So as I've mentioned I've been working up a new champy on LotRO. "Why," you may ask, "are you spending all of the time necessary to grind up a whole new character to level bazillion or whatever the cap is now, when you've already have a champy near the top who's got gear and deeds and emotes and is mechanically identical to what the new character will be when you're done?"
It's a fair question, for which I don't really have an answer any better than "Because I wanted an elf maid champion." The constant class-scrambling has put me off both wardens and rune-keepers, which knocks out Maedhroc and Lachwen; Galadhalion, although he has a special spot as my first character, has a ton of mental baggage associated with him that I'd rather leave behind. I also kinda need to train myself how to play the class again, and I'd rather start with a clean slate than try to untangle the mess of buttons that is Galadhalion's tool bars.
However, going through LotRO after having been more or less absent from it for half a year or more, I can feel a significant change in the atmosphere of the game. Many of the LotRO blogs/podcasts have gone dark; there's nowhere near as much chatter in the zone channels. The MMO business in general appears to be dwindling and LotRO is dwindling with it. It's not dead, not by a long shot, but it's also not, I dunno, trendy, any more? LotRO has gone from being the new hotness to an old warhorse somewhere along the way.
It's not entirely a bad thing; the people I encounter in-game are more likely to be hardcore LotRO fans, who are there because they love the setting of M-E or the gameplay or what-have-you, which means they tend to be a bit more level-headed, a bit more friendly, and a bit more knowledgeable than a lot of the problem players of days past. But it does
leave the lower-level zones of LotRO much lonelier places than they once were.
However, I did encounter something last night that put a smile on my face: a pair of elves and a dwarf standing around the Last Homely House in Rivendell, chatting in-character by use of "/say" commands and emotes, discussing what had in mind to do. I eavesdropped on them a bit while inventory-managing at a vendor, and was entertained by the pure RP going on. On a meta level, the players were choosing an activity for their gaming session (deciding eventually to do some of the Mirkwood instances); in-game however, they described lightly taking a stroll through the warg-pens, for which the dwarf said he would have to go put on his helmet, and one of the elves advised him to make sure the eyeholes were lined up this time, causing a groan from the dwarf and chuckles from everyone else around, self included.
It was just a tiny little moment of RP, and I wasn't even involved, but I loved it. It's the exact sort of thing I always wanted from LotRO and have almost never found from the groups I've hung around with. It's also what I meant way back when, when I said I'd had more pure RP in six months of the #TwitterPonies
than in five years of playing LotRO.
By way of thanks, I headed for the nearest mailbox and sent each of the three players a mug of Forsaken Inn Ale, with an apology for not having a better brew, offering each of them a toast. (As of the time I signed off, none had replied, but I imagine they were all in Mirkwood by then.) If nothing else, they did rekindle the hope I once had that there actually is RP to be found in LotRO, you just need to be looking in the right place for it.