The Lord of the Rings Online
||This article is written like a manual or guidebook. (December 2014)|
||This article may contain an excessive amount of intricate detail that may only interest a specific audience. (December 2014)|
|The Lord of the Rings Online|
|Engine||Turbine G3 with Havok|
|Release date(s)||April 24, 2007|
The Lord of the Rings Online (commonly abbreviated to LOTRO, LotRO), initially branded as The Lord of the Rings Online: Shadows of Angmar, is a massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) for Microsoft Windows and OS X set in a fantasy universe based upon J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth writings. It takes place during the time period of The Lord of the Rings.
The Lord of the Rings Online was developed and is maintained by Turbine after Jeffrey Anderson secured the rights from Vivendi. Originally subscription-based, it is free-to-play, with a paid VIP subscription available that provides players various perks. Four of the more prominent are access to all game regions and content not part of an expansion pack, the ability to swiftly travel between major towns, the removal of the currency cap that would otherwise hamper the economic freedom of a player, and the ability to send currency through the mail system, and make cash-on-delivery payments.
It launched in North America, Australia, Japan, and Europe on April 24, 2007. Five expansion packs have been released as of 2013: Mines of Moria in 2008, Siege of Mirkwood in 2009, Rise of Isengard in 2011, Riders of Rohan in 2012, and Helm's Deep on November 20, 2013. In 2010, the NPD Group reported that the game was "the third most played massively multiplayer role-playing game" with Turbine citing their free-to-play model as the reason for the growing subscriber base.
- 1 Gameplay
- 2 Setting
- 3 Races
- 4 Classes
- 5 Economy
- 6 Storyline
- 7 Group Instances
- 8 Development
- 9 Soundtrack
- 10 Reception
- 11 Releases and subscription model
- 12 References
- 13 External links
The game's milieu is based on The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. However, Turbine does not have rights to any other works in Tolkien's legendarium, such as The Silmarillion or The Children of Húrin. Much of the gameplay is typical of the MMO format: The player controls a character avatar which can be moved around the game world and interacts with other players, non-player (computer-controlled) characters (or "NPCs") and other entities in the virtual world. Camera angles can be switched between first-person and third-person options. Characters are improved by gaining levels. A character's level increases after it earns a set amount of experience points through the player versus environment (or "PvE") combat and storyline adventures. Characters' abilities are improved by increasing in level, but character skills must be purchased from specified NPCs after gaining new levels.
The main storyline (also known as the "Epic Quest Line") is presented as a series of "Books", which consist of series of quests called "Chapters". There were initially eight Books when the game was released, with new books added with each free content update.
Tolkien's Middle-earth as represented in The Lord of the Rings Online implements magic in a different manner than other MMORPGs such as World of Warcraft. There are only five "wizards" in the fictional world, none of which are player-controlled. Instead, there are active skills which require "power" (the equivalent of magic points). Some skills behave like magic (like healing or throwing a burning ember at an enemy), but are based on "lore". In addition, objects and artifacts are used to create effects similar to magic.
As opposed to other role-playing video games, the equivalent of health or hit points in LOTRO is morale and can be raised via food, rest, music, and battle cries. The game also places a fair emphasis on cooking and farming in its crafting system, in consistency with the characterization of Hobbits in Tolkien's writings.
Other gameplay features include a fast travel system between discovered locations in-game, and a detailed quest log with a tracker and history of quests completed.
Monster Play is unlocked when a player's character reaches level 10; players can then play a monster of maximum level. Only one type of monster player is available for free players; others can be purchased individually, or completely unlocked by purchasing a subscription. These monster players (also known as creeps) have their own quests, titles, and deeds, and fight the Heroes (player characters of level 90 and above, and known as freeps, a portmanteau of the words "Free Peoples") in the Ettenmoors. Both heroes and monsters fight for the control of various keeps in the Ettenmoors, of which 5 are able to be taken. When one side holds two outposts (after a period of time the outpost will return to the NPC forces), they are able to go into the Delving of Frór, a dungeon area beneath the Ettenmoors. Outposts are smaller versions of keeps and require fewer people to overtake. As of the expansion Mines of Moria and Siege of Mirkwood, the amount of outposts required to enter the Delving of Frór has dropped to two, so that both the freeps and creeps can enter the delving of Frór simultaneously (5 outposts overall, 2 required to enter).
Both monster players and heroes gain ranks in the Ettenmoors through defeating the opposing side. Monsters receive infamy for killing a hero, and heroes receive renown for killing a monster player. There are 15 achievable ranks, starting at Footman, and ending at Captain-General (for heroes) or starting at Tracker and ending at Tyrant (for monster players). Gaining ranks allows the player to purchase specific equipment and armour (for heroes) or core upgrades, like health, armor and power (for monsters).
