Tag Archives: LOTRO Legendary

Fiddling About in Eregion

Eregion.  Shit.  I’m still only in Eregion.

-Opening lines, Moriapocalypse Now

Not the there is anything enormously wrong with Eregion.  It is something of a middling zone.  Nothing much stands out about it.  The geography, the mobs, and many of the quests could have been copied and pasted from earlier zones.

It does, however, suffer from one big problem.  It stands between you and Moria.

Moria is the legend I want to find

Eregion is like a middle episode in a television season that doesn’t move the overall story arc forward much.  Sure, it lays down some ground work and probably provides some key details you’ll need to know for later, but it still feels like it is hanging about and going on longer than it should with its own little side tales.  Moria is the big event of the season, but first you have to muck about in the back story.

While the EverQuest progression servers were bogged down by the usual rush to get in, the LOTRO Legendary servers of Anor and Ithil were not under any similar strain.  Getting through to the first expansion had already weeded out the half hearted and the day trippers, leaving only the dedicate adventurers and the more hearty of the tourist class like myself.  So I nailed my colors to the mast… in the form of choosing a title… which I could change at any time… so not really nailed… but then again pulling out nails isn’t a huge effort either… and headed to Eregion.

Not sure why I was in Ost Guruth, but off I went

I had started in on Eregion a bit already while finishing up the volume I epic quest line.  You need to get in the initial quest count deed to be able to use swift travel to get to any of the hubs in the zone.  There are four such deeds, each unlocking swift travel for one of the quest hubs.  I had done enough quests to unlock the first two, which was enough to keep from having to take the long ride from Rivendell each time I needed to get back to Bree or Thorin’s Hall.  And you need to do that a few times.

Most of the quests tend towards the usual slaying of the local fauna.  Wolves and lynxes and such.  I think they straight up copied the lynx pelt quest from the Lone Lands.  And then there are the locals, the Dunlendings.  When I say that word aloud it sounds like the bank cutting off your credit line.  “Done lending!” said the bank manager.

Pretty sure I saw her at a Romeo Void concert in the 80s

They inspires neither fear nor passion.  And then there are the half orcs hanging about and the usual lying NPC escort quest.

As he walks slowly straight into some half orcs

Anyway, I ran the quest lines down to unlock the rest of the swift travel options and to get the invite to Echad Dunann, which is the stop just outside of Moria.

Map of Eregion

There you pick up the epic quest line again, which takes you into the Walls of Moria mini-zone.

Walls of Moria Map

There you piddle around with the dwarves, who are busy trying to get into Moria.  As we will see later, they are out in force and ready to infest Durin’s domain with quest givers, vendors, bankers, stable masters, and various other amenities of civilization.  But for the moment they are working on the door.

Somebody left a bunch of trash in front of the door

My job was to deliver lunches, collect wood, investigate various side quests, and warn the dwarves to stop throwing rocks in the mysterious black pool outside the door.  This last bit always makes me laugh as the dwarves in question are hurling stone after stone into the water like they were trying to fill the whole thing in before dinner.  At least they listed to reason, if too late.

Then why did I have to ask you to stop?

Eventually they all settle down, the doorway is cleared, and the work party has to stop for a moment to say some words before, you know, actually opening up the damn door.

Do you have to use that foreboding tone of voice?

And that is when the lurker shows up to start picking out dinner from the dwarf buffet table.  So it was time to run away, leaving the freshly cleared door behind.

All of which was the apparent necessary fore effort required to get you to Hundi, who has access to a cache of weapons of old, which are just the ticket for things like monsters lurking in deep pools outside of ancient dwarven ruins.

Hundi’s discount legendaries

Of course, Hundi’s gift loses its special nature when you find legendary weapons dropping like leaves in the autumn. I actually already had three in my bag from just running around Eregion.  As I said previously, I think WoW did the legendary thing better, making you do a little quest for a specific item then having you stick with it.  And I also think Blizz was smart to make that a one expansion exercise rather than trying to drag it along forever after.  But for a brief moment you can pretend that you’re getting something special Hundi.  At least you don’t have to go back to Rivendell and have Elrond and Glorfindel examine your new toy to give it their blessing.  The bureaucracy of the eldar is unending.

As a dwarf with a trait that boosts axe damage, I was kind of hoping to see an axe among the options.  However, for a shield bearing guardian you have only a sword and a club as an option.  As much as I like beating things with a club, I went with the sword.

So I had done it.  I had gotten my legendary weapon!

Only, as one does not just walk into Mordor, one also does not simply equip a legendary weapon.  First you have to go back to your home town and speak to somebody about the weapon.  It must be identified.  You then have to put some stickers on it or something.  Then, once they say you’re ready, you can actually wield the weapon.

So, weapon in hand, I took the swift travel options back to Eregion… you have to pass through the Rivendell travel hub of course… it is like the Atlanta of Eriador… to carry on questing. I wanted to put some levels on the weapon and so started in on the regular alerts.

