Tag Archives: Mines of Moria

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.

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.

On The Far Side of Moria

The odd thing about Moria is that, as a region, it gets much better as you move along.

That seems like a way to drive people off… though if you seek to reward persistence, I suppose it has some merit.

The initial quests are dull, presented in the usual quest-hub style, and involve a lot of running back and forth.  You end up getting sent back out of Moria at first and then, once inside, areas are dark and narrow and not very interesting.  I can see why I gave up the last time around within the threshold of the area.  It is something of a let down after all the build up in Hollin.

Moria Zones

Moria Zones

This time I persisted.  First the environments got better.  I found the Waterworks to be quite the place to just run around and sight see.  The quests were about the same and involved running back and forth pretty much constantly.  I wore out the paths around the Rotting Cellar.

From there I made my way to the Redhorn Lodes, where the quests moved from the strict hub dynamic to what I would call a much more organic approach.

Plus it is really red-ish

Plus it is really red-ish

You end up picking up quests along the way… though it took me a bit to notice the “you have a new quest” indicator on the right side of the window, as I associate that with the seasonal/holiday events… and some you can turn in on the fly, some send you back to a hub, while others move you forward to a new location.  And, like the Waterworks, the environments were still a draw in and of themselves.

Giant dwarves everywhere

Giant stone dwarves everywhere

I then made my way into the Flaming Deeps which continued the more organic approach and sent me through more epic environments.  At the end of that I was level 59 and moving into Nud-melek.  There were a few of the “back and forth” quests at the top, but then it evolved into a “take your quest giver with you” set of objectives that brought me to the bridge of Kazad-dum, which was broken.

Like the SF-Oakland Bay Bridge

Like the SF-Oakland Bay Bridge

That was actually a pretty neat moment, and in my head I was all, “Wow, this is where Gandalf fought the balrog that was Durin’s Bane!”

And then the more logical part of my brain pipped in with, “You know, that didn’t really happen.  It was a made up story you dolt.”  Why can’t I let me enjoy my moment?  But I was immersed for a moment there.

Anyway, I stood there looking across the abyss, wondering how Turbine was going to get me across that gap.  There is a whole new zone to explore… an outdoors zone… on the other side.

If you stare across the abyss, does it get annoyed?

If you stare across the abyss, does it get annoyed?

I wondered if the orcs had built some sort of rickety contraption to get over the great gap that separates the first and second halls of Moria.

And would I trust this over such an abyss?

And would I trust this over such an abyss?

Or had the dwarves now swarming Moria built up some sort of crossing already?

And, as a secondary thought, where did all those dwarves come from?  The soon-to-be-broken fellowship of the ring passed through here… what… fifteen minutes before I got here?  Back in Hollin I was picking up their fresh trash, putting out their campfires, and generally acting as cover and janitorial service.  Makes you wonder what kind of ranger Aragorn really is.

But now there are hundreds of dwarves swarming the place.  They have set up encampments all over and created a regular goat subway system, with standard cross-town goats as well as a spoke-and-hub insta-goat transit service.  They have a settlement in the twenty-first hall with a bank, a crafting hall, an auction house, and regular postal service.  And I am pretty sure they were building a strip mall there with a Starbucks, a Noah’s Bagels, and a Chipotle.

Did I bump my head somewhere between Hollin and Moria and fall asleep for a year… or five… or twenty?  Is the war over?

And speaking of the war, what are all these dwarves doing in Moria screwing around with public transit projects?  Don’t they know Sauron needs to be defeated?

Yeah, sometimes it is a burden to have to live inside my head.

But after all of that, how I ended up getting to the other side of the chasm did not seem like a big deal.  We just walked around.

Chasm - Deep, wide, but not so long

Chasm – Deep, wide, but not so long

Yes, Moria’s main line of defense, the chasm with the single bridge that no army could cross if even a dozen dwarves opposed them, has a big old gap about two football fields up the way.  And it isn’t like this was something new, a landslide caused by a balrog hitting the bottom or anything.  If you look at the map, they built a road that followed that path.  There is a whole Durin’s Way bypass/business loop that lets you avoid the rush hour traffic over the bridge.

So Svanr, my personal dwarf quest giver, and I did some quests, then went ’round the bypass, then did a few more quests that involved killing some orcs and destroying a few mining carts..  I hit level 60 while that was under way.

Officially Level 60

Officially Level 60

I now only have five levels of experience boost left in my pocket.

Derudhs Stone

Actually, that is an old screen shot.  I think the stats now show the maximum level as 64, so once you hit 65, you have to find something else to put in your pocket.  Turbine will sell me an upgraded, good to level 74 version for just 495 Turbine Points if I so desire.

Anyway, from there, Svanr and I headed to the first hall, where he then brought me on a little quest for my first peek outside of Moria.

We see the Dim

We see the Dimrill Dale at last

The goal was to point me at the first quest hub on the path to Lothlorien.  Though it was an odd quest, as it happened in a special instanced version of the zone where the quest hub wasn’t active yet.  I just had to go there, click on somebody, come back to Svanr, then it was back into Moria again to finally finish up, get a new title, a new goal, and to ride back out on my own.

To the exit!

To the exit!

I was mildly disappointed to find that you cannot walk/ride through the gates of Moria.  There is a zone teleport in the first hall that drops you outside of Moria.  I get why they did it.  It is the gateway between expansions, so they need to keep people who do not own the expansion out.  Or they did at one time.  I think now you can travel through them all, you just don’t get the quests or some such.  Anyway, I have a new zone to explore.

