LOTRO Beorning Guide
Skin-Changers for Beginners

LOTRO Beorning Class Guide | The Race of the Beornings

Beornings in Tolkien’s Middle-Earth are a race of skin-changers based in the Vales of Anduin. Beorn’s home features as a stop-off point for the Dwarves and Bilbo on their journey to the Lonely Mountain during The Hobbit and he eventually plays a key part in the Battle of the Five Armies. As a LOTRO Beorning, you play the part of one of Grimbeorn’s line, including the ability to transform to (and from) the form of a Bear. This race – and combat class – is one of the most unusual ones in LOTRO, but also one of the most fun (in my opinion). So, if you’re considering trying the skin-changing race, here’s my beginner’s LOTRO Beorning Guide to help you!

Race and Class

A first quick point is that, unlike other characters you create, Beorning is both a race and a class at the same time. There are no Rune-Keeper Beornings and definitely no Bear-controlling Lore-Masters – even if Beorn had animals serving him food at his home!


Beorning Character Creation

In the past you had to unlock Beornings using LOTRO Points LOTRO Points in the store, but it’s now free for all players. All you require now is an unused character slot and you’re good to go! For this guide I had to use my 17th character slot. Yes, I have altoholism too!

Creating Your Beorning’s Appearance

Now we’ve covered some background, let’s get in and make a Beorning character in LOTRO!

Body Appearance

If you do a quick compare and contrast between the Race of Man and Beorning, you’ll notice that the skin-changers appear stronger and more muscly. This fits with the idea that they are “wilder”, do their own hunting and work the land hard. This feature is less pronounced with the female Beornings, but it is shown more in their facial appearance.

Some of the other settings have similarities with the Race of Man, or are only marginally different that they’re not worth highlighting. However, the following features are:



Unique Hairstyles



Being wild folk, LOTRO Beorning hairstyles live up to that description. Unlike your Race of (Wo)Man counterparts that mostly have shiny, well-tended hair, Beornings’ styles are more ragged, curly and, well, wild. And that’s a good thing! There’s also one particular style that has no similar option for any other race – it won’t be difficult to spot in the gallery of styles I’ve given you below or in the other tabs!

Female Beorning Hair Styles



Male Beorning Hair Styles

I think it must have been harder to create truly unique male styles compared to the ones for the Race of Man. But I’ve included some below for you.

Also, I do apologise. I’m pretty sure my graphics are set to max, but some of those heads look way more angular than I realised!


How Do I Set my Bear-form Fur Colour?

The colour you set your human-form character’s hair is what becomes your bear-form fur colour – simples!




Starter Gear/Cosmetics

One of the things I love most when LOTRO release new races and/or combat classes is when they design new starter gear. For “normal” races the beginning gear or cosmetic is…rough, let’s say.

But SSG consistently make great gear for new races and classes. It was true of the High Elf race and of the Brawler class. And it is also the case for the Beornings.

You have one set that you start with (on the left/above) and one set you leave the Introduction quest with (right/below).

Add them to Your Wardrobe

Beorning Starter Gear worn by a Female Hobbit
Then, of course, you can add them to your wardrobe and include the skin-changers’ gear in outfits for other races!


Beorning Introduction


The introductory story for this class (and race) is fairly short – maybe even shorter than the one for the High Elves. It does not have a series of side-quests such as that of the Race of Man or Hobbit where there are side quests and multiple stages.

Instead, you begin your journey from Grimbeorn’s house…well it’s your house too as you are of his line. What follows then is a series of events that results in you leaving your life of seclusion to journey in Middle-Earth.

My Beorning with Grimbeorn in the Misty MountainsHere you are introduced to, obviously Grimbeorn but also Radagast the Brown and Sterkist, Langhár and Ofolmoth, who are also your brothers and sister. These, along with Grimbeorn do crop up later during class quests.

If you want to skip the story summary, Skip to ‘After the Intro’. Or, on larger screens, don’t open the “Story Summary” tab.

In the LOTRO Beorning Intro, you start outside Grimbeorn's house.


Intro Story Summary

At the start, you are just another of Grimbeorn’s offspring, living a peaceful life away from the goings-on in Middle-Earth. It’s an exciting life of fetching a cow, killing flies and wandering the fields. The stuff of Epics. What is unusual is that Radagast the Brown is talking with Grimbeorn outside the Beorninghus. Disliking interruptions, they go inside to chat.

A Weakened Line?

