After much work and hours unnumbered spent for this guide it is now at last finished. The beginnings of this project started more than half a year ago, and though it has been a great labour both in hand and in thought, it has been done out of much love; love for the legendary world of Arda and Middle-earth role play; and love and admiration especially for this fair server and its folk: dearest of all in LotRO. It has been created with much care, and with newcomers to LotRO rp and to the game itself in mind, to serve as a resource of useful information about role play and immersion, and as a resource for the swift gaining of true knowledge about the lore (a compilation of words of J.R.R. Tolkien himself) for people who have not read the books and are entirely new to the setting, and also for others who want to refresh their memory without searching throughout the books themselves. Much effort has also gone into keeping the guide short and presenting it in a simple manner easy to read through.
Though other guides about role play have been made over the years, I have long wished for one that includes everything in one place - so that it is easy for all to find information, and for the wider understanding of these things.
Now, without any more words I humbly and gladly share with you the,
What Is Role Play
When a player takes the role of his character and through him acts and speaks as in the world of Middle-earth. This is known also as In Character (or IC in brief) and can be expressed in-game in written form by words (speaking, telling a tale, reciting a poem, singing a song), through music (by using the instruments), and visually-by merely making your character look realistic (walking, sitting by the hearth, fishing, and so on).
Why People Role Play
To be deeply immersed in the magical, mythical world of J.R.R. Tolkien, and experience it in a richer way and to an extent which the game itself cannot achieve. Role playing provides an immediate and deeper connection to the setting in a way that is denied to us by reading the books, watching the movies, or listening to Middle-earth music. It is a powerful tool, and one that if performed well can result in a truly engrossing long-lasting experience.
What Do People Get From Role Playing
Experiences of stories that the game itself cannot reach to that extent and depth, inspiration and creativity of various forms, awe-inspiring moments, memorable player-events and characters, meaningful relationships, excitement, lasting joy, further (or the only) reason for staying in LotRO, enjoyment, and contentment.
What Is Well For One To Know About Role Play
- You can show fellow players that you are In Character by typing in the chat-window: /rp on. A message will then appear saying that you are now role playing, and this is openly indicated with your name changing color from grey to white. Also, if others mouse-over your character it will say to them that you are role playing. Typing /rp off will show that you are Out of Character (or OOC in short). This means that you play as yourself, the player, and not as your character.
- To make your character (and horse/pony) walk, use the key INS (or INSERT) on your keyboard. To make your character sit on a chair or stool, type /sit (while standing by such items).
- The class, does not have to be role played. It is more of a game-perspective that may not perforce reflect the role of your character in terms of role play. For example, a player has an Elf runekeeper, though his IC role is that of a harper. A hobbit guardian in class, a well-to-do and stay-at-home hobbit gardener from a role play point of view. But sometimes certain skills and abilities of a class can help in role play. For example, if you want your character to hunt for food, remember to choose a class that lets you use a bow, as not all of them can.
- Thoughts and emotions are not role played out as these things are not visible and our characters cannot read the minds and emotions of others. But we can give out expressions to realistically hint at the feelings and thoughts of our characters. For example, instead of saying 'The woman sitting by the fire feels happy as she is thinking about past happy days with her children', a more realistic version would be: 'The woman has a pleasant look in her eyes and on her face as if recalling some happy memory out of her past.'
- Game-mechanic and OOC information it is wise to not use in role play, for only we, the players, have that knowledge, and not our characters. Some examples of this are: the name above the head of a character, the story behind a person (unless he has spoken of it, or our characters have heard it by others), titles, kinship name.
- Role playing out actions that leave no chance for others to respond as they wish to, is well to avoid as it is unjust and also one may be shunned for doing so (unless it has been agreed beforehand by the participants). For example, dealing a deadly blow to a brigand, or shave the beard of a dwarf in mockery. In other words, dominion over the characters of others.
- Try to avoid making broad statements that may seem effective; whether it is about your own character, others, or things said as facts. Some examples of this are: 'Nat (say, your character) and his fellows are the most well-known and respected folk in all of Bree-land.' 'My blade, is one of the most renowned swords of the Elder Days.' 'The South-gate of Bree was burnt down last night by brigands and gangrels.'
For if things are said in that manner, then it seems and sounds as if trying to 'enforce' a wide effect or knowledge in the World. For if your character is the most well-known and respected of the Bree-folk, then that suggests that all other Bree-lander (player) characters should know him and regard him in that same manner.
An exception to this generalization would be when the information is supported by the lore. For instance: 'Come friends! we would rejoice greatly for a song, for you are the fairest in voice of all our kindred [referring to the Teleri elves].' Or 'We [Elves of Lothlorien] do not clad strangers in the garb of our people.' This is lore-based information, and thus fair for all to use.
- Try to remember that your character is him/herself, and you, remain as yourself. Things done or said while IC are directed at your character, and not at you, the player. So if another person comes up and say IC 'What an unpleasant sight it is to see such a strange traveler of this sort in our parts.', it is meant for your character, not the player behind it.
