Tag Archives: LOTRO Legendary

Tinnudir and Annuminas

Tinnudir is the hub of Evendim, the central point from which most of the tale of the zone is told.  Oatbarton, Dwaling, and High King’s Crossing lead you into the Evendim, but Tinnudir is where you are set up for the long haul.

Annuminas feels legendary

Tinnudir isn’t much of a place even.  It lacks the pastoral charm of Oatbarton and the overwrought epic nature of High King’s Crossing.  Esteldin is sprawling compared to it, Ost Guruth feels like a fort when set against it.  Tinnudir is barely a place at all, some minor wreckage in a zone filled with the epic structures of the kingdom of Arnor.  It is just so much dirt and a few broken walls.

Tinnudir at night

It has all the requisite NPCs you need to hand, a task board if you feel you need to work on your standings (you won’t), a stable, a dock, and the usual crafting stations and skirmish camp off on the periphery.  While you’ll speak to many NPCs about quests, Orchalwe… whom I call “Ollie” in my head… is the main focus.  He sends you thither and yon around the zone.

Evendim as a zone

If you do every quest… and for maybe the first time ever I gritted my teeth, determined to do every last quest I could… you will pay a visit to nearly every acre, trod on every island, go up on  every hill and down into every dale before you’re done.

In the past I have always done everything to the east of Tinnudir, and all the islands, but I am generally getting so far ahead of the leveling curve by doing that that I tend to skip the Eavespires at the north end of the lake and the swathe of quests that lead down the western side to where the wood-trolls live.

This time I did the whole thing, even stopping at the wood-trolls long enough to make some headway on one of the dwarf racial deeds.

Advancing enmity of the trolls

I spent a few nights working my way around the zone, playing for an hour or two tops on any given night.

I even made it over to the blue lady and her corner of the zone.

Show respects

She is a bit out of the way and doing her quests require some swimming, something that will be familiar to anybody who did the zone in the early days before boat travel was added.

The number of places you are sent off to visit and the plethora of quests that await you make it feel like you’ll be there for a long, long time.  But, in the end, you don’t really travel that far… except to go to and fro with Gwindeth… and the quests go by quickly enough.

Soon enough I was on the boat to Men Erain, the way of the kings, where the tombs of the kings of Arnor lay.  Arriving there is the sign that the end phase of the zone is nearly at hand.  There is a series of quests to run there that send you in and around the tombs as well as way up into the hills behind, far enough that you can look over the peaks and see the bridge and the way back to Oatbarton.  Meanwhile you’re practically hanging over Annuminas, slaying the inevitable tomb robbers.

Fighting on a slope

At one of the peaks your quest objective is simply to use the /look emote to see what you can see about the state of the tomb robber infestation.

Looking out and reporting

But even that long trek takes less time than you think it will.  And soon you’re done with Men Erain and are back at Tinnudir speaking to Orchalwe again.  But this time he isn’t going to simply send you off on another task.  This time you’re to meet up with him in Annuminas, the final area of the zone.

Annuminas Map

Annuminas was the capital of Arnor, and while it lays in ruin it is still an amazing site.  In a way it is crazy that Turbine spent the time to create this area, something that is barely a footnote in the books most of us have read.  But it is really the highlight of the zone, the payoff for tracking about after the various and sundry foes.  Here the forces of Angmar congregate.

I spent a mithril coin to take a swift travel trip to the camp of the Wardens of Annuminas within the city just to avoid picking up too much along the way.  The camp is spare, though still arguably nicer than Tinnudir.

The Wardens camp in Annuminas

It doesn’t have all the amenities, but there is a task board and vendors and a few quest givers standing about the place.  But you really only need to speak with Orchalwe.  Once you start with him he joins you as an ally in your exploration of the old capital city.

Standing with Orchalwe

WoW has had quest givers like this, ones that accompany you along the way, letting you turn in quests and pick up new ones as you go.  I’m not sure who had the idea first.  But I haven’t had a quest giver quite like Orchalwe anywhere else.