Another aspect of PvMP is commendations. Both heroes and monster players receive commendations for completing quests or defeating an enemy player. Commendations can be used by monster players to buy various background statistic improvements, skills, and appearances. Heroes can use commendations to buy special PvMP rank armour and background statistic improvements.
Many players rely on raids or groups to gain Infamy or Renown for their character. In a raid or group, the points gained are divided between the different members, so while killing more quickly each player will gain less on average per kill. Often during a raid there will be one leader who gives directions to the rest of the raid over a voice program or the in-game voice application. Raids are most commonly found on larger servers, but exist on all servers.
While most players gain Infamy or Renown on their respective side through killing enemy players through small skirmishes, healing friendly players also contributes Renown or Infamy to the player. The higher ranks in the game are noted to take a period of months to years of consistent gaming to achieve. This lengthy time to achieve higher ranks is derived from the fact that the total Infamy or Renown amount required for achieving higher ranks rises exponentially with every rank achieved. The best example of this is: rank 6 requires a total of 35,500 Renown, however, rank 7 requires a total of 71,000 which is over twice the total to achieve rank 6.
The concept of rank farming is an alternative route some players choose to use in order to accelerate the ranking process to faster access equipment and rank promotion buffs within the Ettenmoors that have a minimum rank requirement, though it is no longer allowed and considered an abuse of game mechanics. This concept is not unique to LOTRO and is seen in other games of the same genre. Most of this activity in LOTRO is achieved through the use of multiboxing with several copies of the game client run to utilise a multitude of reaver monster play characters. The reaver class went free-to-play early 2012 and has since most often been used in this type of play. Rank farming has had notable impact upon the PvP gaming community. An official statement released on August 28, 2013 by Turbine customer service has made rank farming a bannable offense. While the issue of fairness and sportsmanship has been raised for this style of play, Turbine has officially supported the multiboxing community in its official statements to date.
Deeds can give the player turbine points. With turbine points (TP) a player is able to buy items, mounts, quest packs, and more from the LOTRO Store. Therefore, in theory a person can play without paying if they complete enough deeds.
There are several types of deeds in the game. The most common deeds that players will encounter are regional deeds, which are those that can be found in every one of the game's landscape regions. These deeds are divided into four categories, which are: Explorer, slayer, lore and reputation. Players can only complete the deeds for a given region if they have access to that regions content through their subscription. The next type of deeds in-game are those which involve either the players class, race, or epic story quests. Class deeds are unlocked by using the character's skills. The race deeds category includes deeds that are completed by defeating large numbers of foes that are an enemy of the player's chosen race. Epic story deeds are those deeds which are advanced by completing each book of the Epic Quest line. Another category of deeds is labelled Skirmish, and these are earned by either defeating unique foes in skirmish mode or large numbers of enemy lieutenants that are commonly encountered in said skirmishes. The Instance Deed page log keeps track of those deeds which involve fellowship instances the player engages in, and are similar to landscape deeds in that they include slayer, lore, and explorer deeds. The last deed category is those which fall under the hobby deed panel, which currently includes only a handful of fishing deeds.
In addition to the different categories of deeds that are found in the players deed log, there are also deeds which are known as either Hidden or 'Meta' Deeds. These two special types of deeds can be found in any deed category, but are much more difficult to achieve than regular deeds. Meta-Deeds are those that are completed by finishing a set of other deeds, and sometimes reward highly valuable items such as unique mounts and titles. Hidden deeds are those deeds which do not display themselves in the deed tracker for the player to keep track of.
Titles have no direct impact on gameplay. Instead they provide another means of customization by adding additional information to a character's name. Some titles are common while others can be difficult to obtain. Each character starts with one title that indicates their origin. Titles are earned by completing deeds and quests and by mastering tiers in professions. Only one title can be active at a time. Characters who are ranked in the Ettenmoors can also have a prefix to signify their rank. It is also possible to receive a title of Kinship rank. Some titles are harder to get than others, such as meta deeds which require many other deeds to be done before the title is given.
Each character has the ability to equip traits earned during the game. Traits give characters a myriad of different bonuses and abilities. Any trait combination can be equipped as long as they have enough trait slots. The number of free trait slots depends on their level. The first virtue trait slot is available at level 7, for example. Virtue, class and racial traits offer a maximum of five slots, and legendary traits offer three slots. Traits can be easily changed by visiting a bard found in most towns, and equipping traits costs a certain amount of money.
Types of traits include:
- Virtue: Virtue traits are common amongst all races and classes and can be earned by completing general goals, such as killing a set number of monsters, or completing enough quests in an area. These traits generally improve stats, resistances and total morale and power, including regeneration. There are a large variety of goals, and each has multiple levels that can be earned during the course of the game.
