys and is straight, and the bassoon is straight, has keys and doubles back on itself in such a way that the mouthpiece projects from the side of the instrument.
After a great deal of digging, I was able to turn up a rather obscure instrument called the cornett or cornetto (the more familiar cornet is a completely different affair). The cornett is actually a type of shawm and is sometimes straight, sometimes a bit curved and occasionally S-shaped like the LotRO horn. It was a popular woodwind during the Renaissance and then, like so much else, it faded into such obscurity that even someone like me, who enjoys Renaissance music, didn’t know what the thing was. I have to thank Turbine for introducing me to the cornett (although I suspect it was an unwitting introduction).


Real life cowbells are bells which are worn by cows so that a herder can tell where his cows are from a long way off.
In music, cowbells are a novelty instrument. You just take a cowbell (or several cowbells of various sizes and tones) and ring it in time to the music.
Some cowbells are clapperless, meaning they don’t have the bit of metal suspended inside, and are hit with a stick instead of rung. This is the sort used in LotRO.
Of all the LotRO instruments, the cowbell is the closest in sound to its real life counterpart, they both sound like hollow clanging metal.
A real life clapperless cowbell has a short range of pitch, different tones can be produced depending on where the bell is hit with the stick or where the player’s hand is one the bell. The LotRO cowbell, however, only produces a single tone.
The moor cowbell looks and sounds just like the other cowbells but is held above the character’s head whereas the basic and Lothlorien cowbells are held at the character’s chest.
The LotRO cowbell with its signature atrocious din is a staple for annoying your fellowship and reminding them that they have a minstrel in their midst.


The LotRO drum is a small, hand held drum with the drumhead on one side of the shallow frame and a crossbar on the other side, it is played by striking it with a double-headed drumstick. This is also a description of the bodhrán; a quick glance at the LotRO drum shows that it must be bodhrán, there aren’t any other contenders.
The bodhrán is the traditional drum used in Irish Folk Music, it’s the drum you see at ren fests and hear in almost any recording by an Irish Folk or Celtic band.
Oddly, although drums have been used in traditional Irish music since forever, and the bodhrán itself is a good few hundred years old, it did not become a staple of Irish folk music until the 1960’s (The Chieftains helped with that, my thanks to them); before then it was merely a noisemaker.
Most real life drums create a sort of pounding din, but the bodhrán has a remarkably smooth and almost lyric tone. The LotRO drum, regrettably, sounds like an assortment of percussion instruments and noisemakers including a bass drum, a tambourine, a gourd and a pounding din.

Update 5 addendum!
(added 16th December 2011)

Update 5, released only a few days ago, gave us a new instrument to play around with, the pibgorn.

If you thought theorbos and shawms were obscure, well, theys are obscure but they’ve got nothing on pibgorns. I like to think I know a good many obscure and archaic instruments, but even I only found out about the pibgorn earlier this year. I stumbled across it while I was researching obscure woodwinds for the horn section of this very article.
The pibgorn is a Welsh hornpipe, and the word means simple “pipe horn” (leeks, pibgorns, the Dunlending language — someone at Turbine has been reading a lot about Wales). The instrument looks like a wooden flute with cattle horns stuck on either end. The smaller horn is a mouthpiece, you blow into it and it funnels the air through the reed. The larger horn serves as an amplifier.

A real pibgorn  sounds somewhat like a bagpipe with not unpleasant hints of kazoo and harmonica.  As for how the LotRO pibgorn sounds,  lotrostrategery  said it “sounds part synth, part violin, part stepping on cats”. There’s also something screwy with the scale, a few of the notes are not the notes they should be, but I’ve bug reported it and I’m hoping it will be fixed soon.


New Player Hints

Here are a number of hints, tricks and bits of advice to help the brand new player find his feet. Most of these are specific to Lord of the Rings Online, but I also cover the very basics of grouping in an MMO. Many new LotRO players will probably be familiar with the material under the heading “The Basics of Grouping”, but even so, you may find the rest of this article helpful.
This is by no means a comprehensive list of anything; it is merely a handful of advice which I believe will benefit the newcomer.

Keyboard Shortcuts

+ F4 is a Windows shortcut which closes the current window. Do not believe anyone who tells you that alt f4 is the command for anything in the game, pressing alt F4 will instantly force-close your game client. Don’t be the poor sod who falls for this one.

The personal torch, however, is activated by pressing alt + F10. It doesn’t work in all areas, but in the places where it does work it is very useful. The personal torch surrounds your character with an aura of light which makes things easier to see. It is only visible to you and not to other players.