In Annuminas you have a few larger scale quests and Orchalwe has some specific tasks for you to open with.  But the real adventure is the exploration of the city as, in each district or area Orchalwe will pop a quest for you.  But you only get the quests if you get to the right places.  So I always make an effort to get into every nook and cranny.

Some areas of the zone are fairly challenging, featuring groups of signature mobs.  Orchalwe assists you, and throws some heals in battle that can keep you going, but I rolled in there at level 38 which is a bit behind the curve, so there were some tight fights.

Orchalwe providing vital intel

However, I was fairly lucky during my explorations.  While by this point I was well behind the main pack of players, many of whom were already lingering about at level 50, I still managed to run into fellow travelers along the way at key points, forming ad hoc fellowships of need in order to tackle challenging objectives.  A level 45 bard showed up to assist me with the one small fellowship quest I needed to tackle.

I actually reached the point where Orchalwe was done.  I had achieved his over-arching objective and could have dismissed him and headed back to the camp.  But I knew from memory that I still had four or five of his location based quests left to do, so I dragged him along as I sought them out.

I didn’t really need those quests.  I had long since finished the final quest count deed and I had hit the kinship level of faction with the Wardens of Annuminas Men Erain.  I even had the advanced slayer deed for invaders from Angmar done.  But I really wanted to get in and see and do every last quest.  Given how long it had been since I had run through the zone last and the small likelihood that I was going to be doing it in this depth again anytime soon, I felt I had best treat this like it might be my last visit.  You never know what the future might bring.

And when I the control points had all been take and I finally got to that last boss on Tyl Annun and defeated him, I dismissed Orchalwe and made my way back to the camp, done with Annumiunas in just an evenings play.

From there Orchalwe says to meet him back in Tinnudir, which he pretty much has to say since he’s going to be there when you get back anyway.  From there it was a final quest turn in with him.  Then I hit the faction vendor to make sure and pick up the mount from them.

Then my quest log had tasks pointing me at Rivendell and the Trollshaws.  I was still shy of 40, which you need in order to take the stable mount to Rivendell, so I went to the Trollshaws.  I left behind me quite a few deeds left undone.  The numbers needed for the slayer deeds start to add up, sitting at 270 total kills needed for some.  I had no problem hitting that number with the ubiquitous tomb robbers and the invaders from Angmar, but others I let be.  I got all the titles and basic deeds, but the advanced deeds I’ll leave for another time.

And so it was off to the Trollshaws, a zone that is always a bit problematic for me, to get level 40 and continue the epic story line.

Through the Shire to Evendim

Having discharged my epic story line duties in Esteldin, I was free to follow the two quests inviting me to come to Evendim.

A zone with its own set of legends

One of the odd things about Evendim as a zone is that it isn’t exactly all within Evendim.

The Evendim experience itself is, in its way, very much a post-WoW designed zone that sends you from one quest hub to another, advancing you through the story of the zone.  But Evendim starts in Oatbarton, which is part of The Shire and all that implies.

Evendim as a zone

First, Oatbarton isn’t a major stable master destination.  If you want to take what I consider the “correct” way there, you have to travel to Michel Delving first.  Then, from there, you either ride (or walk) up to the Greenfields and the road north through there that leads to Oatbarton.

Or, if you happen to have all of the stable master routes in The Shire already, or if you don’t mind spending a Mithril coin or three to get them, then you go from Michel Delving to Hobbiton, Hobbiton to Brockenborings, and from Brockenborings on up to Oatbarton.

The route to Oatbarton

I chose to ride the route on my own since, in addition to being cheap, I was also still looking to catch up on apprentice level crafting materials and a week or so into the life of the server The Shire seemed pretty dead.  My progress to Oatbarton was slow due to many harvesting side trips, but I did arrive there eventually.

When I say that Oatbarton is part of The Shire, it is not just because it looks like The Shire and because hobbits live there.  Slaying wolves or goblins there count towards deeds from The Shire and the task board quests increase your reputation with the Mathom Society, the key Shire faction.

