LOTRO is a Role-Playing MMO. I realise this is obvious but it needs to be said. SL is an MMO but no one has levels as they do in LOTRO or Achievements as they do in Left 4 Dead. In LOTRO your level is everything. Or is it?
The answer seems to be to be a very, to me at least, surprising ‘not really’.
Yes your level does determine much of the way you play the game – what weapons you use, what armour you can wear, what tasks you can take on – and the main way of raising your level is to fight the ever present creatures and bad guys you find dotted around the world. But don’t let that fool you into thinking this is a simple hack’n’slash affair because it really isn’t.
For example there is the Crafting side to the game that runs parallel to, and sort of totally independently of, the level of your character. Ranhold was created in the class of Champion meaning that his whole reason for being is to hit bad guys hard and fast over and over again until they stop begging him for mercy and have the good grace to JUST BASTARD WELL DIE ALREADY YOU ORC SCUM! *pant pant pant* Sorry, I err… I lost it there for a bit. All that Fervour you see… now, where was I?
Oh yes, so Ranhold is a killing machine born & bred. Or is he? You see the game offers you a subtle & powerful way to alter how your perceive and, should you so wish, play your character. After you have passed through the early section of the game, the scene setting & basic gameplay training sections in Archet or Thorin’s Gate, you have the chance to take on a vocation, each of which contain three professions you need to practice in to become proficient. And becoming proficient in these is mostly independent of hitting things in the face, which is nice.
But why O Burro? Why do we want to make things? The answer why, my shouty friend, is that in making things you can then give said things to other people such as any alts you have or people in your Kinship (a sort of Guilt or Clan – your mates, essentially) so they can use them. Or you can sell them in the various auction houses for in-world money (no Lindex here, this is just virtual gold, silver & bronze money).
But why O Burro? Why would I want to give people this things? Why would people want to buy them? Why is what I’m making so bloody desirable? OK, OK, calm down! Sheesh! In your vocation you can make a great many things, all of which have an effect on a player using them. The obvious examples are weapons and armour, but less obvious ones are scrolls to help warriors in battle, food to restore health, dyes to colour clothes (even just the cosmetic clothes that have no armour benefit in the game at all). As a forester you can prepare hides that will be needed by a tailor to make clothes and armour. As a prospector you can find and mine ore to make metal used by weaponsmiths or armourers. As a farmer you can grown food used by cooks to defeat poison, or supply a scholar with materials to make dyes for his potions or for tailors to make clothes with. Hell, I’ve read of characters who are low level in terms of their (largely but not wholly) combat-fed level but who are master craftsmen and spend their time in-world mainly at the forge or in the fields and auction houses! This is intricate stuff that is worthy of serious investigation and I can’t recommend this guide from A Casual Stroll to Mordor highly enough – read it and marvel! And don’t think that LOTRO is just about punching Goblin’s noses through the back of their skulls. That’s just a bonus, really.
And as for the killing machine that is Ranhold, well I made him a Historian which means he’s a weaponsmith, scholar & farmer meaning that he can kill an Orc with a sword he made using a scroll of crafting he researched and wrote and tell you all about it over a hearty breakfast made from food he grew and supplied the cook with. I like to think of him as the thinking ladies killing machine 😉