LOTRO Legendarium: Untangling LOTRO’s complicated travel system

Of all time.

Considering how absolutely huge Lord of the Rings Online’s Middle-earth has become, I’d say finding efficient ways to traverse its landscape is paramount to any adventurer. Some questlines will have you hopping around to various regions or returning to lands you long thought you had finished, and figuring out the best way to get there may be tough if you lack good options.

And while there are many methods of getting around, from mounts to summons to the ever-useful milestone skills, today I want to zero in on the stable-master network as a tricky — yet important — part of the travel system in the game.

Overview of the stable-master network

On the surface, stable-masters are fairly straightforward, especially if you’re an MMO veteran used to other forms of automated travel that allows you to bounce between important hubs in the game world. Once you unlock a stable-master in LOTRO, its destination is available in the future. So you can simply find the nearest stable-master, pay a nominal fee, and ride off on a predetermined route to your destination.

It should be noted that there are a few quirks to this setup. First, some locations offer a “quick travel” option that allow for a very fast transition between stable-masters instead of watching your character ride for minutes and minutes. Unfortunately, this is available only to VIP players as far as I know.

Second, you can pay mithril coins to a stable-master or on the stable-master map (tucked away in your collections UI for some reason, see the above picture) to immediately go to one of these locations. This is most helpful if you haven’t unlocked an area and need to get there immediately. However, keep in mind that every mithril coin spent is literally money coming out of your pocket, so it’s something that should be utilized sparingly. I’ve only done it to unlock a far-away stable-master that I did not previously have.

The problem with stable-masters

While all of this does seem like common sense, LOTRO suffers from a glaring issue with stable-masters – namely, that not every stable-master you’ve unlocked connects to all of the others you should be able to access.

The game doesn’t outright explain this; you simply find out through exposure to this unnecessarily complicated system. Some stable-masters service only other destinations in its immediate region, while others will be more of a “hub” that can access far-away stable-masters in its general direction. So if you want to go to points west from Bree, you need to use the western stable-master in town, and if you need to go points east, you use the southern stable-master.

Making it even more tricky is the fact that some of these stable-masters will fling you to incredibly distant realms as kind of expansion connections — the Twenty-First Hall, Minas Tirith, Umbar, and so on. But it’s only through actually visiting these stable-masters will you know which goes where.

So not every stable-master goes everywhere, so to get to specific destinations, you have to somehow know which SM connects where. Occasionally you have to take multiple trips to try to get in the vicinity and hope that the next SM will get you to where you want to be. It’s like traveling Greyhound but less organized.

The biggest kick in the pants is that each stable-master offers only a text list (divided by regions) full of those strange Tolkien names that are easy to forget. The collections screen map is helpful to show you where stable-masters are and the names of those destinations, but it’s missing that key component of showing the player which connect where. However, you can click on a stable-master icon to see the names of its available

Standing Stone Games hasn’t, to my knowledge, ever talked about the growing mess and confusion of stable-masters, so I don’t think this is something that’s going to be changed. Ideally, every stable-master should list each and every destination you’ve unlocked, period. Yes, it’d be a long list after a while, but you could collapse it (as you can now) and wouldn’t ever find yourself stranded or lost.

Untangling the stable-master network

Well, we have what we have, so let’s make the best of it. One helpful tip I have is to keep an eye out for “far-ranging stable-masters” and keep a port to get to one quickly. Those stable-masters are the ones that will connect to all of the major hubs, so they’re useful to get you within the general vicinity of where you want to be. On the collections screen map, look for these in the star-shaped locations, as those are the major cities.

LOTRO Wiki has a pretty hilarious map showing you how complicated and messy all of the long-distance travel is, in case you want to understand the scope of this problem.

The places that boast the best global reach are South Bree, Twenty-first Hall, Caras Galadhon, Snowbourn, Dol Amroth, and Osgiliath. Since you can purchase a reusable port to Lalia’s Market in Bree for three mithril coins, that South Bree stable-master becomes an invaluable pit stop on the way to fame and fortune. Also, each race gets a free port back to their home city, and that will most likely put you on the path to wherever you want to be.

There are a couple of travel assisting plug-ins, if you feel comfortable messing around with the interface. These aren’t elegant solutions, but they do help with navigating. And speaking of inelegant options, you can always look up the stable-masters on the LOTRO Wiki to help you out of a sticky spot or to plan out a route.

As far as I know, nobody’s ever taken the time to draw a visual map of all of the connections. So in the end, you do have to memorize some of these names and have a general sense of where places are in the game world.

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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