FFXIV – Void Ark and Weeping City

First there was Void Ark. I watched a guide on YouTube but I didn’t understand much of it, so I just jumped in. (It’s easier to learn mechanics first-hand.) It turned out to be fairly straightforward to get carried through there. Just like the Labyrinth of the Ancients raid at 50, everyone is so over-leveled that you hardly even see the mechanics, and mostly all you have to do is follow along, avoid AOEs, and pick up the loot. I got most of the Bard 200 gear (except the belt) and moved on to the next tier.

(I also got a ton of gear for alt classes, too, but I’m running out of places to put gear. Seriously, Square Enix, can you look into this? You’re usually very good about quality-of-life improvements, but storage of alternate gear is still a blind spot.)

Incidentally, the Void Ark Bard gear looks silly. My character looked like a 1950s bell hop.

May I take your baggage?

When I passed item level 205, I entered the Weeping City. It’s a totally different story. MTQ’s guide is split into two parts, which should give you some idea of the complexity of the mechanics. I watched both parts … and retained maybe 1/10th of what I saw. Once again I just jumped in. I knew I was never going to learn it without first-hand experience. These are public raids–they’re usually designed so that only half the participants really need to be well-versed on the mechanics to get through it. (As opposed to the “real” raids, where every single person needs to be on the ball.)

I actually got through the first two bosses without dying, but not so much on the last two. I went and ran right off the edge of the Ozmos platform with the marker, knowing full well that it would happen, while still somehow thinking that an invisible wall would stop me because there are always invisible walls in FFXIV right?

Anyway after I got out of there the guides made a lot more sense. Still, there are some pretty intense mechanics in there. (The Triangle shape on Ozmos is the one I have the most trouble with. It’s so hard to see when you get hit with that Acceleration Bomb thing.)

Looks relaxing, right?

One thing I’ve learned after going through Weeping City around 10 times now: The community doesn’t seem to know this raid very well, even after all the time it’s been out (6 months?). There’s almost always one alliance that wipes at some point, and there’s almost always a complete raid wipe one or more times. (Frequently on Ozmos.)

Another thing I learned is that the Bard boots never drop in Weeping City.

Okay, they finally dropped last night. The Weeping City gear still doesn’t look as good as the Centurio gear.

My next milestone is item level 235 so I can get into Dun Scaith. But first I apparently need to find a High-capacity Tombstone so I can upgrade my weapon.

And no, I still haven’t done the Antitower to continue the Main Scenario yet. PUGing 4-man dungeons is way more intimidating than 24-man raids, or even 8-man raids. In a 4-man dungeon it’s impossible to hide from all your newbie mistakes.

FFXIV – The Road To Void Ark

Thanks to a bunch of tips, I learned that what I should have been looking for as a Crystal Tower-replacement is called Void Ark, not Alexander. It took me a little time to figure out how to unlock it, because the quest that takes you to it starts out in Foundation with some random guy on the street who doesn’t look like he would ever lead to anything good. I found him from the 3.1 Patch Notes.

So Void Ark is unlocked, but of course it requires item level 175 to enter.

But thanks to another tip, I learned that those Clan Hunts I did for an experience boost also give you these things called Centurio Seals, with which you can buy a ton of item level 170 gear. It never even occurred to me to look around for a Seal vendor (I wish they would label NPCs as vendors). I already had a bunch and could buy some new gear right away. Over the course of a handful of days, I picked up the full set of 170 gear, which looks pretty spiffy.

Unfortunately it still left me at item level 168. I only had one of the 170 rings. I ran a few more dungeons and whatnot to put together enough Tomestones of Lore to buy an item level 230 ring and … I’m still one point short at 174.

But I expect with one more piece of 230 jewelry I’ll get to the 175 mark. It won’t take too many dungeons to get another 375 Tomestones. I’ll probably be doing that even as this post is publishing.

