A few weeks ago, RoleCraft covered some roleplaying tips concerning a few of the new additions to the latest World of Warcraft expansion, Wrath of the Lich King. Another major MMORPG expansion was released a few short days after that, this one being the Mines of Moria for Lord of the Rings Online. Like Wrath of the Lich King, Mines of Moria comes complete with its own set of new additions, including locations, two new classes, a new legendary items system, and more. For us roleplayers, the opportunities for quality roleplaying has increased tenfold at the very least, and I'll be sharing some advice and tips for roleplaying in and around the Mines of Moria in this edition of RoleCraft.
Compared with all the most popular and successful MMORPGs, the lore that LotRO is based on is what makes it a much more solid game than the others. Knowing the lore of a game is the most vital element when starting or continuing your roleplaying character. MoM may well be the most widely known of underground location in all of literature, perhaps second only to Hell itself. With that, the lore of MoM is just as deep, and should be the first consideration for roleplayers as they begin their adventures in Khazad-dûm.
Of course, the first place to go to is Tolkien's book, The Lord of the Rings, in particular, the chapters The Ring Goes South, A Journey in the Dark, and The Bridge of Khazad-dûm. Reading those along with playing MoM will help firmly establish the where and why of roleplaying your character, allowing you to concentrate fully and freely on the how. If, however, you don't have access to any of the books (and what a travesty that is!), add The Thain's Book - Guide to Tolkien's Middle-earth website to your bookmarks, and take a few minutes to read over the section on the history of Khazad-dûm / Moria.
Once you have a solid grasp of MoM lore, you can better set your character with a firm footing within the current events in game. In MoM, two of the most important aspect to keep in mind are found in the phrase 'dwarven expedition'. As your character starts to make way into the Walls of Moria and towards the Hollin Gate, you may notice that the NPCs are almost exclusively dwarven. It is these dwarves who begin to tell the tale of current events, about how the dwarves have mounted an expedition into Khazad-dûm to reclaim their lost territory from the vile denizens that now inhabit within.
If you happen to be roleplaying a dwarf, the width and breadth of roleplaying opportunity is seemingly endless, as I can see it. If your dwarf has merely been wandering Eriador with no aim or goal, you now have a purpose to adventure to a specific region that no other race has! A primary example would be roleplaying a proud and stalwart dwarf who wishes to see the glory of the fabled Khazad-dûm return, giving the dwarves another stronghold to rival the current locations from whence dwarves hail. Maybe your character is a Longbeard, or related to that line of dwarves who once ruled within Khazad-dûm, and is seeking to learn the fate of a relative. And, there is always mithril, the reason why the dwarves dug so deeply under the mountain of Caradhas. Maybe mithril is still to be found, and if so, what an advantage it would be to have that valuable component smithed into equipment for adventurers to carry into battle against the Dark Lord's minions!
With a bit of imagination, it is not hard to fathom why the other races would be and are joining up with the dwarves and their expeditions into the Mines. As the elves and dwarves slowly decline, the race of Man is ever expanding their knowledge of and presence on Middle-earth, and assisting the dwarven expedition is but a natural step in that process. The starter quests for the elves and dwarves tell of the brittle ties that bind their relationship to each other. To that end, roleplaying an elven ambassador in Moria, like Gailthin the elven ambassador NPC to the dwarves at Gondamon, could be one way to go.
Lastly, it could be said the hobbits have more in common with dwarves than with any other race. They live underground, though on a much smaller scale. They have a liking for shiny things, and for the brewing and drinking of ale. Not to mention of course their small physical stature. But as I roleplay it, I count the reason why a hobbit would make a sojourn to and through the Mines of Moria as nothing but curiosity. They have Bilbo Baggins to thank for sparking that flame in their minds and hearts, what with all his tales of daring adventure!
Skills and professions can all be brought to the forefront of roleplaying, and to do so provides some highly excellent reasoning for entering the Mines of Moria. Remember, this is an expedition on a grand scale, and expeditions require supplies and craftsmen of every type. Smiths are needed to smelt all that ore into fine weapons, armor, and tools. If you roleplay a miner, you may have no better place to be than in the greatest mine in all Middle-earth!
If you work solely with wood, or maybe roleplay a chef or farmer, don't think that just because wood is scarce and farmland nonexistent within the Mines, that you have no reason to go in. It is for those very reasons why you should! Adventurers exploring the Mines will still need well-cooked food, and may pay extra for the quality stuff you keep bringing in and supplying. Weapon crafters will require loads of wood, and tailors still need cloth. Set yourself up as a caravan, delivering raw goods from outside the Mines to those working within it, and let the roleplay stem naturally from there.
As for class roleplaying ideas, the loremaster may lead them all as far as having the best reason for risking the perils of the Mines. What ancient and long-lost tomes of knowledge and wisdom are there to be found within the depths of Moria? What magnificent dwarven artifact or relic has been buried out of sight and memory? And will you be the one who finds them?
Concerning the new class, the Rune-keeper, there isn't much at all in the way of lore from which to use as a base for roleplaying, aside from the following quote from one of Turbine's developer diaries.
"There are some who greatly specialize in such linguistic arts: they are known as Rune-keepers. Their kind had a hand in curiosities like moon-letters, and marvels like the west gate to Moria. In these troubled times, even these normally secluded linguists have stepped up to fight against the Enemy."
There has been much discussion about this class online, and how it may or may not be stretching the LotR canon too far. If I may offer a possible RP explanation, what if this was one of the long-lost arts that had been buried for so long within Moria, and is only now making its way among the populace? Maybe that's why your rune-keeper is undertaking the treacherous trails of the Mines, to find out if his arcane skills do indeed come from there. Just let your imagination work it, and most importantly, have fun while doing so.
There are so many new paths open for roleplaying with the new Mines of Moria expansion that I surely cannot cover them all here. Besides, I do not aim to tell you how to roleplay, only to help you do it better, as I may. I do hope these suggestions have done just that! Don't hesitate to offer your own hints and tips, either here under Comments, or directly to me via RoleCraft at gmail dot com. Role on!