Tag Archives: Ost Guruth

Back in the OG, That’s Where I Wanna Be…

After several weeks of other things coming up in real life, the instance group was at last able to get together in Middle-earth again.

This was the first time I had been out with the group on the new machine.  It was actually assembled and running the last time we played, but I had not yet loaded up LOTRO onto it.  So that was the last run with the old machine and this, the first run with RAM happy DX11 goodness.

Unfortunately, the DX11 goodness is somewhat moderated by LOTRO grabbing screen shots and then compressing them pretty heavily in jpeg format.

This looked a lot better on screen

I’m going to have to get out FRAPS or find some other way to take higher quality screen shots.

Not that DX11 improved everything.  Sure, the landscape and lighting effects look great, but the character models, which I am sure a lot of people find one of the low points of LOTRO graphics, don’t seem much improved at all.

Sigwerd says, "Nothing new to see here."

On the bright side, actually taking screen shots is much quicker.  I don’t know if the faster processor sped up compression, the additional RAM gave the game more in-memory space to work with the screen shot, or if the faster drive allowed it to be written to disk more quickly that had the biggest impact.  But rather than going from a second or so delay when taking a shot, it is now pretty much instantaneous.

So we had that going for us.

We got on and headed towards Ost Guruth.  We were working on Volume I, Book 2 of the epic quest line and had some running about in the Lone Lands to get done.  The team for the night was:

  • Earlthecat – level 28 dwarf Guardian
  • Garfinkel – level 29 elf Minstrel
  • Sigwerd – level 30 human Champion
  • Enaldie – level 30 elf Rune Keeper

And the first thing we had to do was pick up where we left off a few weeks back, wading through the knee deep swamp of Halroeg.

Simple Destination

We still had a few additional quests queued up along with the epic quest line, including a second pass at the three repeatable quests that offer up trade skill related rewards.

We were able to head off after some trolls, including a named troll for a warm-up.

Trolls!

The running about in the water under the trees also let me see a bit more of the DX10/DX11 video effects that are in LOTRO and which are all now available to me with the new machine.

Water Reflections

While the screen shot does not really do it justice (damn compression) you can see the reflections of the trees in the water and the effects that light shining through them, and the shadows that causes, enhancing the depth and feeling of the location.

I started talking about this and Earl, who updated his system earlier this year and has at least DX10 effects available, agreed that the the swamp looked very nice.  Of course, Garfikel and Enaldie had to take our word for it.  I tried to not babble on too much about the graphics, but at a few points I slipped and gushed a bit.

We knocked off the requisite trolls, along with swamp flies, crawlers, and mushrooms, then made our way to the corner of the swamp where the subject of our investigations dwelt.

This was a solo level quest though, so he died off rather quickly when faced with our full attention.  Still, I managed to at least get a screen shot of his location.

He was here... until we killed him...

I should of asked him, before we did him in, where he got torches that burn the same color as black lights.  Too bad these torches pre-date the invention of dayglo colors in Middle-earth.  Or maybe not.  Interesting place to hold up though.  Looks like the bedrooms of a couple of people I knew in the 1970s.

Having finished up our initial quest target, we had to rewind back to Ost Guruth through the various quest givers.  We all picked up the trade skill reward quests again along the way, just in case we ended up back in the swamp for some reason.  The recipe rewards are generally less than optimal (I never get the metal smith tool recipe I want, and don’t get the cook in group started on his lack of recipe rewards), but they give experience, a little coin, at the ingredients that you get have some value.

Back in Ost Guruth it was time to head out with Radagast at last.

While this was the last quest in the book, it was also a fellowship quest and at our level.  Given how much of a challenge Retaking Weathertop was for the four of us at level, it seemed like it might be a stretch for us.

The evening was still early however, so we decided to give it the old junior college try.  We told Radagast we were ready to travel now.

Radagast has rings on the mind

Here we ended up in another swamp… drainage is an issue in this part of Middle-earth I guess… with Radagast.  All we had to do was follow him around while he… and I am not kidding about this… while he spoke to a fox, a frog, a rabbit, and a squirrel.

There is a reason other Istari make fun of Radagast.

Oh, and we had to keep him safe from the elite trees and wights roaming the swamp which, in true escort quest form, Radagast seemed drawn to like marinara sauce to a white shirt.

And these mobs came in groups.  Of course they did!

The first group was just one elite huorn and a pack of minions.  I thought we had half a hope at least.  But we managed to survive.

More than survive, we were in good shape after the fight.

Unlike back at Weathertop, I think we were coming into our prime class-wise.

Earl now has enough aggro generation to keep most things focused on him.  Plus my metal smith has been keeping far enough ahead of the group to festoon Earl in purple gear.  Better armor has to be helping a bit.

Garfinkel has a lot of moral boost in his tunes, without having to generate too much aggro, thanks to a class trait.

Sigwerd, he just slices and dices.

And Enaldie… I’ll just say that Runekeepers were officially voted “OP” in our fellowship.  The lightning bolt offense was one of my favorite spell effects in the game… until she started casting that firey fuel-air bomb area effect spell.  It is like napalm on the tree line… literally in some of our fights… both devastating and awe inspiring.

Yeah, yeah… more magic in one fight than the combined Istari ever cast in all Tolkien’s books… but it is still pretty cool.  I’ll swap a bit of lore purity for that I suppose.

And so, to my surprise, we managed to hack and cast and strum our way through the first part of the encounter while Radagast collected up his animal friends.

Then we turned our attention to an outpost that was besieged.  We fought our way there through an army of wights to relieve them.

Outpost secured

Then Radagast was suddenly eager to finish things off, so rather than his usual meandering way, he headed out with purpose.  More elite wights and then we were facing one last big bad guy.  Radagast was warming up for him.

Radagast gets the words out

But the bad guy, Ivar or some such, was having none of it.  We were there ready for one last epic battle and he got up and left.  We won by default.

And that about wrapped things up for us in book 2.  We had to run around and turn in some quests, but otherwise we were pretty much set.

There was still a bit of time left in the evening so headed back to into the Red Pass, picked up a pile of quests from the outpost there, and then headed into Agamaur.

While these quests were of the solo variety, they are of the sort much more easily done in a group than solo, especially since a couple of them involve fighting through a few elite mobs.

It was out there that we ran into rare elite master huorn, Dour-root, that walked into the middle of one of our fights.  That might have been the toughest fight of the night.  We suffered our only defeat when it went after Garfinkel.  However, his morale was quickly revived and we went on to victory.

We finished up our pass through Agamaur, turned in the quests that we had finished, picked up the next round, then called it a night.

An good evenings adventure was had.

The Disturbing Habits of the Lone Lands

We were again forming up at the far end of the Lone Lands, in Ost Guruth.

Or as Garfinkel called it, “The O.G.”

Go on, write the lyrics for that theme song.  I dare you.

 

A Wainstop on the way to Rivendell

 

Of course, the really odd thing about The O.G. is the propensity of the local residents to disrobe.

You get the usual assortment of quests, but then the reward is often the shirt off the quest givers back… or his shoes… or in one case, his pants.

I don’t know if the place is trying to ease its way into becoming a nudist colony or is just a front for the Salvation Army, but it was starting to creep me out a bit.  I mean, how would the community react if I had the kid next door mow my lawn then paid him with a pile of silver coins and MY PANTS?

Yeah, I’d be on that Megan’s Law list toot suite.

So while we were waiting for the group to gather at The O.G., Garfinkel and Sigwerd played a few tunes for the locals in the hopes that it would soothe them and perhaps keep them from dropping trow so readily.

 

Don't make eye contact, just keep playing...

 

We opened up with last week’s favorites, Riders on the Storm and Istanbul (Not Constantinople), then moved on to a song newly uploaded to The Fat Lute, Garota de Ipanema or The Girl from Ipanema.

The latter was a three part song and we clearly left out the key part to the song, as things were coming out pretty rough.  Or maybe we just weren’t in an elevator.  Fortunately, the rest of the crew arrived on the scene before the crowd got restive or undresstive.

Our group for the night was:

  • Earlthecat – level 27 dwarf Guardian
  • Garfinkel – level 28 elf Minstrel
  • Sigwerd – level 29 human Champion
  • Enaldie – level 29 elf Rune Keeper

And it was time to do some cleaning up around the area.

Due to some mis-communication last week, we had to go out and slay wargs and boars again to get everybody up on the same quest.  We also took the opportunity to knock of a few more Gaunt Men for Radagast the Brown.

 

The Gaunt Men can hear my thoughts!

 

We gave Frideric the Elder Stripper his stuff, got the next quest from him, then got out of there before he started talking about giving us his socks or underwear.

We then had to go speak with the head of the local Earthkin chief over at the Tornstones.  They have their own thing going on there as well it seems.

 

Got Horns! Giant Horns!

 

Their leader looked like he was pretty serious about his heroin habit and hadn’t had a good night’s sleep since the second age.  Seriously, you don’t get bags under your eyes like that without some serious issues.

And then there were the horns.  We didn’t ask fearing not so much that we might offend as that he might be happy to tell us about them.

But he had a pile of quests for us.  As with Frideric, we were happy enough to take his quests so long as they lead us away from him.

That sent us into Harloeg, where among other happy surprises, we began running into the next tier of crafting material to harvest.  Dwarf iron, platinum, and lebethron a plenty.

There we found the local quest hub and spent some time gathering fungus and putting down the local wight supremacist movement.  However the late hour was weighing on Earl a little sooner than usual, so after the first round of quests there, we assembled for a final screen shot then called it a night.

 

Happy in Harloeg

 

I thought it might be a good idea to get to bed a little earlier than usual myself.  Then I spent the next two hours looking up parts and prices for my new computer.  That’ll happen to you if you’re not careful.

Next time around, I think we’re going to have to take a trip into the Trollshaws.  At least tw0 of us have trade skill quests to finish up in there.  It would be very, very tough to get in there and do them solo, the mobs being in the level 40 range, but as a group, I think we can manage it.

Weathertop with a New Lineup

Saturday night found the regular Middle-earth group back in the game.

I had missed out the previous Saturday because… well… I was too damn tired to stay up late.  Getting older ceased to be fun about 20 years ago.

Anyway, while I was away… well, while I was asleep… Earl, Enaldie, and Garfinkel ran around the Lone Lands a bit and killed spiders.  If you know the Lone Lands, you know what I’m talking about.

This past week though, it was time for a change up.

I should learn my lesson.  As with the the original set of instance group characters, I chose a rogue-like class, a Burglar in this case, and found it not really in line with my play style.  And, as with the original set of characters, I ended up substituting in a heavy metal melee class character instead.

Back with the original group, Blintz was my rogue, but he was replaced by Vikund my paladin around level 40.  And while we occasionally missed not having somebody along with the lockpick skill, Vikund went on to greater glory, hitting level 80 with the group, while Blintz still languishes around level 40.

Now it was time for Roderigo to go.

Replacing him was my champion, Sigwerd.  Another nordic name, another heavy armor wearing melee class.

 

Sigwerd - Man Champion

 

The champion seems to be the closest match to the retribution pally when it comes to LOTRO classes, being melee dps focused with some good area attacks and able to take a punch.

Plus, we all know how much I love the champion’s skill icons!

So the lineup for the night was:

  • Earlthecat – level 26 dwarf Guardian
  • Garfinkel – level 27 elf Minstrel
  • Sigwerd – level 28 human Champion
  • Enaldie – level 28 elf Rune Keeper

And we thought it was about time we headed back to Weathertop.

The last time we tried to help Candaith sort out things on Amon Sul, it did not go so well.  Heck, it didn’t go so well in the skirmish version either.

Now though, we had a few more levels.  So it was off to Candaith’s camp, which is a happening place on a Saturday night lately.

 

Candaith's Watering Hole

 

We took the quest, Retaking Weathertop, to help move us along in the epic quest line.  We were sadly behind in that regard.  It was a bit of luck that Sigwerd happened to be at just that point in the quest line as well.  So we met up with Candaith at the base of Weathertop.

 

Questing in the Rain

 

It is a good thing that Sigwerd had something akin to a real cloak, as it was suddenly raining in the Weather Hills and you hate for your armor to get rusty.

We followed the usual path up, let Candaith run off and do his thing, met up with him at the summit where he claimed he sprained his ankle or had rabies or some such.  Anyway, he couldn’t join us for the final battle.

And a battle it was.  While we were now above level, this is still an instance for a full fellowship of six players, and there was only four of us.

We ended up getting a little too spread out, which makes it tough on the tank to keep aggro when something gets past.  With the final troll, things started coming apart.  Sigwerd and Garfinkel felt the sting of defeat.

But Earl and Enaldie held on and managed to defeat the troll and pull off a victory.

 

Defeat and Victory

 

Candaith gave us a golf clap and sent us on our way with a one-way ticket to the Forsaken Inn.  He was so eager to get rid of us that he let us use his extra fast horse.  No doubt he was embarrassed by his part in the final battle.

There we were directed back up to Ost Guruth.  It was a good thing that we all now have the fast mount from the LOTRO Store.

 

Cross country in the Lone Lands

 

There we had to meet the possibly mad Radagast the Brown.  He has possibly one of the most expressive faces in the game… but it seems to express something to do with mental unbalance.

 

The White Hand stole the strawberry ice cream!

 

Radagast, along with half of Ost Guruth, had a little mission for us.  It was off to the north in the midst of the undead.  That area has a set of quests, most of which are flagged as solo, but which are much better done in a group.  So we tore into the undead, slew them with abandon, surmounted their highest point, and got our wight supremacy merit badges.

 

Soon not a corpse had a nose to call its own!

 

And of course, the bagpipes came out.  We had to go the extra mile to taunt the undead it seems.

That done, we were left with what Potshot calls the Bear/Boar/Wolf problem, wherein we have to go decimate the local fauna to satisfy the whim or larder stocking needs of some random yokel.  This time it was various bear parts, various warg parts, and gore crow eyes.  Those last are considered a delicacy in Evendim I hear.

We even headed over to smite some spiders, since it was found that Sigwerd was deficient in his spider slaying.  Enaldie called it a night before we got stuck into the spiders, and it wasn’t too long before Sigwerd was caught up and we were loitering around Ost Guruth playing Riders on the Storm and Istanbul (Not Constantinople) on a corner hoping to collect some spare change from the locals.  Bunch of tightwads, really.

 

Busking in Ost Guruth

 

And that was about all of Middle-earth we had in us for the night.  Next week we’ll see what else Radagast has in store for us.

Into The Tasty Center of the Lone Lands

Meanwhile, back in pre-Free-to-Play LOTRO last weekend, the instance group was still in the Lone Lands.  The four of us on were:

  • Earlthecat – level 21 dwarf Guardian
  • Roderigo – levl 23 human Burglar
  • Garfinkel – level 24 elf Minstrel
  • Enaldie – level 25 elf Rune Keeper

We had to travel back to Bree and then to the Forsaken Inn from Esteldin, where we had left off previously after our horse purchase.

At the Forsaken Inn, we had to head deeper into the Lone Lands to the second quest giver encampment.  There we really started our work in earnest for the Eglain.

The quests were a series of collect so many items, kill so many bad guys, pick up so many drops that are the standard fare for MMOs.  This set happened to be well tuned for a group, for while all of the quests were marked solo, there are a few in there that are pretty risky unless you are in a group.

And so we tramped about the the center of the Lone Lands, a place that reminds some of us in the group of the central coastal area of California, scenery you see if you take Highway 101 south to LA.

Did we just pass Salinas?

The quest path took us through a stronghold of the Dourhands, where we defeated their leader.  This also helped us along with one of the memorable (in a bad way) quests in the area, the one where you collect Dourhand axes, which seem to be unpredictably rare drops at times.  And it moved Earl along with Enmity of the Dourhands, which yields the great dwarf attack, head-butt.  Great as in a great animation.

We also discovered a door in the stronghold that lead us out to another key quest location, Iorvinas.

It's the big rock with the door in it

Iorvinas had been added in since we last ran through the Lone Lands as a group.  It consists of a an underground area where the Dourhands are apparently cooperating with the orcs, meaning there are plenty of both to fight.

Inside Iorvinas

The geography of Iorvinas stretches the imagination a bit.  The distance between the two doors that lead into the underground seem a lot further apart on the surface than they do underground.  But the area is well done and it is good to do as a group, as the bad guys are clumped and wander around so it is very easy to get in over your head if you are solo.

We suffered our only defeat of the night in Iorvinas due to an accidental proximity pull.  We were less in over our heads than we were simply not used to keeping an eye on our morale.  Earl, especially, as the lowest level and the tank hadn’t had to pop an athelas potion so far and was defeated in this fight.  The rest of us managed to finish off the bad guys, but it was a reminder that we need to keep up with things.

Many Dourhands were slain.  We finished up the quests down there, but had to keep killing Dourhands for another 15 minutes or so until everybody had all 24 of their Dourhand axes.

Then it was off to the half-orc encampment, stopping to slay some lynx on the way.  They are apparently “good eating.”

At the half-orc camp we were there to… well… kill half-orcs and their leader in particular… but also there to clean up any piles of junk of mis-laid crates of goods.

More crates over there

We did have the usual Saturday night problem here.  Another group had rolled into the camp just ahead of us, so we spent some time hanging about waiting for orcs, junk piles, and crates to respawn.

In a classic LOTRO slow quest update scenario, in the fight with the boss and his minions, where you needed to kill five specific mobs, they each counted for two different quests.  After the fight, there was a shout of, “Hey, I only got three of the minions” in the group because the updates were rolling in on screen so slowly.  They do, of course, update in the chat window immediately, but when a fight is done for a bit and you finally get the 3 of 4 message, one can take it the wrong way.

Then it was time to retrace our steps back to the various quest givers.  We were then pointed towards the next bastion of the Lone Lands, Ost Guruth.

Ost Guruth as seen from Highway 101

We rode there, picked up the stable master route, collected some quests, then called it a night as far as adventuring was concerned.  We all still had to head back to our trainers and such, since we all gained a level or two.

The most ominous skill learned had to be Garfinkel’s new ability to play the bagpipes.

Shall I play "Scotland the Brave" again?

As the saying goes, centuries ago the Irish introduced the Scots to the bagpipes… and the Scots still haven’t gotten the joke.  (source: Dave Allen)

And thus ended our last instance group night in Middle-earth before the change over to Free-to-Play.

This coming Saturday we will have some new options to explore.  Skirmishes are now open to levels 20 and up, so we might try that.  Or we might just go insane listening to the OOC channel around Bree, which is already lighting up like Barrens chat on a Saturday night.

Or maybe the whole thing will crash with the onrush of new players.  We’ll see on Saturday night.

Retaking Weathertop

Saturday night found the usual instance group… missing.

Skronk and Ula were in Vegas, so the rest of us took the night off from Azeroth.

Instead, Gaff and I spent the evening adventuring in Middle-earth.  The four of us, I have one account while Gaff, in his usual modus operandi, was running three, met up in the Lone Lands where we both had a series of fellowship quests to finish off.

I think the lure of Moria has set in on Gaff.  I know I feel the urge when I read stuff like this.

We decided to start off with Retake Weathertop, one of the book quests that follows the tale of the Lord of the Rings.  Between us we had a level 24 champion, a level 27 hunter, a level 24 guardian, and a level 24 minstrel.

Waiting Below Weathertop

Waiting Below Weathertop

While we were getting set up, Gaff found another pair looking to do the quest, a level 25 guardian and a level 22 lore-master.  I think this might have been the first time I was in a full fellowship.

And, being a full fellowship, and a bit over level for the task, we rolled on, taking out all comers and defeating the might cave troll at the peak or Weathertop.

Cave Troll Defeated!

Cave Troll Defeated!

That done, we moved on to the tasks that Radagast hands out, starting in on the next book.  After the first two, we entered into that whole “the problem with strangers” part of the night.

Our lore-master was too low level to get the next quest in the Radagast line, so she and the guardian were going to run off an do a couple of side quests to get her a level, at which point she should be able to join in.

The guardian also asked if Gaff could log off one of his characters so one of his guild mates could join in for the next stage of the quest.  Gaff had been up early and was ready to call it a night in any case, but I said I would stick around Ost Guruth in anticipation of doing the next stage.  My champion was closing in on 25 and I wanted to get him that founder’s horse to which I am entitled.

Gaff logged, the other two ran off, and I wandered around Ost Guruth looking for things to do.

I was actually out of solo quests in the area, having only a hand full of fellowship quests to run down, so I spent my time mining, doing trade skills, and working on local achievements by killing spiders and the like, checking in once in a while with guardian about when they might be headed back.

After two hours had passed and they still weren’t ready to proceed, I began to sense that additional quests weren’t going to happen.  The two hours were not wasted.  I picked up three titles, got to the next tier as a prospector and a weaponsmith, as well as hitting level 25, but I have to admit, if I had not stuck around Ost Guruth, I could have done all that in about an hour

At least I can go collect that horse for my champion now!