My minstrel in Lord of the Rings Online is still level 18, I was mainly playing my guardian, who now is level 13. I think I now have all the quests in the Shire covered, although I might have missed some hidden ones. And I had lots of fun to gather ores and advance my guardian in his metalsmith profession. I ended the weekend with a big role-playing event, our guild's farmer's market.
I enjoy playing that hobbit guardian. Mainly because it is so hard to kill him, at level 13 I still haven't been killed once. For arriving at level 10 without being killed I got "the Undefeated" title, and I'm still dreaming of getting more of these titles. They look good on a tank. But then the only way to reliably avoid getting killed is playing solo, a bad group can always get you killed, no matter how good you are. So if I want to advance on the epic quest line, which has lots of group only quests, things will become more dangerous.
As a prospector and metalsmith I gathered huge amounts of copper and tin ore with my guardian. The ore nodes in LotRO are relatively close together, when mining one you often already see the next one on your radar. And the respawn of these nodes is much, much higher than in WoW. So you search for a nice area with lots of ore spawn points and run in circles, and as long as you are the only prospector around you'll never run out of nodes to mine. The advantage of smithing metal armor over tailoring cloth and leather armor is that no class can wear metal armor before level 15, so the lowest level metal armor you can smith is level 15, not level 7 like in tailoring. That enables you to gather enough resources and smith yourself an armor before you can even wear it. While in tailoring by the time you can make an armor from the dropped hides, you are too high level to wear it.
Less brilliant is the option to smith tools. I bought a couple of recipes for bronze tools from the auction house. But then I found that to smith a tool you need not only bronze, but also vendor-bought ingredients costing 3 silver 20 copper. But you can buy the same bronze tools from a vendor for 2 silver 20 copper, so making one yourself costs you 6 bronze and 1 silver more than buying one. Which is obviously silly.
To advance my skill I smithed a couple of armors, and put the on the auction house. The LotRO auction house has one thing that is better than the WoW auction house: you can have auctions running up to 3 days. But for the seller the LotRO auctions are less profitable than the WoW auctions, because there is no refund of the initial fee. So you end up paying both an initial fee based on the vendor value of the item you're selling (which is fortunately low), *plus* a 5% fee when you actually sell the item. So putting up a piece of armor for 10 silver might cost me 1 silver in advance plus 50 copper if I sell it, ending me up with only 8 silver 50, while in WoW I would have gotten the initial fee back. After all that talk of encouraging a player economy by making tradeskills interdependant, Turbine shouldn't have put a brake on trade with those fees.
People use the auction house because normally nobody has time to flog his wares for direct trade. But on a role-playing server time flows slower than on a normal server, and isn't so valuable. It is more important to have fun in your playing time than to use it effectively. So on Sunday my guild organized a farmer's market in Michel Delving. We all had different things for sale, I came with my minstrel farmer and sold different sorts of pipe-weed. I had also baked a supply of pies and gave that to a lower level guild member, who hadn't got anything crafted himself. Others were selling potions or scrolls and other crafted things.
So we had announced the event on the forums, and placed ourselves in the empty market stalls in Michel Delving, shouting what wares we had for sale. And other players played along, looked at the stalls, inquired about our goods, haggled, and bought this or that. We had started just before in-game dawn and had the market up for nearly 2 hours, until dusk. Great fun, with lots of role-playing interaction. A lot of people were interested in pipe-weed, but most only bought one or two of them. I didn't make much money, because I sold weeds that sold for 61 copper to a vendor for just 1 silver to other players, with a 20% rebate if they took 10. The artisan level Eagle's Nest pipe-weed I sold for 2 silver, but the vendor price is 1 silver 21 already. Since the farming nerf these prices don't even cover the cost to produce pipe-weed, but I had stocked the plants before in preparation of the market. With money being tight in this game, and pipe-weed doing nothing except blowing smoke rings, getting people to pay 1 or 2 silver for that privilege is hard enough. More than half of my stock ended up getting vendored after the event, because I just didn't have enough bank space to store it. The pies sold for less than the cost to make them, because nobody would actually buy them at cost. But hey, the event wasn't really about money. It was fun to play a hobbit farmer on the market, with lots of other hobbits and some tall folk or dwarves looking around and talking to you. To be repeated.