LOTRO – Going Off Map

One of the greatest attractions of LOTRO is the opportunity to explore Middle-Earth. Turbine have done a very good job of interpreting Tolkien’s world, offering a rich and diverse environment. I like to cross reference the in-game environment against such books as Journeys of Frodo by Barbara Strachey and The Atlas of Middle-Earth by Karen Wynn Fonstad. Whenever a new region becomes available, I always like to see what lore based references I can find.

Exploring is an integral part of LOTRO and can become a sub-game in its own right. Therefore we should not be surprised that this aspect of the game has its enthusiasts, who take curiosity to the next level. The invisible walls, rivers and mountains ranges that Turbine use to enclose different regions are seen purely as a challenges. Nothing more than obstacles to be over come, possibly revealing a secret treasure.

I wrote a post last year about the abandoned graveyard near Bree and how it is an example of a storyline that was dropped from the final release of Shadows of Angmar. Over its four year lifespan, LOTRO has gained test areas or locations for quest lines that were omitted for various reasons. Often these are behind obstacles or hidden from direct line of sight. I’m sure many of you may be familiar with the infamous hidden hobbit village, west of the Ered Luin gate. There was a time when such places could be accessed quite easily, but over the years Turbine has taken steps to put them out of reach. Posts on the official forums, referencing going “off map”  are closed promptly and such activities are discouraged.

Initially, back in the day of the Isengard test program, participants were encouraged by Turbine to test the maps boundaries and log any faults. This policy was was never formally extended to the live servers. However, players being the curious bunch that they are, naturally continued to do so and a sub culture soon built up around it. They will simply try and go anywhere, if it is possible, regardless of the complexity. I have heard of complex sequences of jumping that can take hours. Yet, the practice of going “off map” is not without consequence. Characters straying into these areas can become permanently stuck. There have also been instances of such incursions affecting the servers and localised roll backs having to be carried out.

Despite the dangers and the risk of incurring the wrath of Turbine, players still continue to explore the game environment to the full. Whether it is right or wrong, it certainly makes for some very interesting screen captures and provides a new insight into the games development. I have collated a small collection of such images below. None of these screen captures were taken by myself and due to the controversial nature of such activities, I will not directly credit the sources. Once again, I am simply referencing information that is publicly available on the internet and am not endorsing one way or the other, the practise of going “off map”. As usual, comments are welcome.

3 thoughts on “LOTRO – Going Off Map

  1. Tanith says:

    Hmm…I’ve wandered into one of those areas, and had no idea it was “off the map”. I just thought it offered a cool vantage point.

    Don’t most of those areas have “FIX ME: UNASSIGNED” on them?

  2. Agamemnon says:

    I recall an ancient post by MadeOfLions, one of the developers at Turbine, who was perplexed by how many people said Bree-land was their favorite zone in regards to exploration because it had so much landscape to cover that wasn’t involved in quests and wasn’t littered with overtly-aggressive mobs. From the Eastern Bree-fields to the Far Chetwood and Nen Harn, or north of the Brandy Hills and Southern Bree-fields, which contain some great ruins (including a fantastic Arnorian fortress that nature has reclaimed).

    Since then they have often made the mistake of compartmentalizing zone development and “cutting pieces” to a map and issuing them to specific developers. This leaves no room for creativity or spaces between activity zones where you can enjoy the comforts of the wilds, where few players ever roam because the area isn’t associated with quest content.

    The other side to this coin is that if they did go back to “large zone” planning, they could always go back to these areas when they do revamps and add quests to them, like they did with Evendim at High King’s Crossing.

    I’m not entirely sure what Turbine is so afraid of in making zones large and an explorer’s paradise like they used to do. Nowadays zones seem to be small theme parks boxed in by mountains and rivers. Someone needs to get creative over there. If we keep trying to jump out of the world boundaries it’s only because we want to explore more of Middle-earth and are not so concerned about whether there’s enough end-game content for capped players to trivialize over.

  3. Flatfoot says:

    The overly excessive exploring(rooftop hopping, etc) is discouraged because you can push your character of the map and actually into a “database nirvana”, where the GM tools cannot recover it from anymore.

    This is not some random rumor but actually from the horses(sapience) mouth. Just read it recently in a thread complaining about some freshly closed of jumping paths to a number of Bree rooftops.

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