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The Lord of the Rings Online

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The name The Lord of the Rings refers to more than one character, item or concept. For a list of other meanings, see The Lord of the Rings (disambiguation).
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The Lord of the Rings Online (commonly abbreviated to LOTRO or LotRO) is the common name for an MMORPG that takes place in the world of Arda during the time of The Lord of the Rings.



Sierra began to develop the game in 1998, then called Middle-earth Online. After Sierra was bought out by Vivendi Universal Games, production of the game was shared with Turbine. The rights to the game were sold exclusively to Turbine in March 2004, after which they announced that the name of the project would be changed to The Lord of the Rings Online.

While the majority of quests in the game are original content created by Turbine based on the history and lore of Middle-earth, the quests flagged as "Epic" quests depict specific events and scenes from the The Lord of the Rings storyline. While conducting Epic Quests, players interact with the main characters from the books, and assist in the advancing of the story toward the War of the Ring and the destruction of the One Ring.

The game also attempts to mimic The Lord of the Rings by being broken down in volumes, books and chapters. The original game is called Volume I, the following expansion is Volume II and the current expansion is Volume III. Each one of the epic quests are broken down by "Books" and "Chapters".

Turbine has gone to great lengths to faithfully recreate the fantasy world created by J.R.R. Tolkien with a high degree of attention to detail. Essentially every character named in the books appears in the game and can be interacted with during quests and other activities.

A closed beta was announced on September 8, 2006. An open beta began on March 30, 2007, and was open to all who pre-ordered the game's Founders Club edition. On April 6, 2007, the beta opened to the public.

Shadows of Angmar

Main article The Lord of the Rings Online: Shadows of Angmar

Shadows of Angmar was released on April 24, 2007. It included books 1 through 8 of the epic quest line. Approximately once every two months a major free update is added to the Lord of the Rings Online. Each update is an extension to the epic quest called a book.

Book 9: Shores of Evendim

Main article Shores of Evendim

The first free content update was released on June 14, 2007.[1]

Updates included:

  • Discovery of Evendim
  • Over 100 new quests
  • Raid in the Battle for Helegrod
  • Nine new monsters
  • Collectible armour sets

Book 10: The City of Kings

Main article The City of Kings

The second free-content update was released on August 21, 2007 in North America and on August 24, 2007 in Europe.[2]

Updates included:

  • Continuation of the Story Line.
  • Legendary Play – Players can now use Destiny Points to play as a Ranger of the North or as a Troll.
  • Critter Play – Players can now explore Middle-earth from a different viewpoint as a chicken.
  • New Reputation and Bartering Systems – The Reputation system enables players to earn positive and negative standing with different races and groups in Middle-earth based on both monster kills and quest completions. The Bartering system allows players to trade trophies earned in battle for rewards, such as armour sets or mounts.
  • Over 100 new Quests.
  • More customizable user interface.

Book 11: Prisoner of the Free Peoples

Main article Prisoner of the Free Peoples

The third free-content update was released on October 24, 2007 in North America[3] and October 25 in Europe.[4]

Updates include (complete release notes):

  • Continuation of the Epic Story arc, including 13 quests.
  • Player housing – players will be able to customize their houses with items such as furniture and doormats.
  • Second raid called "The Rift" – 12-player raid in which players encounter a Balrog for the first time. Turbine has stressed that this is not the Balrog from Khazad-dûm.[5]
  • Two new areas – Tâl Bruinen in the Trollshaws, where Gollum will be introduced for the first time, and Goblin-town in the Misty Mountains, featured in The Hobbit.
  • More than 100 new quests.

Book 12: The Ashen Wastes

Main article The Ashen Wastes

The fourth free content update was released on February 13, 2008 in North America; and February 14, 2008 in Europe.

