Having discharged my epic story line duties in Esteldin, I was free to follow the two quests inviting me to come to Evendim.
One of the odd things about Evendim as a zone is that it isn’t exactly all within Evendim.
The Evendim experience itself is, in its way, very much a post-WoW designed zone that sends you from one quest hub to another, advancing you through the story of the zone. But Evendim starts in Oatbarton, which is part of The Shire and all that implies.
First, Oatbarton isn’t a major stable master destination. If you want to take what I consider the “correct” way there, you have to travel to Michel Delving first. Then, from there, you either ride (or walk) up to the Greenfields and the road north through there that leads to Oatbarton.
Or, if you happen to have all of the stable master routes in The Shire already, or if you don’t mind spending a Mithril coin or three to get them, then you go from Michel Delving to Hobbiton, Hobbiton to Brockenborings, and from Brockenborings on up to Oatbarton.
I chose to ride the route on my own since, in addition to being cheap, I was also still looking to catch up on apprentice level crafting materials and a week or so into the life of the server The Shire seemed pretty dead. My progress to Oatbarton was slow due to many harvesting side trips, but I did arrive there eventually.
When I say that Oatbarton is part of The Shire, it is not just because it looks like The Shire and because hobbits live there. Slaying wolves or goblins there count towards deeds from The Shire and the task board quests increase your reputation with the Mathom Society, the key Shire faction.
The quests though, those do not count towards your quest deed total for The Shire. But they are very Shire-like quests that send you about to round up sheep, milk cows, churn butter, light lamps, put up scarecrows, and collect mis-laid farm implements, all in the maze of paths, hedgerows, and little fields that make up much of the settlement.
I have to admit, though I sometimes scoff and the non-stop series of murder for hire quests that make up the content of MMORPGs, there is a simplicity to that sort of thing. But I can take a break from that for a while to help some silly hobbits order their lives.
One wonders how they get along when I’m not around… or if they depend on bribing gullible passers-by with their dusty old mathoms to get their work done as a matter of course.
And, sure enough, the return to slaughter comes soon enough. While in Oatbarton it is mostly limited to the local pests… and some wolves… when you move along to Dwaling and the glass blowers camp the killing gets stepped up a notch. Not that there aren’t other things to do, like collecting sand for the glass blowers. But to color their glass they need bits and pieces of the local fauna.
Then there is the matter of Dwaling itself, taken over by ruffians. Nobody says you have to go kill them wholesale. You’re only asked to serve them notice of eviction, giving the hobbits plausible deniability I am sure. But the ruffians are all hostile and attack on sight, so what did you think was going to happen? Murder by bureaucratic pretense. Even with the goblin camp up the hill they never tell you specifically to kill anybody. But they goblins aren’t going to hand over those documents and let you set fire to their concoctions just because you say “pretty please?”
Well, I didn’t run out there with my sword and shield and plumed chapeau simply to look cool. Death to those who get in the way of due process.
It isn’t until you get to High King’s Crossing that you start in with the rangers and their faction, the Wardens of Annuminas.
That is seriously the most overwrought bridge I can recall from anywhere in Middle-earth. I cannot help but imagine the engineer looking at the specifications for it and pointing out exactly how many bridges could be built out of all the decoration that goes on it. And then there is how much the bridge will have to be reinforced to handle the load. In the end, the actual, useful bridge part of the structure is just the little arc across the river at the front, the with path leading away.
But all that extra space gives the rangers as place to set up camp. They all pointedly avoid looking up the king’s robes though.
It is from that camp that quests move more into the vein of the zone, where making safe the relics Numenor and securing the monuments of the Kingdom of Arnor are high on the agenda. That and swimming. Even with the boat service on the main lake you still end up swimming… in my case wearing a full suit of heavy armor and holding a sword and shield… across various stretches of water.
The theme of tombs and tomb robbers kicks off in a big way, and it is these buildings that represent the Arnor that make the zone so memorable. It also explains why the kingdom really fell; too many public works projects. There is a big city, an elaborate tomb for every king, and all of those defense works.
Deeds have also kicked over into full Evendim mode, though the counts required are up quite a bit from the Lone Lands. It doesn’t matter so much when it comes to tomb robbers, you’ll probably slay all 270 you need for the basic and advanced deed just doing the main quest line. The zone is rife with them, to the point that you have to wonder how they feed themselves.
Other mobs… there are some you’re going to have to spend some time hunting to get the advanced deed completed. I’m looking at you Limrafn. They are weak, non-aggro spirits floating about and you need 150 of them. I hear hanging out in Barandalf in the evening is the way to get them and salamanders knocked out.
High King’s crossing doesn’t last too long though. Once you get through the quest chain there… which includes a chance to climb up and stand on the king’s head, a task I enjoy probably more than I should… you are sent off to Tinnudir. That is the heart and hub of most of the rest of the zone. It has vendors, crafting, full service stable access to all major points, and a bank NPC for storing away all the drops you want to save for later. It is from there that the real zone begins for me.