Category Archives: Lord of the Rings Online

City of Heroes Doesn’t Want Me (At Least Right Now)

The other day, I felt a bit bored, and couldn’t decide which game to play. Naturally, that meant I wanted to try out yet something new. I pondered Runes of Magic shortly, but then decided being a super hero would be so much more fun.

I never had looked much into CoH. The super hero genre is something I like in small doses. I would probably have tried the game for a bit, then wandered off, not to return at any time this year. Maybe once.

Alas, it seems CoH is in a limbo right now.

Nothing to see here. Please check back later, though!

I am pretty sure CoH used to have a free trial. The link also points into that direction. But it seems that in preparation for making the game “free” (note quotes) to everyone, they shut down the free (note no quotes) trial. That’s a shame, and I’m not really sure why that would be necessary.

Oh well. CoH, you had your chance with me. Judging from experience, you’ll have your next around Summer 2012.

(And in the end, I read a book for a couple of hours, then went to play LotRO.)


The plan was relatively simple: get Latakia, my Yeoman, to Artisan level, so I can make level 30 food, which would benefit my warden Hiltibrant. I already knew from him that getting Artisan proficiency required a quest. And since the Cook’s Guild is in Michel Delving, I knew I was up for a travel there. Which is fine: as I’ve said numerous times, I love the shire.

However, the quest required me to cook several expert-level food items, and one of them was a strawberry pie. And the strawberries were not sold by vendors, but rather farmed by a farmer. At artisan level. That came as a bit of a surprise, because so far, cooked food had only required the same or lower levels of farmer’s supplies. And farming tends to be a slower leveling than cooking, too, so it always lagged behind for me. I took that as a challenge though! So I farmed, and farmed, and farmed… finished journeyman level, progressed through expert level… then I realized I didn’t get any experience any more.

Uhoh. There’s also a quest to progress to artisan level for farmers! And, that of course sent me from Michel Delving to Hobbiton! Not that that’s a huge distance, but still… for that I hadn’t been prepared. Also, from now on, I’ll probably have to visit Hobbiton more often, because I’ll need superior fields, which don’t grow near Bree. Oh well. The fact that there aren’t that many spots to do superior farming was obvious from how crowded it was:

It's crowded at the commons!

So, I went and planted some crops that I needed for the farming quest. Then, I went around to quest NPCs to present them my produce, and show that I was worthy of the artisan farmer title. Then, I finally could plant the strawberries. Then, I went back to Michel Delving and made the strawberry pie. Then, I went around to quest NPCs again (other ones this time, though) to present them my food, and show that I was worthy of the artisan cook title. Then, I was done. *phew*

All in all, a good night’s work.

Cranking up the other Turbine

Sunday, I felt not that interested in playing DDO again. My bard and Rogue/Wizard are both at the right level to group with my friends, and I don’t want to start yet another class. So I looked at the icons on my desktop and realized I hadn’t played LotRO online for quite some time. I also had read a post by Wilhelm, in which he talked about the revamped Evendim, and the southernmost area of Oatbarton, where he did a lot of hobbit-chores.

Hobbits? Quests? And gift mathoms? I’m so on it! And my Warden was 30, just the perfect level to start! So I logged in. The login screen indeed told me it had been “1 month”. It might round up a bit, but still, wow! That long? Oh right, I was on vacation in the meantime.

You start the Oatbarton quests with a breadcrumb quest you get in the Lone Lands. I assume you can also start right away, but I had this yearning for some old-fashioned travel. So I didn’t port over there (with my special Warden spell), or took the pony express. Rather, I rode on my own terms from Bree, where I started, to the Forsaken Inn, and back via Bree, Stock, and Brockenborings, to Oatbarton.

I went there...

...and back again.

You have reached your destination.

Yep, this looks like my kind of town!

And there were a lot of chores to be done. The big market was just around the door, and there were still a lot of things that needed to be done. To name a few, I:

...herded chicken that had run away (note the tilted chicken, from when the hands have already gone back to their original position, but the chicken hasn't despawned yet. Cluck?!)...

... crushed grapes (while getting my groove on!)...

... and churned butter. Which seems to be physically demanding. See how Hiltibrant wipes his brow? Maybe it would work better if you weren't in full armour.

The final tally, after having fun doing some chores for hobbits, was 27 gift mathoms. But wait, what was that? I was sent off to Oatbarton’s little sister town, just north: Dwaling. The glass blowers from there were supposed to present their wares, too, but it seemed they were in a bit of a pickle. They are going through their own housing crisis, with some unseen investor having bought up most homes. The city is not in a good shape, and overrun by human ruffians. They even locked up the public holes! Of course, I had to help. I don’t have pictures from that part (stab stab kill stab etc), but after I taught the ruffians a lesson, I was approach by a glass blower to help them restock. After collecting some sand and other materials, I even was allowed to take a shot at glass blowing myself!

This is more difficult than it looks, and it already doesn't look easy!

Of course, I was a natural talent at this trade. Ahem. As Mr Glass Blower told me: “Well, I am not quite sure what we can do with this. Perhaps it could be use as a tray to ash one’s pipe after smoking. A useful thing, if not the most glamorous of objects.” I claim that as a success!

Speaking of success, the Dwaling quests awarded another 13 gift mathoms, so I had a grand total of 40. That was quite a bit of experience, and as a result, I’m now an ally of the Mathom Society.

The mandatory "reputation spam" picture.

Overall, a very fun night. I wish there were more nooks hidden away with quest lines such as these. But I haven’t even visited half a dozen areas in earnest so far, so there’s still lots of things to be found! On the side of tangible benefits, with rested XP and the Isengard pre-order trinket for 25% more XP from mob kills, I made almost 3 levels in Oatbarton and Dwaling. That’s pretty nice, too.

Right now, I’m itching to try out my minstrel again though. Or maybe roll something now? Maybe a dwarf or elf, to try out their starting area? We’ll see.

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.


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.

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?