LOTRO Skirmish Soldier Guide

LOTRO Skirmish Soldier Guide | Set-Up, Training and Change Skirmish Soldier Appearance Tutorial

My thanks to Eldalleth for proofing this for me.

Skirmishes in The Lord of the Rings Online are akin to smaller dungeons that have specific mechanics. While many are optional, occasionally Skirmishes form part of the Epic Questline – Moria and Mirkwood being two that spring to mind. One of the key features of Skirmishes is the ability (maybe even the necessity) to use an NPC to fight alongside you. But getting your head around how to get started with a LOTRO Skirmish Soldier can be a bit of a minefield.

Here’s my guide to help you – and likely clarify a few things to me too! So, let’s get started.

Solo Content

Just as a quick pointer, anytime I refer to Skirmishes here, I am talking about Solo ones. This is because I’ve never done a group one, nor am I likely to, so I can’t give a valid opinion. If you do group up for a Skirmish, talk to your group and see how you should spec your Soldier (and maybe your own LOTRO Gearing) before wading in.

What is a Skirmish Soldier?

This term refers to an NPC, computer-controlled character that helps you when undertaking Skirmishes. They cannot be used in some other solo cases, such as group instances, Solo-only instances or Missions.

Combat Roles

Your Soldier can be set up to perform any of the traditional combat roles: Tank, Melée DPS, Ranged DPS, Healer and Support. The word “Soldier” is used regardless of what role you want them to play.

This role is not set in stone either. So you can adapt your Soldier to the scenario in each Skirmish if you want to.


This NPC assistant is very customisable: firstly you can choose among the roles I mentioned, then you can select their in-combat abilities and other passive attributes. And lastly, there is an array of cosmetic changes you can make to truly personalise them.

Unlocking Skirmishes

Soldier Combat Classes

Upon exiting the tutorials, your default Skirmish Soldier will be a Man (as in a male human) Warrior. But they can become almost anything you want or need to succeed in a Skirmishes. The most important decision will be which combat class they will be.

The below screenshots are the default appearance for that class or role. Click/tap the thumbnail to view the Soldier’s full height.

Which Class Should I Choose?

Ah, the gazillion Gold Coin gold-coin question! While the answer “suck it and see” may sound like a cop-out, that is, at least a valid answer! That said, I would consider what your character’s primary role is and then patch up your weaknesses with your Soldier’s strengths.

These are opinions and ideas and should not be taken as fact. It may take you a few attempts to find out what works for you.

For Healers

One of my LOTRO Minstrels, playing a FluteIf you’re a healer, you probably want to go with Warrior (Melée DPS) or Protector (Tank).

If you’re a confident healer, then any DPS will do, but a Warrior may not take the aggro you want it to. A Sage may be great for AoE, but will also be squishy, meaning you could spend more time healing when you should also be dealing damage when it’s feasible.

For Tanks

My main Guardian, with sword and shield in a Skirmish Instance
If you’re a tank, well that depends on your confidence level! I always run with a Herbalist, but if you have enough self-heals, then you could choose either a Warrior (Melée DPS) or a Sage (Debuffing/Ranged DPS).

I have managed some sucess with a Sage while running Skirmishes with my Warden (Tank mode), given I have self-heals built-in.


Lamuna, pretending to be a Hobbit DPS Hunter.If you’re a Light or Medium Armour ranged DPS, then you can take your pick. A Protector or Warrior can grab some aggro away from you, or a Sage can join you in ranged DPS. But you may find yourself squishy with that combination. So I would be tempted to favour a Herbalist for heals or Protector to draw aggro.

For heavy armour DPS (e.g. Beorning), you may not need the NPC to heal you. In which case, a Warrior or Sage may be fun to go in and trash the mobs en masse!

What About Bannerguard?

These specialise in buffing you and your “group”. For Solo skirmishes, a Lore-Master may benefit from a Bannerguard as both you and your companion could both benefit from your Soldier’s skills.

I’m not a Captain player, but I’m guessing you won’t need an additional bannerman if your Captain’s “Pet” is also one. But if it is not, then a Bannerguard may help you both peform better in Skirmishes.

Skirmish Soldier Set-Up

So now we’ve talked about the different types of Soldier, how do you “build” one? It is a simple process but has lots of options you can customise.

How to Buy Skills

Speaking to the Trainers at Skirmish Camps you can acquire and equip different skills to your Skirmish Soldier. This includes which combat roles you want them to take on and which abilities you wish to train them in. As we’ll come to later, these folk are also the people to come to when designing your Soldier’s looks.

But first – practicalities, as Soldiers exist first to fight (or to aid those fighting).


