The Lord of the Rings Online
|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.
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 20 November 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 Crafting
- 6 Economy
- 7 Storyline
- 8 Group Instances
- 9 Development
- 9.1 Epic Book Updates
- 9.2 Free to Play Updates
- 9.2.1 Update 1: Oath of the Rangers
- 9.2.2 Update 2: Echoes of the Dead
- 9.2.3 Update 3: Lost Legends of Eriador
- 9.2.4 Update 4: Rise of Isengard
- 9.2.5 Update 5: Armies of Isengard
- 9.2.6 Update 6: Shores of the Great River
- 9.2.7 Update 7: Shades of the Past
- 9.2.8 Update 8: Riders of Rohan
- 9.2.9 Update 9: Against the Shadow
- 9.2.10 Update 10: Against the Shadow: Part II
- 9.2.11 Update 11: Treachery of the White Hand
- 9.2.12 Update 12: Helm's Deep
- 9.3 Expansions
- 10 Soundtrack
- 11 Reception
- 12 Releases and subscription model
- 13 References
- 14 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 a new level.
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.
An important feature of The Lord of the Rings Online is the difficulty level of NPC's that are encountered by the player. In addition to NPC level, the other factor that determines how difficult they are to combat is a seven tiered system of difficulty indicators, that adjusts things such as the NPC's health and damage output. Depending on its difficulty, an NPC may be no threat to a player individually, or it may be impossible for a lone character to defeat without the aid of a full raid. The lower difficulty levels are the most commonly encountered in the games landscape, while the mid-range levels are generally either landscape boss NPC's that require a fellowship to defeat or are enemies encountered in a fellowship instance. The higher difficulty ratings are almost never encountered in the games regional landscape, and are generally found as either boss NPC's in group instances or challenging enemies in raid encounters (although these enemies are present on the landscape in the Ettenmoors PvP zone). In PvP and in some PvE zones and instances, there are NPC's that belong to the forces of the Free People's that fall somewhere on this same scale and are analogous to their evil counterparts in difficulty, but have different names and indicators. The seven difficulty indicators from weakest to strongest in ascending order are:
- Swarm: The easiest difficulty NPC. These are usually found in large groups to balance out their individual weakness.
- Normal: The most common difficulty NPC that is encountered on the landscape of the game. Normal difficulty NPC's generally spawn on their own or in small groups.
- Signature: A more difficult enemy than Normal NPC's, Signature's are usually enemy leaders or champions that are the goal of solo quests, or are encountered in large numbers in group instances.
- Elite (Defender): A relatively strong NPC. These are sometimes seen on the games landscape, but are most commonly found as enemies in fellowship instances.
- Master Elite (Master Defender): A strong NPC, which is rarely seen in the games regular landscape. These are commonly seen in group instances as the leader of a group of enemies, or the goal of a small fellowship quest.
- Nemesis (Avenger): A very strong NPC, mostly seen in fellowship and raid instances with few exceptions.
- Arch-Nemesis (Hero): The strongest difficulty NPC in the game. There is no set upper limit on how powerful these NPC's can be, but they are always the target of a large group of player characters. The only place these are encountered on the games ordinary landscape is during PvP.
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 level 85 monster. 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 40 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 character development is the inclusion of Destiny Points. Destiny Points are awarded for leveling and completing quests and can be used to temporarily increase some of the player's abilities or skills. As a creep, destiny points are used to buy skills and traits. These points can also be earned through combat in Monster Play. Monster players earn destiny points for controlling a keep, killing 'freeps' (the player controlled Heroes) and completing quests. A player's destiny points are shared across all their characters, whether heroes or monsters. The earning of Destiny points via monster play kills has since been removed from the game as of early 2012. Since the use of Destiny points has being discontinued in the Ettenmoors, monster players now use Commendations to purchase equipment, skills, traits and upgrades. Commendations are earned in the same fashion as Destiny points once were but are not awarded for levelling.
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 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 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 since first officially initiated by The Ettenmoors Department of Agriculture (or abbreviated to EDA) on the Dwarrowdelf server. 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.
Characters obtain titles and traits by completing game achievements known as deeds in the game. Deeds are earned in each area of the game, by killing a set number of monsters in an area, using a certain ability a set number of times, completing a number of quests in a given area, or finding certain locations or unique items. Completion of these deeds yields a fixed number of Turbine Points (the in-game store currency used to purchase add-ons and content) to the player, and usually awards traits or titles.
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.
Examples of titles:
- <character name> the Wary (received by attaining level 5 without being defeated)
- <character name> of Bree (One of the many origin titles that players start with)
- <character name> the Undying (received by attaining level 10 without being defeated)
- <character name>, Spider-Foe (received by defeating 30 spiders in the Bree-lands)
- <character name>, Pie-eating Champion (received after winning a pie-eating contest)
- <character name>, Master Apprentice Woodworker (received after finishing both the basic and master-level tiers of Apprentice Woodworking)
- <character name>, Vanquisher of Thaurlach (received after defeating the Balrog in the Rift of Nurz Ghashu)
Examples of prefixes:
- Footman <character name>,<title>, shows that the character is rank 1 in the Ettenmoors.
- Sergeant of the Guard <character name>,<title>, shows that the character is rank 5 in the Ettenmoors.
- High Warden <character name>,<title>, shows that the character is rank 9 in the Ettenmoors.
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 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 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 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 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 fulfills the role of 'groups' 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 Maneuver system to perform special group moves. Fellowship Maneuvers 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 Maneuver has been engaged, and the effect upon the target(s) intensifies the more that it has been selected. There are also Fellowship Maneuver's 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 Maneuver's 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 Maneuver panel. Although the same principles apply, they are instead renamed Warband Maneuvers. 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:
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 the 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 a 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 NPC's. 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 mobs, 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 NPC's 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, which 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. Reputation Factions each have a main location where the player can purchase goods ans 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 armor 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 player's 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 vocations.
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. The Reputation Faction levels after neutral are Acquaintance at 10,000 reputation points, Friend at 30,000 points, Ally at 55,000 points, and Kindred at 85,000 points. The Crafting Guild factions also follow the same level of reputation, although the title's differ. A Guild member who is at neutral level is called a Guild Initiate, an acquaintance member is an Apprentice of the Guild, a friend is a Journeyman of the Guild, an ally is an Expert of the Guild, and a kindred level member is an Artisan of the Guild. In addition to these tiers of reputation for Crafting Guilds, there is a further three levels that the player can achieve named Master of the Guild at 130,000 points, Eastemnet Master of the Guild at 190,000 points, and Westemnet Master of the Guild at 280,000. 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 Riders of Rohan Expansion, the latest events in The Lord of the Rings Online are set in The Two Towers. 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 at the Fellowship's breakup at the shores of Nen Hithoel, and the subsequent chase by the three hunters across the plains of Rohan and into Fangorn Forest following the trail of Merry and Pippin.
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. 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 currently divided into 24 distinct regions that each possess their own dynamic content and storyline. These regions fall into either Eriador or Rhovanion, the two geographical areas that are currently accessible in the game. Every region in the game has an established level range, in which the vast majority of NPC's 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 NPC's that will only spawn in that area. These area's can take on many distinct appearances, sometimes even wholly in contrast to the majority of the region in which they are set. Examples of these area's can include things such as a swamp, a forest, open plains, a hilly region, or a lake. Generally, these area's 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 to purchase supplies or services, as well as either accept or finish quests from friendly NPC's. Occasionally, there are smaller quest hub's 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 area's of Archet and Thorin's Gate, as well as settlements such as Bree and Snowbourn.