The quests though, those do not count towards your quest deed total for The Shire.  But they are very Shire-like quests that send you about to round up sheep, milk cows, churn butter, light lamps, put up scarecrows, and collect mis-laid farm implements, all in the maze of paths, hedgerows, and little fields that make up much of the settlement.

Your allies in the Shire can be… odd

I have to admit, though I sometimes scoff and the non-stop series of murder for hire quests that make up the content of MMORPGs, there is a simplicity to that sort of thing.  But I can take a break from that for a while to help some silly hobbits order their lives.

Encouraging pipe weed use? That’ll cost you with the ESRB

One wonders how they get along when I’m not around… or if they depend on bribing gullible passers-by with their dusty old mathoms to get their work done as a matter of course.

And, sure enough, the return to slaughter comes soon enough.  While in Oatbarton it is mostly limited to the local pests… and some wolves… when you move along to Dwaling and the glass blowers camp the killing gets stepped up a notch.  Not that there aren’t other things to do, like collecting sand for the glass blowers.  But to color their glass they need bits and pieces of the local fauna.

Why here for a glass blowing camp?

Then there is the matter of Dwaling itself, taken over by ruffians.  Nobody says you have to go kill them wholesale.  You’re only asked to serve them notice of eviction, giving the hobbits plausible deniability I am sure.  But the ruffians are all hostile and attack on sight, so what did you think was going to happen?  Murder by bureaucratic pretense.  Even with the goblin camp up the hill they never tell you specifically to kill anybody.  But they goblins aren’t going to hand over those documents and let you set fire to their concoctions just because you say “pretty please?”

Well, I didn’t run out there with my sword and shield and plumed chapeau simply to look cool.  Death to those who get in the way of due process.

It isn’t until you get to High King’s Crossing that you start in with the rangers and their faction, the Wardens of Annuminas.

The High King’s Crossing Bridge

That is seriously the most overwrought bridge I can recall from anywhere in Middle-earth.  I cannot help but imagine the engineer looking at the specifications for it and pointing out exactly how many bridges could be built out of all the decoration that goes on it.  And then there is how much the bridge will have to be reinforced to handle the load.  In the end, the actual, useful bridge part of the structure is just the little arc across the river at the front, the with path leading away.

But all that extra space gives the rangers as place to set up camp.  They all pointedly avoid looking up the king’s robes though.

It is from that camp that quests move more into the vein of the zone, where making safe the relics Numenor and securing the monuments of the Kingdom of Arnor are high on the agenda.  That and swimming.  Even with the boat service on the main lake you still end up swimming… in my case wearing a full suit of heavy armor and holding a sword and shield… across various stretches of water.

The theme of tombs and tomb robbers kicks off in a big way, and it is these buildings that represent the Arnor that make the zone so memorable.  It also explains why the kingdom really fell; too many public works projects.  There is a big city, an elaborate tomb for every king, and all of those defense works.

Deeds have also kicked over into full Evendim mode, though the counts required are up quite a bit from the Lone Lands.  It doesn’t matter so much when it comes to tomb robbers, you’ll probably slay all 270 you need for the basic and advanced deed just doing the main quest line.  The zone is rife with them, to the point that you have to wonder how they feed themselves.

Other mobs… there are some you’re going to have to spend some time hunting to get the advanced deed completed.  I’m looking at you Limrafn.  They are weak, non-aggro spirits floating about and you need 150 of them.  I hear hanging out in Barandalf in the evening is the way to get them and salamanders knocked out.

High King’s crossing doesn’t last too long though.  Once you get through the quest chain there… which includes a chance to climb up and stand on the king’s head, a task I enjoy probably more than I should… you are sent off to Tinnudir.  That is the heart and hub of most of the rest of the zone.  It has vendors, crafting, full service stable access to all major points, and a bank NPC for storing away all the drops you want to save for later.  It is from there that the real zone begins for me.

Deeds of the Lone Lands

As I felt I was falling a bit behind in levels relative to the quests I had been chasing in the Lone Lands, having rushed into the zone a bit early, I decided to take a level or two off from questing to pursue some of the deeds available in the zone.

