Lord of the Rings Online #1: Lulzy Begins

By Shamus Posted Sunday Feb 28, 2016

Filed under: Shamus Plays 52 comments

Let’s Play Lord of the Rings Online, the popular MMO based on one of the greatest and most influential works of fiction of the 20th century. As the guy who wrote the DM of the Rings webcomic, I have a history with this material. I think the books are a beautiful work of fiction and a celebration of language itself. I’m also one of those strange abusive fans who expresses his appreciation through satire and mockery, which is the fanboy equivalent of being a wife beater.

If you’re curious what this series is all about, allow me to point you to my series on Champions Online, where I followed the adventures of superhero Star On Chest.

Note that this series originally ran at The Escapist back in 2010. I’m reposting it here because I wanted people to find it again. The Escapist is a news and culture site with at least half a dozen news articles a day. People don’t usually archive binge articles on those kinds of sites. On the other hand, the archives of this blog are a busy place, and people are still reading old content. With any luck, some new people will read and share this and the story will live on.

This series should be identical to the original run, except that I’m going to add mouseover text to the images, and maybe add some scattered footnotes in response to the nitpicks people sent me at the time.

I should also mention that this is poking fun of the game as it existed in 2010, and a lot has changed since then. They’ve even re-worked some of the early game content, which means what you see here might no longer match what you see in the game.

I’m actually a huge fan of Lord of the Rings Online. I say this as the most demanding sort of entitled Tolkien fanboy. Shadow of Mordor was a popular game, but I was deeply irritated and even a little offended by the ugly way the developers betrayed the tone and philosophy of the series so they could slap “Lord of the Rings” on their Batman / Ubisoft mashup. I never got the sense that those developers loved or even understood the source material.

But in Lord of the Rings Online, you can see passion and attention to detail throughout the work. Yes, it’s a WoW-era MMO, but you can see the developers spent a lot of time working to make those mechanics fit with the universe – not just in lore, but in tone as well. No, mob-slaying mechanics are not a great fit for a series of books that’s 90% travelogue, 9% poetry, and 1% armed conflict. I might mock the places where you can see the seams between Tolkien and World of Warcraft, but honestly the developers did better than I would have thought possible. And even when they falter, it comes off as charming and earnest instead of lazy and crass.

So while this series might come off as negative in places, I really do enthusiastically recommend the game. If you’re looking for a mid-period MMO with a strong solo experience, then this is one of the best. Also, the game is now free-to-play, and people tell meI actually have a VIP account so I don’t really see the free-to-play limitations. it’s the “good” kind of FtPIn contrast with (say) The Old Republic, which is kind of lame and pushy in its salesmanship..

Come ON. Get On With It Already!

So… character creation time. I’m going to play as a female, because, hey – if I’m going to be staring at an ass for hundreds of hours, it might as well be…

One of the challenges of this series was making my character look distinctive when new characters tend to all look alike.
One of the challenges of this series was making my character look distinctive when new characters tend to all look alike.

…shaped like a dumpling? Hey baby you got any fries to go with that bowl of yogurt?

I decided to play a Hobbit because:

1) Dwarves are too awesome.
2) Why play as human? You can do that in any game.
3) Everyone knows that Elves are tools.
4) It won’t let me choose “Balrog”.

Next I choose “Minstrel” as my character class.

A joke about a meme about an advertising campaign that ended a decade ago. This joke isn't 'old', it's VINTAGE.
A joke about a meme about an advertising campaign that ended a decade ago. This joke isn't 'old', it's VINTAGE.

And now I just need to pick a name and we’ll be good to go. The thing about LOTRO is that it is the most polite and mature MMO that has ever existed. Newcomers are usually disoriented by this. We’re used to being welcomed into a new game with a duel request from some level 60 jerk named “IGankedUrMom”. But in LOTRO people are polite, helpful, and pick lore-friendly names.

It’s really weird.

What usually happens is that new people will enter the world with the usual dumb-ass MMO name like “MadKilla55”, “AfroElf”, or “Star On Chest”. Then they see all of the appropriate names everyone else is using and they start to feel like the idiot who shows up at the prom in a dirty t-shirt. If you’re too cool for Lord of the Rings, then why are you playing an MMO based on it?