The following is a list of all current in-game regions, as well as sub-regions for expansion regions:
- (S. Iron Home) Angmar is a sickly region, barren and inhabited by fell creatures. Two factions of Hillmen dominate Western Angmar, the friendly Trev Gallorg and the hostile Trev Duvardain. Both tribes have several outposts and fortresses, but the Trev Duvardain are more numerous and powerful. Most of central Angmar is made up of an exotic swamp, where the ground is yellow and the creatures are strange, including the massive turtles and fire drakes. Northern and Eastern Angmar are terrible to behold. A large rift dominates the land, filled with massive spiders, deadly wargs, endless hordes of Orcs and in some places, Gaunt Lords, Lithul and Giants. Most of northern Angmar is dominated by the Orcish fortresses surrounding Carn Dûm itself, apart from the small Trev Gallorg outposts. Angmar is also where some of the main quests in the Volume 1 Epic Story take place, as well as several of the most important instanced quests from the Shadows of Angmar title. Angmar is designed for characters leveled 40 to 52.
- Bree-land is located at the centre of Eriador, surrounded by the Shire, Evendim, The North Downs, and the Lone-lands. Bree-land and its settlements has managed to remain a thriving outpost of civilization, despite the wars and turmoil that destroyed the North Kingdom of the Dúnedain. It is the only land in Middle-earth where Men and Hobbits dwell together in harmony and is also an important hub for Elves and Dwarves who are trading goods or travelling from one kingdom to another. Bree is the capital of Bree-land. It is located at the junction of the royal Great East Road and North-South Road, right at the slopes of Bree-hill together with the villages of Archet, Combe, and Staddle. Bree-land is also the location of the infamous Barrow-downs, which have long been haunted by the fell spirits of the dead, and the Old Forest through which the company of the Ring-bearer recently passed. Bree-land is under threat from the growing numbers of Blackwold brigands that have been harassing the town-steads of the land in recent days, as well as a large force of Orcs that has come down from out of the North Downs. Bree-land is dersigned for characters leveled 1 to 24.
- (R. Hill-land) With Enedwaith to the North, the Old North-South Road (also known as the Greenway in Breeland) to the West and the Hithaeglir (Misty Mountains) to the east, Dunland is a hilly, brown land. Dunland encompasses the rugged foothills that rise to the north of the Royal Road at the Isen, joining Tharbad in Cardolan to the markets further east. The people of Dunland are called the Dunlendings, and they feature prominently in the history of Rohan. The northern border of Dunland was marked by the Glanduin (Border River), also known in its lower reaches as the Swanfleet. This river runs swiftly in its upper courses, before dropping over a set of falls down into the lowlands. Beyond this point the river flows sluggishly, creating a fenland, a network of pools and islets inhabited by swans and many other water birds. Dunland is designed for characters leveled 66 to 75. Dunland also encompasses two smaller regions;
- The Gap of Rohan: This great gap on the west of Rohan between the southern end of the Misty Mountains and the northernmost peaks of the White Mountains forms the western boundary of the kingdom of Rohan. This gap is located in a very strategic position, and if the forces of Isengard succeed in capturing it they can mount an invasion of Rohan itself. To this end, large forces of Dunlendings have been mustering at camps in the Gap, and only wait the word to strike out against their hated enemies, the Rohirrim.
- Nan Curunír: (S. Valley of Saruman) The valley of Nan Curunír is nestled in the southern feet of the Misty Mountains by the Gap of Rohan, wherein is contained the fortress of Isengard itself. The valley is a desolate and barren place, bereft of the great forests which it used to harbor before the treachery of Saruman. Many camps of the enemy are located in the valley, which house the many servants of the White Hand.
- East Rohan
- The lands of Eastern Rohan are varied: vast green fields expand between serene cool waters, the old stone hill and knob forest of Eastwall, and quiet farmlands tended by the people of Rohan. Originally the Gondorian province of Calenardhon, the land north of the White Mountains was gifted by Steward Cirion to Eorl of the Northmen in TA 2510. Eorl had led his men through great hardship from the far north to the aid of Gondor, and Cirion gave him the wide green lands of Calenardhon in recognition of his aid, swearing eternal friendship between old Gondor and the new land of Rohan. East Rohan in the game is defined by its borders between the Entwash and the Anduin. East Rohan is designed for characters leveled 76 to 85. The region is divided into several sub-regions;
- The Wold: Rohan’s northernmost border march, the Wold is all but cut off from the capital at Edoras but its men are no less loyal for it. Beset on all sides by enemies, Orcs massing to the west and Easterllings crossing the Anduin to the east, the Rohirrim of the North-march refuse to abandon their watch even when ordered
- The East Wall: This regions follows the gorge of the Anduin River from above the Argonath at Nan Hithoel to the Falls of Rauros and is separated from the Wold, Norcrofts and Sutcrofts by steep mountain slopes. Many Orcs of the White-Hand have been scouring this land of late, although their purpose can only be guessed at.
- The Entwash Vale: The Entwash Vale is a wide and fertile valley that is located South of the Eaves of Fangorn, North of the Sutcrofts and West of the Norcrofts. It has suffered greatly in recent days at the hands of the White Hand, and many Orc camps dot the landscape.
- The Eaves of Fangorn: This region is set under the eastern eaves of the forest of Fangorn, to the northwest of the Entwash Vale. There is a great deal of threats in the woods, including the corrupted Huorns of the forest and Uruk-hai of Isengard who have established a lumber camp.
- The Norcrofts: The Norcrofts are the wide open fields south of the Wold used by the Rohirrim as rich farmland and pasturage. The Norcrofts face many of the same threats as do the other regions in Eastern Rohan, such as increasingly aggressive wildlife and the invaders from Mordor and Isengard.
- The Sutcrofts: The Sutcrofts are similar to the more northerly Norcrofts of Rohan, but these southern plains are much more populated and tilled by the Rohirrim. The capital city of the Sutcrofts of Snowbourn is the largest city in Eastern Rohan, and is built upon the ruins of an ancient Gondorian settlement.
- Wildermore: The land of Wildermore was once similar in clime and geography to its westerly neighbor the Wold, but recently it has been morphed into a frozen wasteland by Núrzum, an evil Stone Giant under the influence of Saruman.
- (S. Middle-region) Originally deeply forested, the great forests of this region were cut down by the Númenóreans during the Second Age. In the years after their founding, Enedwaith lay between Arnor to the north and Gondor to the south, and so the people who lived here were known as the 'middle-folk'. It is assumed that in the earliest days of the two Kingdoms, Enedwaith was considered to fall within the boundaries of Gondor, and its ancient presence is still seen in many tumbled down ruins. By the late Third Age, only a few people lived here, and most of these were Hillmen from Dunland. For the most part Enedwaith somewhat resembles the more southerly lands of Dunland in that it is a hilly and rugged landscape, but the land forms to be found here are many and varied. Dunlending deserters from Saruman's army have retreated out of Eregion from the north and have set up camp in the northern regions of Fordirith, while elsewhere evil things stir and Giants descend out of the hills. The men of Enedwaith, the Algraig, have struggled in recent days to defend their land against their hostile neighbours, the Dragon-clan, as well as the forces of the White Hand. Enedwaith is designed for characters leveled 55 to 60.