Hey mister, your weapon leveled up again!

The alerts UI already loves to get on you about every little thing, so adding another did not thrill me.  And it is really bad at first because your weapon gets the first few levels nearly every time you hit something, at which point you have to stop and see how many points you have to spend on things to make the weapon better.  My usual first choice is raw DPS.  By default the weapon was worse than what I already had equipped.  Then I went after enhancements to bash related damage since about every other guardian skill involves you hitting somebody with your shield.

And then you get ten levels in and the alert says you have to reforge the weapon.

Every ten levels it is back to the shop

That means another ride back to your home town, some more instructions, and then back to Eregion again.  At least you get to give your weapon a custom name when you reforge.  I went with Cheese Slicer.

Back in the fields of Eregion I kept on going until I had the last swift travel deed unlock and had gotten a few more levels on the weapon.  Next up is a return to the walls of Moria and a bout with the lurker before heading back to Durin’s Door.

I’ll take what’s behind door number one

That is when the Mines of Moria expansion actually starts in earnest.

Moria Beckons

Moria, Moria, Moria, was there ever another expansion like the Mines of Moria?

The Mines of Moria

And today, should things go to plan… something of an ask for SSG given how last week played outMines of Moria should unlock on the LOTRO Legendary servers, Anor and Ithil.

Obligatory LOTRO Legendary graphic

A hopefully short and successful downtime is planned for today… it is supposed to be done before this post goes live… after which Moria will be unlocked.  The patch notes for the associated update give us the basics, including the bump in the level cap to 60 and such.  There will also be a special offer in the shop called the “Reclaim Moria Bundle” that includes quite a pile of items.  Honestly, I would worry about bag space on my main character on Anor were I to purchase it.

But nothing in that bundle calls to me either, so I likely spend my LOTRO Points on it.

And then there is my own relationship with the expansion.

It took me a while to get to Moria the first time around.  The expansion launched in November of 2008 but I didn’t step into the dark until nearly three years later.

Past Durin’s Door in August 2011

I blame that on… well… other games, my own laziness, and the fact that the gap between the Trollshaws and Eregion was pretty rough and very group focused back in the early days.  While I am not necessarily proud that I did the LOTRO Legendary journey almost completely solo so far, the fact that I could do as much as I did was largely due to changes made since the last time I played the game seriously.

As for making it out to the other side of Moria, that took another two years further and was done with a different character altogether.

Despite having some misgivings about the venture, I suspect that I will pick up where I left off in Eregion, equip one of the notoriously needy legendary weapons, and eventually step through the gate and into Moria.

The biggest problem will be finding the time to settle in and get it done.  As I noted in yesterday’s post, I have more games in play than I would normally consider.  Moria might have to wait for a bit.

Shall I Venture Forth into Moria?

The Lord of the Rings Online Legendary server has been a big success for me personally so far.

I went back, played through the Shadows of Angmar content, revisited old favorite places, and expanded my reach into things I  had not done in the past.  Op success.

Where legends are revisited

It wasn’t perfect.  I did most of the run solo.  Friends I had played with in the past were not interested in returning (having the lifetime subscription made returning easy for me, but I am not sure I would have gone if I had to pay) and I didn’t end up finding any sort of regular group.  I joined a Kinship, then never did anything with them.  I was moving too slow at first, so was behind the curve and not able to join in on instances with them.

And by the time I had caught up and was through with the epic quest line, I was feeling done with Shadows of Angmar.  Initial plans I had about alts and such faded after three months of focus on the game.  It was a “three monther” I guess.

But the Mines of Moria expansion is coming.  Standing Stone, in its usual indecisive, foot shuffling way, suggested in its recent producer’s letter that Moria will probably open up some time in March, that being the nearest of futures I suppose, all while avoiding making direct eye contact.

Given my general feeling of success when it came the run through Shadows of Angmar, I am seriously considering a return bout for the Mines of Moria.  But I am not sold on it yet, so I am going through the pros and cons of such a venture.

Pros

Refreshed – After a month away from LOTRO, I might be ready for a fresh expedition.

Moria itself – The place is huge and epic and really unlike any other MMORPG expansion that I can think of.  Has there ever been an expansion set almost completely underground?

New Discoveries – I’ve only been end-to-end through Moria and out into daylight on the other side once.  I am sure I missed something along the way.  I was getting antsy to get out towards the end there.

The Crowd – The one time I did make it through Moria I think Helms Deep was the current expansion, so I went through a very quiet version of the underground complex.  It might be nice to see it crowded with people.

Progress – It might be nice to move through the game with each unlock.  I own all the expansions, but really haven’t played much beyond Moria.

Lifetime – Hey, since I have a lifetime subscription, it won’t cost me anything extra.  I am already paid up.

Cons

Competition – March also sees the 20th anniversary of EverQuest hit, and when it comes to the nostalgia factor, EQ > LOTRO.  That does depend on what Daybreak has on tap, but there it is.

