In questing sessions out in Rohan my Champion has died a few times just to ‘roaming dangers’. The wide open plains of Rohan can be surprisingly choaked with horse-riding orcs, half-orcs and goblins. If you get caught on foot or on your normal (non-combat) mount by these you can be in trouble before you even have time to swap to your combat horse. Elite versions of these goblinoid creatures can be a nasty surprise if they happen to cross your path. They aren’t the worst threat out on the fields of Rohan however, the fast-riding warbands are almost certain death if you get caught by one alone.
Warbands are marked on the map but they move around in a large area and can go from stock still to a fast gallop in a moment. They consist of a very tough leader monster and a 2-6 assistants riding around in formation. I’ve narrowly avoided a few, have ridden across the path of at least one and somehow survived (head for the border!) and have been almost insta-killed by another that ran across the road I was stood on while looking at the map.
Although the warbands are the obvious threats in a zone, they aren’t alone. As mentioned above there are still elite mobs out in open zones in LOTRO so it’s possible to get into a fight over your head if you’re not paying attention. Even normal mounted-opponents can be tough if you pull too many. This is particularly true in my experience with mounted combat since you naturally roam back and forth with and around your current combatant as you ride – combat mounts at speed have a much wider turning circle. A few times I succumbed to accidentally riding through to many additional monsters while fighting the original target – usually where several of them are archers. These days I’m more cautious about where I’m riding; at least the mini-map gives you the position of most creatures in the area.
The first few times it happened I was rather annoyed, how dare normal mobs kill my character out in the open world? What on earth is a warband doing that close to a safe-for-travel road? Then I remembered the good-bad old days of Hellfire Peninsula in World of Warcraft back in 2007/8. Mounting and riding away in a panic because an enormous demon robot (Fel Reaver) was chasing you was fun!
So I’ve made peace with the roaming threats in Rohan at least in so far as I have more of a routine of tracking warbands near my questing zones and I’m more methodical about what shortcuts across open fields I take or reject due to mob density. It does add something to the gameplay to be have to be at least a little cautious…
P.S. There is actually a new feature called Roving Threats in LOTRO that this article isn’t referring to, so I’ve renamed it to avoid confusion.