Attributes are combat roles you wish to train your Soldier in. I am going to call this your Soldier’s class from now on as I think that’s easier to understand. You can acquire more than one class, but for obvious reasons, you cannot equip more than one class at a time.

There are more slots, because you will use those to change your Soldier’s appearance (if you have Marks Marks and Medallions Medallions to spare, anyway).


On the Skill tab you’ll find specific abilities your Soldier can use in combat. They are grouped by class, allowing you to quickly see relevant skills. Use these to “patch” your weaknesses. So, for example, I use the Herbalist’s Nature’s Power skill to replenish power on my Guardian, as that can sometimes be an issue for me in longer fights.


This relates to passive attributes that help your Soldier to perform better in combat. Examples are

  • How well they use their armour to protect themselves.
  • The strength of their combat abilities.
  • How well they can block, parry or evade attacks.

All Basic Skills and Training Options

On larger screens, you’ll see I’ve split the Skills and Traits into tabs, in much the same way as in LOTRO. If you’re on a smaller screen, I haven’t figured out a good way of doing that yet.

Regardless of how you’re reading this, if you want to bypass all the options, you can go straight to Equipping Your Choices.


Protector Skill: Taunting StrikeTaunting Strike
Draws a single enemy’s attention.
Protector Skill: Threatening RiposteThreatening Riposte
A self-buff that aggros any mob that attacks them, keeping the aggro their way.
Protector Skill: Threatening ShoutThreatening Shout
Shouts to draw attention of nearby enemies.
Protector Skill: Whirl of FuryWhirl of Fury
Hits all nearby enemies, making them more angry at the protector. This is a good thing.


Warrior Skill: Carving StrikeCarving Strike
Causes a bleed damage-over-time to a single enemy.
Warrior Skill: Forceful StrikeForceful Strike
A strong attack against a single enemy.
Warrior Skill: Quick SweepQuick Sweep
A low-damage attack against nearby enemies.
Warrior Skill: Strong SweepStrong Sweep
A higher-level damaging attack against nearby enemies.


Archer Skill: RefocusRefocus
Allows the archer to replenish their Power gauge by a brief pause in attacks.
Archer Skill: Deadly ShotDeadly Shot
A strong shot against a single enemy.
Archer Skill: Distracting ShotDistracting Shot
A special kind of attack to reduce aggro against the Archer.
Archer Skill: Pinpoint ShotPinpoint Shot
A shot with a high chance of a critical hit. Bonus damage is inflicted when a hit is critical.


Bannerguard Skill: Cry of the EnduringCry of the Enduring
Grants an ally a temporary boost to Armour rating.
Bannerguard Skill: Potent StrikePotent Strike
Powerful melée attack (against a single enemy, I think)
Bannerguard Skill: Inspiring ShoutInspiring Shout
A cry that grants a low amount of healing-over-time.
Bannerguard Skill: Summon the FoeSummon the Foe
A shout that draws aggro from nearby enemies.


Sage Skill: Chilling WindsChilling Winds
Chills the air around them, slowing down enemy attacks for a time.
Sage Skill: Weakening DraughtWeakening Draught
Reduces enemy resistences (Tactical).
Sage Skill: TanglefootTanglefoot
(Crowd Control) Damages a foe, while also rooting them to the ground.
Sage Skill: Oil of the Dragon's RageOil of the Dragon’s Rage
Powerful AoE (tactical) attack.


Herbalist Skill: Nature's PowerNature’s Power
Restores an ally’s Power (over time).
Herbalist Skill: Refreshing HerbsRefreshing Herbs
A medium one-shot heal.
Herbalist Skill: Strengthening DraughtStrengthening Draught
Buffs an ally’s defences.
Herbalist Skill: Nature's CureNature’s Cure
Grants an ally a medium-strength heal-over-time.

For All Soldiers

Training: Boundless MoraleBoundless Morale
Gives your soldier more morale.
Training: Boundless PowerBoundless Power
*Darth Sidious voice* Unlimiteeeed Poweeeeeer! I mean, *cough* gives your Skirmish Soldier more power. Yeah, that.
Training: Resurgent PowerResurgent Power
Increase your soldier’s power regeneration.
Training: Resurgent MoraleResurgent Morale
Increase your soldier’s morale regeneration.

Training: Defensive TrainingDefensive Training
Increases defensive manoeuvers: block, parry and evade ratings.
Training: Parry TrainingParry Training
You’ll never guess what this is for? Oh, you did. Spoil sport.
Training: Evasion TrainingEvasion Training
Increase evasion – the ability to avoid damage. I’m presuming this could be full or partial evasion. I’ll try and fact check that.
Training: Practised CriticalPractised Critical
Increases your Soldier’s critical rating: the chance (and potency) of especially damaging hits. Does this affect heal critical, I wonder?