- Ered Luin
- (S. Blue Mountains) A mountain range located in the far west of Eriador, north-west of and connected to the Shire. The Blue Mountains, as they are known in Westron, are dominated by dwarves descending from the exile king Thráin II and by elves who used to live in Edhelion but now are established in the south along river Lhûn. Ered Luin has a long history, though not prominent nor prosperous in any way. This did not change when Thráin and his son Thorin Oakenshield arrived, only iron could be mined there. However the Dwarves of the Blue Mountains remained in the region, side by side with elves gathering wood used for their white ships and running famous vineyards long since. In recent days, the Dwarves and Elves of the region have had to contend with the large numbers of Goblins and the Dwarf brigands of the Dourhand Clan that threaten their homes. The Ered Luin is designed for characters level 1to 15.
- (S. Land of Holly) Also known as Hollin in the tongues of men, Eregion was a kingdom of the Noldorin Elves in Eriador during the Second Age, located near the West Gate of Khazad-dûm under the shadow of The Misty Mountains. Once Eregion was the home of the great Elf-smiths who forged the three great Elf-rings, the only ones to escape Sauron's corruption. In the Third Age, Eregion now is a pleasant but unpopulated land, and contains many of the ruins of the Elven civilization that once thrived there. It is famous for its holly trees, whence the name in both Westron and Sindarin came from. The forces of both Angmar and Isengard have descended upon this region in search of the long lost Ring-lore of the Elves, which was used to construct the Rings of Power. An expedition of Elves out of Rivendell sent by Elrond has come here to hinder the forces of the enemy in their search, and is headquartered in many of the long abandoned Elven ruins of the land. Eregion is designed for characters leveled 45 to 55.
- North of Rivendell are the troll-fens where Aragorn’s grandfather, Arador, met his end at the hands of the Hill-trolls dwelling in the Coldfells. Long lost to corruption, the Ettenmoors once served as part of the Kingdom of Rhudaur. In the north, flowing out of the Misty Mountains, is the Hoarwell River. The great river flows toward the south, becoming impassable until the Last Bridge at the border between the Lone-lands and the Trollshaws. It is rumored that Fallohide Hobbits may once have migrated along the shores of the Hoarwell River, perhaps even making themselves a home along its banks as they journeyed west across the Misty Mountains. In the Northwest, a terrible peak rises to cast its great shadow far to the east. This mountain, once home to the goblin Golfimbul, is known as Mount Gram and at its foot, the fearsome forces of Angmar have laid claim to the land. To the southeast lies the Free People's camp of Glân Vraig, where Elves, Men, and Dwarves have come together to prevent the southerly advance of Angmar's forces. Throughout the Ettenmoors is scattered five strongholds which can either be claimed by the forces of Good or Evil. These locations include the a lumber camp to the south, a mine to the north, and three ruined fortresses of Rhudaur among the hills. The Ettenmoors is currently the only PvP region in The Lord of the Rings Online, although it also possesses PvE content that is always designed for the current in-game level cap.
- Evendim is located between the Shire and the northern Forochel, and west of The North Downs. A vast region dominated by the majestic lake from which it gets its name, Lake Evendim is also known as Nenuial which is Sindarin for Lake of Twilight. Here the dwindling numbers of Dúnedain have struggled long years to honor their heritage. Little is said about Evendim but Elendil came here no earlier than Second Age 3320 and founded the northern Kingdom of Arnor, while his two sons founded Gondor in the south. Ten High Kings ruled out of Annúminas, the shining jewel on the southern shore of Nenuial. However, Amlaith never became the eleventh King but removed to Fornost and Arnor was split in three. The ancient abandoned city of Annúminas, the former capital of the Kingdom of Arnor, is well known amongst the Free Peoples. For according to the legends, amidst its ruins lay great wealth and powerful artefacts now threatened by evil creatures and the nefarious forces lurking in Angmar. The Wardens of Annúminas have set up a smaller camp within the ruins and a large camp at Tinnudir, trying to press back the Enemy and secure the tombs of old. Evendim is designed for characters leveled 32 to 40.
- (S. Northern Lands) Forochel is located northernmost of Eriador, north-east of Ered Luin, north of Evendim, and west of Angmar. The only road runs from north-eastern Evendim via Kauppa-kohta and further north. These frost-bitten expanses with the infamous Ice Bay lie surrounded by steep mountain sides but connects to the Great Sea to the north. Beasts accustomed to the grim climate are roaming the tundra, but recently large numbers of Angmarim and Gauredain have set up camps and disturb the wildlife as well as cause the hardy Men of Forochel much trouble. Forochel will always be remembered for when King Arvedui escaped Fornost in III 1974, hid in dwarf-mines at the slopes of the Blue Mountains with his men, and eventually gained help from the Lossoth who right-fully feared Angmar's wrath. Círdan the Shipwright sent a ship west of the mountains for the King and it arrived in March 1975. However, a great storm trapped the ship in the ice masses until it was broken. Today adventurers supporting the Free Peoples, as well as foes out of Angmar, are seeking other heirlooms that were lost but maybe lie in wait under the snow. Forochel is designed for characters leveled 39 to 52.
- Great River
- Also known as Parth Celebrant (S. Field of Celebrant), the great River is the region south of Lothlórien that follows the mighty Anduin river. The landscape of the Great River is varied and beautiful, ranging from the wooded region of Thinglad upon the border with Lórien, to the wide open fields of the Field of Celebrant, and the craggy woodlands of the Limlight Gorge. This region forms the northernmost border of the kingdom of Rohan, and is watched over by the stronghold of Stangard which sits upon the Limlight River. In ancient times this region was also the northernmost expanse of the Kingdom of Gondor, and a reminder of these times stands in the form of the ruins of a great castle named Ost Celebrant in the south. The Field of Celebrant is perhaps most well known for the battle that occurred there in TA 2510 between the forces of the Eothéod, the ancestors of the Rohirrim, and the many Orcs and Easterlings that had threatened to destroy the Northern Army of Gondor. Beyond all hope, the Northmen rode to the aid of Gondor, and coming upon the rear of their foe they utterly defeated them. As a result of this the land of Rohan was gifted to the Northmen by the Steward of Gondor, Cirion, and this land holds great significance to the men of Rohan as the birthplace of their nation. The Great River is designed for players leveled 70 to 75.
- The Lone-lands are located between Bree-land and the Trollshaws, along the Great East Road. In ancient times, this was part of the Kingdom of Rhudaur, but today the Lone-lands are little more than a savage wilderness. Recently, hordes of goblins, half-orcs, orcs, crebain and wargs have overrun the land, in service to the White Hand and Angmar. The most regal and prominent feature of the Lone-lands rises above the road like a symbol of the land’s sad legacy: Weathertop. Once known as Amon Sûl, it was a proud tower of vision and vigilance and the home of the strongest palantír of the north. However, it fell in battle to the Witch-king of Angmar, and has sat derelict in the wild since then. Today, countless orcs prowl through the place’s rubble, and the few Rangers who defend it cannot often deter them. While the Lone-lands has no capital town, a strong remnant of the Eglain have made the ruined fortress of Ost Guruth a settlement with many excellent services. Bordering Bree-land, the Forsaken Inn provides visitors with some services, and furthest to the east, the Last Bridge still spans the river Mitheithel. The Lone-Lands are designed for players leveled 22 to 35.