F12  will toggle off all of the game’s user interface, which is nice for sightseeing and for taking screenshots. To toggle it back on, simply press F12 again.

F11 will take a screenshot, Screenshots are by default saved to “My Documents” in a folder titled “The Lord of the Rings Online”.

will target the nearest player character other than yourself.

will target the nearest NPC, be it a live monster, a dead monster, a vendor, a quest-giver, a Captain’s banner, a Loremaster’s pet, etc.

Tab or Backspace will target the nearest attackable (that is, living) monster.

U will “use” the targeted item; this can be used to loot corpses, speak with an NPC, pick up quest items, etc.

F1 will target your character as will the backslash key (\).

F2, F3, F4, F5 and F6 will target the other members of your fellowship.

+ O opens the options pannel, where any number of settings can be changed.

Gameplay and Settings Hints

Pets can be renamed
Loremasters, Captains and Runekeepers all have pets which can be named. To name your pet, simply target it and type /pet rename Name. The Pet’s name will instantly be changed to Name.
Loremasters, you can also name your pet by right clicking the pet itself or by right clicking it’s vitals (by the way, you might think it’s witty to name your raven Poe or Nevermore, but it really is old hat. Sometimes I feel that if I see one more raven named Poe or Nevermore I will simply scream. If you must name your raven after Poe’s works, try and make it something a tad less pervasive, like Ligeia or Eleanora).
Captains, your herald can be named by right clicking the herald or its vitals; your banner can be named by right clicking it’s “vitals” (really just a white box displaying the banner’s name), the banner will be difficult to select by clicking, so it’s probably best to use F10.
Runekeepers, your Rune of Restoration can be renamed by right clicking its vitals; right clicking the stone itself results in an error message.

Pet names follow the same rules as character names (spaces and characters other than the 26 letters of English alphabet are not supported, profanity isn’t allowed, and names already existing in Tolkien’s novel will be summarily rejected), except that more than one pet in the game can have the same name and that any capitals letters used in the name will be retained. A Raven named BobTheRaven will display as BobTheRaven, but if you try that name for a character it will be reduced to Bobtheraven.

The profanity filter can be disabled
Lord of the Rings online had a built-in profanity filter will automatically changes dirty words to a string of nonsense characters. However, profanity filters aren’t infallible and will filter out words like cockpit; it also filters out milder swear words, such as damn. And then there are the people would rather not be left wondering just what Offensive Bob is saying about their mothers. I believe that most people prefer not to have a profanity filter in place, but turbine has the filter toggled on as a default (better safe than sorry, right?).
So to turn it off. In the options panel find the button marked “Chat”, one of the toggles here is labelled “Profanity filter enabled”. Uncheck this box and viola, no more random nonsense characters.
Remember that the profanity filter only filters incoming chat, not outgoing. If you have it toggled on and type the word “cockpit”, other players who have it turned off will indeed see what you typed. Also, toggling the filter off does not exempt you from the TOS. If you’re being offensive you can get yourself banned, filter or no.

All skirmishes and some classic instances can be scaled to different levels
When you open the instance join panel and select an instance, you will see several lines of information at the top of the panel. One of these is level. The instance will default to your level, but you can select the number and type whatever level you please, as long as it’s within the listed level range for that instance. If you are in a group and wish to run an instance at a different level than your own, there is no need to hand leadership to another player of a different level, simply type a different number in the box.

The Basics of Grouping

A fellowship in LotRO is composed of six people, not five.
If you are running content marked as “Fellowship”, this means that it was designed for six players. I suppose other games have five-player groups and many people have gotten it into their heads that “group = 5”, but in LotRO, if you have five and you’re about to start a quest, you need a sixth.
That said, “small fellowship” means three players. if you set a skirmish as small fellowship, you will not be able to bring a fourth person into it.

are important; they heal you so you stay alive. Almost without exception, every single fellowship quest will require that one of the number be a healer. Minstrels are healers, as are Runekeepers (Runekeepers can either heal or deal damage, but not both at once; make sure your Runekeeper is aware of what he should be doing). Captains and Loremasters both have some small healing skills, but neither are actually healers and should not be called names for being bad at healing if the group failed to bring a healer.

Tanks are as important as healers. “Tanking” means making the monsters hit you instead of the rest of the group. Guardians and Wardens are tanks, some Champions can also tank (but always ask your Champion if he’s comfortable tanking). The tank holds aggro so that the others in the group are free to do their jobs. A group with no tank will have monsters running wild and hitting whoever, and this is a recipe for unhappy players and a failed quest.

