LOTRO: I am all that is Minstrel

Lord of the Rings Online’s progression server proved to be so captivating that I haven’t been playing much of anything else this past week. That’s fine by me. As much as I’m looking forward to the full journey, I know that there’s something special in these first few weeks that won’t quite endure for the long haul, and I don’t want to miss it.

And I am gearing up for the long haul. One of the biggest obstacles to rolling up new alts in LOTRO hasn’t been leveling (which has become much easier) but chewing through the epic mountains of content that this game has added over the years. From the first steps in Archet to the current cap in the Grey Mountains and Iron Hills is a journey that would make even Frodo quail. But another benefit of these progression servers is that we don’t have to do it all or think about it all in one massive chunk — we can take it in four-month slices instead.

That, for me, is quite doable.

I haven’t been racing, as that’s not my style. More like I’ve been doggedly tracking down all of the zone quests in a particular region and enjoying the stories and revisitation of old stomping grounds. Following a few-day stay in the Shire, I cleaned up some Ered Luin deeds and then started on Bree-land. I forgot how immense Bree-land is, as it does double duty as being both a starting area and the level 15-20 zone.

After some additional consideration, I bought one other thing on the store: the Fleet-footed Goat. You know me, I love my goats! And I’ve kind of always wanted this one, especially as it looks great and has top-notch mount stats (250 morale, 68% speed boost). It’ll serve me well into Moria and beyond, and I don’t have to worry about collecting any more mounts. I’m set.

I’ve been slowly coming into my own as a Minstrel, too. I had a day or two where I felt the pull of returning to an old familiar class, but I’m glad I’m persevering (and sinking actual money into this character makes me much less likely to give up on her). The turning point was when I traited for one skill that let me throw down a Moonbeam-like attack at range that contained AOE damage. Now I have all sorts of ranged light-based attacks, and I’m taking out Orcs and wolves alike by screaming at them and bringing down the power of the Almighty Flashlight. It’s kind of fun!

I’ve also been grouping as much as possible. There is lots of activity as the crowd swarms around the same quest objectives (something I expect will smooth out as we spread out in the mid- and high-levels). Multi-tapping helps, but it’s not a big pain to toss out invites and have some fun with others for a few minutes.

I also really embraced the role of a minstrel by downloading some of the ABC music files and strumming my lute at quest hubs. It got some attention and applause as I rocked Chrono Cross tunes, and I loved feeling like I was contributing to the atmosphere of the game world. It certainly helped me feel more like a minstrel, especially out of a pure combat context. I think I’d like to do this more.

The only sore point of this whole starting-over thing is that my cosmetic wardrobe is awfully skimpy right now. Low-level gear is… not kind to the eyes in LOTRO, and while I do check out the visuals of everything that drops, only very rarely does something make the cut and is added to the wardrobe. As such, I only have one outfit that I’m using regularly, and that one is mostly made up of starter gear.

If I’m able to, I’d like to start joining groups to run dungeons and see if I can’t snag some better-looking gear there. And I know that saving up marks is a good way to guaranteed cosmetics when the skirmish camps open up in the future. Patience, Syp, patience!

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