An (in-character) Introduction "Oops!" Yola blushed, stopped playing and put aside her lute. "Forgot to remove my gloves!" Even these gloves, thin enough not to hinder her senses when picking a half-orcs filthy trouser pockets, were making her lose touch with the delicate gut-strings of her lute. And it sounded terrible too, although the audience didn't seem to care and were losing their patience. "Come on, give us a tune, or bugger off!". Hmm, tough crowd tonight at the Pony, impatient lot too. She quickly removed the gloves and picked up the lute again. I'll give these big folk a merry hobbit tune to cheer them up, Yola thought. While playing she suddenly shuddered at the thought of putting her bare hands into the filthy pockets of a half-orc. Brrr! As the tune rolled on, the mumbling in the crowd diminished.. a bit. One or two of them were even actually listening and a drunk dwarf attempted to start a dance. Ah, no, he only stumbled away to be sick elsewhere. Barliman doesn't take kindly to punters who soil his floorboards! "Next I will play a nice ballad", Yola announced. "Whatever", someone cried, "You're not even a proper minstrel anyway!". As Yola started to play, these hateful words echoed through her head and slowly tears welled up in her eyes. "You're not even a proper minstrel!!" Then a noisy fellowship of dwarfs entered from outside, their laughter and shouting almost completely drowning out the gentle sound of the lute.. One of them soon started to unwrap a set of bagpipes and made an effort to inflate the bag. The other dwarfs cheered him on. Yola stopped playing, overwhelmed with grief, anger and frustration. She let out a piercing cry, that turned all heads towards her, threw her lute into the fireplace and ran out of the Pony's front door. Ok, that was it! She'd never touch a musical instrument again, for she was "not a proper minstrel anyway". With the crowd's roaring laughter still ringing in her ears, she fled the premises. Blinded by her tears she failed to notice the elven lady she was on a collision course with. "Mae govannen, Little One", the lady smiled, while helping Yola get up on her feet again. Yola looked up and saw a beautiful face, warm and kind. Then she fainted. She regained consiousness to soothing, nay, even healing music played on a harp. Yola realised she was lying on a couch in a small, cozy room. Next to here was the elven lady playing her instrument. "Ah, you are awake now! My name is Majella of the Mirkwoods. No, please stay down. Don't get up just yet." She continued her playing. Yola fell back on the couch and introduced herself "I am Yola Plumblossom, Ma'm, always at your service, and your families." Majella smiled "You look troubled, Yola Plumblossom. Pray tell me, what is on your mind?" So Yola, with a shaking voice, related to her what had happened that night at the Prancing Pony. Majella listened calmly and then to Yola's horror said: "Ofcourse you'll never be a proper minstrel". Yola sprang up, losing her temper "So you think that too, he? Good thing I burned that rotten lute then!" Majella stopped playing and gestured to calm Yola down. "Please hear me out, Little One. What I mean is that you will never, no matter how long you study, have the gift of healing others by music, or leading them in battle assisted with the appropriate ballads and hymns! But there is another aspect of music, one sometimes underappreciated, that is within your reach." Yola listened eagerly. "It is the art of entertaining... of boosting morale between fights and skirmishes, or just for plain fun!" Yola nodded in agreement "Yes, that is what I would like to learn!". Majella laughed "Well, you are certainly very keen! You will have gathered by now, that a minstrel is what I am and I am willing to mentor you. But first tell me a bit more about yourself." Majella started to pluck the harpstrings again and the music filled the room. "Well, I am a burglar.." Yola noticed Majella frowned. "No no, I don't go robbing innocent people's homes. That is a common misconception! Well, you told about the minstrel's gifts, mine are being stealthy and cunning. And as most hobbits I get delight from playing tricks, but I use these gifts now on enemies of our beloved Shire." Majella nods "So the safety your homeland is so precious to you, that you'd engage into battles with the enemy?" "Well, I could not bear to see harm come to the good people of the Shire. I'd rather die trying to defend them!". Majella nodded in appreciation. "Okay, that is what you would die for. But what do you live for?" Yola shrugged. "Apart from contributing to the war effort and trying to become a musical entertainer?" She pondered for a while and then enthusiastically exclaimed "O, I really like parties and good meals of course and the occasional pint of ale. I am a pretty good cook myself, if I may say so." Majella smiled "Of course you may, for I sense that is is true". Yola now realised that she hadn't eaten for a while and reached for her pack. "Here, try this, M'lady. I cooked it myself from veggies and taters that I grew myself too". Majella put away her harp, accepted the dish and took a mouthful. "Mmm, you haven't exaggerated. This is good! So wouldn't you rather be a master cook than a minstrel impersonator?". Yola startled, but then realised that Majella was jesting and grinned. "No, if anything I try to be good at, it would be tailoring". "Why?" Majella simply asked. "Many things, I guess. I love the smell and feel of leather. The only smell surpassing that would be the smell of freshly cooked food. Excuse me.." Yola dived into her pack again and held out a mushroom pie to Majella, who politely declined. With her mouth half full with pie, she continued. "Then there is the profit that can be made. If as a burglar I restrict myself by not stealing from good people, I have to compensate the loss of income somehow. Making clothes is a way to do that. I mean, everyone needs clothes, don't they?" "There is no reason for denying that!" Majella smiled again. She was really taken by the pure and outgoing nature of the hobbit. After taking time for a bite or two more, Yola continued. "And let's not forget making much needed armour for our allies against the evil forces. I can't bear to see someone going of to fight in a decrepit set of armour. It might be the difference between survival or becoming a name on some war memorial! So I joined the Tailor's Guild when I could and learned to make the best of the best when it comes to armour. I worked hard and now the Guild regards me as Kindred". "Well, you really go for it, when your mind is set to something! I expect that you will use that same zestful zeal when studying music with me?" Yola nodded gratefully and said solemnly "I shall do my stinking best!" Majella laughed out loud. "Let's not make it too smelly, shall we!" Then her face turned sincere. "I want to give you some advice, Yola: In whatever you do, don't betray who you really are. Stay pure and honest. Stick with your kindred. Seek out like-minded hobbit people and join them to combine your efforts and support each other the best you can in all that you do." Yola Plumblossom stood up straight and looked Majella in the eyes as she said "I will, Good Lady, I will follow your advice and make it the motto of my very being!"  