Posted in Lord of the Rings Online

LOTRO: Mordor? More like More Cowbell! …that didn’t make sense

Flipping characters back and forth between Mordor and Gundabad seems to be working pretty well for me in LOTRO. Every day is different from the last, but there’s a continuation of adventures and I’m making progress on both my Lore-master and Minstrel. I wince to think how complicated things will get when Update 36 drops with a new region AND the difficulty slider (and associated temptation to roll a new character).

Bring it Mordor, there’s nothing that’s going to stop my Holla Hobbit from screaming you all into nothingness. I cannot stress enough how much more enjoyable it is to blast through these areas slightly overleveled. My stress is down and enjoyment way up.

And I took a nice long break the other night to work on an “avenging chicken” outfit. I don’t think I’ve ever intentionally used this helm, but now that I am, I may have a new favorite. Hey, it amuses me.

Another advantage of not aggroing everything in a 12-mile radius in Mordor is being able to screenshot to your heart’s content. It’s not a cheery place, but there are a lot of interesting vistas.

Speaking of sights, I bumped into Gandalf… and his identical twin brother. Or his stunt double.

I did finish up the initial area of Mordor in terms of the epic story and enough quests to get the deed, but I might linger for a bit to wrap up some deeds before moving on to zone #2. It’s not super-fast progress, but it’s definitely moving forward — and if I look in my rear view mirror, I can be impressed how far I’ve come since coming back to my Minstrel in Western Gondor back at the start of February. Since then, I’ve done the entirety of Gondor, Minas Tirith (so much Minas Tirith), the Wastes, the first zone of Mordor, and a bunch of festival stuff. That’s not bad for four months, especially since I’ve been trading off time between her and other characters.

Posted in Lord of the Rings Online

LOTRO: Bringing light into the gloom

The next LOTRO update went up on the test server a couple of weeks back, which means that there’s now a countdown of sorts until the next high-level region(s) releases. I’m guessing late June, with SSG’s typical testing schedule. But that means I need to get my Captain fully up to speed, and she’s still got several core virtues sitting at 80/85.

For my peace of mind more than anything else, I pushed everything off the table until I got this done. I even popped a slayer booster and rushed around several low-level zones, clearing out deeds in record time. The ticking clock of the booster adds some pressure and challenge to it.

One of the items of the next update that caught my attention was the addition of the difficulty slider for landscape — as they have on Treebeard. It does seem like they’ve updated it a bit, perhaps a couple more ranks and some new rewards. I only did that lightly on Treebeard, but any excuse to roll up a new toon is hard to resist if there’s a fun challenge AND reward in the making. Theoretically, I would want to roll up a hardy class, probably a Beorning or Champ, to handle the tougher difficulty. But we’ll see, as I have my hands more than full at the moment.

Is it just me, or does anyone else completely forget that we have a legendary item reward track until it’s the end of the season and there’s a reminder on social media? Clearly, I haven’t claimed anything until now. Not that I’m complaining.

All in all, it was a nice haul. New auroch pet, a nifty reading emote, a few good traceries, and lots of other LI stuff. It was a good opportunity to take 10 minutes and update my LI, a chore that I usually put off more than I should. Then it was back to the dreary initial zone of Mordor. Nothing super tough to do, thankfully, but the quest objectives are really spread out, taking a long time to finish.

I got back into the habit of alternating nights with my Lore-master in Gundabad. Either way, I was in for a dark environment, but at least it was a little bit of a change of pace. And the second time going through this realm is easier than the first now that I generally know what to be doing.

Being somewhat overleveled for both places has lowered my stress level and increased my enjoyment. I can play a tourist, even. Hey, is that a pile of slightly comical bones? Don’t mind if I snap a quick pic for the hobbits at home!

Posted in Lord of the Rings Online

LOTRO: Mordor, Gundabad, and regions beyond

As I’ve been dusting off my old Lore-master and scooting her in the direction of Gundabad, I made a shocking discovery — I was still rocking legacy legendary items on her character. Like, the old ones. The much less effective ones. Could explain why I don’t feel that powerful in combat. Well, time to tuck my tail between my legs and head off to Rivendell to correct this oversight!