As far as the Main Scenario I’ve reached the next gate, which is The Antitower dungeon. It requires item level 175 180 too so I would have had to go through upgrading my gear anyway. Apparently I’m already into the 3.2 story, so it’s going faster than I expected. [Updated with the information I left out when I was writing at work.]

It’s also getting harder to say anything or post any screenshots about the story without a significant chance of spoiling things for people who haven’t yet played Heavensward. I already showed a spoiler in a previous screenshot without even realizing it. But then I noticed that Square Enix themselves put a pretty significant spoiler at the top of their Patch Notes for 3.5, so maybe I shouldn’t worry about it.

Now that I’m in the “endgame” I’m starting to think a bit more about how to play this crazy Bard. It seems to me that there might be times where it would be more advantageous to switch the new Ballad off, for example if there is a phase where a lot of prolonged dodging is required. Then again, if you know the fights well, you can often dodge without having to interrupt your abilities too much (I’ve learned this from the Demon Tome in Great Gubal Library). And most times when there is prolonged dodging the boss is invulnerable anyway.

I’m sure there are tons of Bard theorycrafting guides out there but I like to think about this stuff myself before I start consulting the wisdom of the Internet.

The New Guy

On a whim I decided to make a brand new character from scratch. With this character I wanted to play a Ninja, one of the two jobs I’ve never seen (the other one being Monk). I suppose I could have done this on my existing character but to be honest I’m sick of having to manage that Armoury.

At first I made a male Au’ru because I thought it had a neat running animation. Unfortunately every time I stopped running I had to look at this pose:

Ah, that stylish low-level armor in FFXIV.

So after about 10 levels I decided to use my Fantasia potion to change into a male Miquot’e. I don’t like the running animation as much but at least he doesn’t stand like he’s about to do ballet. Here is the new guy after finishing Sastasha as a Rogue.

The neato gloves and boots actually came from doing a couple of Novice instances.

It’s interesting to see the game again from the perspective of a fresh character. It feels like it doesn’t take as long to level as it once did, but maybe that’s my imagination. There are a lot of improvements to the low-level experience that weren’t there before. (Like, for example, you can finally skip that very first cut scene! That alone is a massive improvement.)

P. S. In LotRO news, I finished Volume 1 Books 14 and 15, so I’m finally done with the whole Angmar thing. I’d be lying if I didn’t say it was a boring slog at times. Someday I’ll get around to writing posts about it.

FFXIV – 3.0 Main Scenario Complete

A while back I said I was playing ESO again.. welllll, I sort of lost interest. (I think it’s because I find the quests very depressing, and it also seems like everywhere you go and everything you do is basically the same as what you did before.) So it’s mostly FFXIV and an occasionally foray into LotRO for me these days.

I finished the Aetherial Research Facility. I got a nice group with a very “professional” tank, who explained the mechanics concisely and non-judgmentally. Indeed it turned out to be much easier than I feared, and kind of fun. It was another one with a lot of AoEs to dodge, which I like. It’s sort of like a puzzle game, trying to figure out where to run so that you don’t get caught by overlapping or moving AoEs. They’re usually predicable enough that you can plan ahead, but random enough that you still need to think on your feet.

There was another 8-man trial immediately after called The Singularity Reactor. I went into that one completely blind, reasoning that it would be similar to the 8-man trials at the end of previous stories, which were among the easiest in the game. It turned out to be at least easy enough for us to get through on the first try, even with three of us showing filmstrips over our heads and nobody explaining anything. At the time of this writing, in fact, I can’t remember a single thing about the fight, except the spoilery cut scene after it was over.

So that completed the Heavensward 3.0 Main Scenario, as far as I can tell. I think it was better than the 2.0 story. (I say that partly because I can’t even remember the 2.0 story.) Most of the characters had good arcs, at least until [redacted].

As you might expect, reaching level 60 in FFXIV is just the beginning, particularly when you get to the end in version 3.5 instead of 3.0. If it’s anything like level 50, I’m guessing there are now 5 updates worth of extended Main Scenario questlines to go through, each with a new dungeon and/or trial in it.

