If you have not played Lord of the Rings Online, you might not know that there are a variety of different quest types in the game.
There are, of course, the standard help the locals quests, what they call the regional quests. You show up in town or at somebody’s camp site and somebody wants you to help them out by killing ten rats. Or boars.
I think I have only been asked to kill rats once, in the Barrow Downs. But boars, every zone seems to have its boar infestation issue. In fact, after Terentia hit the Trollshaws and got the inevitable “kill boars” quest almost immediately, I started rewriting in my head the old song Smoke Two Joints to reflect the apparent situation in Middle-earth.
Here is what I have so far:
I kill 10 boars in the morning.
I kill 10 boars at night.
I kill 10 boars in the afternoon, for the meat that’s white
I kill 10 boars in time of peace, and 10 in time war
I kill 10 boars before I kill 10 boars,
and then I kill 10 more
But I digress.
In addition to the standard quests, you also get class quests every 10 levels that give you a new trait and generally a nice piece of equipment. And there are crafting quest, some of which help you advance your abilities to the next tier, and others which reward you with faction or crafting supplies.
And, amongst there there are fellowship (group) quests and even raid quests.
Then, finally, there is the epic quest line.
This is the line of quests that follows the plot of Tolkien’s tale and gives you a part in the war against Sauron and the quest to destroy the one ring. The quests in that line are divided into Volumes, which contain a given number of books, each of which is divided into a number of chapters. Book 1, for example, has a forward and 13 chapters, each of which represents a quest.
This is the differentiator for LOTRO. This is, along with the three basic game play pillars common to MMOs, combat, exploration and character progression, is the fourth pillar in the equation. This is the story element.
Wait. Where have I read that before?
Anyway, this is the thread that winds through the game. You do not get to be in the fellowship of the ring, but you can play a supporting role and take on the many side tasks that went unmentioned in the books.
What’s that? You want to be the hero? The star? The warrior king tanking the Lich Witch King? Sorry, that game is down in Irvine. This game knows there is no “I” in “Fellowship.”
And the plan for the instance group in Middle-earth is to follow the eipc quest line. We will certainly do other things, but that is going to be our guiding thread as well.
So on Saturday night, we were all ready to begin Volume 1, Book 1.
Our fellowship for the night, standing there in the common room of the Prancing Pony, was:
- Roderigo – level 14 Burglar
- Enaldie – level 15 Elf Rune Keeper
- Garfinkel – level 15 Elf Minstrel
- Rarik – level 16 Dwarf Champion
While Earl couldn’t make it this week, we did pick up Rarik (also known as Meclin or Gaff) who got our of his pod in New Eden and joined us in Middle-earth.
The book starts at the Prancing Pony and our first task was to go and speak to the Unwanted Guest at the Prancing Pony, Strider. He was there in his room waiting for Frodo to show up. But there was more brewing between around Bree. We first had to help Strider with find Amdir, a ranger who had come under the power of the Nazgul.
That actually takes place in an instance and wraps up the prologue quest line around Bree, which focuses on Amdir.
In the instance we faced several of the Nazgul.
They left us for Amdir to deal with while they went to continue their search for the ring.
Without his new Nazgul friends though, Amdir did not stand a chance.
After that, we followed the quests in the lands between Bree and Buckland, meeting up with other rangers and even Fredegar Bolger in Crickhollow. Eventually we ended up at the home of Tom Bombadil.
Tom, in his Bombadillian fashion, sent us after a few odd items, water lilies and such, before getting around to the task at hand.
Tom finally came to the real task, at which point we ran into a problem.
While the experience over these quests had been very good, Roderigo had just hit 14 before we started the evening and was already half way into 15, we all needed to be 16 to get this next quest. So we took a side trip to the Barrow Downs.
There is a lump of quest givers on the path between Tom’s house and the Barrow Downs. We picked up all of their quests and headed in. We’d all been through the Barrow Downs before, so there was a common feeling in the group.
This approach turned out to be serious over-kill. Roderigo hit 16 while we were still working on the quests and was half way to 17 once we turned them all in.
Like I said, the experience was good. And in LOTRO, when you are in a group… erm, fellowship… they don’t divide the experience from each kill by the number of group members. You get the full experience you would if you were solo.
Thus leveled up, Tom was happy to send us along to… the Great Barrow!
Well, the version of the Great Barrow used for this particular quest. It is something of a starter version of the Great Barrow, and while this quest is flagged as a small fellowship quest (3 players) I have done it solo a few times with well equipped characters.
It is a story telling event, though at the end you face Sambrog the Wight Lord who is seemingly undefeatable. And then Tom shows up again, banishes Sambrog and leads you all out of the instance.
Done with Tom’s tasks, we were directed back to the Prancing Pony to speak with Strider. However, when we got there, we found that Strider had left along with four hobbits from the Shire. Gandalf had just shown up though, and was glad to speak with us.
And that ended Book 1.
Gandalf gave us the lead-in to Book 2, but seeing that that quest thread starts off with a level 22 quest, we might spend this upcoming Saturday night getting a few levels and perhaps looking into doing the Great Barrow for real.
In the mean time, Earl will have a bit of catching up to do.