Before I post this writting I want to share a few things. While it may seem that I am new here, I have been playing and following LotRO with interest for about six years so far. My love for the magical, mythical world of J.R.R. Tolkien brought me to the game, and for long I have played on three servers (Brandywine, Landroval, and Laurelin) but have also been for a while on all the other worlds. Yet, I found what I was seeking for in LotRO on one only server. This is the reason I spent much of my time to write this essay. It is done out of appreciation and understanding - and not out of scorn for the other servers. Think of this as one that has long sought for a finer realm to dwell in and finally learns about it and comes there and is glad to share the word for it so that others who seek the same environment and people can have at least all this information, understanding, and long founded knowledge.
Long ago this essay was started and for many months now I wished to finish it, but being busy with many other matters both in-game and out of it, it was left behind many times. As the men of Bree say, one thing drives out another. And even now, though 'finished', I wanted to write of more things, yet I was very eager to share it at last. But I will return to this essay and slowly add them. I have posted this here as it is in a way related to the lore, and moreover there are many things of which Tolkien enthusiasts may be glad to learn. Also, I would like to use this thread for the on-going sharing of server lore-based/related news.
The Tolkienesque Server of The Lord of the Rings Online
The most Middle-earth immersive server
This essay speaks of things that are perhaps little (or not at all in great detail and depth) known in the wider LotRO-community. Much in it may arouse hope in the hearts of those who have come to LotRO due to their love for the books, but may have grown weary and restless of their time in the game over the flowing years; and others who start anew and lack the knowledge may be glad to learn from their very first days many things that are good to know from the beginning. Thus, this is shared here in kindness and understanding, to openly share at last long-founded knowledge and information.
The Lord of the Rings Online as one would expect has indeed a great many LotR fans, yet there is one server where the love and passion for Tolkien's world has been poured on greatly through various ways, to an extent and depth and amount that is not seen on the other worlds. Through Middle-earth-inspired art and writing, music and song, speech and talk, events and kinships, the magical, mythical world of Middle-earth is filled, and its people and their customs come alive in an immersive manner and enviroment for which many players have forsook their former servers to experience it, and for this reason some newcomers chose/choose that server over the others. This server is Laurelin, or fair Laurelin (beside other names) as it has been called by some. There the flowering of Middle-earth creativity has come to its spring due to the people and their interests and on-going efforts. This is reflected not only in-game but out of it too through various ways as it is shared below.
OF THE BEGINNING OF THIS SERVER
From the deeps of LotRO-time, this server was bestowed by the High Powers of LotRO with a great gift: a set of additional rules and policies to preserve the atmosphere of Middle-earth and provide a more pleasant experience not only for role players, but also for all those who have a care for the setting and its immersion. This endowment has a profound importance the effect of which is entwined with the on-going growth of Laurelin ever since its outset in that now ancient time of the game.
All character-names on Laurelin are required to be within the spirit of the setting, and thus on this server nick-names or slang (names such as ''Ipawnyouha'', ''Bionicman'' and so on), are almost non-existent compared to other servers. Names that do not follow this can be reported and Turbine will then change them to a fitting option. But do not be alarmed. It is not expected to have a flawless lore-appropriate character name with the right suffix or meaning and sound, but only for it to merely seem fitting for the world of Middle-earth and its people. And though some have said that this is of little importance as floaty-names can be turned off, it is not so; for character names can be seen on many other occasions: mail, tells, channels, crafting items, Auction Hall, fellowships, raids. Furthermore, if someone is harassing other players because they are roleplaying, it is considered an offense (not only by players, but by Turbine too). Therefore those who take joy by disturbing events and role play times of others can be restrained, and so have some cause for fear which in its turn has a positive effect on the player base and in the immersion of the server. This may explain (or partly so) why such unpleasant times have indeed been a very rare sight on Laurelin. And on this server the say channel is reserved for rp use only, and thus adding more to the atmosphere of the World.