So, I want to pick a good name for my lil’ hero. Let’s see, the character creation screen says that Hobbit women are named after flowers, and gems. Okay then. Just give me a minute here to try the name of each and every flower, only to find out that they’re all taken. And then the name of every gem. And then the name of every flower, but sticking an extra “y” on the end. And then every gem…

Okay, I give up. Fifteen minutes is where I draw the line. There just aren’t that many flowers and gems in the world that work as girl names, and I’m not all that keen on naming myself “Tourmaline” or “Orthoceras”. It’s obvious all the good ones were taken about five minutes after the game went into open beta.

Screw it. I type in:


And the game launches. If any of you veteran players don’t like me slumming about your legendarium paradise with the name Lulzy then feel free to delete your level sixty “Rosie” to free up the name for me. Then maybe we can talk.

No, that's not MAKEUP on her cheeks. She's just... chilly. All the time. For no reason.
No, that's not MAKEUP on her cheeks. She's just... chilly. All the time. For no reason.

Her likes:

1) Food
2) Meals
3) Snacks
4) Victuals
5) Shoes (Actually, clothing in general. But especially shoes.)

Her dislikes:

1) Fighting
2) Battle
3) War
4) Combat
5) Armed conflict
6) Violence
7) Fetching things for people

Great! As long as she can avoid those things, she’s sure to have a super-fun time in Middle Earth. Let’s get started.

SOME PEOPLE complained about the idea that Lulzy loves shoes, because “everyone knows that Hobbits Don’t wear shoes!”

Except, they actually do! The Stoor Hobbits live in the boggy lands west of the Brandywine river, and while the books don’t cite a specific reason for them keeping footwear, one imagines they do so to keep sure-footed on slippery ground, and to keep the mud off their feet. The point is that shoes on Hobbits are probably a lot like hats on people: Usually optional, most people don’t wear them, but they’re not against using them when need arises and a few people really love them.

Like all truly great and epic legends of heroism, this one begins…

Postman took... what? Postman took the mail? I should hope so!
Postman took... what? Postman took the mail? I should hope so!

…in the post office.

According to my Quest Log, Celandine Brandybuck has sent me a distressing letter warning of troubles beyond the shire.

I have a letter here. I wrote her back. I told the daft bint to keep her gob shut about it since I don’t give a sod about what’s going on in foreign parts. I’ve got my lute, I’ve got my supper, I’ve got a pint, and Bad News about the Tall People doesn’t concern me in the slightest.

Now I just need to get this thing mailed so I can get back to minding my own business. Maybe have a bite before bed.

Out of my way! Named character, coming through!
Out of my way! Named character, coming through!

Tending the office is Postman Took. Beside him is his trustworthy assistant “Townsperson”. Also here are my dear friends “Townsperson”, her husband “Townsperson” and their nephew-neighbor “Townsperson”.

You know, good folks.

Postman Took gives me the bad news:

Here is a screenshot of the quest text. Note that when I do this I don’t expect you to actually read it. I just put it there when I want to make it clear that I’m talking about a real, actual thing in the game and that I’m not just taking screenshots and making stuff up. In general, I stay true to the plot of the game and the only stuff I make up is what my character says and thinks.

Sadly(?) all of this has been cut from the game. You now begin your adventure on the road.
Sadly(?) all of this has been cut from the game. You now begin your adventure on the road.

The postman tells me he can’t deliver the letter. Ruffians are vexing the town of Archet, and so he’s afraid to send any delivery-hobbits in that direction. Sensing my annoyance, Postman Took helpfully suggests I could go there myself.

It’s actually kind of an outrageous suggestion, but I humor him anyway. I mean, I could do it. I could just roll right out of here and deliver the letter myself. It occurs to me that the swiftest way to shame these cowardly postman would be if they were bested by the town minstrel. And I’d get to see Celandine’s face when she read my letter.

It’s settled then. I’m off to Archet. The only thing I don’t understand is…

The road goes ever on and on. Except not here. This is a tutorial zone, so the roads are gated to keep you from wandering off before you've learned how to walk around and equip stuff.
The road goes ever on and on. Except not here. This is a tutorial zone, so the roads are gated to keep you from wandering off before you've learned how to walk around and equip stuff.

…why in the name of Sauron’s fancy jewelry am I making this trip at night?

This part is the tutorial. Note that each race has their own tutorial story, so only Hobbits have to do this letter-delivering business. Naturally other races have a bit more adventure at the outset.

I walk a little ways down the road. Man, this walking gets a little boring. Do I get my mount soon?