In a way, my Captain has both the best and worst of it right now. The best is that she’s 140 and done with Gundabad, so all I’m doing is virtue mop up. Yet it’s kind of the worst, because I can’t follow a storyline or grind an area — I have to keep finding new deeds that I haven’t done before and figuring those out, one at a time.

But no matter, because it offers me a great time to reacquaint myself with this character and class. There’s a reason I took her all the way to the end of the game — and look forward to bringing her even further.

Meanwhile, my poor Minstrel had to take her first real steps into Mordor. All I could think was, “once more unto the breach, dear friends.” There’s a psychological hump to overcome when you’re at the start of such types of content. Best to push through and get a move on.

Nothing like a buggy bear to brighten one’s day!

Posted in Lord of the Rings Online

LOTRO: A dash of spring cleaning

The theme of this month in LOTRO for me is “spring cleaning.” I’ve got a lot of alts all over the place that need straightening up, and by gum, that’s what I’m going to do. For starters, I’m paring everything down to three characters that will receive my attention (and affection): My level 140 Captain, my level 135 Lore-master, and my level 114 Minstrel. All the Cappy needs at this point are several ranks of virtues (which means deeding), but the LM needs to go through the entirety of Gundabad and my Minnie just entered The Wastes with the intent of generally deeding out each zone. That’s more than enough to keep me busy for the summer.

Another project that I pulled the trigger on was to consolidate all of my premium housing into a single (better) one. I sold my three standard Belfalas houses and then purchased a luxurious abode in the same neighborhood to be shared with all of my characters. This is my first luxurious house, and it is really neat with plenty of rooms and space. Now I have to sort through literally HUNDREDS of housing items to decorate rooms. Seriously, my shared housing storage — from escrow and characters moving servers — was 358 out of 60 slots, and that’s not counting what others have in their own vaults.

I’ll do a full house tour post in the future when I feel like it’s mostly done, but I’m glad that I got a whole lot of it done in the span of a single weekend.

After a lot of dragging my feet on doing it, I finally kicked my Lore-master into action to start her journey into Gundabad. At least she’s level 135, so fingers crossed that this will translate into easier combat.

Quick break to do the every-three-days Anniversary gifts quests. Hey, it’s easy tokens for about a half-hour, total, of time!

My poor Minstrel is having a rough go of it at the threshold of Mordor. Oh, she can whoop pretty much any mob that comes across her path, but the quests there do put you through the ringer. I was slightly incensed at a particular quest NPC who gave me attitude for helping another guy out. You want my help? You know who I am and what I’ve done so far? You don’t get to lecture me, I’m sorry.

I BEAR THE HOLY STROBE LIGHT OF THE RAVE NATION

This moment means that I finally reached the end of the War of the Ring and am officially moving into Mordor with my Minstrel at level 115 (which is a good 10 levels above the standard, which is nice).

Posted in Lord of the Rings Online

LOTRO: Hair and high fashion

I’m always a big proponent of doing all of the do-able deeds in each zone of LOTRO — even if you’ve out-leveled the zone. There are so many good perks that you get from this, such as virtue XP, LP, titles, and general sightseeing. So while my level 52 Lore-master (above) is maxed out in her five core virtues so far, I’m continuing to deed because I’ve identified three other virtues that give the much-desired tactical mastery passive. With LMs, every little bit counts, and I know I’m going to need that power come higher levels!

But one should never be too busy to take a break, so I worked on a new outfit for a while. Generally quite pleased with this classy and striking final look, even if the back shoulders/cape clip a bit. It’s worth it for the overall vision.

I did spend some time checking out the new avatar customization options on my Lore-master. My feelings, like so many others I’ve seen, are mixed. On one hand, I’m glad to have more options, some of which are pretty nice and represent a big step forward for these antiquated options. On the other hand, too many of the options are minute variations on each other and/or off-putting. It’s weirdly hard to get a face that looks normal now.

