Follow Me! (A Guide to LOTRO’s Follow Mechanics)

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Pretty sure it's just over this hill...

Pretty sure it’s just over this hill…

Pretty much everyone knows how ‘Follow’ works, in theory: you select another player, right-click their portrait in the screen, then click on ‘Follow’ from the drop-down. If you spend a lot of time following someone, or occasionally have trouble clicking on things (or, like me, are too lazy for clicking), you can keybind it to something that requires the tap of a single button instead of complicated mouse-work. In any event, once you’ve selected someone to follow, they can go places and you’ll just follow along after them, right? Well, in theory.

In reality, follow mechanics are a little bit more complicated. Captains and Lore-masters generally have the most experience with this, as they have companions who follow them to various places, but it turns out that these NPC companions actually behave differently than PCs on follow do. If a player goes off the edge of a cliff, the NPC pet will attempt to find an alternate route, while a PC on follow will go right over the edge along with their leader. This has presented plenty of challenges in the series of Take the Hobbit to Isengard events livestreamed on Twitch, and will present even more with the upcoming challenge of Taking a Dwarf through Moria.

That’s right, Moria. Dark, depressing, full of dwarves wanting you to do things they could probably do themselves if they didn’t have a bunch of people tromping by to do it for them on a regular basis. Plus goblins, orcs, some trolls and all kinds of other critters ready to chomp on the unwary. In addition to all of that, we have the landscape, which is an enormous creature in its own right, full of places where a single mis-step can result in certain doom for, well, everyone on follow, basically.

What does follow have to do with this, you might ask? Think of following as something like a yo-yo string between the leader and the follower. When players are close together, this isn’t much of a concern, but as soon as there’s any sort of space between the leader and the follower, there’s a chance for something to go wrong. See, the follow mechanic basically just draws the follower back to the leader, in a straight line, ignoring whatever obstacles (or pitfalls) might be in the way.

Consider how many times poor Hadacar was smashed into a rock or tree or wall or what-have-you. Sharp turns are particularly difficult because the follow mechanic doesn’t map the leader’s path, only his or her position in relation to the follower. So if the lead player has already changed direction before the following player reaches the corner, the follower ends up stuck on the object rather than safely turned aside. Or, in the case of the notorious Hobbit Bridge of Occasional Peril, instead of safely stepping onto the bridge, the follow-pathing yo-yo will try pulling the hobbit across an empty expanse of space, to unfortunate consequences.

Since follow can be useful for things other than leading people off of and into things, here are some things to keep in mind when using it:

  • Speed: Make sure both the leader and the follower are traveling at the same speed. Failing that, make sure that the leader is not the one moving at the faster speed (a PC on follow is never going to outpace their leader, no matter how many speed buffs they have that the leader doesn’t).
  • Distance: Try to minimize the distance between the leader and the follower as much as possible. Basic movement is always going to create some degree of distance, as it takes a few steps of movement on the leader’s part before the follower starts to move. Occasionally, some might notice that a sudden stop by the leader will cause their follower(s) to run in circles around them until they start moving again. Ideally, you never want to be so far ahead of the person you’re trying to lead that you can’t see them on the screen behind you.
  • Direction: Straight lines are great, but how often are we presented with these in the game, really? There are trees, rocks, broken bits of fence, buildings, you name it. Keep in mind that any change of direction is not immediately echoed by followers, so if you know you have some tricky turns to do, stop at the corner and let them catch up.
  • Narrow Spaces: Going hand-in-hand with direction changes, these are things to be wary of. It might be an archway you have to pass through, or a skinny log bridge to walk along. Be sure you have your angle just right before heading into these places, or you’re going to have to go back to free up stuck companions.

Follow is useful for plenty of things, not just the Taking the Hobbits to Isengard event. Maybe you’re taking a kinmate around to show them the sights of the Shire. Maybe you’re gotten a group together to knock out some explorer Deeds. Or maybe you just need to go get another soda and want to break for a minute while your group is running to go find the next troll. There’s no shame in being a follower… and some fun to be had in leading people into unexpected places when they’re not paying attention.

Which I’ve totally never done.

As always, keep in mind that the number one rule is: Have fun!

Inspired by this screenshot I caught by happenstance:

Follow: Not just for PCs any more!

Follow: Not just for PCs any more!

One comment

  1. Nice article! Thumbs up on the yo-yo analogy, great one. Now put a knot in that string, and that’s what sometimes seems to happen with lag during the TTHTI runs. The upcoming Moria runs should be…interesting. 🙂

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