Aggro is a bit difficult to define, and it can be a verb or noun. I’ll explain it by example.
Enkidu here is a Guardian, so he has skills which encourage or force monsters to hit him; we call these “aggro skills”. If a monster is targeting Enkidu, we say that Enkidu “has aggro”. When monsters continue to target and hit Enkidu instead of running off to kill the healer, we say that Enkidu is “keeping (or holding) aggro”. If Hunter Gilgamesh deals a great deal of damage before Enkidu gets a chance to walk up to the monsters, the monsters might hit Gilgamesh and give Enkidu a hell of a time “pulling aggro” off of Gilgamesh; in this case we could say that Gilgamesh has more aggro than Enkidu.
As for its use as a verb, monsters are said to aggro when they run to someone and begin attacking, and players are said to aggro monsters when they cause them to attack.
P.S. Please don’t be Gilgamesh. Let the tank aggro the monsters first.

Haudh Iarchith, the Breeland Rep Dungeons (Pt. 1, Southern Barrow Downs)

What is Haudh Iarchith?
Haudh Iarchith, or (more accurately) the Breeland rep dungeons, is a series of ten small level 20 dungeons throughout the Barrow Downs. These dungeons contain a number or regular slayer deeds, an additional boss-killing deed and the items, mobs and bosses for the Bree reputation quests available from the NPCs at the Hunting Lodge in Breetown. They also contain scholar nodes for both tier 2 and tier 3, and the mobs will drop scholar mats for both these tiers (and occasionally tier 5 mats will drop*), making Haudh Iarchith invaluable to scholars.
*the tier 5 mats may be the result of a bug caused when the dungeons were de-level’d from 50 to 20, so take advantage of it while it lasts.

A Bit of History.
There used to be a great big level 50 dungeon called Haudh Iarchith and known as the Breeland rep dungeon (singular). The door to this dungeon was in the Southern Barrow Downs somewhat near the entrance to the Great Barrow.
With the launch of Free-to-play in September of 2010, Turbine made a number of changes to the game, and one of these changes was to de-level Haudh Iarchith down to 20, break it into ten much smaller dungeons and scatter the entrances all over the Barrow Downs. These rather vast and recent changes have caused some confusion, it can be difficult to find accurate and current information on the Breeland rep dungeons.
The term Haudh Iarchith properly refers now to only one of the ten smaller dungeons, but is still used occasionally (both by players and in in-game text) to refer to all of the Breeland rep dungeons collectively. The deed log entry for the deed “Executioner of the Wicked” lists all the bosses as being “in the barrow of Haudh Iarchith”, but in actuality these bosses are spread throughout the various little dungeons and only one boss is actually in the dungeon called “Haudh Iarchith”.
This guide is intended to provide a useful overview of how the rep dungeons looks now, without any confusion from how it might have looked in the past.

Southern Barrow Downs
Here is a map of the Southern Barrow Downs, with the locations of the rep dungeons marked.

  • F is Haudh Nogbenn
  • G is Haudh Iarchith
  • H is The Tomb of Maenadar
  • I is Goetham
  • J is Gwantham

Southern Barrow Downs Breeland rep dungeons

In all the following maps, the player cursor is located at the door of the dungeon.

F – Haudh Nogbenn
See the section on Northern Barrow Downs for a full description.

G – Haudh Iarchith
Haudh Iarchith contains the boss Fergandir (a Gaunt Man) and also contains the following ordinary mobs for deeds or quests:

  • Barrow Wardens
  • Howling Barrow-hounds
  • Barrow Spirits
  • Noxious Barrow-wardens
  • Barrow Candles
  • Gaunt Plague-bearers

The location of Fergandir is marked with a red X.

Haudh Iarchith map

H – The Tomb of Maenadar
The Tomb of Maenadar contains no boss, but has the following mobs for deeds and quests:

  • Barrow Wardens,
  • Barrow Bats
  • Howling Barrow-hounds
  • Creeping Hands
  • Barrow Candles (in part 2 only)
  • one Gaunt Plague-bearer (in part 2)

The Tomb is in two parts. When you enter through the door marked H on the landscape map, you will be in the first part of of the Tomb.
Travel through this tomb and you will find another door called “Tomb of Maenadar” (marked with a red X on the map below).
Tomb of Maenadar map part 1

Proceed through this door and you will find yourself in the second part of the Tomb.

Tomb of Maenadar part 2

Going back through the door you came in lands you outside the dungeon on the barrow downs and not in the first part of the Tomb where you just came from. This can be rather disconcerting, but it seems to be working as intended.

