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Lord of the Rings Online Starting Out in LotRO

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NameStarting Out in LotRO
CategoryGeneral
So you’ve finally decided to try out virtual Middle-Earth by purchasing The Lord of the Rings Online: Shadows of Angmar. You open the box, whip out the DVDs, install the game, and read the manual. At the same time, you also create your account somewhere at Turbine’s Web site, so that you can enjoy your new purchase immediately.

So what’s next?

Good question. If this is the first MMORPG you’ve ever played, then you must know that it’s time to create your first character! You can go about blindly and make the garden-variety Middle-earth miscreant, or you can read this guide and know what combination could work, saving you all the trouble of difficult grinding through the early levels. Remember: the choices you make during the character creation process are irreversible.

Make no mistake; there is no perfect character build. Other races may suit a certain kind of class at the beginning, but deficiencies can be offset by Traits and good equipment/items. If you think your character isn’t as good as he or she should be because of your early choices, fret not. You won’t feel the difference when your character reaches level 25.

Race

There are four races in the game: Humans, Dwarves, Elves, and Hobbits. Each has its own strengths and weaknesses. Like other good MMORPGs, there is no ultimate choice of race in LOTRO because the groups are well-balanced, so you have to take the good with the bad.

Basic Stats

Your initial stats are determined by the race and class that you choose. They may not be much when you start out, but they would improve as your character gains experience and levels. They can also be improved by Traits, but that’s another story.
The basic stats are the following:

Morale
This stat is just another name for your hit points. Morale is the amount of damage that your character can absorb before being killed. This would be the green bar in your character vitals display.

Power
Your character uses Power to trigger most of your skills. If you’re out of Power, you won’t be able to use said skills. Power is similar to the function of Mana in other games. It’s the blue bar in your character vitals display.

Might
Here’s another different name with a similar function. Might in LOTRO is like Strength in other RPG systems. A higher Might value would: add to the damage you inflict with a melee weapon; increase your ability to block and parry attacks; and improve your Common (or physical) damage reduction (or mitigation).

Agility
A higher Agility score would: increase the chances of landing an attack; improve your ability to evade and parry attacks that can be evaded or parried; increase the damage of your ranged attacks; and improve the chances of landing a Critical hit against an enemy.

Vitality
You should pay attention to this stat if you’re concerned with your Morale because it increases a character’s maximum number of hit points. Vitality also affects several other factors, like how quickly you regenerate Morale when not in combat, your ability to reduce Shadow and Fire damage (mitigation), and your resistances to Wound, Disease, and Poison.

Will
This stat is similar to Vitality, except that it affects Power instead of Morale. Will affects your maximum Power, your Power’s regeneration rate when not in combat, and your resistance to Fear.

Fate
Last but not the least is Fate. This stat is crucial to your survival during combat because it determines how quickly you regenerate Morale and Power when in a fight. Fate also affects the likelihood of getting a Critical result with your healing abilities.

It’s important to know what your basic stats are because they determine how well a race or class performs in certain aspects. We’ll discuss this for each race or class.

Humans

As described in the official site:

The shortest-lived of the races of Middle-earth, yet also the race destined to rule in the years beyond the Third Age, the race of Men is defined by their relatively short life span. Their mortality was considered a unique gift, but in time it became known as "The Doom of Men" and a source of lamentation.

Men are a varied race, from the great Dunédain of the North to the skilled Horse-lords of Rohan, and from the proud soldiers of Gondor to the mysterious Haradrim far to the east. They are capable of great courage and honor; yet they can also easily fall prey to ambition, deceit, and betrayal. Known simply as the "Big Folk" to the Hobbits of the Shire, Men are characterized by a large, strong frame and a driving will borne out of a relatively short life span.

In designing the race of Men for LOTRO, the difficulty is in creating a race of characters that is not seen as simply "ordinary" amongst the other fascinating races of the land. Men occupy a unique place within J.R.R. Tolkien's lore, since (though they may not realize it themselves) they are the race of destiny. Men are also easily swayed and exceedingly ambitious. Many have been corrupted by promises of power and these make up a sizable portion of the armies of the Dark Lord, along with the other, more outwardly monstrous races of Middle-earth. The Men that populate the game as NPCs are particularly interesting, since the motivations of Men are often unknown and appearances can easily deceive. Conversations with Men met in Bree, for instance, can be challenging to the unwary; for within that city's walls there reside both Free People fighting for good and also a dark element of corrupted Men fighting against the light.