- Level does not matter for role play, save that it helps to safely reach and stay in the higher-level areas where you may want to role play. It is a game-mechanic.
The Tale Of Your Own Character In The World Of Middle-earth
From a role play point of view, or from the realistic greater scheme of things, the main tale of the game is not the story of our characters. They may be enmeshed in it or in some parts and to an extent, but it is not theirs. It is designed much more from a game perspective, placing every player-character as the hero of Middle-earth, the doer of legendary deeds of great renown, and worthy of song and praise in all lands. But this is unrealistic and works not well in the role play setting; for not everyone can be the hero of Tolkien's World, saving Middle-earth every day, and have experienced the very same great stories and defeated the same foes as so many other players have. Therefore, many epic quests and raids are considered Out Of Character. Though one way that some such events can still be thought IC in themselves, is that they have come to pass in the World, but done by some other unnamed people and not by our characters. Yet, there are some times in which our characters may fit well enough. Such occasions are when they can be thought as one of the many who were present during such events.
For example: you rp your character as one of the Rohirrim in defence of Helm's Deep when the army of Saruman assails it. This is a time that can be viewed IC by everyone as he was one among so many. An opposite example would be: when your character becomes the hero of Archet. This is considered OOC; for otherwise, every one of us that plays the race of Man would be the hero of Archet.
How The Character Biography May Be Used
To open this tab click on the social panel of your character (or use the O letter on your keyboard). It is wise and useful to have this for the description of the outward appearance of your character - things that one can see by looking at him/her. Information about the character him/herself it is well to refrain from as to not give out things that cannot be known by others at first sight.
How To Use Communication Channels In Character
To foster an environment that preserves the immersion, the following chat-channels on this server are IC: SAY, REGIONAL, LFF, and TRADE. Say is the area around your character, what he sees and hears, and so it is the most reasonable channel for IC treatment. To use this channel type: /me (space, and follow with text). Add the speech separately, after (or before) that, again in say.
For example: /me looks down on the water with eyes of a merry and playful expression. And in a new new line type: 'It is a fair morn, and my heart rejoices seeing the light of the sun playing down on the face of the stream!'
The other channels can be used in a different manner: with the rumors and sightings way, usually written in the third person.
For example: [Regional] 'A company of wandering dwarves came into the village this morning, and rumor has it that they carried many goods and crafts that they will be selling tomorrow in the market.' A little needed OOC information may be added to let other players know of an event or a gathering: 'All that is heard lately in Pomso's homestead is about his birthday party [[next Monday at 22:00 UK in his home]] and all around hobbits say its going to be a grand celebration! ''It will snow food and rain drink'' is all they say. ''Come and join in the fun!'' Pomso has been saying to everyone.'
[Trade] 'Excellent varieties of pipe-weed are sold by Ponso down the road outside the Green Dragon. His prices are quite good they say! [[Want to sell/Want to buy Longbottom Leaf and Old Toby]]'
[LFF] 'A small group of Bree-folk was seen heading off to the farmlands to drive away the local brigands that have been causing some trouble. [[Need a healer for <name of quest>]]'
The use of OOC in these channels is less strict as sometimes IC treatment is not realistic, so be not discouraged if you see OOC messages there. For as has been told, many quests are not considered IC, and thus in such cases it is more suitable to use LFF in an OOC manner, and the TRADE channel too, depending on the item.
Finally, tells too, can be used IC; as a whisper. When your character wants to say something to someone without others around knowing what is said.
There is an option to make what others say around your character appear above their heads; same as you see with Non-player Characters (NPCs in brief). This can be helpful during busy role play events when there are many different conversations going on at the same time. To enable this option go to SYSTEM > OPTIONS > UI SETTINGS > CHAT BUBBLES.
How To Play Music
LotRO has a full player-generated Music System that lets you play instruments on the go using the buttons on your keyboard. But you can also pre-record music, ready to be played once in-game. First, obtain an instrument from a Bard NPC. Then equip it, and enter music mode by typing /music. A progress bar will then appear showing this. To play notes, use any of the several keyboard commands associated with playing music. To play pre-made music, type in-game the name of that folder (which is stored in your computer). To get out of music mode, simply move your character, or type /music off. Only the Minstrel class has direct access to all instruments. But the other classes too, can learn the skill for a particular instrument when a Minstrel above level 30 instructs them.
- Pre-made Music
To compose your own music, open notepad, and there enter the music notes. You can also download other's ready melodies. All such ABC (text based format for music notation) folders must have an .abc extension, and be stored in My Documents / LotRO / Music. You can rename these (but leave the .abc at the end). To play this pre-made music in-game, type /play <filename>, where <filename> is the name of the ABC file minus the .abc extension.