You know which server I’m talking about

In LOTRO deeds are something like achievements and something like quests and they come in a few regular flavors.  You can finish them by doing quests in a zone, by visiting points of interest, by slaying some of the nearby mobs, by gaining reputation with the local faction, and by simply using some of your skills a bunch of time.

Pretty standard achievement stuff these days… except for maybe the skills thing.

The difference is that they sometimes come in different levels, they are very zone-centric, and that can pile on a lot of rewards.  You get titles, but WoW will give you titles for some achievements.  However, you can also get faction, boosts to virtue traits, faction boosts, skirmish marks, and even LOTRO Points for use in the cash shop.

North Downs Orc-Slayer Advanced Deed

As an aside, the fact that deeds hand out skirmish marks like candy means that you really don’t need to do much crafting to keep your gear up to spec.  The local skirmish camp… and they are outside every major settlement… will sell you armor, weapons, and jewelry that will keep you going.  So you have that, virtues to improve your character’s combat abilities, cash for the store, and reputation that will unlock items at the local faction store.

And still I don’t always do them, or concentrate on them at least.  But this time I thought I would take a day or two off to just work on those.  And while, as noted elsewhere, grinding mobs isn’t as good for xp as quests, if you persist at it you will get your due there.

I had also gotten a deed accelerator writ as a daily Hobbit present.  For 90 minutes each kill would count double.  So I decided to use that wisely.

The Lone Lands

On the list was a deed for slaying trolls.  Those are tough, signature mobs and, aside from the one you meet at the summit of Weathertop, they only show up in the swampy eastern portion of Harloeg, in the southeast of the zone.  I headed out there to find some trolls.

He is a big boy

I needed 40 trolls for the first deed, which included a title, a 80 more for the advanced deed.  But with the writ running for 90 minutes and one in the bag already, I just needed to kill 59 trolls to get there.  So I found a quiet corner of Harloeg with plenty of trolls close by, put on a podcast, and set to work.

Thanks to another troll hunter who happened by for a bit… casual team ups are definitely a thing in LOTRO… I actually finished up the trolls more quickly than I thought I would, getting the advanced deed done with an hour still left on my writ.

I headed over to Haragmar, a bit to the north, to use the remaining time on the writ to get the advanced deed for wights out of the way and then get stuck into the bog lurkers for another deed.  Bog lurkers are a bit rare, but both deeds together need just 90 overall.  I managed to knock out the first deed for 30 and get 30 out of 60 for the advanced deed before time ran out.

I was keen to get the slayer deeds done as they wrapped up into a meta deed that I had never bothered to do before.  With four months or so to get ready for Moria I figured I could spend the time.  In addition to trolls, wights, and bog lurkers, I needed to kill craban (those spying birds), goblins, orc, spiders, and wargs.

Craban are everywhere in the zone.  Goblins are all over the western half, and I was well into that deed, while orcs are all over the eastern half of the zone, so I wasn’t worried on that front.  What I really needed was bog lurkers, though I was pretty set there, and spiders, which are pretty common, though you need a 180 for both deeds, and wargs, which are not uncommon but you need 150.

It was easy enough for me to run around and finish off the goblins and the orcs and the craban.  Then I made a pretty big dent in the spiders, though the wargs were giving me some trouble.  They spawn in a range of areas, but seem to share the spawn table with other mobs that people don’t care so much about, so they tend to be hunted off the map unless you want to stand around and work the spawn table by clearing out the other mobs so wargs can pop.

Spending time with that got me up to level 29, at which point I decided to pick up with quests again.  I had about exhausted all the quests in Ost Guruth save for the story line quest with Radagast the Brown.  So I followed him through the Red Pass.

Radagast and his little animal pals

That gave me access to the quest lines into Agamaur where, among other things, I was set to hunt bog lurkers.  I was successful in that, as well as in finding another rare creature of the realms.

The idle level 31 bard in the Red Pass

Having managed to knock out the bog lurkers, I was left with only spiders and wargs, and I was about 30 shy on each.

I headed back out to work the spawn table a bit more, sitting in a little dell where orcs, spiders, and wargs shared the same spawns.  I just cleared out anything that spawned, collecting spiders and wargs as they appeared.