- (S. Lórien of the Blossom) Lothlórien is the fabled golden woods whose Elves dwell high in the mallorn-trees and are ruled by Celeborn, wisest of the Eldar of Middle-earth, and the Lady Galadriel. The Golden Wood is a blaze of light and color at the edge of the Black Pit of Moria. Even in this time of shadow and fear, Celeborn, Galadriel, and their Silvan people keep it safe. When Celeborn and Galadriel passed into Middle-earth, they settled at last beyond the Misty Mountains among the silvan folk of Laurelindórenan, the "Land of the Valley of Singing Gold". Its name sprang from the colors of the Mallorn trees which grow there, whose leaves turn golden in the autumn. Lord Celeborn is acknowledged throughout Middle-earth as the wisest of the Wise, while Galadriel his wife is known to have the gift of foresight, though much of the truth lies in the Ring of Power she secretly wields: Nenya, the Ring of Adamant. Together they rule the Golden Wood, protecting it through the power of Nenya. Evil does not enter Lórien, though neither do many others, for the Elves jealously guard their borders, distrustful of the world beyond. However, in these dark days even the realm of Lórien is no longer safe, as war approaches on its borders from all sides. Lothlórien is designed for characters leveled 55 to 60.
- The south of the once great forest of Mirkwood or Eryn Lasgalen has been corrupted by the evil of the great fortress at Dol Guldur. The woods that once were home to the fair Silvan Elves of Middle-earth are now the haunt of Orcs, wild beasts, and other fell things too terrible to name. In ancient times the fortress was claimed by a great sorcerer known only as 'The Necromancer', who had the power to summon the spirits of the dead into the world of the living. Although he was long ago driven out by the White Council, the fortress of Dol Guldur has not been idle. The second among the Nazgûl, the Lieutenant of Dol Guldur, has kept watch over the fortress in Sauron's absence, and even now is readying to make war upon the lands of the Free People's in northern Middle-earth. However, to distract the attention of the fortress from the One Ring which now travels south, the Elves of Lothlórien have launched a mighty assault upon the woods from the west across the Anduin, and now the woods reverberate to the sound of war. Mirkwood is designed for characters leveled 61 to 65.
- Misty Mountains
- Known as the Hithaeglir in Sindarin, the Misty Moutains are a great mountain ridge that constitutes a border between Eriador and Rhovanion. This ridge runs from near Isengard in the south to Carn Dûm in Angmar and beyond, a distance of about 1,300 km. There are very few passes over these forbidding mountains, although the High Pass and the Redhorn Pass are well known. One of the most renowned locations of the Misty Mountains is Goblin-town, near which Bilbo Baggins, Gandalf, Thorin and Company spent a stormy night in a small cave, being on their Quest of Erebor. The Misty Mountains is the main contributor to many large rivers, the Bruinen and the Mitheithel are two of the rivers flowing westwards, and Nimrodel is one of many rivers flowing eastwards. In-game, a small section of the greater ridge proper is depicted. It is overrun by Gauredain, Giants, Ggoblins, Wargs, and Worms, as well as bears, snow-beasts and wolves. The Misty Mountains have very few settlements. Glóin's Camp provides some basic services and is located just at the one and only entrance to this region, connecting to Rivendell Valley in the Trollshaws. The even smaller camps of Hrimbarg and Vindurhal are mere frost-bitten outposts among the vast snowy peaks of the mountains. The Misty Mountains are designed for characters leveled 39 to 50.
- (S. Black Pit) is an enormous underground complex in north-western Middle-earth, comprising a vast network of tunnels, chambers, mines and huge halls and mansions that ran under and ultimately through the Misty Mountains. There, for many thousands of years, lived the Dwarf clan known as the Longbeards. The Dwarrowdelf was founded by Durin 'the Deathless' in the far distant past, long before the creation of the Sun and Moon. The three peaks overshadowing the lake he named Barazinbar the Redhorn, Zirak-zigil the Silvertine and Bundushathûr, Cloudyhead. The icy cold springs feeding it he called Kibil-Nâla, although to the valley itself he gave the name Azanulbizar, The Dimrill Dale. Durin chose the caves above Kheled-zâram as the earliest beginnings of his stronghold: Khazad-dûm, 'the Dwarrowdelf'. After his death, the reputation of Durin's realm continued to grow, not merely due to his spiritual ascendancy over the other Fathers of the Dwarves as the eldest amongst them, or the Dwarrowdelf's growing size, but to its great wealth, which was founded upon the uniquely precious metal Mithril, which was universally prized yet found nowhere else in Middle-earth. In the end it became the longest surviving city of people's in all of Middle-earth, but just as all things must come to an end so to did the kingdom of Khazad-Dûm. In the year TA 1980, the Dwarves mined too deep in their search for Mithril and woke an ancient terror, a Balrog of Morgoth, which slew the king and drove the people of Khazad-Dûm far away. Thereafter the kingdom of Khazad-Dûm became known as Moria, the Black Pit, and it became the abode of Orcs, Goblins, and other fell things. In the game, the Iron Garrison of Erebor has returned to Moria to reclaim the kingdom of their ancestors from the evil that has overrun it. Moria is designed for players leveled 50 to 60. Moria is divided into many sub-regions;
- Durin's Way: This proud level of Moria is named for the eldest of the Seven Fathers of the Dwarves — Durin of the Longbeard Clan — and the sixth king to bear his name, the second-last to rule in Khazad-dûm. It is the northernmost territory inside Moria. Along the southern region of Durin's Way stretches the path the Fellowship of the Ring took from the three-way junction to the Chamber of Mazarbul, and on to the Second Hall. Durin's Way harbors Orcs directed by the brutal White Hand Uruks of Saruman. In addition, there are conscripted Goblins and their vicious warg mounts and the Merrevail, an ancient evil race not seen in many centuries.
- The Flaming Deeps: The ancient halls and rough-hewn passages of the Flaming Deeps are some of the grandest and most breathtaking structures in all of Moria. Sandstone, basalt, granite, wulfenite, gypsum, smoky quartz, beryl, feldspar, and more are found in walls, columns, and intricately patterned floors. Towering pillars that disappear into darkness above stretch toward an unseen horizon, and monumental stone bridges spanning monstrous chasms are a testament to the engineering magnificence of the Dwarves. Though the Dwarves that once roamed these magnificent passages are gone, the forges are not cold and the halls do not lie empty. Today the Flaming Deeps have become home to savage Orc tribes. They are ruled by the ferocious Fire Orcs of the Ghâsh-hai and their allies—forces of the powerful Mazog, leader of an Orc army risen from the bowels of the Shadowy Abyss. Furthermore, the Ghâsh-hai work to expand the ancient tunnels on the outskirts of the Flaming Deeps to commune with the Balrog.
