Tag Archives: Esteldin

Side Trip to Esteldin

After getting to the far corner of the Lone Lands I was really ready to head to Evendim.  But Evendim was a later addition to the game, coming in a few months after launch and, as such, is bypassed by the epic story line.  Instead, after the Lone Lands, the epic story line sends you to the North Downs and the ranger stronghold of Esteldin.

But is it a legendary story line?

I have somewhat mixed feelings about the North Downs.  It is another sprawling zone that ought to set you up pretty well from the mid-20s through the low 30s in levels.  But, as with a lot of places in the game, the pacing of the quests can be odd at time, holding you around until you feel like you might be a couple levels too high and then suddenly putting you neck deep in a quest or two a few levels beyond you.  It also overlaps a lot with the Lone Lands, so if you do one zone all the way through you’re into the end level range of the other.

Esteldin also has the infamy of being the final resting place of the first fellowship, the inaugural run at the game at launch by the instance group.  We ran out of steam amongst the rangers, never to return… at least not to that server.  Our Kinship, Fianna, got swallowed up in the server merges and when I go back to look at my characters their bags are full and they are comically under-geared.  But, in a not uncommon lack originality, my main at the time was also a dwarf guardian named Nomu.

In the land where shadows lie… about their location

On the other hand, the zone has its place, introduces you to some interesting locations, and adjoins Angmar, which comes into play later on.  Esteldin also has a crafting hall with a banker in the room, which is handy, as well as being the location of superior workbenches, which you used to need for crafting beyond a certain tier.  Like tin, that has changed along the way. And there is, of course, the cursed shopping cart in Othrikar, the tale of which I told some time back.

But that is all ancient history.  It is sufficient to say that, if you’re going to follow the epic story line, then you are going to have to go to Esteldin and speak with Halbarad.  Volume I, Book 3 starts in Ost Guruth in the Lone Lands when Frideric the Elder sends you back to Candaith who, in turn, sends you to Esteldin.

Esteldin marked on the map

Despite its importance in the grand scheme of the war, Esteldin for some reason isn’t well marked on the map of the North Downs, getting no more than a stable master’s notation on the map.  I guess the rangers are trying to keep a low profile.

Fortunately, Esteldin is the main travel point for the North Downs, so you can buy a swift travel there from other key points, such as Bree.  It just costs a mithril coin, and I had some to spare, so off I went.

Once there I found Halbarad in his own little building towards the back of the settlement.  However, it is one of those “locked unless you have the right quest” sorts of places to keep you from running into multiple copies of him. (Oddly, that was something I was worried about way back when LOTRO was still just some promises and possible screen shots.  I guess Turbine had a solution.)  Since I forgot to take a selfie with him, the view from outside his door will have to do.  His guard at least intones the same message every time you show up.

Oh, I have more than a suspicion

The quest log was a dead give away.  Halbarad, or just Hal to his friends, pretty much has a all of Volume I, Book 3 to himself.  The forward sends you to meet him and chapters 1 through 6 are all based on tasks he sets you to.  There are actually three branches to this series, one each for men, dwarves, and elves, and he gives the starters for each of them to you at the same time, so you can go about them how you like.

For men you are off to Trestlebridge.  There you are to help defend the bridge from orcs.  However, I also had my level 30 guardian class quest to do, which also involves defending the bridge.  One of them takes place at night at a barricade on the bridge while the other takes place during the day and involves fighting before the bridge to keep any orcs from reaching it.

I can’t actually say for sure which was which.  Guardian problems I suppose.  But I have to wonder if the fight before the bridge was a success… which it was on the second try, because I remembered too late that there is an orc that comes up the side to get past you if you fight too far forward, and if an orc touches the bridge you fail… then how did we all end up on the bridge later that night fighting at the barricade.

That was a success, and from there I went off to Othrikar, of the shopping cart tale linked above, to assist the dwarves.  The task there was to find Dori… seriously, the quest is called “Find Dori,” and it is all that I could wish for that somebody at Turbine would have just named it “Finding Dori” instead just to annoy Disney… and get him out safely.  And escort quest.

He was out in the middle of the Dourhands in a mobile cage that looks just like the one from the ruffian camp outside of Bree.

Dori’s cage and spawn point

I had to wait a while because somebody was already escorting Dori and it is one of those rides that can only accommodate a single group at a time.  I passed the time slaying the local Dourhands, there being another enmity deed related to them on the books for me.

