The Road to Mordor: Luck be a lady tonight

During this past week in the wild world of Lord of the Rings Online, we were treated to a snippet of exceptionally good news: The LotRO lotteries are back.

Some of you might be indifferent to this news, some might be overjoyed, and some -- I'm guessing -- are totally puzzled about what this all means. Considering how many new players have immigrated to LotRO this year and how long the lottos have been out of commission (several months now), it wouldn't surprise me if a player hadn't even heard of these at all.

Simply put, the lotteries are a "for fun" bonus that Turbine implemented to give all players a chance to win some nifty in-game items. These winnings can include anything from beer to gold to housing items to mounts. It really depends on your luck and how generous the devs are feeling any given week. Some of the lottos have huge payouts, while others deliver prizes as silly and paltry as a single lump of coal.

So if you're new to the LotRO lotteries -- or just need a refresher course -- hit the jump and let's suss this thing out!

Skill, determination, and sheer, blind luck

"From the earliest of times, games of chance have been a source of amusement and reward. Skill and determination are often required to advance in the life of a character in LotRO. Now it's possible to get an in-game perk for each of your characters just by playing in the new LotRO Lottery!"

Thus sayeth Sapience in October of 2009 as he announced the new lottery system. It was and still is (to my knowledge) a fairly unique feature in the industry: a chance for players to get free rewards for doing pretty much nothing but entering a drawing. You don't need to spend any in-game cash (although in retrospect, this could've been a nice goldsink on Turbine's part); you don't even need to be logged in, and it doesn't discriminate between free player and VIP.

The lottos quickly became one of the best-kept secrets of the game, mostly because it happened on the website instead of in the game itself. As only a fraction of MMO players visit the official websites, it was easy for the lottos to go unnoticed by them. Perhaps this is why Turbine created them, in order to get more players to engage with the site between play sessions.

Back before the whole free-to-play switch, players simply logged on to their pages, hit a button to enter in any of the currently ongoing lotteries, and then logged into the game later that week to see whether they won or not. The cool thing is that you often had a good chance of winning a nice prize sooner or later, particularly if you had multiple characters engaged in the lotto. You see, the lotto is a per-character thing, not a per-account activity -- the more characters you have, the more chances you have to win.

Unfortunately, the F2P move also brought with it a complete revamp for the official website and knocked out the lottery system. The new website may look nicer, but its functionality and stability are still -- after all these months -- up in the air. Players have been eagerly awaiting the promised return of the lottos, but it's taken a while to see them come back.

Throw the dice, spin the wheel, flip the cards and say your prayers

Personally, I'm a big fan of the lottos because, hey, free is free. It's always a welcome surprise to log into the game and see your mailbox stuffed to the brim with useful goodies. I've won a mount, several housing decorations, tons of potions (50 morale potions go a long way to keeping your character safe) and several gold in the few short months I engaged in the system.

So how can you get going with the lottos? It's pretty simple, actually. The first thing you'll want to do is to log into the LotRO site and navigate over to the My LOTRO tab. Make sure you click on the "Home" button, and then add the lottery widget to your home page. The Lorebook has a quick tutorial on this -- it literally takes just seconds to do. Click the big lotto button, make sure that all your characters are selected for every lottery, and hit submit. It's that easy!

Finally, you're going to want to get in the habit of checking the lottos every day. There's a regular schedule of lotteries on the site; different lotteries become available on certain days and for characters of certain levels (for example, lowbie characters are eligible for the "Welcome Wagon" lotto). On top of that, the devs often throw in special lotteries at random times, and many of these lottos can be the ones with really desirable goodies. Lotteries spring up more often around certain holidays, as well.

Note that there are some issues with the lottery widget and system. I kept getting an error trying to submit all of my characters this past week, until someone told me that it may not like some of my older characters that may or may not exist any longer (but are still on the list for some reason). So I just selected my main characters instead of everyone, and the error message went away.

A look back at the lottos of yesteryear

It's entertaining to look back at some of the lotteries that Turbine's created over the past year or so. These include:
  • Welcome Wagon Lotto -- a lottery for characters level 20 and under.
  • Lottery of the Free Peoples -- a lottery for characters level 21-35.
  • Adventurer's Lottery -- a lottery for semi-high level characters.
  • Lottery of the Stalwart -- a lotto for high level toons.
  • Naughty or Nice -- win a lump of coal!
  • Deck the Holes -- a couple of Yule-themed housing decorations.
  • Last Call! Beer, and lots of it.
  • Yule in July -- Christmas stuff in the middle of summer.
  • The Lottery of the Triple-E -- an E3-themed lotto.
  • Tax Refund Lottery -- money, money, money!
  • Whimsical Wednesday
  • Carrot Cake and Hope Lottery
  • Arghhhh! (I completely forget what this one was about.)
Imagination is the only limit to the variety of lottos that I can see, and Turbine's full up on crazy brain-stuffs. What are some of your favorite lottos from the past that you'd like to see return? Let me know in the comments!

So here's to all of us as we gamble for fame and fortune and lots of green beer. Cheers!

When not enjoying second breakfast and a pint of ale, Justin "Syp" Olivetti jaws about hobbits in his Lord of the Rings Online column, The Road to Mordor. You can contact him via email at or through his gaming blog, Bio Break.
This article was originally published on Massively.