The two game systems of Dread and Hope make up the unique and revolutionary death penalty in the Lord of the Rings Online (LOTRO). In short, dread is the negative effects on your character when you are defeated (there is no dying, per se, in LOTRO) and hope is beneficial  that can be granted to your character. How exactly these systems work together is not clear from the tutorial, so it is the purpose of this guide to explain how they operate.
Both game systems concern three things: maximum morale, healing effectiveness and damage received. The latter two are self explanatory but the former may not be; it is LOTRO's version of hit points or health bars. Obviously, if these stats are more in your favour then you will fair much better; that is why we need an understanding of what each and hope do to affect those stats.
When you start the game and have no hope or dread, those statistics remain at 100%. As you acquire hope or dread the numbers change. In the case of hope, the more you gain the higher your morale and healing effectiveness will be, while your damage received will decrease. Alternatively, if you accrue dread, your morale and healing effectiveness will decrease and damage received will increase. These effects at both ends of the spectrum – either extreme hope or dread – carry very significant boons or banes.
In addition to the negative effects of death that dread causes, when you are defeated and choose retreat now (you may wait for up to 600 seconds for a resurrect) you will return to the graveyard and your equipment will take damage and may need repair (especially after many defeats). Also, it is said that a dread count of five (the maximum anyone can obtain) renders combat nigh impossible for the afflicted combatant. So how does one accumulate either dread or hope?
The primary method of acquiring dread is being defeated in battle. There is no difference in the amount of dread that is accumulated based on how many members you have in your fellowship (if any at all) or what kind of monster you are fighting; you will gain one dread point (out of a maximum of five) when defeat finally comes. When this occurs, the aforementioned stats will be affected by a few percentile points; certainly increased deaths will be a severe hindrance to your character.
There are some situations where dread will be on you at all times (more on this later in the guide) but if you acquire dread via a death then it can be ‘killed off’ so to speak. This kind of dread is put on a ten minute timer and is viewable as an active debuff beneath your character window; once the countdown has expired the dread will go away. Alternatively, if you acquire hope then those points will off-shoot the dread, effectively eliminating it.
There are a few ways to gain hope. The first is simply being in a tavern, where much merry-making is to be had. You can also gain hope by listening to other players play on their instruments inside these very taverns. Also, being in the presence of particular NPCs – Tom Bombadil and Aragorn for instance – may fill your character with hope as well. Using an Edhelharn Token<s> or blowing a horn such as the Horn of the Dwarrowdelf<s> will also restore some hope.
Lastly, there are some higher end options to accumulate hope as well, but it certainly is easier to accrue dread than hope. It is best then to use caution and avoid defeat at all times.
There are some situations in LotRO where dread is inevitable, whether you are defeated are no; these are called situational dread effects. They are most common during the main epic quest line when you are faced against a great evil, be it a Nâzgul, Great Barrow-Wights or perhaps even the Witch-king himself! During these situations you (and your fellowship) will be afflicted with dread, perhaps up to three points! If you ever find yourself under these situations, be sure to have as little dread as possible; the cumulative effect could be world-ending for your fellowship. This situational dread, however, diminishes once your fellowship has defeated the great evil.
The dread and hope systems are designed to be a lenient death penalty to players, while punishing those who attempt vain efforts with the same strategy that defeated them moments earlier. So if you find yourself accumulating too much dread, the following tips should be of help:
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