Eventually it was mine turn on the Dori escort ride and, as expected, Dori can’t just get the hell out of the middle of the hostile camp.  It seems that the Dourhands took some gems he had on him so first we had to go find those.  At least, unlike Pengail in the Lone Lands, Dori knew where to look, picking up his bag of gems on the first try rather than having to rummage through the ruins.

Gems in hand, we had to fight our way out of the place, walking straight into each and every Dourhand group possible.  Plus the quest itself spawns a group to get you every now and then along the way, as if the whole area already filled with Dourhands wasn’t enough.  Even outside the walls of the Dourhand base, with tall grass for cover and plenty of room to go around, Dori walked straight into the nearest bunch of tents.

Dori who cannot bear to miss anybody on his way out

Let’s just say I got that Dourhands deed done before we were free and clear.

Finally, there were the elves down in Meluinen to deal with.  Once there I found that they had the straightforward decency to just want an orc named Drukordh over in Nan Wathren killed.  Straight up murder for hire again, something I understand.

Granted, he was a tough orc, so I needed a special elf stone to do the deed.  But I had to activate the elf stone at one location, then kill Drukordh somewhere else… like not even in line of sight or just around the corner, but a few blocks down the road and all the while the quest guide will only point to the activation spot for the elf stone.  Eventually I got that figured out, though it was a good thing that the elf stone buff lasts for a bit, or I would have likely arrived at the right place after it had faded.

That out of the way I made my way back to turn that in, spotting a familiar name on my way out.

We meet again…

Syp was again AFK or not talking to me or both.  We seem to be on the same trajectory, the main difference seeming to be how much delay there is between our actions in Middle-earth and our posting about said actions.

From there it was back to Halbarad to report that the cast of second tier mucky mucks were committed as delegates without speaking parts to the council of Elrond out in Rivendell.

Along the way I managed to avoid picking up any… well… at least not too many… additional quests.  I had to do the lynxes and bears because I figured if I was going to walk through a field of them to get to Dori then I might as well get the hides for crafting along the way as well.  But mostly I stayed away since I didn’t want to get too far ahead in experience before I made it to my next destination, Evendim.

Crafting Adventures in Middle-earth

(By “popular” request, a version of Thursday’s post without anagrams.  Messages both public and private seemed to indicate that perhaps not everybody finds anagrams as amusing as I do.)

Yes, it was again late in the eve of another Saturday and we were still hanging out in Ost Guruth, warming up with a little music while trying to avoid the gaze of the ever-disrobing Frideric the Elder.

And in the usual course of things I went over to The Fat Lue to see what new songs had been added since our last adventure.

I was quite happy to find a two part version of White Rabbit, a classic of the Jefferson Airplane.

We occupied ourselves with that for a bit, then tried a version of Hazy Shade of Winter.

Music in Ost Guruth

Though written by Paul Simon, I always associate the song with The Bangles. (I had a friend in college who took one course merely because there was a girl who looked like Susanna Hoffs in the class.)

We played for a bit while waiting for Enaldie to make her way up to Ost Guruth and for Earlthecat to log on. He was logged into Skype, but didn’t seem to be inclined to make an appearance in Middle-earth.

That was a shame, because we had some high adventure in mind. Adventure of the sort that Stargrace mentioned recently, of a sort where you end up heading some place you have no business being at your level. We would just have to do it sans Earlthecat.

So the line up for the night was:

  • Garfinkel – level 29 elf Minstrel
  • Sigwerd – level 30 human Champion
  • Enaldie – level 30 elf Rune Keeper

with a special guest appearance by one of my alts:

  • Nomu – level 28 dwarf Guardian

We were going to head out of the Lone Lands for a bit, as each of us had a crafting quest to go after.

Crafting in the game is surprisingly relevant and useful, at least on the group level (I do not have the patience to try to make money at it at the Auction House), but to really make the best stuff you have to stretch out beyond the crafting in your current level range and get access to the tier above you. That unlocks the ability to get critical successes when crafting in your own level range.

And that meant, for us, a pack of level 40 crafting quests to conquer in zones comfortably above out current levels.

On the danger side, we would be threading our way through areas where the mob ran from level 35-40. But on the plus side, in LOTRO at least, as a group mobs 8-10 levels above you are surmountable, as long as they are taken individually. Adds are death.