- Playing with your Fellow/s
You can also play music with others together as one. First, all need to have the same song's ABC file. The file itself does not have to be named the same, but it needs to be the same song. Then invite others to your fellowship to play music with. Everyone should enter music mode, and type: /play <filename> sync (with ''<filename>'' being the name of the ABC file you are all going to play). For example, if say, you want to play Song1.abc, you would all type /play Song1 sync. Following that, everyone should receive a message saying ''<PlayerName> is ready to begin synchronised playing''. Any of the fellowship members can then begin the music by typing: /playstart. A message will appear confirming that synchronized playing is about to begin.
- Preview Music Outside the Game
You can also use Maestro which lets you play ABC files, giving you the choice to listen to how melodies sound in-game without having to log in. This is especially useful for previewing songs with multiple parts to see how the parts sound with each other without having to get your band together in LotRO.
Plugins Designed Especially For RP Purposes
This lets you view your ABC song files in-game and to play them with a click of a button, saving you time, for otherwise you would have to type in the chat. This can be very useful when in the midst of role play or during an rp event.
With this plugin you can easily and swiftly sing songs, and recite tales or poems without having to go outside the game to copy and paste the words. In it you can store countless songs (and poems and stories) and switch between them with ease. Only by clicking a single button you can recite lines which then appear in-game in the say channel.
- Predict In Game Time
This plugin can predict what the time in LotRO will be at any chosen real time. Thus it helps you plan an event that may rely during a certain in-game time-of-day.
Designed to reduce the amount of selected emotes by others. You will still see the emotes performed, but they will no longer take up space in your chat-window. This can be useful during large active rp events as numerous and often repeated emotes such as dance, clap, and cheer, can fill up the chat-window swiftly and thus making it difficult to see and follow rp talk.
Official Role Playing Rules and Policy
Laurelin is in truth the only Official RP Supported (english-speaking) server of LotRO. This means that there is a set of additional set of rules and policies in place by the Higher Powers (Turbine), for a greater immersive environment.
In brief those are:
- Character names should be fitting for the setting. This does not mean that they must have the right suffix or ending, but that they should at least be within the spirit of the world of Middle-earth. Some opposite examples would be: ''Ipawnyouha'', ''Wondergirlx'', ''Bionicman'', ''Fishslapper''.
- The /say channel (mainly) is reserved for In Character (rp) use.
- Do not harass role playing.
To preserve this more immersive and in a way mature environment, and support and protect role players and role play, repeated violations of the above may result in:
- A block from the server.
- Account suspension.
- Permanent account suspension for extremely offensive violations.
What Is Immersion
One of Tolkien's aims was to create a belief in the story where you find yourself totally drawn in, almost believing in the words on the page; that moment where you feel completely sucked in by the book, turning pages at an ever faster rate because you are in a way living the story with the eyes of your thought. In the context of LotRO, logging in with your character to become enmeshed in the wonder of Middle-earth and in a tale for however long it lasts. To feel deeply engaged within the environment, the stories, and with other characters.
LotRO in itself is a highly immersive game but there are many things which sway the attention of the player and break away from immersion. Follow the things below to enrich and preserve it.
Time Of Day
When indoors, it is easy to forget whether it is bright day light outside or night has fallen, and go by the real time of day where you the player is and not your character. But during role play remember to check as this is something that will likely enough come up in your speech or actions in one way or another. Knowing what the time of day in-game is takes only a moment, by merely looking at the mini-map at the right top corner of your screen.
In LotRO, three (real) hours and six minutes is the time period of a whole day and night in the game. Eight full days have gone by in-game when in our own world twenty four hours have passed. But distances in LotRO (as in any other game) are scaled down, and therefore travelling horsed (as well as on foot) is far swifter than it would be in truth; but while In Character it is wise to not show this. For example, walking from Archet to the Prancing Pony of Bree-town takes 10 minutes (of real time). But to represent a more life-like and true to the world of Middle-earth picture, in role play we would say and consider it as (say) more than an hour (or 80 minutes).
It is worth taking a moment to check your spelling, grammar and punctuation, and see what you have written before posting it. By reading it only once you might find some typos, and also, that it is not as you meant for it to seem and sound. Do not haste, but try take not too long either. Role players in general are a patient folk and are willing to wait especially when it comes to everything about rp and newcomers to it. But you may send an OOC tell letting the other person know that you are there but need a little more time with your IC replies.
Aim for music that is fitting to the setting such as traditional, classical, country, and folk, rather than modern famous tunes. This is not to say that minstrels in Middle-earth did not at all play similar melodies, but we, the players, know them and will swiftly recognize them if played in-game, and thus breaking away from the immersion; for this type of music will quickly take our thought to famous singers of our world.
It is good to remember (when it comes to rp at least) that Middle-earth is a world set in an ancient time period. Aim for every-day simple looking clothes and keep the more formal raiments for celebrations and ceremonies.