In addition to that, there is the somewhat arduous process of running around to find and unlock all the level 60 activities you can do after finishing the Main Scenario.

One of the first things I found was Rowena in Idyllshire, who led me to unlocking the Anima weapon quest. Yeah, I probably won’t be doing that. Not without a really long Netflix series to binge-watch, at least.

After that I unlocked a level 60 dungeon Neverreap, and two Extreme trials, none of which I qualify for yet.

I wanted to find the “Alexander” thing I keep hearing about, which I am guessing is the new Crystal Tower public raid thingy. Crystal Tower was a big help to my gear progress in the level 50 days. I didn’t quite know what to look for, but I stumbled onto it anyway when I looked into that gigantic robot hand that came out of the shield in the Dravanian Hinterlands. I thought it was just going to be another 8-man trial the way they kept talking about primals, but the Duty Finder clearly marks it as “Alexander – The Fist of the Father” even though the quest text never mentioned anything about Alexander, Fists, or Fathers. I still don’t know who or what Alexander is. It’s always seemed like a strange name for an instance. (I thought “Turns 1-9” were strange names, too.)

There’s no danger of accidentally wandering into any of these places unprepared, by the way, because my item level is way too low. At this writing I’m at 142, and I think I need to get to at least 145 before I can even start doing any of this level 60 stuff.

At one time that seemed like an impossibly high number, but now it’s a huge flashing newbie sign. I unlocked the Stone, Sea, Sky thing (which is an awesome game feature with yet another inexplicable FFXIV name) and marched haughtily into the practice tutorial boss, only to fail the DPS check miserably. Talk about humbling.

I decided I would run through the Great Gubal Library until I picked up a substantial portion of the Conservator’s gear set, which is item level 148. I kind of enjoy that dungeon and it would be nice to have a complete set of gear for a change. I’ve been wearing a hodgepodge for 10 levels now. Of course the first time through, there was another Bard in the group, and of course he got the only Bard drop there was. The second time through there was nothing but Ninja drops. So maybe it isn’t the greatest idea in the world.

P. S. Two more Gubal runs last night and nothing. It’s getting less fun, so bleh.

Morrowind – Learning The Ropes

I’m trying a new thing here. This is both a diary of my Morrowind adventures and an index to the videos.

P. S. Don’t spoil anything for me, I haven’t finished the game yet. :)

Morrowind 1 – Arriving in Seyda Neen. Story. I’m a Dark Elf Witchhunter. I was released from prison and transported by ship to Seyda Neen, on the southern coast of Vvardenfell island in the Morrowind district. Apparently I was released by a personal decree from Emperor Uriel Septum VII. After answering a series of questions, I was given some gold and a package to take to a man named Caius Cosades in the town of Balmora, who would have more information [15:20]. I found a healing ring in a barrel. I was told by a helpful stranger that a silt strider (a creature which to me looked like a giant long-legged tick) could transport me to Balmora. I encountered a man named Fargoth [25:45] who claimed the Imperials had taken his healing ring. I said nothing. Tee hee. Eager to find out why I’d been released, I took a silt strider to Balmora for 15 gold.

Morrowind 2 – Finding Caius Cosades In Balmora. Story, Thieves Guild. After arriving in Balmora, I began searching for Caius Cosades. I was told to ask for him in the South Wall Cornerclub. There, I encountered a Khajitt named Sugar-Lips Habasi and joined the Thieves Guild on a whim [13:40]. After many fruitless attempts at persuading the people of the corner club, the owner finally told me where to find Caius Cosades’s house. I made my way there and found the impressively shirtless Imperial Blades Spymaster Caius Cosades [23:05]. Caius read over the package I delivered, then, by order of the Emperor, made me a Novice in the Imperial Blades (a spy organization). Caius ordered me to establish a cover identity as a freelance adventurer by joining the Mages Guild or the Fighters Guild.