The first course was east from Ost Guruth in the Lone Lands and into the Trollshaws. Therein lay the goals for a level 40 cooking quest that both Garfinkel and Sigwerd needed as well as a level 40 metalsmith quest that Nomu needed to advance his armor crafting skill.

We decided to do the cooking quest first. The target, a boar (of course) of extraordinary magnitude, lay beyond the Ford of Bruinen in the Giant Valley that is off to one side of the High Moor.

Getting to the Ford of Bruinen was not a big problem. We stuck to the main road, diverting only to pick up the stable master route at Thorenhad.

However, as I’ve mentioned before, unlike in the books, crossing the Ford of Bruinen only puts you in more danger, not less. The path up the far side is patrolled by bears, lynx, and giant mosquito-like flying insects that look like they could drain a hobbit dry with a single prod of their… blood sucking… prod… thingy.

We had to dismount and fight our way up into the High Moor, one fuzzy creature at a time.

Once securely in the High Moor, we had to scout out the Giant Valley, for only therein lay the porcine pal with whom we had come to play. It was not too far off the main path. But danger lay in the Giant Valley.

First there were the giant signature level lizards, who were around level 40. Signature is somewhere between solo and elite. Possible to take on, but tougher than the standard mob. We worked our way carefully around them. Carefully and successfully. Did they reduce the aggro radius of mobs in the game when it went free to play? I seem to be skirting danger more successfully since that change.

And then there were the elite dragons. We gave them a very wide berth when possible, diminished aggro radius or not.

We were able to find our way, and soon the message went out, “Sighted Swine, Sank Same.”

Carving Up Porky

The pig was butchered, producing just enough meat to fulfill the quest needs of both Sigwerd and Garfinkel.

A boar has at least two flanks, right?

We then retraced our steps back out of the Giant Valley.

Already in the High Moor, we decided we should take the opportunity to visit Rivendell.  We could hardly pass up the chance to visit the home of Elrond and Glorfindel. Surely you recall Glorfindel, who faced the Balrog at the fall of Gondolin and who himself fell, but later returned after some time in the Halls of Mandos in Valinor. I mean, there can’t be two Glorfindels, right? He’s got to be the same one.

So through the rest of the High Moor we rode until we reached Rivendel. (Imladris, in the elven tongue.)

Behold, Rivendell!

There we stopped for a short time, looked around a bit, got our bearings, then headed to the stable master.

Does the same guy do all these maps?

Our first ever visit to Rivendell was short.  We had tasks still to accomplish. It was time to ride back to Thorenhad.

Through The Woods Again

Once there, I logged out Sigwerd and brought in Nomu.

The quest for Nomu involved wights up in Nan Tornaeth, in the north part of Trollshaws. To reach that, we had to take some narrow paths, so there was no sneaking around things. As with the path from the Ford of Bruinen to the High Moor, it was a creature by creature slog.

We reached the area of the wights and spotted one immediately. This level 38 shade put up a tough fight, and it was Enaldie’s huge damage output that saved the day. Nomu was able to hold aggro, but only just. But our victory was hollow. The item Nomu needed did not drop. The crafting quest drops are usually close to 100%, but not this one it seems. We would need another wight.

The next one we spotted was level 40. Given the tough fight the last one put up, we were a bit cautious. We made sure we had buffs going, then headed in.

The two levels, putting the wight 12 levels above Nomu, was telling. Nomu landed very few blows, and since a lot of his aggro management relies on connecting with his shield, the wheels started to come off the situation. Garfinkel tasted defeat and the wight was advancing on Enaldie who was putting out a veritable storm of magic while Nomu tried to get the attention of the wight.

Hardcore Wight

Two taunts in a row hit and the wight turned on Nomu. Meanwhile, Garfinkel revived and rejoined the fight. The wight was slain and the item for the quest was recovered.

That left only the quest of Enaldie, which was over in Trestlebridge. We decided that recalling to Bree was in order.

Nomu retired for the evening and Sigwerd came out again as we rode up to Trestlebridge.

There Enaldie found that her quest was rather simple. It was not the quest to access the next tier, which takes place up near Angmar, but just the quest for superior workbench access. We’ve seen that one before, where you gather some wood down in the river below Trestlebridge and then patch up the bridge. I did that quest with Terentia a while back.

