6 Reasons You Should Get LOTRO's Before the Shadow

LOTRO Before the Shadow Expansion Review by FibroJedi

At the time of writing, it has been over six months since LOTRO launched its Before the Shadow expansion. When I’ve not been updating festival guides, I’ve been covering deeds and lore from Swanfleet and Cardolan.

In this post, I introduce you to the new regions and their deeds, and tempt you to go deeper into the rich lore contained in this expac. I will end with my 6 Reasons You Should Get Before the Shadow. So, let’s journey together for a bit.

What is Before the Shadow?

It is a separate expansion for The Lord of the Rings Online, that gives players a new starting zone and story, commencing at Mossward. Any race can begin their adventures there, unlike the others where it is decided for you. Based in Swanfleet and Cardolan, you join the Dúnadan Meneldir on his travels, which later intersect with Boromir’s.

There are many quests and stories in both regions, too.

Meneldir from Before the Shadow

Why the Name?

Before the Shadow takes its name from the original “base pack” of LOTRO, Shadows of AngmarExternal Link (Opens in New Window/Tab). That makes it a prelude to the story, which will unfold later.

You begin to see people’s peaceful lives disrupted and forces of evil on the move. And the whole BtS Epic (main) quests eventually tie in neatly part-way through SoA.

How to Start in Swanfleet

I didn’t want to launch into this by talking about buying the expansion. You can click/tap that link, or read on. I’d rather talk about the content right now!

New Character

The most obvious way is to begin a new LOTRO adventure.

During the character creation process, there is the option to either start where your race normally would or in Before the Shadow. Make sure to select the option you want before finalising your character.

Once you enter Middle-Earth, you will begin outside of Mossward. If you need it, I’ve done a more detailed guide on that.

Existing Characters

I will take at least one of my existing characters through the story, deeds and side-quests in Swanfleet and Cardolan. So, if you want to run BtS the only thing you need to do is find your way to Mossward.


Whether you been to Mossward before or not, the travel route there is open. It costs just 5 Silver Coin, 50 Copper Coin. As with the other starting regions you can therefore Swift Travel from:

  • Far-Reaching Stable-masters
  • West Bree
  • Thorin’s Gate
  • Michel Delving

Connected Zones

Alternatively, if you fancy a ride, Swanfleet is connected to the following zones in LOTRO:

  • The Angle of Mitheithel (nearest stable: Tornhad)
  • The Lone-lands (nearest stable: The Forsaken Inn)
  • Eregion (nearest stable: Echad Eregion, or Gwingris)
  • Cardolan, which you can ride into from western Bree-land
  • Enedwaith (nearest stable: Maur Tulhau)

Return to Mossward

You can set a milestone at Mossward. And the Return to SwanfleetExternal Link (Opens in New Window/Tab) skill can be acquired from the Reputation Vendor once you reach acquaintance standing with the Dúnedain of Cardolan.

It only costs you 10×Iron Coin of Cardolan Iron Coins of Cardolan.

Region Spotlight: Swanfleet

This is your initial starting point for the whole of Before the Shadow. It’s where you meet some of the main NPCs in the story and gives you some hints about what’s to come later.

The Stunning Region

For one region, it has a wide variety in its landscape. There are plenty of hills and crags, the ruined city of Caras Gelebren, rivers and the enormous marsh of the Wadewater.

Add to this the stunning sunsets that LOTRO have created here. I really felt SSG had stepped up their world design another notch or two when I first quested here. I still believe that now.

Although the deed sends you to dangerous locations, The Perils of Swanfleet demonstrate the variety very well.

The People

The different people groups who live in Swanfleet are almost as numerous as the landscape is varied. There are the Stoor Hobbits, displaced Dunlendings, Elves, Dúnedain and, of course, the Race of (Wo)man. This fact is celebrated through The Many Folk of the Glanduin Deed.

