The Road to Mordor: Baggins of Bag End

Inspired by the release of the first official trailer for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Massively brings us a lengthy editorial that analyzes the way in which The Lord of the Rings Online, the movies, and the books all intertwine and revitalize our interest for consuming more Middle-earth content from one or more of the other sources.  An excerpt, as expected:
One of the main themes of The Hobbit is Bilbo's personal growth from a secluded Hobbit to seasoned adventurer and burglar. His journeys don't just change the world around him; they change him as well.

I was thinking of how -- if at all -- LotRO conveys a sense of personal growth and story. I mean, sure, there are numerical increases (levels, virtues, gear, new and better abilities) and the progression through the epic storyline, but those are universally shared. My character doesn't really have a game-supported backstory, nor does he have a chance to express why he's going on these adventures and what personal struggles he's attempting to overcome during them.

This is probably completely fluffy and ludicrous, but wouldn't it be cool if Turbine added an optional character growth system? Here I'm thinking that we'd be given a selection of backstories to choose from and an ongoing personal story that would run parallel to our standard adventures. I'm particularly intrigued with how Guild Wars 2 is focusing on one's personal story, and I wouldn't mind seeing this idea transplanted in some form into the game. Let me make choices that affect my character for good and forge relationships with certain NPCs that not everyone else gets to have.

Apart from Gilmli, The Lord of the Rings is quite devoid of Dwarves -- unless you count the dead ones in Moria, that is. I've always felt this was a shame, since the Dwarves are personally more entertaining and "human" to me than the Elves. They're not just pseudo-Scottish miners like the fantasy MMO stereotype; they're strong, honorable folk who are steeped in tradition and have identifiable flaws.

The Hobbit is the flip-side of the Human/Elf focus of Lord of the Rings when it comes to Dwarven-folk, and it makes me long for more of that in the game. Yes, I know we have Moria, and that's probably more than anyone could ask when it comes to Dwarf culture, but it saddens me to think that we'll be seeing less and less of these tough shorties as we head into Rohan, Gondor and Mordor.