- The Foundations of Stone: This deepest region of Moria is a shadowy abyss, a chilling, vast, and strange place made of twisted stones, woeful waters, and creeping fog. Horrifying monsters haunt these dark cracks in the earth, lurking amid swollen and glowing mushrooms, hiding in the shadows beneath strange arches and spurs of living rock. The Foundations of Stone is a surreal maze of enormous, spiking rock and strange fungal bulbs. Marbled stone the color of bone and blood bends and juts into walls and spears. Low caves lure explorers into the lairs of bloodthirsty things that have never been seen by the sun above.
- The Great Delving: The first region of Moria to be rediscovered by travelers from the west is both an entryway and a crossroads. Known as the Great Delving, this quarter of Khazad-dûm links mines to palaces, academies to foundries, and the cavernous underground of Moria to all the realms of Eriador in the west. It is here that the saga of Khazad-Dûm’s restoration and rescue truly begins. Much of the Great Delving is an unexpected juxtaposition of Dwarf-cut masterworks and raw, unshaped stone. In some corners of the region, the remains of great works are crumbling back into the earth.
- Nud-Melek: The easternmost region of Moria is also the most ancient. Called Nud-melek by the Dwarves, this is the Khâzad-dûm of old, the halls first dug out of the mountain by the Dwarves of the First Age. Now it stands cracked and damaged, having weathered fierce battles and fell beasts, including the dreaded Balrog known as Durin’s Bane. Yet still it stands proud and glorious, looming high and beautiful inside the mountain, seemingly ready to endure another age’s worth of wear and war thanks to the mighty craftsmanship of ancient Dwarf-smiths. Knowing from the earliest days that the wealth and grandeur of Khâzad-dûm would attract pillagers and enemies of all sorts, Durin’s folk built the halls just inside the East-gate for defense. A deep gash in the earth crosses this region, and the ancient Dwarves, treating that chasm as a kind of natural moat, erected a defensible course across that gap: the Bridge of Khazad-dûm.
- The Redhorn Lodes: The Redhorn Lodes sprawl amidst the rocks between and below Zelem-melek and Nud-melek. Where the regal and formal halls of those regions are refined and crafted into stunning demonstrations of Dwarf ingenuity and architectural vision, the Redhorn Lodes is a region of function and utility, cut out of the rock along paths dictated solely by the courses of ore veins. On the ground level of the lower Redhorn Lodes, stout red ore-houses, sturdy workhouses, and miners’ estates cluster around the stairs. These served as the offices of stately Dwarf ore-barons, as well as the dormitories of rugged miners. These buildings contained the dusty workshops where ore was refined and polished, and also the vaults where gems were secured.
- The Silvertine Lodes: Deep in the belly of the great Misty Mountain peak called Celebdil by the Elves, Zirak-zigil by the Dwarves, and Silvertine by Men, one of the great quarries of Khazad-dûm lies in shadow and dust. This deep place, known as the Silvertine Lodes, once glittered with ore and shone with the light of crystal lamps glinting off raw Mithril; now it gapes like a hole not just in the earth but in the image of Khazad-dûm. Once, many long centuries ago, this hole was begun beneath the mountain to supply stone for great palaces and castles in Khazad-dûm and in far-off kingdoms but the Dwarves of Moria kept digging, beyond caution or reason, mad in their pursuit of Mithril, until the Silvertine Lodes were all but exhausted. They scratched away at the dignity of the mines until little was left but a pit in the earth.
- The Water-Works: In the utmost south of Moria, caught between two terrifying regions of peril and shadow, lies the strange serenity of the Waterworks. Here, cool mists and wide stretches of calm water create an ethereal atmosphere that simultaneously mingles grandeur and reflection. That calm is dangerous, for it belies the threats that lurk there, both above and below the surface. Though far removed from Moria’s Hollin and Dimrill Gates, the Waterworks includes what appear to be some of the most ancient stone-works in Khazad-dûm. Rough, old-fashioned statuary and corridors made of stacked stone bricks still stand here from the days of old. Enormous palatial structures, built to contain the region’s massive namesake waterworks, stand alongside older and more modest towers.
- Zelem-Melek: Once a vault of stately terraces and regal halls, the western half of the heart of Khazad-dûm, called Zelem-melek, now struggles to maintain its majesty against an occupying force of bloodthirsty Orc defilers drawn from the armies of Mordor and Isengard. Snarling Goblin totems gloat before defaced Dwarf statues. Bloody shrines to Sauron stake claims in once-honoured halls for the forces of the Shadow. Brutish Orc camps littered with stripped skulls and broken crystals befoul the air with a gruesome stink. Yet, despite the woeful work of the Enemy’s vandals, the grandeur of Zelem-melek still endures. The tall passageways of the Terraced Halls defy the reach of Goblins. The glow of ancient, crystalline Dwarf-lamps cuts through the smoke of Orc bonfires. Vast halls and towering columns wrought by the Dwarves of old make the Enemy’s minions seem small and petty—at least from afar.
- Zirak-Zigil: Zirakzigil, the Silvertine, known also as Celebdil the White in the Elvish tongue, is one of three peaks of the Misty Mountains, below which lie the cavernous halls of Moria, the ancient dwarf-home of Khazad-dûm. It is said that Durin the Deathless once stood upon its peak, but that knowledge is lost, deep in the memory of the Ages. In more recent times, a great battle of flame and lightning took place upon Zirakzigil, and the mountainside was broken. Any who chanced to behold the great battle thought a terrible storm raged in the mountains.
- The North Downs is located between Bree-land, Evendim, and Angmar, at the northern end of the ancient North-South Road. For more than a thousand years no king has ruled from Fornost. The hidden fortress of Esteldín serves as the capital of the North Downs, being the headquarters of the Rangers under Halbarad's command, kinsman of Aragorn. Recently the town of Trestlebridge was under a fierce attack by grim orcs, but this turned out to be only a spur while the Enemy overrun Fornost, Dol Dínen, and other long since unused ruins. As well, the Elves have always upheld a refuge in Lin Giliath, and the Dwarves have long mined silver in Othrikar. The three races of the North Downs must unite to stand against their common enemy, or they will surely fail. The North Downs is designed for characters leveled 18 to 40.
- The Shire
- The Shire is located south-east of Ered Luin and west of Bree-land, across the Brandywine River. The country of the Shire is a land of peace and pastoral beauty, where hobbits dwell in seclusion from the world at large. In former times, Men were seldom seen there, though Dwarves often passed through the Shire as they travelled to the Blue Mountains from their lands in the East. More rarely still, Elves could sometimes be seen in the woods as they journeyed to Mithlond, the Grey Havens beyond the borders of the Shire, where they cross the Sea into the West. Dark things seldom threatened the hills and meadows of the Shire. Largely this has been because Hobbits are very good at keeping to their own business and not being noticed by others. But Little Folk would be aghast and unbelieving if they only knew the lengths to which Gandalf the Grey and the Rangers of the North have gone to ensure the country's peace. However, even the Shire cannot now escape the notice of the Shadow in the East. The Shire is designed for characters leveled 1 to 13.
