Radiance/Gloom is the gating mechanic used in Lotro. Certain instances will have Gloom and you will be unable to enter them without sufficient Radiance. Currently, Radiance is only obtainable as a stat on certain pieces of barter armour known as Radiance (or Rad) Gear. To barter for this armour you will need Medallions of Moria, Medallions of Lothlorien, or Medallions of Dol Guldur; depending on what armour you are trying to get. The Medallions are obtained in certain instances called Radiance Instances. Rad Instances always have a Daily Challenge Mode Quest which will allow you to gain more Medallions than usual, but in a more difficult manner (e.g. Do not kill certain mobs, time limits, ect.). For each type of Medallion there is a favored instance that is usually the fastest and easiest to run (eg. Grand Stair, Sword Halls), a second favorite that takes longer and has a high number of medallions (eg. Forges) and some instances that are not run because they are very difficult (eg. Dark Delvings). For a casual player who only runs 1-2 rad instances per day (and does the dailies) it will take approximately 2 weeks to assemble a full set of Radiance Gear. Outside of Radiance requiring instances, the Moria Rad gear (top level Moria) is the best barter able Rad Gear in game, surpassed only by drops from some of the Raids. However it does not have enough Radiance for you to run every raid, so you can choose to have a Moria set and a Mirk set for higher radiance raiding, or just go with the Mirkwood gear.
Despite what the average raid novice thinks; Radiance gear is not the most grindy part of preparing to raid. Ranking up Virtues is. They are also the one part that you don't need to have finished in order to be a decent raider, particularly if you aren't a tank. But the difference between someone who has finished their Virtues and someone who hasn't is quite noticeable. Now ranking up Virtues can be quite tedious for three reasons: 1) You can only rank up a given virtue once in a single zone 2) Virtues are ranked up with slayer deeds, which get longer at higher levels, or exploration deeds, which can be difficult to finish. 3) Slayer deeds don't tell you what virtue they unlock until you open the advanced one after getting the title. As you can imagine going through all the slayer deeds in Angmar trying to find one that will increase say Determination, can be quite painful. Fortunately there's help in the form of Burgzerg and other sites which tell you which deeds advance which Virtues along with all kinds of other useful information (the link to burgzerg is to the right). The most important thing on burgzerg other than the list of where to grind specific Virtues is the ability to mix and match Virtues to see what bonuses you can get with your five slots. Try it out there, instead of spending the time to grind every single Virtue to 10.
Class Traits are the single most important part of defining your character and role within a raid. You can easily look at all your class traits and what they do by hitting the J key while in game. Most players find that they have the majority of these completed when they hit level cap, because they are advanced by using your abilities. More important is deciding which ones to use and which of your three trait lines you will invest in. Each line gives bonuses for having certain numbers of traits from that line equipped, and eventually allow you to equip a special "capstone" legendary trait that is associated with that trait line (e.g. Guardian's have the Trait line "Keen Blade" with the capstone trait "Hemorrhage.")
Don't feel that you need to invest all the way to the capstone, multi speccing is perfectly acceptable. And since you have enough trait slots to go 2 deep into one trait line while getting the capstone from another, I'd even say it's encouraged.
One final note about Class traits, your raid leader may expect you to be traited a certain way, if you aren't ask the leader if your spec is fine for what's needed, or if you really need to re-trait. If you are traited away from your class's main role (e.g. Warspeech(DPS) Minstrel, Overpower(DPS) Guardian, Glory(Tank) Champion) then tell the leader immediately so that you don't get handed the wrong role without the chance to re-trait. Sometimes a raid leader will want you to trait a certain way or leave; don't take it personally and decide which option appeals more to you. If re-traiting means playing in a way that you just don't enjoy, then that's that. Don't let filling your role in the raid come at the expense of your fun.
Know Your Role
Knowing what your job is and how to do it is the single most important part of raiding. Can you imagine what happens when a tank doesn't know how to tank (if you've grouped with a Warden as the main tank, put your hand down), or how about DPSers who can't manage aggro or healers that don't manage their power? All of these are capable of wiping a raid if they aren't immediately compensated for by other members of the raid. Any of those problems will also probably lead to a swift ejection by the raid leader. So tip number 1 when it comes to Knowing your Role is this: Learn your Role before joining a raid. There are plenty of 6 man dungeons in Lotro in addition to landscape grouping areas and Skirmishes. All of these are fine places for learning how to do your job in a group setting. Tip number 2: Use the forums. Players on the forums know how the various raids are done. They know how your class is generally traited for each raid, and they know what to do in a different role. Ask on your class forums and you will get a reply. Don't always take what advice is given at face value; we are talking about different people whose play styles are probably different. Try out suggestions in a non-raid setting and see if they work for you. Some will, some won't, but you'll learn a lot more about what you can and cannot do; as well as what's effective for your class in a raid setting.
Practice Practice Practice
This goes hand in hand with knowing your role. The way to learn your job is to practice it every chance you get *cough cough* Wardens *cough*. Group up and go do some dungeons. Try taking more than thee, thyself, thy soldier, and thy into a skirmish; or maybe run some of Volume 1 with your Kinship and friends instead of solo. To help with this we have created a list of our top instances to practice in.
Matthrim's pick: Grand Stair. It's easy to find a group for it. It gets you Medallions of Moria for your Moria Rad Gear, and it's a fairly straightforward run.
Drilorin's Pick: Halls of Crafting. Helps you get some Mirkwood Rad Gear, fairly long and complex. More interesting/difficult boss encounters which is more similar to what happens in a raid.
Ivaneus's pick: Urugarth and Carn Dum (Class Quest Items). Lower level instances so they're easier to do. Wide variety of mobs, moderate difficulty getting groups together, and Carn Dum is roughly as long to finish as a raid.
We also suggest that if you have the chance to run Helegrod or The Rift that you take it since they are fantastic raids, are only level 50, and don't get run as often as other content.
Note to Wardens: We understand that many of you can tank, and are simply playing off the popular stereotype. If you don't like that then try joining Wardens for Change or just following their creed.
"I am a Warden. Not a mindless aggro-unmanaging machine.
If I am to change this image, I must first change myself.
Wardens are tanks, not noobs."
Through the Palantir fully supports and endorses Wardens for Change; and a tounge in cheek approach to blogging :D