I – Goetham
Goetham contains the boss Faegfaer (a shade) and the following mobs:

  • Barrow Spirits
  • Noxious Barrow-wardens
  • Gaunt Plague-bearers

Faegfaer’s location is marked with a red X.

Map of Goetham

J – Gwantham
Gwantham has the following mobs:

  • Barrow Wardens
  • Barrow Bats
  • Barrow Candles
  • Howling Barrow-hounds

Gwantham does not contain a boss.

map of Gwantham

Haudh Iarchith, the Breeland Rep Dungeons (Pt. 2, Northern Barrow Downs)

Northern Barrow Downs
The map of the Northern Barrow Downs, with the locations of the rep dungeons marked.

  • A is The Barrow of Taradan
  • B is The Barrow of Ringdor
  • C is Haudh Methernil
  • D is Haudh Taenthond
  • E is Hautham
  • F is Haudh Nogbenn

Northern Barrow Downs; Breeland rep dungeons marked

On all of the following maps, the player cursor is located at the door of the dungeon.

A – The Barrow of Taradan

The Barrow of Taradan contains the boss Gwigon, two Ancient Pillars for [such and such a quest] and the following regular mobs:

  • Barrow-spiders
  • Creeping Hands
  • Rotting Barrow-wights

Gwigon’s location is marked with an X, and the Ancient Pillars’  with Ys.
Barrow of Taradan map

B – The Barrow of Ringdor
The Barrow of Ringdor is one of the larger barrows. It contains the boss Umnen (a darkwater who, unlike the other barrow bosses, drops a ruby shard), three Ancient Pillars and the Watcher’s Workshop (clicking this will open your crafting panel, as if it is a crafting facility, but it isn’t. I remember it being a location associated with one of the epic quests, but I can’t for the life of me remember which one, and google is being particularly unhelpful). The Barrow of Ringdor contains the following regular mobs:

  •  Putrid Darkwaters
  • Decaying Barrow-wights
  • one Kergrim Barrow-prowler

Umnen is marked with a Y, the Watcher’s Workshop with a Z, and the Ancient Pillars with Xs.

C – Haudh Methernil
Haudh Methernil is home to the boss Marrow and one lonely little Ancient Pillar. It also contains a number of Kergrim Barrow-prowlers and one Decaying Barrow-wight.

Marrow’s location is marked with a Y, the Ancient Pillar’s with an X.

D – Haudh Taenthond
Haudh Taenthond contains three Ancient Pillars and the following mobs:

  • Creeping Hands
  • Rotting Barrow-wights
  • Barrow-spiders

Haudh Taenthond does not contains a boss; the locations of the Ancient Pillars are marked with Xs below.

E – Hautham
Hautham houses neither a boss nor any Ancient Pillars. It is overrun with the following mobs:

  •  Barrow-spiders
  • Rotting Barrow-wights
  • Barrow Candles
  • Creeping Hands

F – Haudh Nogbenn
Haudh Nogbenn contains the boss Brishzel (a bargest) and the following baddies:

  • Barrow Wardens
  • Barrow Bats
  • Howling Barrow-hounds

Brishzel paces between the two rooms in the dungeon, his path is marked in red.

Minstrel 102

Minstrels were changed extensively with the Isengard update in Fall 2011. This post is now obsolete, and remains here for posterity’s sake.


This article is in response to Turbine’s Minstrel 101: New Player Class Guide.
Turbine has been coming out with these 101’s lately, and they’re supposed to be helpful tips and pointers for absolutely brand new players who’re bumbling their ways through the first ten levels. Up until now, that is what they have been. The guardian guide has said “this is what aggro is”, the hunter guide has said “trap things so you can shoot them more” and the champion guide has said “AOE is your friend”. Minstrel 101, however, is a little different. Minstrel 101 says “Warspeech is great!”

Now, Warspeech is great, don’t get me wrong. I love Warspeech, and soloing would be terribly boring without it. But telling brand new players to just toggle on warspeech the moment they hit level ten, and then saying “Make sure to re-toggle War-speech when logging back into LOTRO or after reviving!” just sits wrong with me. Minstrels are healers, that is their primary purpose in life. Warspeech cuts your heals in half. When you’re soloing it’s great to be able to kill stuff that much faster and not have to heal yourself, but if you try to group with Warspeech turned on, people will laugh at your shoddy healing as they scream and die.
As a general practice, drop Warspeech when you join a group.

