I finally got a real mount in Lord of the Rings Online.
I’ve only been at it, off and on, for over three years.
But this week I finally had a character hit level 35. I could proudly claim my horse.
Okay, yes, I have had that founders mount for ages now, the Bree Horse, which as a founder I get for free at level 15. But even regular players can get a similar slow mount at level 20 these days. (Though those mounts are faster than I thought they were… Terentia, a warden, was passed by one the other day, albeit slowly, while she was using her “force march” skill, which gives a 25% movement bonus.)
But for those around since the early days, the level 35 horse is the real mount.
I previously mentioned having hit 33 with two characters, Silinus my ranger and Terentia my warden and decided it was time to make a choice and push forward with one.
Terentia was my choice, and it was with her I began to press on. And it seemed a good thing I made a choice, since getting the mere two levels from 33 to 35 seemed to drag on my longer than the previous half dozen.
Some of that was my re-routing and picking up some lower level book quests that I had missed with Terentia. I had been able to run the two characters through reasonably different paths up to level 33, with Silinus concentrating on the Lone Lands and Terentia in the North Downs. But I wanted to keep up with the story with my newly designated main character, so I ran back to grab them.
Still, lower level quests aside, I think I am now past the point of getting a level in a single play session, even with a full blue bar of double experience.
But I digress.
I made level 35 and got to run up to the horse fields and collect my mount… after passing a few tests.
I had heard about the tests. There are four.
The first three are basic cross-country navigation tests. Ride a horse to the stable master in Bree. Ride a horse to the stable master in Michel Delving. Ride a horse to the stable master in Othrikar, famed land of the shopping carts.
At level 35, the hazards are low and it is just a matter of not getting lost which, given the built-in quest tracker pointing you in the right direction on your mini-map, shouldn’t even be an option.
It is a good thing there are now horse routes that take you back to the Hengstacer Farm. It was no doubt pretty annoying in the old days, riding a mount out to a distant location only to have to walk back to the horse fields.
And then there was the last test, which should be easy, but which I managed to fail on the first try.
You have to run a course around the Hengstacer Farm which is marked out by a series of “gates” through which you must ride. There are twelve of them in all, and they form a bit of a steeple chase. The first few are nicely on a path, but others require you to jump fences, bushed, and boulders to get to efficiently. And efficiency is needed, since the whole thing is times.
I blew my first run at the 9th gate when I went up a hill (thinking there might be a gate on the other side) rather than driving right for the next gate I could see. The hill ended in a cliff and I hurt myself landing, thus slowing my mount for a few seconds.
I still thought I was going to make it, but the quest put up the “fail” message when I was at the 11th gate with 18 seconds left on the clock. I guess it felt I was mathematically eliminated or some such.
Anyway, I managed the run on the second try. There were still not that many seconds left on the clock, so unlike the previous three tests, there is no time for slacking.
And so I obtained the riding skill and was allowed to drop 3 gold on a nice new horse. I chose the blonde sorrel.
Part of the reason I’ve never really gone back to our original characters on Windfola is that they are all dirt poor. Money was tough to come by in the early days. My level 33 guardian on Windfola has all of 200 silver clinking around in his coin purse, compare to the over 6 gold that Terentia had on hand.
And then I realized that I could bypass the expense of buying a horse. As somebody who pre-ordered the Mines of Moria expansion, all of my characters, now and forever, are issued a goat upon entering Middle-earth for the first time.
And what a goat it is. A veritable sport utility goat.
They are reasonably rare, look unique (outside of Moria in any case), are rated “fast” just like the blonde sorrel I purchased, and they are free! Well, free if you had the foresight to pre-order Mines of Moria in any case. That’s planning.
I might have to level up and elf to 35, just to see one on a goat. And I am sure my level 33 dwarf guardian on Windfola would be quite proud to ride one… should I ever return to that server.
And it looks like I’ll be set in at least one way when (and if) I actually get to Moria. It looks like horses don’t take to the underground. Goats though, they do just fine, but you need to work on your reputation to be able to purchase one. But I have one already.