Tag Archives: Bree

LOTRO Legendary and the Quirks of Middle-earth

Of course, after getting my champion up past level 10 I immediately started an alt.  And not even an original alt.  I made a dwarf guardian named Nomu on Friday night and started out with him.  I am working on legendary breadth rather than depth I guess.  The usual story for me.

Look, I’m just going to keep using this graphic until I find something better

I won’t say that I rolled up another character because I wanted some overlap in trade skills… but I wouldn’t strictly deny that was a factor either.  One of the many quirks of LOTRO, quirks that tend to make the game endearing or repellent depending on your point of view, is how trade skills are handled.  You can’t pick them onsie, twosie.  You have to pick a vocation, which is a bundle of three trade skills together.

Your vocation choices

The tradition here is that you tend to have two that go together, like prospector and metalsmith, weaponsmith, or jeweller, and then the odd one out.  For Sigwerd I picked Armsman, because weaponsmith and prospector go together.  And, technically, woodworker fits in because you make wooden weapons.  But you need to be a forester to collect wood, and you don’t get that.

If I had remembered, I would have rolled up a hunter and picked the Explorer vocation, since it includes tailor, which makes leather and cloth armor which a hunter can use, because the source for leather is mobs, making leather one of the few harvestable trade items not in short supply.

But I didn’t, I made guardian instead and ran with him.  I rolled along with Nomu on Friday night and picked back up with him yesterday, running though the starting areas.

Another quirk of LOTRO is the dynamic layers mechanic, the little layers of glass icon in the bottom right corner, that lets you know that there are multiple versions of a given zone running.

Dynamic Layers tip

I could tell that the bulk of the initial player base was progressing through the game because by Saturday the early areas on the dwarf starting path were not spawning multiple versions.  But, like a capybara moving through the guts of a python, that mass of players was still visible.

Already groups for Weathertop… and Germans

Somehow I managed to fall off the prologue story path of the epic story line.  Well, not somehow, I know how.  The quest tracker on the right side of the screen only shows five quests, and drops old ones off as you add new ones, so the epic story line was pushed off as I chased quests and I didn’t notice it until I was past level ten, at which point I had to run back to get roll it up.

That meant some traveling back and forth between Gondomon, which was still full of players, and Thorin’s Hall, which had pretty much emptied out.  And I could spot the zone line between the crowed and the empty parts because every time you move across an invisible line into a dynamic layered area, the game stops and throws a loading screen at you.  It can be jarring at times to be riding along a road and then, suddenly, loading screen for no discernible reason!

But I was set to be diligent about rolling up as many of the quest lines in the dwarven area as I could.  I even managed to collect the five gears and finish that up, a quest line that traditionally gets pushed off the tracker and forgotten about until I am too far down the road to care.  I honestly think this might be the first time I finished that quest line.

I also worked on the deeds as well, making sure I had Enmity of the Goblins and Enmity of the Dourhands, the latter of which grants you the ability to add the headbutt skill.

When you score big on a deed

Eventually though, I had rolled up all the quests I could, save one that had gone gray and which involved shooting a dozen of a specie of birds that had been cleared from the lands by the thundering horde of players.  Dropping that only left me with quests that require I moved on to Bree.

When Bree is the only option

Bree was, of course, busy.  Bree and its vicinity form the hub of questing until you get stuck into the Lone Lands.

The introduction to Bree was… not how I remembered it.  There are a few distinct paths you go down initially from Bree and there used to be, if I recall correctly, a set of quests that sent you down each one in turn.  Now, however, there is one quest that just tells you to go talk to the three NPCs that head off each string and assumed you’ll do them in order.  I failed, going to the wrong NPC first and ending up in quests that were a few levels above me.  But the place was buzzing and people were moving around in informal groups to hit the mobs made scarce by over hunting.

Along the way the game threw this tidbit up on my screen.

Tapping will get you far

I think this is just straight up wrong now.  I believe they have changed it so that everybody who puts some damage on a mob gets credit and loot.  That is at least my observation as to how things work now.  But SSG has left this notice in the game just to make people rush to get mobs.  I wonder how many people think they are just the luckiest in the world because they somehow manage to be the first tap on every mob?

And speaking of getting loot, I cannot recall when the current looting method went into the game.  After slaying a mob loot just goes into a pending state that you can collect from a window at your leisure.

The loot just waits for you

It is handy, never having to click on a mob again, so I am not complaining about it.  And things change.  I have a post from eight years ago exploring how the quests around Bree had changed from launch.  It is just different enough from other games that it counts on the list of quirks now that make LOTRO what it is today.

I figured out I was on the wrong path and circled back up the north road to run down the quests up there before moving back along towards Buckland.  That involves killing a lot of wildlife, so my leather supplies runneth over.

I also went back and did the epic story line, taking my usual screen shot along the way.

Amdir, always Amdir

At some point I noticed that I somehow managed to grab a screen shot of that very moment with almost every character, so now it is pretty much tradition to grab another and post it.  The torments of Amdir are never ending.  That and Lalia saying that something looks familiar.

After far too much running up and down the road between Bree and Buckland, which is mercifully much shorter than the 75 miles that the Lord of the Rings Atlas pegs the distance between the two place at, Strider finally set me on the path to meet up with Tom Bombadil, which means adventures in the Old Forest.  At that point I was just a bit into level 17 and already with a set of forgotten quests in my log.

And that is where it stands.  On arriving in Bree I also saw the real estate quest mobs and at level 15 got the pop up encouraging me to go buy a home in Middle-earth.

Housing ads

Housing is one thing I won’t be expending effort on this time around.  I’ll spend a couple hours playing with the music system, but LOTRO housing brings me no joy.  The housing in the game should stand as an warning to those who feel that every game should have such a feature that done badly housing is a waste of time and resources that could have been better spent elsewhere.  But, as with all things, I am sure that housing in LOTRO is somebody’s favorite feature.  To me though, it is pretty but completely useless.

Fortunately, since housing doesn’t play any role in the game, I won’t be missing anything by giving it a pass.  I’ll be in the Old Forest if you need me.

Adventures with An Unwanted Guest

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.

We had all done the epic prologue quests, which are specific to different racial starting areas, but which all, in the end, lead you to the Prancing Pony in Bree to speak with Barliman Butterbur.

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.

Paralyzed with dread

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.

Sorry Amdir

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 Bombadil - Jacket Blue, Boots Yellow

Tom, in his Bombadillian fashion, sent us after a few odd items, water lilies and such, before getting around to the task at hand.

The Willow in the Old Forrest

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.

It certainly does Lalia...

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.

Uh, why did you need us then?

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.

Sit a while and listen...

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.