- The Trollshaws is located in the east of Eriador, largely between the rivers Hoarwell and Bruinen, but also includes the highlands east of Bruinen and south of Rivendell. The Trollshaws lies east of The Lone-lands, with Eregion to the south, the Ettenmoors to the north, and the Misty Mountains to the north-east. The woods and gorges of the Trollshaws have long been largely uninhabited, except for Elrond's elven refuge in the secluded valley of Imladris. This region became known as the Trollshaws after the lands of Rhudaur were cast into ruin and became inhabited by evil trolls. The region is filled with towering pine and beech trees, and the horizons are often blocked by high hills and steep, impassable cliffs that shadow deep gorges and dead-end ravines. The woods are dotted with ruins, remnants of lost civilization that now serve as lairs for some of Middle-earth's most savage beasts and servants of the dark lords. Rivendell Valley is an area that is nestled in the deep valleys below The Misty Mountains, richly watered by streams flowing down the cliff faces and springs bubbling up from the ground. The valley is itself a settlement, the capital of the Trollshaws, in which the natural centre of activities is The Last Homely House, Elrond's magnificent residence. The Trollshaws is designed for characters leveled 30 to 50.
There are four playable races in Lord of the Rings Online. Players can choose a male or female sex for each race apart from Dwarves, for whom no gender choice is given.
There are seven classes that can be played in The Lord of the Rings Online: Burglar, Captain, Champion, Guardian, Hunter, Lore-master, and Minstrel. There are two additional classes that can be played in the Mines of Moria expansion: Rune-keeper and Warden.
|Burglar||Man, Hobbit||Light, Medium||Daggers, 1H Clubs, 1H Maces, 1H Swords||Yes||Debuffer / CC|
|Captain||Man||Light, Medium, Heavy||Light||Daggers, 1H Axes, 1H Clubs, 1H Hammers, 1H Maces, 1H Swords, 2H Axes, 2H Clubs, 2H Hammers, 2H Swords, Spears, Halberds||No||Buffer / Pets / Healer|
|Champion||Man, Elf, Dwarf||Light, Medium, Heavy||Daggers, 1H Axes, 1H Clubs, 1H Hammers, 1H Maces, 1H Swords, 2H Axes, 2H Hammers, 2H Swords, Spears, Bows||Yes||AoE / Melee DPS|
|Guardian||Man, Elf, Dwarf, Hobbit||Light, Medium, Heavy||Light, Heavy||Daggers, 1H Axes, 1H Clubs, 1H Hammers, 1H Maces, 1H Swords, 2H Axes, 2H Clubs, 2H Hammers, 2H Swords, Spears, Bows, Crossbows||No||Tank|
|Hunter||Man, Elf, Dwarf, Hobbit||Light, Medium||Daggers, 1H Axes, 1H Clubs, 1H Hammers, 1H Maces, 1H Swords, Spears, Bows, Crossbows||Yes||Ranged DPS / Utility|
|Lore-master||Man, Elf||Light||Staves, (1H Swords reach level 40)||Yes (reach level 40)||Debuffer / CC / Pets|
|Minstrel||Man, Elf, Dwarf, Hobbit||Light||Light||Daggers, 1H Clubs, 1H Maces, 1H Swords, (1H Axes with Dwarf Base Passive Skill)||No||Healer / Buffer|
|Rune-keeper||Elf, Dwarf||Light||Rune Stones, (1H Axes with Dwarf Base Passive Skill)||No||DPS / Healer|
|Warden||Man, Elf, Hobbit||Light, Medium||Light, Warden||Daggers, 1H Axes, 1H Clubs, 1H Hammers, 1H Maces, 1H Swords, Spears, Javelins||No||Tank|
In LOTRO, characters cannot choose a single profession, but they choose a vocation which is composed of three professions.
Professions are bundled into groups of three called vocations. Most vocations include a gathering profession and two crafting professions that complement each other. Vocations create interdependence in the economy, requiring players to trade for resources. A given character can only specialize in one vocation at a time.
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.
- Cooks create food items consumed to recover morale and power both in and out of combat and give temporary bonuses to stats. They also make lute strings that reduce minstrels' threat. Materials for this skill are harvested by farmers, or by the new hobby skill, fishing.
- Farmers grow crops used by cooks. This skill differs from the other harvesting professions in that it requires seeds to grow items. Farmers also provide scholars with rare harvests used to make dyes and straw to make traps for hunters.
- Foresters gather branches of wood scattered around the world, similar to ore nodes. They are also able to treat leather from hides that drop from animals for use by a tailor.
- Jewellers create various pieces of jewelery, which confer benefits on the wearer, such as additional stats. They also craft hope tokens, runes for champions and rune stones for runekeepers. Jewellers get gems and metal from prospectors (which is a craft skill known by all jewellers).
- Metalsmiths create heavy armour and shields made of metal and tools for all the crafting professions. They get materials from prospectors, tailors and jewellers.
- Prospectors mine randomly scattered ores, gems and salts. They smelt ore into metal ingots, which are used by jewellers, weaponsmiths, and metalsmiths.
- Scholar combines both harvesting and crafting. Scholars decipher lore inside urns and vases which are usually found near ruins. Scholar uses lore items and other ingredients to make potions, bow chants, scrolls which serve as buffs for battle, and scrolls that give other crafters a higher critical chance to make a better - 'critted' - item. They also make dyes from plants and mineral salts, and scribe books for hunters, loremasters, and minstrels.
- Tailors make light and medium armour, cosmetic clothing, burglar signals, captain standards and runekeeper satchels. Crafting medium or light armour requires leather from foresters.
- Weaponsmiths craft weapons such as swords, axes, and maces. They also produce tricks for burglars, traps for hunters, and shield spikes for guardians.
- Woodworkers make wooden weapons (bows, clubs, hammers and spears), minstrel instruments, warden carvings and other crafting components needed by other professions. Woodworkers require treated wood from foresters.
The in-game currency is copper, silver and gold coins with 100 copper = one silver coin and 1000 silver coins = one gold coin. 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. Players with free accounts may have no more than two gold coins, while players with subscriptions, or those who have purchased a gold cap removal from the LotRO Store, may have 9999 gold, 999 silver, and 99 copper coins. 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. (Developer's Journal February 2013)
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 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. As he leaves for Rivendell as well, Gandalf instructs the player to find one of his 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
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.
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.
Book 9: Shores of Evendim
The first free content update was released on June 14, 2007.
- Discovery of Evendim
- Over 100 new quests
- Raid in the Battle for Helegrod
- Nine new monsters
- Collectible armour sets
Book 10: The City of the Kings
The second free-content update was released on August 21, 2007 in North America and on August 24, 2007 in Europe.
- Continuation of the Story Line.
- Legendary Play – Players can now use Destiny Points to play as a Ranger of the North or as a Troll.
- Critter Play – Players can now explore Middle-earth from a different viewpoint as a chicken.
- New Reputation and Bartering Systems – The Reputation system enables players to earn positive and negative standing with different races and groups in Middle-earth based on both monster kills and quest completions. The Bartering system allows players to trade trophies earned in battle for rewards, such as armour sets or mounts.
- Over 100 new Quests.
- More customizable user interface.
Book 11: Prisoner Of The Free Peoples
Updates include (complete release notes):
- Continuation of the Epic Story arc, including 13 quests.
- Player housing – players will be able to customize their houses with items such as furniture and doormats.
- Second raid called "The Rift" – 12-player raid in which players encounter a Balrog for the first time. Turbine has stressed that this is not the Balrog from Khazad-dûm.
