Having shown me a taste of the new dungeons and quests, we moved on to the brand-new cosmetic features and general tweaks players can look forward to in Book 14. There were more than a few additional items available for players to earn for their characters and in-game houses, many of which Campbell explained could be earned through seasonal festivals in the world of Middle-earth. Some of the things they showed me included vegetable, herb and flower gardens one can plant outside one's home, as well as an assortment of silly masks characters could wear. (I thought my Dwarf looked particularly amusing in a beaver cap.)
There were a few new items for house interiors as well. Campbell demonstrated different colors of floral wallpaper and brand-new fishing trophies on which players could mount the various Big Ones they've caught since the addition of fishing in Book 13. After a round or two from the affectionately-described "Keg of Doom" (implemented in Book 12) that found my inebriated character waking up in a fountain in Bree, Campbell and Mersky ended my tour with an overview of two new NPC types - Town Criers and Sages.
Town Criers are precisely what one might expect: NPCs that announce ongoing events in Middle-earth (from festivals to battles) as characters walk past, letting players know if there is something going on they might want to be aware of. Players can also directly ask the Town Criers about specific events they're more interested in learning about. As the Crier informed all nearby about the ongoing "Summerfest" held by the Dwarves of Thorin's Hall, Campbell led me up the hill to meet the new Sage, standing by a Reflecting Pool.
Reflecting Pools are a feature that has already existed in the game for some time now, allowing players to go back and experience Quest dungeons they've already been through - or to help friends experiencing them for the first time. In Book 14, Sages offer more incentives to do just that, encouraging players to relive content they haven't visited in a while. By going back to these dungeons, players can earn Marks of Triumph that function as a sort of currency with which they can barter with the Sages. Marks can be traded for items including epic-level gear, offering an alternative route for players looking to complete their equipment sets.
The players aren't alone in returning to old instances; Campbell mentioned that the LotRO team has been looking at its previous content and tweaking, updating and rebalancing as necessary. He mentioned that players would likely be much more pleased with, for example, the encounter with Helgcham, a fledgling Watcher. The old dungeons aren't the only things receiving a bit of touching up - the developers have been looking at some already-implemented equipment that they weren't entirely happy with, and so come Book 14 players might see some improvements in gear they already have.
As the Fellowship heads off to Moria, so too do the players and developers of Lord of the Rings Online. Book 14 is very much a bookend to the game's first chapter, and offers some rather nice tastes and hints of what's to come.