Training: Tactical ResilienceTactical Resilience
Increases Tactical Mitigation: reducing damage from non-physical attacks (think light, sorcery, lightning)
Training: Physical ResiliencePhysical Resilience
Increases Physical Mitigation: reducing damage from physical attacks (If you were a Tater: boil ’em, mash ’em, stick ’em in a stew).
Training: Resilient BodyResilient Body
Increases the amount of morale your Soldier gains from being healed.
Training: Boundless ResolveBoundless Resolve
Increases Morale and Power gauges.

Training: Battle-field FinesseBattle-field Finesse
You guessed it! Increases a soldier’s Finesse rating.
Training: Strength of ResolveStrength of Resolve
Increases a Soldier’s Resistence rating.

For Specific Soldiers

Training: Shield TrainingShield Training (Protector)
Increases your soldier’s block rating.
Training: Light Armour TrainingLight Armour Training (Sage, Herbalist)
Increases armour rating for Light Armour Soldiers.
Training: Medium Armour TrainingMedium Armour Training
(Archer, Warrior)
Increases armour rating for Medium Armour Soldiers.
Training: Heavy Armour TrainingHeavy Armour Training
(Protector, Bannerguard)
Increases armour rating for Heavy Armour Soldiers.

Training: Physical PotencyPhysical Potency
Increases melée and ranged damage for Soldiers who use physical skills.
Archer, Warrior, Protector, Bannerguard
Training: Tactical PotencyTactical Potency
Increases damage dealt and healing done for Soldiers using tactical skills.
Protector, Bannerguard, Sage, Herbalist

Extra and Heroic Skills

Once you reach a high enough level, you’ll be able to equip all the basic Skills. That’s because, by default there are only four. However, if you want to explore others then you can!

Speak again to the Skirmish Captain and choose the “barter” option. In exchange for a combination of Marks Marks and Medallions Medallions, you can unlock further Skills and traits. There are also Ultimate skills, especially strong ones.

Click/tap the image to see an example.

Equipping Your Choices

Soldier Ranks and Levels

Example of Solider Rank vs Player Level
Your Skirmish Soldier does not share the same level system that you do. Instead it has Ranks. As you purchase stronger and stronger abilities, their Rank increases. But it’s not as simple as matching your level to their rank.

In researching this ahead of Ill Omens, I found the Wiki had a great gauge for this. This is just for Nature’s CureExternal Link (Opens in New Window/Tab), but could apply to anything. Here are just the first few ranks:


How to Change Your Skirmish Soldier’s Appearance

Appearance Options

These are the aspects you can customise. Some will depend on the race and gender you have chosen for your character.

  • Race
    • Dwarf
    • Elf-Maiden
    • Elf-Sire
    • Hobbit-lad
    • Hobbit-lass
    • Man
    • Woman
  • Hair Colour
  • Hair Length
  • Hair Style and/or Beard
  • Outfits: there are some outfits that are common to all Soldiers. Others are Race/Gender-specific. No, your Elf-Maiden may not have a Hobbit Mayor’s outfit!

How Much Do Soldier Customisations Cost?

For the race options, these are just 5×Marks.

For other appearances, you’ll pay either 2×Medallions and 5×Marks, or 3×Medallions and 11×Marks

So, if you’re new-ish to LOTRO, don’t go crazy and buy all the things!

For a full list of all options see the Skirmish Cosmetics Wiki pageExternal Link (Opens in New Window/Tab), and choose Soldier Races or any of the race names.

Slotting the Soldier Appearances

As I said earlier, these go into the Attributes section, along with your Soldier’s class. As nothing else goes on that row, it gives you plenty of scope to customise your assistant.

Personal Traits: Buff Yourself

As mentioned before, Personal Traits are applied to you while you are in a Skirmish. They follow a similar thread to those of your Skirmish Soldier. As such, you should choose ones appropriate for your class or trait tree – or to shore up any weaknesses.

I have listed all the traits in the next tab, but you can skip to ‘Earning Marks’ if you want. Examples are:

  • Defences: Block, Parry, Evade and Armour Rating
  • Mitigations: Physical and Tactical
  • Mastery: Physical and Tactical
  • Incoming Healing
  • Attacks: Armour Penetration, Critical Rating, Finesse

Personal Training: Defensive WarfareDefensive Warfare
Increases your block, parry and evading ratings.
Personal Training: Strong BlockStrong Block
Yep, increases your block rating.
Personal Training: Strong ResistancesStrong Resistances
Increases your ability to resist some effects.
Personal Training: Defender's BaneDefender’s Bane
Increases Finesse Rating.