Morrowind 3 – Exploring the Countryside. Mages Guild, Random. I decided to join the Mages Guild in Balmora, since it seemed like it would fit my skill set better than the Fighters Guild. I talked to the local recruiter Ranis Athrys [5:05]. She accepted me into the guild and told me to find Ajira to learn my duties. Instead, I walked into the wilderness to try my luck with my starting weapons [13:40]. I found and explored the vendors in the Moonmoth Fort [15:05]. I learned to use my Ancestral Ghost conjuring spell [21:30]. I went up a hill, encountered a mage on a bridge, and died [23:55].

Morrowind 4 – Collecting Mushrooms for Ajira. Mages Guild. Back in the Balmora Mages Guild, I found Ajira in the basement and asked about my duties. Ajira, a student herself, asked me to collect mushroom samples from the swamp on the Bitter Coast for a report she was writing. I made my way to the swamp and encountered a Nord named Fjol, who demanded 100 gold, then killed me when I refused to give it to him [15:15]. I wandered through the small fishing village of Hla Oad. I fought Scribs and Mud Crabs using my trusty Bound Dagger spell, the only weapon I found to be viable. I collected samples of two out of the four required types of mushrooms before getting killed by a Nix Hound.

Morrowind 5 – Lost In The Swamp. Mages Guild. I found and investigated a cavern door to Zanabi [3:15]. I found the ruins of Hlormaren [6:30]. Eventually I collected the remaining mushroom samples. On the way back to Balmora I got lost in the swamp and fought many creatures, somewhat ineffectively, with a Bound Dagger. I found a door to the Andrethi Ancestral Tomb [12:20]. Eventually I returned to Ajira in the Balmora Mages Guild. Ajira rewarded me for completing my first duty with some potions [26:05]. Then I accidentally picked up an alchemy device from a table (I thought it was an alchemy station) and was killed when everyone in sight rushed to stop me from stealing it.

Morrowind 6 – Ajira Versus Galbedir. Mages Guild. In the Balmora Mages Guild, Ajira asked me to plant a fake soul gem in fellow student Galbedir’s desk so Ajira could win a bet [2:30]. On the way, I talked to everyone in the guild to find out their roles. I discovered that Masalinie Merian in the basement could teleport me to various destinations [15:40]. I bought the conjuring spells Bound Longbow and Bound Longsword from her as well. I planted the fake soul gem and returned to Ajira. Ajira then asked me to collect samples of four different kinds of flowers from the shores of Lake Amaya for her report [17:20].

Morrowind 7 – Collecting Flowers for Ajira. Mages Guild. On my journey to Lake Amaya, I discovered that the Bound Longbow spell is useless without arrows [2:30]. I encountered a lovestruck lass named Maurrie Aurmine by the road, who asked me to find a bandit [9:55]. I refused, because I was busy picking flowers. I collected samples of three of the four kinds of flowers required, but the Stoneflowers remained elusive. I passed a wooden door to the Lleran Ancestral Tomb [15:35]. I encountered another woman Nevrasa Dralor on the road [16:15], who was looking for a holy place at the Fields of Kummu. I agreed to escort her because she promised to pay me 100 gold.

Morrowind 8 – Advancing In The Mages Guild. Mages Guild. With Nevrasa Dralor tagging along, I finally found samples of Stoneflowers and returned to Ajira to complete my guild duty [8:50]. Ajira gave me more potions and asked me to buy a ceramic bowl for her. I stopped by Ranis Athrys and she promoted me from Associate to Apprentice to Journeyman in the Mages Guild [11:00]. I also heard a rumor that Larrius Varro at Fort Moonmoth wanted to talk to me. After delivering the ceramic bowl [14:35], Ajira asked me to find her two reports which she believed rival Galbedir stole. Galbedir told me a rumor that the Balmora magistrate Nolus Atrius was “on the take,” but denied stealing the reports [20:12]. 