- Class: Class traits are specific to a certain class. These are generally earned by using a class skill or power often enough, or meeting certain conditions with these skills often enough, such as achieving enough critical strikes with a certain skill. These skills improve the power of certain abilities and often give an additional passive bonus to character statistics.
- Racial: Racial traits are specific to each of the races. These traits confer special abilities or improvements, and only a relatively limited number can be used at one time.
- Legendary: Legendary traits confer rare bonuses. They are obtained by collecting class-specific books and their pages which drop from specific enemies, from a series of level 45 class-specific quests, or from combining five class traits of a single type.
A fellowship is a band of up to six characters, created to complete quests and to pursue group hunts. The fellowship is what fulfils the role of 'parties' in other MMORPG games, as it can be formed and disbanded by the leader at any time. Fellowships are an integral part of the game, as they are necessary to engage in difficult group instances that players will encounter. All players in a fellowship can communicate with each other in the fellowship chat panel, where a conversation is seen by all fellowship members. All members of the fellowship will be displayed on the left hand side of every players screen (unless it has been adjusted otherwise), so that the status of every member can be monitored. Members in a fellowship will also appear to each other as green dots on regional maps, which allows for easy location when not in combat. When in a fellowship, members can enter into the same instance as each other from the instance join panel, or they can be summoned by special abilities. There are several easily identifiable icons that can be placed over every players head by the fellowship leader so that members who are strategic in an instance or other mission can be easily located. The fellowship leader also has the ability to invite or dismiss a member at any time. A fellowship can also be transformed into a 'raid', which can be composed of up to four separate fellowships and can contain anywhere from 6 to 24 players.
Fellowships (including those found in raids) can use the Fellowship Manoeuvre system to perform special group moves. Fellowship Manoeuvres occur randomly and require that the target be stunned or knocked down, in any group encounter with a 'signature' or higher enemy. Burglars and Guardians also have special skills that can initiate FMs when triggered. When the FM is initiated, every player within the area will get a color wheel on their screen to choose one of four skill contributions. These skill contributions are Ent's Strength, which deals direct damage, Stallions Spirit, which restores power, Spider's Guile, which deals direct and periodic damage, and Eagle's Cry, which restores lost morale. Every player can select one of these four contributions when a Fellowship Manoeuvre has been engaged, and the effect upon the target(s) intensifies the more that it has been selected. There are also Fellowship Manoeuvres which can be selected by a fellowship leader or assistant which confer unique bonuses. There are dozens of these unique FM combinations, which are designed for different situations and fellowship sizes. These Manoeuvres must be followed as they are designated or else they will not be utilized.
Monster Players in the game can also join Fellowships, though they are named Warbands instead. Players who are playing as Monster Characters in a PvP zone also gain access to the Fellowship Manoeuvres panel. Although the same principles apply, they are instead renamed Warband Manoeuvres. The four contributions that can be made are Troll's Brutality, which deals direct damage to a target, Spiders Venom, which deals direct and periodic damage, Wight's Rot, which deals direct damage and saps power from the target, and Fell-Spirit's Terror which deals direct damage and saps morale.
Characters that reach level 5 can learn to play the lute and, depending on their class, other instruments. Minstrels can learn to play all of the instruments and to teach other players, of all classes, to play them. The following instruments can be played in-game: Bagpipes, Clarinet, Cowbell, Drum, Harp, Horn, Lute, Pibgorn, and Theorbo.
Using keyboard macros, instruments can be played in real time on three octaves and abc notation, with the music broadcast to nearby players who have not disabled hearing it. Players can also play pre-set pieces from user-created .ABC script files using the game's music notation, similar to MIDI files.
Players often hold impromptu public performances, in solo or as bands at places such as The Prancing Pony Inn in Bree. Communities also regularly organize music events and mini-concerts such as "Weatherstock": Woodstock above Weathertop.
Upon reaching Level 15, players can purchase a house in various instanced neighborhoods in the game's racial starting regions. These houses have different architectural styles depending on racial base (Man, Elf, Dwarf, Hobbit) and can be decorated (similarly to The Sims) via item hooks using cosmetic (and functional) decorations obtained through questing, shops and in-game events and can be visited by all players if the owner sets it so.
Houses come in 3 different sizes that determine the amount of decorations which can be placed as well as the amount of item storage. Pricing depends on house location and its size, and weekly maintenance rent to stay open. If a player fails to pay rent, the house is simply closed to visiting with all its items intact and can be accessed once again by paying rent.
The largest house is reserved to kinships (player guilds) and can be purchased once a kinship reaches 3 months old. Players can own 1 personal house per server that shared by all characters of the player in the per server. Aside from the houses themselves, players gain the ability to teleport to their personal homes and kinship houses, as well as access the various shops in the neighborhood with a discount if the player owns or is part of a kinship house in the same neighborhood.