The Crowd – Honestly, there were a lot of people in Moria relative to how Tolkien described it.  The dwarves moved in pretty damn fast behind the fellowship, especially considering there was a war on.  What will it be like in that constrained space with tons of players milling about?

Moria itself – As majestic and wonderful and large and well appointed as Moria can be, it is still a goddam cave, and we don’t call somebody a “caveman” as a compliment.  In my one run through it I wanted to get to the end in part because I wanted to get outside under the sky again.  Ten levels in Moria made me miss the usual bear/boar/wolf tropes of Shadows of Angmar.

Eregion and Lothlorien – There is a bell curve of interest when it comes to the Mines of Moria expansion.  Eregion on the near side is nothing special, and Lothlorien on the far side is uninspired enough that I was tempted to go back into the cave after a bit of sunshine.

Legendary Weapons – Somebody will claim to like legendary weapons, but I am going with Stockholm syndrome when that comes up.  I hate legendary weapons and I wish Turbine had dropped the idea the moment we get out of the cave.  Having to constantly tend to the needy baby that is your legendary weapon is just unfun.  Identifying, advancing, reforging, adorning with gems and runes and whatever else, all of which requires you to go back to camp, is an endless chore.  And don’t get me started on all of the legendary weapons that drop that you cannot use, since they are class specific.  Just what I need, more inventory issues and something else I need to bring back to camp to deconstruct.

Progress to What? – The problem with getting past Lothlorien is that it just leads into Mirkwood, which lives up to its reputation from The Hobbit.  It is a dark and boring place… literally darker than Moria in my memory.

Conclusion

I am undecided.  My enthusiasm is at war with my pessimism.  I left Eregion alone once I had finished the epic quest tasks there and had done enough quests to unlock the first stable master.  And much of the zone is skippable if I recall right.  You just have to get on the right path to get into Moria and then into the hole.

I will likely start off down the Moria path.  Whether or not I end up persisting probably depends as much on other options as anything.  As I said, the EverQuest 20th anniversary has a possibility of providing a viable and even more nostalgic alternative.  Then there are some friends who are talking about giving Path of Exile a run when the next season of it commences.  And there is always WoW.  It is easy to slip into playing that.  I guess we will see by the end of the month where I fall on this.

Book XV Denouement in Eriador

Book XV is the final final act of Volume I of the epic quest line Lord of the Rings Online.  Getting past it wraps up the tale of the game before the Mines of Moria is unlocked.

They’re just making up their own legends at this point

We left off previously with Amarthiel defeated, deprived of the ring Narchuil, the lesser ring that corrupter her, and forced to watch her father, who had strove so hard over these last few books in order to save his daughter, struck down before her.

Mordirith awarded the ring to Mordrambor and they both left, confident in their victory.

There on the ground the narrator told us that Amarthiel was taken into custody, which ended Book XIV.

Book XV starts off with Elrond ordering an investigation of Amarthiel, who has decided to return to her original name Narmeleth, to see whether or not she poses a threat to the free peoples.  This got delegated down the Rivendell hierarchy until it landed back in my lap.

The first thing was to go out and speak with her at her prison in Delossad, where she had been held by her father previously… so lots of good memories there… and possibly where she murdered and took the guise of Sara Oakheart.

Setup for the final book

That sets you on a course through the next few chapters of investigating and reliving formative points, including when Antheron… Sauron in a fair disguise, name changed from Annatar probably due to Turbine not holding the rights to works outside of the trilogy… tempts her to the dark side by offering to teach her to make wonderful things.

Oversell much?

Feanor made the silmarils, the jewels which captured the light of the two trees, Laurelin and Telperion, which were deemed the greatest work of craft by the elves, the theft of which was the root cause of the problems of the Third Age.

Given that, I’m not sure a ring would really be beyond the imagination of Fearnor.  And while it is within every salesperson to shade the truth, you’d think one of the Noldor, the kin of Fearnor might smell a rat in that.  But given that they forged all those rings of power, maybe not.  Elves.

The highlight of this set of investigative and marginally informative interludes is that even the devs seemed to have realized by that point that making you run, ride, or recall all over Eriador was really getting old, so the quest chain actually teleports you around.  You accept some of the quests, like the one telling you to report in at Esteldin, and you just get sent there.

You still have to go do the ground work, find people, count noses, pick up a broken sword from a grave… I wasn’t aware that there would be so much broken gear and grave robbery when I signed up for this gig… but at least the whole series cut back on the whole need to travel to talk to somebody who will then send you off to do the actual task thing.

This all winds up with you and Narmeleth being sent off to defeat Mordrambor, destroy Narchuil, and throw down Mordirith, lest they overrun Eriador in the name of Sauron.

My thought on the plan was along the lines of, “Didn’t we get our asses handed to us by this duo a couple of times already, even when Narmeleth/Amarthiel had the ring helping her?”  I mean, our ace in the hole was the broken blade of the sword that didn’t slay Mordirith back in Book 8.  How it that going to work out well?  But you go where the plot dictates, so I followed Narmeleth into Gador Gularan.