Available Classes
Champion, Guardian, Captain, Burglar, Hunter, Minstrel, Lore-master

Nationalities
While creating your character, you can also choose his or her nationality. There’s no game-changing effect here, but nationality changes the color palette options for skin, hair, and eye color. Nationality also provides a title that indicates your character’s land of origin (like Elrond of Rivendell). Choices for Human characters are: Bree-land, Dale-lands, Gondor, and Rohan.

Racial Modifiers
To make things interesting, each group has modifiers that balance out how they play. For Humans, they get:

Increased Fate
Humans get a bonus to their Fate (+15). Because of this, Human characters get an edge in combat and when healing. If you recall, a better value for Fate gives you improved regeneration for Morale and Power during combat. If you choose Humans as your race, you may want to look at classes fit for melee and healing.

Increased Might
Human characters also get a +15 to their Might. Increased Might gives you better melee damage, better ability to block and parry, and improved physical damage reduction. Again, Humans get an edge in melee.

Extra Morale when inspired
Apparently, Humans can be roused to action faster than the other races. This provided a 5% bonus to healing skills affecting Humans. If you’re Human and you’re healed by a teammate, you get an edge. This would be an advantage no matter what class.

Decreased Will
As for their drawbacks, Humans have weaker Will than other races. This would result in relatively lower maximum Power at lower levels. If you’re looking at classes that need to use up a lot of Will like Lore-master, it’s good that you look someplace else to maximize your character—unless you’re fine with letting your creation focus on melee fighting instead of using the class’ devastating skills. You can still increase this stat later on, but when you start, you have decreased Will.

The bottom line for Human characters

Since Humans get numerous advantages in combat and health (i.e. better melee damage, Morale regeneration during combat, etc.) it’s wise that you choose a class that plays these strengths. While Humans allow you to flexibility to choose from any of the classes available, such characters make good Champions and Guardians.

Dwarves

When you read the official description, it says that:

The stout Dwarves of Middle-earth are known for their steadfast determination, hearty strength, and commitment to all things found in the world's deep places. Living a secretive life in their homes beneath the great mountains, Dwarves are expert miners and workers of stone and metal, capable of crafting with great strength and renown, along with unparalleled beauty and intricacy. Unwavering and proud, the Dwarves fight for the Free Peoples of Middle-earth (although an ages-old mistrust exists between Dwarves and Elves), emerging from their deep dwellings to bring their strength and fierce combat skills to bear in the battle against the Darkness in the East. Dwarves stand on average approximately 4½ to 5 feet high and typically live long lives of 250 years or more.

The Dwarves are excellent warriors and master craftsmen, displaying unique toughness in battle and the ability to create great things. Ever secretive, Dwarves oft begin their adventure in the soaring halls carved from beneath Ered Luin (The Blue Mountains), a land steeped in history and natural beauty near the western shores of Middle-earth.

Available Classes
Champion, Guardian, Minstrel, Hunter

Nationalities
Choices for Dwarven characters are: Blue Mountains, Grey Mountains, Iron Hills, The Lonely Mountains, White Mountains

Racial Modifiers
Dwarves get the following modifiers:

Increased Might
Dwarves get a +15 to their Might, which is always good when your style of play is melee. This bonus is akin to the plus points given to Humans.

Increased Vitality
As we know, Dwarves are tough beings, thus the increased Vitality (+10). This means they can take more punishment than other races (i.e. Humans and Elves). The Hobbits are the only other race with the same bonus.

Increased Common damage reduction
Your Dwarven characters also get improved Common damage mitigation (or reduction) at +1.0%. Common damage refers to the damage inflicted by melee weapons. To cut to the chase, another thing that makes Dwarves a good choice for melee fans is their inherent ability to reduce the Common damage that they receive.

Increased Morale regeneration in combat
This modifier is strange. It gives Dwarves a bonus to Morale regeneration in combat, but outside combat—the effects are the opposite. Dwarves get a minor penalty when not fighting. Regardless of the odd mix, the important bit here is the edge Dwarves get while they’re fighting, making them suitable for melee combat.

Increased Power regeneration in combat
Same goes for a Dwarf’s Power regeneration. They get an increase while fighting but suffer a reduction when not in combat. Same principles apply here. Dwarven characters can regenerate their Power at a better rate when fighting.