Reputation is the measure of how well acquainted a player is with a specific group or faction of NPCs. There are various factions in The Lord of the Rings Online that a player can become acquainted with in their travels. Reputation for these different factions may be gained by completing quests, defeating specific monsters, crafting items, and completing deeds. Many of the original reputation factions as well as those in the Mines of Moria expansion also accepted reputation items that were either collected from defeated NPCs or gained by completing deeds. However, since the Siege of Mirkwood expansion no new faction in the game has had this feature added, although a system of 'daily quests' was created that allow the player to gain a steady source of reputation in the absence of reputation items.
There are two kinds of factions in the game, those are 'Reputation Factions' and 'Crafting Guilds'. Reputation Factions are factions that generally only inhabit a specific region of the game, such as the Men of Bree who are present in Bree-land; each have a main location where the player can purchase goods and services from the faction's vendors, some of which are only accessible at higher reputation levels. Some factions also possess a vendor where the player can barter faction-specific items awarded from quests or instances for unique items such as armour or weaponry. The ability to gain reputation with Reputation Factions is open to all players who have purchased the content for the region these factions are present in. Crafting Guild factions however, are available only to players who belong to a specific crafting vocation, and a player can only gain reputation with any one of the several Crafting Guild factions at any one time. Crafting Guild factions also have locations that the player can visit to barter for guild-unique goods, including valuable crafting recipes for specific professions.
There are several levels of reputation that a player can achieve with any faction. The default starting point for most factions is neutral, although reputation with the Lossoth of Forochel begins one level below this. In addition to these tiers of reputation for Crafting Guilds, there is a further three levels that the player can achieve. As the player progresses up these tiers in either Reputation Factions or Crafting Guilds, they gain access to more valuable goods and services from the factions vendors. These upgrades include things such as travel discounts and special reputation mounts for Reputation Factions, and access to higher tier crafting recipes from Crafting Guilds.
As of the Gondor Aflame Update, the latest events in The Lord of the Rings Online are set in the early parts of The Return of the King. The player starts simultaneously with Frodo and company leaving The Shire. Each Region of Middle-earth is represented as being permanently "frozen" at a certain point of time. For example, it is always September of the Year 3018 of the Third Age in the Shire, December 3018 in Rivendell, February 3019 in Lothlórien, etc. The timeline moves on and is currently set after the Battle of the Hornburg, and Aragorn, Gimli, and Legolas' subsequent journeys through The Paths of the Dead as they make their way through Gondor toward Minas Tirith.
In the initial release, only the area of Eriador was available. Eriador was further divided into Ered Luin, The Shire, Bree-land (this included the area around Bree, the Old Forest and the Barrow-downs), the North Downs (lands to the east and south of Fornost), the Lone-lands (the area around Amon Sûl), the Trollshaws (the area surrounding Rivendell), the Misty Mountains (then excluding Goblin Town), Angmar and the Ettenmoors. There have been three new major regions added to the game since launch and before the first expansion. The Shores of Evendim update added the region surrounding Lake Evendim and Annúminas, about 100 miles north of the Shire. Book 13, Doom of the Last King added Forochel, a snowy tundra at the edge of the ice bay. With the release of the Mines of Moria expansion, Turbine also released Book 15, the last free update, containing Eregion. Other books have added areas such as player housing, or expanded already existing zones, such as the addition of Goblin Town and the High Pass to the Misty Mountains, and Tal Bruinen to the Trollshaws.
Originally only players who purchased the Mines of Moria Expansion had access to Moria and Lothlórien. This type of expansion was continued with the release of Siege of Mirkwood, the region of south Mirkwood including Dol Guldur and the storyline continuation Book 9 to those who purchased the game. With the addition of the Region of Enedwaith in 2010, the game returned its attention to the lands west of the Misty Mountains (although it was added under Eriador in error). As a result, Turbine revised its approach to expansion in the Update following in November: all players could now visit expansion regions, but those playing for free were still barred from most of its content until said purchase was made. This approach was continued with the Rise of Isengard expansion, where the Regions of Dunland, The Gap of Rohan, and Isengard could be visited by all players. Crossing the mountains again, Update 6 added the area around the Anduin south of Lothlórien. With the Riders of Rohan expansion, the areas of The Wold, the Eastwall, Eastemnet and the Eaves of Fangorn were added as well. Updates 14-16 introduced the areas of Gondor between the Paths of the Dead and Osgiliath. Turbine has stated that their intention is to eventually fill in the entirety of Middle-earth, while prioritizing the areas visited by the Fellowship.