Narmeleth at least dropped the “must walk very slowly” trait she used when in the guise of Sara Oakheart.  I will give her that.  But one of the elements of this instance was keeping her alive and, in the grand style of LOTRO escort quests, she showed all the usual subtly in passing through danger… which means she couldn’t have drawn more aggro if she had walked into an Orc bar in Mordor clad in her elven finery and took a whizz on the symbol of the unblinking eye.

Keeping her alive was a chore, as she chose to run headlong into every room like a tank in a WoW Dungeon Finder group, intent on grabbing ALL the aggro right away.  Fortunately, as a guardian, I can pull aggro back, but she seemed intent on swapping to target the mob I had the least hold on so as to beat on it until she got aggro back.

And to top that off, her speedy gait… literally running to the next fight at times… meant that she was headed into danger with half health as well.  This must be a painful instance with a hunter or a burglar.

Still, I managed to shepherd her through the preliminaries despite her death wish, only to have her drop the usual NPC bombshell when the big fight looms.

Wait, after all that you’re not going to get close to him?

Playing “the ring might still have a power over me” card, Narmeleth said she would be there ringside for the fight, but there would be no tapping her in.

There was a bit of good news to go with this however.

Wait, how many of us do you see?  How many fingers am I holding up?

For the square off against Mordrambor apparently only one member of your fellowship is supposed to get in there and fight him.  This was good news, to me at least, since doing this solo I had been buffed up to have the strength of a whole fellowship in a single dwarf.  In the classic Sir Robin, “That’s easy!” frame of mind I dove into the battle.

Fighting Mordrambor wasn’t really a chore.  With the buffs, and being a guardian, I was handling him pretty well.  Only after a while did I realize what the rest of your fellowship is supposed to be doing while one of you fights Mordrambor; protect Narmeleth.

I suddenly realized that her health bar was extremely low.  Fighting with my back to her I hadn’t noticed that she had attracted some mobs and was literally standing in the fire, quietly dying.  I ran back to her and cleared off the attackers, but her health bar was dangerously low.  After that I had to shuttle back and forth between her and Mordrambor.  But her health was too low to last, and soon disaster struck.

Me either… say something next time!  Also, get out of the damn fire!

So it was back to the start again.

This time, knowing her style, I immediately ran ahead to grab mobs before she got in the room, saving myself a lot of hassle in trying to rescue her every time the cave got wide enough for some orcs to hang out.

We faced Mordrambor again.  This time I positioned myself to fight him while watching her, running back and forth as needed.

I’m watching you… don’t stand in the fire!

Mordrambor just stays in his spot when you run back to her, which seemed pretty sporting of him.  It would have been easy for him to just stick me in the back while I was attending to other issues.

Forewarned of the dynamics, Mordrambor was defeated.  Narmeleth took the ring from him and, after the usual reminiscing over the power the ring gave her, tossed it into the molten pool, destroying it.

That left Mordirith.

He was deeper in Gador Gularan and, when we arrived, acted the smug host saying that our arrival was not unexpected.  The usual villain puffery.  And so we got stuck into fighting him.  His trick for the battle was to summon up people from past chapters in an effort to throw Narmeleth.  But that wasn’t going to throw me.

Slay Sara Oakheart? Dare I live the Middle-earth dream?

Those multiplied in number with each round, though the individual illusions grew weaker as they were split, so five Laerdans were no more difficult than three Sara Oakhearts.

Talk about your daddy issues!

After that played out… who was he going to use after Laerdan… Narmeleth called out Mordirith to come and face her like a… whatever he is… and he didn’t, knocking her down, stunning me, and taking control of the camera to keep it focused on him.  And then he proceeded to monologue.

Gloating villain mistake… soon you’ll be telling her your plans

During this whole speech the character models interact in a very odd way, with Narmeleth’s head lolling about, eyes open and an awkward look on her face, as Mordirith seems to move her about like he is rubbing her head on his torso.  I realize that it is just that the models… and human bodies… just don’t bend that way gracefully, but I have to admit I found it a bit distracting.

This ends in the expected way, with the delay letting Narmeleth rally while the content of the monologue only enrages her, letting her anger and determination combine so that when he starts making fun of her father she strikes.

In with the red currents!

She sticks him with the sword and he is reported as “thrown into the void… never to return” as Narmeleth lays there.  She declares that her time no Middle-earth is ending as well and asks me not to weep, though by this point I think she is delirious and mistaking relief with sorrow.

After that it was back to rewind up the chain of command, back to Elrond, who gives you an epilogue task that has you rooting around Laerdan’s room for a package he has left for you.  That awards you a cosmetic cloak, a mount, some legendary item experience (wasted, since I don’t have one yet), a portrait of Narmeleth to hang in your house (also wasted, as LOTRO housing does not appeal to me), and a title to commemorate your deed.

