Standing Stone Games and their players raided the Adventure Pub in Arlington, MA on Friday night at PAX East 2020. It coincided with the 14th anniversary of Dungeons and Dragons Online, and the big news was the announcements from DDO and Lord of the Rings Online’s Executive Producer Rob ‘Severlin’ Ciccolini, including an explanation why the LotRO Producer’s Letter is still pending.

Here’s a video of the exact announcements, hastily recorded when the intended stream failed to produce working audio, so apologies for the quality.

Here’s the highlights of the announcements:

  • Recap of DDO Producer’s Letter (New Feywild expansion, new Shifter race)
  • Summer in LotRO will focus on the wedding of Aragorn and Arwen
  • New theme of orcs vs dwarves: The Legacy of Durin and the Trial of the Dwarves
  • Two big updates in 2020 in this story
  • Leads into a Gundabad-themed expansion in spring 2021
  • New content coming later this year: (1 endgame, the other scaling content called Missions so capped and lower-level characters can play together)
  • Rohan housing will include stables so you can show off your favorite mounts
  • Rohan housing due when Helm’s Deep is released on Legendary Servers

Then there was an open Q&A involving both games, so here’s a summary of those questions.

In DDO, they have plans to get to level 40 over the course of years. In LotRO, there will be more landscape updates, one upcoming tentatively called Mists of the Wilderlands that will include the Floodfells and points north. Ciccolini hinted at something called The War of Three Peaks that will have some new landscape created for it as well. He declined to answer what would happen with Minas Tirith in time for the wedding, that we would have to wait and see what they have planned. A player asked about what the DDO Feywild experience would look like, and they showed a piece of concept art with a twilit castle, but it would be all new geography. Then Jerry ‘Cordovan’ Snook pointed to one of their other projected images and revealed that there would be unicorns in that update. Yes, you read that right. DDO is getting unicorns before the end of the year.

Ciccolini answered another question about whether he’d want to include psionics in the game, with the answer being yes, but he added that whether they would actually do that, the magic 8-ball answer to it would be ‘maybe’. A LotRO player wanted to know whether they would be going off the current map, perhaps to the East, and Ciccolini replied that the story people would love to visit Umbar or Rhûn first and that their longer-term plans may bring us into places like that – note the lack of a definitive yes or no or which specific areas. Then to a wonderful cosplayer’s question about whether the Shire would get Scoured, Ciccolini teased the crowd by saying that it may happen in a way we don’t expect.

Next up was an intriguing question about megaservers from a DDO player, who wanted to know if that would be a possibility. Ciccolini said they were investigating the options, but if they would move forward, their plan would involve completely-new megaservers that everyone would need to transfer to for free. The benefit would be to clean up over a decade’s worth of idle names that players have not been able to use anywhere except on the Hardcore League server of late. The current stumbling block, he said, was ensuring that guilds could finally be able to transfer server to server. It must be stressed that this is not a definitive in-progress plan, but a long-term goal. It would be similar to LotRO’s server consolidation in 2015, except every active player would have to transfer to a new home. Someone else asked about whether LotRO would be going through a similar megaserver process, and Ciccolini gave a surprising answer. He said they are considering a new kind of Legendary Server with possibly different rules but he didn’t go into details.  However, he did say they had no plans to do another server consolidation there.

Next there was a question about the possibility of housing in DDO, and Associate Product Manager Johnny ‘SSG_RedPanda’ Liu replied, “Maybe.” It was a running gag throughout the evening where when players asked if something was possible or in the works, his answer was always a drawn-out ‘maybe’, with Ciccolini double-checking to see if he could say something specific about certain questions. Their main concern is how to manage personal housing, since guild airships are one per guild but take up a large amount of data. Liu chimed in to note they were aware of the threads suggesting Sharn apartment housing, and that they were in discussions, but of course the answer is still ‘maybe’. Ciccolini also hinted at their desire to possibly update guilds/kins in both games, but no current details at this time, although they were far more hesitant at the notion another player brought up involving DDO guild true reincarnations.

The final question of the evening has been a hot topic in the LotRO community for ages. For those languishing in the Legendary Item system, Ciccolini said there’s going to be a more short-term update to assist players more easily obtain Scrolls of Empowerment at endgame. Plus, they’re looking at an all-new system that’s more essence-based, with players being able to transfer the meat and bones of their current LI into it without losing their investment. Ciccolini hesitated to speak more about it because it’s still being conceptualized, but he was hoping it might come out this year, but might take longer depending on the tech needed to make it happen.

So those were the highlights of the video above. We will be sitting down with Ciccolini next week to delve further into the big announcements and other hot-topic questions, and we’ll also be bringing you a world-first exclusive interview with LotRO head of QA and composer Bill ‘Darth Celtics’ Champagne, so keep an eye out for that.

What are your thoughts on the news out of the Adventure Pub?

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