Updates include (complete release notes):

  • Continuation of the Story Line.
  • Character customization - Increased character customization "ranging from haircuts, to some (possible) additions to the trait-system." In addition, the Outfit system, along with many special social clothing designed just for it, will be introduced where a second or third set of clothing can be slotted and displayed while retaining the statistical bonuses of the currently equipped items.[6]
  • The Delving of Frór - A new Monster Play PVE (and PVMP under certain circumstances) area will be introduced: An expanse of caves and catacombs located beneath the Ettenmoors.
  • The Great Angmar Revamp - A revamp of the most high-level region of the game's current 9 PvE regions. The revamp included the reworking of many quests, areas and other changes, such as new horse routes.
  • Barbershop - You can customize the look of your avatar in-game with around 50 new haircuts and second set of details.
  • Updates to the Burglar, Guardian, and Champion classes.

Book 13: Doom of the Last-King

Main article Doom of the Last-King

The fifth free content update was released on April 24, 2008 in North America and on May 1, 2008 in Europe.

Updates include (complete release notes):

  • A new playable map area: the Ice Bay of Forochel.
  • Players being able to see the ocean for the first time, confirmed as the Ice Bay of Forochel in recent developer chats.
  • Fishing - the first of a new system in Lord of the Rings Online, called 'hobbies'.
  • New PVMP Monster Healing Class - Orc Defiler.
  • Looking For Fellowship- and Quest-panel improvements.

Book 14: The Ring-forges of Eregion

Main article The Ring-forges of Eregion

The sixth free content update was released on July 22, 2008 in North America. It was released on July 24, 2008 in Europe.

Updates include (complete release notes):

  • Climax of the "Shadows of Angmar" storyline.
  • Added selected sections of Eregion (Region leading towards the Gates of Moria).
  • Epic Quest events that will allow interaction between players regardless of server.
  • Prelude quests for and leading up to the Mines of Moria expansion. Which will have updates leading to Lothlórien, Fangorn, Rhovanion and Rohan.

Book 15: Daughter of Strife

Main article Daughter of Strife

The seventh free content update was released on November 18, 2008. This update was released in tandem with the Mines of Moria expansion for players who did not purchase the expansion release.

Updates include (Epic - Vol. I, Book 15: Daughter of Strife Quests epic):

  • Conclusion of the "Shadows of Angmar" storyline.
  • Added the zone of Eregion expanding on the selected sections from Book 14. The zone does not include the Hollin Gate leading to the Black Pool.
  • Added UI enhancements

Mines of Moria Expansion

Main article The Lord of the Rings Online: Mines of Moria

Mines of Moria was released on November 18, 2008. It included books 1 through 6 of the epic quest line. Like Shadows of Angmar, Mines of Moria continues to regularly release updates. Updates have been less frequent than Shadows of Angmar.

Book 7: Leaves of Lórien

Main article Leaves of Lórien

Book 7 was released on March 17, 2009. This update included:

  • Continuation of the Epic Storyline.
  • Expansion of the Lothlorien Area including the reputation gated city of Caras Galadhon and a conflict area north of the Golden Woods.
  • A new raid entitled "Strange Happenings" in the Waterworks.
  • The new faction of the Galadhrim.
  • Crafting instances allows players to gather resources.
  • Revised new player experience in Ered Luin for Elf and Dwarves

Book 8: Scourge of Khazad-dum

Main article Scourge of Khazad-dum

Book 8 was released on June 23, 2009. This update included:

  • Four new raids and instances: Dar Narbugud (a multi-boss, radiance-gated 12-man raid) in The Foundations of Stone, The Halls of Crafting (a 6-man instance), Lumul-nar (3-man instance) in Zirak-Zigil and Nala-dum (3-man instance) in the Waterworks.
  • Revised new player experience in Bree-land.
  • The continuation of the storyline with the character returning to Moria.

Siege of Mirkwood Expansion

Main article The Lord of the Rings Online: Siege of Mirkwood

Siege of Mirkwood was released on December 1, 2009 in North America and December 3, 2009 in Europe. Unlike the second expansion this edition was only available via a web based download. It included Book 9 and the epilogue of Volume II: Mines of Moria.

Kate Paiz, Executive Producer for The Lord of the Rings Online, released a letter on October 22, 2010 stating that updates will be more frequent but will not always be accompanied with a new book continuing the epic story.[7]

Book 1: Oath of the Rangers

Main article Oath of the Rangers

Book 1 was released on March 1, 2010.[8]

Updates include (complete release notes):

  • The beginning of Volume III in the epic story line.
  • The ability to solo the Volume I epic story line.
  • A duo mode for most skirmishes.