Decreased Agility
A Dwarf is stocky in nature (at least, according to Tolkien and AD&D lore). This build gives them a -8 in Agility. You’ll feel the difference while fighting at low levels—your attempts to hit enemies aren’t as accurate and critical hits are more difficult to pull off.

Decreased Fate
There’s more weirdness here in this modifier. Despite the increased Power and Morale regeneration in combat, Dwarven characters’ Fate is reduced (-8). Perhaps this penalty is placed to offset the improved regeneration rate this race gets.

The bottom line for Dwarven characters
Take a look at the classes available for Dwarves: Champion, Guardian, Hunter, and Minstrel. Aside from being faithful to Tolkien lore, this also shows that the race is built for combat. However, we can’t recommend the Hunter class because you’ll be shooting a lot of arrows while putting up with decreased Agility. To play a Dwarf’s strengths, play a Guardian or Champion. Dwarven Guardians are even tougher than their Human counterparts.

Elves

From the official site:

Long ago, the Elves welcomed the "younger" races of Middle-earth and allied with them when the need was great, but centuries of war, betrayal, and hardship have made them fiercely protective of their seclusion. Now, as the Third Age draws to a close and the War of the Ring is at hand, the Elves are once again stirring from their forested realms and hidden valleys, allying with the Free Peoples of Middle-earth against the darkness which grows from both the North and East.

Available Classes
Champion, Guardian, Hunter, Lore-master, Minstrel

Nationalities
Choices for Elven characters are: Edhellond, Lindon, Lórien, Mirkwood, Rivendell

Racial Modifiers
Dwarves get the following modifiers:

Increased Agility
This seems to be the Elven standard in fantasy. Elves get +15 to their Agility, giving them better chances of landing an attack, and improved damage when making ranged attacks, among other things. This gives them an advantage in melee and ranged combat.

Increased resistance to disease
Elves do not suffer illness. Actually, they have a +1.0% bonus to disease resistance.

Increased resistance to poison
Elves also get a +1.0% bonus to poison resistance.

Decreased Fate
Here’s the first of several penalties. Elves have decreased Fate. This means they’re like Dwarves—they also get a -8 penalty. Unlike Dwarves, Elves don’t have other bonuses to offset this. As a result, Elves’ Morale and Power regeneration rate isn’t the same as other races when in combat, and it’s not a good thing.

Decreased maximum Morale
You read it right. Elven characters’ maximum number of hit points is reduced (a noticeable -20 penalty). This makes combat a bit trickier for Elves because they can’t take as many hits.

Decreased Morale regeneration out of combat
There’s more: when Elves aren’t fighting, they get a -1.0 penalty to out-of-combat Morale regeneration. If the reduction were in combat, warrior wannabes might have a tougher time during lower levels.
The bottom line for Elven characters
The Hunter works best for Elves starting out. Why? Because Elves have increased agility, which is great for ranged combat. They also have fewer hit points, so keeping distance as Hunters is a given. You can try the Champion, Lore-master, and Minstrel for this race. Elves don’t have decreased Will like Humans, so they can be a better fit for classes that use up more Power in their skills. Try not to make an Elven Guardian because of the decreased Morale. You may have Guardian skills that would increase defense, but you’ll need all the hit points you can get.

Hobbits

According to LOTRO’s official site:

There are few recorded deeds of Hobbits until late in the Third Age of Middle-earth, which is just the way Hobbits would prefer it. They are simple, quiet folks, preferring to dwell in hillside holes in and around the area known as The Shire in western Eriador. Called "Halflings" by some due to their size relative to Men, these small folk enjoy the peaceful endeavours of farming, eating, and gift giving, rather than concerning themselves with the dangerous affairs of the rest of Middle-earth (save the legends of Hobbit bowmen in the wars of Fornost). In these dark days, however, it is the unassuming Hobbits, with their often surprising adeptness of both word and action, that will have the greatest impact in the war between the Free Peoples and the lengthening Shadow from the North.

From the most modest of beginnings, Hobbits are capable of the grandest of deeds. Their nimbleness and quick-thinking are well documented of course, but Hobbits are not to be underestimated. Hobbits, although small in size relative to the other races, are sturdy of body, determined in their actions, and good with bow or knife (when they have to be). Their small frame belies a toughness and spirit of a capable adventurer in the lands of Middle-earth.