I was not alone in my quest for wargs.  I spotted at least three people passing by again and again, on the roam for wargs, tagging mine if they were in time, but not touching any other mob, and so basically populating all the spawn points with things other than wargs.

Spiders finished up first, but not too long later I finally got that last warg.

The last warg done

And that, in turn, popped this.

Slayer of the Lone Lands

The rewards that show up in the first screen shot are for both deeds.  That got me two out of three of the meta deeds that would unlock the finish off the final deed for the Lone Lands.

All the meta

I just needed the explorer deed.  So I headed back up to the Red Pass, which was the only place I hadn’t explored, and carried on with the quests there.  I soon hit level 30, which is actually required to even get the final exploration deed.

However, it was not going to be as easy as all of that.  I managed to grab the first few locations fairly quickly, but the balance of them are deep in the east side of Garth Agarwen, which is an area for fellowships.  The quests that would lead me through to the points I wanted to visit were not viable for me at level 30, and certainly not alone.

All group quests

However, on hitting level 30 I also received the second quest aimed at getting me to Oatbarton and Evendim.  I figured that probably ought to be my next major destination.  I would return to the Lone Lands to get that last set of deeds done later.   Though, in doing the quests I could, I did get to kindred status with the Eglain, the local faction, which allowed me to purchase their signature mount.

The mount of the Eglain

I can ride that on into Evendim.  But first I had to make a detour to Esteldin in the North Downs as the story line required me to check in there for a few tasks.  But after that, Evendim.

The Search for Tin

As tends to happen when I return to Middle-earth, I got myself wrapped up in crafting.  Legendary server or not, I do get hooked up in that.

This post brought to you by the Anor Legendary server

I mentioned a couple of posts back that, with my first character, I had opted in for the Armsman vocation.

Your vocation choices

I am bad at keeping my gear up to spec, but I never slack on my weapons.  I operated on the theory that you don’t need much in the way of defense if you can slay your foe fast enough.

But when my first character, a champion, hit level 10 I rolled up my first alt, a dwarven guardian who quickly became my main.  However, when Nomu, my guardian, was able to, I also set him a vocation, choosing the Explorer’s path for him with the idea that he could collect wood and ore for my champion to enable all that crafting of arms I could imagine in my head.

I’d done this before on servers in the past.  It is all I can do to keep myself from rolling up more alts to craft.  I even bought Nomu the universal toolkit to keep him from having to swap tools to harvest.

150 LOTRO points well spent

But I hadn’t run into a problem I have found on Anor.  I cannot find any tin.

For metal workers, the first crafting tier requires you to craft bronze armor and weapons.  Bronze is, if you look it up, an alloy made up of copper and tin.  So copper and tin ore harvest nodes are what you expect to find in the low level areas.

At first, when the mass of players were roaming about the starter areas, I could find neither tin nor copper.  But by the time my alt started the pressure was off a bit and I started being able to find copper nodes here and there.

Nomu and an early copper find

Tin, however, remained elusive.  I spent time stalking about low level zones, even at off peak hours, and have, up to this point, yet to espy a single tin node.  I haven’t even seen one only to have it snatched before my eyes, a common enough event with copper nodes early one.  I have seen no tin.

Nomu has found just enough copper to advance his harvesting and smelting skills so he can continue to harvest and refine as he levels up.

Prospectors Progress

So he has built up a supply of ore from higher tiers that my champion could use for his Armsman vocation… if only he could get past the first tier.  He cannot get anywhere, at least as a weaponsmith, without tin.  And if he cannot get past the first tier, all that higher tier metal doesn’t do him much good.

And so it goes.  The search for some tin to continue.

Also, as a side note, I am considering one of the LOTRO black Friday deals, which is good through the weekend, the Bombur’s Bounty.

Black Friday Special

The deed acceleration could come in handy, for reasons which I will get into with a future post, and 400 mithril coins on top of that seems like a deal.  And I was sitting on over 17K LOTRO points when the server launched.  What else am I going to spend all of that on?

