Meet Mneme of Rohan:
Have you ever wanted the chance to explore Middle Earth and mingle with hobbits, elves and dwarves? The Lord of the Rings Online MMORPG has recently implemented a free to play option - you don't need to buy the game or pay a monthly fee to enjoy this online game. All you need to do to get started is download the game and sign up for a free account.
The free option is great and I've really had fun playing it so far. You can make two characters per server and I have Mneme, my Human Lorekeeper and Aureanna, my Elven Hunter. The gameplay is very natural and easy to pick up.
Something that is always pretty important to me in games like this is the crafting system. LOTRO has done a great job - each character can have three Professions, all of which rely at least somewhat on the items other professions make. Rather than choosing which three individual professions you want, you choose a Vocation that comes with a standard set. Mneme, for example, is an Historian - she has the Farmer, Scholar and Weaponsmith professions. In fact, as I'm typing this she is busily processing crops grown earlier this morning on another computer.
So if it's free, how does the company make enough money to keep things running? There are paid options that open up different aspects of the game or give boosts. These can either be purchased by subscription OR by paying only for the aspects you want. One of the great features is that you can earn credit to buy these extras just by playing, so if you really want something but can't afford to spend real money you can eventually earn it by completing in-game objectives. I haven't spent any money yet and I've really been enjoying myself.