So you just bought The Lord of the Rings Online. You’ve perfected your avatar’s appearance, and you and your character are ready to delve into the world of LOTRO RP. Maybe you have background in pen and paper or forum roleplay, or maybe you’re a seasoned veteran from some other MMO. Whatever your history, there’s still one question you’re bound to have after you first fire up this game:

Now what?

Oendir and I are here to help you answer that question! And we’re going to do it in our favorite format: a numbered list.

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1. Step One: Pick the Right Server

There are a LOT of LOTRO servers, and picking one can be a bit overwhelming. But fortunately, Turbine gives us helpful labels to point RPers in the right direction. Here’s a list of the labels you’ll see:

RP –Means this is a roleplay server, where roleplay regulations are strictly enforced.

RE — This means “Roleplay Encouraged” and is a way to say “this server has a lot of RP on it, but isn’t an official RP server.” This is the label you’ll find on Landroval*, which was the unofficial RP server before server labels were introduced.

FR — This server is for the French-speaking community.

DE — This server is for the German-speaking community.

EN — This server is for the English-speaking community.

(*The best server of them all! Though I may be biased.)

2. Step Two: Tell the World!

Wouldn’t it be great if you could tell what players are roleplaying just by glancing at them? Wouldn’t it be great if you could somehow show the whole world that you’re looking for roleplay, too?

Fortunately, you can! Just type this into your chat box:

/rp on

This “flags” you as a roleplayer. If you click on your character portrait, you’ll see that the name floating above your head is now white instead of gold. Whenever you see someone with a white name, that means they are flagged for RP.

To unflag yourself, you can type /rp off

Keep in mind that not every roleplayer uses the RP flag. Some people will roleplay even without it. You just have to be observant!

3. Step Three: Create Your Biography

Another good way to tell if someone is a roleplayer is to go to their Biography section. You can right-click on a player to inspect them. The second tab on their character panel is “Bio.” In this tab, you may find information that the player has written about their character. If there’s a biography here, it’s pretty safe to assume that the person you’re inspecting is a roleplayer.

I highly recommend that you take the time to fill out your own bio. To the average passerby, this is the only chance you get to make your character stand out. I like to write my bios with only information that a person would get by looking at my character: what they wear, how they act, what they look like, etc. Some people like to include their character’s backstory, though I always treat this as out-of-character information.

If you can’t think of anything to write, don’t worry! Even writing something as simple as “Random RP welcome!” is enough to let other folks know you’re looking for RP. You can update your bio as often as you like, so you can continue to add and change things as your character develops.

4. Step Four: Learning to Emote

RP happens in the /say and /emote channels. The /say channel is used for stand-alone speech, and the /emote channel is used for actions.

There are a variety of pre-made emotes available for you to use. These can be found by clicking the speech bubble in the bottom left-hand corner of your chat box. Play around with the emotes to familiarize yourself with them.

You can also write custom emotes if you want to describe what your character is doing in detail. You can write these using the following commands:

/emote

/me

/em

/e

If I write: /emote smiles, and shakes his head.

It will appear in the emote channel as: Oendir smiles, and shakes his head.

You can also embed animations in custom emotes. This is done by typing the emote command you want, followed by the custom text you want. For example, if I type:

/sit flops down onto the grass.

Oendir will sit down, and the text will display as: Oendir flops down onto the grass. This is a great way to get a lot of different uses out of the animations available to us. Instead of fainting, you can swoon dramatically. Instead of poking someone, you can jab them sharply in the eye!

Except you shouldn’t, because that would be mean.

5. Step Five: Start Roleplaying!

Now that you know the basics, it’s time to delve into the wonderful world of LOTRO RP. Run around and look for white names! A good place to look for roleplayers is The Prancing Pony in Bree, but always keep your eyes open. You never know where roleplayers will show up.

Don’t worry about having your character completely fleshed out. A lot of your character development happens through RP. Have faith that your character will tell you who he/she is.

When I first started playing LOTRO, I knew three things about Oendir:

1. He was Gondorian.

2. He had a cousin named Rhienna.

3. He didn’t like Gondor very much.

Five years later, he’s one of the most complex and genuine characters I’ve ever written. That’s all because I threw him onto the RP proving grounds and let him show me what he was like on his own sweet time. So don’t worry about starting with a bare-bones sketch; inspiration will come to you as you explore!

6. Find a Good Community

As fun as RP in LOTRO is, it’s hard to stay inspired without a good community of like-minded people. You may want to look for a roleplay-themed Kinship (guild). You can ask around what ones there are on your server. If you don’t want to join a Kinship, just keep asking people where the good RP hangouts are, and how you can get involved in community RP. Most folks will be happy to get you acquainted!

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These six rules should be enough to get you well on your way. Here are some other things to keep in mind as you go:

  • Learn the lore: If you haven’t read the books, read them! It’s important to know what is and isn’t possible in this world. And you have to know the rules before you can bend them!
  • Pay attention to grammar: Sloppy writing is a big turn-off for a lot of roleplayers. Be sure to use proper spelling, punctuation, and capitalization when RPing!
  • Take initiative: Never stop asking for RP. Be willing to approach others. Thank the people who RP with you.
  • Don’t get discouraged: It takes a while to find your stride, and to find a good circle of RP friends. Be patient, and when things don’t work out, keep trying!
  • Learn through observation: Pay attention to what other roleplayers do. There’s a lot you can learn from LOTRO RP veterans.
  • Experiment: Play around. Try new character concepts. Try to avoid getting stuck in a rut. If your RP starts to feel old and tired, try something new!
  • Be polite: Be kind, generous, and fair to your fellow RPers. Don’t take things that happen in-character personally, and don’t do anything drastic to a character without the player’s permission.
  • Have fun! Don’t get bogged down by obligation. If RP stops being fun, step back for a while until you want to do it again. It’s OK to take breaks. Everyone understands that real life always comes first!
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