If you’re soloing and things get tight, go ahead and drop Warspeech as a last-ditch measure to stay alive. The 50% reduction in heals lasts for ten seconds after you drop Warspeech, but if you time things right you can drop it, DPS for another ten seconds and then heal yourself and not have to die.
At level 12 you’ll get another skill, Cry of the Valar, which sends enemies running away from you for 15 seconds. Once you have Cry of the Valar, you can use it to chase something off, drop Warspeech, wait out the ten seconds, heal yourself full up and wait for the monster to come back to you and meet its death.

Many of your damaging skills (Piercing Cry and your Ballads) can be used while you move, so you can also try running around in circles and damaging a monster while it chases after you trying to get a hit in edgewise. This is known as kiting, and is something minstrels should be familiar with.

At root, Minstrels are healers. Warspeech is a wonderful skill which makes their lives easier, but minstrels should never forget that they are healers.

And that concludes Minstrel 102.

How to run The Grand Stair (Hard Mode) and not look like you don’t know what you’re doing

The Grand Stair (GS) is a level 56 Moria instance. It contains six bosses (three of which are killed for hard mode), the level 60 class quest for hunters, several quests which can be picked up at the Orc-watch, a handful of deeds and a challenge quest (completing which is known as “hard mode”) granted automatically upon entering the instance. This guide focuses on the challenge quest.
This is not The Only Acceptable Way to Run GS, nor is it Nifty GS Tricks for Level 65s. There are alternate strategies and there are other ways to go about things, but this is How To Run GS and Not Look Like You Don’t Know What You’re Doing. This is the most common strategy, it’s how a successful GS pug will normally do things, and it’s what to expect if you’ve never ran GS before.

The Quick Recap

Go straight ahead and fight Ilzkâl (use fear pots); go right, fight through to the bridge and send the tank on the suicide run to go and tag Nardur; go up the stairs and fight Nardur (watch the knockback); retrace your steps to Ilzkâl, take the north bridge and fight through to Igash; one tank tanks Igash, another tanks the archers, watch out for fire, ignore the Devoted; win.

The Long Version

To complete the challenge quest in The Grand Stair (also know as GS hard mode), you will need a fellowship consisting of:

  • a tank (Guardian or Warden)
  • a healer (Minstrel or Runekeeper)
  • an off-tank (a second Guardian or Warden, or a captain or champion with experience tanking)
  • three other players (having a Hunter is nice, but by no means required; once your spots for healer, tank and off-tank are filled you can fit any classes at all, really)

You will also need conhuith potions (the purple kind) which can remove fear effects of at least 58. This is not an option, it is a requirement. Every person entering GS and expecting to kill the first boss will need to have fear potions. If you do not have fear potions you will have to get some from a vendor or bum some off a fellow.

Once you have your group and your fear potions all gathered up, enter the instance. The instance is a sort of maze of stairs and bridges running every which way, and it is very easy to go the wrong way. Also, most of the bridges do not have guard rails (the place is built by dwarves, after all) and a fall will most certainly lead to your demise, so watch where you’re going and don’t try to use auto-run. Imagine that Escher painting, except with gravity functioning properly. That’s GS.

When you enter the instance, go down the stairs in front of you and you’ll find a closed drawbridge. When you get close enough to the bridge (when you brush against the differently coloured floor, to be exact), a cutscene will begin. At the end of the cutscene, one of the orcs shouts, “you have ten minutes”. From this line, you have ten minutes to activate the second boss (Nardur) and secure hard mode. Once the cutscene ends, the drawbridge will lower and you can run across and begin fighting.

The First Boss, Ilzkâl, is a remarkably easy boss. It’s just tank-and-spank and there’s only one trick. Ilzkâl will put fear effects on you, and every now and then he will call out “Feed me your fear”. When he does so, he will absorb the fear effects on people and use it to heal himself. This is why everyone must have fear potions, you must  use a conhuith potion to remove any fear effects on you, or Ilzkâl will heal himself continuously and you’ll never make it to Nardur in time for the timer.

When Ilzkâl dies run down the stairs to the west and fight through the wargs (there is no chest for the first boss). Remember that you are on a timer, so kill the trash mobs as fast as you can and keep going forward. If you do not know your way to Nardur, follow someone who does. If you run off in the wrong direction and pull random extra mobs, you will waste time and get lost (go east after Ilzkâl, then south at the next crossroads; see the map below for more clarity). Soon you will reach a larger landing with a bridge on the north edge, and gated board fences on the west and south edges. After killing the wargs on this landing, it’s time for….

