LotRO Volume 1, Book 14 – The Sloggiest Journey

Another post rescued from my drafts…

Book 14 begins with Laerdan preparing for a journey south. He asked me to collect a bunch of gear for him that he left strewn around Eriador, because the hero’s journey always involves fetching stuff. It was a lengthy, boring scavenger hunt.

When I returned to Rivendell, Laerdan was gone. In a note, he said he sent me away so I wouldn’t interfere. I spent all that time collecting his gear for nothing. But I wasn’t bitter about it. Much.

He left his journal open to a section describing his imprisonment in Sammath Baul. Upon reading it, I felt myself having an out-of-body experience, in which I uh … ah, screw it, I can’t think of how to maintain a narrative voice. I played a “Scenario” in which I observed Laerdan during his imprisonment.

After my “vision” I returned to Elrond. There I experienced another “vision” showing that Laerdan had run to Eregion to re-forge the ring Narhuil and rescue his daughter Narmaleth. He was, of course, captured, and the ring fell into the hands of Amarthiel. (Because Narmaleth is Amarthiel.)

Before Amarthiel could fix the ring, she needed some dragon wings to fix the forge. Elrond sent me back to Forochel to find and kill the dragon Bregmor (apparently the only dragon available) before Amarthiel got to him. Forochel was as dismal as ever. The cave where the dragon lived was dismal and also full of some guys. Unfortunately, when I reached the end of the cave, Mordambor had beaten me to the dragon and killed it.

Poor dead dragon.

I returned to Elrond with the bad news that I’d failed to get the dragon wings. As punishment, he sent me to the ring-forge Mirobel in Eriador to confront Amarthiel and Mordrambor.

It was another slog through a big space full of bad guys, but I finally got to the dramatic conclusion. Amarthiel sicced Mordrambor on me, but I defeated him. Laerdan arrived and confronted Amarthiel (still in the body of Narmaleth, Laerdan’s daughter), but she killed him. Before I could fight Amarthiel, a surprise mystery guest appeared: Mordirith. Mordirith took the ring from Amarthiel and flew away, leaving her broken and defeated.

Thus endeth Book 14.

For most of this book, I was incredibly bored. The only parts I really enjoyed were a brief section of the first Scenario (the part where you kick all the sleeping guards), and the final confrontation with Mordrambor, Amarthiel, Laerdan, and Mordirith way at the end. The rest was an endless, joyless slog.

Speaking of Scenarios, I believe this is the first time I’ve seen one in LotRO. I like the concept, but when you have to do combat it ssssssuuuuucks. As soon as you put me into a POV character where I have a whole new set of abilities, I get pretty annoyed. I spent all this time learning my character’s abilities, and now I have all this new stuff!? It took sooooo long to fight through all the mobs in those Scenarios because I essentially auto-attacked through everything.

Which brings me to one reason why this was a dull book. My character is level 55 now and admittedly over-leveled for this content. But there was no challenge in it whatsoever. A couple of times I literally got up from my desk during a battle, re-filled my coffee cup, and came back to find I’d killed everyone. It’s hard to maintain any sense of excitement in those kinds of combat situations. It’s a foregone conclusion that you’re going to defeat the mobs.

After posting a bunch of these chapter summaries, it occurs to me that I could simply post a link to Lotro-wiki.com and save myself a lot of time in the future.

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.

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.

LotRO, DDO, Turbine, Standing Stone Games

Did I get all the keywords in there?

Random LotRO image from my hard drive

I’m sure you’ve heard that LotRO and DDO will be leaving Turbine for a studio called Standing Stone Games. The fate of Asheron’s Call is uncertain, but I tend to agree with Wilhelm that we won’t be seeing it much longer, which is a major bummer to me personally since it was the first MMORPG to make a real impact on me, and I think its character development system (skill-based) has yet to be matched. And while I haven’t played it since the 1990s (except for like twice), it’s always been nice to know it’s there.

