I've been playing LOTRO since the Open Beta of SoA, primarily on Elendilmir although I took a year hiatus to play on Vilya. With the advent of F2P I had several friends decide to try LOTRO and as Elendilmir was not open to new players at the time they chose Imladris for their home, so I chose to start a host of new characters on Imladris so that I could help them out and get them settled in.
I must say that I've been suffering from a bit of culture-shock on Imladris. Going from Elendilmir to Vilya was different, but not as different. Vilya was more of a everyone knows everyone kind of place with a few pervy Hobbit-fanciers (stalkers) thrown into the mix for fun, otherwise it was the same down-home, friendly, helpful type of people I was accustomed to on Elendilmir (just without the pie). Imladris has been, well...different.
The Beginning Regions were crazy packed on Imladris. This was the first time I've ever seen layered instances of Duillond and Gondamon! I thought this surely must be a good sign. After creating my fourth toon on Imladris and getting them all to Master Artisan Crafters I decided I'd park my lowest level toon in Celondim and give away free Critical Crafted Items (L7-12) to new players, as many of us often like to do on Elendilmir. After broadcasting free stuff in /regional for an hour not a single bite. Alrighty, to the Vendor Trash it goes then. I guess players on Imladris are a self-sufficient bunch, no biggie.
But then I started getting the Tag-Alongs. People who follow you for literally hours. At one point I had 4 people following me everywhere I went. None of them said a word to me, and none of them would respond to any /tells. That was downright creepy. Even when I would do something erratic like wander off into the middle of nowhere (to visit the Snowman in Ered Luin, for instance) they would be there right behind me. They weren't set on /follow as I toyed with them for a while to see if they might be (or might be bots). Nope, just weird people manually following me around (says the Elf that stops to /sing to every single 1hp animal I come across). Eventually I learned to just ignore them.
Helping people in Ered Luin turned out to be my undoing. As I'm grinding Deeds I like to monitor chat and offer help in /advice. Things went too far too quickly when someone asked "Where's the Wardspire?" Common question...so I gave the LOC and explained where it is located on their map...only to get a "Can't you just take me there?" Sure, that's what helpful people do right? So we plan to meet up in Gondamon. He then spends a half hour asking me "Where are you?" and I keep telling him "I'm right in front of you jumping up and down!" So, I suggest he send me a Fellowship request since he is set to Anonymous and I can't send him one, or he should click on me and type /follow. Instead, he runs off and disappears! Fine, whatever, I'll go back to doing Deeds...except he keeps sending me /tells every 5 minutes asking where I am. We try meeting up at Gondamon again and it's another half-hour of him asking me "Where are you?" while I am jumping up and down in front of him only to have him run off again. Uggh! Rinse and repeat this 3 more times before he finally sends a Fellowship request and I get him to the Wardspire after having wasted 3 hours of my patience. Probably a young kid with ADHD, so no biggie.
There was the usual share of Tappers (people who tap a mob you are already fighting), but I wrote this off as normal for a Beginning Region. I did run into a guy who was 10 levels above me in Dol Dinen (Northdowns) who kept tapping every single mob I was fighting and pulling aggro away. After sending him one sarcastic "Thx" after another each time it happened, I finally asked him if I had to go to another region to avoid him pulling mobs away that I was fighting. Surprisingly he apologized and explained that it was accidental because he would click one attack too many and when his mob went down it auto-targeted the next mob in range which happened to be the one I was fighting. Ah, he wasn't a jerk after all, just a wet-behind-the-ears-Hunter! After giving him a few helpful hints about some settings in LOTRO he became a better Hunter and thanked me and I thanked him.
Bree-Land was downright unbearable however. The chat in every channel was constant and downright banal or rude. It was fun for a while watching a troll get flamed for two hours because he was asking irl medical advice in /advice ("If the Advice channel isn't for asking advice, then WTH is it for?") and then threaten to commit suicide over and over because everyone was "bullying" him. Yet that was the most tolerable of the conversations I saw! Well, even though Ered Luin doesn't have this problem on Imladris, I chalked it up as a side-effect of Bree-Land being a Beginner Region and because of F2P. I just hoped it would get better as I moved onward and tried to ignore it.
Lonelands however was insane and the first truly negative experience I couldn't explain away that I had on Imladris that made me reconsider playing on this Server. The Tag-Alongs were back and following me everywhere I went, but that I could cope with. What I couldn't cope with was that I literally could not go longer than 5 seconds without getting a blind Fellowship/Spar/Kinship request. There were times I was getting as many as 5 at once. I couldn't even get out of the region, let alone quest, due to the pop-ups. My only option was to either set my toon to Anonymous and disable all requests, or port out. I chose the later. I'm definitely not going there again any time soon!
Forochel and Angmar were quite the opposite. It was like I was the only player there. The sound of crickets was a nice change of pace but seriously no one was around. Maybe I'm used to Elendilmir that is always bustling at off-hours due to the large Australian/New Zealand/Pan-Oceanic population we have there. But between 3AM-6AM EST (-5 GMT/UT) there was literally no one to be found after Estledin or Tinnudir. Makes me wonder how Moria and Mirkwood must feel like!
The last thing that really surprised me is the number of non-English speaking players on Imladris. The only conversations in Angmar/Evendim/Trollshaws that I saw were either in German, French, Russian, or Spanish. I speak French and Russian, so no biggie for me, and the Germans understand English even if they won't use it, but the Spanish seemed to be getting beyond frustrated, even agitated when they would ask for help and people wouldn't speak Spanish to them when they were trying to help out in German/French/Russian. Hey, a pan-global community is awesome, but can I expect less and less English speaking players as I progress on Imladris?
So, what is End-Game like on Imladris for a Casual Player/Raider? Do people on Imladris actually talk to one another or just continue to send blind invites to eachother for no apparent reason and refuse to respond when you try talking to them? Should I be brushing up on my French and Russian and learning German if I stick around as English seems to be more and more rare as a common language the higher regions I find myself in? I definitely find myself feeling like a Stranger in a Strange Land.
I understand Culture Shock is to be expected when trying out a different server after playing on another for almost 5 years. Every server has it's unique flavor and culture. However, has my experience so far on Imladris been unique or is it just because I'm playing at off-hours (and catching the crazies that are up too late)?