RP Experience My experience with roleplaying games started with the Baldur's gate games. After that I played Morrowind (my all time favourite single player CRPG) and the Thief series, a very innovating game at the time. My preference for the burglar is very much influenced by that game. I started playing MMORPG's with Lineage and that experience (continuous player killing taking away every pleasure I could have had) kept me away from MMORPG's for quite some time. Then I started on Rubies of Eventide and found a totally different player base: a friendly, helpfull, non-competitive community. For a while I was an officer in a guild there, until I (like many others) was lured to the better graphics and gameplay of World of Warcraft. Well, I joined a guild there, a friendly bunch at first, but at some point they decided to be a guild for end-game raids only and pressured me to power level to maximum level. That was for me the time to leave the guild (as I was surely to be kicked if I didn't comply). At that time Lotro was out there, I knew and loved the books, so I went for it. From the experience with the WoW guild I had become wary of joining a kinship and became a solo player most of the time. But the difference with, let's say, Morrowind was that there were a bunch of others out there enjoying the same experience. Interacting with them was fun! And they (like me) were always ready to help a beginning player with even the most mundane questions they might have. What a relieve from having your head cut off just as soon as you recover from having your head cut off in Lineage. No, I am at home now. It is unlikely I will change to another MMORPG. And the most homely place is the Shire for me.  LOTRO Experience I started my Lotro experience some two years ago on the Evernight server, randomly picked from the list of English speaking servers. For my first character I chose a hobbit and, having read "the Hobbit", Burglar seemed the appropriate choice for it's class. I loved being a burglar, especially the stealthy part which remined me of the Thief game and the rogue character I had played in WoW. This hobbit's profession was Explorer. I thought with that he could gather hides, woods and ores and be rich soon. But he was also a tailor who needed not hides, but hides converted to leather! So I started another character who was a forester, among other things. I ended up with a bunch of different characters in race and class, but covering every craft there is. After some time and some incidents with less mature (in an annoying way) fellow-players, I started to wonder what life would be like on a RP server. So I chose the Laurelin server and started all over again, in fact creating a sort of private kinship covering all the races and crafts and most of the classes. With the roleplaying I was still kind of a spectator. I loved to hang out at the Prancing Pony, eavesdropping on the conversations of those roleplayers with their names in white. And there was still not a single entree on my ignore list! As I decided I felt at home on Laurelin, the idea came to try and join a kinship. Yola met some hobbits who were in a hobbit-only kinship and they introduced her to the friday nights at the Green Dragon. There I actively joined the improvisational theater that is RolePlaying! And it was a great experience! I had Yola attend those meetings as often as possible. And more and more I felt not urged but invited to join in the conversations and even the music making in front of the audience there. Ok, the music system must be unique to this game! It has so much potential and that potential is fully used all around the place. In real life I play the lute as an amateur. Yes, the actual renaissance-lute. I am familiar with that repertoire and when I tried some pieces in game on the in game lute I was amazed how much it was appreciated. It really suits the lore, it was said. But hobbits like more up tempo music, usually celtic folk-style. O, I love that too and had Yola have a go at it. She found a friend in game to share scores and play duets whenever they can. But there is more hoppable music, I figured, so I had Yola introduce some Greek dances to the audience at the Dragon. And they seemed to love that too. I had better stop now, this is not BRIEF anymore!  Character Yola is a hobbit burglar currently at level 39. As a yeoman she is currently a master artisan farmer, an artisan cook and an artisan tailor, with kindred standing at the tailor's guild. As stated above there are several alts, but right now Yola is my most beloved character and I regard her as my "main". One of the alts is indeed a minstrel called Majella. Only one other alts is a hobbit. I will not apply for membership for him. None of the alts is currently in a kinship. Some other information I'd like to share here: Since english is not my first language AND since I am a lousy typist, Yola may sometimes seem slow, dimwitted or absent-minded in conversations. Well, she (usually) is not, it is just that I need some time to type an answer. Due to the nature of my RL job (I work evenings mostly), my online hours are either in the morning or after work, which is around midnight here (UTC+1). The days that I work include every other weekend, but this means that I have some days off during the week. On these occasions I try to be ingame during the evenings. As a rule Yola can come to the Green Dragon gatherings only every other Friday.