- Two new areas – Tâl Bruinen in the Trollshaws, where Gollum will be introduced for the first time, and Goblin Town in the Misty Mountains, featured in The Hobbit.
- More than 100 new quests.
Book 12: The Ashen Wastes
The fourth free content update was released on February 13, 2008 in North America; and February 14, 2008 in Europe.
Updates include (complete release notes):
- Continuation of the Story Line.
- Character customization - Increased character customization "ranging from haircuts, to some (possible) additions to the trait-system." In addition, the Outfit system, along with many special social clothing designed just for it, will be introduced where a second or third set of clothing can be slotted and displayed while retaining the statistical bonuses of the currently equipped items.
- The Delving of Frór - A new Monster Play PVE (and PVMP under certain circumstances) area will be introduced: An expanse of caves and catacombs located beneath the Ettenmoors.
- The Great Angmar Revamp - A revamp of the most high-level region of the game's current 9 PvE regions. The revamp included the reworking of many quests, areas and other changes, such as new horse routes.
- Barbershop - You can customize the look of your avatar in-game with around 50 new haircuts and second set of details.
- Updates to the Burglar, Guardian, and Champion classes.
Book 13: Doom of the Last-King
The fifth free content update was released on April 24, 2008 in North America and on May 1, 2008 in Europe.
Updates include (complete release notes):
- A new playable map area: the Ice Bay of Forochel.
- Players being able to see the ocean for the first time, confirmed as the Ice Bay of Forochel in recent developer chats.
- Fishing - the first of a new system in Lord of the Rings Online, called 'hobbies'.
- New PVMP Monster Healing Class - Orc Defiler.
- Looking For Fellowship- and Quest-panel improvements.
Book 14: The Ring-forges of Eregion
The sixth free content update was released on July 22, 2008 in North America. It was released on July 24, 2008 in Europe.
Updates include (complete release notes):
- Climax of the "Shadows of Angmar" storyline.
- Added selected sections of Eregion (Region leading towards the Gates of Moria).
- Epic Quest events that will allow interaction between players regardless of server.
- Prelude quests for and leading up to the Mines of Moria expansion. Which will have updates leading to Lothlórien, Fangorn, Rhovanion and Rohan.
Book 15: Daughter of Strife
The seventh free content update was released on November 18, 2008. This update was released in tandem with the Mines of Moria expansion for players who did not purchase the expansion release.
Updates include (Epic - Vol. I, Book 15: Daughter of Strife Quests epic):
- Conclusion of the "Shadows of Angmar" storyline.
- Added the zone of Eregion expanding on the selected sections from Book 14. The zone does not include the Hollin Gate leading to the Black Pool.
- Added UI enhancements
Free to Play Updates
After The Lord of the Rings Online adopted the free-to-play business model in 2010, there has since been a series of updates made to the game every several months, each of which is a full patch to the game and contain numerous revamps to the game. These revamps include things such as additional content in the form of new regions (or updates to previously existing regions), the addition of new group instances, modifications to the games engine or changes to the in-game mechanics, as well as the addition of new gameplay systems (such as mounted combat). In addition to the main whole-numbered updates, there are also more regular patches made to the game which use a decimal number system. These updates also include all of the games expansions since the Siege of Mirkwood, which was the last paid-subscription model expansion released before the game became free-to-play.
Update 1: Oath of the Rangers
The first free-to-play update was released on March 1, 2010 in North America.
Updates include (Update 1 Patch Notes on LOTRO Wiki)
- Adoption of the free-to-play subscription model.
- Addition of Volume III: Book 2: The Ride of the Grey Company.
- Large updates made to many aspects of the game, some of which include: Classes, instances and raids, crafting, questing, deeds and reputation, and travel.
- The unveiling of the LOTRO store to the game, a store that can be browsed for items which can be purchased using the Turbine points currency system.
- Revamp of the Ered Luin region.
- Graphics, animation, and user interface updates.
There was a total of two patches for Update 1, which were released on December 3, 2010, and January 4, 2011 respectively.
Update 2: Echoes of the Dead
The second free-to-play update was released on March 18, 2011 in North America.
Updates include (Update 2 Patch Notes on LOTRO Wiki)
- Addition of Volume III: Book 3: Echoes of the Dead
- The creation of a new instance cluster that added four new instances; two three person instances, two six person instances, and a 12 person raid.
- General updates to classes, instances, general game-play, and many other aspects of the game.
- Removal of the radiance gameplay mechanic.
- Revamp of the Evendim region.
There was only a single patch for Update 2, which was released on April 15, 2011.
Update 3: Lost Legends of Eriador
The third free-to-play update was released on May 23, 2011 in North America.
Updates include (Update 3 Patch Notes at LOTRO Wiki)
- Addition of two new scaling instances, Inn of the Forsaken and Halls of Night.
- Two new skirmishes, Attack at Dawn and The Icy Crevasse.
- Updates to classes and general gameplay.
There was only one patch for Update 3, which was released on June 20, 2011.
Update 4: Rise of Isengard
The fourth free-to-play update was released on September 27, 2011 in North America. The update contained the games third major expansion, The Rise of Isengard.
Updates include (Update 4 Patch Notes on LOTRO Wiki)
- The Rise of Isengard Expansion, which added the regions of Dunland, The Gap of Rohan, and Nan Curunír.
- Raising of the level cap to 75.
- Continuation of the Volume III Epic Quest storyline.
- The addition of new Skirmish Traits
- Expansion of the crafting system to Tier 7.
- Various other general updates and revamps.
There were two patches to Update 4, which were released on October 19, 2011, and November 16, 2011.
Update 5: Armies of Isengard
The fifth free-to-play update was released on December 12, 2011 in North America.
Updates include (Update 5 Patch Notes at LOTRO Wiki)
- Addition of the Isengard instance cluster, which added four new fellowship instances and a 12-man raid to the game.
- Continuation of Volume III in Book 5: The Prince of Rohan.
- The unveiling of the new instance finder tool, which makes it no longer necessary to find the entrance to an instance to initiate it with a group.
- Update to the quest tracking system.
- Creation of a unified currency system for the games skirmish mode.
- Various other updates
There were two patches made to Update 5, which were released on January 17, 2012, and February 13, 2012.
Update 6: Shores of the Great River
The sixth free-to-play update was released on March 12, 2012 in North America.
Updates include (Update 6 Patch Notes at LOTRO Wiki)
- Addition of the new Great River region which contained content at the games level cap.
- Continuation of the Volume III Storyline.
- General class updates.
- New currency in the Ettenmoors PvP region, and various smaller updates.
There were two patches made to Update 6, which were released on March 21, 2012, and April 16, 2012.
Update 7: Shades of the Past
The seventh free-to-play update was released on May 14, 2012 in North America.
Updates include (Update 7 Patch Notes at LOTRO Wiki)
- Major revamp to the in-game Fornost instance.
- Revisions made to the first half of Moria, which include new quest hubs and a smoother quest flow.
- New Skirmish: Storm on Methedras.
- Addition of Star-lit crystals, which enhance the power of legendary items.
- Class tweaks and various smaller upgrades.
There were six patches made to Update 7. These were released on May 30, June 13, July 9, August 6, August 13, and September 17, 2012.
Update 8: Riders of Rohan
The eighth free-to-play update was released on October 15, 2012 in North America. The update contained the games fourth major expansion, Riders of Rohan.
