Each account type has some content and perks included, with more you can buy from the LOTRO Store. VIPs get the best perks and the most content, including a few options that are completely unavailable to Free and Premium players. But is being a subscriber really better? Not necessarily. It really comes down to what you want to do in the game.
"I just want to check out LOTRO"You should start as a Free account. There are a few limits to chat and trading, but they really aren’t bad at all. And there are plenty of quests and deeds to carry you to level 25. You can also craft, fish, play music, buy a house, use cosmetics, skirmish and more. There’s even a cluster of instances available to Free players. If you find you like LOTRO enough to keep going, read on to learn the various ways you can unlock more of the game.
"I want to PvMP"Player-vs-Monster-Player is LOTRO’s version of PVP. This one has an easy answer: you must subscribe to play either as a “creep” (monster) or a “freep” (hero of the Free Peoples).
"I want all the VIP Perks"Again, this is an easy choice: you must subscribe. The VIP perks can be quite helpful, especially if you are actively leveling a character. These include:
- Access to quests and deeds in all content 1-50
- Swift travel
- Access to PVMP
- Rest XP (200% XP from mob kills)
- Able to buy perks with Destiny Points (note, the same perks can be bought in the store with TP)
- 500 Turbine Points per month
- No caps on gold, traits, chat or mail
- 30 "sell" slots on the AH
- Able to quest the Basic Riding skill rather than buy it in the store
"I want to play through the whole PVE game as cheaply as possible"Here’s where the road forks, depending on which parts of LOTRO you are most interested in, and your willingness to grind for TP - or crack open your wallet.
100% free! I really can’t (or don’t want to) spend a penny
It’s definitely possible to gather enough TP in-game to unlock most of the PVE content in LOTRO. Be prepared for a lot of grinding, however. Most TP is earned by completing deeds (see How to Earn Turbine Points for details). You will likely have to complete the same deeds on several characters to unlock every zone and expansion. Some folks will go this route, but many will find in too tedious.
I’m an Altoholic
If you don’t plan to level your alts past 20 or 25, there’s nothing stopping you making as many alts as you'd like with multiple Free accounts. If you plan to level them up or do a lot of crafting, the "Subscribe for one month" tactic described later in this article can save you some money in the long run.
I just want to skirmish
If you can bear to crack open your wallet, the Moria and Mirkwood expansion packs allow you to raise the rank cap on your soldier, soldier skills and personal skirmish skills. Mirkwood also includes six more high-level skirmishes you can quest to unlock. Be sure to check game retailers: retail box versions still work, and there are some great deals around that are a lot cheaper than buying the expansions with TP from the LOTRO Store.
I want to do end-game raiding
Level 65 raiders need excellent traits and skills to be effective in raids. True, you can buy some traits and stats in the store using real money, but that's a super expensive approach. The more frugal approach is to subscribe for at least a month (see below) to unlock all your per-character trait slots as well as the deeds that reward the traits you'll need.
The "Subscribe for a Month" Tactic (Free-to-VIP-to-Premium)Subscribing for a month - either with cash or a 30-day code - can be a great deal. If you time it right, you can score permanent, per-character unlocks plus temporary access to subscriber perks and a lot of content that will make leveling a lot easier (and more fun).
But don't subscribe right away! Timing is important if you want to get the most out of your VIP time. Folks who like this tactic use a Free account to get two characters to the right level to take advantage of the unlocks they want most, and then subscribe. When your subscription lapses, your account status automatically downgrades from VIP to Premium. As a Premium you'll end up 3 character slots (one more than a Free account), so consider creating a third character while you are still a VIP to snag some of those tasty unlocks for it, too.
In general, we recommend you wait until your characters are at least level 20 to subscribe. Some people will want to do this right at 20 to get the Basic Riding skill for their alts, while other will prefer to wait until 35 or so to have access to all the quests and deeds in that tough level 35 to 43 range.
VIP-to-Premium Downgrade Chart
|Level||While VIP||TP Saved1||After VIP Lapses|
|Per-character downgrade unlocks|
|Characters played while VIP have swift travel.|
|5+||No currency cap||495
|Characters played while VIP: no currency cap. Other/new characters: 5 gold
|5+||5 inventory bags||990 character||Characters played while VIP: 5 inventory bags. Other/new characters: 3
|5+||Sell on AH (30 slots per char)||95 per 5 AH slots account||5 AH sell slots
|5+||Earn Crafting Guild reputation||295 per guild account||Can finish current tier|
|11, 17, 23||Virtue trait slots||95 each character||You keep the trait slot unlocks for characters played while VIP,
even if you didn't achieved the minimum level to use them.3
|25, 31, 37||Race trait slots||95 each character|
|27, 33, 39, 53, 57||Class trait slots||95 each character|
|41, 45, 60||Legendary trait slots||195 each character|
|20||Basic Riding Skill quest||95 character||Keep for characters that completed quest as VIP|
|Temporary VIP perks|
|1+||500 Turbine Points awarded each month||n/a||No|
|1+||Rest XP (200% XP from mob kills)||n/a||No|
|10+||Able to spend Destiny Points||n/a||No|
|40+||PvMP in the Ettenmoors (Freep or Creep)||n/a||No|
|Temporary content unlocks|
|25+||Access to quests and deeds in Lone-lands, North Downs, Evendim,
Trollshaws, Misty Mountains, Angmar, Forochel, Eregion and
|350 to 795 per zone
|Can finish quests and deeds already in progress|
|25+||Skirmish: Stand at Amon Sul||495
|30+||Skirmish: Thievery and Mischief||495
|35+||Skirmish: Defence of the Prancing Pony||495
|40+||Skirmish: Ford of Bruinen||495
 As a level 65 zone, access to Enedwaith quests and deeds also requires the Mines of Moria and Siege of Mirkwood expansions to raise the level cap to 65.
 See Victorie's 20 Aug 2010 post in the Free-to-Play FAQ