LOTRO Legendarium: Rating the best active racials in Lord of the Rings Online


Picking a race to play in Lord of the Rings Online isn’t as consequence-free as you might encounter in other MMORPGs. For starters, the races have specific starting zones and dictate which classes you can and cannot access, which is kind of a bummer but necessary (I guess) for lore reasons.

But perhaps most interestingly, selecting a Hobbit, Stout-Axe Dwarf, or a dashing Rohirrim will give you access to a bank of racial traits and passive skills that are unique to them alone. The traits in particular range from flavor shots to highly useful abilities, and while I would not argue that they should be a deciding factor in which race you select, they do deserve consideration due to the impact they might have on your journey.

For this column, I looked through all of the active racials (ignoring the ones that fiddle with stats, weapon damage bonuses, resistances, and virtues) in order to rank them and offer up my commentary on their usefulness — or uselessness. We’re going to start with the worst of them all and work our way to the best racials in the game. Let’s go!

Stout-Axe Dwarf: Fortitude of the Stout-axes

Ooh, a 1% shadow mitigation for your entire fellowship… for just two-and-a-half minutes. With a 30-minute cooldown. It’s so negligible as to be forgettable.

Beorning: Feral presence

Activate this and you’ll toss a fate buff onto every teammate for 10 minutes. It’s not like everyone is clamoring for fate, but hey, free buff is a free buff.

Elf: Power of the Eldar

The same as above, but for power. I guess your healers will thank you to get 2% more power for 10 minutes? It’s not really blowing up my skirt.

High Elf: Grace of Valinor

I’m always dubious about extra rezzes as racials. If your teammates are dying, then I’d rather have a skill to prevent that than to clean up afterward. This can only be used out of combat, so… yeah. It’s not that thrilling.

Hobbit: Throw stone

As much as I love the flavor of Hobbits tossing stones like in the books, this skill always struck me as disposable. I guess the daze would be OK, but unless you’re using this as a pull or something, chances are you have much better attacks to be using.

Beorning: Return to Grimbeorn’s Lodge

I’m raking this pretty low because while the Beorning starting area is pretty and all that, it’s far away from the rest of lowbie civilization and therefore won’t be used as much to get a free port to the main city hubs.

High Elf: Travel to Caras Galadhon

This teleport is a bit better than the Beorning’s, if only that you have to go to Caras Galadhon several times during the epic. It’s a super-annoying city to navigate, though, so I avoid it like the plague.

Dwarf: Dwarf-endurance and Man: Duty-bound

I’m just not that keen on these fellowship buffs (I guess it depends on how often you team up), but if I had to have one, either of these with additional morale is going to be welcome in any group.

Elf: Sylvan Shadows and Hobbit: Hobbit-stealth

These are kind of not-so-great stealth skills on a long cooldown that are only useful in certain situations. Nice to have, but I don’t trust these skills, so I’ll only use them if I am desperate and want to try to bypass mobs to get to an objective or safety.

Beorning: Bracing roar

A 30-minute cooldown for a morale and wrath boost is decent, although I suspect that the non-scaling morale will negate some of the usefulness of this skill in higher levels. The wrath is nice, since Beornings always need more of that on the fly.

Beorning: Bake a honey-cake

Last December I wrote a column in which I gave praise to a much-neglected system in the game — food. In short, the buffs from consuming food can make a difference in your daily adventures. The Beorning’s ability to make honey-cakes on demand is not just a minor money-saver, it’s darned convenient. Plus, the cakes in question scale up as you level, so you’ll never out-level their usefulness. My only complaint? The short five-minute buff duration.

Stout-Axe Dwarf: Stout-shield

The 75% increased chance to block for 10-seconds is pretty significant… if you are a blocking class. Great for tanks, not as good for everyone else.

Elf: Eldar’s Grace

If you like the thought of parrying a lot during a 10-second window, this skill is for you. The increased parry rating and mitigation could be the difference between life and death. It’d be one of those skills you’d never take off your hotbar.

Dwarf: Endurance of Stone

Every 30 minutes, you can activate a 10-second damage shield that will negate 50% of everything coming at you. Obviously, this can be super-helpful at just the right moment, even more so while tanking. Weaker classes, such as Rune-keepers, stand to benefit from its increased survivability.

High Elf: Glory of the First Age

Here we have a three-second stun on a 30-minute cooldown. Used properly, this would be a great interrupt or a short-lived breather to get off some other cast time ability.

Man: Strength of Morale

It’s your no-nonsense heal. Nice to have, to be sure, but as it doesn’t scale up, it starts to lose its potency by the 80s or 90s.

Dwarf and Stout-Axe Dwarf: Return to Thorin’s Gate

A standard one-hour teleport. Thorin’s Gate isn’t exactly at the center of civilization, but you often need to go there for this or that (especially during festival season). And the stable-masters there go pretty much everywhere.

Dwarf: Head-butt and Man: Upper-cut

OK, maybe I’m immature, but head-butting or doing shoryukens to enemies never gets old. Ever. Plus, these have quick cooldowns, scaling damage, and a chance to daze a foe. If I was playing a melee Dwarf or Man, I’d actually use this — maybe exclusively. Has anyone head-butted Sauron lately?

Hobbit: Return to Michel Delving

I adore this teleport because Michel Delving has everything laid out very conveniently and offers great transport options. Plus, a lot of festivals head back to the Party Tree, and this will get you part of the way there.