And speaking of mounts:

You know how it is. Sometimes you just want to take your mount and high-level gear and ride through the newbie zone.
You know how it is. Sometimes you just want to take your mount and high-level gear and ride through the newbie zone.

A black rider! The Nazgul! One of the nine devils of the world. Is that right? Something like that. Okay, I’m not really sure what the hell he is. I’m not up to speed on my legendary evil beings, but that’s because I didn’t expect to meet any of them while trying to do a mail run.

A little ways ahead, I run into Bounder Boffin, who is busy being chatted up by the Nazgul:


The Nazgul, having wounded Bounder Boffin with nothing more than the World’s Tamest Insult, rides off into the distance.

For those of you keeping score at home, “Boffin” is his name and “Bounder” is his job title, not the other way around. It’s kind of an all-around cop / handyman position. They also deliver the mail, which means this is one of the pants-wetters responsible for me having to make this trip in the first place.

As I approach, I can see that Boffin is quivering and wiping snotty tears off his face.

I still think having THE ONE RING as a symbol for 'ask me about my quest hook!' was one of those design decisions that probably sounded a lot better on paper.
I still think having THE ONE RING as a symbol for 'ask me about my quest hook!' was one of those design decisions that probably sounded a lot better on paper.

Hello Boffin. You look as as brave as you are tall. How can I help you during this difficult time of faffing about instead of delivering my mail?

Boffin is scared and wants me to escort him to safety. Sure, no problem. I mean, since I’m already out and doing your job I might as well take you for walksie, right?

Boffin has me look in his satchel for a… weapon?

The Shire looks wonderful, although I'm not so sure this tiki torch fits.
The Shire looks wonderful, although I'm not so sure this tiki torch fits.

His bag does indeed have a “knife”, which I’m pretty sure is just half of a pair of safety scissors. I’m talking about a knife so dull it would be better to use my hands, even if my foe was a slice of hot toast in need of butter.

Thus “armed”, I join Boffin and we head on through the nearby door in the hedge wall. (Don’t ask, it’s a Hobbit thing.)


Boffin looks down the path and sees large, troublesome webs strewn about. Really large. We see large, un-Hobbit-like shapes with a suspicious number of legs. I don’t claim to be a ranger or anything, but it’s entirely possible we’re about to have a spider problem.

Boffin looks out towards where the Nazgul had been, then back down the path at the spider webs, and he thinks for a minute.

Finally he suggests that I go on ahead and clear the way while he stands in the doorway and “keeps watch”.

I raise an eyebrow at him, “Boffin, you know I’m a musician, right? And that I hate violence?”

He keeps looking back out towards the road and pretending he can’t hear me.

Just a handy tip: If at any point in your life you find yourself asking a musician to kill things for you, then you have screwed up somewhere along the way.

“Boffin”, I say in my most calming voice possible, “Let’s just say you stand here and keep watch.”

He nods his head vigorously.

“And let’s say that Black Rider does come back, as you fear. What exactly are you planning on doing about it?”

He slams his eyes shut. Maybe he’s telling me he can’t bear to picture such a scenario. Or maybe he’s showing me he plans to close his eyes and not look if it comes back.

I hate violence, but there’s no sense in both of us standing in the doorway until the sun comes up.

Waist height to a Hobbit means this spider would be knee-high to a human. That makes it even more disturbing, somehow.
Waist height to a Hobbit means this spider would be knee-high to a human. That makes it even more disturbing, somehow.

I march down the path kill a couple of gigantic spiders. It’s nasty, smelly, crunchy work but the spider screeching (did you know spiders screech?) drowns out Boffin’s sniveling, so I don’t actually mind all that much.

Boffin perks up when the last spider succumbs to my safe-for-children-under-three knife. Then he leads me down the path to a farm.

(Insert joke about the world-wide web.)
(Insert joke about the world-wide web.)

Farm? This is a farm? There’s no farmland. No crops. The only thing here is spiders.

Is this some kind of Hobbit spider farm?

Boffin has decided that in order to reach safety the two of us must kill every single four-foot spider in the Shire. Actually, that’s not true. He wants me to kill the spiders while he supervises from the fetal position.

Boffin, you simpering hayseed yokel, did it occur to you that we could just go back the way I came? The post office was perfectly safe, assuming you don’t also have a phobia about people named Townsperson.