The Lord of the Rings Online is divided into 25 distinct regions that each possess their own dynamic content and storyline. These regions fall into either Eriador, Rhovanion or Gondor, the three geographical areas that are currently accessible in the game. Turbine has not added new areas, for instance Enedwaith is wrongly classified under Eriador and Rohan is considered to be a part of Rhovanion, rather than a part of Gondor or a separate area. Every region in the game has an established level range, in which the vast majority of NPCs will spawn at or near. These level ranges tend to be very broad, and the regions main quest line will guide the players through the region in progression from lowest level to highest level. Every region contains Player vs. Environment, or PvE content. The only in-game region that player's can participate in Player vs. Player, or PvP action is the Ettenmoors, which also contains PvE content. Every region in-game also has some form of 'capital', which is the largest settlement in the region. Examples of these capitals are the town of 'Bree' in Bree-land and the village of 'Aughaire' in Angmar.
Every in-game region is sub-divided into several distinct areas, which each have their own landscape aesthetic and set NPCs that will spawn only in that area. These areas can take on many distinct appearances, sometimes in contrast to the majority of the region in which they are set—a swamp, a forest, open plains, a hilly region, or a lake. Generally, these areas will each possess a settlement or other form of 'quest hub' that the player will receive quests from. These quest hubs serve as a base that the player can return to purchase supplies or services, as well as either accept or finish quests from friendly NPCs. Occasionally, there are smaller quest hubs present in a given area such as a small camp or even a lone NPC that can be interacted with. Sometimes, a region will contain a smaller 'area map', which is a highly detailed overview of a specific settlement or area that is not detailed enough on the regional map for its given importance. These area maps include the starter areas of Archet and Thorin's Gate, as well as settlements such as Bree and Snowbourn.
There are seven classes that can be played in The Lord of the Rings Online, with two additional classes (Rune-keeper and Warden) playable in the Mines of Moria expansion. A tenth class, the Beorning was introduced in Update 15 in November 2014.
Professions are either a gathering or a crafting one. Gathering professions are used to harvest raw materials, which in turn are used to create items using a crafting profession. The higher the tier in this skill, the better raw materials can be used and more advanced items can be made. Each profession requires a specific tool.
The in-game currency is copper, silver and gold coins. Money is earned by completing quests, selling loot obtained by killing monsters to NPC vendors, or selling crafted items to NPC vendors or other players. Money is spent on acquiring gear and equipment from NPC vendors or other players, buying skills from class trainers, repairs after combat, equipping traits at bards, travelling between stable masters, buying crafting materials and purchasing a house. Trading between players can be done directly in face to face contact, via the in-game mail system or through the Auction House. In update 11, Mithril Coins were added, which can be purchased from the LotRO Store. The secondary currency allows the economy to go forward and players who hit the cap to progress.
The main story line, the Epic Quests, focuses on some events that are new additions to the Lord of the Rings story created by the makers of the game.
Volume I: Shadows of Angmar
- Book I - Stirrings in the Darkness
- After the introductions, the player is sent to Aragorn, who needs help weakening the Blackwolds, a hostile gang within Bree-land, loyal to Sharkey. After helping Aragorn and the Rangers, the player is sent to Tom Bombadil to destroy the evil in Othrongroth, the Great Barrow of the Barrow-downs. Though the Wightlord Sambrog is defeated, the Witch-king and his servants, Ivar and Skorgrim, escape the player's pursuit. Upon returning to Bree, the player discovers Aragorn has left with the Hobbits and instead meets Gandalf, who arrived too late to help. The player is then instructed by Gandalf (who leaves for Rivendell as well) to locate one of Gandalf's fellow Istari, Radagast the Brown.
- Book II - The Red Maid
- The player is sent to the Ranger Candaith, who tries to learn the location of Radagast the Brown for the player. While waiting, the player investigates the mysterious events that happened on Weathertop and fights the Orc army around and on top of the hill. By the time the enemy is defeated, Candaith has found Radagast in the city of Ost Guruth and sends the player to meet him. Radagast asks for the player's help in cleansing the area of Garth Agarwen from the evil wights that inhabit it. Ultimately the player and Radagast fight Ivar the Bloodhand, their leader and servant of the Witch-king. Upon succeeding, the player is urgently sent to the North Downs to aid the Rangers in those lands.
- Book III - The Council of the North
- The player is asked by Halbarad to aid in the defense of the North Downs against Angmar's forces, by uniting the three main armies of the North Downs: the Men of the town of Trestlebridge, the local Dwarves led by Dori, and Gildor's Elves. After accomplishing this, the player is sent to Rivendell, where the Fellowship has now safely arrived.
