Home » Digital culture » Playing LOTRO

Playing LOTRO

title pageFor week one the “Gameplay” is to download and install the on-line game “Lord of the Rings Online” (LOTRO), create a character and join the kinship. There are several servers available with Coursera “Kinships“.


  • Gladden (kinship: Vicarious Universe)
  • Landroval (role-playing encouraged—kinship: Courserrim)
  • Laurelin (role-playing strongly encouraged; busiest during European peak hours— kinship: Coursera)
  • Meneldor (kinship: Eagles of Thorondor)

I chose the server Laurelin as I am keen to experience role-playing, something I have never done before.

ScreenShot00037First Character.

I don’t have a picture of my first character. She was an elf called “SoftWing” which I thought was a lovely name. I let the game generate the name for me as I couldn’t think of one. It took me some time to get through the introduction quests. My first encounter was with a group of riders all from the same Kinship. Their leader was helping them to kill wolfs and spiders. Each of these players, whilst very friendly, criticized my name for not being “Elvish” enough.  They all felt that I shouldn’t continue with this character on a high role-playing site and guided me to an Elvish name generator.

Not wishing to offend I deleted this character and started another one with a more elvish name. Members of the Coursera kinship are a lot more forgiving and thought I could have continued with that character with no problem.

My Kinship experience

Joining the Kinship was easy. I contacted the group through the “Coursera” chat channel and was immediately invited.  As I had started a week before the official course there were not many at that time. Those that were there were people who had previously done the course and some student assistants. Everyone was very friendly and immediately helped me to feel a part of the community. After that welcome I haven’t hesitated to ask for help and guidance where required.

Here are some of the highlights of my week: –

First visit to the Kinship House.

First visit to the Kinship House.


This house belongs to the Coursera Kinship. Once you belong to a Kinship you are able to travel there at the click of a button. The houses look like you would expect a house in “The Shire” to look., like a Hobbit’s house built into the hill.  Kinship houses are bigger than individual houses. There is a chest in the house where members of the Kinship can put useful objects for other members.

In the Coursera Kinship a number of other members have houses that are open for us to visit. They also have chests in them for sharing things.  I haven’t yet visited them but I know they are all in the same area.

Getting a Horse

Getting a Horse

Once you are through the introductory stage of the game you receive a welcome package. Within the package is a whistle for a horse. That horse lasts only 24 hours. After playing for a while with a horse I really missed having one.

There are a number of ways to get a horse and the riding skill that you need to go with it. There is a thread about it on the Coursera Forum. I bought an introductory pack so that I could have one straight away. For me this made a lot of difference to the game as I am able to travel around more quickly.

Attempting music at the Prancing Pony.

Attempting music at the Prancing Pony.


Once you get into a town you can visit a pub. I went to the Prancing Pony in Bree. I didn’t stay long but saw people playing musical instruments there and bought a lute.

All characters have the ability to play a few musical instruments. Minstrels can play them all and teach others how to play.

I am still a bit wary of pubs. It is there that people seem to get very seriously into role-playing and I am not yet ready to do that. I want to practice first with people from my Kinship.

Aza, Aza and Aza. Band play at the Kinship house.

Aza, Aza and Aza. Band play at the Kinship house.

I became very interested in the idea of music. One evening on-line I was invited along to hear Aza’s three-piece band outside the kinship house.

I was very impressed and found all the emotes for dancing, clapping and cheering. We were an audience of 2 that evening and the crowd called out for more until Aza had to leave.

I was then very glad of my horse as Serattil offered to take me to the Chicken run. We had an hour before the official start which gave us just enough time for him to help me do the pre-quests.

Preparing for a chicken run

Preparing for a chicken run

I’m afraid my pictures of the chicken run are all a little dark as it was at night. But I can tell you it was a lot of fun. The majority of the participants are chickens but some remain as “Beaters” to beat of the wolfs, goblins and other beasts.

The idea is you run like a headless chicken through dangerous areas and try to survive.  If you get to the balloon at the end as a chicken then you have won.  I didn’t live but I had a lot of fun trying.

Go chickens go!

Go chickens go!

The band play interested me so much that I decided to try my hand at being a Minstrel. And so I created another character, this time a Hobbit.

My Hobbit Minstrel

My Hobbit Minstrel

The introductory quests went a lot more quickly and they were different. I think that is great that I didn’t have to do the same quests again as I had already done them twice with my Elves.

In the main part of the game I was able to start riding immediately  as each of my characters can take advantage of the pack I bought. So far with this character I have learned how to smoke, played the lute and explored Bree Town. I am looking forward to more game play as time goes on.

I enjoy playing the Minstrel. I yell at things and they die, or a play a ballad and the keel over. Playing ballads to vicious slugs is really funny. Later I will be able to heal my team mates with more soothing music.

Smoking a pipe in Bree

Smoking a pipe in Bree

Although I am playing on a role-playing channel I did come across a strange-looking chap last night. He is a ‘Champion’ so you would expect him to be in heavy armor. And yet there he was, sitting on the fountain outside the Prancing Pony dressed in a long purple dress with a red plumed hat. Nowt so strange as folks !!!

Hobbit meets Champion

Hobbit meets Champion





  1. rozoua says:

    Given that it is my research field, I wanted this MOOC so bad – tried to complete it the first time, alas workload was too much. And now it’s on again! You ‘ll definetely like role-playing in such an immersive virtual world – see you there!!!

    • Louise Taylor says:

      Thanks Rozoua. How interesting having this as your field of research. I hope to see you in game 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: