The Road to Mordor: Happy 3rd anniversary LotRO!

Every Friday, The Road to Mordor brings you the latest in Lord of the Rings Online news, guides and analysis.

Three years ago, I was leafing through a computer gaming magazine and found myself intrigued at a multi-page spread for a new MMORPG called Lord of the Rings Online. The very thing that pulled at me was that LotRO, as they described, was blissfully low magic in a way that World of Warcraft's glitzy shinies was not. Instead, here was a world that was a little more realistic in scope, a lot more beautiful, and connected to a killer IP to boot. I was hooked.

As we celebrate LotRO's third anniversary this week -- don't forget to log on to get your Writ of Virtue -- it's amazing to reflect on just how far this game has come. It may not be the multi-million subscriber hit that some had hoped for, but it's more than respectable in player numbers, community growth and general respect in the field of MMOs. Two expansions and several content patches later, we've walked with the Fellowship of the Ring from Bag End to Weathertop, down the long road to Rivendell, through the dangerous Mines of Moria, and out into the beauty of Lothlórien. We've experienced two new classes, housing, fishing, the skirmish system, crafting dungeons, a new player experience overhaul, the Lone-lands revamp, several major holidays, and the successful reestablishment of the Shire's postal service.
It's been a terrific three years, and I sincerely hope the next three will be even greater. As a way to celebrate this milestone, I trekked over to the official LotRO forums and put forth a simple question: what is your favorite memory from this MMO? Six pages later, I have a wealth of personal anecdotes to share with you (and a header graphic, courtesy of Jadzi). So sit back with your favorite Inn League-approved beverage, and enjoy a trip down memory lane:

  • "My favorite memory has to be riding down the hill and seeing Rivendell for the first time." (KouklaGirl)
  • "I was just beside myself with joy the first time I met with Strider (and then Gandalf) at the Prancing Pony as part of the epic quest line." (Dori Bolger)
  • "The RL feeling of Fear, when entering Carn Dum for the first time." (StoneGaijin)
  • "Running to Rivendell at a very young level. When I finally arrived, I looked down on that valley and knew I found a new home. I stayed there quite a while." (Doronlas)
  • "Frankly Moria was the most amazing time in this game for me -- seeing all those iconic locations as they would have been from the books. Simply awesome! Finding Gandalf's hat, seeing the Balrog's corpse, etc etc etc." (Musicman 2000)
  • "On a rainy day I walked up a hillside in North Downs and looked out upon the Fields of Fornost for the first time. I was so enthralled I had to sit there for like 5 minutes or more just taking it all in." (Clovenshield)
  • "Finding Tom Bombadil in the Old Forest. I was so disappointed when he was skipped in the LOTR movies." (LawLessOne)
  • "One of my favorites that I discovered on my own was the questline in Dwaling and finding J.R.R. Tolkien's Hobbit in-game, Ronald Dwale. I still have his pipe as a reward from that quest, and I make sure that each of my characters that are able to do that quest when they are high enough level to do so, complete it and keep the pipe in honor of Tolkien." (Valamagne)
  • "I only need two words for mine: Amarthiel Event. Nothing else in the game has come even close to the level of fun and excitment of that event." (Phillbvi2)
  • "After battling the long dark of Moria for many months finally reaching the other side. It was night in-game and the stars on the water were beautiful. I stopped and took it all in for some time (being thankful to be out of the mine)." (Boat Drinks)
  • "My first glimpse of the game as I saved Celandine Brandybuck from the Blackwolds." (Mines of Moria)

  • "The first time I was running around the Shire, I discovered the Party Tree (great excitement) and then Bag End (more excitement), and spent several minutes trying to get the perfect screenshot containing both Bag End and the Tree. Then I just sat on that patio area and stared out across the Shire into the cloudy sky beyond." (Trilwych)
  • "One of my favorite places when I first subbed was Trestlebridge. I love the look and feel of it, as a besieged town, a town at war. The smoke filling the air as I got there at night. It has an eerie feeling at night with the smokey haze and the glow of the fires throughout town." (Skigorn)
  • "Finding the Cat Lady's house in Bree-Town" (SassyBrat)
  • "Early in the epic quests when you see the Nazgul turn Amdir into a wraith. I remember running up those steps and exclaiming to my friend on voice, 'Holy **** there's the Nazgul!'" (FlyinS)
  • "Hanging out with my friends in the 'Moors back in late 2007 early 2008; those were really good times full of fun, for the most part. We had massive conga lines, jumping off various locations 'contests', 2-3 person keep attempts that were just silly fun; just lots of good, fun memories of what the 'Moors used to be like." (Cerridwyn)
  • "I went exploring until I found Hobbiton, then ran up the hill to Bag End. I threw open the door and that little hobbit hole just felt like home. I sat on the porch outside that looks out over the shire and imagined Gandalf sitting there next to me smoking his pipe." (BerensBane)
  • "This may sound silly, but the first real jaw-dropping moment for me was when I saw a tree walking toward me." (AmAvocet)
  • "Anybody remember at the end of beta we had a party in Hobbiton, and the devs popped a level 90 dragon on us there at the party tree?" (EricLewis)
  • "It is very difficult to select only one memory, but if I had only one, it would be Frodo's Burden. Having Gandalf send you to ease Frodo's mind as you walk with him around Rivendel is still one of the best Middle-earth moments for me." (Bstrothe)
  • "The first time my minstrel did a low level death-run to see Weathertop and Rivendell: I was left somewhere between a wibble and a squee, in both cases." (Umbrael)
  • "Getting lost in the Trollshaws and stumbling into Bilbo's Strone Trolls" (Galahadur)
  • "Jumping down the well in the Chamber of the Crossroads and shouting 'Fool of a Took!'" (Drogo1)
  • "Entering the rift, as my first raid ever, and hearing Barz's voice, and watching him kick one of the Orcs/Goblins over the edge as he asked if anyone else wants a rest." (Mesraic)
  • "After over 6 hours spent wandering Eriador as a chicken, I finally made it up to the gates of Helegrod and finished the Crosser of Roads quest on my first attempt to do the whole thing." (Westernesse)
  • "I would have to say my most favorite thing has been the wonderful community, as a fellow kinmember said to me 'LOTRO has this advice channel and people ask questions, AND PEOPLE ACTUALLY ANSWER THEM' you have no idea what little thing like that can mean to people..." (MrsAngelD)
Tavern Talk: LotRO Community Discussion and Links

This article was originally published on Massively.