Morrowind 9 – Escort To The Fields of Kummu. Random. I bought the Bound Mace spell, since my Blunt weapon skill is better than anything else (or so I thought). Since Nevrasa Dralor was still following me around, I decided to set aside my guild duties for a while to escort her to the Fields of Kummu. On the way we passed Fort Moonmoth, and I spoke with Larrius Varro [9:10]. He asked me to deal with a nord bandit on the road to Hla Oad (back in the swamp). I continued to the Fields of Kummu with Nevrasa Dralor [19:15] and she rewarded me with 100 gold. I then returned to Balmora.

Morrowind 10 – Confronting Fjol. Random. Continuing to ignore my duties, I left Balmora to track down the nord bandit for Larrius Varro. I passed a campsite at the Shulk Eggmine [1:10], and was surprised to find them harmless (I had previously avoided them, thinking they were bandits). I arrived again in the fishing village of Hla Oad, and talked to some of the residents [9:50]. I was killed by an assassin after resting [27:15]. After many unsuccessful attempts, I finally killed the Nord bandit Fjol using Bound Bow when he got stuck on a fence post [32:00]. Returning to Fort Moonmoth, Larrius Varro rewarded me with 100 gold.

FFXIV – Finally 60

It was a weekend of big achievements in Final Fantasy XIV. When last we left our intrepid Warrior of Light, she had run out of level 58 quests halfway to level 59.

I ended up doing some Clan Hunts, some Battle Levemetes (a word which I still do not think is a real word), and thanks to suggestions from Aywren, a handful of Beast Tribe quests for the Vath and Vanu. That got me to level 59, faster than I might have expected. (I also noticed that Beast Tribe reputation gains in Heavensward are about 10 times faster than … uh … non-Heavensward. What do we call non-Heavensward anyway? Surely not Vanilla FFXIV. I guess ARR or 2.0.)

Beast tribe quests got me to level 59.

I met up with Alphinaud and [redacted] and we went to a cave and met a stereotypical old witch surrounded by talking frogs. I was back in the Main Scenario! I was so excited. Then the old witch told me to go to the Great Gubal Library dungeon and get a book. Cue screeching car tires, followed by the sound of metal and glass crashing into a brick wall.

This grumpy old witch cliche wanted a book.

I watched a guide and Sunday I finally bit the bullet and entered the Duty Finder. As it turned out, I was more prepared for this dungeon than anyone else. I got to see an infamous “loldrg” in person. Personally I found the mechanics relatively straightforward and kind of fun (I like the ones where you have to dodge a lot, that’s probably why I liked the Bard in the first place), but they were too much for the dragoon, who died repeatedly on the Demon Book and the Bibliotaph. (In fairness, the Book would definitely be harder for melee DPS.) Losing the dragoon wouldn’t have been so bad, but the healer also had a tendency to die a lot.

After an hour we got through it, which I suppose is a credit to the determination of the group. But that’s way over my “omg I feel so trapped in here” threshold for a dungeon. That threshold for me is about 20 minutes, and it’s one of the reasons why I hesitate to go into FFXIV dungeons, which, case in point, sometimes last an hour.

All to fetch a book for the old witch lady.

The grumpy old witch left her book in a library filled with monsters and elevator music.

After that, the pace of the Main Scenario really accelerated. We went back to Cid who had made a whole new airship thingy which he dubbed the Enterprise Excelsior. (Of course he says “engage” too. And–nerd trigger warning–this Enterprise has two passengers named Biggs and Wedge.) Then there was an epic cut scene with fighting and explosions and tension and more spoilers and then I entered the final Heavensward zone, Azys Lla.

I never saw much of the Bahamut Turns, so I haven’t seen all that much of the old Alagan technology in FFXIV (otherwise known as super-advanced science-fiction technology). Well this new zone hits you full in the face with it, and it’s like stepping into a totally different, science fiction MMORPG.

An epic cut scene paved the way for the final zone.

Wisely, I don’t think they mean for you to spend much time in this zone. The Main Scenario propels you rather rapidly through the quadrants, and the pacing combined with the cool energetic music in the background makes you feel like you’re nearing an epic conclusion to the Main Scenario. I zoomed through this zone.