- A hood serves as a purpose rather than fashion. Fitting use of it would be: outdoors in a rainy weather, for warmth, for cover when in perilous places, or when you wish to pass unnoticed.
- Boots too, serve a practical purpose: if travelling far afield on foot or horsed, perhaps in ceremonies, and to denote position or rank when on duty (for example, a guard of the Citadel of Minas Tirith or a doorwarden).
- As for handwear, fitting use would be in cold weather, work (say a smith), on horseback, when on duty, and for ceremonies. For further realism, remember to have them off when playing music instruments.
- We know that in older days women did not wear trousers, and LotRO has a rich variety of dresses and robes.
- The garb of our characters can be lore-inspired. For example, Elves of Mirkwood seem to wear green and brown (Legolas, and other of his people are described in these colors); Falathrim elves in hues of blue due to their love for the sea; Snowmen of Forochel, in colors of animals (such as brown and white), for they clad themselves in their hides, and so on.
You can have complete control over how your character looks in-game without impacting the gameplay benefits from equipped items. Think of this like you are wearing a set of clothes over your armor. You still get the benefits from the armor, but you can have a different appearance. In other words, a cosmetic outfit can override the visual appearance of your base equipment. To access the Cosmetic Outfits Panel open your Character Panel (by pressing C) and click on the Cosmetic Outfits tab. To equip an item cosmetically you drag it into the suitable slot of the outfit. The eye icons located next to the slots, give you the option to show or hide the appearance of individual items in the head, shoulders, hands, back, and feet slots. For example, your character has his hood drawn up while it is raining, but when it stops you want him to pull it down. By clicking on that eye icon, making it closed, the hood will come off. Weapons are visible in all outfits; to take them off, remove them into your bag. Finally, you have to click the button at the bottom of the panel (next to WEAR THE FOLLOWING OUTFIT) to enable the outfit.
- Dressing Room
This allows you to preview any items that respond to CTRL + left mouseclick, such as armor, weapons, and cosmetics in the Auction House, and in icons that appear in the NPCs dialogue as quest rewards, items in the sell section on merchants, items in your bags, items from people you are inspecting. Also, all available dye colors can be viewed there, even if you do not have that color.
- The Wardrobe System
This is a special kind of shared storage space. To place an item therein, simply drag it over. All items in the wardrobe can be accessed and used by all your characters. You can copy anything into the wardrobe, regardless of level, class or reputation requirements. It lifts all restrictions. For example, the hunter class cannot use heavy armour but putting it in the wardrobe enables you to wear it as an outfit. However, it only keeps a copy of the item in it; the actual item itself (say a cloak) remains in your bag (or elsewhere, such as in the vault).
You can have weapons (and shields) equipped in the same way as cosmetic outfits. There are slots wherein you can put your preferable items to be seen instead of the other weapons with the better statistics that you use for quests, and raids. This will not change the effect (damage for instance) of your weapons, but they will look as you wish. This is useful as some weapons are overdone.
If you so wish, you can turn them off; for some are very unrealistic especially when indoors and during rp events. This also contributes to better performance. To do so go to SYSTEM > OPTIONS > SOCIAL OPTIONS > COSMETIC PETS
To fully immerse yourself in the world of Middle-earth you may wish to turn off some channels as they can be very distracting. To do so, right-click on the GENERAL tab of the chat-window > CHANGE FILTERS > and there you can uncheck any of the channels. They will be listed by their name. If/when you wish to enable them again, go back to that option and check them.
Another option is to create a separate chat tab for a channel so you can view it only when you wish to - when you click on it. This way the text will not appear in your main chat window. It is wise to use this for a channel that you do not want to miss what is said in it, such as the kinship channel, and other that are far less distracting and most often on topic, such as the ADVICE and LFF channels.
You can change its opacity so that it becomes fully clear and thus giving you more view of the scenery. To do this go to SYSTEM > OPTIONS > CHAT and have the slider on the left end.
When you wish to, you can hide all elements you see on your screen with the F12 on your keyboard. You can also make all these things smaller, and thus giving you a clearer and wider view. To do this go to SYSTEM > OPTIONS > UI SETTINGS. You can move these around by CTRL + ~
You can turn off (or lower) the game sounds, such as things you click on, and the sound of notifications (mail, tells, and more yet). Go to SYSTEM > OPTIONS > AUDIO > USER INTERFACE VOLUME.
These include player titles and all names: character, and kinship, as well as NPC-names. During a role play event, many characters together will create a sea of lines of letters to an extent where you cannot see details of the environment. But you can turn all floaty names off with the N key or by unchecking them by going to SYSTEM > OPTIONS > UI SETTINGS > FLOATING INFORMATION.
Kinship, Sparring, And Adoption Requests
You can disable these if you wish to further decrease the chances of OOC distraction while In Character. To do this, go to SETTINGS > SOCIAL OPTIONS > MISC > and where it says ENABLE KIN/SPARRING/ADOPTION REQUESTS have these unchecked.
