Why Minstrels and Captains make perfect sense as LoTRO healers

Every so often on the blogosphere, a really great post comes at you out of left field. It’s not about current events. It’s not about a class you particularly play, or a game you’re super-deep into. But it’s just awesome.

Such is the case with A Casual Stroll To Mordor’s brilliant essay today, tackling a subject that I’m sure has been a problem for a good half of Lord of the Rings Online players. In LoTRO, there are no priests or druids casting healing spells and resurrections. Instead, all the healing’s done by a guy with a nifty line in songs – the Minstrel – and another guy who shouts a lot – the Captain.

Shouting and music as healing? Whut?

Well, as CSM’s writer Vraeden explains today, they actually make perfect sense even compared to how things work in real life

“Before wireless communications, or even before wired signals like the telegraph, the principal method for a commander to communicate with his subordinates and orchestrate a battle was through music, usually drums or horns, that could be heard above the roar of battle3. Often the commands they could give weren’t very complex (ie-forward, retreat, halt), but that was the most effective way to tell a large number of soldiers what to do. In addition, each unit often had their own “code” so that they could tell whether it was their regiment being ordered to advance or the one two hills over.

If the advance was being sounded, that would mean your side was doing well. If you heard a horn sounding the retreat, maybe it was time to panic. Drums were used to keep a cadence and set the pace (march, quickstep, double-quick, etc.).

In some cases, music was played to buoy the spirits of an army, and this is the key to tactical healing as it applies to LOTRO. In some cases, bands would play as soldiers would march by and in to battle. In a few cases, musicians played on the field, some being more successful than others. At the Battle of Dargai Heights (in what is now Pakistan), George Findlater, a piper with the Gordan Highlanders was awarded the Victoria Cross for playing his pipes as the Highlanders and Gurkhas advanced and carried the day4. If you’ve seen The Longest Day, you saw piper Bill Millin playing his pipes (in violation of standing orders from the English War Office) as the First Special Service Brigade landed on Sword Beach.”

This post is stacked full of interesting historical detail, as well as an in-depth look at how the combat system in LoTRO differs from other MMOs in order to tie in with Professor Tolkien’s work and how he perceived issues like death in Middle-Earth.

If you’re at all interested in the game, Lord of the Rings, or just want to find out how a crazy idea like healing lute players can actually make sense, I heartily recommend this article!

What do you think? Do Minstrels and Captains make sense now, or does the twangin’ triagist still look silly?