- Instances are sections of the game separated out of the main world for quests or story-telling as private fellowship, solo dungeons, skirmishes or massive raids.
- Most can be entered via the Instance Finder window with the exception of Missions.
- To leave an instance, right-click the character avatar.
- Instances are a separate copy of a building's interior, a dungeon, or some piece of the game's landscape. Generally, instances can only be entered by the individual or group that triggered them, and no outside help can be rendered to those within an instance by other adventurers.
- Some instances are scaled, meaning that the player starting the instance chooses a level and creatures within them, as well as other aspects of the encounter (e.g. damage from lava, poison), are scaled to be appropriate for that level. Also, the level of a scaled instance determines the level of any drops or rewards. Certain items may only drop when a given scaled instance is run at a particular level, or within a level band. Scaled instances have a minimum level at which they can be run; see Instance Finder for the minimum of a specific instance.
- Private instances have a size limit, dictating the maximum number of characters that may enter the instance. This ranges from solo or duo (1 or 2 characters, respectively), up to 6 characters for a non-raid instance, and up to 24 characters for raids. Note that on legendary servers where Landscape Difficulty is in effect, landscape difficulty will apply to solo or duo instances, although not to 3-man or above.
- Additionally, many instances, and most raids, offer tiers with higher tiers presenting more challenge, and offering greater rewards. The tiers go up to Tier 5, for some instances, and are usually referred to in shortened form as "T1", "T4", "T5" and so forth. For scaled instances, tiers higher than Tier 1 may only be offered at the level cap for the server (which can vary, due to legendary servers). Also, not all combinations of size and tier are available, e.g. no solo Woe of the Willow at Tier 2 or above, even at level cap.
- The same instance, at different sizes or tiers, may have a slightly different layout, accessibility of certain areas, numbers, strengths or abilities of creatures within them, and/or mechanics of various encounters, so one should not assume that familiarity with an instance at one size and/or tier, will translate well to other sizes and/or tiers.
- Many instances offer one or more "challenge" quests, which count towards deeds, and/or award barter currency. Challenges are usually boss-oriented, and examples include: not killing a boss's minions, killing a boss within a certain amount of time, killing multiple bosses within a certain time interval of each other, or forgoing the use of items or assistance of NPCs, which could aid the fellowship in defeating the boss. For scaled instances, challenges can typically only be completed at the level cap. For a comprehensive list of instance challenges, see Instance Challenge Quests.
The instance types found in the game can be summarized by this wiki into several categories. An instance could be more than one of these.
- Epic Battles - accessed through the Instance Join panel
- Featured Instances - accessed through the Instance Join panel
- Missions - accessible via landscape NPC
- Raids - accessed through the Instance Join panel
- Seasonal Instances - accessed through the Instance Join panel during certain festivals
- Skirmishes - accessed through the Instance Join panel
- World Instances - accessed through the Instance Join panel
For (typically) unfriendly instanced locations not accessible through the Instance Finder, see Dungeons.
For friendly instanced locations usually found in settlements, see Interiors.
- Epic Battles, which were first introduced in the Helm's Deep expansion, are different from other instances in that any player levels 10 and up can start them, provided they own the expansion. This type of Instance automatically levels the player up to level 100, along with their current skills, temporarily. These Instances are designed for large-scale battles and require the player to take on different tasks such as commanding a group of soldiers or firing artillery. Epic Battles will automatically assign you a random quest or two during the battle, though it does consider whether you are playing solo or in a group when it assigns the quest.
- Every week, a scaling instance (or raid) from LOTRO's old favorites is featured in the Instance Join panel.
- For characters level 100 and higher, the Featured Instance can be accessed through the Instance Join panel Specific Tab and will award extra rewards once daily for completing the listed instance.
- For those at level cap, there are special loot rewards available.
- Featured Instances are not available to those under level 100.
- Added in Update 28, these short instances can be run solo or duo by players level 20 and above. Purchase of a content pack generally is required. Missions are touted as an alternative way to earn experience for levelling.
- The larger counterpart of World Instances, they are designed for two to four full fellowships of players, and are historically raid locked. Completing a boss encounter almost always yields at least one teal-quality item.
- Introduced with Update 22.2, these instances are only available during certain Special Events beginning with the Summer Festival. These instances range from completely new instances with a more recreational feel, such as the Perfect Picnic (Instance), to reimagined content, such as Boss from the Vaults: Thrâng, in which a boss from an unscaled raid is turned into a scaled single-boss instance. The rewards for these instances are typically cosmetic in nature, but also feature end-game armour, jewellery and currency.
- Introduced with Siege of Mirkwood expansion, skirmishes allow players of levels 20 and above to instantly enter into combat from anywhere in Middle-earth alongside their Soldier. Level, location and difficulty of the skirmish are all predetermined by the player (scalable), and can be adjusted for solo, duo, small fellowship, fellowship and raid group sizes. The battles usually have five different phases and take between 30-90 minutes per completion. The rewards are primarily Marks, which can be traded in to NPCs at Skirmish Camps for a variety of rewards.
- Found in the Instance Join panel. This type of instance is not found as often in LOTRO as its quest counterpart, and requires a small or full fellowship if everyone is within the recommended level. World Instances have many quests that lead within, deeds, can be completed and repeated, and contain boss encounters that generally drop rare quality and better loot.
For a complete list see Category:Instances.