Eventually I finish killing off this year’s bumper crop of spiders. Boffin wants to hide in the farmhouse, but he accidentally breaks off his key in the lock.

I really think there needs to be some kind of rule against being griefed by friendly NPCs.

Great, so I guess we go in the back? Or a window? No? We’re leaving? So, I guess this tiny wooden Hobbit-house with a thatched roof is some sort of impenetrable fortress?

Fine. Let’s just run further down the path like a couple of ninnies and see what we run into. I mean, it can’t be worse than the spiders.

Is this a bug? I rolled a minstrel, but apparently I've somehow stumbled into a Maiar questline.
Is this a bug? I rolled a minstrel, but apparently I've somehow stumbled into a Maiar questline.

…unless it’s another Nazgul.

Through sheer willful stupidity Boffin has managed to lead us all the way around and back to the main road, where we have met the Black Rider again. Or another one. I don’t know. It’s not like they wear nametags.

The Black Rider is miffed now, and decides to off us. Sigh. I’ll probably end up as a withering shade in eternal service to the Dark Lord of the East, which is really going to suck.

Stupid post office.



[1] I actually have a VIP account so I don’t really see the free-to-play limitations.

[2] In contrast with (say) The Old Republic, which is kind of lame and pushy in its salesmanship.

From The Archives:

52 thoughts on “Lord of the Rings Online #1: Lulzy Begins

  1. Risven says:

    I loved this series when it first came out on the Escapist, and I’m glad you’re republishing it here – with additional notes! It makes me want to play LotR Online again.

  2. Farmwolf says:

    To be perfectly honest, I’d have no objection to Shamus doing nothing but LotR forever.

  3. Bruno M. Torres says:

    Why Shamus, don’t you watch Steven Universe? Every gem name is feminine :-)

    1. Warclam says:

      Even Jasper, somehow. Despite that character looking and sounding somewhat masculine.

      1. Lachlan the Mad says:

        Well, Jasper was the Big Bad of Season 1, and she was required by plot to go toe-to-toe with Garnet, who is also 8 feet tall. She’s also the only character who Steven doesn’t immediately greet with love and friendship, which is how you know she’s Bad News.

  4. Infinitron says:

    The excellent George Ziets did some work on LOTRO and had good things to say about its treatment of the lore.

  5. Content Consumer says:

    ” “MadKilla55″, “AfroElf”, or “Star On Chest” ”

    I dunno… the first two seem reasonable to me, but that last one is just terrible. Nobody would ever use that name, would they? Where are the numbers? The unnecessary punctuation? Alternating capitalization on letters from the arse-end of the alphabet mirrored on either side?

    Let me fix that for you.


    1. Bryan says:

      Well, at least there’s no carrying of pigs, upside down, over the characters’ heads. (Dead or otherwise.)

      And at least there’s no half-ogre half-dark-elf half-human.


  6. Nidokoenig says:

    “…shaped like a dumpling? Hey baby you got any fries to go with that bowl of yogurt?”

    I dunno, she’s got a nice thickness to her. Er, never mind!

    Regarding the spider farm, he obviously harvests silk. Dangerous, but quite lucrative, and he should be applauded for trying to break the Dwarven giant cave spider silk monopoly.

    1. I thought the wood elves had broken that monopoly earlier? After all, they have to pay for all that wine somehow :)
      Or is cave silk finer/stronger/takes dye better than forest silk?

  7. Warclam says:

    True story: I was wondering why you kept calling gnomes “hobbits”, until I remembered this wasn’t WoW.

  8. djw says:

    Do you still play LotRo? I tried it out a few years ago (actually inspired by this series, which I encountered during an archive dive) but I have not played since the skill trees were added.

  9. Soylent Dave says:

    I know this post isn’t really about Shadow of Mordor, but I’ve played it now and I hadn’t when you were talking about it last – and I do have to take issue with your belief that

    the developers betrayed the tone and philosophy of the series

    as I really don’t think they did.

    Yes, the plot of the story is about vengeance, but this central conceit is a lie, concocted both by Saruman & the ring-lure, which is exposed over the course of the game.

    Celembrimbor has been consumed by the power of the Ring / Sauron, and Talion doesn’t win – even after he’s had all the evil influence revealed to him, he decides that what Middle-Earth needs is another Ring of Power and a replacement Dark Lord.