These are actions that other players can force your character to perform. In role playing times and events, and when playing music, or merely when you are IC by yourself immersed in the environment, it can greatly break the mood in an instant. Thankfully, this can be avoided, as there is an option to turn these emotes off. To do so, go to SYSTEM > OPTIONS > SOCIAL OPTIONS and there you can uncheck the ENABLE INVOLUNTARY EMOTES.
Small Things Worthy Of A Note
These may seem as details but they are important in their own degree and measure, and all together can add much to the immersion. It is not expected to follow everything at all times. They have been merely put together and shared here for knowledge.
- Try not to walk through NPCs and people's characters, or have a part of your character in them while standing or sitting.
- Some emotes are very unrealistic or childlike. It is good to try them all beforehand.
- If you have to go but can spare just a moment more, instead of logging off there and then, you may want to express this IC. For example: 'I will go now outside for a breath of fresh air and a glimpse of the stars. Farewell for now!' Have your character walk away out of sight, and then, log off.
- Remember that what you can see through the eyes of your character is what he can see. For example, I, the player, may be able to see a foe behind some high rocks due to the camera angle but my character cannot.
- Middle-earth is not a safe place. That uncertainty of safety can be shown in some ways by our characters. For example, if in unknown, barren, or perilous places it is wise to use the cover of night, travelling in the dark rather than in bright daylight easily to be marked. Also, making a fire, may draw attention and foes can see it from afar. It is like signaling where you are. When/if you do have a fire, remember to put it out after and hid all traces of it. Set off before sunrise so that your leaving is not marked.
- Bear in mind that money in-game is a thousand times more common. It comes by far too easy, but from a realistic (and lore) point of view this is not so. Otherwise, if we consider all the gold a player acquires as true (in rp) then we would all be the equivalents of kings. To give a helpful example, Bill Ferny's price for his pony was 12 silver pennies; and that was at least three times the pony's value in Bree-land. And when Barliman had to pay 30 silver pennies for compensation, it was a sore blow to him (and he was among the more wealthy).
- Feel no need to rush. Travel slowly by walking, and stop for rest, sleep, drink and food. If you are horsed, ride on out in the open, but in towns and villages remember to slow down and have your horse walking rather than running on the streets of a small village. Dismount at the stable, or at least well before stairs and other entries. Ride fast when you must make haste to show the importance of your errand, and moreover to make your journey seem and feel longer (and therefore give you somewhat a sense of real-like travelling). These things, apart from adding to your (and others) immersion, may bring you random role play: anywhere out in the wild, or the place your character stays in for the night.
- Our characters can have (for awhile) an NPC companion by using a Landscape Soldier Token which can be bought from the in-game LotRO STORE. The Captain class can always summon such a companion to aid him in combat. We can change the appearance of this Non-player Character and use him/her also in a role play manner or to add further immersion.
Great effort and time has been put into this part of the guide. But it has been kept as short as possible (originally it was thrice larger), and to the point, so that even people who have not read the books can read and learn swiftly and easily. Everything here comes from the words of J.R.R. Tolkien himself, and thus the absolute way in which this text is presented. It is not an interpretation, nor is it done out of memory. It consists of unnumbered direct references from the books; a compilation of quotes, excerpts, footnotes, and even alone scattered words all found throughout the writings of J.R.R. Tolkien. There is in all the text only one or two small points which are not his exact words (but are still valid observations from what there is to read), and that is shown by the different manner of writing (words such as 'it seems', - though bear in mind that sometimes Tolkien uses such wording).
All the books were re-read again especially for this guide, gathering information which later was arranged in multiple topics and parts, ordered, and finally, 'blended' for a coherent read. The only differences from the words of the author himself are subtle and do not alter anything he has written. But these differences are: the text has been changed to present tense from past for a specific reason, linking words have been added (as this was needed), a few times words that bear previous knowledge are replaced with simpler ones, and references or explanations behind some passages that lead to historical events or other less related information, are not included; all to make for an uninterrupted read, a clearer picture of the text, and to not lengthen more the guide.
The lore is entwined with immersion and role play. The purpose of this guide is to help in understanding and learning some general themes about the world of Middle-earth and its people, and to 'get into the head of the character' so to speak (or of his/her race/people rather), and perhaps also help entirely new folk to role play and lore discover which of the different races they can see themselves role playing the most; or as I like to say, weather they are an Elf, a Dwarf, a Man, or a Hobbit-at-heart when it comes to Middle-earth role play. Spare a little of your time to read this and you will then have a very good (and true) understanding and knowledge which otherwise would take far longer to gain; for this is, it seems, the only such compilation of words from the books that is done with great care especially for LotRO and with role play always in mind.
Finally, two names should be here mentioned before the guide starts: Gladaewen and Herulomwe. Many thanks go to them for their contribution; for Gladaewen is the very skilled artist that has created the beautiful and admirable illustrations especially for this part of the Guide as you will see further below, and Herulomwe has made the exceptional 'blending' of these drawings with the background of the forum, and has also created the art in the title of the Guide, and a diagram to easily understand the relations between the various branches of Elves in Tolkien's world.
