Me name's Ansa. I'm an Hobbit of the Eastern Shire. I'm no fancy hobbit, like those Baggins, Brandybucks, or Tooks. I'm a Hobbit of the Earth, I am. I never much wanted anything. Just a coney or two for a nice stew. Maybe a pie should me luck hold out. It was just that luck that I found me self on the wrong bleedin' stretch of road at the wrong bleedin' time. I got swept up in something. Something I didn't want to know nothing about. 'Ere I sit leagues and leagues from home. Wondering if each new day will be me last. How'd this happen to a know nothing Hobbit of the Shire? Well, let me tell you... This is an LP for Lord of the Rings Online. By way of a little background, I've played LOTRO on and off since a few months after launch. Since SWTOR was released, It's been more off than on, but the new expansion, and the Hobbit movie has rekindled my interest. I considered writing a LP of that experience, as it's locked behind 75 levels of content, but one of the best parts of LOTRO is its loving devotion to the source material and the realization of Middle Earth. Nowhere is that more evident than in the Shire. No experience in Middle Earth is complete without experiencing it, so that is where we begin. I don't plan to talk too much about the mechanics. LOTRO plays like WoW or most other mmos. I chose to go with a Hunter, mostly for ease of travel. The hunter earns the ability to transport herself and her party around the map, and it's invaluable at higher levels. I've also developed an affinity for dps classes of late. This is an odd development for someone who only used to play the healer. I will be playing on Landroval, the best server in LOTRO. THERE IS NO ARGUMENT HERE. If you're on Landroval, feel free to add me to your friends list, and maybe make a cameo in the LP. On with the story... As I was saying, I was out hunting one night, for me Gran. I don't usually hunt at night, but she was annoying me and I needed some time to me self. I'm wandering up the road, when what should I encounter but a bleedin' bounder. I hate them, Bounders. Always telling me to move along and to watch me language and "I'm no longer welcome in the Green Dragon." Well Bollocks to them. What's this? Can I fight? Well Mr. Bounder that is one thing I excel at. Just ask the patrons of the Green Dragon! A brief interruption in our tale to look at one of the true innovations of LOTRO. I don't know if Turbine did it first, they probably didn't, but their implementation of the Cosmetic Tab is still the best I've found. Not only is every article able to be hidden, but there are up to seven slots to choose from. Even better is the fact that once you put something in a cosmetic slot it binds there until replaced. The item can then be moved from your inventory, back into storage, or even discarded. It is a great way to enable expression without infringing on bag space. LOTRO has enough inventory issues, but we'll get to that. I have decided to go with this lovely blue tunic and matching cape. It really isn't IC, for Ansa, but it will do for now. (You also get an idea how long I've been playing by all the items in my inventory. Upon character creation I easily fill a bag with all the pre-order, veteran, and other reward junk.) Before I could find out exactly who he wanted me to fight, we were interrupted by this procession of rich bastards. Truth be told, Samwise is ok. Bought me ale once. Wanted to know about Rosie. I made something up. Still, it's more than I've ever gotten from the other two. They was acting all cagey. Dodging the Bounders' questions, when all of a sudden the night grew cold and a foul wind blew down the road. Samwise and his betters scurried beyond the fence into the darkness. The Bounder and I just looked at one another, when what should appear but something out of me worst nightmare. He was askin' after Baggins. I'd have told him, but I couldn't move. I couldn't speak. Whatever it was, it had me paralyzed with fear. I 'ave to give the Bounder some credit. He managed to point the nightmare toward Hobbiton. He only had one more word for us before he rode off. We didn't hang about. The bounder and me scrambled along the hedge row into the abandoned farm beyond. After fighting through some really big spiders we ran into a trio of larger, and frankly hairier men. Before I knew what hit me, the world went black. An' I woke up in a dirty jail cell. Not for the first time. For some reason, they left me with me weapons, but anytime I moved close to the bars they just stepped back and laughed. I think I was a game to 'em. What happened next didn't amuse 'em so much. This tall, dirty, and disheveled man cut them down. He looked like he hadn't seen a bath, or a bed in months. He was a man after me own heart. We escaped the frying pan of the jail to the literal fire which blazed outside. The nightmare from earlier was menacing another man. By the time me savior got the gate open it was too late. The dark thing stabbed the man and fled, figuring his work done for one night. We rushed to the man. He wasn't dead, but it didn't look good. Me man said his name was Strider, and we should come with him. I ain't one to argue. Little did I know where we would end up... Thus ends the tutorial. I won't go into as much story detail as the LP moves forward, as that would just be overwhelming, and probably uninteresting as well. The LOTRO epic story progresses along with the story of the books. At times it intersects, at times it goes off into tangents based on appendix lore, or extrapolation of other story fragments in the books. With the release of Mines of Moria, the developers created a method by which you take control of members of the fellowship or other important characters in Middle Earth. I plan to mostly follow the epic path, unless it makes character sense to branch off. If you have any questions, requests, or comments, please let me know. Feedback is always great. As to not disturb the narrative, I plan to end each post with my own appendix of snark, or maybe a nice picture, or any other random happenstance from my time in Middle Earth. Enjoy! I used to be a Ranger until I took a torch to the face.