- Book IV - Chasing Shadows
- The Black Rider that survived the Flood of Bruinen by Elrond is still somewhere in the Trollshaws, making it impossible for the Fellowship to leave. With the help of Legolas, Elladan and Elrohir, the player chases the Nazgûl, destroying the Trolls he has corrupted, and forcing the Ringwraith to retreat to the Misty Mountains. The player is sent to pursue him, where Glóin and some Dwarves have set up a camp.
- Book V - The Last Refuge
- The player's search for the Nazgûl brings him/her to the final stronghold of Skorgrím and the Dourhands, the corrupted Dwarves. An assault led by Gimli results in the fall of Skorgrim and his servants. But the Nazgûl has fled to Helegrod, where a long-dead Dragon Thorog has been reanimated as a wight to serve the Dark Lord. The player arrives just in time to stop the Nazgûl, defeating him and making him lose control of the Dragon, who escapes. Now that Rivendell is safe, it is time to move on to Angmar itself.
- Book VI - Fires in the North
- Rangers of the North, led by Corunir and Golodir, have gone to Angmar and their kinsmen want to know what has become of them. Upon arriving in Angmar, the player finds Corunir safe in a friendly Hillmen village. He begs the player to find his lost company, who passed through Rammas Deluon: a great series of statues that weaken (or even kill) those who pass it. After destroying the spirits within them, the player becomes able to resist the power of Rammas Deluon, and finds a hidden Dwarf settlement, where a part of the scattered party lives.
- Book VII - The Hidden Hope
- The player is informed that Golodir is settled at Gath Forthnir, far in the North. Upon arriving there, (s)he finds that Golodir is long gone and the Rangers are led by his daughter, Lorniel. Lorniel reveals that Golodir has been captured by Mordirith, Steward of Angmar, and has been locked away in Carn Dûm. As leader of the remaining Rangers, and with the help of the Elf Laerdan, Lorniel launches an assault on Carn Dûm, where she is slain by Mordirith, who then releases broken Golodir in a mockery, to continue his torture.
- Book VIII - The Scourge of the North
- Golodir's grief for the death of his daughter has almost destroyed him, yet he sees a chance to avenge her. Reclaiming an ancient sword, he travels with the player to the heart of Carn Dûm, defeating Mordirith with his blade. But then Mordirith's palantír, a great seeing-stone he used to torture Golodir, is quickly taken by the mysterious Sara Oakheart.
- Book IX - Shores of Evendim
- The player learns that Sara Oakheart is none other than Amarthiel, the legendary Champion of Angmar. She has set up a plot within a tower of Barad Gularan to use the player to weaken Mordirith. Now that she has the palantír, she can communicate with Sauron and challenge Mordirith's position. The player is sent to kill all of Mordirith's Knights, in an attempt to further weaken his power. But despite the player's victories over Mordirith, Amarthiel only grows stronger. After losing Fornost and Barad Gularan, she moves to Annúminas, the ancient capital of Arnor. The Rangers there, led by Calenglad, need the player's aid.
- Book X - The City of Kings
- A massive battle in Annúminas ensues and the wise Elf Laerdan offers his services to Calenglad. Mordrambor, one of Amarthiel's captains, is captured, but while in captivity he poisons the mind of Laerdan, making the Elf decide to fight Amarthiel on his own, in an attempt to make up for his mistakes in the past. Again the Free Peoples have been tricked by Amarthiel and her servants. Together with the Rangers of Evendim, the player is able to wrestle the palantír from Amarthiel's clutches, but Laerdan is lost. However, within the palantír, Amarthiel saw a glimpse of where Narchuil, her ancient ring, lies. She is now determined to possess its power once more.
- Book XI - Prisoner of the Free Peoples
- Amarthiel's captain Mordrambor breaks free, killing many Rangers. Soon he leads an army out of Annúminas, to find Amarthiel's Ring, Narchuil. The player attempts to find Narchuil before Amarthiel can, searching the ancient ruins of the Trollshaws. After much searching, it turns out Narmeleth, Laerdan's daughter, who originally caused Amarthiel's fall in Fornost, has become possessed by her. But all searching seems in vain, when it is revealed Amarthiel has already found Narchuil. However, Elrond does not fall for her trickery again; he realizes Narchuil is still out there, and Laerdan knows where.
- Book XII - The Ashen Wastes
- Amarthiel has Laerdan transported to Angmar, where she learns from him under torture where her Ring is. In a brave attempt to save both Laerdan and the ring Narchuil, the player is able to get to them before Amarthiel does, but only half of the ring was found. Laerdan confesses to Elrond he has broken the Narchuil in two, and reveals where the other part should be. But then he swears an oath upon Elbereth that he will not rest before he has saved his daughter, and leaves the Council.