I have no idea what events led to this news, but I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that Turbine had been planning to dump LotRO and DDO entirely. But instead, the group of folks who would have been fired approached Turbine to work out a deal to take over ownership of the games to keep them running. At least that’s how my fanciful imagination likes to think of how it went down. If it’s true, then kudos to Standing Stone for taking that chance.

With this news I think it’s much less likely that LotRO will shut down anytime soon (I believe somewhere in the FAQ it was confirmed that the Tolkien license had been renewed beyond 2017), but I imagine that updates will now come more slowly than ever, as I expect less developers will be working on it. I could also imagine them adding some extra incentives to get people to pay more money, in the form of cash shop gimmicks or whatnot. Turbine might have been able to operate LotRO at or near a loss, but this new studio certainly won’t be able to.

Personally I’m happy to hear this news, since the alternative probably would have been to simply shut down the two titles.

P.S. LotRO remains the only game for which I regret not buying a lifetime subscription.

P.P.S. I don’t care a whit about DDO. Not that it’s a bad game or anything, it’s just way far down on the list of games I would turn to if I was bored. D&D rules have never translated to computer games very well.

P.P.P.S. It’s confirmed. Asheron’s Call will end January 31st, 2017. Ah, well. I’m tempted to stream it every day from now until then.

LotRO Volume 1, Book 11: The Search for Narchuil

For the one or two folks out there looking for non-Legion posts, over the weekend I completed another book in LotRO: Volume 1, Book 11.

(Spoilers ahead if for some reason I’m not the last person in the world to do these quests from c. 2007.)

LotRO is a great game to play in the morning with your coffee when you don’t have anything pressing to do for a few hours. The music is really good and it’s nice and relaxing to crank up the tunes* and wander around in the scenery. This time I even paid more attention to what was going on (since I planned to eventually write a post about it).

To reiterate (and yes I’m looking this up on a wiki because I don’t remember), after Angmar, we went to Evendim in Book 9 to learn more about Sara Oakheart and Amarthiel, then in Book 10 we captured Amarthiel’s henchman Mordrambor (who I called “Mort”) and recovered a palantir.

Amarthiel (the Big Bad in this part of the story) was using that palantir to find the ring Narchuil. She learned that the ring is in the Trollshaws (aka. the zone containing Rivendell). For um … reasons … it’s important for us to get that ring before she does. (I assume Narchuil is one of The Rings but I don’t really know.)

To the surprise of nobody but the story NPCs, early in Book 11, Amarthiel’s henchman Mordrambor, who previously let himself be captured, escapes in a fiery killing frenzy. This leads to a touching if somewhat drawn out instance where we bury the dead under cairns beneath a scenic purple sky.

Funeral in Evendim

Our job then becomes to find Narchuil before Amarthiel and her Angmarim (the bad people of Angmar) do, so off we go to the mountains and forests and rivers of the Trollshaws, stopping off at a few scenic spots on the way.

Weathertop

Our contact in the Trollshaws is a woman named Candelleth. She first sends us to a cave populated with wood-trolls, but there’s no sign of Narchuil there (we are obliged to destroy the biggest wood-trolls while we’re in the neighborhood, though, for the betterment of mankind, or something).

Scenic route to a cave

Candelleth next sends us to an underground ruin called Delossad, where we find a locked door that won’t open. Candelleth doesn’t know how to open the door, but surmises that the Angmarim searching the area might be looking for the key. One such group was defeated at the Crumbled Cellar, so Candelleth sends us to investigate.

(I don’t know how these people all seem to know what everyone else is doing all over the map… I guess they have something like cell phone technology in Middle Earth.)

Among the debris of the Crumbled Cellar is an old diary of Sara Oakheart, which tells of ‘N’ being held in the Delossad. This eventually leads to a puzzle and a bag of broken keys. (I couldn’t figure out the puzzle and only solved it by clicking every possible hiding place.) Naturally nothing is ever simple in Middle Earth, so we have to traipse off to Rivendell to find an Elf who can repair the broken keys.

