The Lonely Introduction
After you finish the Introduction you'll join the rest of the normal server population, and gain access to regional chat channels like /OOC, /Trade and /Advice.
Picking a ServerThere are lots of reasons a particular server might be right (or wrong) for you. These differ, naturally, from person to person. Some folks love the boisterous climate and competition of a large server, while others prefer the more immersive experience of a less populated server. If you are someone who likes to group with other players, will there enough around at your level during the times you play? How will you fit with the server's community?
New Servers for Free-to-Play LaunchLOTRO has added four new servers for the Free-to-Play (F2P) launch: Riddermark, Imladris, Crickhollow and Dwarrowdelf. Any account type can play on any new or existing server; there are no "F2P-only" or "VIP-only" servers.
Server PopulationTurbine doesn't release population numbers for it's servers, but player consensus is that these three servers have the highest populations: Brandywine, Elendilmir, and Landroval. Historically, Brandywine has had the highest population. Elendilmir, as the unofficial Oceanic server, tends to have more action at non-primetime hours. Landroval, as the unofficial role-playing server, tends to have a more server events and a more mature, intellectual community. Of the new servers, Riddermark is expected to have the largest population.
Is playing on a big server for you? You'll get more pick-up grouping and raiding opportunities, and more chatter in public chat channels. On the other hand, you'll find more competition for just about everything and you may experience lag in crowded areas. Sign-in queues have been rare in LOTRO so far, but that may change with Free-to-Play.
Most players believe the rest of the servers are about the same size these days. Historically Windfola, Vilya and Firefoot were believed to have smaller-than-average populations, but the gap seems to have closed.
Is playing on a new F2P server, or one of the formerly small servers for you? It might be. These servers tend to have more players who are new to the game, and the low-to-mid levels may be more active than on a larger server.
The mid-sized established servers tend to have the highest contentration of "LOTRO classic" players: adults who are really into the Tolkien lore. These also tend to have fewer players from WoW, and less tolerance for "l33t" or "Barren's Chat" style chatter. The early levels can be the loneliest on these servers.
Feeling Out a Server's CommunityThe best way to feel out the community is to listen, chat and ask questions in public chat channels, especially during the times you normally play. If folks react negatively to what you say or how you say it, you might not be a fit for the server's community. Try another server if your first choice doesn't click for you.
Most servers have a server-wide chat channel called GLFF. This is a player-created channel, but it's used by players of all levels to some degree. It's one place to get a feel for the how active and social a server is, and where its chat standards fall on the "raunchy-to-prissy" scale.
To join GLFF, type: /joinchannel GLFF.
To chat in GLFF, type: /1 whatever you want to say
The GLFF chatter will go to your General Tab by default. To toggle GLFF on/off right-click the tab, select "Change Filters" and click "User Chat 1". Many players make a new tab for GLFF chat and drag this off to a different place on the screen so they can follow the chatter and still see their other tabs for game info or private chat.
Also, try posting on the official forum for your server. Be sure to look at the Kinships subforum, and post to recruiting threads for kinships that accept new players. Look beyond the top few threads on the Kinships page, as these tend to get spam from raiding kins jockeying for the top spot in the list.
Finding Other Players Your Level
By checking the Fellowing tab during the hours your normally play you can estimate how many players are in your level range, which zones they are in, and how much grouping is happening.