My poor Captain — my sole level 140, has-finished-Gundabad character — is a bit of a mess, I’m sad to say. She lost her house due to me not logging onto her (I thought she had a premium, but I guess not), still have several core virtues that need leveling, and her legendary items aren’t maxed out. All areas of improvement that I should handle before the new content arrives this summer and fall.

LIs were no big deal (it was a matter of taking all of the upgrades I had lying around and applying them), and I think I’ll wait on a new house for a while. But virtues are important, as is extra LP, so I started her down the road of cleaning up a bunch of Eriador deeds she missed back in the day.

Posted in Lord of the Rings Online

LOTRO: To dark and terrible places

While there are some things I definitely don’t like about the Mordor region — mob density, gloominess mostly — I can’t deny that it’s here that SSG really stepped up its storytelling game. I think that moving to the end of the book and beyond was a shot in the arm, allowing for more impactful moments and some creative freedom that wasn’t present before. And it’s always surreal to get to the end of the War of the Ring, too… kind of like transitioning from LOTRO 1 to LOTRO 2.

I felt like it was time to take a little break from non-stop Minstrel wanderings, however. My initial thought was to roll up a new character, perhaps another run on a Hobbit lore-master because I ended up hating the leveling approach I took last time (basically, got to level 30 and then ran nonstop missions while ignoring all the zones in an effort to get to Moria). So I have this level 52 character I’m not that attached to as a result.

Was tempted to delete her outright to start over again, but after taking a long look at her, I realized this was supreme foolishness. For starters, I have invested a lot of resources into her — three milestones, all the milestone cooldowns, a premium house, a tundra-guardian pet, a slew of outfits. And 52 levels isn’t anything to sneeze away on a whim.

Besides, I realized that my main gripe — that I wanted her to quest and deed out zones — could easily be accomplished even still. Nothing was getting in my way of backtracking to do that. So after starting to decorate my house with a ton of legacy items imported from my old character on Anor (yay for shared housing storage), I got to work with Cardolan and Swanfleet deeds.

This was a pleasant surprise — doing all of the Cardolan deeds rewarded me with a rather cool steed. Anything with a lot of pouches and bags gives it a hearty adventuring vibe.

One of my favorite weird MMO tropes is “The Ludicrously Enormous Pile ‘O Bones” that’s supposed to signify that you’re in a dangerous place but makes me think that the inhabitants ordered several thousand orders of BBQ ribs and garbage day hasn’t come yet.

It’s a fine day for an adventure, don’t you think?

Yes, yes it is.

“I want to be a healer, and love all things that grow and are not barren.”

Posted in Lord of the Rings Online

LOTRO: Wasting away

Before moving on from North Ithilien in LOTRO, I felt obliged to rack up as many deeds as I could. I can tell you right now, I don’t like these treasure cache deeds AT ALL, mostly because the deed track doesn’t tell you which ones you’ve found and which you haven’t (in contrast to normal explorer deeds).

And there we go — the starting line of six straight zones of misery, darkness, and corruption. I’m not despairing about getting through it, but it’s certainly going to be a bit of an eyesore. At least I can console myself that I’m continuing a rather hot streak with this character that began all the way back in western Gondor. Another point of consolation is that I’m level 113 going into a 105 zone, so I’m steamrolling mobs nicely. That’s the plan for all of Mordor, really: choo-choo Minstrel, full steam ahead.

Or, wait, back up a little bit… and take this herbalism lady on a guided tour to pick flowers. Also, she just lost her brother in the battle and carries his sword around. That’s probably healthy for the grieving process.

Posted in Lord of the Rings Online

LOTRO: Marching to Mordor

After a long, long time, I broke out of the gravity well of Minas Tirith and started to make my way to Mordor through North Ithilien. Momentum is so important in the questing journey of an MMO, and if you’re forced to stay in a place too long, I find that you grow resentful of it. In any case, it’s great to be on the move — and into a beautiful zone, no less.

A wise wizard once said, “It does not do to dwell on the sheer number of zones and amount of content that you’ve got left.” Same wizard also dragged me to go see Minas Morgul from afar while making me think of how long it’ll be until this character gets there.

