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The Road to Mordor: The truth behind weapon damage types


Part of the allure of Lord of the Rings Online is its surprising depth and complexity, particularly for those who like to get the best performance out of their characters. Part of the frustration of LotRO is its obtuse or absent explanations behind the many systems in the game.

One of these systems remained on the outer edges of my attention span until one day I gave it my full focus. This was the field of weapon damage types, a subject I was vaguely aware of yet assumed I didn't have to know much about it to get along in the game. After some examination, I realized that while you don't need to understand weapon damage types to have an enjoyable play experience, it does affect the game in a small but important way.

So if you've ever wondered what "Beleriand" or "Westernesse" in your weapon tooltip was all about, today's column is here to help you navigate the somewhat confusing area of damage types.

Swords out!
Weapon damage type basics

LotRO never goes out of its way to tell you about weapon damage types, so let me be the surrogate tutorial on the matter. Basically, all weapons pump out not only damage-per-second (DPS) but also a specific type of damage. The default damage type is common, and if you don't see a damage type on your tooltip, then this is what you have.

However, not all damage is equal in the eye of Sauron. In addition to common damage, there are several other types: fire, light, cries, Westernesse, Beleriand, and Ancient Dwarf. The first three are most often seen in skills, while the latter three begin to show up on weapons once you get into the post-50 content. The final damage type, shadow, is used exclusively by enemy mobs and Creeps in the Ettemoors.

Weapon damage type is important because some mobs have a higher resistance against some types of damage (especially common) while hiding a weakness toward other types. Use the right type of damage against a certain mob, and the creature will start taking much more damage than it would otherwise. See where this could come in handy?

The fine print of weapon damage types

Just how hard a damage type hurts a susceptible mob depends on a lot of factors that don't make for easy explanation (I didn't major in advanced calculus, so I'm not going there). As long as you understand that many creatures are weak against certain types of damage, and as long as you commit to the principle that any damage type other than common is always better than common, then you'll be sitting pretty.

Species as a whole share strengths and weaknesses against weapon types. Here's a quick-and-dirty reference list that should help you out:
  • Ancient Dwarf: Strong against Dragon-kind (Drakes, Worms, Salamanders) and Cave-claws
  • Beleriand: Strong against Half-orcs, Spiders, Insects, Neekers, Crawlers, Ancient Evil, Morroval, Nameless, and Gaunts
  • Westernesse: Strong against the Dead, Unseen, Gaunts, Wights, Darkwater, and Decayed
  • Fire: Strong against Creatures of Nature, Beasts, Slugs, Snowbeasts, most Wolves, Darkwater, and Trolls
  • Light: Strong against Goblins, Orcs, Trolls, and Spiders
  • Cries: Strong against Orcs, Goblins, and Uruks
Modifying your legendary weapon with damage types

Once you gain access to legendary weapons, you'll be able to modify them to a damage type of your choice. In addition to legendary weapons' legacies and runes, there's an additional (if unseen) slot dedicated for special use. This slot is used whenever the player uses a title scroll on it. Depending on the scroll, it can change the weapon's surname, its damage type, a specific damage bonus against a certain type of creature, or its stat bonuses.

Since you can only have one of these scrolls on a weapon at a time (as any new scroll overwrites the old one), it behooves you to find two-for-one scrolls that offer the most bang for your buck. For example, you might find a scroll that changes your weapon damage to Beleriand while giving you a +5 bonus against, say, slugs, or a Westernesse scroll with a Vitality bonus attached. These toofers are more common to the late game, so don't expect to see them in Moria.

Standing in a river
All the colors of the rainbow

One thing I neither knew nor noticed before researching for this article is that damage type changes the special effects coming off your weapon. Cool, huh? It turns out there are two types of lighting effects that work in unison to create interesting visuals.

Flashes, the patterns that flow around the weapon, signify the weapon damage type. Westernesse is green, Ancient Dwarf is red, Beleriand looks like blue lightning, and fire looks like flames. These colors grow more pronounced the higher a weapon's level gets.

The other visual effect is glow, which you may well see before you ever get your first legendary weapon. Glows exist on weapons with bonus damage against specific monsters (+5 against orcs, for example) and show up only when you're near that monster in question. Yes, just like Bilbo's Sting and the goblins.

What damage type should you choose?

So the big question remains: Which damage type should you use? Some players have and do carry around a whole set of weapons, each with a specific damage type, to swap out depending on the enemy being faced. It's not a bad approach, especially if you're working on a slayer deed and want to cut through those 350 salamanders as fast as possible, but that's a lot of work (and extra bag space).

I'm not quite as fanatical, so when I ask that question, I'm looking for the one damage type that works the best in most situations. From what I've seen, it's a toss-up between Beleriand and Westernesse, although Beleriand seems to be the slight favorite. Ancient Dwarf's foes are encountered rarely in comparison to Beleriand's and Westernesse's, although I could see Ancient Dwarf being useful in Moria.

Any weapon damage type, but especially Beleriand, is useful in the Moors. Any edge in PvP could be a life-saver, after all.

Where do you get weapon damage type scrolls?

Extra damage and glowy effects -- where do I sign up? While some weapons come with these special damage types equipped, many times players are left to scrounge up title scrolls to get the specific bonus they desire. There are several places that you can get these scrolls, but you'll usually have to do a bit of extra work to acquire them.

According to my research, these are the sources of title scrolls that seemed the most common for players to access:
  • Running solo instances in Moria's Dolven-view and trading in tokens to the Galadhrim
  • Caras Galadhon legendary vendor (the Hero of Caras Galadhon scroll comes highly recommended)
  • Gathburz legendary vendor
  • Enedwaith's Algraig and Grey Company legendary vendors
  • Limlight Gorge's legendary vendor
  • Following the epic storyline
For more information on weapon damage types:
Hope this helps! I'd love to hear more advice and tips on the subject from the more experienced players as well.

When not enjoying second breakfast and a pint of ale, Justin "Syp" Olivetti jaws about hobbits in his Lord of the Rings Online column, The Road to Mordor. You can contact him via email at or through his gaming blog, Bio Break.

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