I like being in Rohan. That’s not an incredibly deep statement, but it’s sincere. There have been places in LOTRO that wore out their welcome (er… Moria, Angmar, Isengard), but the beauty and general peacefulness of Rohan have been a balm to this seasoned adventurer. I guess I’ve always liked wide-open spaces, particularly when I used to live in Colorado and could see for miles around me at times. Rohan may be a region under a slow siege by invading forces, but it’s not hard on the eyes if you can get used to the company.
It’s really interesting how Turbine’s dealt with the lore restrictions where the general populace is forbidden to rise against the Orcs due to the king’s edict. Sure, we know the king has been corrupted by Wormtongue, but they don’t know, and there’s a lot of pointless suffering and confusion by the Rohirrim as a result.
For players, this means that we’re used as legal loopholes, revenge by proxy. “Our hands are tied when it comes to this problem, but YOU can deal with it! Go, our hero! Until we need you no more and refuse to talk to you so that you’ll move on to the next town!”
I do so enjoy it when I do all of this dirty work and the townspeople scold me for disrupting the king’s rules.
Last night I was doing a quest chain where a half-burned town was facing an imminent Orc invasion. One guy was championing the idea of ignoring the king and doing a pre-emptive strike on the Orc camp, while a lady was saying that we had to operate within the king’s law and focus on defensive posturing only. The game gives you a choice (“for roleplay purposes only,” says the quest disclaimer), and I mulled that over for a bit. Sure, I as the player know that the king is under the enemy’s sway and as such his edicts are illegal, but my character doesn’t know that. And while the rebellious nature in me and probably most players would instantly throw us into the “attack first!” camp, I believe in obeying authority as long as it’s not immoral. The lady wasn’t asking us to roll over and die; she saw the danger and sympathized with the desire to attack first, but was trying her hardest to obey while being smart about it. So I went with her side of things.
And then she got all snippy with me when the quests forced me to kill Orcs and I was like, forget it, I’m going to burn this country to the ground and sow seeds of a saner nation. You people are nutbars.
All in all, the struggle between the desire to protect one’s homes and to obey your king is a great angle for the expansion to explore. It makes us sympathetic to a people that we may have dismissed in the books as being naive of the real threat. Like the Dunlanders in Rise of Isengard, these folks are being ground to a pulp between two impossible situations — and I have the opportunity to be a release valve for that stress. I could perhaps provide a third option, or at least do what I can to alleviate suffering during a hard time. It’s strange, but that makes me feel more like a hero — to do something small, anything in the face of overwhelming tragedy — than beating a raid boss.