But like all MMOs, you’re best off finding contentment where you are — in the journey — rather than fretting until you’ve reached the destination. And my journey is through the “garden of Gondor,” so there are worse places to be.

With 11 quests at the Crossroads and an additional 48 to wrap up the zone (not including the epic), there’s a lot to do here. I’m mostly fine with it — I did like leading this mumak on a merry chase — except that the constant deep valleys occasionally makes for tricky navigation between land “slices.”

Love love love the trees in this zone. And I best soak it up, because I’m not going to see another tree for like six zones after this. Not a healthy one, at least.

More goats, more trees. I liked this trough-like path with the twisted trees encroaching on it.

Time for another outfit! I spent a whole lot of time on this one, trying to come up with combinations and pieces I’ve not done before. I wanted a darker theme without being too brutal, and I think I pulled it off here.

Posted in Lord of the Rings Online

LOTRO: More the fool am I

Kicking off the month of April in LOTRO — its anniversary month! — I knew I had to grab the “Fool” title from the limited-time chicken run quest (supposedly, this is the first time it’s been available to do since 2009). You know, through the PvP Ettenmoors. Yeah, this’ll end well.

It wasn’t long before a monster player spotted me and came rushing over. I hit my “play possum” skill to feign death, but that only makes me invincible (and still) for about a minute before I have to run again. So all anyone has to do is wait out that time and then make KFC out of me — which is exactly what happened. Second time, killed by a player warg while trying to take a roundabout route.

This was a horrible first for me. The session play glitched, refused to log me out, and when I closed the game and came back, I got treated to this never-before-seen message. I did not contact tech support, as tech support never responds anyway, and just logged back in. Everything seemed OK. Fingers crossed.

The third run did the trick! I spawned in with another player chicken, and the two of us ran together, emoting and scouting the whole way. We didn’t spy any enemy players, and you best believe I hit that chicken afterburner the second I saw the finish line in front of me. The “Fool” title is now mine!

Posted in Lord of the Rings Online

LOTRO: So many goats, so little time

Hey look at that, it’s the Battle of Pelennor Fields! Such striking visuals! Such an inspirational TED talk by King Old Guy! Such a crucial moment in the history of Middle-earth!

I think I’ll take a break and go hang out with some bees for a while!

I thought I wasn’t going to do anything Spring Festival related… at least until I remembered that it was on my “must do” list to get that really cool Naruhel vine outfit that I missed the years’ prior. But the only way to do this was to get instance tokens, so off I was into the spring festival instances for the first time. This actually ended up being a lot of fun, with one being a truncated Red Maid boss fight and the other an escort quest where I walked bees around as they pollenated flowers.

Also, there are goats. SO MANY GOATS. The subtitles in this instance are so weirdly funny that I laugh every time I see them — and I keep quoting them to my guild. They probably want me to shut up about how I killed the king goat.

I also rolled up a new Hunter for a completionist run. Say hello to Syperpunk — the first of that name in any MMO I’ve played. I got her situated with some basic gear and a new outfit. I tried to go with something a little different than your normal “sneaky thief/ranger” garb, instead leaning into a wild nature theme. It’s the first time that I’ve ever used bee wings on an outfit, and here it works. At least, I think so.

I had even more fun making my second outfit. I really tried to give myself “permission” to go a different way than I normally do with outfits and try to incorporate some pieces I’ve never used before — in this case, giant fur shoulders with this rich-looking hunting outfit. And I got to throw in my wolves howling at the moon meme cloak as well!

Another LOTRO project I’ve picked back up is working to get my level 131 Lore-master through Gundabad and the final stretch to 140. She’s so close that it’d be a shame not to get her all the way there, especially with the high level expansion coming later this year. I may skip the side quests and do missions if she needs the extra XP. We’ll see.

Soon enough, I was done with spring festival content and back to Pelennor — just in time to see little missy here take mister misery to task. Such an epic moment and well-done with the game’s engine limitations.