Tag Archives: Brandywine

On the Verge of Moria

Our Summer run through Lord of the Rings Online has actually been quite successful so far, given a pretty specific definition for success.

For me, success is advancing in the game to a point where I am seeing things I haven’t been through before.  I am almost there.  Basically, I have to get into Moria and go a few quests in and I will be beyond my past peak in the game, which came about two years back.

All of which would have been a lot easier if I did not end up on a new server every single time I went back to play the game.

Ah well.  I am on the cusp.  I have been through much of Eregion, having made the leap from Evendim at 40 and muscled through a combo of the Misty Mountains and Forochel a few levels early.  That high quality halberd, amongst other equipment, you can buy when you have sufficient faction with the Wardens of Annuminas helped a lot, though it still won’t make the slowest elf in creation move any faster.

Said without an ounce of irony...

Said without an ounce of irony…

I have been to the door of Moria, in the little zone that contains the quest line to get in.  It is the beginning of the Book II quest chain, so there is no skipping chapters, everything must be done in order.

The Moria wall neighborhood

The Moria wall neighborhood

The chain includes quite a few “lift and carry” quests for the dwarves who, following behind the fellowship of the ring, are trying to reopen the doors to Moria that have been mysteriously blocked.  I wonder how that happened?

Hear something? In the water maybe?

Hear something? In the water maybe?

So you spend some time in the mini-zone picking up sticks or stones… which could at least break my bones if correctly wielded… delivering packed lunches, and solving the ubiquitous “Orcs stole my homework… and map… and supply list…” issues that seem to crop up in these sorts of game.

You do eventually get stuck into things… you know, you get to kill something… and reach a climax, though it might not be what you expect if you have never been there before.

Yeah, let's go!

Yeah, let’s go!

After which there is a diversion back to Hollin to pick up your epic weapon.  I went with the halberd, as I always think of it as the true weapon of a captain, though I might splutter a bit if asked to explain why.

The epic halberd

The epic halberd

DPS-wise, it was a bit of a step down from what I had been swinging.  I have an alt… of course I do, and more than one… who I has been working on the weapon smith craft and who has kept me well supplied with sharp objects as I have moved along.  You do not need to worry about armor if you kill the bad guy quick enough.  Though now that I have hit the epic weapon stage, I do wonder what I will do with him.

But the epic weapon grows as you feed it the blood of your victims… erm… as it gains experience.  Which it does through killing things.  I am actually on the chapter in the Book II quest line where I have to level up my epic weapon 10 levels, at which point it has to go through a reforging or some such, and then I can move along to the actual story again.

So that is where I stand.

As for the cash shop intrusions into the game… I have been able to ignore them for the most part when required.  I do buy things now and again.  And it helps that, as a lifetime subscriber, I get a monthly 500 Turbine point stipend, which after a long stretch of not playing, added up to small fortune.  So I have expanded my shared storage a few times to accommodate the passing of an ever larger array of crafting materials between alts.  I am going to have to either make a scholar or stop collecting all that crap soon.  I bought a stack of boosts for crafting experience, the ones that boost you by 50% over 10 minutes, to help make that stretch to the next tier every so often.  And I bought probably the most useful item in the store for my main, who harvests.

Universal Toolkit

Universal Toolkit

Basically it means I do not have to swap tools to change between mining and chopping wood.

Also, I must admit, I did buy a pile of Mithril Coins.  Their utility in getting to next travel point in the horse network proved too much to resist.  And, I have spent a coin now and again at the end of the night to get to back to a quest giver to go to bed.

Walk or take the bus?

Walk or take the short bus?

And once you do it, it becomes easier to do it the next time.  Grumble, grumble, hurf durf, damn free to play conveniences have corrupted me again! *shakes fist*

I also am fine opening up the present every day, though that whole mechanism does feel like they are spreading things a bit thick on the cash shop front.  You can have limitless presents, if you are prepared to pay for them! (At which point, they aren’t really presents, right? And what business model do we tend to associate with the phrase “the first one is free?”)

Still, if I end up with an equipment upgrade, it isn’t like I throw it away.  I do refuse to play the lockbox game though.  Yet another wrinkle in the whole free to play scheme of things.  Hand out locked boxes, but sell the keys.  We hates it, and the work that went to create it.  My primary complaint about free to play remains that the game becomes focused on getting you to make that next purchase rather than keeping you subscribed.  But it is a mixed bag and there are good points as well.