Also, a congrats to SSG for finally getting the queue in the launcher working and updating your position.  The queue isn’t a so much of a big deal now that the server has settled down a bit, but I was happy to see when I did find myself in a queue that I didn’t have to play multi-launcher logout games in order to actually get into the game.

Rushed to the Lone Lands

Back to the LOTRO Legendary server.

Just going to be in every Legendary post

It has been long enough since I have played the low level game in LOTRO… still the best part of LOTRO to my mind… that I have lost some of the “feel” as to where I ought to be for a given level.  I have to take the game’s word for where I ought to go next.  I last left off heading to the Old Forest.

Very atmospheric, but the fog machine only covers some of the zone

I was rolling through there, slaughtering as usual, when the game popped up a quest for me pointing me at the Lone Lands.  I had just hit level 19 and was starting to level out of the Old Forest, the quests having all gone that aqua blue color.

Visit the Lone Lands

I still had the Barrow Downs and Tom Bombadil to see to however, the latter being part of the main story line, so I figured I would put off heading out for at least a level while I worked on that.

The leveling and quests have always been a bit off, but with the experience reduction set for the server it was more on track than it has been for a while.

40% of quest sale

And it did seem pretty spot on as I moved through the opening quests out of Thorin’s Hall.  There is that odd set out of Gondomon where you’re level 8 or 9, get a level 12 quest in a chain, but then the quest after it goes back to level 10, but for the most part I was on track through there.

Things seemed to get a little off the rails in Bree, though I suspect that gaining experience through harvesting and crafting wasn’t helping me.  I can’t remember when harvesting and crafting started giving you experience.  It wasn’t there at launch… I don’t think it was.  Anyway, it showed up at some point and the Blizzard copied the idea for WoW.

Anyway, I left some quests behind in Bree and a few more in the Old Forest and the Barrow Downs.  Some of them I didn’t mind.  I wasn’t going to chase Lalia all over again.

The lost leading the... short?

Must suppress this memory…

I did run up to Hengstacer Farm to do the quests up around there.  That wide range of open and almost empty land around Nen Harn is something I couldn’t pass up.  Then there was that odd quest that asked you to speak to Elrond in Rivendell, which I figured I would pick up and look into later.  I don’t recall Gandalf teleporting you up there, he not being all that big on overt magic.  But there I was!

Wait, I just skipped a few chapters I think

But eventually I ran down the quests up at the north end of the zone of the Bree fields and wrapped up things in Rivendell. Having hit level 21 along the way I was feeling a bit worried about getting too far ahead, so I started out for the Lone Lands.  Soon the Forsaken Inn was in sight.

Still have to fix that roof

Of course, on arriving I found I was anything but too late.  The first couple of quests were about on level, but most everything to hand was three or four levels up from me.  I ran through a few… being a guardian means I can take a punch and keep going, and the Forsaken Inn drops a good dozen quests on you right away… but eventually I started thinking that maybe I had missed something along the way.

Then, looking in my quest log, I found that quest about getting to Trestlebridge.  You get that as part of the intro quest lines on your arrival at Bree.  The mayor seems almost indecently eager to send you on to some other jurisdiction, like he thought I was there just to… well… I guess I was there to cause trouble and murder the locals.  He might have been on to something.

Anyway, that quest was already fading into blue so I figured maybe I ought to go up there and get a few levels before getting stuck into the Lone Lands.

Of course, on arriving there, I found the quests equally above my level.  I knocked out a few, managing to level up myself, before deciding to head back to the Lone Lands to just see what I could do.

Back at the Forsaken Inn, I started cleaning up around the area, ending up with my friend Pengail, who cannot bear to see a living goblin.

Still better than Lalia

At that point I had fallen behind the curve with everything but the main story.  So I made my way around to Candaith’s camp and helped him out with his work around Weathertop.

That put me ahead, to level 24, so when I was done there I could start clearing out the quests at the west end of the Lone Lands fairly steadily.  I did notice that experience started to taper off noticeably at about that point as well.  That was bad timing as I was really at a point when I felt I needed a bit of a boost to catch up to the zone.