Until I got to the aptly-named quest “Heavensward” which requires you to be level 60. And naturally, I was only halfway there. It was kind of a bummer to let all that forward story momentum I’d been building die. It was like, okay everything is leading up to this massive final confrontation, but oops, no you can’t do that yet. Come back later!

I was determined to reach 60 before I went to bed, so I did some more Beast Tribe quests and another run of the Great Gubal Library (in which I got an oddly drab new tunic), then a random Trial in the Duty Finder (which for some reason always comes up on The Chrysalis for me), and I reached level 60.

And suddenly we’re in a science fiction MMORPG.

The “Heavensward” quest, not unexpectedly, led to another dungeon, the Something Something Complex Aetherial Research Facility. By then it was getting late and I was too scared to do another dungeon, so that’s where I left it. This one is probably going to be a heavy story dungeon, too, so it’s doubly scary. Nobody wants to sit around staring at that one person in the group with the film strip over his head for ten minutes at the beginning of the instance.

I did get my final Bard ability, though, which unfortunately looks pretty anti-climatic. It’s an instant cast ability that does extra damage when your DoTs are up. Sounds great and useful, up until the point when you read the “60 second cooldown” part. Boo. I also unlocked Wondrous Tales or Tails or whatever, which sounds a lot like “busy work” to me.

I might have gotten more done, but on Monday (a day off for me), Square Enix brought down the game all day for the 3.5 update.

LotRO Volume 1, Book 13 – Snowpocalypse

I completed a second Book in LotRO over the snowy weekend.

Last time we rescued Laerdan and found half of that elusive ring Narchuil. After Laerdan stormed out of the council meeting, Elrond asked me to talk to him. Laerdan believed the rest of the ring could be found in the (presumably dead) hands of a captain whose ship sank somewhere in the north. He asked me to meet a dwarf friend of his in Forochel, because he wanted to stay and patch things up with the Elves. Typical. I always have to do the work.

Forochel is a horrible place and I would never want to live there. The icy tundra of Forochel looked disturbingly similar to my real life after the unexpectedly high volume of snow and record-breaking low temperatures we got over the weekend.

Laerdan’s dwarf friend was no help at all, and directed me to contact the locals, who I think of as Eskimos but actually have sort of Scandinavian accents, which I rendered in my reference video recording as more like a weird combination of Indian, Native American, and Irish. The Eskimo chieftan Yrjana (pronounced something like EAR-YAWN) required me to pass three tests before he would speak with me, which required a great deal of riding through the snow fields.

Chieftan Yrjana said he would love to help find Narchuil, but a spooky emmissary from Angmar also wanted it. The chieftain met with him, and it was none other than my old nemesis Mordrambor, last seen in Book 11 killing many people of Evendim as he escaped. Mordrambor tried to convince Chieftan Yrjana to work with him instead of me, but Yrjana refused. Mordrambor left in a huff, promising to kill everyone, yada yada.

To find the ring, Chieftan Yrjana sent me to a powerful seer woman named Saija, who lived in a cave in the middle of nowhere. She told the tale of Arvedui, the Gaunt King, who died upon the back of a “giant sea-monster,” which only now as I write this summary do I realize was a “ship” and not an actual monster. Saija surmised I might find knowledge of the ring at the shipwreck, and so I went there.

At the shipwreck, still frozen in the water, I found the shade of Arvedui, the Gaunt King, the last king of Arthedain. Arvedui told me he had once hidden and abandoned many things in the dwarf-mines to the south (where he became “gaunt”). He wanted me to go to the mines and find his Book of Heraldry and take it to a Ranger.

This led to a rather lengthy delve into the depths of the Dourhand-held dwarf-mines, where I wandered for an endless amount of time trying to find a stupid book for a dead guy.

At last, I found it and returned it to the Ranger, who declared he would return at once to Rivendell to tell Elrond and Aragorn of the fate of Arvedui of Arthedain. (For you see, Aragorn was still in Rivendell during those days, and apparently is a descendant of this Gaunt King Arvedui.)