Laurelin is the only English-speaking server of LotRO that benefits from all this. Such violations are enforced solely there (and on the German RP server). On other worlds this kind of infractions are not enforced, or even considered perhaps as tickets send by players for such reasons are closed without response (as Turbine has openly stated). But repeated violations of this policy on Laurelin may result in warnings, a block from the server, account suspension, and even permanent account suspension for extremely offenses. It is not difficult therefore to perceive the significant role these additional rules and the ever-accompanying official RP tag must have had in the onset of Laurelin and its good shape and growth over the tides of Time ever since.
But it should be said that role play is not enforced. Many people here on the forums seem to believe that it is required, or expected. It is neither. RP is encouraged, and more importantly (and truer to say), heavily supported and well-respected. A very many have come for the more mature community and the more immersive setting, and to avoid the modern and out of Middle-earth names which are so often seen in plenty on other servers.
Thus, one could say that the people of this server have ever been in a way under the grace of the Powers of LotRO who are understanding to role players, and rude folk and trolls that try to spoil the immersion and rp are restrained by them.
Much could be said about the people of Laurelin (or Laurelindrim), and what will be here told may not be enough for the full telling. The kind of people that this server has attracted ever since its beginning, have shaped up a different playerbase as a whole -more mature-minded, polite, highly skilled- with a shared love for the setting and lore, and with more or less the same interests: immersive experience, mature community, Middle-earth role play, and Tolkien. It seems that most (or truly a very great part of the total population of Laurelin) are on the server for those reasons. There is much less of that mingling of raiders, pvmp-players, gamers and those who are here only because it is free to play, or so the server 'feels' and looks one may say. Thus from the very early days this server has had like-minded folk: the lovers of the books, and Middle-earth role players. And the rise in such people only continued it seems. Therefore, one may find it much easier there to be among many mature and gentle folk, and appreciators of the setting.
Role players and non-role players play on the sever in harmony which perhaps is of little wonder concidering the RP label Laurelin has always had. Those who do not role play are in most cases people who came/come to Laurelin to take advantage of the additional ruleset, and be among a more mature crowd and in a more immersive enviroment, even if they themselves have little to no interest for rp, for it ''adds to the ambience of the game'' as some of them have said.
There is a sense of a greater community here, or indeed more than one or two. It seems that there is one for each race, with some persons who are deeply dedicated to their own, and busy themselves with many related matters.
But another difference that is important to add here is that some role players talk in a somewhat formal, and archaic manner (as the world of Middle-earth was/is set in an ancient time period). But sadly this can often be misinterpreted and seen by new players and those who come from other worlds, -or merely by persons who have not thought of this further- as a display of superiority, or self-importance maybe, and therefore they (lacking the knowledge) can be unjust to them, or to the server itself too, taking this as a token of arrogance. Yet it is not so; or so this long study of Laurelin and experience there has shown. They do not speak after that fashion to appear loftier or as in some sort of authority, but in an on-going effort and desire to learn and adapt their character's manner of speech as/like we see in the books especially with the race of Men and Elves. Some speak in this way even when Out of Character and here on the forums too. This it seems to me that is done -apart from their affection for the books- for practice: so that their In Character speech when role playing comes easily, swiftly, and natural. But as we know the people of Middle-earth did not all speak the same, and so there are a very many others on the server who speak plainly, adopting the rural and rustic manner of speech as we largely see with hobbits, and the Bree-folk for example.
Those who have read the books more than once (or those who have paid heed on this topic) perhaps understand well enough the nature of this. And so concerning these people it seems to me that it is their love and appreciation of the lore (or of the race itself) that wells up into their speech desiring to have the talking-style differences in Middle-earth. Even when not role playing it is often to see people greeting after the manner of the race of their character which they use at the time. For example: 'Suilad mellon', 'Mae govannen' by Elves, 'Hullo', 'Hallo', by hobbits, 'Well met' and 'At your service' by dwarves, and men may say 'Greetings', or 'Westu Hal' by characters of Rohan. Common words that it seems were often heard among the simple peoples of Middle-earth.
And thus, this is yet another aspect that adds to the experience of a player on Laurelin; for on other servers one continually sees modern talk and phrases which were not used in Middle-earth, such as 'whats up', 'sup', 'yo', and so on.
