This post is my humble attempt at a time capsule. The next expansion for Lord of the Rings Online will revamp the class system and traits and deeds that go with that. Although details are starting to trickle out on in developer-diary form, it’s still sparse info to go on. I do worry that this might be a Cataclysm moment (i.e. the WoW expansion that accelerated the removal of talent trees) for this MMO.
That said, and unlike my longer and deeper experience with WoW, I’m still after all these years a relatively inexperienced player of LOTRO. My highest character is level 63 out of 85 (soon to be 95!), my next highest only level 26. So a big revamp of the class system is less likely to be drive me away from the game.
Regardless I’m posting here some screenshots and details of the character customisation system to preserve these thoughts for future consideration – it’ll be interesting to compare just how much changes!
The basics of the character customisation system in LOTRO is a combination of traits and deeds – you unlock traits by completing deeds.
There are several kinds of deed, that is to say activity, that when repeated or completed earns you a specific trait. So killing a number of specific foes (e.g. 50 orcs), using a class skill so many times in combat (e.g. use the Champion skill Blade-storm 350 times) or discover a set of location on a given map (e.g. the ten different ruins of Bree-land).
The reward for completing a deed is either a trait (see below) or a skill unlock. Deeds are categorised by type (region, class, race, epic – link for details)
Traits are the actual character customisation mechanism. You complete deeds as mentioned above to unlock traits. These can then be slotted according to their type in slots for virtues (rewarded by regional deeds), class (skill use deeds), race (similar to regional but restricted by your race) and epic (so-called legendary deeds).
The class section for traits is complicated by having three sub-sections, which correspond very approximately to the talent trees of other MMOs. However beyond the limitation on the number of slots of each type you have, a factor of your class level and account type (VIP/premium/free to play), you can freely slot any traits into the relevant slots. This is a confusing mess for new players but a very flexible and interesting system for players who like complex character customisation.
This all results in a very unique feel to the system. I can go out and do deeds as I feel in most cases, with level being the only restriction – so for instance I couldn’t complete a deed for killing trolls in the Trollshaws zone if my character isn’t high enough to take on that challenge. But with a bit of planning and some coin to pay for swift horse-rides between zones you can build up these traits in the order you please. Many you could unlock without even noticing – I’ve found I often complete class skill deeds without specifically making an effort to do so since I’m using those skills anyway. There’s a beautiful simplicity to your character becoming better at certain skills because he/she has used them more.
I’m sure not everyone likes this system however, it is fairly obviously grindy. I remember that killing 360 wolves in the Trollshaws was a serious pain as there weren’t that many of them and the respawn rate wasn’t set very high back when I did that deed. The one silver-lining here is that kills count regardless of challenge – you can come back as a high level character and one-hit kill creatures and you’ll get credit towards the total.
LOTRO veterans will have their own opinions on this system, positive or negative. As a moderately experienced player of the game, I personally appreciate it for the mixture of the simple tasks and complex character options that result. Anyone who hasn’t tried the game probably should give it a go, even if only to see how it is now before the incoming changes.