- Book XIII - Doom of the Last King
- Trying to find out more about the other half of Narchuil, the player is sent to Forochel. However Amarthiel's forces have already arrived, and their search is underway. In an attempt to find the ring before the Angmarim, the player receives help from the shade of the Last King Arvedui. During a confrontation with the enemy, it appears that Mordrambor has betrayed Amarthiel: the two battle each other and disappear from the view. The player then retrieves the second half of Narchuil and returns it to Rivendell.
- Book XIV - The Ring-forges of Eregion
- Still seeking to save Narmeleth, Laerdan travels with the two halves of Narchuil to Eregion. Amarthiel, baiting him in, reclaims Narchuil for herself. Elrond sends many Heralds of Rivendell to all corners of Eriador to help him in his search for the lost Ring-lore. But all efforts are too late, for Narchuil has been reforged when the Free Peoples reach Eregion. It quickly becomes clear none are able to withstand Narchuil, until Mordrambor, Amarthiel's former servant, arrives. Sowing confusion in her, he shows her the arrival of Mordirith, who is in power once again, but Amarthiel does not surrender and believes she can defeat him with use of Narchuil. However, Mordirith has the power of the Witch-king and defeats her, claiming Narchuil as his own. Just as he is about to finish Amarthiel, Laerdan appears. He reveals his knowledge that Mordirith is actually Eärnur, the last King of Gondor, taken captive by the Witch-King and made a Wraith in mockery of his former defiance. Under Mordirith's orders Mordrambor kills Laerdan, after which the two leave. Amarthiel is devastated by the loss of her father, and taken captive by the Free Peoples.
- Book XV - Daughter of Strife
- With the death of her father, Narmeleth is once again freed from the evil influence of Amarthiel. She becomes a captive of the Free Peoples, but volunteers to avenge her father. In Angmar, the final battle between the Free People and Mordirith ensues. First Mordrambor is defeated and Narchuil is finally destroyed by Narmeleth. In the final confrontation, she sacrifices herself in order to defeat Mordirith. The book ends bittersweet with Narmeleth's redemption and her death and Elrond comforts the player, saying that she had found peace in the Undying Lands.
Volume II: Mines of Moria
Volume III: Allies of the King
Volume IV: The Strength of Sauron
The current volume, as of March 2015.
One of the most challenging aspects of the game is grouping to do big private instances. This can be done in small three-man fellowships, which were first created with the Eregion update. For full fellowships there are 6 people involved; examples of this are Fornost, Carn Dûm or Annúminas. There are also harder instances for raids like The Rift and Barad Guldur (12 people, or a double fellowship) or Thorog (24 people, or 4 fellowships). Due to the difficulty of the encounter and the many players involved, each of the classes is usually assigned a specific task by the raid leader.
Most of these instances can be scaled to the level of the group, making sure that older instances are still challenging and not forgotten. There is only one 24-man raid left in the game, Thorog. Turbine has announced that because of the people required, they are unlikely to make a new one. In order to save progress, some of these instances have locks, giving players the chance to spread out the instance over a few days. Locks are related to the progress of killing bosses.
Sierra On-Line first announced the development of a licensed Middle-earth MMORPG in 1998. Sierra had financial troubles in 1999 and replaced the staff working on the game. Sierra continued to confirm development of the MMORPG but did not release any development details.
Vivendi Universal Games, the parent company of Sierra, secured eight-year rights to produce computer and video games based on The Lord of the Rings books in 2001. Vivendi announced an agreement with Turbine in 2003 to produce Middle-earth Online (at that time expected to be released in 2004). In March 2005, Turbine announced that it bought the rights to make an MMORPG based on Tolkien's literature and that Turbine would publish The Lord of the Rings Online instead of Vivendi.
A closed beta was announced on September 8, 2006. An open beta began on March 30, 2007, and was open to all who pre-ordered the game's Founders Club edition. On April 6, 2007, the beta opened to the public.
In January 2014 it was announced that the license for The Lord of the Rings Online has been renewed to 2017.
Epic Book Updates
Until 2008, approximately once every two months a major update was added to The Lord of the Rings Online. Each update was an extension to the epic quest called a book. Despite the Mines of Moria being an official expansion to the original game, it is not required for subscribers to continue receiving the free content updates. However, any new content exclusive to Mines of Moria, including any area past Eregion, is not accessible. In the case of items such as legendary weapons, they are viewable but unable to be equipped.
The soundtrack for Lord of the Rings Online has received much praise for its quality and variety. It features compositions from Turbine composer Stephen Digregorio as well as original songs from acclaimed video game composer Chance Thomas. Other composers include Geoff Scott, Brad Spears, and Egan Budd. According to Thomas, all references that were made to the music of the peoples of Middle-earth in the books were used to extrapolate as much information as possible about the instruments and styles that each race would have used to create their music. This information was then used as the base for creating the score. Additionally, 61 songs from the game were made available for free in mp3 format using a download manager released by Turbine.