Furthermore, more than a few times we see on the forums people recalling the earlier days of the game and show in their words a longing for those times, or wishing for other things, such as new raids, improvements and changes to pvmp and character skills, different quests, and yet more. But many players on Laurelin are with a memory and yearning of other things: the Codemaster's support (now a vanished order known only to memory) in years past, various player-storylines of older days, certain characters of players, rp events and kinships. They recall in longing other things than just the earlier state of the game, they remember the life within it as it came by rp times, the engagement of the Powers (GameMasters), and by certain former people who helped and put much of their time in the game in various designs such as events and kinships, and rp related movements. During my stay on Laurelin I have seen this more than a few times. It is such things that put many of the Laurelindrim in mind of old times, and not solely the condition of the game or how it was prior free to play and after it. People seem to complain much less (or there are far less of such unhappy folk) about the game itself and things related to it. Their concerns, worries and cares are for the most part related to the community, role play, lore, and the server itself.
People here have more reason and cause to stay and enjoy their time other than only playing the basics which the game has to offer (as so many others do on other worlds with pvmp, questing, raiding and the like) for they watch the growth and unfolding of the things that they themselves (and/or others) have begun: events, kinships, storylines, and other designs. And these usually are not simple and without much thought, everyone merely getting together and chatting away and questing, or racing around. They have a specific idea (usually inspired by the books) and special goals: a kinship representing a remnant of the Green-elves, another trying to portray a group of people such as the men of Rohan or Bree; events that try to depict a custom or recreate in-game an atmosphere or times that we read in the books: hobbit-players coming together to give life to their local inn with fitting music and song, dance and chat, drink and food, Elves passing at night singing as they walk through the woods of the Shire, and many more yet alike concepts. Also designs such as especial channels for bringing like-minded folk together, and for the better organization of various things.
Indeed, this server has more than a few persons who are truly and deeply concerned with the fate and fashion of the world on Laurelin. This may sound strange to some of other servers (or even of Laurelin maybe), yet such players can add much to a server.
Though Laurelin has many, it is not the number of them that is worthy of great praise but their nature and the concept in which they are based on. There is far more emphasis on the books in the events of this server than what we see on all others, where half RP and half Out of Character social light iniatives with little or no ground to the lore, are the common design. On Laurelin, through the players that attend the below mentioned events and those who have started them and worked much for them and guided them with care and dedication, try to convey the free peoples, their customs and celebrations and traditions, and so create that experience of making the participants actually feel that they are in Middle-earth and among its people and not just in any mmorpg.
And so this server has the Green Dragon Friday, when the inn is filled with hobbits that join together in mirth and plain hobbit-sense to create a lively night in the tavern with suitable music and song, chattering, eating and drinking, and much merry dancing; the Michel Delving Market which tries there to create a lively hobbit market atmosphere; the Hall of Fire Wednesday which is inspired by the times of mirth and revelry the Elves had and by their love for music and poetry and tales; The Dwarrow Ting, a secret gathering of the dwarf-folk in their halls under the mountains; the safeguard the North, which are secret gatherings of the northern rangers; The Comb and Wattle Sunday inspired by the merriment of the Bree-landers as we can read in the Sign of the Prancing Pony chapter; and other especial events besides which occur on certain times of a year such as some of the celebrations of the Elves, Durin's Day for the dwarf-folk, hobbit birthday parties. And yet other alike events that may still come in days ahead.
As it may be very well perceived such events are an essential part of what makes the peoples of Middle-earth come alive in a way and to an extent that the game itself cannot achieve. They facilate a more immersive experience and greatly enrich the atmosphere of Middle-earth. Even by the web-pages for them one can see the care and love for the lore that has been poured in for them, which in its turn helps the viewer get in the mood of the nature of the event (or kinship) and what it tries to achieve, and as a result of that a better understanding of it which then can be shown in game during the event (and in the kin).
This is another marvel. A very many kinships here are conceived by the writings of the professor, and their aim is to bring groups of people from the books existent and active in-game such as the following for example: a remnant of the Green-elves, Noldor, Falathrim, Elrond's household, dwarf-folk of the Blue Mountains, hobbit-families or the Shire-folk as a whole people, the people of Rohan, but also individual kinless folk who come together to form and act out other communities such as the secret community of the Rangers of the North. Kinships may interact with each other not solely for raids or pvmp or skirmishes (as is usual on other worlds) but for storylines and gatherings and In Character friendships and alliances.
