Ever since the first year of Lord of the Rings Online’s operation, I’ve always been head-over-heels for the Lore-master class. Everything about it seemed to appeal to me: dual wielding a staff-and-sword, book learnin’, book fightin’, plenty of group utility, and loads of elemental damage.
Plus, there were the pets — pets plural! While the Captain has a herald and the Rune-keeper can toss out stationary totems, the Lore-master is the main pet class of LOTRO. And I am all about pets in any MMO I play, so I’ve been romping all over the fields and valleys of Middle-earth with one at my side ever since 2008.
At first glance, the bear seems like your standard pet tank that you find in many other MMORPGs. You know, keep the bad guys away from the Lore-master so he or she can kill in safety from afar. And while it’s obviously designed to fill that role, what with a taunt and increased defenses, the bear almost always lets me down.
I have tried, really tried, to use the bear in the past, but it’s a far more finicky beast than it should be. It doesn’t taunt nearly as often as it should, for starters, and sometimes it will just break off its attack and return to my side in the middle of combat, leaving me to get brutally murdered while cursing Teddy Ruxpin’s failure. At least it’s good at flanking and won’t die, so as an off-tank it still has some decent potential. I just never use the bear any more because there are so many better options.
The sabertooth used to be a joke of a pet that no one would ever pull out after its initial use, but over time it quietly got better. Nowadays, I think it’s probably the most underrated pet in the Lore-master’s stables. The sabertooth is basically a pocket Champion that can hit multiple targets at once, which is perfect for places where you are sure to pull a pack of mobs in one go. It’s also suitably beefy and does good damage — frost damage, which isn’t often resisted — so it doesn’t die that often on me.
And it’s certainly the fiercest-looking of all of the Lore-master’s pets, which might not have an impact on gameplay so much as change how you present yourself to the game world.
If I don’t have time to go into detail on all of the LM’s pets and someone presses me for an answer on what critter they should use, the simple answer is the Bog-guardian. You almost can’t go wrong with this bizarre-looking beast (who has a goofy charming face!), as it does terrific long-range damage, tosses out bees (bees!) as a DoT attack, and flanks like a madman. Sometimes it even does so much damage that it ends up tanking by accident, which it does not mind in the least.
The only drawbacks to the bog-guardian is that it’s kind of big and hangs out at your side, sometimes obscuring the action. Oh, and it makes using Sic ‘Em difficult because it tags mobs before they hit you to activate the pack attack.
I’ll often alternate between the bog-guardian and the lynx for my basic day-to-day leveling pet. The lynx is amazing at lower and mid-levels and still does respectable damage at 120. What I like is that it can burst hard from a stealth attack (yes, this is your pocket Burglar) and keep up the pressure during the whole fight. Plus, with stealth and a small body, the lynx does not crowd the screen. It’s a decent choice that will serve you well in normal situations.
Spirit of Nature
AKA the “bright glowy ball nobody uses.” This is a non-attacking pet that functions as a healer to you and your group. Nobody’s going to complain at having another healer out and about, but there’s almost always a stronger need for more DPS or another pet’s toolset. If the Spirit had an auto-attack or a little bit more functionality I’d consider using it, but it’s hard to envision any situation where I’d need extra healing past what the LM can already do over, say, an off-tank or strong damage.
The raven tends to get a lot of use early on in the game as the Lore-master’s first DPS pet but is dropped once the lynx comes out to play. It’s not a bad pet, if you can stand all the flapping and whatnot, but it seems a little frail. Where the raven excels is in protecting and buffing the group and the Lore-master, which is especially useful if you’re a red line who is going all-in on fire attacks.
A blue line exclusive, the eagle brings a lot of versatility to the table. It’s always a level higher than the Lore-master, making it a stronger pet than normal, it can do fire damage, it can fear targets, it can heal itself, it can interrupt, and it can rip into multiple mobs. It’s not a bad pet at all, but the larger screen presence and constant flapping make it hard for me to use consistently. The best purpose that I’ve found for it is when I’m going into a situation where death is a very real possibility and my rez-on-the-spot cooldown isn’t up. Eagles can sacrifice themselves to resurrect you, and that’s very invaluable when you’re far away from a respawn point.
So as you see, there’s no one definitive answer. Depending on whether I’m in a group or solo, leveling in a calm area or deep into a public dungeon, tackling a single strong mob or multiple weaker ones, different pets will shine in each of these situations.