Not everyone is happy about this quiet, peaceful life though, especially the males. Sterkist grumbles, but Ofolmoth is the most angry of them all. He feels that the line is being weakened as we have no battle prowess to test and improve our strength. After challenging you to a mini-duel, he sends you off on one of those enthralling fly-swatting tasks.


Goblins in the Mist

Once that is done, you meet up with Langhár, who is just a fab creation of LOTRO’s and has so much character. You have a bit of a wander, only for your thoughts to be interrupted by a random goblin attack. Not that they had any chance against two of Beorn’s line, of course. But the fact that it happened was out of the ordinary. We don’t do “out of the ordinary”.

The Wizard’s Intervention

You hasten back to Sterkist who, shocked, runs towards where Grimbeorn is – now outside the house again. After hearing the report about the Goblins, there’s a lengthy exchange between him and Radagast, which ends with the Wizard telling him to send all his children. But…they are his children to command, so he says he will spare one. Guess who? Muggins, that’s who.

And so, you are sent to Eriador to convey to Aragorn about the stirring evil that Radagast is aware of and is about to convey to the other Wizards.


After the Intro

Once you’ve received your bundle of supplies from the end quest, you’re teleported to Archet after the Blackwold attack. There you join up with the Epic alongside the Race of Man.


Which Roles Can Beornings Fulfil?

All: Tank, DPS, Support and Healer. “Support and Healer” appears bundled together in the Yellow Line where you have Crowd Control and Debuffs as well as healing skills.

I don’t always follow the “expected” path for classes; my Guardian main is yellow line despite red line being deemed the best for solo content. However, when playing a LOTRO Beorning, I do tow the line – the red line, to be precise.

It has great DPS, the heavy armour provides your defence and the self-healing is strong. So you are a heavy armour DPS and it feels sturdy enough for solo content. The healing skill Hearten is available to Red Line, can be used on yourself and others initially. But later you can choose to make it only a self-heal but with a greater effect. You choose how to spend your Trait Points.


Combat Basics

One of the reasons I love these skin-changers in LOTRO is that the combat is relatively simple. This is true even at higher levels. I have no experience of them in group combat so I cannot pass an opinion on that. But, for solo content, the Epic, Skirmishes and Solo instances it does a great job. Here’s a look at a few of the aspects.

Passive Stat Changes

Firstly, a look at the boring math(s) thing. Each race in LOTRO has combat stat tweaks to reflect their heritage, constitution etc. As you’d expect, the Beornings have strength and nature-related changes – these are buffed. But Fate is debuffed due to the, erm, fate of the race is uncertain.

Might of the Wild

Might of the Wild Beorning Characteristic
+15 Might, which is your primary fighting stat.

Few In Number

Few in Number Beorning Characteristic
-7 Fate affects some regeneration stats and critical rating.

Natural Resistance

Natural Resistance Beorning Characteristic
+1% Poison Resistance Rating, slightly decreases the chance of enemies poison effects working on you. Does not affect other types such as bleeds.

Thick Hide

Thick Hide Beorning Characteristic
+15 Vitality, increases your maximum HP and out of combat morale regeneration.


Hotkey or Slot Skin-Changing Skills

With that done, let’s look at combat. There are two “forms” or stages in fights: Man-form and Bear-form.

It is called Man-form regardless of your character's gender. This is inline with Tolkien's reference to the Race of Man.

For this reason, you need to be able to switch between the two easily. “Bear-form” and “Man-form” are two separate skills, so quickslot them. I have Bear-form Bear-form on my = keybind and Man-form Man-form on Shift+= keybind. See what works for you.


Wrath

As well as monitoring your HP, you know, in order to stay alive (ah ah ah ah stayin’ aliiiiive), the other gauge you need to keep an eye on is your Wrath. Ready to get angry? Great! Or something…

What is Wrath?

Where other classes have Power, Beornings have Wrath. It is through gaining and using Wrath that you can transform to a Bear and use Bear-form only skills. In one sense, it is similar to the Hunter’s “Focus” gauge. The more Wrath you have, the longer you can spend in Bear-form and use Bear-only combat skills.
Wrath Gauge replaces Power in the Character UI here.
As a side note, this does mean that you do not need power potions nor to choose combat stats that increase power regeneration.

Have a Laugh

Go to Old Man Willow in the Old Forest who is supposed to make you drowsy. On every other class it depleats your Power Gauge. But you don’t have one so roar-ah-ha-ha!

In Man-form

It is your use of combat skills that will increase Wrath. Look for Adds X to Wrath in the tooltip:
The Slash Skill adds 5 to Wrath

If you run out of Wrath in Bear-form, you will automatically return to Man-form to build some Wrath again.