Available Classes
Guardian, Minstrel, Hunter, Burglar

Nationalities
Choices for Hobbit characters are: Fallohide, Harfoot, Stoor

Racial Modifiers
Hobbits get the following modifiers:

Increased Vitality
Don’t let their size fool you. Hobbits are tough, and it shows here. They get +15 to their Vitality. This makes them capable of taking even more punishment than Dwarves! FYI: Dwarves get “only” +10. If you want toughness, choose a Hobbit.

Increased Morale regeneration out of combat
Not only are Hobbits tough, they regenerate better when out of combat. They get a 1.0 bonus to Morale regeneration. It may not be during combat, but any MMORPG player would take this any day.

Increased resistance to Fear
Hobbits may not be immune to Fear, but they get an additional 1.0% to their resistance. Pretty useful considering everything you have to face.

Increased Shadow damage reduction
Characters of this race are also capable of reducing the Shadow damage that they receive.

Decreased Might
Thankfully, dear Hobbitses have only one drawback—they have decreased Might (-8). This means Hobbits wouldn’t a) inflict as much damage with a melee weapon; b) block and parry as much attacks; and c) reduce as much Common damage as the other races.

The bottom line for Hobbit characters
Hobbits are tougher, but they don’t inflict as much damage. They would make great Guardians because they’re tougher than Dwarves, and Guardians should be resilient if they are to be effective tankers. The decreased Might means being a Champion will be tougher early on. There’s no huge advantage if you’re to choose a Burglar, Minstrel, or Hunter, but there are no corresponding penalties that should stop you from doing so.

Gender

You can also choose the gender for your character, but if you choose a Dwarf, there are no female options available. There are no penalties or bonuses attached to gender. This choice merely determines your character’s appearance. Admittedly, gender might affect how other players treat you.

Class

The race may point you in the direction you’d like to go because of their modifiers, but it’s the class that defines your role in fellowship adventures. There are seven classes to choose from in LOTRO, and each has its own unique qualities and skills. Classes affect your stats, deeds, and equipment that you can use. Remember that not all races can play all classes.

Burglar

A Burglar moves in and out of the shadows to befuddle, weaken, or attack foes. An unexpected attack from behind by a Burglar can stun or trip enemies, allowing others in the fellowship to combine their efforts for a devastating attack.

If you choose to play a Burglar, your role is to debuff monsters, taking away their ability to dish out damage and attack at full strength. If you like to use tricks and stealth to beat your enemies, being a Burglar may be the class for you.

As a Burglar, you can use light armor, daggers, one-handed maces, one-handed swords, and thrown weapons for equipment.

Initial Stats
Morale 90 / Power 125
Might 14 / Agility 14 / Vitality 8 / Will 11 / Fate 10

Captain

This class is for players that give leadership to his fellows. A Captain’s presence strengthens his allies, but he is also skilled in fighting. Unfortunately, only Human characters can be Captain.

When you choose to be Captain, you must remember your role when in a fellowship: Buffer and pets. A Captain’s presence in a fellowship is very valuable because of abilities like healing, reviving fallen companions, and increasing morale, among others. A Captain gains the ability to summon a Herald pet starting level 10. This pet is a decent warrior that can fight enemies in battle.

Captains are already proficient in the following: light armor, medium armor, daggers, one-handed axes, one-handed clubs, one-handed hammers, one-handed maces, one-handed swords, two-handed axes, two-handed clubs, two-handed hammers, and two-handed swords.

Initial Stats
Morale 110 / Power 125
Might 14 / Agility 8 / Vitality 10 / Will 11 / Fate 14

Champion

This class is built to fight, dishing out large amounts of damage against enemies foolish enough to get the way. Champions can use various weapon styles, but are at their best when they wield two weapons at the same time. Despite a Champion’s prowess in combat, such characters can quickly find themselves in trouble when facing several foes on their own, so it doesn’t mean you don’t play smart.

If you choose to play a Champion, your role is simple: inflict lots of pain on many foes. A Champion becomes even deadlier when he or she enters into fervour mode because he or she deals the most damage. If you enjoy a frenetic pace of combat, this class is for you.

Champions live by the code “the best defense is a good offense,” and rightfully so, a fellowship turns to these warriors to bring the pain. Champions have the following proficiencies: light armor, medium armor, daggers, dual wielding, one-handed axes, one-handed clubs, one-handed hammers, one-handed maces, one-handed swords, and thrown weapons.