Champion of Eriador

And so it goes.

At that point I had pretty much accomplished what I had set out to do on the legendary server.  As with any run through content I’ve done before… some of it many times when it comes to LOTRO… I managed to go through some old favorites while seeing some bits I had not done before.

I had some idea about doing an alt or two through the original content as well, but at this point I am feeling more like taking a bit of a break.  I played pretty regularly over the last three month, logging in nightly to play over the first eight weeks at least.  That tapered off some towards the end as the end of the epic quest line came within sight.

I might go back and finish off some lower level deeds as the month goes by, but I doubt LOTRO will rank as high in my play time this month as it did last.

The main question is probably whether I will return for the unlocking of The Mines of Moria, currently slated for “March-ish.”  That is in doubt.  Most of my affection for LOTRO lays in the first fifty levels.  I don’t dislike Moria, but neither do I yearn for it or the annoyance of the legendary item system.  And beyond Moria there isn’t much to pull me.  I found Mirkwood a bore, its dark tedium a barrier between me and any further content.

But the main issue is that come March we will be getting into the EverQuest 20th anniversary events, and there is a distinct possibility that my focus will lay there rather than in Middle-earth.

So we shall see where I end up come the end of the month I suppose.

To the Ring Forges of Eregion

Eregion shouldn’t be there.  It shouldn’t be in the LOTRO Legendary server yet.  I shouldn’t be able to access it.

We’ll just stick with Legendary I think

As a zone, it was not part of the original launch content, or even a post-launch addition like Evendim and Forochel.  Eregion came in with the Mines of Moria expansion in early 2009.  It is the starter zone for Moria, the warm up that sets your location relative to the fellowship of the ring as well as the place where you pick up your legendary weapon so you can start that endless grind.

Not that the fellowship is all that hard to follow…

Also, as you progress through the zone, you start getting quests where the reward is experience for that millstone about your neck, your legendary weapon.  Only you can’t get one of those yet, so doing those quests are something of a waste.

Anyway, if you are keeping a list of all the ways that the LOTRO Legendary has included things that weren’t there at launch… and that must be a very long list by this point… you can add Eregion to it.

On the flip side, it would be hard to keep Eregion out.  Since SSG was determined to keep the effort as low as possible for this server, Eregion pretty much had to stay in because you can walk there if you so desire.  So, short of having a different map for the server… and I don’t think the patcher is up to even that level of complication, given how it seems to need to take its shoes off to count to twenty some days… we were just going to have to deal with Eregion being part of the first chapter of the server.

Eregion is also a bridge zone, a link between what happened in the original Shadows of Angmar content and what was to come in Mines of Moria.  It is where you prepare for your new life under ground.  It is also where the hand-off between Volume I and Volume II occurs, so I suppose it isn’t a stretch to argue it ought to be there.  You need to go there in order to finish up Volume I in any case.

And so it was that I launched into Book XIV of the epic quest line.  This book doesn’t center around a single zone, but rather sends you out again on a grand tour of various locations in Eriador.  We have the two halves of the ring Narchuil, so now we have to find out what happens next, all of which starts with Laerdan.

So, what’s it going to be Laerdan?

There is much running about across the landscape and a series of instances that tell what happened between Laerdan and his daughter Narmeleth, possessed by Amarthiel (and who can appear as here… or Sara Oakheart… as needs require) that I am sure would take years of therapy for either of them to work through all of what happened.

Questioning daddy before an audience

Trying to play nice, before getting rough

The whole thing is drawn out too far and makes you play as other characters with different abilities from time to time, something that always gets on my nerves when over-used.  You even have to run around and wake up sleeping orcs with a good, swift kick at one point, which might remind you of early quests in Durotar.

Eventually though it is off to Eregion, to the ring forges found there where the one ring… edit: nope, not the one ring… its companions (the three, seven, and nine), and an unknown number of lesser rings (including Narchuil) were made.

Map of Eregion

That all comes together at the instance at Tham Mirdain, down near Mirobel, in the southwest corner of the zone.  As before, this is a fellowship sized instance which, if you attempt it solo, you get a buff that makes you powerful enough to master it.

The instance is straightforward enough.  If you take on each group around an area it will save you some bother as they’ll all come to help if you go straight for the obvious main NPC there abouts.

In the end I made it through and found myself facing Amarthiel.  But Narchuil had already been reforged and she now wore it.

Pretty much the story of this whole quest line so far

She kindly offers to let me be the first to die to her new toy when Mordrambor, who has been running around after the ring himself shows up.  He also seems pretty confident that he holds the upper hand despite Amarthiel having the ring.  He has a backer, some power in his corner now, some heavy ammunition in his camp, but he isn’t saying who quite yet.

Interrogation is not her strong suite, let me tell you

And then we find out as Mordirith, who I thought Golodir and I had defeated back at the end of Volume I, Book VIII in Carn Dum deep in Angmar.  Reports of his death, however, were greatly exaggerated.

