As Wilhelm2451 mentioned, our static LotRO group took a couple of its regular sessions off for RL reasons, so alt-itis has had a greater than usual opportunity to flourish. Now even the most dedicated alt-aholic would grow weary of running the same lowbie quest advancement path over and over in the course of a few days and I’m no exception. Its fun to experiment with different races and classes even if you don’t intend to focus on one.
So, when even leveling alts seems like a bit of a grind for the nth time through the starting zones, the wanderlust kicks in. What to do if you don’t want to chase quest rewards like a rat in a maze?
In WoW, I would inevitably start exploring nooks and crannies of the map, ostensibly gathering resources along the way, but more often just to see what was over the hill, beyond the horizon. It was a lark and, but for the resources harvested, this sort of exploration didn’t actually contribute to any aspect of your character’s development.
Likewise, in WoW one could grind faction with any number of groups to gain favor. Other than the possibility of some decent drops, mob grinding yields only a modest increase in faction over time and the accretion of plain vanilla experience.
LotRO has given players like myself a reasonable alternative to this conundrum of what to do if you don’t really want to grind experience or quest ahead of your group mates. Since mob kill experience does not compare to quest completion experience, grinding is of little value for the experience. Likewise, map discovery in LotRO yields no experience in and of itself.
Enter LotRO’s Deeds, Titles and Traits. I touched on this in my thoughts on Beta, but its really taken a while to start to see the full impact of this system on my gameplay. Maybe I’m slow on the uptake, but the more I explore it, the more impressed I am and the more it seems to suit my style of casual game play.
Briefly, here’s how they work: a deed is a set of goals to be accomplished which yields a reward. These deeds are often first “discovered” when the first goal is attained such as killing a particular type of mob or discovering one of a series of lore-based landmarks. A character’s deed log lists all the deed in progress, their objectives and rewards. Deeds are organized either by Class, Race or Region.
The rewards for completion of these deeds is usually either a title which the character can display, or a trait which the character can equip which enhances some ability. Often the a deed has a progression where a title is earned first and a trait is awarded for the second level of achievement. Characters start out with a limited number of slots in which to equip a trait, but without any limit on the number of traits they can earn.
Class deeds reward the use of a class skill with a trait that enhances that skill such as reducing the cooldown time of a shout or increasing the effect or efficiency of a heal. Race deed yield a trait that has a racial connection such as “headbutt”– a short range melee attack Dwarves can earn and use when equipped. Region deeds tend to be deeds which require (huzzah!) exploration or elimination of a particular type of mob.
Once earned, visit your friendly neighborhood bard and pay a sometimes-not-so-modest fee to equip the desired deed.
Owen here will get you fixed up. Note that you may have a large number of traits, but a limited number of slots in which to equip them, and you can only reconfigure at a bard in a town. The upside is you can vary your “load out” as your anticipated adventures require. Going solo? Maybe load out the damage enhancing traits, going dungeon with a group? Mitigation, mitigation, mitigation. Here’s the trait management screen (x’s indicate slots not yet earned):
How it works
Here’s an example of a character’s deed log for the Bree-land starting region highlighting the Brigand-Slayer deed:
If you mouse over the progress bar on the objective, it shows how many nasty evil humanoid mobs aka “brigands” (the Blackwolds in Bree) need to be killed to get the reward which is a title, “Watcher of Roads.” Kill 30 of this type of mob and you may proudly bear this title. My Dwarf guardian, Fergorin, has already achieved this. Fortunately, these mobs are often the objects of quests in the region, so this most of this is a collateral benefit of questing, not a grinding goal.
After you’ve attained the title (big whoop, some may say, only epeen eye candy), there is an advanced version of this deed:
So, run around Bree-land and kill more brigands (60 this time) either by grinding or questing or whatever and you’ll be awarded either the “Justice” trait or an incremental increase in it if you already have it (hence, the “Justice +1”). So what does the justice trait do?
Basically, an increase in combat morale (aka health) regen, max morale and out of combat morale regen. Sounds pretty good for a tank like Fergorin.
Why this matters and is cool
Now since our kinship doesn’t discriminate by race or class and Bree is the center of the universe in LotRO, Fergorin left his home in Ered Luin and ran off to the big city early on to join his human, elf and hobbit friends in the exploration of Middle Earth, not entirely unlike so many Night Elf hunters and druids that headed for Ironforge as soon as they could get off that stump that is Teldrassil (especially in the Time Before Linked Auction Houses).
Now, the starting areas pretty much take you to about level 15-ish before you really have to leave the zone for greener pastures. So what if you leave early before you complete all the quests or deeds and have long since levelled past them?
Re-enter the deed system. Note the following screenshot of the regional deeds for Ered Luin, the Dwarf starting region:
Yes, Ered Luin has a brigand problem too, and yes, knocking a few Dourhand Dwarf heads is Dwalin’s idea of “Justice.” So, for those of you scoring at home, the regional deed system encourages players to go explore other areas or return to lower level areas they “grew out of”, do quests which may be of minimal experience value but may yield money or saleable items and focus the player toward the attainment of deeds in that area, even if that player is beyond the level of the mobs in that area. This makes for a generally enjoyable frolic in pursuit of a tangible goal that would otherwise be completely trivialized because of level based difficulty system.
In my example, Fergorin actually earned his justice 1 doing the bree land deed and then went back home to Ered Luin to back fill his Epic Quest line and clean up some other random quests which had gone grey. As a result, and in pursuit of the advanced brigand slayer deed, he was able to earn the second level trait just from going back and exploring and questing in ostensibly a lower level zone. With three/four basic starting areas, Ered Luin (Elf/Dwarf), the Shire (Hobbit) and Bree (Man), the deed system creates incentive a-plenty to to explore and quest in each of these areas that is actually worthwhile and contributes to the advancement of your character separate and apart from simple experience grinding.
If killing mobs weren’t enough, there are similar rewards for the completion of a number quests in a region or finding lore-based landmarks as well, so again, it encourages players of all levels to go experience the so-called other lowbie zones for fun and profit. Not only is this immersive, but for those of us that want to do something “constructive” in-game but not level past our friends who may not have the same play budget we do, this is a cool way to do something different and still build your character.