The shade of Arvedui thanked me for my service and finally got to the reason I was there. He told me that there had been a second Elf-ship which had come searching for him, whose captain had not perished. (This was presumably the ship captain whom Laerdan had given the fragment of Narchuil.) He knew no more, but suggested I speak with the seer Saija about it, and so I returned to her cave.

Naturally, Saija would not tell me anything before I performed some mundane tasks for her. Once I completed those, she told me that the survivor of the second ship (“sea monster”) had been lost in an ice cave. If the ring Narchuil could be found anywhere, it would be there. Saija volunteered to guide me there.

Inside the ice cave, Mordrambor was one step ahead of us. “I will claim Narchuil as my own and deliver it to my *new* Master,” he said, revealing himself to be a traitor to the Big Bad Lady Amarthiel. In the end, I fought with Mordrambor, but in a surprise twist that still makes no sense whatsoever, Saija revealed herself to be none other than Amarthiel in disguise (again). “Thou wilt pay for thine insolence!” she shouted at Mordrambor, as the two of them disappeared in a ball of fire, leaving me alone in the cave, with the other fragment of the ring Narchuil. I returned it to Rivendell, where I learned that Laerdan plans to take it south to destroy it.

And that’s how Book 13 ended.

I have to say, this book was a massive pain to get through. I did not enjoy much of anything here. I got lost in Forochel trying to complete the Chieftan’s tasks, I got lost in the dwarf-mines trying to find that book of heraldry, which made me especially angry because I did not see how a book had anything to do with finding a ring. It was just one boring errand after another which seemed to take forever. (It actually took about 3 hours of game time.) The summary I wrote above makes it sound quite a bit more entertaining than it was.

Story-wise, I’m not at all clear why Saija/Amarthiel didn’t just take the dern ring herself. Why would she help *me* find it? That made no sense whatsoever. Or was it all a plot to test Mordrambor’s loyalty to her? Perhaps the reasons will become clear later.

I calculated that I had roughly 33 more books to go before I caught up with the story in LotRO, which at two per weekend, should take me well into Fall or Winter 2017.

FFXIV – The Level 58 Slump

I’m a little miffed that I’ve run out of level 58 quests in the Dravanian Hinterlands only about halfway to level 59. Alphinaud and [redacted] stopped talking to me about the Main Scenario almost immediately after I ascended to level 58 and entered Idyllshire, which is apparently the new Mor Dhona. They now want nothing to do with me until I get to level 59.

So I did every level 58 quest I could find around Idyllshire and the Hinterlands, mostly involving the gobbies’ loony adventures building their city government. After that, I followed two racist refugees from Uldah in their misadventures of gobbie mistrust. I thought for sure that somewhere in those quests I would unlock Saint Mocianne’s Arboretum, which is clearly marked as a dungeon on my map, but nope. That blue dungeon icon is still there, and I guess I’m supposed to pretend I can’t see the rather obvious entrance.

Now I’m sitting there in Idyllshire with half a level to go, wondering what to do. Did I miss something? The only thing I can think of to do is grind The Vault dungeon or Leveling dungeons until I get to 59, but I don’t particularly want to. I don’t remember ever being at a point in FFXIV before where I *had* to do dungeons to progress. I mean, maybe I had this problem when I originally hit 48 and 49, too, but I don’t remember it. For alt classes I would usually do FATEs around Camp Dragonhead from 40-50 (actually more like 35-50), but as far as I can tell there’s nothing like that in Heavensward.

Tonight, after I wrote the above at work, I re-discovered the Battle Levemetes and Clan Hunts in Foundation, but they are slow and not very efficient in terms of leveling. But it’s about all I could find that didn’t involve a Duty.

By the way I have not enjoyed the quests around the Hinterlands. Well, the quests themselves are fairly amusing, but there is a *lot* of running back and forth, which is really time-consuming when you can’t fly yet.