The Lord of the Rings Online received wide universal acclaim thus far, as reviews continue to appear since the game's initial release.
GameDaily awarded the game 9/10, praising its rich, fantasy-themed universe, well-integrated trait and title system, and a story that remains true to the works of Tolkien. Yahoo! Video Games wrote a review with few negative mentions, awarding the game a score of 4/5, while Computer and Video Games called the game an essential purchase for Lord of the Rings fans, scoring the game a 9.2/10. Eurogamer scored the game a 9.0/10, calling it tough to resist. Gamespy gave it 4.5/5 stars, claiming the game "opened up Middle-Earth to the masses" but commented negatively on its weak PvP content, while GameTrailers awarded it 8.5/10, citing its interesting tweaks to the MMO genre. IGN.com ranked it a similar 8.6/10, praising it for its solid experience, though criticizing it for its lack of major improvements to the genre. GamerNode.com awarded the game an 8.8/10, calling it the best MMO launch experience since Ultima Online. The New York Times called the game "a major achievement of interactive storytelling, the first game truly worthy of the ‘Lord of the Rings' franchise and a must-play for just about anyone with an interest in Tolkien or the future of online entertainment." In a GameSpot review, the product was awarded an 8.3/10, praising its appealing polish and intriguing Monster Play feature. Gamepro.com's review gave it an overall 4.25/5, pointing out how engaging the epic quests are, as well as how faithful to the novels the game managed to stay. GameSpy declared The Lord of the Rings Online 'Game of the Month' for May 2007. Midway announced that the game sold over 172,000 copies in North America during its second quarter.
In April 2007, Salon.com reported that the game had dropped a planned feature for in-game players marriage because of the controversy around the possibility of same-sex and inter-species  weddings. One developer stated that the design rule was for weddings to be allowed if examples could be found in the book, as between elves and humans. The online magazine for gaymers GayGamer.net commented that, while Tolkien was a devout Christian, his stance on gay rights isn't known as the topic wasn't a public issue at the time. Video game critic Ian Bogost compared it to the case of The Sims 2, a blockbuster video game that did allow same-sex marriage. 
In August 2007, Codemasters announced that The Lord of the Rings Online had received five Golden Joystick Awards nominations for the five applicable categories for the game, and in October 2007 that it had won the "PC Game of the Year" at these awards. And again won the same award on October 2008.
In May 2010, RPGFan's Adam Tingle named Lord of the Rings Online the best MMORPG of all time in a top-10 countdown.
In January 2011, PC Gamer Magazine chose Lord of the Rings Online as the MMO of the year. Praise was given for treating fans to two new Epic Books worth of quests, two added regions, expansion of in-game events, improved UI elements, and the revamp of the character creation and starter regions. It also notes the success of the move to free-to-play, stating LOTRO is "quickly redefining the way a successful subscriptionless MMO is run."
Topfreemmorpg.net's MMO reviewer Lacey Black praised the game's epic story quests and Monster Play game mechanics. .
RPGLand had similar compliments as it awarded the game 2010's "Freebie Award" for being the Best Free-to-Play MMORPG, saying, "Turbine has just plain done an awesome job with turning its subscription games into some of the best F2P MMOs on the market."
Releases and subscription model
In North America, players who pre-ordered the game were offered a special founder's offer, a lifetime subscription for $199 or reduced cost of $9.99 per month. Standard monthly fee is $14.99 with three, six, twelve month, and lifetime discounts available. European players had a similar program from Codemasters. A holiday subscription was available in December 2007 and January 2008 for $9.99/month for a 3-month commitment. A special edition, which cost $10 more than the regular edition, included a full-color manual, an item called "Glass of Aglaral," a cloak of regeneration, which is visually different from the one in the regular edition, a "Making of" DVD, soundtrack, and a 10-day buddy key.
The one year anniversary edition included a $9.99/month subscription or a $199.99 Lifetime subscription, which was again offered during the leadup to the release of Mines of Moria. However the lifetime subscription option is no longer available and is unlikely to return.
On June 4, 2010, it was announced the game was to add a free-to-play option in the autumn, with an in-game store. Free-to-play was successfully launched in North America on September 10, 2010. After a delay in Europe, free-to-play went live on November 2, 2010. During the following six months the company reported tripled revenues from the title.
On April 26, 2011, it was announced that Codemasters would relinquish control of the European service back to Turbine, and on June 1, the servers were transferred. After a transition period of a few days, they reopened under a unified LOTRO global service. Finally, on June 6, 2012, The Lord of the Rings Online was made available for download on Steam.
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