Updates include (Update 8 Patch Notes at LOTRO Wiki)
- The addition of the large in-game landscape of Eastern Rohan, which is divided into six sub-regions: The Wold, the East Wall, the Norcrofts, the Sutcrofts, the Entwash Vale, and the Eaves of Fangorn.
- The raising of the games level cap to 85, and the expansion of the crafting system to Tier 8.
- Continuation of the Volume III Epic storyline into Rohan with the addition of three new epic books.
- The unveiling of the new mounted combat system and warsteeds, as well as a new legendary item slot: the Bridle.
- Updates to all classes which included new mounted combat abilities and skills.
- Open tap looting system, where all players who contributed to the defeat of an NPC can access its loot even if they are not in a fellowship.
- General upgrades.
There were three patches made to Update 8, released on October 17, October 23, and November 14, 2012.
Update 9: Against the Shadow
The ninth free-to-play update was released on December 17, 2012 in North America.
Updates include (Update 9 Patch Notes at LOTRO Wiki)
- Three new instances which were created to tie in to the concurrent release of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey: Iorbar's Peak, Seat of the Great Goblin, and Webs of the Scuttledells.
- Instance scaling of the Dol Guldur instance cluster.
- The second half of the Mines of Moria landscape revamp.
- Changes to the annual Yule Festival.
- Instant travel to quest target's with the use of Mithril Coins.
- Combat revisions and other upgrades to the game.
There were a total of three patches for Update 9, released on December 18, 2012, January 23, 2013, and February 11, 2013.
Update 10: Against the Shadow: Part II
The tenth free-to-play update was released on March 6, 2013 in North America.
Updates include (Update 10 Patch Notes at LOTRO Wiki)
- Critical defense changes and revisions.
- Addition of four new instances, which include thee 12-man raids: The Bells of Dale, Flight to the Lonely Mountain, The Fires of Smaug, and The Battle for Erebor.
- Instance scaling for all instances of the In Their Absence instance cluster.
Update 11: Treachery of the White Hand
The eleventh free-to-play update was released on May 13, 2013 in North America.
Updates include (Update 11 Patch Notes on LOTRO Wiki)
- Addition of the new region of Wildermore in Eastern Rohan.
- Continuation of the Volume III Epic storyline with the addition of Book 10: Snows of Wildermore.
- Mounted Combat update.
- The new 'Hobbit Gifts' system, where players can receive a minor daily gift or wait a week and receive a major gift.
- Housing changes, trait configurations, and general updates.
There were a total of six patches to Update 11. These were released on May 16, June 12, July 24, August 26, September 23, and October 14, 2013.
Update 12: Helm's Deep
The twelfth free-to-play update was released on November 20, 2013 in North America. The update contained the games fifth major expansion, Helm's Deep.
Updates include (Update 12 Patch Notes at LOTRO Wiki)
- Addition of the West Rohan region, which contains the sub-regions of the Broadacres, the Stonedeans, Kingstead, the Westfold, and the Eastfold.
- Raising of the game's level cap to level 95.
- Continuation of the Volume III Storyline with the addition of three new Epic Books.
- The addition of the 'Epic Battle' system, which allows players to partake in the Battle of Helm's Deep.
- The expansion of the crafting system to tier 9.
- Class changes, stat adjustments, and various other updates.
There has so far been a single patch to Update 12, which was released on November 22, 2013.
Mines of Moria Expansion
On March 14, 2008, Turbine announced the first commercial expansion. The expansion was released on November 18, 2008. This expansion, in addition to adding new areas set in Moria, added two new classes and leveling items.
The areas added focused around Moria, but also touched Lórien. Turbine announced that Books 13 and 14 would be released before Mines of Moria, and Book 15 would be the climax of the storyline. Mines of Moria included the first six books of a new storyline centering in Moria.
In addition to the new classes, Warden and Rune-Keeper, the level cap was raised to 60. Turbine promised that the increase in the game's level cap by 20% would affect crafting, raids, PvMP, and everything else.
According to Turbine, the Mines of Moria would be one of the greatest environments of any RPG yet. Creatures would use the environment to their advantage, such as sneaking through dark water or jumping out of the shadows. Parts of the mines would change to reflect your progress.
Siege of Mirkwood Expansion
On September 4, 2009, Turbine announced the second expansion. Release date was on December 1, 2009 and in Europe on December 3, 2009. This expansion raised the level cap to 65 as well as open up the southern part of Mirkwood around Dol Guldur. It also included new traits, virtues and skills.
The biggest change in the expansion was the new "skirmish" system that allows for repeatable, randomised and scalable combat based instances that can be accessed from anywhere in the game world for 1, 2, 3, 6 and 12 players and new 3, 6 and 12 player private instances that take place in Dol Guldur proper. In Skirmishes, the player is provided a companion soldier whose role can be customized to suit the class of the main character. Skirmishes yield regular XP for kills, XP for completion, and special skirmish marks that can be exchanged for various goods and benefits.
Gameplay enhancements have also been added and include changes to the combat, mount and legendary items systems.
Rise of Isengard Expansion
On November 19, 2010, Turbine made a press release for a third expansion, The Rise of Isengard, which officially brings the game's timeline to the events of The Two Towers. Players will accompany the Grey Company as they ride to the aid of Aragorn, travelling through the new areas of Dunland, The Gap of Rohan, and the legendary region of Isengard, seat of Saruman the White. New enhancements include a level cap increase to 75, level 75 Second Age legendary items, a new crafting tier, a 24-man raid, and new traits. On June 7, 2011, Turbine announced a release date of September 27, as well as various pre-order options with special in game items. Like the previous expansion, it was released digitally only.
Riders of Rohan Expansion
On January 25, 2012 Riders of Rohan expansion was announced. On June 5, 2012 it was announced that the expansion would launch in September 5, 2012, and Turbine added the option to pre-order the expansion. This was later delayed to October 15, 2012. This update adds regions of East Rohan, Amon Hen and the Eaves of Fangorn Forest. Announced features include a level cap raised to 85 and the new Mounted Combat system.
Helm's Deep Expansion
On April 24, 2013 Helm's Deep expansion was announced. It was meant to be released on November 18, 2013, but due to technical difficulties after a power outage, the release date was delayed to November 20. The update adds regions of West Rohan, specificately Broadacres, Stonedeans, the Kingstead, the Westfold and the Eastfold, including Edoras, Aldburg, Dunharrow and the fortress of the Hornburg, allowing the players to fight in the Battle of the Hornburg. Level cap will raise to 95. One of the largest new additions in this expansion is the ability to partake in 'epic battles', which replaces the more traditional endgame content of raids and instances. This system allows the player to partake in a large-scale conflict in Middle-earth either solo or in a fellowship.
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 has been received very positively 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."
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 one year anniversary addition includes 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.
The special edition, which costs $10 more than the regular edition, includes 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.
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. On June 1, the European servers were transferred, with all the data intact to Turbine. After a transition period of a few days, the servers reopened under a unified LOTRO global service.
On June 6, 2012, The Lord of the Rings Online was made available for download on Steam.
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- LOTRO Official Website / Forums
- China LOTRO Official Website
- Russia LOTRO Official Website
- Lotro-Wiki (unofficial)