This particular Elf won’t fix important keys for free, of course, and asks us to journey way up into the far reaches of the Misty Mountains to collect some gems from Goblin-Town, a place that I had to Google to even find. Returning to the Elf with the gems we find that she’s fixed the keys (reminding us in that haughty Elvish way of how difficult it was and that not just anyone could have done it).

Opening the door

We take the keys back to the ruin Delossad and open the door, which leads to a fairly interesting montage of flashback scenes in which we see Laerdan (who died getting the palantier in the last chapter) secretly holding his daughter Narmeleth (‘N’) captive and trying to free her from the evil spirit of Amarthiel who possesses her. It turns out the infamous old woman Sara Oakheart was a nurse hired by Laerdan to take care of Narmeleth. In the end, as misguided plans often do, everything went wrong and Amerthiel escaped in the guise of Sara Oakheart.

Before we leave Delossad, we’re visited by Mordrambor, who taunts us by revealing he knows where the ring Narchuil is. At the end of the chapter we take all of this news to Elrond in his Homely House library, where he permanently stands next to his shelves.

Thus endeth Book 11.

Most MMORPG stories are pretty lame, but I kind of enjoyed this portion of LotRO, especially the flashback scenes. ‘N’ turning out to be daughter Narmeleth instead of the ring Narchuil was most unexpected, and I found myself genuinely curious about what was going on there. Poor Laerdran: First he lost his daughter (presumably), then he went and got himself killed.

* I have a new appreciation for MMORPG music now that I bought some nice speakers. Mackie Creative Reference Monitors–I got the CR3s–are way better than any computer speakers I’ve ever owned.

LotRO Volume I, Book 10, or A Lot Of Running

I’m continuing to make slow progress on seeing the rest of LotRO*. Since I was on a roll, I’m continuing with the Volume I Book 10 epic story over in Evendim (rather than returning to Moria).

I’m glad that I went and subscribed to the game, because I noticed that I was missing out on rest experience. Hopefully that will speed up the leveling curve a little bit. (But I still finished all of Book 10 without reaching level 54.)

Story-wise, most of Book 10 revolves around finding a palantir stolen by … um … you know, that evil woman whose name starts with an A that I can’t remember and don’t feel like looking up. For reasons I can’t remember, I was told to capture a henchman of hers who I will call Mortimer (because I don’t remember his actual name but I’m pretty sure it starts with "Mort"). It was suspiciously easy to capture him, but nobody else seemed concerned about that. Anyway he was held in a cell in a tower in the middle of Evendim which incidentally takes a loooong time to reach indoors on foot. I then spent quite a few quests gathering intelligence from him (which he was suspiciously willing to divulge) and running around the world stopping bad things from happening based on his advice. Not surprisingly, it turns out that Mortimer was playing everyone for fools, but regardless, in the end I managed to get the palantir away from the evil clutches of … that woman whose name starts with an A. Some other prominent NPC whose name I’ve also forgotten (he was at the top of the right-hand stairs, as opposed to the left-hand stairs) distracted her while I ran away with it. I don’t know what happened to him.

These quests in Book 10 illustrate perfectly one of the biggest flaws in LotRO. It goes something like this: Person A says, "You need to go see Person B." Person B then says, "Talk to Person C about that." Person C says, "Okay, now deliver this message to Person B." Person B says, "Oh I see, take this response back to Person C." Person C says, "I understand, but let’s ask Person A about this." Person A says, "I agree with C. Take this news back to Person B." Person B says, "I’m glad we all agree. While you were gone, Person C went off somewhere. Tell Person A about it." Person A says, "Oh my! This is terrible news! Go ask Person B for help." Person B says, "I will help you! Let’s go through this instance." And so on and so on. And of course, Persons A, B, and C are in entirely different, far-flung parts of the world. If it weren’t for the Mithril Coins letting you skip some of the travel time, it would be maddening. (Also being a Hunter helps a lot, too, due to the travel skills.)