I supplemented my experience gain with the local task quests… I was bypassing those… and carrying on with trade skill harvesting and processing.  I also took another ride around to the North Downs to run down some quests there for a bit of an additional boost.

Still, as noted, the guardian is a strong solo class.  My guy does decent damage and his mitigation skills keep him from taking too big of a hit from higher level mobs.  And, of course, the Lone Lands are practically like home to me.  I know where to go, how to get there, and generally where to find the things in the zone.

As of last night I stand at level 26 and am facing the quests between Ost Guruth and the Trollshaws.

The Lone Lands, little flags marking where I have been

Keeping with how things have gone, the quests are levels 29 and 30.  I’m tempted to put that xp boosting item in my pocket for a couple of levels.

Continuing on with the same “too early” trend, in Ost Guruth you immediately get the quest chain that eventually sends you off to Oatbarton, at the far end of the Shire, which starts you off towards Evendim and Annuminas.  That, too, is an area in which I very much enjoy questing.  But I will hold off on that… the starter quest itself is level 30… until I’ve finished up in the Lone Lands… and maybe the North Downs as well.

On the plus side, I have managed to stick with my second character so far.  I do tend to alt like crazy at some point when playing LOTRO.

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.

LOTRO and a Legendary Launch

Yesterday was the launch of the Lord of the Rings Online Legendary server, and it was quite an event for a game that otherwise has felt a little tired to me of late.

The legend live on

Yesterday I posted a list of potential events that might happen with this launch.  I was right on a few, but off base with even more, including my first one.  The server was pretty much up on time.  Somebody tell Daybreak about that.

I was working from home yesterday due to being on call for jury duty… again… so was able to kick off the launcher to see if the server was up on time.  And sure enough, it was there.

Anor up at 17:00 UTC

It was a good thing I patched earlier in the week.  I heard that patching was going really slow at times.  But at least it did not die.

And within five minutes it had gone from red to green.  People could log in.

Anor live at 17:05 UTC

I figured I would log in, create a character, then log out and come back later.  The server had other ideas however.  While I missed the mark on the server being late, I was spot on in there being a queue.

Well, I guess I will just wait

Being in the queue I put that in the background and went back to work.

I checked back in about an hour and found my position hadn’t changed.  Thinking something was wrong, I closed the launcher and opened it up again, only to find my position in the queue had doubled with this maneuver.  I was at spot 3,335.  It was going to be a long wait.  So I put it in the background and continued on with my day.

Four hours later, as my work day was coming to a close, I found myself still in the same spot in the queue.

Meanwhile, the LOTRO team had put out an update.  They knew about the queue problem and that the overwhelming response was going to get them to put up a second server the next day, so we would have Anor and Ithil, sun and moon, with free transfers available between the two for a limited time.

A later follow up pulled the Ithil server launch in to 23:00 UTC yesterday.  I am not sure if there had been calls for a second server in the forums, but I was surprised they were ready to go on this.  Yay for planning.  The second server was online early even.

Red 5 standing by

The update also said that they had fixed the queue problem, but I am not sure that the concept of a queue was really clear to them.  It still seemed completely broken by the time I was done with work and ready to play.  Logging out and back in put me as high as 4,800 in the queue.

However, adding up tidbits from the forums and some advice from Roger of Contains Moderate Peril, who was in and playing already, I was able to come up with my own queue beating method.

I opened up two launchers.  I logged in and got in the queue with the first launcher.  Then I logged in and got in the queue with the second.  If the queue number was the same or higher, I used the “logout” option from the menu and logged in again.  If the number was lower, I swapped to the first launcher, logged out, and logged back in until I got a lower number.

This seems insane, or at least just dumb.  Yet, somehow, this worked.  As I ping ponged back and forth between the two launchers the numbers kept going down.  It was slow at first, but I would say after about ten minutes the numbers started to drop.  When I hit triple digits I was very happy, and double digits were not that far off.  And then, finally, the launcher logged me in!