Naming Your Character
Try to create a fitting name for Middle-earth. Avoid modern nick-names, or slang, as these are a violation of the role playing naming policy on this server, and also, though role players here are a mature and welcoming people, more likely than not they will not approach characters with such names.
J.R.R. Tolkien has given each race its own naming customs. Reading the information gathered below will help in the making of an authentic-sounding name for your character.
Generally hobbits have both a first name and a patronymic surname. To their maid-children, very frequently they give the names of flowers or jewels. But some, especially in Bree-land, use names -common in England at the time- without any particular meaning such as Priscilla, Nina, and Angelica. To their man-children, they usually give names that have no meaning at all in their daily language. Some examples are: Bilbo, Bongo, Tom, Sam, Bob, and Lotho. But in some old families, especially those of Fallohide origin such as the Tooks and the Bolgers, it is, however, the custom to give high-sounding first names. Heroic and romantic names, drawn from Fallohide legends according to the Hobbits. These are represented by names of Germanic or Frankish origin. Furthermore, in Hobbit-names -a and -ie are most often feminine endings, and -o, -y, and -e, are generally masculine.
Most surnames, fall into three broad categories: Names which have no obvious meaning and tend to belong to the oldest of families, such as Took, Baggins, Bolger, and Bunce; descriptive surnames, such as Proudfoot, Headstrong, Brownlock, and Goodchild; and geographical surnames (the most often), which is to say, playing off a feature of the landscape or the name of a town or village. Some obvious examples are: Banks, Burrows, and Longhole. But the Bree-land hobbits add a fourth category, botanical names.
Their real names are in their secret language, and they never reveal them; they are not even carved in their own tombs. Instead, they go by a different name out in the world, meant for outsiders and everyday use. These names are generally Norse-sounding, and rather short and straight-forward. They are often named after fathers or relatives, and they use Roman numerals for this (such as Thorin I, Thorin II). The names of siblings too, often rhyme. For instance, Fundin is the father of Balin and Dwalin. As for 'surnames', some have them, but it is not the kind of surname that is passed down from father to son. Instead, these usually say something about the dwarf - his profession, or a weapon or piece of armor that he possesses or has crafted himself. If you cannot find a good surname for your dwarf, worry not. Many dwarves go without one.
Most often their names are in Sindarin (the most used language by Elves). Among the Noldor it is customary to receive at birth a name given first by the father, (the 'father-name') which remains the official public name thereafter. This is often derived from the father's or the mother's own name. Also, in the hour of birth, or on some other occasion of moment, the mother might give a special name of her own choosing to her child (the 'mother name') indicating some dominant feature of its nature as perceived by her, or some foresight of its special fate. These are called the 'names of insight', or of 'foresight', and they have authority, and are regarded as true names when solemnly given, and are public not private if placed (as sometimes is done) immediately after the father-name. Later in life an "after-name" might be given by anyone, (not necessarily by members of the same house or kin), in memory of some deed, or event, or in token of some marked feature of body or mind. Sometimes, this name is chosen by the Elf himself. Names, or nicknames, of this kind any one of the Eldar may bear, but (among the Noldor at least) are seldom included in the 'full title', but when they are, because of their wide use and fame, they are set at the end. Finally, an Elf may choose a name for himself, the "chosen name", which reflects unique linguistic tastes. This is private, but not secret. The chosen names are regarded by the Noldor as part of their personal property, like (say) their rings, cups, or knives, or other possessions which they could lend, or share with kindred and friends, but which could not be taken without leave.
Elves do not take surnames such as the hobbits or the men of Bree. As written above, they may go by a title instead, such as the name of a parent or an achievement in life.
Folk of Bree
They use simple, sensible English-sounding names that are generally short. Examples are: Nat, Tom, Cole. There are some with more elaborate names such as Barliman and Cuthbert. Examples of maiden names are: Nora, Clara, Maribel. They use many of the same naming conventions that female hobbits use, such as being named after flowers and having names ending in the letter "-a". As for surnames, they seem all to have rather botanical names, referring to plants and plant-life, like Rushlight, Appledore, Thistlewool, Ferny, and Cutleaf.
People of Gondor
Generally, both men and women have Sindarin names. Therefore, their names are often similar to those of Elves. As for surnames, they seem to use titles instead of last names. But these do not appear to be common among them.
People of Rohan
Their names are like (but not identical with) Old English, and they show a strong Anglo-Saxon influence. The ending "-wyn" seems to be popular for women. They do not seem to have family names. Instead, they go by the first name, and for some, followed by any title that they have earned.