Personal Training: Strong of WillStrong of Will
Buffs your Tactical Mitigation.
Personal Training: Battle-masterBattle-Master
Improves your Critical Rating (applies to attacks and heals)
Personal Training: Fancy FootworkFancy Footwork
Increases your Physical Mitigation.
Personal Training: InvigourationInvigouration
Improves how much your morale increases when you are healed.

Personal Training: Tactical ArtistryTactical Artistry
Buffs your Tactical Mastery rating – the amount non-physical attacks damage for, and how much morale your healing skills restore.
Personal Training: Piercing MightPiercing Might
Improves your armour penetration. The amount you pierce your foes – not the other way around!
Personal Training: Armoured AssaultArmoured Assault
Guess what? Magically increases how strong your armour is. Only in Skirmishes, sadly.
Personal Training: Lead the WayLead the Way
Increases your Physical Mastery: increases the amount of damage dealt for physical attacks (You have my sword, and my bow, and my axe. And now I’m weaponless.)

Personal Training: Duck AsideDuck Aside
Quack! I mean, erm, improves your Evade Rating. *eyeshift*.
Personal Training: Swift ParrySwift Parry
Because parrying slowly is proven to be fatal.

Earning Marks

Just a brief note here: making your Skirmish Soldier better, stronger, faster will cost more and more Marks Marks. And, as we saw when setting their appearance, Medallions Medallions too.

So how do you earn these?

  • In Skirmishes: defeating certain enemies, and clearing “encounters”. Defeating the end boss and therefore completing the Skirmish will give you the greatest rewards.
  • Skirmish Deeds: For example, clearing all the encounters from a Skirmish. This will be done by completing each one several times, as the Encounters are randomised.
  • Skirmish “Slayer” Deeds: When Lieutenants are defeated, they progress their own deeds. As with other slayer deeds in Middle-Earth, there is a stage 1 and an “advanced” with different rewards for each. See the Lieutenant Deeds on the WikiExternal Link (Opens in New Window/Tab)
  • Landscape Deeds: Some general LOTRO Deeds also grant Marks Marks as rewards.
  • Steel Tokens: You can convert Steel Tokens Steel Tokens to Marks Marks during the LOTRO Anniversary
  • Warbands: Ah, I had forgotten this one. Thanks LOTRO-Wiki! Yes, Warband BoxesExternal Link (Opens in New Window/Tab) may also drop Marks Marks.

Landscape Soldier Tokens

The last thing to cover here is that you can use your Skirmish Soldier in open-world content (“Landscape”). To do so, you’ll need to acquire a Landscape Soldier TokenExternal Link (Opens in New Window/Tab).

Each token grants you 1 hour of a Soldier’s assistance, but you can summon and dismiss them whenever you want to. This can be handy if you’re in a particularly tricky area. Once you’ve dealt with the challenge, dismiss the Soldier and save your remaining time for later.

How to Get a Landscape Soldier Token

The Wiki’s link above shows that they are very expensive if purchased for Marks/Medallions. There are other ways:

  • From the LOTRO Store for 100×LOTRO Points LOTRO Points.
  • The Mithril Coin Mithril Coins trader at a Skirmish Camp.
  • They can drop as Hobbit Gifts.
  • Sometimes they are the weekly freebie code too.


The key limitations of using your soldier this way are:

  • Outdoors Landscape Use Only: You can’t use your soldier in certain places like Bree. You also cannot take them into indoor questing areas.
  • Time Limited: you can only use them for the length of time your tokens allow. You can “save” up to five hours worth at a time, by using five tokens. But you can’t add more “air time” to that until you’re under the four hour mark.
  • No Mounts: they can’t ride mounts, so don’t expect them to help you with Mounted Combat!

TL;DR Go Custom-build your LOTRO Skirmish Soldier and Dive in!

It turned out that covering the Skirmish Soldier was like “Skirmception”, each layer revealed more layers! But we’ve covered most things, at least! So now you can go ahead and build and customise your own Soldier. And don’t forget the two Skirmish-based events: Ill Omens and the Treasure Bugan Event.

Have fun in Middle-Earth, friends!

About the Author

Fibro Jedi
Fibro Jedi

I have been playing MMOs for about ten years and began writing guides to The Lord of the Rings Online in 2017. I've only been creating content about Final Fantasy XIV since 2022, but I am glad for the mix. My current games include LOTRO, FFXIV and the occasional Palia session too.

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