The Suicide Run. The second boss must be activated within ten minutes of the cutscene, and you cannot fight through all the mobs in time, and so one player must run in, activate the boss, die, retreat and come back and fight through the mobs. Technically the tank should do the suicide run, but a minstrel can also do it with Lay of the Hammerhand activated, and a burg can also sneak in and manage it with Hide in Plain Sight.
To accomplish the suicide run, everyone gathers up at the foot of the northern bridge. If you look at the bridge there’s a sort of threshold or line across it. Do not cross this threshold or you will aggro stuff.
If there is a Runekeeper in your group, have him put Do not Fall This Day on the sacrificial lamb, that way he;ll be rezzed where the RK is standing and will be spared the trouble of running back.
Then everyone stands around and waits while the one doing the suicide run does the following. Don’t follow him, just wait for him to die and get back to where you are.
Mr. Suicide, you run straight ahead north and through the wargs and goblins and. Don’t stop, don’t fight them, just train straight through. Go across the bridge, around the pillar and up the staircase to the next landing; at this landing, go up the stairs to your left (west) and activate Nardur. You must get close enough to him that he begins walking and talking. After he’s been activated, go ahead and die (jumping off the cliff  saves you repairs) and then retreat to the beginning of the instance and run back to your fellows (or be rezzed back to them, if an RK put Do Not Fall This Day on you).
Back to your fellows who have not moved, not aggro’d anything and not gone cliff-diving while you were away.

Once everyone is reconvened at the foot of the bridge, everyone cross over to the north side of the threshold and begin fighting your way through to the second boss. If a mob is standing on one side of the threshold and is aggro’d on something that is on the other side, the mob will bug out, so everyone be sure to cross to the north side, and watch where you leave your pets, banners, runestones, etc.  You are no longer on a timer, so go ahead and take your time killing your way to Nardur. There is a number of Uruks on the landing at the top of the stairs here, you’ll want to pull them only a few at a time, so it’s best to pull them down to the centre of the stairs and fight them there.

After the landing is cleared it’s time to fight Nardur, The Second Boss.
Nardur himself is on the stairs to the west, there is a metal gate to the north, another staircase to the east and the stairs you just came up are south. Nardur has a nice big AOE knockback, so the best place to stand is with you back to the northern gate. If you are in front of Nardur you will be knocked back and if you’re not against that gate you almost certainly will be knocked off the edge to fall to your doom.
So everyone stands with their backs to the northern gate and you kill Nardur, there’s nothing else to it.
However, if a healer or ranged DPS class is utterly certain that he is NOT going to draw aggro, he can stand with his back to the eastern stairs and avoid all of Nardur’s AOE. Do this only if you are quite confident that the tank can hold aggro well and that you’re not going to be a hunter in strength stance or a minstrel who opens the fight with Chord of Salvation or something silly like that. If the tank’s a little shaky, or if you tend to snag aggro every now and again, it’s best to just stand by the gate with the rest and take the little bit of AOE.

After Nardur dies, there are two chests to loot. Everyone should personally loot both chests, as each contains one Moria Medallion.

Once looting is taken care of, retrace your steps back to where you fought Ilzkâl, and this time take the bridge leading north from that landing. You will run in with several orcs, and then a stair leading up. At the top of this stair there is a rather tricky pull. There are a bunch of orcs and they are all linked, if you aggro one, all of them will come. There are several ways to manage this pull. The easiest way is “the DF trick”. Have everyone stand back and have a hunter run in, aggro them all, and then use Desperate Flight to warp back to the entrance. The orcs will reset and their link will be broken, which means they can be pulled one or two at a time. This pull can also be accomplished with a root pull, either Rain of Thorns from a hunter or Herb Lore from a Loremaster. If you do not have a hunter, it’s best to try and keep as many of the orcs as possible mezzed while you fight the others.

After you’ve cleared out those nasty orcses, my precious, it’s time for…..

The Last Boss
Igash is tricky, the fight is mildly complex, you have to pay attention.
The room is an ordinary cave-like room with walls, there are no more cliffs to fall off of (thank Eru). At either side of the room on the way in is a banner, when you pass the banners, the fight will start. The Devoted and the Archers will spawn instantly, and Igash will begin orating and walking towards you, when he’s done bragging he’ll enter the fight.