Ferocious Roar
You can build Wrath rapidly using… Ferocious Roar both in and out of combat. But this requires human form and this is why having both skin-changing skills slotted makes so much sense. You can trigger Ferocious Roarexlink in human form, switch to Bear-form and the Wrath will keep building.

You only need 1 Wrath to transform, but if you're mid-fight, build more before you change form.

In Bear-form

As with Man-form, some Bear-form combat abilities add to your Wrath gauge. Many, however, utilise that resource. Your challenge is to keep it high enough to maximise your damage as a Bear.

The first combat skill that adds Wrath is Thrashexlink. In the early levels, while you have few skills, keeping a high Wrath gauge is pretty easy. Once you get into harder fights, or against larger groups of enemies, you will need to keep an eye on it more.

Passively

While in Bear-form you will increase your Wrath by default. This is at the rate of 1 Wrath every 3 seconds. This is true, except if you have the Wanderlust effect.


Why Did I Accidentally Change to Man-Form?

Excuse the pun but… bear in mind that some combat skills are Man-form only. While many are greyed out while in Bear-form, some are not. If you use a Man-form-only skill while a Bear, you will be automatically transformed back, even if you have Wrath to spare.

Using Items in Bear-Form

Some items on the landscape may be usable in Bear-form, but many cannot. I’ve never seen a Bear wielding a pickaxe to mine ore, for example. The same is true in LOTRO – darn you quasi-realism!
Object Requires Human Form in the tooltipThankfully, it’s easy to spot if you need to transform to use a particular object. Look for the text requires human form. Though that wording does make me wonder why LOTRO retained Man-form in the skills.


Beorning Shapeshift Bar

This class comes with a Beorning Shapeshift Bar. This is not a separate UI item like the Warden’s Gambit Panel, however. What it does is, once you shift to Bear-form, the bottom row of your ability bars switches out to a separate skill bar. This allows you, if you want, to have your bear-only skills pop up there at the right time.

How To Disable or Enable the Shapeshift Bar

I never took to it, as I fight with my keybinds on semi-autopilot. So I know where my bear skills are without the swap-out. But it may work for you. Thankfully, LOTRO have made it available as an option (see right/below).

Enable or Disable the LOTRO Beorning Shapeshift Bar in Settings

Rough, Solo Combat Pattern

For most early-level fights, you can just follow this simple process:

  • Build Wrath in Man-form Man-form
  • Transform to Bear-form Bear-form.
  • Maintain Wrath as much as possible, until you run out. Repeat from Step 1.

Later on, longer fights may involve multiple transforms. However, if you learn which of your skills add Wrath in Bear-form, you may not need to return to Man-form very often.

Note: Just be aware that your Beorning Class Deedsexlink are a mixture of Man- and Bear-form skills. So do mix up your combat approach from time-to-time!

Other Lower-Level Skills

Here are some combat skill highlights you can earn earlyish on.

  • Hearten: (From level 6)
    An initial heal followed by a heal-over-time effect. This can be applied to others (including grouped NPCs). In the Red Line, you can choose to spend a point to change this to Composure. This is only self-directed then and is a single heal based on a percentage of your HP.
  • Grisly Cry (from Level 18)
    If you’re in the Red Line, this is your only crowd control mechanism. But you may want to use it if you’re up against a large group of mobs.
  • Cleanse: (From level 22)
    A powerful debuff-remover, Cleanse can remove up to 3 effects so long as they’re Disease, Wound, Fear or Poison.

Gearing Up Your Beorning

A Bear is only as good as the armour it wears. That sounds weird. Anyway, it’s one of those things I mentioned earlier about making something fit gaming methods. Before deciding on how best to gear your skin-changer, let’s look at which stats are important.

Stats Priority

As always, be guided by the tooltips you see when you hover over the core stats in the character UI. Also, while you may think the Beorning is a melée fighter (at least, when not healing), you will have both physical and tactical combat skills.


Focus Stats

  • Might (Very Important): Increases your Physical Mastery, Tactical Mastery, Block, Parry, Evade and Critical Rating. So…pretty much everything. You cannot overdose on your Might, except maybe at the level cap.
  • Vitality (Important): Increases your maximum Moral, Resistance Rating and non-combat Morale Regeneration.


Others

After those, choose the stats that suit you best.

  • Agility: Increases Physical Mastery, Critical Rating and Evade Rating.
  • Will: Increases Tactical Mastery, Tactical Mitigation, Evade Rating and Resistance Rating.
  • Fate: Increases Critical Rating, in-combat Morale Regeneration, Tactical Mitigation, Resistance Rating and Finesse.