    That’s all very much in keeping with the LotR mythos – the lure of the Ring / power of Sauron is all-consuming, you can’t win through force of arms, vengeance is self-destructive etc.

    Talion doesn’t learn any of this and that’s why he ultimately fails to defeat Sauron (not in the game, but we know that Sauron is still around by the time of LotR)

    (the dialogue could definitely be a lot better though… )

    1. Trevel says:

      I’ve played through the game story a couple times, and I still cannot tell for certain if the writers were telling the Ascension of Talion or the Fall of Talion. The Fall is obviously the only one that makes sense in the LOTR world — and it makes a lot of sense, it’s basically playing out what all the powerful good people said would happen if they used the ring against Sauron — but it could ALSO be the power fantasy one?

      My hope is that Shadow of Mordor 2 has Talion as the Big Bad.

      1. guy says:

        I honestly do not buy that the plot of the main game is intended to be the fall of Talion. While that is exactly what this sequence of events would represent in LoTR, no part of the way the story is framed carries that implication. They could write the sequel to go that way, but I do not believe it was their plan when they made the game. The events are there for the plot, the framing isn’t, and since it was not announced as a two-parter I do not think they’re deliberately setting up for a twist like that.

        The Lord Of Light DLC hews more in that direction, but not quite clearly enough for me to really feel confident that it’s meant that way. I mean, I have a collection of screencaps of obviously power-mad things Celebrimbor is saying and Sauron taunting him about how this path is doomed, but I don’t know if they’re meant to seem as power-mad as they are or if the writers realize the message extends beyond not using the Ring itself.

        1. Trevel says:

          I wasn’t thinking of it as a two-part story, but more of them following the logical consequence of the first part. And of course they’re more likely to just continue as is, because that saves them from having to come up with another convoluted magic-powers backstory. I just don’t think that’s what the story calls for.

          Or, of course, I could quote from the studio:

          “A really positive and great surprise was that people did feel engaged and emotional enough to think about it and talk about it and examine Talion in that depth,” [Shadow of Mordor’s design director Michael de Plater] said. “Some of the stuff we thought was really obvious and we were heavy handed on was the analogy of Talion with Boromir and Thorin [from The Hobbit] to some extent. Someone who is going down the path of violence and revenge and using what is in effect the Ring of Power to achieve those ends. That's so obviously a path leading to a fall. It's an Anakin Skywalker situation, it's a universal thing.

          “Tolkien said there can be no story without a fall. It's hard within Middle-earth to have a heroic human character in an action game who is using violence as a means to an end without examination of it as a fall.”

          1. Shamus says:

            Thanks for posting this? Do you have a link for the whole article?

              1. guy says:

                I’d say that they definitely missed the target in how they told the story. The game itself does not make it clear that the writers saw the same parallels as the audience. There’s plenty of ways to frame a story to make it unambiguous that the viewpoint character is or becomes a villain even if they don’t realize it. They could have ended it with Talion’s failure, when he finds that a reign of terror is a fragile one. They could have ended it with Talion unambiguously becoming his enemy, with a cutscene mirroring the opening. If they wanted to make a point about racism, they could have done both at once, with Talion failing because an Uruk likes his companions more than he fears Talion.

                As it is, viewed on its own terms it is not clear whether it’s Talion who doesn’t realize he’s becoming his enemy or if it’s the developers who don’t realize that. The possibility is raised but never gets the last word; whenever it’s questioned it’s always followed by an assurance that it’s the right thing to do, and the story never shows that’s just a comforting lie.

                1. avwolf says:

                  I thought the very very end where Talion looks straight at the camera and gets the exact same eye glow effect that you see with Sauron and the Hand of Sauron made it pretty clear who actually won in the end. I felt that they did a pretty reasonable job of making it obvious that Sauron really just used this all as a way to trick Celebrimbor into accepting Talion as a vessel when it was now his spirit instead of Talion’s driving the show — obviously Celebrimbor wasn’t going to willingly join the Hand of Sauron. But if he thought that it was still Talion…

                  Sure, that kind of means that the player “loses” even when they “win,” but let’s face it: it’s a story set in LotR about trying to use the Enemy’s power against him and it’s set before LotR proper. You ought to know that Sauron is going to win, one way or another.

                2. Trevel says:

                  I thought the end bit made a decent “˜I have come,' he said. “˜But I do not choose now to do what I came to do. I will not do this deed. The Ring is mine!' ending.

