Probably more times than I can count, I have started up new characters in Lord of the Rings Online and gone through those oh-so-familiar paths of the first 20 levels. As such, I have a very set and (I think) efficient method of maximizing my progress and character development to get the best start possible.
So a quick note before we begin: To maximize your time and effort during these initial 20 levels, I structure it all around completing all of the zone deeds (including the meta) in each of the three regions. This not only gets you plenty of XP and LOTRO Points (which you’ll sorely need) but also a great start on your virtues.
After rolling your character — no, I’m not going to advise what you pick, that’s all you, friend — you’ll have to run through the newbie zone. The only thing you need to concentrate on here is not dying (if you want the titles/deeds for hitting certain level milestones without a death) and getting to level 6 or 7 by the end of it. Don’t forget to pick your specialization when the game prompts you to do that — you’ll get extra skills and can respec very easily if you’re not happy with it.
Once you come out of the newbie zone, you’ll want to make a beeline to Little Delving in the Shire (unless you’re a Hobbit, in which case you start there). Pick up the Bounder quest and the first Quick Post quest, and run that to Michel Delving. Set your milestone to Michel Delving for now (and Hobbiton later for the rest of your time in the Shire). Note: As you run around the Shire, make sure to kill any brigands, goblins, harvest-flies, slugs, spiders, and wolves you see.
Consider spending 95 LP for a riding skill and then pour more LP into milestone timer reductions (you really want that five-minute cooldown, trust me) and a few more milestones (unless you’re a Hunter or Warden). This is all optional but very, very useful quality-of-life stuff here.
Run the full Quick Post chain — it’s a good chunk of quests, it’s a deed, and it forces you to go everywhere in the Shire. While you’re in Hobbiton, Brockenborings, Stock, and Needlehole, grab the stable masters for easy return.
Do all of the quests in Michel Delving except Bingo Boffin (I save those for later to do all at once), while setting aside the one for Needlehole. Then go to Waymeet and do Dora’s short chain of quests. Then you’ll need to steel your patience and run to Hobbiton so that you can talk to Holly Hornblower and begin her very long series of pie running quests. DO THESE. Again, it’s a deed you need, it’s a ton of quests, and it ends with some nice little rewards. Plus you get complaining/bragging rights.
After Holly’s pies, go to several taverns to complete the secret Shire Brew-master deed. You’ll need this for the meta, and it’s a few more quests as well. After that, keep doing quests around the Shire until you reach 75 total for the deed. Don’t forget to talk to the head Bounder in Michel Delving for a nice reward.
After you finish the Life of the Bounder deed, you’ll want to quickly wrap up any unfinished items on the explorer deeds: Farms of the Shire and Sights of the Shire. Then it’s time to get grinding out those slayer deeds. Because this a lowbie zone, the required kills for those deeds are relatively low. See LOTRO Wiki’s entries on each to know the best farming places.
I also advise going through the Prologue series for the epic book here, but you could do one of the ones in the other zones as well. All of them, in the end, point you to the Prancing Pony in Bree for the start of Volume 1.
Now that you’re probably around level 15, 150 LP richer, and have a good start to your virtues, take a quick break to go do your level 15 class quest if you like. Then it’s off to Celondim in Ered Luin to work on that zone. Don’t worry — this is the fastest zone to do of the first three. Start in on quests and grind out Dwarf brigands, goblins, hendrovals, spiders, and wolves when you find good spots packed with them.
I generally work south to north here, wrapping up the 30 quests necessary for that deed by the time I’m halfway through the zone (I don’t quest in the Dwarf areas generally). Note that there are some additional slayer quests in Sarnúr, but that’s higher-level stuff and not necessary for the meta deeds right now.
After quests and grinding slayer deeds are done, you’ll just need to do the several explorer deeds here: Elf-ruins exploration, Places of the Dwarves (take the easy stable-master options for most of these), Rath Teraig Exploration (the most difficult one), and Scouting the Dourhands. From Ered Luin, you’ll pick up a couple more levels (level 17 or 18 by now), 130 LP, and lots more virtue XP.
Now it’s time to tackle Bree-land, and be forewarned: It’s a beast. Happily, you don’t have to quest in the eastern half unless you really, really, really want to. And don’t venture into the Wildwood, as that’s level 45 stuff that will wipe you out.
Instead, head right to Bree, turn in any quests you have there, and you should get one called “No Time for Tours.” That’ll send you to three different quest-givers in western Bree-land, and by ping-ponging between them, you’ll end up doing most if not all of the 45 quests you need for the deed.
OK, again, gird up your pantaloons, because there’s a whole lot of deeds ahead. What I like to do is to go over to eastern Bree-land to work on some slayer deeds (neekerbreekers, spiders, and sickle-flies) in the swamp and snag a few of the spots for Ruins of Bree-land and History of the Dúnedain that exist over here.
Then I’ll suck it up and head into the Old Forest for many deeds there, most notably Flowers of the Old Forest, spider-slayer, Woodsman, and The Old Forest. Here’s a helpful map where everything is in this confusing area.
Next to Old Forest is Barrow-downs, and there are many deeds here as well: Lore of the Cardolan Prince, the Barrow-downs, Barghest-slayer, Nemesis of the Fallen, Grave-digger, Wight-slayer, and Executioner of the Wicked.
After that, all you have left in Bree-land is to finish up the History of the Dúnedain and Ruins of Bree-land explorer deeds and the Brigand and Orc slayer deeds. It’s a whole lot, yes, but by the time all is said and done, you should be level 20 (or beyond) with 255 more LP and all of the virtue XP you need at this time.
I’d now encourage you to do the Volume 1 quests in Bree-land and perhaps all of the Bingo Boffin quests up through this zone. From there, head to the Foresaken Inn in Lone-lands and begin the next stage of your journey!