There are four mobs in the fight; two archers, an orc called The Devoted and Igash himself.
Igash is a pretty standard boss. He has a knockback, he lays down patches of fire, he hits rather hard and he has some interesting lines lines of dialogue. Your main tank will tank Igash, and will avoid the patches of fire (standing in fire = death). Be sure to fight Igash within the room itself, if Igash passes out beyond the flags, he will re-set. This is incredibly irritating, since often when he resets there are other fellowship members still fighting on Igash’s side of the flags, which means that the fight itself will not reset and you will not drop out of combat, but Igash will re-spawn with full health and enter the fight again. For this reason, it is advisable to have everyone (this means you, Hunters) come stand on the Igash side of the banners.
The Devoted will run about shouting and poking random people, he does very little damage, just ignore him and let him do his thing. If you kill him, you fail the challenge quest, and you’ve already gotten this far, so just don’t.
The Archers will do what archers do best, they will try to range your healer to death. This is why you need a second tank for GS. Archers and Igash is usually too much damage for a single tank to handle, so we have the other tank keep the archers occupied. The archers can be killed without harming hard mode, but if they are killed they just respawn and you will have two archers throughout the fight no matter, so don’t bother killing the archers, just keep them off the healer and focus DPS on Igash.

After Igash dies, the Devoted and the Archers will disappear (sometimes it takes them a few seconds to do so), and then you can loot the chests. There are several chests, and they sometimes drop some rather nice gear for level 56-60 characters in addition to the Moria medallions and the regular IXP runes and relics.
After completing the challenge quest and looting all the chests, each person should walk away from the instance with seven Moria Medallions.


  • the circled player cursor is the entrance
  • follow the path marked in red to A (Ilzkâl)
  • follow the dark blue path to B (the bridge at the beginning of the Suicide Run
  • follow the magenta path to C (Nardur)
  • retrace your steps back to A and then follow the pale blue path to D (the spot for the DF trick)
  • follow the bright green path to E (Igash)

Cosmetic Gear for the Elf-maiden Skirmish Soldier

This was originally posted here on my Livejournal.

There aren’t many good skirmish soldier cosmetic guides around, so I decided to make my own for the elf-maiden.

I apologise for the varying sizes and qualities of the pictures, skirmish soldiers don’t do well with a simple order such as “stand there and look at the camera”. You can be standing there and bump a key, turning your character about 45 degrees, and the skirmish soldier will take it as an excuse to run in a full circle, run through a vault-keeper, over a table, into and then around a wagon, in another full circle and then end up standing just inches from where she was (or behind a pillar on the opposite of the area, making a picture of her impossible). It would seem that the reason there aren’t many guides out there is because the screenshots are so hard to get.

I did, however, manage to get all the hair colours in the same light; it took some doing.

To begin with, here she is with nothing but the “elf-maiden” soldier race slotted, this is the default appearance.

Note that the default comes with white hair and the “long hair, middle part” hairstyle rendering it kind of pointless to buy the white hair and “long hair, middle part” traits. The dress, however, is a purple version of the robe, it’s exclusive to the default and is not a buyable trait.

Next, Hair colours:
There are four colours, White, Red, Blonde and Black.

And the hair styles:
Four styles, two short and two long.

Short hair, side part

Short hair, bangs

Long hair, side part

Long hair, middle part

And now the clothes:
There are ten different outfits


Matron’s Dress

Maiden’s Dress


Red Robe

Green Robe




Elven Surcoat

Guard Outfits:

Scale Guard Outfit

Leather Guard outfit

Chain Guard Outfit

Iranon’s Extensive Guide to Pipeweed

NOTE: This guide is outdated. Crossbreeding pipeweed has been removed from the game. The pictures of the smoke effects and the tiers of the various pipeweeds are still accurate, and I have updated the lines on how to obtain the various seeds, but the complexity and intricacy of crossbreeding is a thing of the past.

NEWER NOTE: They’ve gone and “updated” the smoke effects, thus rendering this guide completely outdated. Why do I even bother? (April 2011)

How pipeweed works nowadays
buy pipeweed seeds
plant fields
hope for a special seed
plant special seed
don’t bother hoping for another special seed, it’s too rare
run out of seeds
rage at the heavens
spam kinchat with an angry rant about the new farming system
roll around in the stash of Rushlight seeds that are actually vendor trash now but which you will never ever vendor because it took you a lot of work to end up with a stack of Rushlight seeds

That said, to the guide (and the pretty pictures)!

(Originally posted on the Last Alliance Kin forums, here)

I have, surprisingly, a tremendous store of patience. I also have a predilection for things awesome, random, and pointless.
One day I was looking through the farmer recipes and I saw all the different pipe-weed recipes and decided to take the time to fully understand the system and to work out what comes from what, what does what, etc. I was about to buy all the recipes and start farming pipeweed with Alivion (who has farming maxxed) and then I decided that the system would be much clearer if I figured it out as I went; so I took Iranon (who is a scholar and had never farmed once yet in his brief existence) and parked him in the Shire with a good supply of cash, patience and determination and I started grinding that farming. To find Rushlight, Sweet Lobelia and Hornblower seeds I had to send my hunter running around Breeland and had to prevail on a few kinmates, since those are rare drops and cannot be bought at the vendors (the auction hall was particularly unhelpful most times). As I went I kept track of everything, and so here follows everything Iranon knows about growing pipe-weed, which is probably everything there is to know about growing pipe-weed (I think it’s written in character, I blame Iranon).