Snowmen of Forochel
It seems that Tolkien has not written of their language, or if he did, it has not been published. But in LotRO their names are inspired by Finnish; a language which Tolkien learned and was fond of. Some examples for men are: Âtos, Arvo, Menikko, and Jyri. And for wormen: Jâna, Nea, Rûsu, and Ilta.
Manner Of Speech
Elves are the most skilled in words of all the races; therefore, it comes as little surprise that they speak with such eloquence. Their manner of speech, is in all of its forms, it seems, fluid; flowing easy and clear like water, and somewhat lofty among the Eldar, and especially the Noldor. Hobbits speak for the most part a rustic and simple dialect, represented by rather more modern English idioms. The few more learned and able among them have some knowledge of 'book-language' (as it is termed in the Shire). But from the folksiness of the Shire and Bree-land, the language in general grows increasingly formal and archaic as we head to the South. In Gondor and Rohan a more antique language is used, more formal and more terse. But this does not mean the use of 'thee' and 'thou'; it can manifest itself in many other ways. An example given by Tolkien himself is that while we might say 'They also had spears and helms', in archaic form it would be 'Spears and helms also they had'.
In fact, use of thou, thee, thy is not usual nor consistent. It is used to represent ceremonious and poetic language, and to mark a use of the familiar form where that is not usual. It may also be used to indicate a deliberate change to a form of affection or endearment. So, 'thou' depending of the way it is used, may indicate intimacy, or on the other hand, contempt and superiority in position. Certainly, it is not usually meant to convey disrespect when addressed to the One or the Valar or family, but if one were to address someone else with it, it indicates a superiority to that person.
Regarding, modern swear words or oaths, instead of saying 'Damn!' or 'Oh my God!' to indicate surprise and startlement, a Gondorian may say ''By the Valar!'', a hobbit, ''My goodness!'' or ''Good heavens!''; a dwarf, ''By Durin's beard!''; and an elf might say, ''Ai, ai!.'' (elvish word for 'alas').
For further inspiration and guidance, look at the dialogues in the books, and also in the game from NPCs and quests.
The Estrangement Of The Free Peoples
There are indeed very many references in the books that clearly show the estrangement that devides each race. The Elves have their own labours and their own sorrows, and they (the Eldar at least) are now little concerned with the ways of any other creatures upon earth. Men and Elves have become estranged by the arts of the Enemy, and by the slow changes of time in which each kind has walked further down their sundered roads. Even from distant times, the hearts of the Elves have been estranged from Men, (save only the Edain, the ancestors of the Numenoreans). And Men now fear and misdoubt the Elves, and yet know little of them. Dwarves, even from their beginning, Eru (the One) declared that often strife would arise between them and Elves and Men. Their friendship with the Eldar has ever been cool, even before those griefs that lay between them had yet come to pass. Always, it seems, that their relationship and alliance as a people has been rather for profit and common cause than love or league of friendship. As for hobbits, they are shy of the Big People, and are not concerned with them.
The Men of Gondor having grown like other Middle men, are untrusting and fearful of Lothlorien considering it perilous. The Dunlending are afraid of Elvish Folk and flee and hid themselves from them, though few indeed ever come to their country. And these men have for long been enemies of the people of Rohan who also shun the Elves and speak of the Golden Wood with dread; and there is no great love for dwarves either, descending even from older times, from the Éothéod: the ancestors of the Rohirrim. The Wood-elves of Mirkwood too, do not love dwarves, and in ancient days they had had wars with some of them. The Elves of Lothlorien, have not had dealings with them since the Dark Days, and they are not permitted in their land. But even their own kindred in Mirkwood are sundered from them. Also, before the hobbits of the Fellowship came to Lorien, the Galadhrim had not heard of hobbits, for many a long year, and did not know that any yet dwelt in Middle-earth. Elves in Eriador know of hobbits but they are not concerned with them and their small doings, thinking them dull. In the Shire, hobbits have heeded less and less the world outside, and people beyond their little land are Outsiders for them, even other hobbits. Bree-folk too, consider any beyond Bree-land as Outsiders, and affairs away south, are remote and therefore not important for them. Hobbits and men in Bree, though on friendly terms, each mind their own affairs in their own ways.
'Magic' in Middle-earth is derived from an inherent power contained within the individual not to be come by 'lore' or spells. Elves are given this ability but not Men, or hobbits. In fact, hobbits have never studied magic of any kind and there is no magic about them. The word itself, "magic", is a relative term used by mortal races for those acts or items whose workings can not be explained. The Elves themselves only use the term figuratively because to them this ability is completely natural for them. For "Elf-magic'' is Art (not Power), delivered from many of its human limitations; more effortless, more quick, more complete (product, and vision in unflawed correspondence). This art they have developed until to other races it may seem magical. As for dwarves, they have so great a skill in craftmanship that some of their works may seem magical to others.
