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06/29/06 Riddle Contest!

The Development team for Lord of the Rings: Online is holding a contest for short and tricky riddles. Come up with a great riddle and it may be used in the game.

06/27/06 Dev Diary: Rick Schmitz
Various Valuable and Unlabelled Things

Hello there! Rick "October" Schmitz here!

I'm the Lead Content Support Artist on The Lord of the Rings Online™: Shadows of Angmar™ (LOTRO). You may be wondering, "What the heck kind of title is that?" Well, it's the sort of title you get when you're crazy enough to work with Content folks and Artists.

While the majority of the LOTRO Art team is toiling away on all sorts of things you might expect to find in a game based on J.R.R. Tolkien's amazing books (like Orcs, Dwarves, Rivendell, hobbit holes and so on), the Content Support team makes some of the unexpected items that the Content folks dream up along the way. Though Tolkien may not have expressly mentioned many of these things, they're just the sort of items needed to make our Middle-earth feel realistic and believable. They are often things you would take for granted and only notice in their collective absence.


6/22/06 New and Useful Calendar Wallpapers!

Witch King WallpaperGandalf Wallpaper

6/20/06 Point of Interest : Thorin's Throne

Situated prominently high above the fine stonework floor of Thorin's Hall, adventurers will come upon the great, empty Throne of Thorin, named for Thorin II, known also as Thorin Oakenshield, King Under the Mountain, the last of the line of Dwarf-kings to sit within these halls in Ered Luin. More than 150 years ago (in TA 2845), Thorin ascended to the throne of Durin's Folk after the disappearance of his father, Thrain II. Thorin, however, was a King in Exile, his people having been forced from their rightful home by the great dragon Smaug. It is from these halls that Thorin and Company set out to reclaim their kingdom beneath Lonely Mountain (picking up a certain Burglar along the way). The throne, crafted by the greatest of the Dwarf-artisans, is a work of art unto itself, carved from the very rock that forms the foundation of the towering Blue Mountains overhead.

Thorin's Throne Overhead Thorin's Throne "The Throne"


6/15/06 Game Systems: Traits

In The Lord of the Rings Online™: Shadows of Angmar™, a Trait is an interchangeable ability that alters your character in some fashion. Traits allow a great deal of skills customization, so two characters of the same class and the same level can still be significantly different from each other depending on how their players have used Traits to modify their character's skills.

The most basic Traits do fairly simple things – like increasing your Might stat or your block rate in combat. These Traits take a number on your character and make it bigger. Simple, but effective, these basic Traits are the first ones you will see throughout the course of your character's advancement.

More complex are the Traits that modify skills (or groups of skills). For example, one Trait may add a new effect on a critical hit that it didn't have before, while another may make a skill uninterruptible or reduce the power cost of an entire group of skills. Yet another type of Trait works only after a specific combat event, allowing you to gain power on a critical hit or increase your defense on a successful block.

The majority of Traits are passive; once the Trait is slotted it is always "on," providing its benefit to the player. However, there are some Traits that are active – these Traits, when slotted, give you an entirely new skill. Like other skills, they must be placed on your hotbar and activated to do anything.

Your character doesn't start with active Traits – far from it. Traits must be earned through completing Accomplishments (more info on Accomplishments will be released soon!). When a player earns a Trait, it goes into their Trait pool. Much like the equipment in a character's inventory, Traits don't do anything until they are "equipped" (in our case, dragged to a Trait slot).

Trait slots are unlocked through leveling. Combined with Accomplishments, this allows the player to "grow into" their specialization, building upon their preferred play style rather than being inundated with confusing choices at the beginning of the game that have repercussions much later down the road.

While Traits can be slotted and unslotted, slotting a Trait is not free. A player can only slot and unslot Traits while speaking with a Minstrel NPC in a town; Trait slotting may also have a cost associated with it. This allows players to re-spec their character (customizing it to better fill a role, like a healer in a fellowship, or to better function in solo play) while still making their choices meaningful.

All Traits are not the same kind. Traits are grouped into four families: Common, Race, Class, and Legendary. Each Trait can only be slotted in a slot of the matching family.

Common Traits are the simplest Trait types and are available to all players. These are typically the first slots to be unlocked and the first Traits to be earned.

Race Traits are slightly more complex. A player can only earn race Traits of his corresponding race (e.g., Hobbit may get better at eating but he won't be able to gain the toughness of a Dwarf).

Class Traits are the bread and butter of the Trait System. The majority of slots the player will earn are class slots, and these are the ones that directly modify class skills, providing much more power and depth than most race or common Traits.

Finally there's the top tier of Traits: Legendary Traits. These Trait slots are not unlocked until the higher levels, and the Traits themselves are more difficult to earn than others. The goal is for Legendary Traits to be truly legendary – something the player can be proud of earning and slotting.

Traits are an incredibly flexible system that provides enormous flexibility and in turn gives the players room to develop a unique character of their own.


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THE LORD OF THE RINGS ONLINE™: SHADOWS OF ANGMAR™ interactive video game © 2006 The Saul Zaentz Company d/b/a Tolkien Enterprises (SZC). All rights reserved. Game technology and software © 1995-2006 Turbine, Inc. and patents pending. All rights reserved. "The Lord of the Rings Online", "Shadows of Angmar", The Watcher logo, "The Lord of the Rings" and the names of the characters, events, items and places therein are trademarks or registered trademarks of SZC under license to Turbine, Inc. Turbine and the Turbine logo are trademarks or registered trademarks of Turbine, Inc. in the U.S. and/or other jurisdictions. The rating icons are trademarks of the Entertainment Software Association. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.