Instead of bending the lore so hard it breaks by shoehorning players into the Fellowship itself, Turbine decided to have the players go on their own epic quests that sometimes parallel the main story of the books. In effect, we the players are on the periphery of the Fellowship, and the Fellowship is on the periphery of us. Sometimes we cross paths, sometimes our actions influence each other, and sometimes we simply go our separate ways.
Still, players may get frustrated when they spend a lot of time in the game without seeing any of these major characters, wondering whether some of them even exist at all. This is complicated by the fact that these characters appear in different places relative to the player's own journey through the story.
So if you've ever been curious where your favorite character is and how you can go on adventures with him or her, hit the jump and I'll hook you up!
Although he's technically not part of the Fellowship, Gollum is the reason I wanted to write this article. After playing the game for a couple of years, I had yet to see one stringy, damp hair of this little guy's head, and I was starting to wonder if I'd simply imagined him altogether.
It turns out that I just wasn't looking in the right place. As we start the game, Gollum has escaped his tormentors in Mirkwood and is seeking out Frodo and his... precioussss. One of the first places you'll encounter the scamp is in The Trollshaws during The Creeping Shadow quest chain. You'll lay out a trap of fish for Gollum, but he's too slippery for you (and has an ability to climb sheer cliff walls, which my character lacks), so he gets away.
While you won't encounter him again until Mirkwood -- which has an excellent Gollum solo instance -- tourists are encouraged to dive into Goblin-town to check out Gollum's Cave. He's even left a few pieces of cave art for you to admire, so make sure to have your screenshot button ready!
Aragorn's impossible to miss unless you're trying your hardest to avoid the epic storyline (and even then...). Just like Frodo did, players will encounter Aragorn first at the Prancing Pony in Bree. Aragorn soon moves his banner to the guest house in Rivendell, where he'll help launch several chapters of the epic quest. He's pretty cool about people asking him for autographs, so don't be shy!
While you can make a bee-line for Bag End at the beginning of the day, Frodo's already left his home, and you're going to have to be quick to catch up with him. You'll first encounter him in the Last Homely House in Rivendell next to Gandalf, and if you speak with the wizard, you'll get a quest to accompany Frodo on a nighttime walk that some players note as one of their favorite story moments in the game. If you talk to Frodo on September 22nd -- both his and Bilbo's birthday -- he'll ask you to deliver a special present to the elder Hobbit. Frodo later appears in Lothlorien, where he'll do a bit more walking. Apparently, that's what he does: walk, walk, walk.
Where Frodo goes, Sam is bound to follow. You can find him during Volume I in the Last Homely House, and he travels with the Fellowship to Lothlorien at some point in the middle of Volume II. The stout and loyal Hobbit has a small role in the game so far, mostly appearing as the very virtue of the Guardian class.
Mr. General-Captain of Gondor, as he likes to be called during informal situations, mostly mimics a lump on a log during the game so far. You can find him in the Guest House in Rivendell and among the happy flowers of Lothlorien, and shouting at him "Don't try to steal the Ring!" does absolutely nothing. Turbine should look into that.
Ah, Legolas. How our hearts swoon for thee! You stand so majestic and shoot so straight that we cannot help but to name any archer character after you. Thank you for not suing!
Unlike the previous few characters, Legolas does accompany players on a couple of special quests. From his temporary HQ in the Guest House of Rivendell, Legolas will join players for 1.4.8, The Unmarked Trail. For a guy so in tune with nature, he certainly kills a lot of it. I'm just sayin'. Later on, you'll go with Legolas and Gimli on a patrol around Lothlorien, and it's kind of a treat to see the two interact as in the books.
Gimli's a fun Dwarf to have at your side during your death sprees, so it's a good thing that you'll have him at your disposal for two epic storyline instances: 1.5.5 and 2.7.4. Dwarf characters have an opportunity to meet him much earlier during the first prologue quest, which takes place before the events of The Hobbit. Gimli as a teenager? No, nothing so radical, but it's still a neat cameo.
While I have a particular fondness for these two characters, LotRO has so far pushed them to the backseat and kept them there. So while you may visit them in both Rivendell and Lothlorien, you won't be going on any wild and crazy adventures with these mischievous Hobbits. About the closest you'll get is bringing Pippin a barrel of "surprise pipe-weed," making you his... er... drug dealer? I guess?
This old fogy is the hardest-working member of the Fellowship in the game, playing a part in the Dwarf prologue, being present on many steps of the epic storyline, and providing the narration to several of the cutscenes. Depending on where you are in the storyline, Gandalf can be found in the Prancing Pony or in Rivendell. My favorite Gandalf experience, however, is encountering him -- under a different name -- during a flashback sequence in a latter Mirkwood epic quest. You never know where or when he'll pop up, even after he's dead!
Bilbo's adventuring days are long behind him, and he's since retired to the Last Homely House. Since he's retired, he offers you more quests than Merry, Pippin, Gandalf and Legolas combined (don't quote me on that!).
Elrond (not pictured)
Well, I heard a rumor he was in this game, but it's anyone's guess where this infamous Elf might be. It's a shame; I would've really liked to have visited him 1,231 times during the course of my adventures.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or through his gaming blog, Bio Break.