This is a monotheistic world of 'natural theology'. The Valar are not worshiped, though they are praised and invoked. There are no temples or 'churches' or fanes among 'good' peoples. They have little or no 'religion' in the sense of worship. For help they may call on a Vala, as a Catholic might on a Saint, though no doubt knowing in theory that the power of the Vala is limited and derivative. But this is a 'primitive age': and these folk may be said to view the Valar as children view their parents or immediate adult superiors. The Elves have no religion (or religious practices, rather) for those had been in the hands of gods. Hobbits do not practise any form of worship or prayer. The Númenóreans (and others of that branch of Humanity, that fought against the Enemy, even if they elected to remain in Middle-earth and did not go to Númenor: such as the Rohirrim) are pure monotheists. All things and beings and power that might seem worshipful are not to be worshiped, not even the gods/Valar, being only creatures of the One. And He is immensely remote.
Warfare Among The Peoples Of Middle-earth
Not all people in this world are warlike. In truth, many are not, and gear of war is not anywhere to be found or given freely. The folk of Bree-land would look at such things with amazement and gape with wonder. Swords and shields are outlandish in those parts. If in some kind of trouble it seems that they had only cudgels and clubs for defense, even their gatekeepers or the somewhat more wealthy among them such as Barliman (further representing the rural and simple way of living). Ruffians too, as seen in the book, have no weapons other than whips, knives, and clubs, and some had bows. As for hobbits, even against the uprising of the ruffians, when more than a hundred of them assembled to trap them, staves, axes, hammers, knives, and a few hunting-bows were their weapons. To the far North, the Snowmen of Forochel seem to be a primitive folk. We know that they were afraid of the weapons of Arvedui and his men. But they hunted for food, so simple bows and spears would not be rare among them. Warfare gear we see as he head south, in Rohan and Gondor, where they have mail armor, bright swords and spears, shields and helmets. Such gear, is also it seems available among Dwarves, for they are very skilled in smith-work. And Rangers of the North too, though it seems they do not go about with armor on, they have their weapons, sword and bow, and perhaps spear too. But even in such lands and among such people, it is good to remember that not all are in the service of war. Think of shepherds-folk, farmers, women at home, the old and the lame.
If nonetheless you feel that you must wear armour while in role play, then at least think of doing so with a suitable character and it in times that fit best, such as, when on duty (a doorwarden for example), or when going to battle, or perhaps during ceremonies. For otherwise it is unrealistic for a character to be at all times in armour, even for one of the valiant and proud soldiers of Minas Tirith.
It is not wise to relate a player character to any feature character. Our characters may know them by sight, have spoken with them, or be under their service. For example, being in the éored (body of men, fully trained for war) of Eomer, one of Faramir's men (the Rangers of Ithilien), one of the Rangers of the North whose chieftain is Aragorn, your Noldo Elf being one of the followers of Feanor, your hobbit-lass having been told many tales by Bilbo Baggins. In other words, such a relationship that does not intervene with the main story or comes off as a point of great attention. Some opposite examples are: having your character being a close-friend of Legolas, or being his long lost sister, your maiden character being wedded to Barliman in Bree, or having your character act as if under direct orders especially to him (or his kinship) by Lord Elrond.
FotR: Fellowship of the Ring
TTT: The Two Towers
RotK: Return of the King
HoMe: History of Middle-earth
LJRRT: Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien
UT: Unfinished Tales of Numenor and Middle-earth
LotR, Appendix F, II, ''On Translation''
HoMe, Peoples of Middle-earth, Chapter II, ''The Appendix on Languages''
HoMe, Morgoth's Ring, Of Naming
HoMe, The Peoples Of Middle-earth, Note On Mother-names
Nomenclature of The Lord of the Rings (Notes made by J.R.R. Tolkien to assist translators of the book into other languages)
LJRRT, Letter 144
FotR, ''At the Sign of the Prancing Pony''
LJRRT, Letter 144
Manner Of Speech
LotR Appx F, II, ''On Translation''
LotR, Appendix F, II first footnote
HoMe, The Peoples of Middle-earth, The Appendix on Languages relating to the RotK Appendix on Languages
The Estrangement Of The Free Peoples
FotR, "Three is Company"
TTT, ''Window on the West''
The Silmarillion, Quenta Silmarillion, ''Of The Fifth Battle: Nirnaeth Arnoediad''
The Silmarilion, ''Of the Sindar''
RotK, ''Many Partings''
RotK, Appendix A, ''The House of Eorl''
The Hobbit, ''Flies and Spiders''
FotR, Prologue, ''Concerning Hobbits''
FotR, ''Homeward Bound''
FotR, ''At the Sign of the Prancing Pony''
LJRRT, Letter 131
LJRRT, Letter 155
FotR, Prologue, ''Concerning Hobbits''
LJRRT, Letter 220
LJRRT, Letter 153
LJRRT, Letter 204
LJRRT, Letter 156
Warfare Among The Peoples Of Middle-earth
RotK, ''Homeward Bound''
RotK, ''The Scouring of the Shire''
RotK, Appendix A