Tistann, my captain, made it to level 20 on the Nimrodel server.
I was worried about how long that journey might take. My memories of the first time around seem to put the time much longer, but then your first time to level 20 is always long because you are learning the game.
In addition to my already knowing, or mostly remembering, the ropes of the game, Turbine has done a lot to smooth out game play and make the transition into the game easy. The first 8-10 levels pass by very quickly. The only hitch I found was missing a few quest lines because I ran off in the wrong direction at one point. But that was a matter of my memories betraying me. If I walk past a series of quests I ought run to start in on some a bit above my level, I can hardly blame the game.
After 12, things slowed down a bit, but I was still able to make a level or two if I sat down for a reasonable amount of time. Hitting the game every other night or so ensured that I had enough rest experience to make the next level just a bit easier. Quest experience is always the bulk of a level, but it is still nice to get a double dose of experience each time you make a kill.
And level 20 seems to be a significant level in almost all games, dating back to TorilMUD in my case. My captain got a couple new skill, including the option to get a different ally and the ability to wear heavy armor.
For a new ally, I had a number of choices, including females. With that available, I left behind Mr. Shabby and hooked up with a hot red head from Rohan. She has a temper and is a mean drunk. Here she is up on the table in the Prancing Pony after far too much mead looking for a fight.
Heavy armor at 20 was a bit of a mixed blessing. As it turns out, for player crafted armor, level 21 is the next tier, so I could either armor up for a level then do it again, or just press on with what I had to hand and arm up in a serious fashion at 21. I chose the latter, though Gaff sent me a couple of pieces he had on hand to add to some of the heavy armor drops and quest rewards I had set aside.
This gave me better armor, but left me looking quite mis-matched, as you can see in the picture above. Fortunately level 20 also grants access to the appearance tab, so I can stabilize my look, or at least find a decent hat.
Speaking of people making me things, Adam of Witty Ranter made me an awesome fishing pole. It was good enough that it has a name. Screw Anduril, Orcist, or Sting, I have ShoreThrasher, catcher of fish!
In the end, 20 is only a waypoint on the path to greater things. Somewhere in the distance Moria awaits.
If I can find the way.