The trio re-united in Eregion… Mord has a dragon mount now!

To cut to the basics, this was all a ruse to test Amarthiel.  She failed, Mordrambor is awarded the ring by Mordirith.  Amarthiel is rightly pissed and tries to defy Mordirith, which works out about as expected.

Mage fight! Mage Fight!

It was kind of like the duel between Harry Potter and Voldemort… only they are both evil and you’re probably screwed no matter who wins.

The power of the Nazgul prevails and Amarthiel lays broken and sobbing on the ground as Mordrambor takes the ring from her.  And then Laerdan shows up, because this is the grand finale I guess, and promptly gets himself smote by Mordrambor because he called Mordirith by his middle-school nickname or something.

And so the scene ends.  Mordirith flies off on his dragon.  Mordrambor disappears… I guess the ring gave him that power, as previously he had to exit scenes on his own two legs.  Laerdan is… well… not dead.  Elves don’t die, being tied to the fate of Arda for all time, so he could come back.  But his current body was laying there lifeless. And Amarthiel is just sprawled on the ground, her plans undone.  The narrator says you capture her, but that is played off screen.

And that was it for Book XIV.  Just one more book to go to finish out Volume I of the epic quest line.

The Ride Across Forochel

At the end of Volume I Book XII the cut scene intoned that the other half of the ring Narchuil, the current focus of the epic quest line, was somewhere in Forochel.

If it involves this server, it gets this graphic

However, the narrator pronounced as though it was spelled “for oh hell,” which was odd because I had always thought it was “for oh shell” or maybe “for oh chill.”  But that is what happens when you see a word written for many years without anybody saying it aloud I suppose.  And the same cut scene also pronounced “Narchuil” as “nar hu will” so I guess the silent “c” is a thing.  I only remember the hard “c” from the appendix when applied to names like “Cirdan” and “Celeborn.”

While I have been to Forochel before and have run a lot of the quests there, that was quite a while ago. Like, back in 2011. But I have a screen shot to prove I was there.

What I had forgotten was how big the zone is.  And the maps in the game do not really convey size very well, as they are all the same size in the game and do not have a scale listed.

An older Forochel map from the wiki because it is cleaner

Seriously, Forochel is a deceptively large piece of real estate relative to other zones. I rode into Forochel from Evendim, which was not that long of a ride. Book XIII, chapter 2 sends you to the first Lossoth encampment, Kauppa-kohta. There you check in, only to be sent on to Suri-kyla, the capital of the Lossoth people, to speak to the chieftain. I could ride on my own or pop a mithril coin for the stable master to get me to the next stop. Having a pile of mithril coins still, I opted to just ride, heading to the next stable master down the road and… that took a while.

Kauppa-kohta to Pynti-peldot took nearly five and a half minutes, stable master to stable master.

Pynti-peldot to Suri-kyla, my actual destination, was a further five minute ride, stable master to stable master.

To put that into perspective, going from the Foresaken Inn to Ost Guruth in the Lone Lands takes three and a third minutes. I would estimate that is about 75% of the length of the zone, so the whole of the Lone Lands end to end ought to be about a four and a half minute ride.

So the distance between stops in Forochel are pretty much the length of the Lone Lands.  You could basically fit the Lone Lands in between Kauppa-kohta to Pynti-peldot. Yes, the rides are not exactly as the crow flies, but then the road through the Lone Lands does a bit of twisting at the end as well.

And then where you need to go eventually is Kuru-leiri, which is way around on the other side of the bay… and you can’t just go all Evendim and swim there because the frozen water will defeat you… another case where defeat stands in for death… which means you need to make another ride back to Pynti-peldot and then a further ride to Zigilgund, something that closes in on ten minutes of riding again, and which still leaves you a fair walk from your destination.

Or you can spend a mithril coin and use the swift travel Kuru-leiri. Except that once you get to Kuru-leiri you cannot get the stable master stop. That requires you to finish a quest back at Suri-kyla which, in the usual kick in the nuts approach that the Turbine team seemed to prefer back in the day, the quest requires you to go all the way over to just shy of Kuru-leiri, do a few things, the go all the way back to Suri-kyla before you can get the stable master. Book XIII sends you over that way repeatidly, so you really want that stable master, and while I could just toss mithril coins at the problem, I feel the need to paraphrase the punchline to an old joke by saying, “Darling, do you think I’m made of mithril coins?”

Anyway, now that I have beaten that to death, suffice to say that I spent more time traveling back and forth than I would have preferred.  I’ll just sum it up in map form.

Your direct travel options in Forochel

This, of course, points out a problem I always have.  While the game is trying to tell me this epic tale, a series of background tasks that helped make the victory over Sauron possible, I am always more interested in my own story, the odd situations, and the petty inconveniences I have to face along the way, and riding all over Forochel makes that list.