  10. Macfeast says:

    Glad to see this series again, it is one of my favorites.

    I will say, though the early exit was probably better for Lulzy’s overall sanity, part of me wishes that she would have gotten to experience the Ride of the Grey Company (a.k.a the Ranger’s attempt at Taking a Level in Badass); So much material for new songs, she would have an absolute field day. It’s all level 65+, so not really really realistic for such a relatively short series, but still.

    1. Joshua says:

      I’d be curious to see the reaction to the idiotic plotline of the elves/dwarves’ master plan of performing a hostage exchange by showing up on the front door of the villain with the hostage in tow. Yes, a lightly guarded hostage exchange *in* the enemy’s fortress.

      To no one’s surprise, the villains simply kill the guards and take their hostage back for free.

  11. Scampi says:

    I also have to admit I LOVE your written “Shamus Plays”-Series’. As far as I’m concerned they could all have gone on a little longer but I don’t really mind as they are outstanding as they are.
    The one thing I was always irritated about in LotRO: WHY does Lulzy wear SHOES?? Is this a conscious decision on YOUR part or were the designers just inattentive there when deciding to saddle ONLY the Hobbit-PC with shoes? The other Hobbits apparently don’t wear any. Since I never played LotRO, I don’t know, so would anybody please clarify this strange deviation from Hobbit lore?

    1. Trevel says:

      There’s an option on the character model to hide your characters shoes. I don’t know why it’s not on by default for hobbits, but it’s an option, and one that I turn on immediately when playing a Hobbit.

    2. djw says:

      In any game where clothing confers boni it is a huge nerf to be unable to equip any type of clothing. This is a necessary compromise between Tolkien accuracy and MMO conventions.

  12. Cuthalion says:

    Aww, I remember this. Looking forward to reading through it again!

    Also, RPG anecdote: I’m in a The One Ring tabletop RPG game. My Mom also plays. She plays a Hobbit, and, being a bit of a storyteller, has quite a bit of fun with it. Lulzy’s personality reminds me of her character a little. Good times.

  13. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Psst,you tagged champions online as spoiler warning instead of Shamus plays.

  14. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Shamus,how about doing another superhero text play with marvel heroes 2016?Its free to play as well,and YOU GET TO SMASH!THE FASHION!!

    1. drlemaster says:

      I am a big Marvel Heroes [current year] fan, but what would Shamus write about? Much like other ARPGs like Diablo 2 or Torchlight, there is a story, but no role-playing, just running around punching and shooting bad guys. And I love it for that, but other than “comic book story is very comic-book-y,” I don’t know that there is much else to say about the plot.

  15. Daemian Lucifer says:

    I have a general mmo* question:Why cant there be multiple people with the same name?I mean,your account is usually tied to a specific mail(which already has to be unique),and in many mmos you can have multiple character on a same account.So why cant you have 10 different FatBastards tied to your [email protected]?

    *Actually a general online games question.

    1. Mephane says:

      The character name usually also functions as a unique identifier. If you want to send someone a direct message in chat, or send them ingame mail, invite them to your party or your guild, you usually need to type in their name. Some games circumvent this problem by having an account handle that must be unique instead, but then some games require you to pick a unique account handle and a unique character name.

    2. Nidokoenig says:

      Because then you get people impersonating whoever’s on your friend list to try and scam your gear. Even if you’re smart enough not to fall for it, cutting out that bullshit is nice.

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        Theres an easy way to circumvent this:Have your friends get a different colored name.

        1. Nidokoenig says:

          You severely underestimate idiots, and the support hours they can take up.

          1. Chris says:

            Heh, that’s painfully true.

            I was really irritated by the security measures valve put in place on steam. Until i was made aware of the scale of the scamming problem valve is trying to handle. Now i’m completely okay with them.

        2. Sleeping Dragon says:

          While a game can easily associate a given character with an email used to create the account this is usually treated as sensitive information not readily available to the public and even putting aside scams and other bad will the players still need to be able to identify each other for purposes such as whispers, trades, mail, high scores and so on and so forth, all of which are often not limited to a friendlist.

          Like Mephane said above a lot of games nowadays solve the problem by having the player create a unique “handle” or “account name” that is public but separate from the login information.