Varieties of Pipeweed; their uses and making
By Iranon Ofaira; SM Farmer, lvl 27 Minstrel, Accomplished pipeweed smoker and grower

Pipe-weed it utterly pointless, and, as with most other utterly pointless things in Middle Earth, is absolutely awesome and immensely enjoyable.

Farming pipeweed requires much dedication and much time spent in a boring, brown field, but if the farmer dedicates enough attention and care to his farming, he is assured a lifetime of delightful smoke effects and link-fodder.

When considered from the point of view of the farmer, there are three general types of pipeweed recipes; automatically granted recipes which use seeds which must be bought from a novice or expert farmhand, purchased recipes which use boughten’d seeds and special purchased recipes which use rare seeds.

The first two types are self-evident, like any other farming recipe the farmer buys the materials, goes to a field, and sets to work farming.
The final type is much more interesting. It can be divided into two subsections, regular fields and cross-breed fields.
The recipies for both of these are purchased from a farmhand, but the seeds are rare drops. I have had the best luck finding them in chests in Breeland. For some of the recipies (e.g. Rushlight or Hornblower) one simply plants and harvests the rare seeds. For the crossbreed fields two sorts of seeds must be combined, the first time a farmer grows a field of Tighfield Choice he must use rare Rushlight seeds which he has found in addition to Longbottom seeds available from the vendor.
When using a crossbreed recipe, the harvest will randomly yield crops corresponding to the two combined seeds and the crossbreed attempted. For example, when planting a crossbreed muddy foot field, you may harvest Muddyfoot, Sweet Lobelia or Longbottom seeds and crops. A critted field is more likely to yield crops of the crossbreed and a non-critted field is more likely to yield crops of the components.

Listed below are the various types of pipeweed and the required components required to plant them, with illustrations of each.

~Iranon Ofaira; Hobbiton-Bywater
Fourth Age, Spring, 2010
Tier 1; Apprentice

Longbottom Leaf
recipe: automatically granted
seeds: boughten’d
effects: totally boring and ordinary puff of smoke

recipe: boughten’d
seeds: boughten’d
effects: Single smoke ring

recipe: automatically granted
seeds: boughten’d
effects: Ordinary puff of smoke

Sweet Lobelia
recipe: boughten’d
seeds: boughten’d
effects: two rings

Tier 2; Journeyman

recipe: boughten’d
seeds: boughten’d
effects: Two concentric rings

Muddy Foot
recipe: boughten’d
seeds: rare drop
effects: three concentric rings

Southern Star
recipe: automatic
seeds: boughten’d
effects: two concentric rings

Tighfield Choice
recipe: boughten’d
seeds: rare drop
effects: two rings

Tier 3; Expert

Dragon’s Breath
recipe: boughten’d
seeds: rare drop
effects: three butterflies

Old Toby
recipe: boughten’d
seeds: boughten’d
effects: heart

Roper’s Twist
recipe: boughten’d
seeds: rare drop
effects: Three rings

Sweet Galenas
recipe: automatic
seeds: boughten’d
effects: Ship

Shire Sweet Leaf
recipe: boughten’d
seeds: boughten’d
effects: a ship of smoke ALSO a necessary component for Loremasters’ resurrect skill, “Back from the Brink”

Tier 4;

Eagle’s Nest
recipe: boughten’d
seeds: rare drop
effects: fish

Gamwich Braid
recipe: boughten’d
seeds: rare drop
effects: three butterflies

Tier 5;

Wizard’s Fire
recipe: boughten’d
seeds: rare drop
effects: bird

Tier 6;

Gold Fire
recipe: boughten’d
seeds: rare drop
effects: Bird

Fungo’s Fuzzy Leaf
recipe: automatic
seeds: boughten’d
effects: bird

Crossbreeding Chart
A table of what crossbred seeds produce what crops.
(Shire Sweet Leaf has been omitted since it has no bearing on the crossbreed recipes)
NOTE: This chart is useless now that crossbreeding has been entirely removed from the game; it is included here for reference, nostalgia, educational purposes and a staunch refusal to throw out all my hard work simply because Turbine decided to reduce an intricate and interesting system into a boring grind. /endrant

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