Many MMOs have “hobbies” as part of the activities they have on offer. These are usually leisurely undertakings done for their own inherent fun, rather than providing a tangible in-game benefit. In LOTRO the only hobby that is currently available (despite the game existing for over decade) is fishing. It’s a relatively simple affair that’s been further refined (dumbed down, some may argue) over time. When I started playing LOTRO in 2008, fishing had an extra component to its underlying mechanic. There were various types of bait (consumables) that provided a bonus to your fishing skill. These included Leech Bait, Nightcrawler Bait and Red Wiggler Bait. However, this mechanic was removed possibly around the time of the “free to play” conversion. As it currently stands, fishing now just requires accepting the hobby from the Hobby Master NPC (Simon Quinlank would be proud), buying a basic fishing rod and finding a body of water. You equip the rod instead of a weapon and add the fishing skill to your quick slot bar. If you click the skill it will cause a casting animation. You then wait for the fish to bite, which is signified buy your rod bending and twitching. The player then clicks the skill again to land whatever they’ve caught.
Like any activity in a game of this nature, fishing is subject to a levelling mechanic. The maximum rating is level 200 and the player can gain 10 points per day (the "clock" resets at midnight EST). There are currently seven different types of rod available in LOTRO, ranging from the aforementioned basic rod and the latest Exquisite Elven Fishing Rod which adds +10 Fishing. However, these rods are gated behind reputation factions in level specific regions, so you can’t buy a fancy rod and expect to fast path to level cap. It should also be noted that there are multiple deeds associated with fishing (hardly a surprise as LOTRO is rife with deeds) and some of the fancier fish that you can catch can be taken to a taxidermist and turned into trophies and used as housing items. As stated earlier, fishing is mainly a recreational activity which may also appeal to the goal orientated completionist who likes to do everything for personal satisfaction.
I started fishing when I first subscribed to LOTRO. At that point in time, MMOs were new to me and I found all of the games foibles endearing. I’ve never pursued fishing seriously and have mainly used it as it was intended, just as something easy to do in-game while unwinding. As you can fish pretty much from any body of water in the game, I’ve often done fishing while waiting for colleagues to log in or while I’m on Discord chatting to friends. It’s something I’ve done casually over eight years and not something I’ve ever monitored. Recently, while fishing in Long Lake, I noticed a notification telling me I was level 183. So, I investigated a little further and determined I was not far from the cap. As a result, I decided to actually complete this deed, mainly due to a “why not” mindset and the want of anything else more significant to do. So, I toured various regions of Middle-earth and spent an hour here and there, slowly working towards my goal. Needless to say, a few days ago I hit level 200 hundred after a decade of not especially trying to do so. It gave me a moments satisfaction and a reason for a blog post, so I guess I shouldn’t “pooh-pooh” this achievement. I wonder whether Standing Stone Games have any new plans to add further hobbies to the game. If they do perhaps I’ll complete them as well in another ten years’ time.