    3. guy says:

      In some cases, the system may use the character name to uniquely identify the character; if you had two identically-named characters tied to your email then searching the database using name+email would either get both or pick one at random and they’re not guaranteed to be distinguishable. That can be bypassed by assigning a character id, but then any “add to party” or other character-related action couldn’t be done just by typing in the character name.

  16. AzaghalsMask says:

    Partly because I remembered your series I tried LotrO about a year ago. I liked the feel of the world but the MMO-mechanics bored me to death , so I quit. Looking forward to reading the grand adventures of Lulzy again.

    For those interested in discussion of the relationship of the game world to Tolkien’s Lore, Corey Olsen ( Tolkien Professor ) gives regular talks on such topics ingame, which can also be found on youtube.

  17. RTBones says:

    Chalk me up as another one who enjoys your written Lets Plays. I have to imagine that if you did this from scratch, it would take a ton of time – which makes a new one difficult with all of your current commitments. Does Lulzy still exist? Is there any chance of a follow-on arc, given the changes that have happened in LoTRO since you first wrote this? Perhaps an epliogue to her adventures?

    LoTRO is one of those games I tend to go back to. Just when I think I’ve got it out of my system, the urge to play will strike.

    Looking forward to reading the re-post

  18. Maryam says:

    I’m glad you’re reposting this here. I loved this and other LPs the first time around, but when I go to The Escapist to try to re-read them, there are often broken Next links.

  19. NoneCallMeTim says:


    When I recalled this lets play, for some reason I thought that spiders were on the list of things Lulzy hated.

    1. guy says:

      I think the list is updated in response to events.

  20. Good to see this series being moved here where it’s easier to find. I’ve enjoyed the three Shamus Plays series, very funny. I wish there could be more.

  21. Adam says:

    I really enjoyed this game when I played it briefly oh about seven or eight years ago. I actually bought it with real money and paid a subscription and everything, back when people did that. For some reason it didn’t have a lot of staying power (I do remember thinking the combat was awkward and the world felt unsatisfyingly compressed) but I have very fond memories and totally agree with Shamus’ assessment of it clearly being a labor of love by its creators. It’s a shame it got shoved into the WoW box because I feel like with a bit more freedom (and perhaps a bigger budget) it could have been something really special.

    Kinda makes me want to play it again.

  22. Kavonde says:

    I’ve actually been playing LoTRO again for the last week or so. The game does so very much right–the music system, the balance of the crafting system, the world design and subtle areas of transition, the quiet moments of exploration, the slower and more tactical pace of combat. Yet, I’ve never been able to stick with it. My oldest character, Kragni on Landroval, is only level 49. The level grind is *so* slow, at least in the original content, and the combat, despite my enjoyment of its more placid nature than WoW or WildStar or what have you, has always felt like it’s missing a bit of the meatiness of other games. Maybe it’s a bit better for the newer classes like the Warden or Lore Breaker (er, Rune Keeper), but rerolling would mean grinding all the way back, not to mention purchasing a bunch of mid-level areas that Kragni passed back before the game went F2P.

    The community, though, is still pretty great. And it remains the only MMO I feel even remotely comfortable trying to roleplay in. Just wish they’d boost quest XP some, and maybe reduce enemies’ HP to make the fights go faster.

    1. Trevel says:

      I will say, Warden is the most unique class I’ve played in an MMO, and quite fun. Although they sucked on horseback, last I played.

  23. WWWebb says:

    Thanks for reposting this. When I DID try to binge-read these on the Escapist’s site, I found that a lot of their “next post” links are broken.

  24. Flavius says:

    Given the timing of the introductory zone revamp and how nearly all the silliest parts were changed, I have wondered for the last five years if you indirectly had a hand in this, Shamus. After all, It seems reasonable that some of the devs might have known about you through DM of the Rings, continued to follow you afterwards, and read and took to heart your analysis of LOTRO’s opening chapters. On the other hand, it is just as reasonable that those weakness were identified by a re-read of the starting areas in preparation for the game going free to play, or even by community input. I suppose we will never know…But I still like my theory.

  25. drlemaster says:

    I tried this game a while back, but couldn’t get into it. They did great job with the Middle-Earthiness, but it the actual gameplay was too clunky. I felt the same way about original Guild Wars, but had no problem with WOW or SWTOR, so I guess I just have an oddly specific level of clunkiness-tolerance.

  26. KarmaTheAlligator says:

    I love how the last screenshot looks like the Black Rider asks “Who dares?” and your character replies with “Lulzy!”.

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