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.