I tend to go for stats that 'patch' where I feel I'm weakest. In this case Tactical Mitigation against spells and the like and Evade Rating to try and avoid as much damage as possible. In-combat Morale Regeneration is not really needed as a focus, given how strong Hearten is.







Armour

LOTRO Beornings can wear all kinds of armour. Being risk-averse, I always go heavy armour. However, it depends on your stat preferences. Should you choose not to go heavy armour, bear in mind that “Might Medium Armour” was mostly phased out a long time ago, so you may put yourself at a disadvantage on your Very Important Might skill.

There are myriad ways to equip yourself, including crafting. Check out my LOTRO Gearing for Beginners Guide to get started.

LOTRO Gearing Beginners Guide - How to Improve Your Combat Stats in LOTRO

Weapons

Ufnless the consensus has changed, it is generally thought that a 2-handed wepaon is better than 2×1-handed weapons, as certain stats are based on the those of your primary weapon. You cannot wield two-handed swords, but clubs and axes are great and also mostly fit the rough-and-ready, outdoors-y feel of the skin-changers.

Beornings can also benefit from a 5% damage bonus from Clubs and Axes through their Racial Traits.


Unique Beorning Features

As if this class was not unique enough, there are a couple of other aspects worth highlighting here:

Wanderlust

Who needs a mount when you have a +62% movement speed in Bear-form? That’s right, so long as you’re out of combat, you can amble along at some fair speed!
Wanderlust Beorning SkillAlthough it says “any form”, if you are in Man-form, you will transform to Bear-form. Wanderlust will stop when you return to Man-form also.

Note: Wrath does not increase while using Wanderlust because it’s about peaceful movement. Why be wrathful while also being calm, hmm?

Bake a Honey-Cake

Beornings were known for their honey-cakesref, though not so much for sharing them. As a LOTRO Beorning, you can bake honey-cakes anywhere. Indeed, you do not need a crafting facility or gathered ingredients!
Baking a Honey-cake in the Forlorn Inn
What do you do need is to earn the relevantexlink Racial Trait then have it as an active one. You can then bake a Beorn’s Honey-cakeexlink which gives you in- and out-of-combat morale regeneration. If non-Beornings eat one, it also grants in- and out-of-combat Power regeneration.


Beorning Racial Traits

Beornings come with quite a variety in their racial traits.

  • Club and Axe-Damage Bonus: +5% damage from one- and two-handed clubs and axes.
  • Emissary: a buff to Fate, which works to counteract the “Few in Number” passive stat change.
  • Feral Presence: Buff your Fellowship’s Fate.
  • Might and Conviction Bonus: If you play 99% solo, you can ignore this as it relates to Fellowship Maneuvers.
  • Natural Diet: A buff to Disease resistance, on top of that given under passive stat changes.
  • Return to Grimbeorn’s Lodge: head back to where it all began. While in the lower levels, this may not have much usefulness, it may be great to take a break back home sometimes.
  • Virtuous Beorning: You don’t have to be a ‘bad bear’. Follow in Beorn’s steps with buffs to Honour, Empathy and Fortitude, when these Virtues are equipped.
  • Bake a Honey-cake: make morale (and for others, power) regeneration food anywhere at any time, with no ingredients!
  • Bracing Roar: empty your Wrath for a huge health increase.

Why Beornings are Great for Beginners

7 Reasons to love the LOTRO Beorning Class
Whether it’s only this class and race that are new to you, or if it’s the whole of LOTRO, Beornings are fab for beginners. They’re sturdy, fun to play, have great self-healing and it’s just all-round awesome to charge into an Orc camp as a Bear and come out victorious! For more see my 7 Reasons to Love the Skin-Changers.

TL;DR – No reason not to give a LOTRO Beorning a Go

With this class being completely free, even for free-to-play folks, playing a LOTRO Beorning offers a unique and thoroughly satisfying way to venture into the troubles of Middle-Earth. Whether you enjoy the peace of the wilds, or wreaking destruction upon goblins and orcs, or goading the Dwarves, there’s plenty of fun to be had. I hope this guide has been helpful and useful to you – that is the reason I wrote it after all! And if you want to find out more about Beornings, then check out Tolkien Gateway for more wonderful lore. Have fun in LOTRO, folks!


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October/November 2022: I've been fixing broken images recently, which will surface some very old content, some of which may be inaccurate now. I can only deal with one problem at a time!