Dwarves don’t feature so much in Before the Shadow. This makes sense, as the history of these two regions doesn’t involve them. That said, the blacksmith’s shop in Mossward belongs to a Dwarf.

And, if memory serves, you do help one or two later on, seeing whether any precious metals could be dug from the hills and mountains.

Skardí Bendblade - the Dwarf Blacksmith of Mossward

What Happened to Caras Gelebren?

This question is answered as one of the key centrepieces of Swanfleet. The events at Caras Gelebren link both The Lord of the Rings (specifically the Rings of Power) and some Shadows of Angmar NPCs you’ll meet later on.

You will have solo instances covering some of the history. The skirmish Doom of Caras GelebrenExternal Link (Opens in New Window/Tab) specifically deals with its downfall. I will say no more!

Swanfleet Deeds

The Deeds of Swanfleet balance your exploration and enemy destruction!

There are plenty of deeds to complete here. But they are not overwhelming, making them one of the easiest sets of all the starter regions. I’d say only the Deeds of Ered Luin are easier.

The only really tricky one is the Treasure of Swanfleet Deed, but I have you covered!

Treasure Cache at Wadewater

Note: these deed links open in a new window/tab so you don’t lose your place here.

LOTRO The Dwellers of Old Swanfleet Deed Map and Guide | Before the Shadow
LOTRO The Many Folk of the Glanduin Deed Map and Guide - Swanfleet | Before the Shadow
LOTRO The Perils of Swanfleet Deed Map and Guide by FibroJedi
LOTRO Treasure of Swanfleet Deed Guide and Map by FibroJedi
LOTRO Trophy-Hunter of Swanfleet Deed Guide and Map by FibroJedi
LOTRO Slayer of Swanfleet Deed Map and Guide by FibroJedi

Quests of Swanfleet

And, naturally, there’s a deed linked to the number of quests you do in the region. Quests of Swanfleet completes well before you finish all of the ones available in the area.

There’s a total of LOTRO Points×20 LOTRO Points up for grabs for the quests deeds too.

Region Spotlight: Cardolan

Where Swanfleet is a gentle introduction to LOTRO and Before the Shadow, it is Cardolan where the intensity of the story really kicks in. On top of that, there is loads of really fantastic Lord of the Rings lore here too.

The History-packed Region

Though still beautiful, Cardolan, it has a different feel to it, compared to Swanfleet. At times, it can feel empty, but that is intentional, which I’ll briefly touch on in a bit.

However, Cardolan is a key location – not just in LOTRO, but in Lord of the Rings lore. So, there are ruins to explore, historical artefacts to uncover and you venture into other areas mentioned in the LOTR books, such as the Old Forest and the Barrow-downs.

The People

Swanfleet may boast a fair few villages, but Cardolan is mostly uninhabited. This is in keeping with the lore, which says after the Ravaging of Cardolan (hence the deed), the land was left in such a poor state, and evils so rampant, that those who still lived moved away.

That said, the town of Herne survives and you encounter people who are venturing in for archaeological or historical interest, for example.

Just don’t expect a warm welcome. This is not Bree.

Cardolan Deeds

The Deeds of Cardolan follow the same pattern as those in Swanfleet. Well, more or less, anyway. One cannot be completed until you finish a particular quest-chain. Rather than seeing this as an annoyance, take it as a way to appreciate the lore behind it all.

Note: again, these open in a new window/tab to help you keep your place here.

LOTRO Inhabitants of the Vanished Realm Deed Guide and Maps
LOTRO Ravaging of Cardolan Deed Guide | Before the Shadow
LOTRO Perils of Cardolan Deed Guide and Map by FibroJedi
LOTRO Treasure of Cardolan Deed Guide | Before the Shadow
LOTRO Trophy-Hunter of Cardolan Deed Guide by FibroJedi
LOTRO Slayer of Cardolan Deed Guide and Map by FibroJedi

Quests of Cardolan

As with other regions, the Quests of Cardolan Deed has rewards depending on how many you complete.