It seems to me that people on this server are perhaps more strongly attached to their kinship due to the story behind it and all the continuing work for them through various ways, and the rp experiences. They draw pictures for them to tell a tale related to their kinsfolk or to represent the kinship itself, add fitting music to the background of the representative website to further relate with their nature, research the books for related knowledge which they can then use for kin-events, gatherings, and general information that it is good for members to know.
While the game itself may draw Tolkien-lovers and LotR fans, kinships on Laurelin gather such folk who dearly love to bring the free peoples from the books alive in the game. And while each of all these lore-inspired kins may be different in their own degree and concept and strive to weave their own particular thread in the community, from the greater scheme of things they all try to fit well into the tapestry of our shared setting: the world of Middle-earth.
As one may perceive from the above the events and kinships are an important part of the overall role play which is more lore-oriented (or there is far more of it here) than all that one may see on other worlds. Apart from the events and kinships this can be seen by individuals through their manner of speech, and knowledge, in-game as well as out of it on other LotRO/Tolkien related sources.
Also, we know from the books that the different races (as a whole people at the very least) prefered to live with their own kindred (save in Bree, and even then it is said that the Big and the Little Folk each minded their own affairs). This is actually seen on Laurelin through the events and by numerous kins as well as by other kinless rp groups and organizations. On other servers there is little to no emphasis in this and so the atmosphere is much more loose and general, which in its turn while seemingly amusing to some, it does not create the experience (nor does it seem so in picture) for one to truly feel that he is among the free peoples of Middle-earth as in the books: among hobbits merrymaking in the local tavern, among the secretive dwarf-folk during their gatherings in their halls under the moutains, among the Bree-landers in the inn of the village, in the company of the Eldar in the house of Elrond, and so on.
There are on this server hobbits that never leave the shire IC or others who never go IC beyond Bree, Elves that go only on Elven havens, and a very many who do not visit Bree at all. Indeed even entire Elven kinships.
Also, it seems that role players on Laurelin have many rp-alts and will happily swap them to fit in with the occasion. I have seen very little to almost no (compared to other servers) complaining about racial events and kinships. On other servers it seems (or so long experience has shown many times) that this is a matter that is not taken kindly, which may explain why most/almost all kinships and events are mixed.
THE HEART OF TOLKIEN FANDOM
Laurelin is also home to the Tolkien Reading Day weekly event, and to the Arda Channel: the heart of Tolkien fandom on Laurelin (or even in LotRO maybe). This server-wide channel was created more than five years ago with the main purpose and goal for the union of all folk of mature mind and kind manners that share a love for the setting. Since then more than nine hundred like-minded people have joined it: Middle-earth musicians, artists, role players, writers, and indeed even scholars and linguists. Such is the grace of this server. But of all the times of joy and wisdom and deep converse and making of designs for rp and kins and other movements related to the server (and the enthusiasm that comes from them) in that channel, this small part of the essay would not suffice to recount in full if one could recall all of that. And though (as with all things) Time has not left this channel untouched by its effects, and thus a great many have left the game, some are on leave, and others are less active than they used to be, there are still a very many folk in it and they are ever-growing in numbers; for it is a joy in most cases for others who come to the game for the setting to learn of the existence of this channel. And yet it is not the numbers that have made it special and well-beloved by many, but it's 'content' and the people therein.
The Tolkien Reading Day (or TRD) started about four years ago and it occurs every week in the aforementioned channel. A day dedicated to the books and original Arda creations of others: tales, background of in-game characters, poetry, riddles, essays, songs and yet more. On such days, the Arda Channel (wherein TRD occurs) is filled with story-telling, and the tales of Middle-earth that are still kept in the hearts of many, are recounted in full (in parts when they are too great for one reading). And though one can read the books at home, it is a different experience having the tales be told to you while in-game, while in the visual world of Middle-earth.
