LOTRO Legendarium: Why the new class trait system changes are a bigger deal than you’d think


Greetings and salutations, fellow Lord of the Rings Online adventurers! I know I previously said that my next LOTRO Legendarium column would tackle the new delving system, but to be honest, I’ve been having too much fun questing through Swanfleet and Cardolan that I haven’t gotten around to it yet. So I beg your pardon with this sweet apple pie that I just crafted.

Instead, today I want to talk about one of the more underrated features of Before the Shadow — and how it’s a seismic shift that’s changed the whole way we approach and progress through LOTRO. It may not seem like a big deal, but the class trait changes may become the best legacy that came out of 2022 for this MMO.

No good deed goes unpunished

Before we get into exactly why this new format offers wide-ranging benefits, we need to look back at how traits and deeds used to interact. Since launch, Lord of the Rings Online based a good amount of its character progression through the deed system. These were kind of novel at the time, an achievement system that was bound to many of the game’s system in a functional capacity.

So if you wanted to build up your stats through virtues, you’d have to do specific deeds associated with each virtue level that you desired. Likewise, there used to be deeds to unlock certain class skills, not to mention deeds for racial traits (the latter of which still exist).

Several years ago, the devs jettisoned the old class trait slotting system for the now-standard class trait trees. With that change came the need to acquire class trait points to slot into these trees. The more points you had, the more abilities and power your character gained. This was an expandable system, which was a good thing, but it did mean that class trait points became absolutely necessary to acquire, preferably in the largest stack possible.

But like so much else in LOTRO, class trait points were tied to the deed system. About half of the points you used to get were from leveling, but the rest came from myriad deeds. And these weren’t that organized; they were all over the place and easy to overlook without the aid of a wiki or guide.

We were getting class trait points from specific quest chains, from the level 40 book page quests, from certain spots on the epic story, and even from the epic battle system that very few people liked. What’s more, there was a chunk of trait points that could only be attained by grinding out skill deeds — you know, spamming certain skills a few hundred times over the span of several days.

It was clunky, it was confusing, and it often resulted in some characters having a smaller pool of trait points than others if the player wasn’t well-informed.

The freedom to game

The reason I went into that history is to highlight what a monumental change it was to make the recent switch to how we attain trait points. As they did with the virtue system, the developers consolidated and centralized trait points into a single source of distribution: leveling. Now, the only way you can get new trait points is by leveling.

The distribution isn’t even, but it is simplified. With this new format, you’ll get a bunch of trait points early on at the rate of almost one per level, and then the handouts start spacing out. (You can see the exact distribution on LOTRO Wiki.) The long and the short of it is that by level 140, each and every character in the game will have a maximum of 98 trait points to assign among their trees.

This doesn’t just make things simpler; it frees us up in numerous ways. For starters, there’s no more worry that you’ve missed a trait point somewhere along the line and have to backtrack to find it. In fact, I’ll wager that almost every character came out of this with more trait points than before the patch arrived (particularly for the vast majority that didn’t get those two epic battle traits).

Aside from leveling out the progression, the decoupling of trait points from deeds freed us up in so many ways. Because you don’t have to worry about hitting specific content or grinding out skill deeds, there are more options to playing the game the way you want without extra time sinks. I’m jumping for joy that I can outright ignore skills that I dislike instead of keeping them around because they’re mandatory for a certain needed skill deed.

And if you want to level in an unorthodox fashion, well, you do you. For example, with my new Hobbit Lore-master, I’m going to level her only through the epic story with supplemental XP provided via missions. Previously, that would make me miss out on several sources of trait points. But now? I’m covered all the way to the level cap.

This doesn’t mean that deeds are useless, of course. They’re still a great source of LOTRO Points, virtue XP, titles, motes, and so on. But for the most part, they’re optional rather than mandatory.

It’s a good direction for the game that allows a whole lot more in the way of player choice and agency. And I’m sure that it makes life a lot easier for the dev team, too.

Seeing as how this affects every player across the whole leveling spectrum in a positive way, I see this as a huge win for the community. It’s certainly spiced up my own Middle-earth adventures!

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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