By Derek S.
The different races and classes of LOTRO create an example of Neal Stephenson’s “Burbclaves” from his novel Snow Crash. Each character is created in his own area and is exposed to the needs that community needs to have taken care of. This may include exterminating pests, collecting goods that were stolen by other rival “Burbclaves”, or helping a friend find his way back home.
In minor contradiction to Stephenson’s “Burbclaves”, characters in LOTRO can move freely between different areas. However, characters in different areas may not always accept the new character. The new character may need to be “processed” by proving himself to the people in an area. For example, completing quests in Bree will increase your standing with the people of Bree, opening up new areas and quests. This is analogous to how Y.T. helps Hiro deliver a pizza and the result of being connected with the Mafia from that point on. Y.T. helped one person out and gained a lot of social recognition.
Also, the ways in which people react to a character are analogous to the way characters in the LOTR books feel about each other. An elf can’t enter a dwarven without being met with some form of hostility from the dwarfs and vice-versa. A hobbit gets strange reactions from other races just due to the fact people don’t know what a hobbit really is. And men may feel like the most stable class, but there is always a kind of skepticism that men get from other classes. These examples all contribute to LOTRO’s expansive “Burbclave” type of living.