High Elf: Wrath of the Firstborn

SSG has been giving better traits to these newer (and store-only) races, and this skill demonstrates how that is. Being able to boost your fellowship’s damage by 5% for 10 seconds every 10 minutes is something you’d use multiple times during a dungeon run — particularly when you hit each boss fight.

Man: Return to Bree

This might not seem like the sexiest skill, but you’ll use it so often thanks to Bree’s strategic location and full spread of services. A must-have.

Hobbit: Hobbit-silence

Otherwise known as a “flop,” this skill to feign death comes on a 30-minute cooldown and is insanely useful. Sure, you might activate it if you get in over your head, but more often than not I’ll save it for times where I plow through dense camps of mobs, pick up a huge train, and then dump it all at the quest objective without having to fight a thing. It’s glorious.

Elf: Return to Rivendell

Out of all of the teleports, this one has to be the most single most useful one, especially in the first 60 or so levels. This is due to how many dang times LOTRO asks you to go back to Elrond. Plus, Rivendell is a good transport hub.

Every two weeks, the LOTRO Legendarium goes on an adventure (horrid things, those) through the wondrous, terrifying, inspiring, and, well, legendary online world of Middle-earth. Justin has been playing LOTRO since its launch in 2007! If you have a topic for the column, send it to him at justin@massivelyop.com.

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peor togs

Hey all,

Trying to convince a friend of mine to level LOTRO; we have not played before.

If I were looking for a class that could use a shield, which classes are available to me? And what races would pair the best with them?

This could be a tanking class, or even a healer that can use shields… I really like shields.


Guardian and Warden are two main shield-wielding classes. Guardian is what your typical “warrior tank” would play like – fairly straight forward. Warden is a much more complex class, involving “gambits” which are combinations of various attacks that either increase your defenses, debuff enemies, heal you, or attack your targets.

So if you want a traditional tanking class, Guardian is your pick. If you want a more complex but very rewarding class, pick a Warden.

Matthew Yetter

Beorning: Return to Grimbeorn’s Lodge

I’m raking this pretty low because while the Beorning starting area is pretty and all that, it’s far away from the rest of lowbie civilization and therefore won’t be used as much to get a free port to the main city hubs.

You overlooked one important point with this: From where you appear outside the lodge, it’s about 15 seconds of running to get to the free stablemaster sending you to southern Bree. Meanwhile, Man’s Return to Bree drops you at the milestone outside northern Bree.

Since neither ability is gotten until one has outleveled all of the content surrounding the town, I really have two reasons for going to Bree at this point. One is access to bank, auction, crafting and LI maintenance. All of these are accessed more quickly from southern Bree than from the northern part of town. The second reason is quick travel to the rest of the world, and here the reality is that there are many more destinations reached from the southern stablemaster than the northern one.

Put it all together and I’ll take the Beorning version over the Man version any day!


That is a nice detailed list, nice work there. I am thinking to roll a new captain soon

Vincent Clark

The cooldowns on some (well, the majority) of these skills are ridiculous at this point. Especially the travel skills.

Robert Mann

Thorin’s Gate and Bree ports should be very low priority, given you can earn them in game on any other race. Beorninghaus is the same. The rest are only superceded if you play a Hunter or Warden.

For those who do not know:

Return to Bree is gained with some items from mobs in the Barrow downs, via barter in Bree. It requires kindred reputation, but that’s easy with those same (and better) rep items, alongside being able to buy rep items via marks.

Thorin’s Gate is the same, except the items are from Sarnur (and a few Dourhand Dwarves in Forochel can drop them too). Barters at kindred, but again running those areas gives tons of these rep items -and- they are also mark based.

Neither of those are restricted UNLESS you are a man or dwarf, and then your home is restricted to earning the racial.

Beorninghaus… comes when you play that area. So only high level characters will really get that. If you want to go there at low level, that one might be nice.

Hunters and wardens, well, they cheat.


“For starters, the races have specific starting zones and dictate which classes you can and cannot access, which is kind of a bummer but necessary (I guess) for lore reasons.”
Different generations, I think. I grew up on RPGs where you randomly generated your stats and then tried to figure out how best to play that character in the world (like real life you simply get dealt a hand of cards, and its up to you as a person to cope with it). Yes, that meant I generally had crappier characters than other players (I have famously terrible dice-luck), but I find that intrinsically more interesting and encouraging player personality and creativity than sitting down to say “I want to play a (X), give me a character that will be good at it.” Sure you get an optimal character but…that’s just banal.

I get that this is not necessarily a viewpoint shared by everyone. Some people want to be automatically a “hero” in their fantasies. Everyone has different capabilities. To me that’s realistic in an MMO….if realism is what you want.

While I DON’T like the mono-locked race/gender combinations like in BDO as too exclusive, I see some “this race can’t be paladins” or “that race can’t do that” as bringing a faint touch of verisimilitude to a world.*

*to be clear, the IDEAL would be that everyone could try to be anything, but some people have strengths in some areas, some weaknesses in others. Ie not by race, whatever. A short person COULD TRY to be a professional basketball player, but they’re going to have to work harder at it than everyone else to overcome their intrinsic handicap and ultimately they’re simply never going to be as good as someone – given the same amount of effort and training – without it.

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At Laila’s Market at the center of Bree, you can buy a “return to Laila’s Market” skill for three tokens. This is the equivalent of the Man skill Return to Bree … except you can get it if you’re not a man. Even if you re, it never hurts to have a backup while the first is on cooldown.


All my toons get this :)


I didn’t know about this, thanks :)