Even as I blitz through high-level content in an imagined race to get my Lore-master ready for Mordor before Update 20 arrives, I’ve had the yearning for an alternate experience at times. The thought started to bubble up in my head about a “vacation” character, one that I could dip into on the side without an urgent agenda. And since I’m almost level 100 and should be done with Rohan story quests (for trait points) by the end of the week, I am giving myself permission to go ahead with it.
For years now I’ve had a bucket list item that I wanted to level up a Hobbit in LOTRO. I’ve always felt kind of bad that I haven’t had one (for the most part) due to my favorite classes — LM and Captain — not being compatible with the Hobbit race. So while I love Hobbits, the class selection has always felt rather blah to me. Hunter? Ha, no. Guardian? Not interested. Burglar? Tried it, didn’t like the sound effects and the constant stealthing. So really all that leaves is Minstrel, which fortunately has always sparked my interest. I’ve had a few minnies over the years, none that made it into the first expansion, but enough to tell me that I like the combination of the musical theme and the long range spell-like damage effects (plus healing!).
Thus, a couple of nights ago Syperia the Hobbit was born. Before I even entered the character creation screen, I wanted to set out a gameplan for what she would be and how I would play her. Here’s my five-point roadmap:
- This character exists only to be a slow, relaxed character that is going through the game’s story at a leisurely pace, one that I visit every now and then.
- She won’t be a main nor aspiring to be one. I’m not trying to rush to get her up to the level cap to do the new content this year. I won’t be using XP bonus items (not really worried about leveling if I’m going through all of the quests).
- I won’t be doing virtues with her or stressing out too much about most deeds apart from racials and class skills. Instead, my focus will be on exploration, screenshotting, and questing. I will be going through the full epic story (including Volume 1), the Bingo Boffin stories, and all of the zone quests apart from the other two starting zones (not going to backtrack to do Ered Luin or Combe/Staddle).
- I will fully read the quest text (where have we heard that before?) and make a deeper attempt to immerse myself in the zone, setting, and narrative. She will participate in some of the festivals, depending on what cosmetics and housing decor I want to get.
- She will be the character to get my house and build up a new home using what she finds and buys in her travels, as a way to show that she’s more of an inhabitant in the world.
I’ve gotten her through the tutorial (which always feels like it takes so long, especially the more you do it) and started to clean out her bags and set up a few outfits before starting to quest in earnest. The combat so far is pretty fun (so much yelling and music) and it’s always a nice homecoming to return to the Shire.
My Minstrel isn’t starting out empty-handed, however. I sent her 30 gold for pocket money (and seed money for a house) and abandoned my house that was decorated by another character so the field is clear. Plus, there’s always the piles of starting gifts that I’ve accumulated from various promotions and pre-orders. Some of those are much nicer than others, of course. I especially am happy to have that new VIP pony, since its stats (+68% mount speed, 250 morale) are great and quite helpful for roaming around.
I have no idea how far any of this will go or how fast, and I’m not that worried about it. As I said, it’s a side character, a side experiment, and that’s just fine with me. I took her around Michel Delving to poke around buildings and take some pictures of Hobbit paintings, and said hi to Bingo Boffin for the first time. I think that listening to the new Tolkien Professor lecture series on the books and the field trips around the Shire were part of the inspiration for doing this.
It’s a huge game, after all, and at this point it’s a lot more freeing to just throw one’s hands up and not care about getting through it all quickly, catching up with the perceived pack, or stressing out about everything that needs to be done to make a well-rounded character. Vacations can be planned and can have boundaries, but they should also be enjoyed in a more care-free fashion. So I dub this a vacation character and will do my best to play her in that spirit.