Then I had to figure out what I wanted to play.  I hadn’t actually thought much on that.  But, when in doubt, I tend to have a class that I feel is the default in most games.  In this case I went with a man champion, which is the most ret pally class in LOTRO I think.  Plus I know those skill icons so well!  I didn’t even fiddle with his appearance, I just wanted to jump into the game and play, so I was quickly in the tutorial.

This was when the weight of years began to tell.  The first thing you do is get a weapon out of a pack on the floor, though in my case it was worse than the default weapon I started with.  But in getting it out of my bags, I realized that they were already full of stuff.

What is all of this stuff?

There is the ring from the pre-order and the Glass of Aglaral from the special edition along with anniversary gifts, years 1 through 11 inclusive, plus bonus items from various expansion pre-orders and specials.

One of the nice things about LOTRO is you get bags right away.  The downside is that is all you get for inventory space.  And with over a third of my bag space taken up, I was feeling the need to get to a bank.  But first I had to do the intro.

That went smoothly enough, and I exited into what I thought was Bree.  I thought that because it was so full of people.  But no, I was not yet at Bree.  This was Archet, the starting area outside of Bree.  It was full up, and had multiple instances of itself running.

Dynamic layers for all my friends!

Like so much else, I had forgotten about dynamic layers, the phasing/sharding technique that Turbine put into the game at some point after launch.  I suppose I just haven’t been in a zone that needed it for a long time.  So that spread people out some, but the starting zone was still pretty packed.  I was glad to see that somewhere along the way they also changed how mob credit worked.  Everybody who tags a mob now gets credit for the kill, which was helpful because the local fauna was being hunted to extinction.

Archet hasn’t changed much, but it has been years since I was there, so it was a series of “Oh yeah, this quest!” moments as I ran through.  I was interested to see that they had even restored a few quests specifically for the server.

The blue text declares this a restored quest

The above example actually gave out duplicate rewards when compared to the quest that replaced it. (The objectives were pretty close as well.)  But that suited me.  I got the Protector’s Helm for the stats and the Plumed Hat for the style.

The fashionable champion about Bree

I had also forgotten how pretty the world is.  I know I mention that from time to time, but it had still been diminished in my memory, so seeing the flora and the reflections in the water and all that was still surprising.  My current rig lets me have all the graphics cranked up.

Character models are still what they are though, even after the improvements.  If there was any more clipping they’d have to call it a barber shop.

I carried on got that “specialization needed” alert, meaning it was time to pick my class traits.

Champion Choices

I went with the martial champion option this time on the theory that DPS would still be good but being able to tank at some point might be helpful.  I still moan about these skill trees.

I also unlocked my riding skill, and had a selection of mounts in my bag ready to choose from.  I saw a lot of people riding, though I was surprised it wasn’t more.

After Archet I headed to Combe to continue on down the quest chain, though not before riding off to Bree and the bank to empty out as much of my inventory as possible.

Back in Combe I also stopped for a bit to remember how to play music in LOTRO, one of the all time great features of the game.  I bought some instruments.  I played Istanbul (Not Constantinople) on my lute and got some applause.  I also fiddled around with a fiddle, a new instrument since I last played.  It is very good for classical music.

Playing some Vivaldi

Then it was back to the quest chain.  There were occasional problems with mobs being cleared.  No wolves in the wolf den, no Blackwolds and Bauman’s farm, no bears to find a stolen pack from.  But most of the time it wasn’t an issue.  And there are a number of quests where the constant traffic thinned out an otherwise grindy level of mob clearing one might otherwise have to do in order to reach a quest objective.

The main pain was harvesting.  I, of course, had to pick a crafting profession.  I went with weaponsmith, which means mining ore.  But ore nodes were heavily contested as people ran or rode to them as soon as they popped.  I won’t be making many bronze weapons in the near future.

I finished up my evening closing in on level 11.  I am not sure if my champion is really going to be my main.  I’ve done that class more than a few times, so I might try something else.  But it was good fun to be in the early game again.  It is fun and brings back lots of good memories, so I feel good playing.

And we’ll see what the queue is like tonight.

Others writing about the launch and the server idea in general: