Tag Archives: Volume I

Loitering in the Weather Hills

We had what is essentially the whole available team online and together in Middle-earth on Saturday night.

Our group for the night was:

  • Earlthecat – level 17 dwarf Guardian
  • Roderigo – levl 20 human Burglar
  • Garfinkel – level 22 elf Minstrel
  • Enaldie – level 23 elf Rune Keeper

Due to absences and alts, we have managed to get ourselves a bit spread out with regard to levels.  While LOTRO is somewhat self-correcting in this regard, lower level characters get more exp for the same, quest both in absolute terms and relative to their exp needed for the next level, than higher levels characters, having a six level gap over four players would prove to be trying.

I did have a suit of armor for Earl and a new weapon ready when he hit 18, which he did pretty quickly, so he was at least equipped as well as we could manage.

Before the topic of what to do came up, somebody said they were headed to Saeradan’s cabin.  We followed that lead and started in on Volume I, Book 2 of the epic quest line.

At Saeradan's Cabin

That first quest in the book 2 line used to be one of the more annoying redirects in the game.  You are in Bree and are told to go out into the North Bree Fields to Saeradan’s Cabin.  Saeradan then tells you to head to Candaith’s camp.

Candaith’s camp is in a remote corner of the Lone Lands, quite a long walk/ride from Saeradan.

To compensate for this, Saeradan is now a limited availability stable master as well as a quest giver.  When you have the quest that sends you to Candaith’s camp you can speak to Saeradan and get a lift.

Riding the horse to Candaith’s camp is considerably faster than walking, but it still takes a few minutes.  Well all adjourned for snacks and bathroom breaks while our horses carried us on.

Riding To Candaith's Camp

The riding route is not only shorter, but probably not a viable choice to walk at our level.  There are some hazards.

A pack of wolves in the Weather Hills

At Candaith’s camp, we had little problem dealing with his initial requests.

Kill some orcs.  No problem there!

Kill some craban and collect their eyes.  Eeew.  Plus each craban had four eyes.  Odd birds.

Kill the orc messenger. Does every fantasy game have to have at least one “kill the orc messenger” quest?  Is this a rule?

Assault an orc camp, kill their lead, steal their plans.  Loads of fun for the whole family!

The gate is open... is anybody home?

Scout the pinnacle of Weathertop.  Always nice to see the sights.

And then we got to the sticking point of the evening.  Retaking Weathertop.

Not a job for the four of us, not at our levels.

Sure, we had all gained a level or two since we set out, but this is a quest that needs a full fellowship of six, and we were but four.

Still, we were out there, the evening was still young, and it was a long hike to get to any other alternative activities, so we decided to give it a try.

Of course, as soon as we got there, it began to rain.

And Earl is wearing his brand new armor too...

The first stage involves one of the grand MMORPG traditions, the escort quest with the suicidally insane target.  It is like being Teddy Roosevelt’s secret service detachment, the guy just keeps charging up the hill after the goblin in the back row.

I realize that the code is a compromise when it comes to these things, but Candaith behaves bat-shit crazy at times.  The best, and probably safest moment for us, was when for some reason, Candaith went into orbit around Enaldie, circling her in a frenzy of movement until we rested up and moved forward.  Too much espresso or something for the ranger.

Eventually we got Candaith safely to the point where he goes one way and the rest of us go another.  No more escorting the nut case.  It was just a matter of killing off a couple of named guys, then meeting our ranger buddy at the summit.  We could handle that.

Up the hill

Getting to climb Weathertop is one of the many great points of the game for people who are fans of the lore.  We talked about how we imagined Weathertop to look.

When I read the books for the first time some 30 years ago, I never pictured Weathertop to be so big.  But then I did not get the real feeling for the Numenorian need to overcompensate on a grand scale… and apparently stimulate their economy through massive defense and public works projects… until I finally managed to struggle through the Silmarillion years later.  That book starts slower than Braveheart.

Anyway, we made it to the top to find Candaith waiting for us.  Only now Mr. Run-Ahead-and-Aggro-Everything seemed to have a change of heart.  He claimed to be wounded, though his limp seemed to change sides as he spoke, and said that he would cover us while we went in and took care of the rest of the mission.

Candaith weasels as the enemy musters

We stared at him, waiting for the “just kidding.”  But no, he was serious.

He said he would take care of anything that got past us.  We stared.

We attempt to move Candaith through peer pressure

But he wasn’t coming along.  It was up to us.

And so we gave it a shot.

We died…  erm… We were defeated.

Stone Trolled Again

It wasn’t a total, instant wipe.  It seemed like we might be able to get a handle on the fight if only we could just get things to roll our way.  But we never could.  Aggro would be lost, adds would go after the healer, crowd control would get broken, or that damn troll would just get a big crit and stomp somebody into a pulp.

We tried a few variations, but we just didn’t have enough oomph to finish off the event.  So when Garfinkel’s equipment started to go red in the paper doll, we called it a night.  (Pity the poor healer.)

In the end, we probably should have opted for one of our other choices from the previous week, finishing off the Barrow Downs or starting in on the Lone Lands quests around the Forsaken Inn.

We will need a few more levels before we run up the hill with Candaith again.

Adventures with An Unwanted Guest

If you have not played Lord of the Rings Online, you might not know that there are a variety of different quest types in the game.

There are, of course, the standard help the locals quests, what they call the regional quests.  You show up in town or at somebody’s camp site and somebody wants you to help them out by killing ten rats.  Or boars.

I think I have only been asked to kill rats once, in the Barrow Downs.  But boars, every zone seems to have its boar infestation issue.  In fact, after Terentia hit the Trollshaws and got the inevitable “kill boars” quest almost immediately, I started rewriting in my head the old song Smoke Two Joints to reflect the apparent situation in Middle-earth.

Here is what I have so far:

I kill 10 boars in the morning.
I kill 10 boars at night.
I kill 10 boars in the afternoon, for the meat that’s white
I kill 10 boars in time of peace, and 10 in time war
I kill 10 boars before I kill 10 boars,
and then I kill 10 more

But I digress.

In addition to the standard quests, you also get class quests every 10 levels that give you a new trait and generally a nice piece of equipment.  And there are crafting quest, some of which help you advance your abilities to the next tier, and others which reward you with faction or crafting supplies.

And, amongst there there are fellowship (group) quests and even raid quests.

Then, finally, there is the epic quest line.

This is the line of quests that follows the plot of Tolkien’s tale and gives you a part in the war against Sauron and the quest to destroy the one ring.  The quests in that line are divided into Volumes, which contain a given number of  books, each of which is divided into a number of chapters.  Book 1, for example, has a forward and 13 chapters, each of which represents a quest.

This is the differentiator for LOTRO.  This is, along with the three basic game play pillars common to MMOs, combat, exploration and character progression, is the fourth pillar in the equation.  This is the story element.

Wait.  Where have I read that before?

Anyway, this is the thread that winds through the game.  You do not get to be in the fellowship of the ring, but you can play a supporting role and take on the many side tasks that went unmentioned in the books.

What’s that?  You want to be the hero?  The star?  The warrior king tanking the Lich Witch King?  Sorry, that game is down in Irvine.  This game knows there is no “I” in “Fellowship.”

And the plan for the instance group in Middle-earth is to follow the eipc quest line.  We will certainly do other things, but that is going to be our guiding thread as well.

So on Saturday night, we were all ready to begin Volume 1, Book 1.

We had all done the epic prologue quests, which are specific to different racial starting areas, but which all, in the end, lead you to the Prancing Pony in Bree to speak with Barliman Butterbur.

Our fellowship for the night, standing there in the common room of the Prancing Pony, was:

  • Roderigo – level 14 Burglar
  • Enaldie – level 15 Elf Rune Keeper
  • Garfinkel – level 15 Elf Minstrel
  • Rarik – level 16 Dwarf Champion

While Earl couldn’t make it this week, we did pick up Rarik (also known as Meclin or Gaff) who got our of his pod in New Eden and joined us in Middle-earth.

The book starts at the Prancing Pony and our first task was to go and speak to the Unwanted Guest at the Prancing Pony, Strider.  He was there in his room waiting for Frodo to show up.  But there was more brewing between around Bree.  We first had to help Strider with find Amdir, a ranger who had come under the power of the Nazgul.

That actually takes place in an instance and wraps up the prologue quest line around Bree, which focuses on Amdir.

In the instance we faced several of the Nazgul.

Paralyzed with dread

They left us for Amdir to deal with while they went to continue their search for the ring.

Without his new Nazgul friends though, Amdir did not stand a chance.

Sorry Amdir

After that, we followed the quests in the lands between Bree and Buckland, meeting up with other rangers and even Fredegar Bolger in Crickhollow.  Eventually we ended up at the home of Tom Bombadil.

Tom Bombadil - Jacket Blue, Boots Yellow

Tom, in his Bombadillian fashion, sent us after a few odd items, water lilies and such, before getting around to the task at hand.

The Willow in the Old Forrest

Tom finally came to the real task, at which point we ran into a problem.

While the experience over these quests had been very good, Roderigo had just hit 14 before we started the evening and was already half way into 15, we all needed to be 16 to get this next quest.  So we took a side trip to the Barrow Downs.

There is a lump of quest givers on the path between Tom’s house and the Barrow Downs.  We picked up all of their quests and headed in.  We’d all been through the Barrow Downs before, so there was a common feeling in the group.

It certainly does Lalia...

This approach turned out to be serious over-kill.  Roderigo hit 16 while we were still working on the quests and was half way to 17 once we turned them all in.

Like I said, the experience was good.  And in LOTRO, when you are in a group… erm, fellowship… they don’t divide the experience from each kill by the number of group members.  You get the full experience you would if you were solo.

Thus leveled up, Tom was happy to send us along to… the Great Barrow!

Well, the version of the Great Barrow used for this particular quest.  It is something of a starter version of the Great Barrow, and while this quest is flagged as a small fellowship quest (3 players) I have done it solo a few times with well equipped characters.

It is a story telling event, though at the end you face Sambrog the Wight Lord who is seemingly undefeatable.  And then Tom shows up again, banishes Sambrog and leads you all out of the instance.

Uh, why did you need us then?

Done with Tom’s tasks, we were directed back to the Prancing Pony to speak with Strider.  However, when we got there, we found that Strider had left along with four hobbits from the Shire.  Gandalf had just shown up though, and was glad to speak with us.

Sit a while and listen...

And that ended Book 1.

Gandalf gave us the lead-in to Book 2, but seeing that that quest thread starts off with a level 22 quest, we might spend this upcoming Saturday night getting a few levels and perhaps looking into doing the Great Barrow for real.

In the mean time, Earl will have a bit of catching up to do.