So while Enaldie collected wood, Garfinkel and Sigwerd went back to music, playing a little Blues Brother.  Gimme Some Lovin’ didn’t sound quite right, but we were only playing two out of the three parts.

Which One Is Elwood?

Once Enaldie was done, we rode on to Esteldin, which is home to the crafting hall with superior workbenches. It is also one of the most convenient crafting halls in the game as it has a vault keeper and a mail box close to hand.

There, I closed up the night with a solo version of Margaritaville, which actually drew in a few role players.

Take Us Out Sigwerd!

And that was about it.  I didn’t even get to make fun of our pal Radagast.

Next week, iambic pentameter!

Oh, and maybe how the game looks on the new machine with DX11 and such.

We’ll see if Turbine has anything about which to brag.

Twenty-Eight in Esteldin

While the ride to Rivendell was fun, it wasn’t yet the place for me.  Tistann, my captain, has a few levels to go before he can start hanging out at the last homely house on a regular basis.

So it was back to the North Downs to clean up the area before Fornost, first of bears then of barghests.

Barghests are those hyena-dog things that I don’t really remember from the books, but which are part of English culture, and therefore seen as applicable in some way.  Who knows.  Likewise I do not recall the boar population being such an issue either, nor everybody’s seeming desire to have roast pork on a regular basis, so there is some reading between the lines going on.  I will at least give them credit for a creature not seen in every other fantasy MMO.

But there I was, outside of Fornost and hunting bears and being reminded exactly how subtle the game AI can be.  People complain that they want a better AI.  I fear such a thing.

I went looking for bears and was faced with a veritable sea of barghests.  It was as though there was some sort of barghest reunion or convention going, with all of them standing happily out in the open.  Bears, on the other hand, had to be stalked.  They were rare and obviously trying to hide in the foliage and behind terrain features.

And so I hunted my 16 bears.

At least it was only 16.  If the quest giver had been one of the Nesingwary clan in WoW, it would have been 30.  And by universal gaming convention, if the number of wild animals to be hunted explicitly exceeds 30, the game is declared a Redneck Rampage sequel and is required to have an authentic Psychobilly sound track.

After bagging my last bear, I shoved my way through the forest of barghests, who were packed together like they were on a Japanese subway at rush hour, to get to the quest giver.  She was so happy about the whole bear thing, she asked me to go take out a dozen of the demon dogs infesting the fields before Fornost.

“Piece of cake!” I thought and turned around expecting to see the teeming masses of barghests….

I cannot say for sure if the in-game sound actually played the crickets effect, or if my mind just filled that in as I looked out over that first depression in the fields, formerly swarming with bargests and now occupied by a single such beast, along with three bears and five Oathbreaker spirits.

Three bears!  Five minutes before I would have jumped for joy at seeing two bears at once, and now there were three.

Meanwhile that lone barghest seemed stunned, like he just realized that the command to “hide!” included him.  He paid for his slow reaction time.  And, as it turns out, even a wiley AI cannot hid that many wild animals that quickly and not be completely cheating, so I was able to hit my dozen in a reasonable amount of time.

After that, I was cleared to head east towards Gatson’s farm, familiar old Othrikar, and the ranger outpost and quest hub of Esteldin.  The last is complete with craft hall, post office, class trainers, and banking access.  The rangers have settled in to stay.

Before Esteldin

Before Esteldin

I passed through all three locations, picking up quests that, for the most part, directed me to continue on slaughtering the local wildlife.  Bears, birds, wargs, spiders, and even a couple of the huge aurochs that roam the fields.  That last was to finish off a tailoring quest.

In fact, the only one about who seemed to have any desire to have me actually slay the orcs that are wandering around the area was Gatson the farmer.  And even Gatson had me pick up some grain from the orc camps to sell to the dwarves.  No wonder the war seems to be going badly.  Our side is wrapped up killing wildlife and profiteering.

Still, among all that I managed to hit level 28, at which point I began to fret a bit about my equipment.  I really had not done much in the way minding my equipment since I strapped on the selection of armor that Gaff sent me when I hit level 21.

My worries seemed to be unfounded however.  Over time I seemed to have replaced a good chunk of my armor with better pieces from quest rewards and drops.  My halberd as well seems to be superior to anything I could find in my level range.  I will have to double check on the jewelry front, but I seem to be in okay shape for level 28.

Now, however, I think it is time to head back to Ost Guruth and finish off a string of Lone Lands quests and bring myself closer to level 30.