Again, LOTRO Points×20 LOTRO Points are among the rewards for completing all stages.

Before the Shadow Rewards

If two new regions, rich in world design and Lord of the Rings lore is not reward enough, there are others!

Quest Reward Cosmetics

Reputation Rewards

There are plenty of ways to trade your Iron Coin of Cardolan Iron Coins of Cardolan. To save repeating myself, see my section on the Cardolan Reputation Vendor.

LOTRO Points

Completing some of the deeds in Before the Shadow grants LOTRO Points. In this aspect it is less generous than the other starting zones.

This is especially true of the Slayer of Swanfleet and Slayer of Cardolan deeds, where your LP is only granted from the (Advanced) versions and then only 5×LOTRO Points LP.

Deed Mount

While completing all the Deeds of Cardolan can feel like a long journey, at the end of it you get a new steed!

It is called the Steed of Cardolan’s Dawn and feels like a good, adventurer’s mount.

This does not need to be bartered for, either. Just complete the deeds!

6 Reasons You Should Get “Before the Shadow”

I’m going to keep this short because, from all I’ve said, you will have gathered what my opinion on Before the Shadow is.

1. Beautiful Region

The world design here is generally excellent, especially if you don’t try climbing everywhere as I do. That can lead to random rocks you fall into! The skies are beautiful and the stories are just excellent.

2. Stories and Quests

To avoid spoilers, I’ve not written anything specific about these. But everything was very well written, researched and yet accessible. Even smaller side quests can draw you in. Apart from the Missions, which I’ve yet to do, I’ve completed all the quests in BtS. No regrets!

3. Voice Acting

There is also more voice acting in Before the Shadow than in any of the other starter regions. LOTRO has not just included it in the Epic quests, but also in side-stories too, making it more immersive.

4. Rewards

As I previously said, the quest rewards are often of a higher quality in BtS. That’s in terms of combat status and cosmetic apeparance. And the mount really is worth the effort of completing the deeds..

5. Challenge

I’ve not made much mention of it until now, because I’m not one for challenging content in LOTRO. However, the DelvingsExternal Link (Opens in New Window/Tab) system makes Missions harder. Swanfleet has the scalable skirmish “Doom of Caras GelebrenExternal Link (Opens in New Window/Tab)“. Cardolan has the Sarch Vorn scalable instance. So there is still content worth grouping up for, if that’s your thing.

6. LOTR Lore

Finally, yet most importantly, you learn a lot of Lord of the Rings history but in bite-sized amounts. That’s something I’ve always loved about LOTRO and always will, however deep I go in the game.

My Opinion?

Whether you buy into a paid expansion package or used up banked LOTRO Points LOTRO Points, you should absolutely add this expansion to your collection.

I think it’s a better experience to start with a new character for that sense of progression, but you don’t lose out on anything else by taking one of your existing characters through it. Doing so may be your quickest way to earn all the cosmetics outfits!

How to Buy Before the Shadow

There are two main ways – with real money from the LOTRO Market, or with LOTRO Points LOTRO Points from the in-game store.

TL;DR Go Get Before the Shadow!

I cannot think of a compelling reason not to get this LOTRO expansion. If you’re VIP, you can get all the content, effectively for free, with banked-up LOTRO Points. Start a new character, or take an existing one through it. I’m not affiliated with SSG in any way, but I would say, if you can afford it, at least buy the lowest package. In this way, we contribute to the continuing development of the excellent content they create for us in Middle-Earth.

Thanks for reading.

About the Author

Fibro Jedi
Fibro Jedi

I have been playing MMOs for about ten years and began writing guides to The Lord of the Rings Online in 2017. I've only been creating content about Final Fantasy XIV since 2022, but I am glad for the mix. My current games include LOTRO, FFXIV and the occasional Palia session too.

LOTRO Posts | FFXIV Posts | Please support me on Ko-Fi Donate Coffee | Author Page

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