Here’s Your Title

It’s funny what you’ll take for granted in games. For example, when running through a high-level area, such as Mirkwood, you’d expect other players you encounter to demonstrate a basic understanding of the game, and especially of their chosen class. Before I get into it, let me say this; tone is often difficult to convey, and I found this entire situation highly amusing! It also reminded me of another accomplishment of a kinmate, except this was one that I found extraordinary.

I was questing in the Mirk-eaves, up near Durburz-Stazg, when a few quests had me head inside the camp and thin the ranks of Orcs. I particularly like this quest chain because, while it has a lot of the standard kill quests, it does have some nice variety with a “go scout a few locations” tasks. These are particularly enjoyable for me, being a Burglar, as they seem intentionally designed for stealth. At least, that’s what I tell myself.

As I was dispatching the two gate guards and heading into the camp, another player rode up behind me and dismounted right inside the gate. I didn’t think too much of it – a level 65 Rune-keeper probably looking for some of the same quests I was out for – until said Rune-keeper proceeded to run right into the middle of the camp and get himself killed (I apologize if they were female). I was a little surprised to say the least; he managed to aggro just about every creature between the gate and where he died, killed none of them, and performed almost no healing on himself.

I’m not trying to be overly harsh, and I’m not suggesting anything (*wink* *wink* *nudge* *nudge*). For all I know, the particular player could have been paying half attention, messing around, or just trying to show the game off to an uninitiated friend. And I’m all for that!

But I do expect a certain level of expertise from a player who has achieved 65, from any class. There’s no guarantee that you will be the best, or even a “good” player of any given class, even if you reach the level cap. Especially if you have the help of a kinship. Besides, what qualifies as a “good” player? (That’s a whole other conversation.) But you can’t help but attain a certain level of competence with a class, simply by the process of familiarizing yourself with the mechanics on the road to 65.

This, and another minor kin event, got me thinking about Titles. I love and hate the title system in LotRO. It’s a testament to the power of achievements that World of Warcraft introduced a nearly-identical system soon after it was introduced in Lord of the Rings Online. When the market leader copies something you do, you know you hit the mark. Bullseye.

I love the system because it allows for small customization, and a subtle way to express achievements. And it encourages conversation (“How did you get that title?”), and it fits with the canon and “feel” of Lord of the Rings. Everyone and their brother had some title, nom de plume, alias, or surname addition; especially the Elves. Who knows how they ever got through introductions – good thing they live forever!

I dislike the system because there are just SO many of them, and the interface is clunky. At best. Ok, so it’s not the title system I dislike, as much as the interface, but you get my point. I don’t switch titles much for this exact reason.

However, my experiences over the last two nights made me wish that Turbine had a few more ways to achieve titles – such as player-nominated titles. I can think of a few choice descriptions I would have voted to tack onto that particular Rune-keeper’s name, “The Foolish” being somewhat tame (but also at the top of my list). And, yes, I’m aware that The Foolish (or “Fool”) is probably already a title.

Another method should be GM-endowed titles for exceptional achievement. Again, they could be player nominated, but should be “moderated” by an actual human. The inspiration for this is that one of my kinmates, Magentica (hope she doesn’t mind being mentioned by “name”!), reached level 55 on an alt – without having ever died. Let me stress that – Level 55. Never. Died. Not once. That goes way beyond “The Undying”, and deserves recognition. I’m sure others have done it, but…wow. She needs a title conferred. STAT.

The title system in LotRO is great; there are a multitude of ways to achieve them, and finding all of them is practically a game in itself. Eating questionable foods found in grave sites, being the target of envy, affection, or mocking by your friends and enemies, dressing particularly well – there are so many fun things that can be done and found. And there are so many little ways, easy ways, that I think Turbine could expand on this system to really make it shine.

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