Book 2: Ride of the Grey Company

Main article Ride of the Grey Company

Book 2 was released on September 10, 2010 in North America. (September 8, 2010 for subscribers). It has since been delayed in Europe and a new release date has yet to be confirmed.

Updates include (complete release notes):

  • New region: Enedwaith
  • Lord of the Rings Online Free to Play subscription
  • Book 2 in the Volume III epic storyline
  • Scalable instances
  • Improvements to the vault, and a new wardrobe system for cosmetic items
  • Updates to the captain class
  • The Lotro store, where players may purchase convenience items. Points either earned through gameplay, through the VIP program or by being purchased.
  • The introduction of Lua Scripting
  • DirectX 11 support
  • Ranger sesion play

November 2010 Update

The first post Free-to-play update will be released in November 2010. Due to changes to how updates work this will not contain an epic book.

Updates include:

  • A Barter Wallet for skirmish marks and anniversary tokens
  • Opening of Moria, Lothlorien, Mirkwood and Enedwaith to free-to-play players, Volume II and Volume III will also be available, as well the legendary item system, and the lvl 65 level cap all to free-to-play players.
  • Vault improvements
  • Tasks: a new quest type for all levels
  • Improved reputation mounts
  • Updates to the Lore-Master, and Rune-Keeper class
  • Ered-Luin starting area revamp

Added Elements

There are a number of elements that do not appear in any of the published works. This includes characters, lineages, objects and locations.


  • Éogan was the second in command of the Blackwolds and took over leadership of the group after William Skunkwood's death.
  • The Huntsman was a spirit found in Enedwaith who took the shape of a large man with horns of a stag. Many players thought this was Oromë. The developers confirmed that it wasn't Oromë but a Maiar of Oromë.[10]
  • Skorgrím was a dwarf and leader of the Dourhands he was slain during the Battle of Edhelion. His corpse was used as a vehicle by Ivar the Bloodhand who possessed it with a fell spirit to trick the Dourhands to ally themselves with the forces of Angmar.


  • The Dourhands was a clan of dwarves aligned with the forces of Angmar. They were the dwarves that stayed behind to rebuild the Dwarven Halls in the Blue Mountains which were destroyed during the War of Wrath.





For The Lord of the Rings Online, Turbine has licensed the rights to the content and lore of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. Turbine does not have license rights to the New Line Cinema film trilogy nor The Silmarillion, Unfinished Tales, The History of Middle-earth books or The Children of Húrin. Turbine was bought by Warner Bros. on April 20, 2010 and through them now have the license right to the New Line Cinema film trilogy and the upcoming Hobbit films.

Discrepancies from the source material

The Lord of the Rings Online does not follow the story as told in The Lord of the Rings, but rather tells stories about events that happened during the same time period as the events told in J.R.R. Tolkien's book.


The Lord of the Rings Online has been received very positively thus far, as reviews continue to appear since the game's initial release.[11]

GameDaily awarded the game 9/10, praising its rich, fantasy-themed universe, well-integrated trait and title system, and a story that remains true to the works of Tolkien. Yahoo! Video Games wrote a review with few negative mentions, awarding the game a score of 4/5,[12] while Computer and Video Games called the game an essential purchase for Lord of the Rings fans, scoring the game a 9.2/10.[13] Eurogamer scored the game a 9.0/10, calling it tough to resist.[14] Gamespy gave it 4.5/5 stars, claiming the game "opened up Middle-Earth to the masses" but commented negatively on its weak PvP content,[15] while GameTrailers awarded it 8.5/10,[16] citing its interesting tweaks to the MMO genre. ranked it a similar 8.6/10, praising it for its solid experience, though criticizing it for its lack of major improvements to the genre.[17] awarded the game an 8.8/10, calling it the best MMO launch experience since Ultima Online.[18] The New York Times called the game "a major achievement of interactive storytelling, the first game truly worthy of the ‘Lord of the Rings' franchise and a must-play for just about anyone with an interest in Tolkien or the future of online entertainment."[19] In a GameSpot review, the product was awarded an 8.3/10, praising its appealing polish and intriguing Monster Play feature.[20]'s review gave it an overall 4.25/5, pointing out how engaging the epic quests are, as well as how faithful to the novels the game managed to stay.[21] GameSpy declared The Lord of the Rings Online 'Game of the Month' for May 2007.[22]