To Lothlorien

To Lothlorien

I am standing on the edge of a new expansion.  Or close to the edge of one.  And who keeps putting down damp cups on all the maps?  Could Turbine not come up with a different “this map is either old and weathered or was once a Denny’s place mat” graphic?

Not here, but I can see if from here

Not here, but I can see if from here

It is possible I could make it into the Siege of Mirkwood this time around, finally finishing up the expansion I bought five years ago and starting the one I bought four years ago.

At this rate I might have to buy Riders of Rohan some day.

Drying Off After The Waterworks

I have managed to keep plodding forward in Lord of the Rings Online.  My previous post put me on the verge of Moria.  Well, I am through the doors and stuck into the expansion.

Our kinship seems to have faded however.  The summer diversion into Middle-earth has fallen by the wayside for most of our EVE Online corp which, if nothing else, means that even at my modest pace of advancement, at level 56 I am close to being the highest level player.  Of course, without everybody else, doing instances as a group hasn’t come to pass.  And just to rain on my parade a little bit more, the founder of our kinship quit EVE and, in what I take to be a big “Up yours!” to his former corp mates, revoked officer status for everybody in the kinship.  So the kinship is now both dead and without anybody who can make any changes.

Life in MMOs.

At least there wasn’t anything for him to steal.

So my progress forward has been pretty quiet as well as slow.  But it has allowed me to explore Moria, which is turning out to be a much bigger place than I had imagined.

I do find that Moria’s separation from the initial world… which I know was required back in the day… is initially quite bothersome.  You cannot travel straight to Moria, the last horse stop is at the portal into the zone outside Moria, so you have to hoof it across a modest zone every time you leave and then come back.  This is aggravated by the fact that all of the services you go back to Bree or Rivendell for are available in Moria, just not until you reach the Twenty First Hall, which the map below shows, isn’t exactly close to where you start off.

Moria Zones

Moria Zones

So you can be a while getting there.  And until you do all your crafting, banking, and training needs have to be served back on the surface.

Initially you start off in mostly cave-ish areas where the dwarves have carved out rooms and a few structures.  But as you move deeper in, the size and scale of the works become truly massive.

We like high ceilings

We like high ceilings

Of course, massive comes with a price as well.  I was in Durin’s Hall at one point, which is a well developed area at least five levels deep, and was standing on a walkway at the top on one side of the area and needed to be on a platform one level down and across the… room?  I could see it from where I stood… but actually getting there involved a Super Mario Brothers routine of stairs and ramps.  This was further hindered by the designer’s love of very steep stair cases.  They are so steep that you often cannot verify that there are stairs there until you get to the very edge of a platform.  And they are not always where you think they will be, something that has lead me to go over the edge on several occasions.

And I always seem to be a bit lost.  Not a bad thing, as it speaks to the depth of the zones.  But not only is it surprisingly easy to get turned around and headed in the wrong direction if you fail to consult the map every so often, but I also end up completely losing the thread of quest chains as I accidentally stumble on new locations.

And the names of places just don’t seem to be sticking with me.  So I abandon some quests, pick up some new ones and carry on.

In part I think this is because the goat subway system that forms the mass transit backbone in Moria insists on naming the stations, such as they are, after the immediate geographic location.  So, for example, the destination when I want to get to the Waterworks, a zone in which I did all the quests I could and finished most of the deeds, is reached by a goat stop at The Rotting Cellar.  But it took me a while to associated that name with the Waterworks.

The Waterworks itself though is an amazing place.  At least assuming you don’t mind being waist deep in water a good portion of the time.  It is one of those locations that makes you feel really small.  The quests in the zone were not anything exciting.  They were mostly the standard fare, go kill some of these and come back, now go turn the knob over there and come back, now kill something else.  And the water structures themselves often appeared to have all the purpose of the engine room in Galaxy Quest.  But the design and feel of the zone, a huge open cavern with immense structure all bathed in an eerie crystal light, kept me going.  It was one of those zone where I wanted to poke my nose into every location.

I suppose the fact that is was a much more open zone than what I have been through in Moria helped.  I could see the distant corners I wanted to explore.

So I actually finished up the quest chain there… unlike any Moria area up to that point… after which the final task was to send me off to the Twenty First Hall and essential services.  I had been there already.  I dropped a Mithril coin to get there just to be able to use the bank.  But now I was actually being sent there.

Gaff pointed out that I might want to pick up a new legendary weapon, as I was still using the one I picked up in Eregion.  It was falling behind in damage rating, and I apparently picked up some of the barter currency as drops along the way. With auto loot on, I am often surprised what I find in my bag or wallet at the end of the night.

Fortunately, that investment in first weapon gets paid back somewhat when you deconstruct it.  You can then apply that to your new weapon.

After doing some lift and carry and search quests (the dwarves seems to lose a lot of things in Moria) in and about the Twenty First Hall, I made my way to the Redhorn Lode area.  That will be my next area of exploration.  It isn’t as open as The Waterworks, though it certainly isn’t as cave-like as the opening zones either.  And it is tinted in a reddish glow rather than blue.

While I start in on that, here are some tourist photos from my time in The Waterworks.

On the Verge of Moria

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

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

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

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

Said without an ounce of irony...

Said without an ounce of irony…

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

The Moria wall neighborhood

The Moria wall neighborhood

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

Hear something? In the water maybe?

Hear something? In the water maybe?

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

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

Yeah, let's go!

Yeah, let’s go!

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

The epic halberd

The epic halberd

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

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

So that is where I stand.

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

Universal Toolkit

Universal Toolkit

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

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

Walk or take the bus?

Walk or take the short bus?

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

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

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

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

There is still good in the world.