Snow zones…

Seriously, I try to imagine the books written to conform to how some of these quest chains run.  What if the fellowship of the ring had to run back to Rivendell and consult with Elrond every third event.  Oh, the Redhorn Gate is snowed in, better ask Elrond.  Damn, the door to Moria is locked, better ask Elrond.  Hrmm, Gandalf is dead, everybody back to Rivendell for a consult.

But there I was in the snow, looking for the other half of the lesser ring Narchuil and hoping not to have to report back to Rivendell any time soon.

With the revelation that the remaining bit of the ring was in Forochel the usual cast of characters seemed destined to follow on.  First on the scene was Mordrambor, agent of Angmar, and special guest star in the epic quest line since Book X and the running about in Evendim.  He showed up to throw his weight around in the usual way.

Yeah, yeah, defy Angmar and face the whatever

Given that my fate so far has been that of glorified messenger between various NPCs, the locals ought to be wary of sharing it.

After doing various tasks to gain the favor and trust of the Lossoth eventually Saija consented to lead me to the missing ring.  This is another instance that was supposed to be fellowship only, but which you get the now usual buff in order to handle it solo.

And the end of the instance Mordrambor shows up, because of course he does, and Saija opts out on fighting him, so I am there to face him alone.

He obviously isn’t familiar with the mechanics of LOTRO

But first, of course, we have to have the monologue about the futility of my task.

This is your elevator pitch, isn’t it?

Then we fight.  With all the buffs and a decent rotation I am wearing him down, when suddenly Amarthiel appears, stuns me, and squares off against Mordrambor.  How many ways into this place are there?  Did we have to take the long way?

At this point my failure to pay close attention to the story starts to show, since I am a bit hazy on why these two are fighting again.  I get it, they both want the ring.  But don’t they essentially play for the same team?  I mean, Mordrambor is there declaring himself a servant to the Great Eye and Amarthiel was just on the palantir to Mordor to speak to his Eyeness not so far back in the tale.  I guess this is more of an office politics thing on the dark side.

Mordrambor, for all his talk, isn’t keen to stick around, though he leaves on an implied promise of a return visit.

You’ve not seen the last of me!

Amarthiel also departed, leaving me alive and/or undefeated this time.  Why? I don’t know.  But there I am and there is an ancient chest to hand… because nobody every stores things in a recently built chest.

Inside I found… uh…

Fragment? What does that mean?

At that point I was done with the instance and, as far as the epic quest line was concerned, done with Forochel for the moment.  The next step was, as expected, a run back to Rivendell to consult with Elrond.

I didn’t jump right on that however.  Elrond is a patient man… elf… half elf I guess.  I had done enough to get pretty well along with my reputation with the locals.  This was a bit of a surprise since you start with a factional deficit.   However, the mobs in the zone drop lots of trinkets that, when consumed, raise your reputation, so I was able to get the Lossoth to kindred without a ton of effort.  I was a bit disappointed that their mount wasn’t a moose or something, but I’ll take a tundra pony in a pinch.

That done, I headed back to Rivendell to tell my tale.  There I learned that “fragment” meant “the other half” and that basically all of Narchuil had been secured.  Laerdan was all giddy to get on the road to Erigon, where the rings were forged during the second age of Middle-earth, and get to work putting Narchuil back together.  And so it seemed that I might be headed to Eregion at last, the final zone in the pre-Moria content.

There is Something About Sara

So there I was in Agmar having sent Mordirith packing back to Mordor and sitting around with Golodir wondering if I should just shuffle off to Forochel or Eregion to finish out my run to level 50.  I was already well into level 48 by then, had explored deeper into Angmar than I had ever done before, and was starting to feel as though a bit of a break might be in order before SSG decided to unlock Moria for us.

Have I had all of the Legends I can stomach yet?

But there was the starter for the Volume I, Book 9 series of quests, complete with a new set of related deeds indicating that Volume I stretched out into a total of 15 books.  And, well, I’ve never finished Volume I of the epic quest line before, but I’ve done Eregion and Forochel in the past, so I figured I might as well go with something new… new-ish… to me.

Also, UtlrViolet is clearly daring me to carry on with this.

As I left off last post we had Sara Oakheart appear out of nowhere and steal the palantir from Carn Dum without any rhyme or reason that I could grasp.  So, of course I had to go to Rivendell to seek advice.  The change up this time was speaking to Gandalf.  I guess we cannot have Elrond carrying the whole load on the Rivendell rubber stamp front.

Gandalf was about as helpful as I had come to expect.  After a bit of “Wait, what?” from him, he sent me back to Golodir.  You know, back where I just was.  I did stop for a bit to way good-bye to the fellowship, as the start of the Volume II quest line was at hand.

Good luck storming the dark land

After that, it was back to Angmar to carry on.

Golodir hadn’t been idle while I was away.  His scouts had found Sara Oakheart out by Barad Gularan, that creepy multi-spired place I commented on in the last post.  It looks very cool.

In Golodir’s office at Gath Forthnir

Naturally, my job is to go find her.

Fortunately, in that last round of quests about Barad Gularan, where I had to fetch Golodir’s missing gear, I had gotten a feel for how to get about without getting stomped by an elite master giant or anything, so I was able to wend my way around to where Sara was waiting.

Sara just waiting for me… looking a little low-res

Naturally, on checking in with her, she asked me to follow her.  This was just what I was dreading, another Sara Oakheart slow motion escort quest.  But this time Sara doesn’t hang about.

Sara proves she has the moves

She led me off to a room inside the tower with an altar and some people in rows like pews and some clearly Mordor-esque characters hanging about.  There she stuns me… again… and stars he routine.

Sara’s setup

And, as it turns out, she is not Sara Oakheart at all… and probably never was… or something.

Amarthiel revealed

So there we go.  That slow walk escort quest way back in Bree… it WAS a plot by Mordor just to annoy us.

Anyway, in her Amarthiel guise she immediately gets on the palantir to Mordor to speak directly with Sauron, just in case anybody wasn’t clear on which side of the war she was on.

Calling Mordor, come in Mordor…

Her thing is apparently the ring Narchuil, one of the lesser rings.  Not the one or the three or the seven or the nine, but one of the practice rings made by the elves when Sauron was in his Annatar guise and helping the elves along with their ring lore before they figured out his scheme.

Then, after the whole Bond villain reveal sequence she kills me.

Well, that is that… also, I still have a pile of mithril coins there, don’t I?

Well, she doesn’t kill me.  She defeats me.  Or something.  I don’t know.  Nobody dies in LOTRO, you don’t have health points, just morale, and when you lose that you retreat.  So while this seems like very much a point in time where a baddie might try to kill the hero, necessitating an unlikely rescue or escape scenario, here Turbine just defaults to the rules of the game and lets me be defeated to re-appear elsewhere.

Seems like a bit of a cheat, really.  But there you go.  We’re well outside of Tolkein’s works with this already.  This is all Turbine “keep people busy while we finish Moria” lore.

And speaking of keeping people busy, the whole thing devolves into a search of the various zones in Eriador in an attempt to find Narchuil before the forces of Angmar.  This starts off with finding and slaying some random champions of Angmar salted about in some earlier zones.  They’re related to Mordirith who is tied up in this somehow.  So there is a guy holed up in a corner of the Lone Lands with the trolls, who seem surprisingly chill about this guy just setting up in one of their caves.

Just hanging out with the trolls

He isn’t much help.  I slay him… or maybe I just defeat him… and his buddies hiding in Ered Luin and in the North Downs.

Eventually we end up in Evendim because Annuminas is key in this somehow.  There we eventually track down Sara or Amarthiel and hatch a cunning plan to get back the palantir.

Wait, that’s our plan? Just grab it and run?

But there is no “you’re all crazy” dialog response option in LOTRO, so off we went into Barad Tironn Worlds to find the palantir.

Even Amarthiel seems a bit surprised that we have arrived.  But there is the palatir sitting in its regulation size palatir stand.  Seriously, it is identical to the one in Carn Dum.

You and me both Amarthiel

Then the fight starts and Laerdan says to grab the damn thing and I do and it looks like I am running through Annuminus with a bowling ball.

I do not look happy about this either

I make it to the finish line, the instance is declared a success.  Palantir secured.

Of course, Laerdan gets captured and we eventually have to rescue him.  We also have to get the whole story, via an instance full of flashback creating braziers, to tell the story of Laerdan and his daughter Amarthiel and the ring Narchuil… and Sara freaking Oakheart.

In the flashbacks we learn, ever so slowly, how Laerdan hid Amarthiel away because she had been possessed with the evil in the ring and how Sara Oakheart had one simple set of instructions to follow.

This is all you have to do. Do not color outside of the lines

Of course, she screws this up.

Books? Why not just give her a gun?

And so on.  We find that Amarthiel gets away, but is as pissed about having to be around Sara Oakheart as the rest of us… she was probably as ploddingly slow with the room service as she was with that prologue quest… so she burns Sara’s house down on the way out.

Look, who hasn’t fallen back on arson in such times?

And… well.. a bunch more stuff happened, I ran around the Trollshaws quite a bit, turning level 50 along the way, then it was back to Angmar to rescue Laerdan and eventually end up in Barad Durgul where I found half of the ring Narchuil.

Wait, only half of the ring is here?

Apparently though the ring halves still have some power and could still aid the enemy.  Anyway, it was back to Rivendell after that for a grand consultation and discussion.  You know it is a big deal when you get both Elrond AND Gandalf in the same room.

Wait, which of you said that? And didn’t Gandalf leave Rivendell further up the page?

There we got some more exposition straight from the mouths of various people in the room before we ended up with the idea that the other half of the ring is in Forochel.

And so, at last, I set out for the coldest zone in Eriador to find half a ring.