LOTRO Legendarium: Five ideas for special servers in Lord of the Rings Online

    
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At PAX East recently, Standing Stone Games teased some details of Lord of the Rings Online’s future. I’m going to hold off on talking about this for now in the hopes that the studio will put out an official producer’s letter in the next couple of weeks, but what I did want to discuss was the fact that the devs teased the possibility of a new legendary server.

While this could very well be another progression server for those who didn’t get on the train from the start of the current progression servers back in November 2018, my imagination revved up at the thought of different rulesets that the game could have. It’s a fun thought exercise, even if some of these might require more resources and work than SSG is able to invest.

Hardmode server

While Lord of the Rings Online is a very casual-friendly game, there is always a subset of the population that is craving a good challenge. Back in the first years of the game, LOTRO was arguably tougher with sections of endgame maps being chock-full of epic baddies and parts of the epic book that required groups to complete.

So what about a hardmode server, where enemy damage and health is cranked up, say, 50% or so? Suddenly, those wolves in the Shire have actual teeth and giants might strike terror in the hearts of players. Some folks might love the increased danger associated with such a server and band together more for safety and fun.

Ironman server

Along that same mindset is the notion of an ironman — or permadeath — server. LOTRO’s sister game Dungeons and Dragons Online successfully ran its first “hardcore” server last year and people actually seemed to like it. Now, I know that the two MMOs are structurally different, but it would certainly be interesting to see how LOTRO might function if one death put your character on ice forever. Players love trying to get that level 20 “haven’t died yet” title, after all.

To compensate for the inevitable demise and to encourage players to stick around, I’d think that there would need to be a way to pass down equipment or some sort of “legacy” to subsequent characters in order to give them a better chance to survive. Perhaps every 10 levels your character survives, you get a stat package that goes into your server’s legacy that will benefit all future characters. Or even special skills!

Epic-only server

Let’s get off the super hardcore side of things and look at other ways that the ruleset could be adjusted. One possible change would be to offer a server where only the epic storyline was available — all other quests, unless they were required by the epic book, would be stripped away. The epic would need more rewards and experience to compensate, but the end result would be to give players (especially veterans) a way to go through all of the volumes without any side distractions. Just one huge long saga from start to end.

Shadows of Angmar-only server

While the legendary servers are still fun (I still play on one), they were the most exciting in the opening months as the community got to experience the border limitations that were present in the Shadows of Angmar period. I know that more than one of my friends mourned the opening of Mines of Moria on the progression server because SoA-only restrictions felt like a self-contained experience that didn’t have need for more content.

So what about a Shadows of Angmar-only server, where the level cap would stay at 50 and no expansions would be added? It wouldn’t be a legacy server, obviously, but it could serve the desires of players who had the most fun romping around just Eriador.

No legendary items server

Hear me out on this one before scoffing, OK? I don’t think that legendary items need to be fixed in LOTRO. The LI system is too unwieldy and not very enjoyable no matter how you tinker with it. So why not just have a place where they don’t exist at all?

It always irks me when quests and mobs drop neat weapons that my character can’t use past Shadows of Angmar because, of course, legendary items always have to occupy those slots. Yes, this server would require a lot of rebalancing, but why not? Why not have a server where we just forget the abomination of LIs and get back to traditional MMO gear like all of the other stuff in the game?

I’d play that in a heartbeat. Who’s with me? OK, don’t answer that, but maybe drop your own suggestions for LOTRO server rulesets in the comments below!

Every two weeks, the LOTRO Legendarium goes on an adventure (horrid things, those) through the wondrous, terrifying, inspiring, and, well, legendary online world of Middle-earth. Justin has been playing LOTRO since its launch in 2007! If you have a topic for the column, send it to him at justin@massivelyop.com.

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OldBadgerBrock

I like the idea of an Epic-only server. Hopefully it would severely limit if not entire abolish “fetch-it” style quests. I hit the wall with the fetch-it style quests in Minas Tirith. WAY OVERDONE! They’re tedious, and used entirely too often. Games are supposed to be fun, finding 12 items scattered to the four winds for no reason other than to waste players’ time is not in the least bit fun. Increase them exponentially and you have a game that’s a drag to play.

I’d like a GOAT FREE server. They have no place in Tolkien’s legendarium, and they’ve now become the de facto Dwarf mount. Dwarves in ‘The Hobbit’ rode ponies. In LOTR Gimli was a passenger on a horse ridden by Legolas or Éomer. Merry rode a pony provided by the Rohirrim. There were no damn goat mounts! Also bring back the requirement that players dismount to interact with NPCs. Mounted AFK folks clumped around vault-keepers and the like is very immersion breaking.