Other than that, it has been a reasonable revisiting of Middle-earth so far.  There is still much I like about the game, not the least of which is the sense of being in Middle-earth when you are out and about, away from the quest hubs, when you have turned off the general chat channels, and you come across some odd ruin or bandit camp or other feature that the game doesn’t even require you to see, but is just there because it helps set the tone and atmosphere for the occasional adventurer that stumbles across it.

There is still good in the world.

Suddenly in the Lone Lands

I have made it to the Lone Lands already, twice over.

There was a bit of a push in our kinship to get to level 25 ASAP, with the intent of doing the Great Barrow in kinship groups… erm… fellowships.  Kinship fellowships just sounds odd.

So I put in a bit of effort to get there, though not as much as I expected I would have to.  The levels flew by.  If I spent time running down quest lined in one zone it inevitably pushed me beyond the level requirements of the next.  I hit 20, which is when the game prompts you to head out to the Lone Lands, having completely bypassed Adso’s camp and almost all of the north and south Bree fields as well as The Old Forest and the Barrow Downs, except for my visit with Tom Bombadil, which is part of the epic quest line.

All my old friends are so happy to see me!

All my old friends are so happy to see me!

Granted, it helps that by this point in my relationship with the game I know most of the quests.  Not a lot of time is wasted figuring out where to go or what to do, though I do get ahead of myself once in a while.

And it also helps having the right rock in your pocket.

Bonus Rock

Bonus Rock

Of course, it is hard to tell exactly how much that pocket item hurried me along.

Traditionally, LOTRO has given the lion’s share of experience for quest completion, while monster kills have tended to be a pretty meager second source of experience.  Likewise, they have added experience to harvesting and crafting, but the actual experience per action is pretty small.  However, I did go explorer with my two highest level characters, so I did do a lot of harvesting and processing, so quantity probably made up for the small individual contribution of each action.

I suppose I will see once I catch up with the group and swap that rock out with something else.

Interestingly, the LOTRO store also sells a pocket item that turns off all exp.  I am not sure I would spend Turbine Points on that yet.

Despite my start with a hunter, and then a short diversion with a lore master and then a champion, I think my group character this time around will be a captain.  I have never played one in a group, though they seem ideal for such.  A test with a skirmish showed the benefits.  I was even able to keep Pengail alive during his goblin murder spree without much effort, thanks to the captain skills.

Pengail and his obsession

Pengail and his obsession

They actually seem to have tweaked Pengail a bit.  I seem to recall him going half a mile out of his way to gank a goblin who he thought might have looked at him cross-eyed, but now he seems to be content just to murder those who get within aggro radius.  Still, he is easily one of the more aggressive escort quest mobs in the history of the genre.  He does hate goblins.

So, plumed hat at a jaunty angle and my armsman in tow, my captain is just about set for the Great Barrow.

Redraw has been a bit slow in town...

Redraw has been a bit slow in town…

Now to see if I can keep the alts under control.  Those crafting materials pile up and it is always tempting to make an alt just to use them up.

It is Never Too Late to Head to Mordor

I stood again in Middle-earth.

In was in Archet, one of the small towns around Bree, and the forces of Sauron prepared to strike.

I was in Lord of the Rings Online.

My new character was set to start out on the long… six years long at this point which, if we were following the timeline of the books, would put us past the Grey Havens and into the Fourth Age… road to Mordor to throw down the dark lord.

Or, more likely, to get about as far as Rivendell then give up in a fit of ennui and go off to play some other game.

Even the NPCs tire of the charade

Not everybody is a fan…

About two years back I wrote a post titled “LOTRO – Our Story So Far” that covered the various “ages” of the game for myself and our group.  I probably need to update it.  At that point we had been through three “ages,” which were launch, return, and return again, each time on a different server, rolling up fresh characters.  The fourth time was going to be different, as we were going to pick up again on the same server.  And I did make it into Moria that time around.

But eventually that petered out for the group, once again at the far end of the Lone Lands.  I have been through the Lone Lands enough times that when NPCs greet me by name, I am pretty sure it goes beyond simple coding.

There was a fifth run at the game at some point last year, when I joined the Nazgun on yet another server, with the usual result.  I have characters at least into their 30s on Windfola, Nimrodel, Firefoot, and Silverlode.

And now I am at what I would guess is the sixth “age,” joining our EVE corp in Middle-earth.  Of course, while the odds of picking a server where I already have a character grows ever higher as the years go by, they still missed.  And so I ended up rolling fresh on the Brandywine server.

Much is still the same with LOTRO, including my need to take the same screen shots every time.

Since it is time again for another plunge into Tolkienland Online, I thought I would mention a bit of what has changed in virtual Middle-earth.

More after the cut due to an excess of pictures and uninformed opinions.

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