Overall it was reasonably enjoyable, although it’s odd that so much of this level 50 quest chain takes place in this level 35-40ish zone. Most of the mobs in Evendim are gray and inactive for me. I thought that all of the Volume I story was part of the initial LotRO launch, but after a bit of research, I see that Evendim was not released until somewhat after the initial launch. I am guessing that Volume I, Book 9 and beyond was new content meant for all the people who had reached endgame the day after launch.

Oh my, the wikis are telling me that I have to get through Volume I Books 11, 12, 13, 14, and 15 before I can resume Volume II in Moria. Yikes! Well, at least I’ll be well ahead of the leveling curve by the time I get back underground.

* I’ll stop saying "before it closes down" so my relentless pessimism won’t scare anyone.

LotRO – Back to Angmar and Evendim

In my continuing quest to see all of LotRO before it (possibly) shuts down, my Hunter reached level 53 over the weekend. You wouldn’t think gaining a single level would be cause for celebration, but in LotRO it kind of is.

I don’t know if I’ve ever written this, but I feel like LotRO is one of the last of the "old school" generation of MMORPGs. By which I mean the generation of MMORPGs where the world is actually massive (ie. it takes a long time to run from one side to the other). (That, by the way, is what I’ve always thought the "massive" in MMORPG meant–not the number of players, but the size of the world.)

I don’t remember offhand when LotRO came out, but I think it was around 2007. I do remember that Warhammer Online came out in 2008, and I distinctly remember feeling like the world size in WAR was pretty small, and most every MMORPG that’s been released since then is the same. Rift, GW2, Aeon, TERA. None of those games felt particularly massive to me.

The other "old school" feature that still carries on in LotRO is, of course, the incredibly slow leveling curve. In a modern MMORPG, I seem to average gaining about one level per day toward the end of the leveling curve. (A "day" for me is an hour or two, if I’m lucky.) Even in one of the slower games like FFXIV. Yet in LotRO, days and days and days go by before I gain a single level. In Moria, whole zones come and go without any discernible movement of the XP bar. It can drive you crazy if you keep looking down there to see how much progress you’re making.

So you have one of two choices: You can absorb yourself in the story, admire the scenery (which still looks decent even today), and read all the NPC vinettes. Track down all the bits and pieces of quests that you’ve missed along the way. Listen to the music. Then, it’ll be a surprise when you gain a level, because you’ll be so immersed in the game that you won’t even realize you’re supposed to be gaining levels.

The other option is to watch Netflix while you play. Yeah, I mostly took the latter option. Not that there’s anything wrong with the LotRO story and all–it’s certainly one of the better games for story–but I got sucked into this show called Bloodline this past weekend.

When last I reported, I had finished all the level 52 quests in Moria and still needed more experience to reach level 53. Instead of doing skirmishes, I got sidetracked when I found a Hunter class quest in my log that required me to run all over creation and kill things to farm trophies. I did that (although I cheated after I found out you could just go to a skirmish vendor and buy the trophies you needed) and got a class trait point or something like that. I have no idea what to do with it.

Since I was in Angmar, I decided to return to the Volume I epic story where I left off around level 49, which was a particular instance in Angmar that I kept failing over and over again. It was Book VII, Chapter 8, "The Gates of Carn Dum." (No I don’t know how to do the funny caret symbol over the vowel in Dum.) I kept failing to keep Lorniel alive when those 3 stupid little whatevers sounded horns to bring in reinforcements.

Anywho, it was much easier to complete that instance at level 52. Since I was on a roll, I went on to finish Book VIII and IX, which lead me to Evendim on the trail of the mysterious Sara Oakheart. I’ve been to Evendim before, but only briefly, so it’s sort of like a new area to me. The epic quests led me to a city at war in the south that looks like some kind of continuous skirmish area. Again, something I’d never seen before, reminding me again of just how massive LotRO is. It probably would have been cool if I’d gone there at the right level.

