Lord of the Rings Online: A Look at Kinships
MMORPG.com Lord of the Rings Online Correspondent Allie Springett writes this look at the kinship feature in Turbine's Lord of the Rings Online.
What is a kinship?
Kinships are essentially a group of players, possibly with a common interest, that join together to achieve mutual benefit. These will be discussed in more detail below. Kinships can range in number of players from a minimum of six to one thousand five hundred, depending on its lifespan rank. The lifespan rank is simply a measure of how long the kinship has been in existence, with different bonuses available dependant on rank. For example, a rank four kinship has a chat channel for officers only and a rank seven kinship as the option to purchase a kinship house.
How do I start a kinship?
Starting a new kinship is relatively easy. You must be at least level five and able to reach a Clerk of Kinships, for example there is one in Bree Town Hall. The first decision is to choose a single race kinship charter or mixed. Most of the kinships you see advertising for players seem to be mixed. This may be because single race kinships severely limit your recruitment pool, however it does mean that you suffer from the same limitations and enjoy the same benefits as the others, for example racial characteristics such as Agility of the Woods giving Elves +15 Agility. New kinships are required to have six members registered within 24 hours or it will be disbanded. To this end, it is advisable to have your six founding members ready to join immediately in order to protect your investment. All kinship charters cost five silver and twelve bronze coins.
How do I join a kinship?
If you don’t want to start a new kinship there are usually plenty of opportunities to join existing ones, thanks to the large capacity of even brand new kinships. If you do not belong to a kinship the chances are that you will occasionally be running along, minding your own business and suddenly a pop up inviting you to join a kinship will appear. This can be very irritating and seem rude. The recruiter is more likely to snare the invitee if they speak to the potential new member first and get them chatting about the benefits of that particular kin. During this conversation the recruiter should also be vetting the new player. The kinship is unlikely to invite a new member that seems immature, unhelpful or does not want to involve themselves in kin life. It is important to differentiate between immaturity and being new. A reasonable kinship will not discriminate against new players as long as they are prepared to learn and progress, however an immature player is someone who refuses to play as a team in fellowships and so on. Another way of getting into an established kinship is to obtain a referral from an existing member. They should be prepared to support your entry into the kinship and so will be taking responsibility for you on some level. You should therefore try not to show your sponsor up by breaking rules or acting childishly. Some kinships advertise on the in game chat channels. The impetus is on you to contact the kinship, usually through an IM or tell. The kinship may allow you to join immediately or may vet you as above. The more established kinships are likely to have some sort of probation period and will use full membership status as a reward for abiding by kin rules.
What are the benefits of joining a kinship?
There are a significant number of benefits to be obtained from joining a kinship. Perhaps the most helpful of these is that finding a fellowship becomes significantly easier. Instead of standing in Bree, Rivendell or wherever overusing the LFF channel in an attempt to scrape together a fellowship, you simply take a look at your kinship panel and ask people of an appropriate level. This has the added benefit of relieving the annoyance of other players who would really like you to shut up. If you want an easy ride through the quest you can always ask a higher level player for a bit of help, although this is frowned upon in some kinships so be careful. An organised kinship may arrange for large quest chains to be done in advance, for example the Retake Weathertop instance. They may advertise it as an event and once six people have agreed to take part, a date and time is set. This can be frustrating if you want to complete a quest there and then, however there is always the possibility that you have spent some hours or even days trying to gather a fellowship to no avail.
Another major benefit is the mutual advantage that can be gained from crafting. A typical kinship will have players proficient in a variety of professions, for example armourers and explorers. An explorer will mine ore but have no use for it other than to gain crafting experience and so can provide an armourer with the completed ingots. The armourer can then make items for the explorer with the materials provided. This way, both players receive crafting experience and the player that mined the ore receives equipment. A player can save a lot of money in this manner as other players happily donate ore to you in exchange for the ingots, meaning that you don’t have to spend hundreds of silver coins at the Auction House. The chances are that there will be several players belonging to each vocation and so you should be able to easily obtain items that aren’t needed by others.
Community Building Events
As stated above, some kinships will organise events such as group quests, but often there are other events arranged. These range from kinship meetings to PvP events. If you belong to a kinship it is essential that you attend the meetings. Important things are discussed such as changes to the rules, promotions and large upcoming events. Kinship meetings also provide a chance to meet members that you might not otherwise have contact with until later in the game. For example you can meet level fifty players who may be willing to guide you through the endgame. Some kinships offer a mentoring system especially designed for new players. This has obvious benefits to new players, but also makes sure that the higher level or more experienced players keep in contact with the rest of the kinship. Being a mentor may also mean that you receive benefits such as equipment or a title. Other community events include raids, although this is mainly for the higher level players.
The Social Aspect
Kinships add a whole new aspect to the game. This is fantastic for players that value sociability over solo play. Smaller kinships tend to be created by people that are online at the same time and so the chances are that someone else will be there to talk to when you are. If you belong to a larger kin, there will always be someone online. In addition to the basic chat functions, many kinships make use of the user channels to speak to related and allied kinships. Other communication options may include a kinship website. This is often the base for the organisation of events and group quests. It is advisable that you visit the kinship website on a regular basis in order to keep up with proceedings.
What are the drawbacks of joining a kinship?
Loss of money and resources
Most players under level 35 are saving up for something; a new house, a horse, a new set of armour and so on. Unfortunately being part of a kinship can be a huge drain on your resources. Imagine the scenario: you’ve been grinding around Nain Enidh, you’re level 34 and you’re determined to get that last bit of cash you need before you hit level 35 and want to get your horse. So you’ve collected up stacks of ore, various types of eye and so on and you’re all ready to put them up for auction. Suddenly your kin leader puts out a call for ore and you end up 500 silver short of your target. It’s not detrimental to game play, but it is irritating. Of course you could deny all ownership of said ore, but what’s the point of being in a kinship if there isn’t a little give and take?
If you like to play solo, kinships are not for you. They require a level of social interaction and commitment that you may not be willing to give. Of course that is perfectly reasonable, everyone has their own style of play. If you’re playing solo you don’t have the issue of the ‘always one idiot’ rule. This is the idea that every kinship contains at least one person that successfully manages to irritate the other members and be utterly noobish. Sometimes kinship members are required to participate in group quests, another aspect of kin life that solo players may find constricting. These can take significant amounts of time and prevent you from completing other quests and crafting.
Larger kinships tend to have their own websites and expect you to keep up with events on their forums. This can take up a lot of time which can be problematic especially for casual gamers. He kinship will expect a certain level of involvement from you. They may want you to meet criteria in order to reach full membership status or expect you to carry out duties in order to reach the rank of officer. Although this is standard kinship behaviour, it may not appeal to some people.
So should I join a kinship?
Well really it’s up to you. The information above is meant to make your decision easier although admittedly it may have complicated things. You may be able to reach some sort of compromise, for example having two characters, one in a kinship and one solo. Whatever you choose it’s important to remember that there are real people behind the characters you see on the screen, with real feelings, having put real effort into the game. It’s also important to remember it’s just that: a game.