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Kickstarter Donor
Dividion

Realistic drops:
If you need a monster part, like a wolf pelt for example, every wolf should have it.
You should typically only get armor and weapon drops from sentient creatures who can use them, and preferably they should be able to use them against you, so if you encounter a creature that’s tougher than usual, hopefully it’s an indicator that they’ll drop something good.
Trash mobs should have trash (coins or crafting mats preferably).
Some mobs should still have items they can’t use, but they should be in a chest as a reward, not dropping off their corpse on the countryside.

Improved travel:
Bring back travel rations, with the cost appropriate to the distance.
Eliminate swift-travel from stable-masters. Restrict teleports to skills/classes (with travel rations required by each member-additional required if you bring your horse)
Require players to pick up their mounts from a stable-master. If you get dismounted, have it follow you around while its health re-charges.
Make the horse’s behavior (normal or war-steed) a “stance” skill.

Item creation and maintenance:
Top-tier items should be craftable by players, but they should also require a skilled artisan to repair them (eg. forge-masters). A basic shopkeeper shouldn’t have the skills to repair any item, especially if they’re not inside a crafting hall.

LotRO loosely follows some of those ideas (or used to), so some of them are just minor tweaks or bringing back pre-existing mechanics.

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warroth weill

Real classic server or go home. They cant balance this game in its current state to make low level content challening.

They have already proved it with the legendary servers.

I would want a classic server that is based on 2010-2012 code so it can progress all the way up to SOM/ROI.. pvp and class balance was superior to the mess we have right now.

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Roger Edwards

The problem player server…

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2Ton Gamer

If they do a capped server they need to do no LI’s and give two flavors, SoA or Moria. There isn’t a lot to do with just SoA. Moria added more instances that are still decent. The biggest thing they need to do though is adjust the stats so you actually need the required number of players and not be able to 6 man the balrog. Also pvmp needs top be added.

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warroth weill

Then a classic server would be easier to implement. The current version of the game is too broken. They can’t even balance pvmp for level 130 -.-

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Anstalt

When the original legendary servers were announced, I got really excited and was tempted to rejoin after being away from LotRO for 7 years.

Then I found out that the legendary servers sucked, they were just the live servers with artificial caps. What’s the point?! Playing through shadows of angmar but with modern class and mechanic changes?! No thanks.

There are probably 3 server types that would get me to play:

1) Vanilla LotRO
By vanilla, I mean actual vanilla. Back when you HAD to group up to reach the level cap, where the crafted gear was still awesome and you needed to kill specific named mobs in order to get the right crafting mats (i.e. before they brought in beryl shards). the community was great at this point, the content was still challenging and there was a genuine player economy. Endgame was lacking, but we still had Uru, CD, BG and (I think) Helegrod.

2) Shadows of Angmar Server
This would be the code about 18 months after launch, just before MoM. This has the benefit of all the extra content and bug fixes, such as the Rift raid, Forochel, Goblin Town, Evendim etc. The downside is the crafting was much easier and most people soloed to endgame, but I think that’s an OK sacrifice in order to get the Rift. This would also give us the Delving of Fror and the Defiler to improve PvP.

3) Epic-only + No LIs
I really like this idea. I don’t really like questing, so simply grinding mobs, running dungeons and the occasional epic quest would suit me quite well. Ditching LIs is also a great idea, I never liked them, they never lived up to their original promise, it was just an unbearable grind. As a captain, I needed to maintain 5 LIs at all times (main weapon, buff weapon, main emblem, pvp emblem, buff emblem). Far too much grinding!
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Now, if someone were willing to dump a ton of money into it, my absolute dream would be to fix the level cap at 50 but continue to add all the expansion content, i.e. switch to horizontal progression at 50. I think it would be awesome if the Rift, Hele, Dar Narbugud, The Watcher, The Turtle, Barad Guldur, Ost Dunhoth, Draigoch and whatever else they added later were all relevant at the same time. I think players would have more fun exploring quests at their own pace, rather than being funnelled down a linear route. It would also mean we could skip areas we didn’t like, so I could skip Mirkwood as it is one of the worst designed zones I’ve ever played through!

Upaya
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Upaya

While I casually enjoyed each xpac on the legendary server(s), I’m just not into it anymore. LI re-dos, redic power curves, a schedule set to make the HARDCORE player happy? Not doing it for me. I finally stopped as Rohan was released. I know plenty of folks still love it, but I’m out. Too much of a time commitment for too small of a window.

SoA server, on the other hand, would be amazing. Even with essences. But gosh some of these would get me back into this game I adore.

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Tuor of Gondolin

No microtransactions server.

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Ironwu

Hmm. Epic only server. I would probably sub the game for that! I never made it through to the Mordor expansion as I just got tired of the endless questing and grinding. Would love to just guide a single character through the epic journey. :)

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Stephen Montalvo

Go 100% pvp. That would trump Amazon, or at least muddy the waters a lot.
And shut the pvpers up forever.