The Road to Mordor: Power to the levelers

LOTRO: Lothlorien
With Rise of Isengard creeping up on us, I've seen an increasing number of people begin to freak out about it, not because they're upset it's coming but because they're not prepared to partake in the expansion on day one. Now, this might not be important to you, but I assure you it's quite important to many -- lots of people like to be in on the excitement from the very beginning, and it's a special kind of torture to contemplate having to sit there and listen to your friends oohing and ahhing over the new zones and content while you're still poking your way through Moria.

So because of this, some players really, really want to get a character up to level 65, prepared to do a dive roll right into Dunland when September 27th hits. It's understandable. Even I, a normally laid-back type of guy, am pushing hard to finish up Enedwaith with my Lore-master so that I'll have one character good to go on I-Day (that's Isengard Day).

But what about those who don't have a level 65 in their pockets? Is it too late to get your act in gear and get up there before it's too late? Of course it isn't. I'm pretty convinced that you could even roll a fresh toon today and get him or her up to the endgame by I-Day, depending on how much time you can dedicate to it.

Today we're going to look at a few leveling tips I've picked up over the years to aid those of you who want to kick in the afterburners of the leveling process so that you can make sure you're where you want to be. It's not even that hard!

A few caveats

Before I bestow upon you my great and hoary wisdom, I want to say that power-leveling isn't always for the best, especially in Lord of the Rings Online. Yes, you can get the levels you desire faster than normal, but you're going to miss out on a significant portion of the journey and the little experiences that make this game special. I also don't endorse forking over money so that someone else can level your character for you, as that's a recipe for a hacked account and credit card fraud (not to mention it's against the EULA).

Another caveat is that by power-leveling now, you'll almost certainly have to retrace your steps later to pick up virtues, complete class quests, and perform other necessary chores that you'll skip in your rush to get up to 65. Some of the legendary skills are going to be out of your reach unless you take a significant detour, so you'll have to judge where your priorities lie if it comes to that.

Power-leveling in LotRO is all about streamlining the journey, maximizing your XP rate, and making sure you're capable of handling what's coming at you down the road. This means don't neglect your skill training (check in with your trainer every other level), keep your gear as current as you can with the drops and quest rewards that come your way, and work on those skill deeds!

LOTRO: Forsaken Inn
Starting out

The single best investment you can make for a power-leveling character is to get the riding skill and a mount from the get-go. You really, really don't want to have to run all over the place for the first 20 levels, and the TP cost for the skill is pretty affordable. Mounts are easier to come by, especially if you pre-ordered Rise of Isengard or have one of the hundred other promotional codes that give you mounts for all your characters.

And while I'm not advocating you play class you dislike, I have to at least acknowledge that some classes -- like Hunters and Champions -- are going to be much faster at the leveling game than others.

Since XP is the name of the leveling game, any edge you can get in this department helps. VIP players will accumulate "enhanced XP" (otherwise known as "rested XP") while they're logged out, giving their characters a significant bump in monster kill XP until the bonus is exhausted. Another trick VIPers can use is to purchase additional enhanced XP with Destiny Points, which I covered last week.

Everyone, regardless of subscription status, can purchase enhanced XP boosters from the store; they stack with any other XP bonuses. However, it can be pricey to keep doing so, and I personally wouldn't recommend it. What I would recommend, however, is to take advantage of the generous Rise of Isengard pre-order package, which comes with a lovely 25% monster kill XP trinket that, you guessed it, stacks with other bonuses.

My last starting-out tip is to splurge on nice gear and food for your lowbie toon at the auction house. My thought here is that you end up using the AH less and less for gear as you level, and any advantage for the first 20 levels that top-of-the-line armor and weapons can give you will help you get the fastest possible headwind into the game. Food buffs are woefully under-appreciated by many players, but they can really make the difference between victory and defeat (and lost time) along the way.

LOTRO: Rivendell
Fleshing out your character

Unlike other MMOs, leveling in LotRO isn't solely about accumulating enough XP to ding. You also have to be concerned with skill deeds, legendary trait deeds, and virtues along the way. This is why I recommend making a road map to lay out where and how you plan to get the virtues you want (assuming you're not going to blow $100 and buy all of them on the store) and to be constantly, constantly working on your skill deeds. It may not seem like a big deal in the beginning, but if you're jetting up through the levels and you don't have some of these traits in place to flesh out your character, you're going to be hurting later down the road.

As you go through zones, don't detour your progress too much to get every single virtue, but certainly work on them as much as you can. You'd be surprised how much you can get done along the way if you're being conscious about it.

Legendary traits are a tricky matter for the power-leveler because they're not going to come that easily without some serious work. Three of these traits come from accumulating book pages (which should be easy enough if you get the books at 39 and make sure to kill humanoids as you level), one comes from your class quest (which is lengthy and challenging), one requires doing a little dungeon diving in Moria, one has you going through a good chunk of the Volume 2 epic storyline, and the last one only comes when you hit kindred with Iron Garrison Guards. What I would do is to pinpoint the three traits you need for your build and factor those in to your leveling plan. It may require more time, but legendary traits are always worth it.

LOTRO: Angmar
Movin' right along, footloose and fancy-free

For a power-leveling character, I'd probably recommend skipping Volume 1, since many of the portions of the storyline have you engaging in extraneous traveling that will take time away from your purpose. Volume 2 is more essential, both to get the legendary trait and your legendary items, although you can safely stop doing it by the time you exit Moria. It's your call, really.

Most of your XP is going to come from quests, so making sure that you focus on completing as many as possible and staying within a reasonable level range of whatever quests you find is essential. Skip fellowship quests and anything that looks too difficult -- remember, your mission is speed, not thouroughness. You might as well take advantage of tasks in each area, since it's basically extra XP for your vendor trash.

Skirmishes are another possibility, especially during the 20-40 range, although LOTRO Reporter says that the XP/hour rate takes a dive after that.

My suggested leveling plan

While there are certainly many paths to leveling up, here's what I consider to be the most efficient and player-friendly:
  • Levels 1-6: Intro zone
  • 6-15: Your respective starting zone (eastern Bree-land, The Shire, Ered Luin)
  • 15-20: Western Bree-land
  • 20-21: Skirmishes (you can knock out a level with a handful of skirmishes)
  • 21-30: Lone-lands (if you run out of quests, move up to North Downs and finish the 20s there)
  • 31-40: Evendim
  • 40-46: Angmar (not the prettiest zone, but the quest density is terrific)
  • 46-50: Eregion
  • 51-59: Moria (your choice of zones; just follow the quest breadcrumbs and you'll have more than enough XP)
  • 59-60: Lothlorien
  • 61-64: Mirkwood
  • 64-65: Enedwaith
Hope it helps, and see you in Isengard in the fall!

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.