Initial Stats
Morale 115 / Power 125
Might 14 / Agility 14 / Vitality 10 / Will 8 / Fate 11

Guardian

All the MMOG play types are here. Guardians are protectors of the weak and sturdy fighters. They are capable of withstanding a lot of damage. If you like tough guys who can draw the foes’ attention away from his allies, then you’ll like the Guardian.

Figuring out a Guardian’s role is simple. He is a fellowship’s tank. Guardians may have lower damage output, but their survivability is much higher than his teammates because of his superior defense and hit points. Guardians have extra Morale and several abilities that can reduce the damage they receive from enemy attacks. like the Champion, Guardians are good for solo play. You just need to be more patient because of their lower damage output. Fights would take longer, and so would leveling up.

A Guardian uses taunts to draw and hold opponents’ attention, relying on his shield and weapon to defend against incoming attacks with blocks and parries. Guardians are great at counterattacking in combat. As you’re attacked, you’ll see appropriate measures unlocked for use against your enemy.

Guardians have the following proficiencies: light armor, medium armor, shields, daggers, one-handed axes, one-handed clubs, one-handed hammers, one-handed maces, one-handed swords, and thrown weapons.

Initial Stats
Morale 115 / Power 125
Might 14 / Agility 10 / Vitality 14 / Will 11 / Fate 8

Hunter

There are a lot of names given to Hunters: tracker, pathfinder, and master of the bow, among other things. A Hunter is known not only for his or her skills in archery, but also in setting traps for enemies and using their survival skills to guide companions.

Hunters are strongest when attacking from a distance, but make no mistake—they can defend themselves in melee combat when needed. Hunters serve as a fellowship’s nuker—providing the long-range hurt to single foes. When the solo enemy gets close enough for melee range, Hunters are capable to finishing them off.

Hunters have a focus meter above their auto-attack button. Focus is increased by the use of several lower-level ranged skills like Swift Bow and Barbed Arrow. The Focus skill will completely fill the meter. As the focus meter fills, you unlock more devastating skills. If you move, you will start to empty the meter.

Hunters have the following proficiencies: light armor, bows, daggers, one-handed axes, and one-handed swords.

Initial Stats
Morale 90 / Power 125
Might 8 / Agility 14 / Vitality 10 / Will 14 / Fate 11

Lore-master

The Lore-master uses his knowledge of ancient wisdom to stave off the advance of the shadow for a time. He can use this knowledge to attack his foes or treat the wounds and ailments of his companions. Lore-masters can communicate with animals and request their aid. Some Lore-master skills can summon animals for help.

A Lore-master’s role in a fellowship is crowd control and pets. Characters of this class can stun creatures, preventing attacks against his allies. His skills are powerful, but using them drains his Morale. Lore-masters rely on pets to compensate for this mechanic.

Lore-masters have the following proficiencies: light armor and two-handed staves.

Initial Stats
Morale 90 / Power 125
Might 8 / Agility 14 / Vitality 10 / Will 14 / Fate 11

Minstrel

Even when everything else is lost, there is always hope. Hope is what a Minstrel brings to a fellowship, through his knowledge of ancient songs and lore. A Minstrel’s song can buff and restore allies, while her dirges strike fear into the hearts of her enemies.

What is the Minstrel’s role in a fellowship? To aid and inspire one’s teammates by restoring Morale. A Minstrel can be considered your healing class, but can also perform buffs and debuffs. This class is no pushover in battles, mind you. A Minstrel is also armed with light-based area of attacks, in addition to his decent combat skills.

Singing songs isn’t so simple though. Minstrels must sing a Tier 1 ballad to unlock her ability to sing a Tier 2 ballad. She must sing a Tier 2 ballad to unlock that Tier 3 ballad ability. Minstrels will have a short window after playing a Tier 3 ballad to play an anthem. If this is done, it will reset her ballad counter back to Tier 1.

Minstrels have the following proficiencies: light armor, daggers, one-handed clubs, one-handed maces, and one-handed swords.

Initial Stats
Morale 90 / Power 125
Might 11 / Agility 8 / Vitality 10 / Will 14 / Fate 14

Remember: There is no ultimate race or class to choose when creating a character. Each race and class has its own strengths and weaknesses, so choosing really depends on your play style. If you enjoy adventuring a certain way, like healing teammates or leading a fellowship, then the character you make must jive with this approach. In the end, the path you take depends on you.

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