Somewhere during this time I reached level 53. Also during this time I was amused to find that some quests led me back to talk to some Fellowship folks in Rivendell who I had previously watched leave to head south with The Ring. I guess they took a break from the trevails of the road to return to Rivendell just for me.

From here I think I will keep going and finish the Volume I epic story before I head back to Moria. LotRO is considerably easier when you’re a few levels higher than the content you’re doing. :)

Oh, and I went ahead and subscribed for 3 months, because I got tired of seeing all the things I couldn’t do.

Dipping Back Into LotRO

Between trips to the old house and trying to figure out what kind of blinds to put in the windows of the new house, I finally sat down (ie. collapsed in a blob) and spent a few hours playing LotRO over the weekend.

I’m continuing my overall quest to see all of the game before LotRO closes down*. The character I’ve chosen for this task is my Hobbit Hunter, my highest level character at level 52. (All other characters are in their 20s.) It was around the time that the servers merged when I started this quest in earnest, when I decided to abandon Angmar (because the Epic story at that point was basically impossible for me to solo) and take the plunge into Mines of Moria at level 49. I spent about a week going through the initial Eregion and Moria quests, getting from 49 to 52, and since then my Hunter’s been idling in The Great Delving.

Anyway over the weekend I completed a whole bunch of level 52 quests in The Silvertine Lodes (I think that’s where I was – I’m looking at a wiki trying to remember the names of quests I did). Most of the questing involved looking for mithril deposits for the dwarves, lighting torches, and fighting glow worms, dragonets, grodbogs, and goblins. It was pretty relaxing and fun, even though it’s incredibly easy to get lost in Moria.

After I found the mithril, a dwarf sent me on his goat to The Deep Descent to tell everyone about it. (Mithril is apparently a big deal to dwarves.) Unfortunately all of the quests there are level 53, so I stopped. This is a problem because I’m still only about 2/3 of the way through level 52. At the pace of leveling in LotRO, reaching level 53 will occur roughly the same time that the sun burns out in the solar system. Just kidding. I think the experience bar moved a little bit in the Silvertine Lodes, but it’s hard to tell sometimes with LotRO.

Anyway I don’t know what I’m supposed to do to get the rest of the way to 53 before taking on these quests. (I realize I could probably handle them, but I don’t want to get behind again, like I did at 49, 50, and 51.) I’ve never done anything like a dungeon in LotRO and have no particular desire to start now. (I actually find it weird and shocking whenever I see another player running around in Moria, this is totally a single-player game for me. :) I guess skirmishes? Unfortunately I never liked doing skirmishes with my Hunter. After glancing at the aforementioned wiki it looks like I might have missed some level 52 quests along the way, so maybe I’ll run back around to all the places I’ve been already.

Speaking of Mines of Moria, this is my first hands-on experience with the much-hated Legendary Weapon system in LotRO. After having played with them a little bit, I can’t really figure out why they are much-hated. I mean, these things are always portrayed as the Hindenberg of MMORPG features, but I’m not seeing it as that level of disaster myself. There are a bunch of extra legendary-related items piling up in my inventory, but I feel like LotRO is more-or-less built around things piling up in your inventory at this point, so it doesn’t seem any different from pre-level-50 gameplay to me.

I would have played more LotRO but, you know, it’s very uncomfortable sitting on a wooden floor hunched over a keyboard and mouse propped on a cardboard box. I’m still searching for a computer desk. I’m trying to find a good one for a change.

In other news, I made some more progress on building the new gaming PC. It boots without exploding, so now I need to find an OS to install on it. Due to a SNAFU at work, my MSDN subscription is inactive for the first time in some 10 years, so I might actually have to buy a retail copy of Windows 10.

By the way, I struggled with it but ultimately decided not to sign up for Blaugust this year, even though it’s a much more relaxed format. August is probably going to be another chaotic one for me as I finish up moving, and I didn’t want to make my month even a tiny bit more complicated if I could help it. Good luck to everyone else though!

* Not that anyone has said that LotRO will be closing down, but you know, just in case.