Category Archives: Lord of the Rings Online

What More Can a Hobbit Want?

What more can a hobbit want?

That’s how I ended my last post. And the answer to that is obvious: a nice hobbit-lass. And an ale, I guess. And some hearty food. And pipe-weed. But let’s stay with the first for a second.

So I’m in love with hobbits in this game. I love the shire and the little tidbit quests that go with it. I even ignore the fact that the epic story line feels somewhat tacked onto the hobbit line (“Now you’re in Archet, now you’re not. Now you find an old skull, and now you’re off fighting somebody you haven’t much heard of before.”).

I also love the way music works in this game. Having instruments that you can actually play yourself? awesome. So, why not go with the music theme all the way? Thus Latakia was born. The character creator says “hobbit-women are named after flowers or jewels”. I guess Latakia is borderline, but I want a sturdy, tomboyish kind of female hobbit, the kind that just pops up in my head when I hear the word “lass”. So she’s a minstrel, a farmer and cook (or yeoman, in LOTRO’s choose-one-vocation-get-three-professions jargon), and she’s fond of pipe-weed. Being a (these days mostly ex-)pipe smoker myself, I love the smell of tar and ports of Latakia.

Farming

Latakia working in the field, though slightly overdressed for the occasion.

Presto, pipe-weed!

By now, I’ve finished the Shire quests and need to branch out to the Bree-lands. Naturally, starting in the shire meant the usual staples (apart from the ubiquitous (boar|wolf|spider|bear) slaying.

Mail had to be delivered...

...pies returned...

...and some fireworks nonconsensually set off.

The first two also rewarded traits that I could make good use of as a minstrel. The later just make my little pyromanic heart cackle. Finally, level 15 came around, and it was time to choose a surname.

Latakia Brandybanks, cook, brewmaster, and enjoyer of pipeweed.

Look, Hiltibrant has a little sister. Or, I guess with the size and scope of hobbit-clans, it could be just as well a third cousin twice removed. I wonder whether other people also tend to have their characters in a game have a common background story; it seems I often end up with 2-3 characters in a game that I consider related, or forming a close party of friends. I half expect to log in one day into a game and find all my characters sitting together over a game of cards.

Gameplay-wise, the minstrel plays a lot better than I expected. Or at least it is getting better and better. The beginning was very slow, but with War Speech at level 10 and Call of Oromë at 14, it got a lot better. I wonder how it will be for soloing at higher levels; it doesn’t feel like there is a lot of grouping happening on Laurelin in the lower levels.

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Following the Ring

While I was busy most of last week, what with a paper deadline and a wedding coming up (not mine though! but I was co-organizer), I finally had some time to invest on Sunday and Monday night. After the inevitable pondering (EQ2? LOTRO? something completely different), I settled and took out my LOTRO warden for a walk again.

Hiltibrant Brandybanks, my indomitable one-person phalanx, had been at level 26 for some time, doing mundane work around Esteldin.

Hilibrant in red Isengard clothing

Hiltibrant, dressed for the occasion, and trying to look sharp.

Hiltibrant, fooling around in his "work clothes"

He’s a tailor, or, to be more precise, an explorer, but in LOTRO’s system, you choose a “vocation” that then defines three professions that you have to take, and tailor is one of them. That’s just as well, seeing how tailors also produce all sorts of leather armor, and my warden seemed to have missed the day in character school that they talked about plate armor. In any case, the mundane work comprised killing beasts for leather, to produce “expert patterns” with 1-day or 3-day cooldowns that can be traded in for reputation with the Tailor’s Guild. That, in turn, gives you the possibility to buy nice high-quality recipes. There’s obviously some downsides to that, one being the time sink in your way to the really nice recipes, the other being the fact that for this gear, you need one item per craft that only drops from rare nameds. (note to self: crafting in games, another potential issue of my as-of-yet not-only-unfinished-but-also-not-even-started series of “comparison of mechanics in different MMOs”)

In any case, I had logged in and out for some time now, doing circles killing (somewhat high level) wolves and bears and trading in patterns, and finally reached an acquaintance standing with the Tailor’s Guild. So I decided that was enough for now, and I could actually go back to “real” adventuring. Thankfully, as a warden, you get your first teleport spell at level 26, which conveniently makes you end up in Ost Guruth, the main quest hub of the Lone Lands. That being where I had stopped before going on guild errands, I could start right away.

The Lone Lands, just like many of the other zones in the game, is simply gorgeous, especially considering the relatively low hardware requirements to make them look that nice. Looking west from outside Ost Guruth towards Weathertop always gives me a mediterranean impression, with the color of the ground and shrubs, and the trees.

Overall, the questing was uneventful. Foes were slain, items collected, deeds done. Levels flew by thanks to rested XP and the Isengard pre-order pocket item. I’m tempted to use my destiny points for more rested XP in the future if I run out of it, because I don’t have any inclination to try PvMP, which to me sounds like just the same as PvP with some additional fancy models. Me touching PvP with nothing but an 11-foot stick, I don’t see myself using destiny points that way.

Then I ended up with just a handful of quests left in the zone, one of them being part of the epic book 2 quest line. Problem being, I had just hit level 29, and those quests had me deal with signature mobs (harder than your average ones, in EQ2, they’d probably “^” or “^^”) of my level or higher. After two painful attempts to kill gaunt lords with their irritating tendency to summon in additional undead during the fight, I postponed my ventures there. So much for the indomitable one-man phalanx. It’s a bit of a bummer, because I’d rather finish the area before I move on, but I might have to skip them for the time being.

So for now, I guess I’ll do a bit of skirmishing. Not too much though, I’m not overly fond of grinding the same instances over an over again while I’m still leveling. The way I see it, there’s more than enough time to get bored by that kind of gameplay at max level. Me being a lover of hobbits, I generally run the Trouble in Tuckborough skirmish. That way, I also end up with a bit of Mathom Society reputation too, which I’m sorely lacking for a hobbit. Also, I might go back to the North Downs again for a short while, because I need to do my artisan quest to progress my tailoring. Seems that’s something the Tailor’s Guild will teach me, after some more running around killing wolves. What more can a hobbit want?