In terms of land mass, the Heavensward expansion reminds me a lot of the Storm Legion expansion in Rift, and not in a good way. They made the maps *gigantic* in comparison to the launch maps, presumably to impress people or in FFXIV’s case to make flying more important, but what you actually end up with are these huge maps that take forever to get across, which are mostly empty of content. I’d just as soon developers not make bigger maps unless they plan to fill them with more points of interest.

LotRO Volume 1, Book 12 – Rescuing Laerdan

Turns out this was the only screenshot I took.

As part of my continuing efforts to catch up in LotRO, I played through another Book in the Epic Story. In the last book, we were looking for a ring called Narchuil, which is pronounced quite differently from the way it looks, according to not-Ian McKellen Gandalf in the voiceovers. (It’s something like “Nar-wheel.”)

(Per usual for my LotRO posts, I will not be attempting to add the diacritics to all the weird Elvish words.)

In Book 12, we’re … still looking for a ring called Narchuil. But we’ve been distracted by looking for Laerdan, who I erroneously thought had died in the last book. Apparently he was taken captive instead, and for some reason the folks of Middle Earth believe he’s worth rescuing. Some misguided sense of ethics, I presume.

As always, The Enemy writes down his plans on paper and distributes them to all of his minions, so after killing a few bad guys in Evendim, I was able to find out that Laerdan was taken before someone named Ein in Barad Tironn for interrogation. While random extra Forchon courageously guarded the door, I dispatched Ein, but Laerdan was long gone, taken to Angmar.

My contact in Angmar, Gwathryn, told me that Laerdan was taken to Sammath Baul. After prying a gate key from the cold, dead hands of the massive brute Lozudurkh, I was able to enter the corpse-filled halls of Sammath Baul. I fought my way through hordes of Angmarim and defeated Morven, Laerdan’s captor. I took the badly injured Laerdan back to Elrond in Rivendell to recover.

With Laerdan rescued, Elrond directed me to return to the search for Narchuil. Laerdan revealed in his sleep that it lay in Barad Durgul, back in Angmar. My Angmar contact Gwathryn worried that the inactive gate ward stones protecting Barad Durgul might be a trap, so I once again sought out the secret orders that The Enemy distributed to all of his minions. After a somewhat tedious journey into the heart of Barad Durgul, I found the secret orders on the corpse of an Angmarim Gate-Keeper  who carelessly forget to tear them up. It turned out the watching stones were disabled for the personal convenience of the Lady Amarthiel, and no danger.

The inevitable assault on the halls of Barad Durgul ensued, one Hobbit laying waste to hordes of Angmarim Houndmasters and Bloodletters. After a somewhat anti-climatic final duel with Goeolgon, I found the corpse of Narucham, a comrade of Gwathryn, who I was to have met inside, but apparently he got impatient to go on ahead without me. I also found an ornate chest, from which I recovered half of the ring Narchuil.

Back in Rivendell, Elrond called a council. My very own council in Rivendell! It wasn’t quite as elaborate as the council, but there was a lot of talking, at least, and Gandalf was there even if he only spoke one line. Laerdan had awoken from his “dark dreams,” and explained that he broke the ring in half to try to help his spellbound daughter Narmeleth. He proceeded to go a bit mental and ran away, proclaiming that he would yet save Narmeleth with the help of “Aignel and Ningarch.”

Poor guy.

I didn’t connect as much with this story as the last one. Mostly this part of the story involved a lot of tedious slogging through trash mobs. Since it had been months since I last played, I didn’t remember many of the names and couldn’t quite piece together what was happening. Now that I’ve written up this summary (with the help of lotro-wiki.com), maybe I’ll be able to connect a bit better with Book 13, which will apparently take us to the frozen north, where the other half of Narchuil lies at the bottom of the ocean, or something like that.

Also, I have to mention that when I loaded up LotRO to play this Book, my Hunter skills had been reset. There’s nothing quite so disheartening as loading up an MMORPG you haven’t played in months, only to find that your skills have been reset.