In August 2007, Codemasters announced that The Lord of the Rings Online had received five Golden Joystick Awards nominations for the five applicable categories for the game,[23] and in October 2007 that it had won the "PC Game of the Year" at these awards.[24] and again won the same award on October 2008. In December 2007, GameSpy awarded The Lord of the Rings Online 6th place in the top 10 PC games of 2007.[25] On December 18, Turbine announced it had also won the GameSpy MMO of the Year award.[26] In January 2009, awarded Turbine both MMORPG studio of the year 2008[27], and MMO Expansion of the Year for Mines of Moria.[28]

Subscription Model

In North America, players who pre-ordered the game were offered a special founder's offer, a lifetime subscription for $199 or reduced cost of $9.99 per month. Standard monthly fee is $14.99 with three, six, twelve month, and lifetime discounts available. European players had a similar program from Codemasters.

A Holiday subscription was available in December of 2007 and January of 2008 for $9.99/month for a 3 month commitment. A one year anniversary addition includes a $9.99/month subscription or a $199.99 Lifetime subscription, which was again offered during the lead up to the release of Mines of Moria.

Warner Bros. announced on June 4, 2010 that Lord of the Rings Online will offer a free-to-play model starting in the fall of 2010.[29] On August 18, 2010, Warner Bros. announced that the free-to-play model would go live on September 10, 2010. On October 21, 2010, Codemasters announced that a preview of Free-to-Play would be available in Europe on October 25, 2010.[30]


  1. Book 9: Shores of Evendim Release Date Announced
  2. | Codemasters Online and Turbine unveil Book 10: The City of the Kings
  3. Turbine and Codemasters Online Gaming to Unveil Book 11: Defenders of Eriador for The Lord of the Rings Online
  4. Codemasters Online and Turbine to unveil Book 11: Defenders of Eriador]
  5. Book 11 Preview: The Balrogs are Coming
  6. Lord of the Rings Online: House of Commons
  7. Producer's Letter, October-2010, Dev Diaries
  8. Volume III: Allies of the King has arrived!
  9. In the game the Witch-king reigned over Angmar again shortly before the War of the Ring.
  10. Is The Huntsman suppose to be .... forums
  11. Lord of the Rings Online: Shadows of Angmar, The - Review
  12. The Lord of the Rings Online: Shadows of Angmar Review Yahoo! Games
  13. PC Review: Lord of the Rings Online: Shadows of Angmar Computer and Video Games
  14. Review - Lord of the Rings Online: Shadows of Angmar Eurogamer
  15. The Lord of the Rings Online: Shadows of Angmar Review GameSpy
  16. The Lord of the Rings Online: Shadows of Angmar Game Trailers
  17. The Lord of the Rings Online: Shadows of Angmar Review IGN
  18. Lord of the Rings Online GamerNode
  19. Lord of the Rings Online Press Release Lord of the Rings Online
  20. The Lord of the Rings Online: Shadows of Angmar for PC Review GameSpot
  21. Review: The Lord of the Rings Online: Shadows of Angmar for PC Gamepro
  22. Game of the Month: May 2007 GameSpy
  23. Music and vice top games awards BBC News
  24. Gears Wins Big at Game Awards Next-Generation
  25. GameSpy's Game of the Year 2007 GameSpy
  26. LOTRO Wins Top Honors from Gamespy! Lord of the Rings Online
  27. Best MMO Studo of 2008
  28. Best Expansion of 2008
  29. Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment Announces The Lord of the Rings Online™ to Adopt Global Free-to-Play Model Turbine, Inc
  30. The Lord of the Rings Online Europe Preview Event

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