It seems that this channel and event have served as the in-game sources of long and deep knowledge for the Laurelindrim, and so they are enriched in many ways: in their learning and deeper understanding of the lore (and their stronger memory of it), in their role play, in their skill of words and thought, in their writings, and in their inspiration not the least. This people are highly in the esteem of others from without (this channel), or so the words of other players tell over the courses of Time since the beginning of this channel.
And last but not least, this part is added in this essay to share the words of other people who used to play on other servers in former days ere they forsook them for Laurelin. The following is what numerous such players have said concerning Laurelin in comparison to their previous server/s:
''It's a combination of the scenery and the "life" within.''
''Since coming to Laurelin (and especially after finding the Arda Channel), I really can't connect with any other game or even any other server on this game. I tried out Landroval since it is a US server and I am American, but I realized instantly that the rp community is much more unified here on Laurelin.''
''Immersion, and a real connection to Tolkien's world are paramount to me.''
''There is no way I am turning back [referring to her previous server]. There is a great difference in dynamic here; much more meaningful.''
''It [the immersion] is very well done here, and I appreciate the quality of people I find.''
''My friends and I left our previous server due to the harrasment of our RP there.''
''The story is alive here''
''No other server I have been on is like to Laurelin. This is a special place.''
''I'm very interested in this community as it develops. I just enjoy immersing myself here. Very good people, kind and considerate.''
''There are nearly ten in our company that came over. What I particularly appreciate is the attention that is paid to culture rather than power-leveling.''
''I first started on Gladden. There was little, if any, social interactions, it was all power-leveling. I tried Landroval and it was alright, though not very lore adhesive, and I am in love with the lore. I gave Laurelin a shot and loved it and the players within.''
''I came to Laurelin in my curiosity for RP. I have had an interest, but never before have I done it. I started and immediately grew a love for roleplay and Tolkien's Middle-earth, and so in the past year I had been exploring, learning, and loving Tolkien's lore as time went on. However, my learning was not wholly myself indulging into Tolkien's books, but also through converse with several other players of Laurelin. The year that passed I had learnt a lot in regards to Tolkien lore. Though, I grew a special love for Laurelin. For unlike any other RP server Laurelin features among the MOST artistic and creative roleplayers that I have encountered. The folk here truly are skilled in bringing their characters to life via means of artwork and skill with words.
I will say that it came upon me like a wind and swept me along with it!''
''Even though I must start all over again to reach lvl 90, I do not mind it. The company here is far more enjoyable and it has allowed me to really explore my RP character properly that I was creating on Imladris.''
''I was in Withywindle for some 4 years, but the rp started getting worse and worse. At one point, I saw almost no rp, and everything was just power leveling. So I tried this one and I too love it.''
''Playing on other servers never gave me much drive to continue for a longer period time. Roleplaying gives me a drive to keep playing this game, mostly thanks to the great comunity behind the characters on the screen.''
''I am happiest here on Laurelin, as I can play with so many others who share my love and passion for Middle-earth.''
''I know several of those whom I met through my journeys on two other servers who would have kept with the game if they had first come here.''
And so all these things and elements, -the additional rules and policies, kinships and events inspired by the books, role play, dedicated channels and movements- like many different threads, though independent, in the bigger picture one may see how they weave themselves together in some relation and measure, greatly and deeply enriching the server with that Tolkienesque look and feel, and the overall experience. And while some here on the forums as well as in the game continue to debate that LotRO is not Tolkien's Middle earth but only Turbine's vision of it, though true enough (at least in some aspects), it is not entirely so. For it is the players that fill in that vision and have the ability to fashion the world in it, each with his own skills and contributions, both in matters of hand and thought. Laurelin is the token of this: through the lore-inspired events and kinships and role play, Middle-earth is filled, and its people come alive. All that evokes immersive times, and though far from perfect, as a whole shape up a much more loyal and true Middle-earth enviroment than what is seen on the other worlds.
I cannot read the future but it seems to me that the deeds of these people will likely enough outlast all others on the other worlds in the long run. Laurelin might prove indeed the most longlasting server of the game; and as more and more learn of it, of its nature and of all that it has to offer, the long home for all Tolkien fans and Middle-earth role players in LotRO.
The Additional Rules and Policies
Middle-earth original art by the people of Laurelin
Tolkien Reading Days