Having done about all I could do in Evendim… the quest log said I was 588 quests into the game when I wrapped up there… it was time to move on. At the end of Evendim you get the option to head to Forochel, but I have never been a fan. Snow zones are always hit or miss with me and I always think of that as “that new place.”
Because it actually is a newer place than most in the base game, having shown up in 2008, it not only overlaps in levels with other zones but, as with Evendim, the epic quest line bypasses it. Since one of my completionist goals for this run at LOTRO is to finished up the epic quest line before the Mines of Moria is unlocked, I had to head to the Trollshaws.
Which isn’t to say I am in love with the Trollshaws either.
As a zone it does have its upside. To start with Rivendell is at one end, and you need to spend some time there. It is also big and lush and has some nice lore from the books.
It is also a zone you can actually get lost in. The woods are dense and hilly and there is a whole series of backwoods tracks that lead all over. It is a zone where, on returning to it, I keep saying to myself, “Oh yeah, that place!” as I end up following some gully into a new area.
I tend to think of the zone in terms of the road through it, but there are so many places off that main path.
On the flip side, it has some of the more tedious quests in the game. You move from camp to camp where the prime directive seems to be to slaughter all of the local wildlife. It is the “bears, boars, wolves” problem over and over, though they also add in deer and various insects.
And, with various game updates over the years they have gotten away from the quest giver handing you quests for the wildlife. Sort of. In part of the zone you get the wildlife quests but taking down a bear or wolf or whatever that has a quest ring over its head. But it can be disconcerting, not to mention immersion breaking, to ride through an area where all the animals have golden halos over their heads.
And it isn’t just the wildlife. Some more sentient creatures have halos as well.
But in other parts of the zone it is the same old “I need to fill the larder, so can you kill me some boars, bears, badgers, bobcats, and maybe some giant mosquitoes?” like some zone designer couldn’t make up their mind on which was better, so they threw both out there for you.
The zone also awkwardly overlaps with Evendim. On a live server, unless you turn off experience, you can get away with completing either the Lone Lands and Evendim or the North Downs and the Trollshaws, but not both pairs. Once you’re done with Evendim your pretty much primed to just head into the Misty Mountains or Angmar.
But, as I said, if you want the epic story, you need to go to the Trollshaws, so off I went. You have a task to check out the Ford of Bruinen, though the result you get you probably knew if you read the books.
There there is some more running around and a task to seek out the dark places in the zone. This used to be a fellowship only series of quests. The epic quest line used to vary, often quite abruptly, between solo and fellowship quests. But now SSG has smoothed all of that out and there are either solo versions of the instances or special boosts that allow you to go forward solo. In this case, there was a shimmering elf-stone that would get you through.
You can only light it up upon entering each of the three little instances you need to find in the zone. The first is just is near the camp with Elladan, who gives you the quest. After that it is a little more tricky. To start with, the quest doesn’t keep track of which of the instances you have done. They all appear with the ring on them on the map, and the quest tracker points at the nearest one, even if you’ve just done it. I recall once, back in the day, having logged out mid-quest and then coming back and redoing the same instance.
At least there are trolls to slay. There is a deed for that. There are deeds for lots of things. But as it goes, the deeds are up a notch in numbers again and I wasn’t going to stick around in the zone long enough to finish them.
And the elf-stone has some strange timing on it. The buff only lasts for ten minutes or so, but then there is a ten minute cool down before you can use it again, during which time you’re sort of hanging in the wind.
I suppose that is the time to go work on the deeds.
But I hung around and waited until the timer ran down, then went into the next instance. The instances aren’t that difficult… with the elf-stone. I am pretty sure the elite mobs in there would have done me in quickly enough without it. But you roll through, get to the deepest part, then light up the other stone… or try to at least… once you find it in your bag.
After the second instance, the third is very close by. However, you had best be in a hurry because the mobs between you and there are all elite, so you need that elf-stone buff just to get where you need to go. And then you need it once you arrive. Fortunately I was fast enough and managed to get on out of the third instance before the elf-stone timer ran out. And then I just recalled to Ost Guruth in the Lone Lands and took a horse from the stable back up to Elladan. All that work with the Eglain faction pays off.
After that you’re back on your way to Rivendell again.
I seem to recall having to do more in the Trollshaws when it comes to the epic story line. Something about chasing Gollum around. But maybe that comes later.
Once in Rivendell, after some discussion, you are likely left with two choices when it comes to the epic story line, Angmar or the Misty Mountains. I guess I’ll be in time for a white Christmas.